Andrew Marquis is one of the best originators in the country, closing 654 loans for a total of $276 million in volume last year – but even he needs to give himself a pep talk now and then.
Marquis, executive vice president for national sales at Guaranteed Rate in Lexington, Mass., is quick to acknowledge that times are tough for the mortgage business, particularly in competitive markets like the Boston metro area. He recently sat down with Power Originator to share his top tips on navigating the ups and downs.
Power Originator: Market conditions are challenging right now. How are you approaching it?
Andrew Marquis: I always believe activity creates activity. Right now, I am working so hard with preapproving. We are probably writing 10 to 12 preapprovals a day. The problem we have is that the inventory is really difficult. It has been that way for the last three or four years. A perfect example is a house recently went on the market that got 24 offers. I was doing the seller’s loan on the house they were buying. I wrote five preapprovals for that one house for five different buyers, and it sold for $126,000 over the asking price. It’s a little bit discouraging because I am used to locking 60 to 80 loans a month in terms of new loans. Right now are on pace to lock 50. We are still seeing a lot of success, but I am working really, really hard. Normally when I am working this hard in May and June, I am locking a hundred loans a month. You want to take this time to continue to preapprove people. You just keep doing that and keep meeting with your referral partners and keep working your network for refinance opportunities.
PO: The low inventory must add a lot of work for you in terms of strategizing.
AM: Yes, there is a ton of time investment right now helping people strategize and writing preapprovals. Yesterday, I was at the open house for a house listed for $875,000, and there were 157 people signed. I am dealing with a buyer that is going to offer $1 million and drop all contingencies – no home inspection, no mortgage contingency – just to make her offer that much more attractive. And even with that offer, as strong as it sounds, she may or may not succeed. But you need to look at what will happen in two or three months when we are not getting snow every week and there is more inventory. The results will come.
PO: What other tips do you have for boosting volume in this market?
AM: Consumers nowadays are far more educated than they have ever been. Everything is online, and they are always looking for the lowest rate. I don’t want to generalize, but I think first-time homebuyers have been brainwashed into thinking that you have to call five lenders and go with the absolute lowest quotes. Then they call me three weeks later, and we have to clean it up and fix it. It’s a hard time, but I always sell the payment. When I am talking to people, they ask about the terms, and I say $3,500 a month. Eventually they ask about the interest rate. If they are concerned, I say, “You didn’t seem to have an issue with the payment, and what you write on the check each month is the payment, not the interest rate.” The other thing we always talk about are ARMs. What is the 7/1 ARM rate? What is the 10/1 ARM rate? Every client is different. I had one yesterday who asked the rate on a 10/1 ARM and I said it would save $163 a month. Her immediate response was, “That’s not a lot of money. I’d rather have a fixed rate.” The other half of clients I talk to would think $163 a month is a lot of money and they’d prefer the ARM. It really is about educating people and building rapport and delivering service.
PO: What do you think originators should do right now before business picks up again in the spring?
AM: January to March is a time to deepen relationships. You can meet with current referral partners that have been good to you and take them to dinner or a sporting event or concert. I also take that time to do marketing collaboration and business planning with them. We strategize about what we can do to help the realtor because ultimately the realtor is sending us all the business. Helping them and reciprocating is really important. At the same time, consider whether there are any new relationships you can add. Any busy originator does a bad job with that – at least I do. I’m so busy in the office. Agents will email and say, “What a great transaction. Everyone was so happy.” That’s a great time to dive in and say, “I’d love to see how we could collaborate more. Let’s grab lunch.” Right now, I’m so busy, I don’t do it enough. Also send handwritten thank-you notes to show you appreciate their business. These are little things that originators can do.