What do Realtors want from Loan Officers?

During my recent training class on prospecting, participants discussed, “What do Realtors really want from originators?” An excellent place to find answers to that question is on ActiveRain, an online community of real estate professionals who write blogs, exchange best practices and share information. One post from a Texas Realtor revealed important insights on what Realtors expect when working with an originator. He stated:

  1. I want a loan officer who will answer his or her phone. This isn’t a job, it’s a career. It’s feast or famine. There’s always time to make a quick call for a few minutes.
  2. I expect any lender I’m working with to know what is coming down the pipeline regarding regulations. The loan officer’s duty is to be the MOST informed when it comes to lender guidelines.
  3. I expect originators to communicate effectively. Answering your phone and returning calls is just the beginning. It’s paramount that a loan officer communicate ALL issues both good or bad as quickly as possible.
  4. I want the loan officer to be very knowledgeable about the file. I do not want the loan officer to just toss the file to the processor and not pay attention to my file.

While these expectations are not surprising, how well are originators really delivering on these fundamentals for referral sources? One look at originator productivity tells the story. According to a 2016 report from the MBA, “the top 40% of loan originators generate 78% of the industry volume; the bottom 40-60% are very unproductive.” In my experience, top producers are the ones who answer their phones; are informed; and communicate well with referral sources.

For the lower tier 40-60%, many managers are betting on technological improvements such as Blend and Roostify to bridge the gap and help underperformers make budgeted goals. The problem is that these individuals do not possess the inherent personality traits needed to prospect such as having high energy, being a self-starter and having self-discipline. There is no training course that will instill these behaviors because they are formed early in life and either you have them or you don’t. As a result, managers must look for sales candidates who are already a match for consultative selling.

When you look at Realtors’ expectations, they really center on communication skills. This may seem obvious but if it were easy, more originators would be making their sales goals. So what constitutes excellent communication skills? In Steve W. Martin’s Harvard Business Review article, “Persuasion Tactics of Effective Salespeople,” he observes what differentiates top producers from the rest:

  1. They understand the customer’s unique language. Top salespeople understand that each person has his or her own communication style and so they do not use a one-size-fits-all selling approach. Every prospect is unique.
  2. They let customers speak and discuss their problems, values, plans and desires.As one producer said, “It’s not about me but about them.”
  3. They have the customer’s best interest in mind and they are able to convey that sentiment emotionally so the customer trusts them.

The bottom line is that top producers not only know what to say but how to say it.