“Back to School for You?”

Here we are at the end of July and in most people’s minds we have half the summer to go. In other’s; we know that the kids are already squirming about going back to school! So what does this mean for us? To me, it means a wealth of opportunities that are laid before us. In a traditional sense, it means turning a page and preparing for a new school year and the advancement of our children through the educational process. To some it is the “first” step and for others it may well be the “last” first day of school ever!

As the process evolves, it marks a milestone for many and opens the door for changes. These changes can be the awareness of situational growth and the need to make other supporting changes like buying a bigger home, or moving closer to another school, or further away from a school or downsizing! When people pass specific milestones in their lives it often brings about change. Sometimes those changes revolve around the family home. The opportunity that presents itself to us in the mortgage industry is to be prepared to assist in this process by using the “Forever Home Strategy®” to share important information with your neighbors so they have the ability to make an informed choice! Think about it for a minute; could they really get another bedroom and bathroom for the same payment? Would it be worth the move if it cost less than the price of the cell phone bill? You don’t know if you don’t ask!

Back to school can also mean educating yourself. Is now the time for you to take care of your continuing education requirements? What about taking a class in reviewing tax returns or brushing up on specific product guidelines? What if you mastered a specific product or program like USDA loans or became an expert in VA loans? Could improving your educational base of knowledge improve your business?

What about mastering an area of technology? What about a class in Microsoft Office® so you could easily use the tools at your disposal? What about product specific education like attending the workshops on Mortgage Coach® or Path2Buy® or TurningPoint® to help maximize your customer experience and better serve you in serving others? What if you spent some time learning how to use your smart phone to help you produce video coupons and create video testimonials and answers to frequently asked questions? What if you spent some time just learning your own LOS better? Couldn’t any or all of these help you do more, do better, do faster?

What about becoming the teacher? What if you chose to do a series of educational lunch and learns for your Realtors®, accountants, financial planners, insurance professionals, and attorneys on how working with you can help them provide greater value for their clients and increase their overall opportunities to do more business and serve their clients better? What if you became certified in your area to teach continuing education for other professionals or taught a basic class at the local school or community center on home ownership and the power of a great credit score?

What if you were the local expert on all things mortgage in your area? What if you were the one the radio stations, TV stations, and local newspapers called when they needed an expert on mortgages? What if you were that mortgage celebrity? Could a little education help your business?

Back to school means many things to many people. It could mean a whole new area of opportunity for you should you take a minute and see how to focus on providing value to others and create opportunities for yourself and your referral partners!

Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com or visit us online at http://improvemytomorrowcoaching.com


Ignore the news, follow the numbers!

All around us we are seeing the news, most of it troublesome. If it isn’t the Middle East, it’s the IRS. If it’s not Benghazi, it’s the Ukraine. If that isn’t enough, we still have Obamacare and illegal immigration. You can’t get away from it, but you can follow the few bright spots, and housing would be one of them. For three straight months we have seen improving housing sales. Judging from my clients, there is no lack of new preapprovals being issued as people are waking up to the value in homeownership and low interest rates.

You just have to ignore all the other issues from a professional standpoint and focus on the details that will make you money and grow you future opportunities. An improving housing market that is growing at a sustainable rate is valuable information. While the Federal Reserve has been being less active in the MBS market, mortgage rates remain low. For how long, who knows? But for now we have great opportunities to buy homes and finance them at great rates. Certainly homes and mortgage money is at a discount from what we will see in the near future.

Having this information is good, but you have to get out and share it for it to generate opportunities. Call on your Realtors® and get out and knock on doors and share the news. People need to know and you need to be the one to tell them. If you want to sell, do it now while buyers are plentiful and qualified. If you want to trade up; sell and buy your Forever Home before prices and interest rates move higher.

We have talked before about comparing numbers year over year, and how we will start to see better housing numbers moving forward and that they will now be compared to the poor numbers of a year ago. It won’t be long before more and more people see the value in getting a deal done sooner rather than later. So get out in front of the curve. Use the proven strategies of “Help Us Pick Your New Neighbor®”, The Forever Home Strategy®”, and the “First Time Home Seller Strategy®” to get out in front of opportunities for you and your Realtor® referral partners.

The numbers are getting better as the news gets worse. So ignore the news and follow the NUMBERS! You generate new opportunities every time you share the story! Get up, get out, and go SHARE! You have everything you need, just go do the work!

Questions or comments: mike@IMTcoaching.com or visit us online at http://www.improvemytomorrowcoaching.com

The Road Less Traveled or the Tried and True?

Innovation and technology is a wonderful thing. Change and increased productivity are also a pleasure. Making improvements and modification of existing technology are the basic foundation of what we do here in America. The words of caution I share with you today is that don’t accept change for the sake of change, and don’t increase your productivity if all you produce is wasted time!

The knife cuts both ways. As quickly as technology has increased the speed and frequency we can communicate with our customers, it can also put distance between us. As fast as we can text or email a question or response, we can just as easily misinform or confuse. Faster is not always better. 24/7 opens the door for some other electronic pirate to take your customer away. We need to be aware and to measure how and when you use certain communication formats, and we must also remember that nothing gets the job done better than old fashioned one on one conversation.

Systems and automated technology are only as good as the system and the material they deliver. The right message at the wrong time is every bit as destructive as a great rate on the wrong loan product! You have to make choices. When do we automate and when do we personally communicate? Does the technology we are using incorporate personal meetings and phone calls, or does it just send email after email?

Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a good reason; it does not get us to our destination as quickly or easily as the well-worn path. However, sometimes the well-worn path is followed just because it has always been followed. People go that way because that is the way it has always been done! To me, we owe it to ourselves to make judgments and choices. But you can’t do so without at least going down the road less traveled once to see the view, and measure the possible benefits.

I have always believed that change is a good thing, but never for the sake of change. Technology is only as effective as the programmer who created it. You need to understand all the elements of what you are trying to accomplish and be certain you don’t miss key pieces. My example to share today is a client of mine that was experimenting with some new software. He thought the world of the new product and wanted to be sure I knew how great it was and why he was going to put everything he was doing into this software so it could “manage” his referral partners, clients, and database. While sounding like a pretty good idea, we went a little deeper to find that the software was limited in its ability to alter contact schedules. With a limited number of predetermined schedules for contact, it didn’t allow easy movement into an improvised schedule of specific timing. You could only shift between predetermined periods of contact. This would be great if everyone was on the same schedule, or had the same needs, but we all know that we need to view each client as individuals, and respond to them based on their needs.

Innovation and technology are great. But just like a poor golfer who gets a new driver and golf ball that will combine to travel an extra fifty yards, if you don’t hit the ball straight, you haven’t improved anything and may have made things worse! Many times people are busy and not productive. I have seen many very busy originators and managers who seriously work fifty or sixty hours a week and produced less business than those work thirty to forty. Working longer hours does not always equal better results.

Each of us needs to know what it is we are trying to accomplish and the time needed to do so. We need to set proper expectations and marry them to a timeline of action and measured by results. If not done, you can find yourself using technology and innovation to frustrate your clients, lose your referral partners, and cause yourself to be busy, but not productive. You need to know what you do, when you do it, and what the results are supposed to be. If you don’t, you are just going to speed up and multiply the bad results you were trying to avoid in the first place.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If it ain’t working, stop doing it! If you don’t have any idea what you are trying to accomplish, speed will not help you!

Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com or visit us online at http://improvemytomorrowcoaching.com


Business Guidance Questions

Looking at the Numbers

I am a big believer in following the numbers. Tracking efforts and results are often the best way to measure the value of many things. Numbers are also used to measure business cycles and if markets are getting “better” or “worse” than they were before. Today I want to talk about the numbers used to measure our industry and that of the housing market in general. The main focus isn’t so much the specific numbers or which numbers to follow as much as it is the comparisons that are made and the opinions people have based upon those numbers.

Here is what I am looking at specifically. We all know the first part of 2014 was fairly ugly in the housing markets. Bad weather and the change from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market quickly changed the paradigm of housing inventory as well as the total volume of sales. What made those bad numbers look worse was the numbers they were comparing them too; the numbers from 2013. If you look back at the beginning of 2013 you will remember that we were still riding the wave of refinances as thirty year fixed rate mortgage money was down around 3.5%. We also still had a significant number of short sales and foreclosures which made it more of a buyer’s market. The combination of these things made for an active market.

This trend continued into spring. It wasn’t until the end of May into June of 2013 when interest rates began to soar into the mid to upper four percent range. This sudden move up slowed the market pretty quickly, and while some were fortunate enough to have been locked into the lower rates, many saw affordability slip away. For some, they chose to bite the bullet and buy what they could, while others sat back and waited to see if rates were going to go back down. The result was significant as the pace of refinances fell, almost as fast as the desire of those to purchase.

In the fall things got a bit better and people were resigned to the fact that three percent on a thirty year loan wasn’t coming back; they still saw the value in buying a home. Housing prices kept inching up month after month and the long feared “shadow inventory” seemed to disappear almost overnight. As prices kept rising, each month more and more people got “above water” on their houses, maybe not enough so they could afford to move just yet, but enough to make it possible to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

As we hit 2014 and what was the worst winter in many years for most of the country, the numbers started to come in and look bleak. Year over year sales and mortgage closings were in the tank. As spring tried to break through, the housing market’s numbers still looked bad, again, as compared year over year.

Spring arrived and the pace of sale began to rise but still not a traditional “peak” selling market. We found ourselves in a seller’s market and fielding multiple offer situations and clients bidding on a number of homes over a few months trying to get a deal accepted. As all of this happens, we are still comparing these numbers to the peak numbers of the first half of 2013.

Well that all begins to change now. Slowly we will have 2014 numbers compared to the less favorable second half 2013 numbers. While the 2014 numbers won’t look much better than they are right now, the number we will compare them too will begin to get worse, making our numbers appear better! Just watch the year over year numbers come in for July, August, and September. It will begin to look like things are improving. The numbers will indicate that things are getting “better”. Since so much of the housing market is about consumer confidence, don’t be surprised that as these numbers get reported, activity levels improve just a little bit each month.

Now I am not forecasting a housing boom. I am not even sure that we will even see a modest rally. But what I do see is that my loan officers are still carrying large pipelines of pre-approved borrowers and a rising number of contracts to closings. Nothing historic by any means; but activity that will be steady and solid for the at least the next few months minimum. If this happens, watch and see as we may very well have a good fall buying season. If Mother Nature cooperates, we may even have a good winter.

While none of these numbers are going to be great, as we begin to compare them to worse numbers they will begin to look better. As they begin to look better, they might actually become better! Watch the numbers and be ready to have the conversation. Things are certainly not great; but they don’t have to be in order to be better!

Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com or visit us online at http://improvemytomorrowcoaching.com

“Working the Core Four”

I speak with many loan originators who always seem interested in spending hours looking for niche products. I seem to get at least one or two emails a week looking for investors that do loans for people with credit scores under 620, or investor loans with five percent down. As I travel throughout the country I get asked for the names of lenders who will do non-resident alien borrowers or who will do a loan for newly self-employed borrowers. My answer is always the same. “Why are you wasting your time looking for loans either nobody does or you can’t get closed without an act of congress?”

Our business is at the stage where frustrated originators are looking for the quick fix to grab some market. The problem is, there is such a limited market for these types of loans that they often don’t get done, and for good reason, nobody wants to buy them and you can’t make any money doing them by the time you figure out how much time you spend trying to get them done. So why are you bothering? Why do you feel compelled to try and do loans that don’t get done when the market is begging for people who can handle the basics with professionalism and speed? Why not become an expert in the “CORE FOUR”.

  • Conforming
  • FHA
  • VA
  • USDA

These represent the vast majority of loans that actually close! These are the loans that the average person wants and needs. These are the loans that when mastered, generate the vast majority of loan officer commissions that are earned. These are the CORE FOUR of loan originations!

People with credit scores under 620 represent less than 20% of all the adults in the country. When you realize that only about 65% of all the people in this country will own the place where they live, you quickly realize that the under 620 buyer represents a very small target group and are also likely to do something from the time you “qualify” them that will prohibit them from closing a loan, or be the one that defaults on a loan. Seriously, people have credit scores below 620 for a reason!

The same holds true for the other examples I have shared here. Those specific types of challenged borrowers MAY find a lender that wants their business, but for the average loan originator, they are NOT worth the time and trouble. So please, stick to the CORE FOUR!

Work on speed and accuracy. Learn the guidelines and get your documentation up front or as quickly as possible. Make sure you turn over your loans quickly into processing so they can get into underwriting quickly and long before your deadlines. Do the basics with speed and professionalism. Since a hassle free transaction leads to happy customers and even happier referral partners; do everyone a favor and stop looking to do the complicated deals that nobody wants, and do the deals that most people need and do them quickly!

So stop worrying about the loans you can’t do and focus on the ones you can. Stop thinking about the niche products that fill a tiny complicated market that rarely close smoothly, and do the deals the majority of people need and want and do them with skill and with speed!

Happy Independence Day everyone! It was 238 years ago our founding fathers made a bold commitment to fight for the right to live in peace and pursue life, liberty, and happiness. The last great chance for the world is found in these United States of America. I am proud to be an American, and prouder to be part of the solution and not the problem! Enjoy your freedoms and remember those who have come before us and died for that right. Ask yourself the most powerful question on earth, “am I making the most of the life and opportunities that others have died for that I now enjoy?”


Questions or comments: mike@IMTcoaching.com or visit us online at http://improvemytomorrowcoaching.com