End of the Year Momentum

We have talked all fall about pushing hard to end the year and begin 2019 with momentum. Many of you have really done well and are seeing solid closing numbers for December and good pipelines for January and February closings, as well as a number of new referral partners; so job well done! The key here is not to let your momentum slip away by easing up this last weekend of 2018. Just finish the journey by making one last round of calls to your referral partners letting them know your availability this weekend. Connect with your pre-approvals and let them know that this coming weekend may bring a great value in home shopping before the January rush when those who wanted to wait until the holidays were over to begin shopping!

You also must be really clear within your own company about the rules you need to follow during the government shut down. Some of you may not be affected at all, and others may face significant challenges with certain loan products. Since too many possibilities exist from location to location and lender to lender, PLEASE get very clear on what your specific policies and procedures are before confirming or denying anyone. Remember, your rules maybe different than others. Avoid making statements about what may or may not be possible OUTSIDE your own company policy!

Check for open houses this weekend, there may be more than you think or none at all! You do have to look! Check any files still left to close this year and be sure all the little things are done because it may be a challenge finding help on Monday the 31st!

Last but not least, complete any loose ends on your business plan and schedule. Make any little adjustments or tweaks so that next Wednesday the 2ndyou can hit your mark and begin the year strong. 2019 is going to be a great year for you if you have done the work and are prepared!

Have a safe and Happy New Year! As always, any questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com



“The Balance of your Business”

October is Business Planning Month here at IMT Coaching and we continue that focus with looking deeply into where our business is coming from and comparing it to the reality of where purchase opportunities come from and how much time you spend prospecting and maintaining the relationships.

Like everything else, you should really know your numbers. I break it down for you in the “Business Planning Workbook 2019” which is on the home page of the website (www.IMTCoaching.com). Using the model of the “Referral Triangle”, you really need to understand the mechanics of all your purchase opportunities and how they get leveraged out to the other areas of your triangle. For the purposes of this post, we are going to leave everything in the major groups. Realtor®/Builder – Other Professional – Database, you will break it down further into the actual people and activities in your personal plan later.

So we look at the three sides and determine:

  • Who are the people or tasks involved?
  • What percentage of my time do I commit to this area?
  • What percentage of my budget does this consume?
  • What percentage of my closed business does it represent?
  • Do the efforts equal the outcomes?

The next questions have to deal with direction of focus. Where are we prospecting for opportunities and are they a realistic representation of the opportunities available? Generically speaking, each side of the “Referral Triangle” controls about an equal share of opportunity in the market. While newer people tend to rely heavily on the “Realtor/Builder” leg of the triangle to start, it’s less than a third of all purchase opportunities available. Many originators never allow their business models to mature and so they keep having repeat performances of their first years in the business.

This is a time of the year to look hard at what we are doing and understand that first we need to understand the triangle and then grow it! Building your business into a mature mortgage practice takes some time and some planning, but is really worth it in the long run, especially in light of all the new tools designed to replace the originator with an algorithm! You have to keep putting the person in the profession by constantly personally connecting with your people! You also need to be aware that your job is to grow your database and nurture it with value so you can benefit from the referrals and repeat opportunities it will generate.

Keeping your efforts and outcomes in balance is an important factor that even the best sometimes forget. While it is true that if you master any one area of the market you can achieve great results; you also open the door to losing your entire practice to someone or something that can work cheaper, faster, or just replace you! Remember, diversification and personal connection can’t be bought, it has to be earned!

Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com


“Activities over time equal outcome”

Sometimes people fail because they don’t know what they should do.

Sometimes people fail because they won’t do what they know they should do.

Sometimes people fail because they stop doing what they are doing before they get the result.

In my professional career I know these three things to be true. I have seen it thousands of times all across the country. I have these listed in the order in which most originators will tell you they aren’t achieving the numbers they would like to be reaching. I am not convinced that they are correct.

People will accept poor performance rather than be fully committed to excellence. I know this because most originators don’t have a clear vision of what excellence is!

So this week I wanted to start an ongoing conversation about what an excellent experience is, how it’s delivered, and what that experience is worth to a customer. You see, if your business is fully automated, electronic, impersonal, and focused on lead to commission; you are going to have to prepare for increased competition and lower margins. In other words, many more deals for far less money. You will be replaced by technology and someone in a call center who will work cheaper than you will.

We are granted an opportunity now in our market to see a number of conditions all coming together that will become a significant turning point in our industry. The weaker originators who live on high commissions and low volume are soon to be a thing of the past. The internet and automation will make them extinct in a few short years. In my estimation, by 2020 the almost 70% of the loan originators in this country that close less than four units a month will either be gone, or working as an assistant for someone running a larger team of people, or in a call center.

Those originators who have built or are building relationships with all kinds of people and providing value to those people will be the ones that lead the teams and make the money. The cautionary tale here is that if you fail to manage the relationship, provide exceptional ongoing value to your people, and make the mortgage process as seamless and swift as possible, you may find yourself on the outside looking in!

I am not trying to put anyone in fear of loss. I am trying to share with you now an opportunity to gain. Look at our industry and see what is going on. Understand that the best will survive at the expense of the weak. Just like in nature, you adapt, evolve, or you die! I want to share with you how to adapt and evolve because those who wish to ignore the present will have no future. It’s your activities over time that generates your outcome! You have to know what to do, commit to doing what you should do and keep driving the process long enough to succeed, or know why you didn’t.

Prepare for the next generation of loan origination. Lead generation is not going to be enough. Building and maintaining relationships with exception value and a great consumer experience will be the benchmark for those that will be the next generation of loan professionals! Are you ready? Do you have your plan?

Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com

Check out my site at http://imtcoaching.com for more information and helpful programs for your Loan Origination business.

Benefits & Consequences

I had a great vacation to Hawaii; I think all of you should plan a trip there and see the pure beauty of the islands. Being part of the Memorial Day celebration at Pearl Harbor was especially moving. This trip really brought to the forefront of my mind something I have stressed with my clients for a long time, and that is understanding that every process requires the distinction of the benefits and/or consequences of the action or inaction.

Just like Hawaii rising out of the ocean and growing from volcanic activities, there are benefits and consequences from the event. Every time the lava flows, there is both destruction and growth as a result. Just seeing lava flow is amazing, looking back and seeing trees and bushes growing out from the cracks in the once molten lava are the reality that what once was is now something different. The evolution is the only constant. As part of one island grows each day from the flow, other islands shrink from erosion! It’s incredible to see up close a process that has been taking place for millions of years in action.

Just like the Hawaiian Islands growing out of the ocean, your business is the same. It starts from literally nothing, then the first contact, the first referral, that first application, and that first closing. All part of the loan cycle. Each part of that cycle has benefits and consequences. Your job as a professional is to convey and understand the benefits of your system, and the consequences of not having your system evolve. If your system doesn’t evolve, it won’t survive!

We have to understand how our system benefits the client, the referral partner, and our future business. If you don’t fully understand how all three of these things are being dealt with, you will suffer the consequences of lost referrals, referral partners, and your very business future. So take the time and look at your business. Be sure you are clear as to what you are doing and how what you do benefits the three areas you need to provide for:

  • How does my system and process provide a great experience for my customer?
  • How do I make certain that it works as well for my referral partners?
  • At the end of the transaction, do I have a value based follow-up system that keeps my clients connected and nurtured so that I gather their repeat business and their referrals?

If you fail to cover all three points, your business will not evolve as it should, and you will be open to losing opportunities, referral partners, and future business! So be sure you get crystal clear! Are we communicating effectively to the client and the referral partners about the benefits of working within your system as well as the potential consequences if they don’t?

Nature has a plan and a structure to grow incredible beauty from molten lava right out of the ocean. While this plan had taken millions of years to evolve, the steps and the timeline are quite clear and the results are exceptional. You don’t have the luxury of millions of years to evolve your process. You just have weeks, months, and a few years to get these things done. The good news is you aren’t creating life from the ocean; you are just meeting people and helping them close on a mortgage loan in 30 days or less!

There is a real beauty when you already know all the elements needed for a perfect process. You already know the timeline of events needed to be sure you meet that 30 day or less closing. You already know what the client and referral partner want and how to deliver it. You already know how to nurture all of your past relationships with value. You already know what you need to do to create an exceptional experience. Your job now is to schedule the work, share the process, execute the plan, and make the adjustments needed for you to evolve into that mortgage professional you know you can be!

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

It’s the END of the First Quarter!

Wow! That was sure fast! The first quarter of 2017 has come and gone in a flash. As always, the end of the first quarter is the time to do some basic work and analyze some numbers. We need to get out our business plan and compare what actually happened, to what it was we projected to take place.

  • We need to look at our personal income for the first quarter and see if it was in-line with our forecast?
  • We need to look at our in process pipeline and check if we had any deals roll into the second quarter that might have been counted in the first?
  • We need to look at our preapproval que and see how many people we have 30 – 60 – 90 days into the home buying process and see if we are tracking properly?
  • We need to look at our referrals and where they came from. Are those people we thought would refer us business, referring the business we thought they would?
  • Are there any surprises in any of these areas?
  • What adjustments do we need to make based on the information we have just discovered?

It is really important to do this work. It confirms your thinking about this year, or it will allow you to rethink and refocus on areas or tasks that are now coming into view. You should also take the time to look at your first quarter closings and see how long it took for your people to go from being preapproved, to closing the loan. Knowing the gestation period of your preapprovals can help you manage expectations and understand your future numbers.

As we approach the spring buying season, it’s really important to take a moment and review your plan, track your results, see where you stand in relationship to your objectives, and then make whatever adjustments you need to make in order to make your projections come true. Wishing won’t ever make things come true; only WORK will make it happen!

Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com

“Become self-reliant”

I just wanted to share some information that was presented by Karen Deis on her Facebook® page. Karen is an industry professional and a friend of mine that I have always appreciated for her insight and knowledge. Here was her post:


Karen Deis

March 6 at 11:45am ·

READ THIS if you buy leads…blurb in newsletter from Garrett, McAuley Co.

Do you buy leads? We have a bank client going through an exam, and the examiners are saying that anyone purchasing leads from Zillow is actually paying for referrals, which is a RESPA Section 8 violation. The reason is that Zillow takes information from a customer and then directs the “lead” to one mortgage company, i.e., it’s an endorsement, which means it’s a referral.

So it may be possible that some people may interpret buying leads as a violation of RESPA. While at the moment nobody has been charged with any wrong doing, it is important to be aware of these developments and know that if one person sees something one way, it might be possible for others to agree with those findings. If the CFPB sees something as non-compliant, you can bet things will happen quickly!

The real reason I bring this up is because I have never been a big fan of buying leads. While I know some have been very successful using these types of tools, many of the people I have talked too haven’t met with the type of results they had hoped for. Now I know that many people buy leads and do a terrible job interviewing and following up with those leads; causing them not to see a great result. However, I also think that when you are only acting as a conduit, you really aren’t bringing significant value to the table quickly enough to create the differentiation needed to stand out as more than a commodity. Another reason is, if it were just as simple as calling those leads, then the bigger banks would already own those companies and have rooms full of people making calls trying to convert them. Not a pleasant experience for anyone, and certainly not worth any real money to the bank paying for the leads.

In my vision of the professional loan originator, referrals come from a trusted source that has had experience in working with that professional. Those types of trusted referrals allow for the basic conversation so that the professional and the prospect can listen to each other and ascertain the situation and the value the professional brings to the table. Clearly, when you are recommended by a trusted party to a client, you have a huge advantage in being able to make your case and present yourself. Heck, at least you have a chance in actually talking to the prospect!

Generating these trusted referral partners are the building blocks of a full commission origination professional. When you can establish and maintain these high quality relationships, you not only keep yourself in opportunities, but you are not ever in a position to be outsourced! As you build that group of professionals, you will find other like-minded professionals will begin to call you and seek you out as a trusted referral partner. This is the pinnacle of our business; you start attracting the very people you most want to work with!

Investing the time and energy to build your business like this isn’t easy. It takes a great deal of effort applied over time. There is no magic pill, just do the work! As we have talked about before, you need to:

  • Have a clear and professional message.
  • Provide significant value to the referral partner and the customer.
  • Tell 100% of the truth, 100% of the time.
  • Set the proper expectations and have your process over a specific timeline.
  • Show up, follow up, and keep repeating the process.
  • NEVER get emotionally attached to the outcome!

When you become self-reliant you never run the risk of a price increase, wage decrease, being replaced by a technology, or having what you do devalued.

——- Thanks Karen! If you aren’t following Karen Deis on Facebook®, you should!

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

“Don’t forget to measure!”

Hard to believe we are closing in on February already! How many of you are executing your 2017 plan consistently? My guess is that if you are reading this post, you are doing a really good job with your execution because we have talked about it a great deal. So the next most critical thing to master is to be certain you are measuring your efforts against your projections to be sure you are doing what you said you were going to do! Remember, first we plan, then we execute; finally, we measure! We measure the actions. We measure the time it took. We measure to see if we are really doing what we said we were going to do! It is important to measure because failing to measure your actions weakens your ability to make the proper adjustments to improve your results. Just like a computer, garbage in, garbage out!

With three weeks into the year, now is a good time to see if we have developed the habits of our new intentions! Twenty-one days to a habit, you should be well on your way to success! With those new habits established, we now must look forward to measuring the results of our actions and activities! Again, if you don’t measure, you can’t make the proper adjustments!  Failing to make the correct adjustments will hinder your ability to be as efficient as you could be.

Twelve key things we need to sure to measure:

  • Are we prospecting a minimum of two hours each day?
  • Are we receiving a minimum of 5 credit pull opportunities each week?
  • Are 70% or more of the credit reports we are pulling good enough to proceed further to document collection?
  • Are we growing toward, or maintaining twenty or more pre-approved clients out looking for a home at all times?
  • Do we connect with every agent, accountant, attorney, financial planner, and insurance professional involved in every deal?
  • Are we sending hand written thank you notes to our referral partners at the closing of each transaction, including those we just met?
  • Are we following up with those new referral partners ten days to two weeks after we send the note to set an appointment?
  • Are our referral partners sending the number of referrals in January that we projected they would?
  • Are we adding the number of new people to our database, Facebook®, Twitter®, LinkedIn®, or other social media connections that we had scheduled to do?
  • Are we posting helpful and valuable information on our outlets to keep the people connected, looking, and sharing?
  • Am I adding the video frequently asked questions to my YouTube® channel that I said I was going to do?
  • How many times have my referral partners or past clients shared my video business card?

All the planning in the world won’t help you if you aren’t measuring against your projections and being prepared to track the results and make needed adjustments! Our business is all about being able to adjust quickly and effectively. Sometimes we don’t know what to measure? Sometimes we don’t make the correct adjustments? But failing to make projections, track the results, and make adjustments will only give you everything you have always gotten! So if you are already getting everything you want, then ignore this post and we will see you next week. But if you aren’t getting everything that you want, then project, execute, and measure, so you can learn how and when to make the adjustments you will always need to be making!

Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com

“Focus on what matters”

We have spent a great deal of time this year focusing on details and specifics. In many cases, as a coach, that is what your job is, to be aware of the details and help your clients incorporate those details into actions that generate the results they are looking for. For many, the remaining days of this year will be spent looking for the next party to go too! While I think the parties are great, it is important to keep focused on your process and your schedule. Failing to do so will only cause a lag in your pipeline that may take months to correct!

What matters to people now are rising interest rates. The Fed moving the needle will undoubtedly cause some severe volatility and continue the overall trend of higher rates. It is important to focus on what matters! Rates are going up and certainly aren’t as low as they were just a few months ago. But that is the market we live in. Don’t allow the conversation to become negative. Focus on what matters! What matters is that rising rates are still less of a burden than rising rents!

Sure it costs more money each month with higher mortgage rates. But have you taken the time to do a rent vs own comparison? Rising home prices and higher rates make for a higher monthly payment, but that payment didn’t go up anywhere near as much as rents did year over year. So while the monthly payments are certainly higher than they would have been a few months ago; rents are moving much more quickly higher in most markets. Take this opportunity to share these thoughts with a few of your real estate referral partners. Look at properties and their rental equivalents, do the math and see what your market looks like. I am sure that owning still represents a significant value over renting!

The other area of focus is timing and speed. While some people would have you believe that you need to focus on the speed of the pre-approval process, I contend that the pre-approval process is exactly where you need to focus and spend the time to get everything right and in order! The speed in the transaction needs to be from contract to closing because that is where the value is for the consumer! Why do I say this? Well, look at your rate sheets and note the cost of extending a rate lock or a longer lock period. You will quickly note that using a shorter rate lock saves your customer money!

Get the numbers on paper. Show the customer and the referral partner the real dollars involved in having to extend a lock or lock for a longer period of time. Look at the real dollars and you can see that it isn’t the speed of the pre-approval that matters; it’s the speed in which you can take that deal from contract to closed!

So don’t be put into a position to quickly help someone into a bad choice or to lose money. Focus on getting the deal done correctly and being fast and efficient where it really matters, where the money matters, the time you lock to the time the deals closes is where you have the need for speed!

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

“Locks to Learn”

This may seem like a very obvious observation, but it’s one that I needed to share. For many in the business of real estate and real estate financing, they have never been through a rising rate environment before, and as such, have never had to deal with the importance of rate locks. Here are a few things that I think everyone needs to be aware of:

  • The free market determines interest rates, not any one individual.
  • Time matters!
  • Think of it as insurance.
  • You might NEVER see that rate again.
  • Offer information but never give ADVICE!

Far too many people believe that a loan officer or a particular lender has the ability to move the markets. Mortgage interest rates are set by the entire market. While some lenders do have some minor ability to impact the rate on the loans they provide, as a whole, the market is the market and rising rates are a function of the markets! Your job is to explain rates and points, products and programs, lock options and the costs associated with them.

We also must explain in detail the cost of time. We all know there are a number of ways to lock a rate. Some programs have a degree of flexibility and others are etched in stone. But the basic rule is, the longer you need the lock, the more it’s going to cost! Share information about the different types of loan locks and what is required in order to lock a rate.

I have found in the past if you explain a rate lock like an insurance policy, people have an easier time understanding it. Everyone has some form of insurance. You always have to pay for it, but you don’t always use it. And just because you don’t use it, doesn’t mean they are going to give you back your money!

You have to be very careful to explain the long term markets and where people are in that history. 30 year fixed rate mortgage loans over the last 45 years have ranged between 17% at the high, and 3.25% at the low. If you take the average over that time, we see the rate at 8.26%. So while rates have moved up, historically we are still much closer to the bottom than the top. You must caution your clients about the potential real costs of waiting. Rates may NEVER go lower than where we are, but they can always refinance down the road if they do!

NEVER OFFER ADVICE!!! You are NOT A BOND TRADER! You don’t know for sure where rates are going or have the ability to see into the future! All you can do is to share information and options about the rates in question, show in detail the costs associated with each option and let the customer choose a path. It’s their money and their set of values. Some people are happy to pay a few dollars more a month than a point or two up-front. Some people have real emotional hurdles at certain rates. It is important that you share the real numbers and costs about what each option costs, as well as the risks if they do nothing!

Rate locks are not that complicated. It is important that you know your rate sheet and the costs of each program and investor because all are not the same. You also can’t hide from a rising market. Rates go up. The cost of houses goes up. You control neither! Just share the real information. Just as I said last week, rates are going up, home prices are going up, and so is the cost of RENT, but with renting you NEVER have the option of stopping the rise in cost!

Information, education, and options! That is your job; help the customer make an informed choice. More than that and you are playing with fire!

Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com

“Grow Up”

The election is over and for some reason, a small part of our country has made a choice to whine and complain how things didn’t go their way. SERIOUSLY? Never before in the history of the Republic did universities have to take a time out, cancel classes and exams because their students needed emotional support animals! As I have said for years, giving children participation trophies would lead to an entire generation that was weak and undisciplined. Well, here you have it. We have people crying because they lost an election and showing their displeasure by blocking traffic, assaulting people, and causing millions of dollars in property damage. Yes, I know the pain of losing. I also know that you get up and go back to work. You congratulate the other side for their efforts and work harder to do better. Unfortunately, that isn’t happening for a small minority of people; the people who have a really distorted view of the world. The election is over and a new administration will take over in January. We ALL have a need for the new group to succeed, because we ALL live in this country and want it to do well. Anyone that ever wished for any new administration to do poorly; only wishes harm to themselves.

The mortgage point to all of this is that I have to caution all the idiots who are screaming about the collapse of the mortgage and real estate industry! Are you all insane? What, interest rates go about 4% and that’s it? Are you kidding me? The country has had artificially low rates for years and all that has happened is a sluggish economy where people can’t find growth. Higher rates are being triggered by OPTIMISUM in the stock market that the economy is going to get BETTER!!!

A thriving economy can certainly cause our artificially low rates to NORMALIZE! In fact, higher rates are actually a GOOD thing. Higher rates provide better returns for those bond investors, likely those on fixed incomes. In fact, for many years traditional savings accounts hung around the 5% mark. Higher returns on cash isn’t all bad!

Yes, higher rates cause higher payments. But have you taken the time to get past the emotional trigger of higher rates and just done the math? Yes the payments are now a little higher, but will that slightly higher payment really prevent people from buying a house? Come on, get real with it. If payments going up $20 to $100 a month really stop someone from buying a home, how are they going to deal with RENTS GOING UP EVERY YEAR?

Anyone that is that tight on payment shouldn’t be borrowing that much money in the first place. A vast majority of borrowers don’t borrow anywhere near the amount of money they would be approved for. And besides, you think home prices and rates are going BACK DOWN? Guess again!

My career began in a 15% rate market. For many years I wrote loans that were double digit terms and there was no shortage of business. Rates broke below 10% and kept going down. People were happy as they got deals at 8, 7, and 6%! We also know an entire refinance industry was born. Now I get that for some people, refinances are a significant part of their business. I also understand that I have been telling people to be certain they had a business model with no less than 70% purchase business because at some point, refinances were going to go away.

So for all the experts out there, who are forecasting the end of our industry, just grow up! Yes, higher rates are not as pleasant as lower rates are, I get it; but it doesn’t mean people aren’t going to buy homes. In fact, given all the complaints about limited inventory and too many buyers chasing too few homes, maybe higher rates help settle the markets and help us find a more “normal” environment?

Interest rates were going to go higher at some point. Isn’t it better that they go up because the markets are expecting a stronger economy with great growth, than because we have a stagnant economy with runaway inflation? So everybody take a deep breath. Yes, rates are higher. Yes things will cost a little more. But as professionals we have to get clear about the real costs and provide solutions to the challenges at hand.

So do the real math. Brush up on you adjustable loan products. Remain calm and understand that sometime you win and sometimes you lose. If you won, congratulations and I hope you are happy and your team does well. If you lost, congratulate the other side and hope they do well. If you are part of the half of the country that didn’t bother to vote, shut up! You didn’t participate; you have nothing to add to the situation! The sun always rises in the morning. Be happy about that and make the best of it.

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