Mastering the Winter Message

Next week will see the midterm elections take place and the beginning of November. In many people’s minds, the first signs of Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays signal the winter season, regardless of the official start of winter. This becomes a very special time for many and an opportunity to have a specific message based on solid business practices, not just parties and social events.

You first have to start by looking at the calendar and making a determination as to when you can accept a transaction that can ABSOLUTELY CLOSE by Christmas and when the last day to accept a transaction that you can ABSOLUTELY CLOSE by the end of the year. No guessing. No hoping so. No I think I can. You have to be ABOSLUTELY SURE that the dates are rock solid.

Once you have these dates you need to share the message. For companies that take longer to close loans than others, you may just want to focus on the parties. If you work for a company that has a proven history of meeting closing dates and performing on a short timeline, this is a huge competitive advantage. With such an advantage you can be still talking about closing a deal all the way into the first week of December. I have some people who have chosen December 1st as the cutoff date for a Christmas closing and December the 8th to close before the end of the year. Now you do have to also be clear about bond program loans or third party approval processes that your company can not control, and be sure you are crystal clear about what you can and can’t do. If you are very clear on this, you can see a number of opportunities that you might never have seen otherwise. But you have to be ABSOLUTELY SURE about setting the proper expectations and what is required by all parties to be certain we have a smooth and hassle free transaction!

For those of you that have participated with our “Black Friday Strategy”, now is the time to get that ball rolling. Get your agents to select the properties and assemble the group of product and service providers, as well as the discounts that you are putting forward so everyone is on the same page. Just be sure you keep the selected properties confidential until “Black Friday” or you run the risk of losing interest and possibly an early sale of one of the selected properties.

This year you will also want to explore the use of social media to support your efforts as well as taking advantage of video to help spread the message. I am looking forward to even better results this year as we have more experienced people who have been through the process before. Just be sure you are prepared and committed to the process and you will generate a great deal of interest and maybe those final few transactions for yourself and your Realtor® partners before we see the end of 2015.

Now is also the time to check your business plan for 2015 and be certain everything you need to have in place is already included in your plan. For those of you that haven’t met your CE obligations; what the heck are you waiting for? Are you planning on retiring?

As many in the industry prepare to slow down and coast through the last days of the year, I say, “good for them!” They likely have all the money they need or have no higher aspirations. That also opens the door for those who are willing to put forward the effort to step up and step into relationships and opportunities left available for you to take advantage of.

You have to think it through and have your plan. The best time to grow your business is when the other guy has chosen to relax and coast! If someone is going to open the door for you, you have a professional obligation to walk through and provide service to those who want to do more! Master the message. Have your plan and get out and do the work. Two or three extra deals and a couple of new referral partners will make for a very happy NEW YEAR!

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“When it all comes together”

It has been a great week. You have to love when a good plan comes together. We have talked here and in the monthly coaching calls since June about the possibility of a strong fall buying season and had conversations about what happens if rates went down this fall instead of up when the Federal Reserve removed QE measures. For those that engaged in the conversation and prepared for the possibilities, you are seeing the benefits of those efforts. One originator has submitted and locked eleven refinances in the past ten days with more on the way. At the same time, has four new pre-approvals going into contract and looking at 25+ closing month for November! How cool is that?

I have other originators who are closing 15+ purchases this month, and one who is closing eleven while going home every day by 5:30pm. It can all be done when you work a plan and understand the fundamentals of our business. As we are closing out this year and working toward next year, we must engage in the activities that we will take us forward into next year. If we don’t understand and assess our situation now, we will find ourselves sitting at our desk January 2nd 2015, thinking about what we are going to do to make the year all it needs to be. At that point, you are already more than two months behind those that have planned and prepared.

Over the next few weeks we will discuss some winning strategies and techniques that you can use or learn to master so that 2015 starts well and gets better. And for those of you who say that winter is coming and things slow down, and it’s going to be a bad winter; thanks for thinking that way, you make it easier for my people to grow their markets and expand their reach!

The first thing I would like to talk about is setting proper expectations. Perspective is important. Many people come to the table with bad information or with little to no understanding of the lending reality. It is up to the mortgage professional to lay out the path and the timeline of the entire process at the beginning. If you don’t set those expectations clearly, you will spend the entire time chasing your people, paper, and dealing with frustration from everyone involved. Here are some helpful strategies.

  • Explain clearly all the documentation you will need to even begin the pre-approval process.
  • Don’t issue a pre-approval without seeing everything.
  • Use payment and closing cost ranges and show people the math behind how you are calculating the payments and costs.
  • Set forward a clear timeline of the process.
  • Don’t own things outside your control like:
  1. Short time lines
  2. Bad credit
  3. Lack of documentation
  4. Property values
  5. Failure of all parties to execute.

You have to establish the timeline and people need to know that you are paying attention. If you receive a contract that was executed on the first of the month on the fifth of the month, you need to ask why and notify both agents that the contract was late getting to you. Use the methods we talked about in the past about backing out the timeline. If you want to close on the 30th, you need to:

  • Confirm the wire on the 29th
  • Review the HUD-1 on the 27th
  • Have your clear to close on the 23rd
  • Have your last conditions to underwriting on the 20th
  • Final conditions to your processor on the 19th
  • Initial underwriting conditions on the 17th
  • Submit to underwriting by the 12th
  • Submit clean file to processing on the 2nd

The only way to have this done is to set the proper expectations at your first conversation. It takes a little more time to do these things up front, but it is well worth it when you have a smooth and hassle free process on the vast majority of you loans.

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“Toughest going right before the accomplishment”

Nobody quits a marathon within sight of the finish line. They quit before the twenty mile marker. Why? Because when you can see the end, you can muster the will to make it happen. At the twenty mile mark or before, you have expended a great deal of energy and feel the last six or so miles are just too much left to overcome. But if you can see the finish line in the distance, you keep moving. Just like Phidippides did when he made the run to share the news of Greek General Miltiade’s great victory over the Persians at a small village just northwest of Athens, you go until the goal is reached.

Now it really doesn’t matter that the distance is 26 miles, 385 yards or about 42.3 kilometers. Since we will never actually know the route traveled, the exact distance is lost but the race endures as a monument to Phidippides for not giving up until his mission was complete, even at the expense of his own life. The point is he kept going until it was completed.

How many people give up just before their efforts would amount to a victory? Well, we will never know. The reason most people quit is because they can’t see the finish line. They feel the effort is too much and the rewards to few to make it worthwhile. But how many times would people persevere if they only knew where that finish line was? What if they knew that the next call, or that next office visit, or that next person they spoke too was going to be the one that set forward the results they were looking for? Simply put, they wouldn’t. They would make that call or visit that office. But you never know. That is the big difference. In the mortgage business you don’t know if you will succeed on the first call or the one hundred and first call. We don’t ever know which meetings will open the door to a whole new area of business, or if the people we are working with are the people we need to be working with. And that is where setting a plan and creating the proper expectations is so important; because you just never know when something will make that breakthrough.

So we need to have a plan with specific expectations. We need to set forward our actions and activities as best we can in accordance with what our goals are. While we can’t ever make assumptions that we need to make so many calls per day to reach our goals, we can estimate what it will take to get the job done and set up a schedule to keep track of that process. The important part of this is to set a reasonable expectation and the work and time needed to complete it. Sticking to the schedule is important, tracking and quantifying the results from time to time is paramount because we will never be sure where the finish line is in our industry.

I can’t tell you how many times a rookie originator go out on the first day and get a loan application. I know it happens, but I know it is rare! I can speak from experience that it can takes weeks or even months of making calls and visits before you find that referral or opportunity to do your first deal. Does everyone get a deal the first day, NO! Does everyone take months to get their first deal? Absolutely not, but most of us find we are somewhere between the two, and since we are never sure when it’s going to happen, we have to keep calling and visiting until it does.

Now we can eliminate some of the guessing by looking at what others have done before us who were successful and follow that path. Clearly it is better than just randomly giving out cards and hoping someone will call, but even if that was the only plan you had, it would be a better plan than not trying at all!

Some of you are struggling with production right now and are chalking it up to the market slowing down. Don’t believe it. People are buying homes and now with rates falling we have a whole new market of refinances open to us. Don’t be the one that quits. Be the one that makes the call. Be the one that makes the visit. Be the one that succeeds. Just like blowing up a balloon, the toughest part of blowing up a balloon is getting it started and right before that last push before it pops, the toughest part of our business is getting started and working through the emptiness until you get that first deal to go together.

Success is what you want to make it. The distance you travel to succeed is up to you. Victory comes to those who do the work. Nobody likes the work, but the ones who do the work are the ones that win the game. If you know the result you want, then keep working until you get there. If you choose to stop, you choose to lose!

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Be Prepared

If you have been paying attention to the housing market and have kept your eye on the bond market, you would have seen what the numbers are now showing us, despite the media’s best efforts, people are buying houses and the end of QE has not crippled interest rates as the Fed stopped purchasing MBS on a big scale. The fact is MBS remains a great investment as the quality of the paper has improved, and the yields have been solid when compared to other assets. When you throw in the falling European economies, you have a real value in mortgage-backed securities.


I am sure that you have already heard about the former Fed Chairman being denied for his refinance. Ironic how those in power have to come back out in the real world and deal with the very policies they have supported. Unfortunately the media shares the story about the “tight” credit markets. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is virtually no limit to the amount of mortgage lending that can be done, there is just a lack of understanding that you must be able to document your ability to repay the debt according to the rules set by Congress and the CFPB. If you can prove your ability to repay, you can get all the money you can qualify for!


The other part of this story is who was the loan originator on his file? How did you NOT know that moving from salary to commission was going to be an issue? Why didn’t you take this deal to a portfolio lender that would have been happy to have done the deal at today’s competitive rates? The other question to me is, if the chairman of the Federal Reserve didn’t refinance when rates were almost a full percentage point below where they are today when he still had his salaried job; isn’t the average consumer even more out of the loop? Isn’t that why we are still seeing people come to the table refinancing 6% and higher loans? Doesn’t that explain that we are still looking at better than 50% of all mortgage volume being refinances?


As we reach critical levels in the bond market, are you prepared to act if we break below 4% again? Did you queue up your database with all the people above 4.5% that might benefit from refinancing if we break below the 4% level? Are you looking at the values in your area for homes that used FHA financing with the permanent MI and think about the possibility that they might now be able to refinance into a conforming product and not be bound by MI forever?

The housing market is better than most people think. The urge people have to own where they live is still quite strong. As many will start to reduce their efforts as fall moves toward winter; we need to push forward and work to gather the deals the others are leaving behind. The third quarter will be the best quarter of the year for my coaching clients and there is no reason the fourth quarter won’t be as good or even better!


Be prepared. Do the work. We have shared all the information and winning strategies that people are using each day to close 5, 10, 15, 20 units a month or more in the very same markets that you are working right now.


Be prepared. Do the work!


I also want to encourage you to visit and take a look what they are doing. This morning my wife and I have left for Texas for the groundbreaking of this monument in Weatherford Texas. All of our returning heroes deserve our respect and attention. We must also remember those that did not return home. I have been told that the healing of a nation at war can only begin when we honor those who serve and remember the sacrifices made for our freedom. We need more parades and monuments to show our gratitude and to remind ourselves that freedom is never free! Please donate if you can, and do what you can in your community to support the efforts of those who serve and who have given so much!

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Automated or Automatic

Before we get started I need to take a moment to share my sorrow over the loss of a Realtor® in Arkansas who was trying to do her job and serve the public as a professional. We all need to take a minute and pause to reflect on this tragic loss and to look at our practices and be certain we are not exposing ourselves to harm as best we can. My thoughts and prayers go out to those who have lost a special person.

Last week while speaking with one of my clients, Nino Pascale in Scottsdale Arizona, we were talking about systems and how many things were now automated. Auto-populating software grabs information and places it in any number of places and all kinds of actions and activities begin to happen. Technology can really increase productivity by taking one piece of information and multiplying it through a series of connected events. My concern is, that the people using the technology are either not aware of all the things that are happening to this piece of information, or are now disconnected from the process.

One of the things I try to stress in my coaching is awareness. I make all my clients commit to paper the very process they wish to follow and diagram the flow from first contact, all the way to closing and beyond. Step by step we talk about what happens, who is responsible for taking action, how long each step should take, and when the next follow-up needs to take place. Clearly some are better than others, but this awareness of how your system works is critical.

With the use of so many automated systems we also need to look at the various types of communication. Email is by far the most prolific, but is also the least valuable. With such a large number of emails to deal with on a daily basis, many emails are blocked by a filter or never opened, much less read and reacted too. We need to be sure that email is only PART of the communication cycle. We need to include all streams of contact with our clients so that we can connect with all the areas of awareness. We need to be sure we include:

  • Personal visits and direct face to face meetings
  • Personal direct phone calls
  • Personal snail mail
  • Value driven emails and follow-up
  • Social media interaction

Without having a plan to include all five of these areas, you may be missing a vital contact point that could cost you some business.

You need to be sure that you are connected to your system so that you are automatic while your system is automated! An automated system without your personal interaction will never reach its full potential. You need to be aware of all of your contact points and what type of connections you are making and when you are making them. As an individual, you need to automatically schedule your people for follow up communications in your automated system. As long as you include all aspects of connecting, mixing the contacts between all five areas, you should realize the maximum potential of your opportunities from the system.

As a person you need to develop the automatic skills and habits that move your client from opportunity to outcome. Get clear on what you do, when you do it, and how it leads to the outcome you want. Without doing so opens the door to being just busy instead of being productive. Once you have yourself acting automatically to the situations and opportunities presented to you; you can then use your automated systems to position yourself at the top of your clients mind and keep yourself there!

You have to take advantage of technology but you can disengage from the process. Making those personal touches along the way is essential to maximizing the systems you are using. E-mail blasts are not a solution to good database management and client retention. It won’t work. You need to engage in all five areas. It takes a little work, but it’s well worth it over the long term.

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