How Can a Lender Earn My Business?

Education & Training with Sell with Soul

Because I teach real estate agents how build a business based on their Sphere of Influence (SOI = the people they know and the people they meet) as opposed to marketing-to-strangers, I'm often approached by new or newer lenders asking how they can successfully persuade US (the REALTOR community) to give them a shot.

Frankly, I'm always stumped by the question. Traditional lender prospecting techniques simply don't work - at least in my experience. Offering daily rate sheets or open house brochures won't do it. Nor will weekly newsletters - printed or emailed. Sure, I appreciate (and will use) the information, but it's not going to get a lender on my preferred vendor list.

Even lender-modified SOI techniques probably won't work. Take me to lunch or coffee? Great! But I can't promise you a return on your investment. Pop-by my office to chat? Eh, please don't. Especially if your "chat" has anything to do with "earning" my business.

How about sending me buyers? Well, that sounds fabulous, but I've yet to have a lender do that, so I can't speak to the effectiveness of it.  Hmmmmm... well, stay tuned - I'll share my thoughts on that in a sec.

So, how do I find my favorite lenders? Ah, that's an easy question. There are two ways I've found my lenders-of-choice:

  1. My buyer brought his lender to the deal and the lender impressed the heck out of me.
  2. The lender on the other side of the deal (when I'm the listing agent) impressed the heck out of me.

So, I guess my not-so-helpful answer to lenders seeking REALTOR loyalty is to... well... impress the heck out of the REALTORS you have the opportunity to get in front of. Do your job, do it exceptionally well and then stay in touch with the agent without ever pestering her for business or referrals. Once you have an impressed REALTOR, then you're free to implement your other loyalty-inspiring activities - newsletters, lunch dates, rate sheets, etc., but without that first step - proving your competence - it's probably wasted effort.

Speaking of lender-to-REALTOR referrals... I don't expect my lender to send me referrals and I certainly don't make it a requirement of my loyalty. A great lender (who is what I want on my team) probably has dozens of REALTORS he works with and it's far more important to me that he take care of my business  than that he send me business. However, I will say that if a fledgling lender does send me a referral and then impresses the heck out of me with his handling of the deal, well, then, he has a good shot at making my preferred list!


SOMEWHAT RELATED BLOG: Dear SOI, Thanks, but I don't want your loyalty!

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Bo Hussung
Bell Title /Triserv LLC - Nashvle, TN

Jennifer, I am running with you. Service and outperforming expectations a key element of any relationship. The only problem is that in 15 years, I have never seen any traction from this idea. I have worked with some of the brightest and hardest working LO's in the industry. Many of them are still in business, but they are constantly reprospecting to replace the RE agent relationships. My opinion?...No Loyalty. Forgive me for this, but if nothing works from a marketing standpoint and agents do not want to be bothered, then explain to me how to gain loyalty?

I have never worked directly with agents or consumers (wholesale experience), but I do understand the dynamics of how to build relationships. The RE one eludes me. Great people, but almost impossible to gain any footing and make a living at it.

Your thoughts?


Jan 15, 2009 01:32 AM #7
Home Loan Search.Online
Home Loan Search Online - Newnan, GA

I recently closed a very tough purchase that had to close in less than two weeks. The sale went through smoothly and the agent was so impressed that I have worked a few other deals with them.

By the way, the client was someone in my SOI.

Jan 15, 2009 01:38 AM #8
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Bo- Yep - you pretty much nailed it. But the lender community has the same problem as the REALTOR community - too much focus on prospecting and not enough on performing. In the olden days when there were lots and lots of buyers (and mortgages were easier), I might have been more willing to give a new guy a shot, but today my buyer deals are WAY TOO precious to risk on someone I have no experience with. I don't envy the mortgage community - you have a TOUGH job.

You ask how to gain loyalty... well, maybe it's semantics, but I'm not "loyal" to any lender out of simple loyalty - I'm loyal to him or her as long as he or she performs. If he screws up one of my deals or suddenly becomes flaky, I won't be back.

Jan 15, 2009 01:39 AM #9
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Darrell - Go, you! And, of course, that's a completely different angle - lenders certainly CAN pursue business from their non-REALTOR SOI just as effectively as real estate agents can!

Jan 15, 2009 01:40 AM #10
Ken Offidani
Coldwell Banker Select Professionals - Lancaster, PA

That is a great perspective.

Jan 15, 2009 01:43 AM #11
Robert Rauf
HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ) - Toms River, NJ

Jennifer, this is exactly how I have built my business over the years.  Do a great job and news spreads, and Realtors talk and mention the great job.  Right place right time kicks in too.  If an agents current lender drops the ball, and they have good things about you, they will pick up the phone and hand you that ball. 

Reputation is everything.  Dont take a deal that wont close, manage expectations and stay in touch.

Jan 15, 2009 02:01 AM #12
Patricia Beck
RE/MAX Properties, Inc., GRI, CDPE - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs Realty

It's tough to find a good lender but the good ones really stand out because they work hard and keep the client and agent updated throughout the process.  Unfortunately, if a lender performs poorly, that is a bad reflection on me if I recommened him/her to my client.

Jan 15, 2009 02:03 AM #13
Joel Weihe
Realty World Alliance - Wichita, KS
Helping you to use your VA home loan benefits

Excellent advice.  I for one, am not going to experiment on my precious clients by sending them to a lender that I don't KNOW will do a phenomenal job.  So yes, the best way to get on my list is to do a very good job and I hear about it, do a very good job on the other side of one of my deals, or do a very good job with a client who brought the lender to the table.   Of course, sending me a buyer first would satisfy that last requirement in letting me taste how awesome a lender is and thereby getting on my list.

How to impress me?  Communicate everything.  Be reachable. Dont' screw up, but if you do - admit it and rectify.  Be nice.  And of course, by knowing their products, learning the buyer, and making a perfect match.

Jan 15, 2009 02:46 AM #15
Eleanor Thorne
Equity Resources - Cary, NC
Equity Resources 919-649-5058

This is really great info Jennifer.  The most frustrating thing I had happen last year was a referral I sent to an agent, the customer loved me, it closed on time, the customer even got quoted (because I referred him) in the Wall Street Journal!  He LOVES me! ... I sent the agent other realtors to interview - and I've gotten NOTHING.  She sends all of her leads to her in house.  Oh well.  I just figured one lead back would be good. 

Jan 15, 2009 03:19 AM #16
Ken Tracy
Coldwell Banker Residential - Naperville, IL
Helping clients buy and sell since 2005

Hi JA.

I am certainly with you about getting referrals from my lender.  Sometimes I think about looking for another, but he always takes care of my clients.  That is hard to replace.


Jan 15, 2009 05:16 AM #17
Donne Knudsen
Los Angeles & Ventura Counties in CA - Simi Valley, CA
CalState Realty Services

Jennifer - AMEN!!!  When I first started in the biz (nearly 8yrs ago), I marketed to Realtors simply because my broker at the time told me to.  I learned very quickly that marketing to Realtors who didn't know me was a waste of time, energy and money for both me and them.

Nowadays, I only spend my time, energy and money targeting my niche market, which is low-medium income borrowers.  Over the years though, I have established relationships with many of the local Realtors.  How?  By impressing the heck out of them with the way I do business and the services that I offer.

So, for all those newbies out there looking to get their foot in the door with a Realtor, stop marketing to them!  Market to buyers instead and start building your own reputation in the community.  If a Realtor does refer a buyer to you, do your job and do it well and impress the heck out of them.  If you do that, you just may earn their business.

Jan 15, 2009 08:13 AM #18
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Thanks, Donne! Let me add to this... that IF a lender impresses the heck out of me and THEN sales-pitches me to death, I'll probably lose my enthusiasm for him or her. I do not like to be sales-pitched EVER in a relationship - even one I'm open to. Stay in touch with me as a resource or even a friend, but NOT as a salesperson!

Jan 15, 2009 08:21 AM #19
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Jennifer at least 80% of my business comes from refferrals from Realtors.  What I have found that works best for me in getting Realtors to send me their buyers are.

- Return their calls right away.  It is even better when they can reach me without having to leave a message.

- Treat their buyers like they were the only clients I have.

- Produce Pre-Qual Letters that they can depend on.

- Make the difficult deals work.

- Attend closings and be prepared to answer questions at the Closing Table.

By doing these things I have been able to do what you are looking for, impress the heck out of them.

Jan 15, 2009 10:00 AM #20
The Somers Team
The Somers Team at KW Philadelphia - Philadelphia, PA
Delivering Real Estate Happiness

Jennifer - I like your 2-point list.  I agree... when the lender impresses the heck out of me and both of those cases, I have referred that lender again !

Jan 15, 2009 10:22 AM #21
Donne Knudsen
Los Angeles & Ventura Counties in CA - Simi Valley, CA
CalState Realty Services

Jennifer - I agree that if a mortgage professional feels that they have to constantly "sell" to you, then they haven't really established a relationship with you.  When I think about four of the Realtors that I currently work with,two of them I became good friends with them before we ever did business together and the other two, I became good friends with after our first deal together.  If we never did another deal together, we would still be friends.

As for George's list above, if a mortgage professional can't do those few things and do them well, they either don't belong in the business or they don't stay in the business for very long.

Jan 15, 2009 10:55 AM #22
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Donne - George's list may be simple, but he's right - if a lender will just do those things, I'm his (or hers) for life. Last year I wrote a blog about what I considered a "good" real estate agent to be and got a lot of flack for it because the things I included in my list were "obvious." Yes, they were, but unfortunately, those obvious things are so often NOT DONE by those in my industry! Y'know - return phone calls, take great photos, know how to price a home - stuff like that!

Jan 15, 2009 11:00 AM #23
Ellie McIntire
Ellicott City Clarksville Howard County Maryland Real Estate - Ellicott City, MD
Luxury service in Howard County & Catonsville

Actions speak louder than words at all times. I was loyal to a lender who got too big for his boots. One year I gave him close to 5 million in business, but then he stopped answering my phone calls and even had the gall to tell one referral that he was too busy to help them when they called.

Guess how much of my business he got last year?


Jan 15, 2009 11:28 AM #24
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

My preferred lenders have all been introduced to me via word of mouth from other agents whom I trust.  A client raved about her lender, who did a great job on her loan...she has since referred a couple of agent-less qualified buyers to me and again proved her worth.  Now THAT is the quickest way to an agent's heart.  ;-)

Jan 15, 2009 09:37 PM #25
Michael Delp
Mortgage Pro - Telford, PA

Actually I have given Realtors more referrals over the years than they have given me. I basically look at the ones who don't use me and say "your loss!" It's kind of like dating!.

 Nothing beats the old fashioned earn it mentality. Why else would I answer every phone call and show up at every closing?

Jan 16, 2009 12:30 PM #26
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Here's a rebuttal to my blog...

Ellie - I had a lender early in my career who was fantastic - then the same thing happened - he started cherry-picking my clients and would only help the easy ones. Buh-bye!!!

Jan 16, 2009 10:51 PM #27
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