It’s clear mortgage originators will face fresh challenges this year after three years of near-record mortgage activity. Your success in 2023 will depend heavily on your relationships with Realtors®.
During 2020–2022, many loan officers worked from morning to night to meet record demand for mortgage refinancings and purchase loans — leaving them little time or need to cultivate local Realtors. At the same time, many Realtors were too busy closing deals and seeking scarce inventory to spend much time on business development.
With today’s sharply higher mortgage rates, loan officers and Realtors must unite for mutual interest. The mortgage business will be driven by your efforts to reestablish and revive relationships with Realtors who need your experience and special skills to help homebuyers in a difficult market.
At this stage, I’d like to share some of my background. My three decades in the mortgage industry include time spent as a loan originator, a corporate trainer and, frequently, a speaker for Realtor group functions across the nation. During the pandemic, I decided to deepen my understanding of the challenges Realtors face by earning a real estate license.
Success and “Shark Tank”
The ties that connect LOs to Realtors remind me of the hit TV show, “Shark Tank.” If you haven’t seen it, each episode features a set of investors — the so-called sharks — considering pitches from entrepreneurs seeking investment dollars to expand their businesses.
The key to succeeding on “Shark Tank” — and with Realtors — is to clearly establish two things: how you benefit prospective partners and how your value proposition differs from other mortgage providers (including a Realtor’s current lending partners).
Inspired by “Shark Tank,” I’ve developed my “5-As” framework for growing your Realtor partnerships. Here are the framework’s five building blocks:
- Aim: First, determine the prospective partners you would like to approach. Do you want to do business with brand-new Realtors or more seasoned professionals? A scattershot approach is less effective than targeting the partners you can be successful with.
- Analyze: The focus here is your research on the partners with whom you aim to do business. What are their needs? To differentiate yourself, you need to know how you can help them.
- Approach: In short, this is how you connect with them. How can you articulate your value to them? Rather than discussing your experience, focus on how you can meet their needs.
- Appointment: This is how you engage with them. Ideally, this means asking questions to assess their priorities. The best approach is talking less and listening more.
- Assess: Is this potential relationship a good fit for both of you? At this stage, you’ve determined their needs, but can you meet and exceed their expectations?
Reviving your partner relationships (or starting from scratch) will not be easy. It requires three very difficult things:
First, you have to be an expert at manufacturing mortgage loans in what’s now a challenging lending environment.
Second, your service level should exceed the expectations of both the Realtor and their clients. (Achieving a high service level results from setting expectations up front and communicating each step to all parties in the way they prefer — text, calls, email, etc.).
Finally, and most importantly, you need to help grow their business. How do you expand a Realtor partner’s business? There’s no single answer since it depends largely on whether your focus is on first-time buyers, the luxury market or self-employed borrowers.
However, growth links back to the second part of our 5-A framework. Analyze how you can meet your potential partner’s needs. Determining what real estate partners want in a partner is something you can start on today by joining their associations, going to their meetings, talking to them and reading what they’re reading — whether it’s their favorite social media accounts, association newsletters or other industry sources.
In short, take every occasion you can to engage with them. Instead of selling yourself during these encounters, ask them lots of questions and show interest in discovering their concerns. Establishing what they need is a natural opening for you to ask, “What would it take for us to do more business with you?”
Arch MI’s Supplementary Materials
In addition, Arch MI offers a comprehensive set of resources to help you reach out to and work productively with Realtors:
- Download our “Roadmap to Homeownership” toolkit at archmi.com/roadmap. It contains everything you need to set up a homebuying seminar. Invite current and prospective Realtor partners to attend with homebuyers and let them participate in the presentation.
- Explore our MIHome suite of products, solutions and resources that can help put members with small down payments into homes. Check out the “Share with Realtors” section in the MIHome Toolkit.
- Our LO Toolbox — archmi.com/lo — is a one-stop resource for originators, including exclusive solutions like RateStar BuydownSM. This “Deal Saver” can help you win the interest-rate wars with MI payments customized to meet the needs of each homebuyer.
- Access complimentary business development webinars at archmi.com/training to enhance your knowledge of topics ranging from “How to Build Your Business in the Virtual World” to “12 Steps to Ensuring a Smooth Transaction.”
- The Weekly HaMMR DigestSM provides reliable market intelligence and analysis by Arch MI’s expert economics team. Stay up-to-date and learn about developing trends with each weekly release at archmi.com/hammr.
This blog post is based on my seven-episode podcast series, “Reviving Realtor Relationships.” Get more details on how to win Realtor trust and generate profitable business for them and you by listening to the entire series on our podcasts page.
I hope this post inspires you to dig into Arch MI’s resources for LOs, including the Arch MI Insights Blog. We’d love your input on how you’ve approached partnering with real estate professionals. Send us an email, and we may use your comments in a future insights.archmi.com post on this topic.