In the increasingly competitive origination market, it’s critical to nurture your relationships with real estate agents – and find effective ways to build new connections. In fact, if you’re not growing your network, you’re probably falling behind.
Justin Pfeifer, a Denver-based RE/MAX agent, said loan officers are constantly calling and emailing to try to get his business. A handful of originators have earned places in his trusted inner circle, but it isn’t easy to reach that exclusive level.
“I come from a sports background, and I treat it like a team,” said Pfeifer, a former college football player. “We’re all in it together. If I win and get it done, we all win.”
Here are Pfeifer’s top strategies to connect with agents, earn their trust and secure a spot in the inner circle:
Strategy #1: Communicate early, often – and any way the agent wants
“Number one to me is communication,” Pfeifer said. “I think the biggest letdown or failure that happens in real estate is lack of communication or assuming everyone knows what they are doing. Lenders need to keep everyone in the loop. They are my first line of defense when it comes to keeping a client happy throughout the transaction.”
Pfeifer also noted that real estate isn’t a 9-to-5 business. If he’s working on an offer at 8 p.m. on a Saturday, the loan officer still needs to be accessible.
“We all have to be devoted to the cause,” Pfeifer said.
He recommended that originators communicate whatever way the agent prefers, whether that’s email, text or phone.
“You have to adapt,” Pfeifer said. “It’s a service-based industry.”
On the flip side, Pfeifer has had lenders slip out of sight and “totally drop the ball.”
“A big pet peeve is lack of follow up,” Pfeifer said. “I have had lenders in the past where an email wasn’t important enough for them to respond in a timely manner. You need to be on it.”
Pfeifer stressed that he is putting his reputation on the line when he recommends a lender to his clients. Their follow-through – or lack of it – also reflects on him, for better or worse.
Strategy #2: Do your homework
“You’ve got to perform,” Pfeifer said. “If you say we can get this loan done, I totally expect you to do your due diligence on the neighborhood or the HOA or the condo association. I can’t afford to not have a deal get to the closing table.”
In Denver’s bustling housing market, hot properties can attract over a dozen offers, and it’s up to the agent to pick the best one. Pfeifer said he wants to see a loan officer who is “as proactive as possible to make me feel like they are going to get it done.”
A few extra steps can make all the difference. The best originators call the listing agent to introduce themselves and sell them on the client and the agent, Pfeifer said.
“Those are game-changing,” Pfeifer said. “I’d say 20% of the offers I receive actually follow up with an agent call and a lender call. Those are the guys that are going to go to the top of the list for accepted offers.”
When problems come up, talented originators have an opportunity to prove their worth.
Recently, one of Pfeifer’s clients learned that his bank had refused to qualify him, despite a prequalification. The bad news came down just 10 days before the closing. Luckily, one of Pfeifer’s trusted local lenders was able to sort it out in time.
“We got it done in 10 days and averted not just killing the deal, but taking my time to go back out and show more properties and negotiate another deal,” Pfeifer said.
Strategy #3: Prioritize your relationships
“Relationships that are good are definitely worth celebrating and giving more business to,” Pfeifer said. “It’s about time and money. You need to take your business where it’s going to get done.”
The mortgage business is a two-way street, Pfeifer said, so lenders should also evaluate their agents critically.
“I know lenders who are with second or third-tier agents, and they cannot get the clients under contract because of their real estate experience,” he said. “The lender is in a stuck position because they are working a loan that may not ever close. The buyer may just get sick of it. It’s important for lenders to establish relationships with agents who work like them and have the same goals and drive.”
When you do connect with a top agent, nourish the relationship with a focus on the long term.
Carrington Mortgage Services President Ray Brousseau recently shared his thoughts on agent relationships with Power Originator.