“First Quarter Strategy”

Okay, so everyone has already abandoned their business plan to chase refinances. I get it. I don’t agree with it but I get it. The lure of fast money can be very powerful. For those new to the industry it can be as simple as buying a list and pounding the phones. For more seasoned people it is just a matter of combing the database and finding targets that make financial sense to lower payments. I get it. But what happens often is the chase of the refinances becomes all-consuming and the daily prospecting all but goes away. Referral partners get frustrated because people are neck deep in refinances that they feel left out or neglected. And believe me, in the mortgage business, absence DOESN’T make the heart grow fonder; it causes relationships to dissolve and new relationships to be formed.

I am not suggesting that you don’t do refinances. What I am saying is, don’t abandon your prospecting plan. You can do all the refinances you want before 10am and after 3pm. Heck, work evenings and weekends if you want the EXTRA money, but remember, if you plan on being in the business for the long haul, grinding refinances is a tough way to make it happen.

One of the things I coach my people on that are working refinances is to be sure one of the first questions is: “Are you currently living in your Forever Home?” If they are, then just review all the options and provide choices so the client feels comfortable with their relationship with their house and their money. But if they aren’t, then you need to discuss the options. Do we look into an ARM? Do we think about listing and selling to go buy our Forever Home? We talk at great length about this in my “Forever Home Strategy®”. Use the same concepts to show and share the opportunities to your client with the help of their Realtor®, or your Realtor® referral partner. Nothing makes a Realtor® happier than someone bringing them a listing and two sales all in one call. So go back and read the strategy and be clear on how to execute the plan and convert these powerful opportunities.

You also need to be watching and tracking your numbers. You need to be tracking contacts, credit pulls, preapprovals, files submitted into processing, as well as your closed loans. You also need to be tracking your inbound leads and following where your business is coming from to keep your referral partners on the path to the number of referrals you expected from each source. Are you working the plan and are the results what they should be? I urge extreme caution when comparing numbers just year over year. Last year, 2013 was likely the worst first quarter all of us have seen, maybe the worse first quarter ever when it came to closed transactions. The weather in that first quarter was brutal and it hit our industry very hard. Consequently, first quarter sales and closed transaction numbers were pretty poor. So when the first numbers start coming in, please use extreme caution about how “good” they look compared to last year.

Another important tracking item is to monitor new listings, days on market, and total inventory. This time of the year, those numbers should be building. If listings are up but total inventory remains flat or is falling, you are in a hot seller’s market and days on market should be falling. If it grows faster than closed units and “days on market” starts to rise, you are in a more traditional winter market that is building toward the spring buying season. It is helpful to watch these numbers with your Realtor® referral partners to help track your individual market, or even subsets of that market.

Last but not least; you need to keep a close eye on contacts, credit pulls, credit quality, and preapprovals. Make sure they are growing and that the quality is good. Remember, the purchase market is much stronger in most markets and many people are unaware just how strong. It is also the life blood of our industry. Refinances are great and a service you need to provide, but purchase deals and putting people into their Forever Homes before prices and interest rates rise, is good for the client, good for your referral partners, and good for the long term health of the industry and your business.

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

“What is my payment now worth?”

Big changes are happening and everyone needs to be on top of their game and to provide your clients and referral partners with current and accurate information. Here are a few things you need to be thinking about and sharing with everyone you know:

#1: The changes in FHA MIP premiums will have a huge impact on the amount of money your borrowers can qualify for. After January 26th 2015 the cost goes down significantly!

2: Interest rates in general have been going down and there is now a significant rate move since just September and October.

Why are these two things important? Well, for purchasers, their monthly payment now buys them more dollars. If you are working with FHA clients, this can be a SIGNIFICANT amount of money. Imagine getting $20K, $30K, $50K, or more in borrowing power for the same monthly payment? How would you clients feel? How would their Realtors® feel?

The new FHA changes now open the door for significant contrast to the FNMA 3% down program. You really need to look at all of these side by side so your clients can make an informed choice!

Besides just the changes in FHA MIP, interest rates have fallen dramatically in the last few months and may find room to go lower still. It’s time for every preapproval to be reviewed and adjusted to new levels of purchasing power. If someone can now get more home for the same money, don’t you think they would like to know that? If you combined both the MIP savings and the interest rate savings, it can be a huge difference.

So here is the success strategy. Do your own analysis with your own numbers reflective of your market. Put together a report so people can see side by side how recent changes really do impact what they can do and how much house they can buy!

Next we need to share this information with our own preapprovals and recertify their loan amounts. Then, we need to talk to all of our Realtor® referral partners and have them connect with EVERYONE they are working with, both buyers and sellers, and share the good news and have them contact you to recertify their preapproval reflective of a higher loan amount for the same monthly payment!

Last but not least, time to queue up your database for all of those people who would benefit from refinancing to the lower rate and possibly to reduce their MIP costs as well. You need to be the person sharing the information and what they need to do to benefit from these current changes and rate environment. Purchasers want to know how much house they can buy for how much payment they have. Refinancing requires lowering an existing payment or reducing the term. You can do both!

For an idea of a way to share the FHA changes, please take a look at a Mortgage Coach Edge® video one of my originators did for his clients and referral partners. Never underestimate the power of video! https://mcedge.tv/16p2yu

Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com

Welcome the New Year!

Welcome to 2015! What will your year look like? Has all the planning been done and targets set for acquisition? The journey that is 2015 begins with a clear assessment of what 2014 was, and what you brought forward into this new year and the things that must change in order for you to achieve the greater results you  likely seek.

It has been said that everyone is exactly where they are supposed to be, no better or worse, just as they are as a result of all the things that have happened along their journey to this exact point in time. If that is true, then the only way to experience any form of change in results would be to make a change in the actions that have led to the result.

So why don’t we look at some of the fundamentals we can slightly alter in the coming year so that we might experience a different result? Why not look to a few small and simple steps we can do right away that could cause a dramatic result in the number of opportunities we generate in the course of the year. Even if we don’t improve our conversion rate at all, just simply getting in front of more opportunities should improve our final results.

Here are a few things you can change today. It won’t take much time or money. It won’t likely be anything you haven’t heard before. Nothing will be complicated except for the fact that you must make these changes and that they must become habits because without doing so, you will quickly revert back and the results will remain as they are!

#1: Understand that there is nothing more important in your professional life than a minimum of two hours of focused prospecting every single work day. No exceptions.

#2: When you are working, turn off your cell phone and email alerts so you are not distracted. If you change your voicemail greeting and let people know when you are available to return their call, they will gladly leave a message. If they don’t, you are likely better off not working with them and letting them annoy your competition.

#3: Grow your database every day. Even if only one new contact. As your database grows and you nurture it with value, the number of opportunities it will provide you will grow as well.

#4: If you are going to work with Realtors® you must spend some time being committed to working their listings. You can’t just keep asking for buyer referrals all the time, you must put forward the effort to help your Realtors® secure, sell, and replace their listings. By doing so, you secure that relationship, generate more mortgage opportunities, and become a true referral partner!

#5: Actively try to replace every file with either a new file or a new referral partner generated for that transaction. Spending just a few more minutes looking for those ignored opportunities can grow your business exponentially!

#6: Set the proper expectations with yourself, your coworkers, your clients, and your referral partners. If you aren’t clear about what needs to be done and how it gets done, it isn’t likely it will happen as you would like it to.

#7: Never end any action without knowing what is next to happen and when you are supposed to check or act on it again.

#8: Remember to say thank you! Our business is a service business. Remember your only function is to serve the clients and referral partners you find in front of you.

Clearly there are many more things we could discuss here or other simple things you could do that would improve your opportunities. Even if each one of these things could save you an hour a day and find you one transaction a month, you could grow your business by almost 100 units a year and save you 220 hours or more than five weeks of work. What would your business look like if you could grow it by almost 100 more units and save you more than five weeks of work? And what if it was only half of that? What if only a quarter of that? Would you make these changes if all you got were two deals a month and saved just one hour of work a week? And if you did make these changes, could anything make things worse? What do you have to lose?

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

“Strategies for the Holidays”

For those of you who are still engaged in the work of being a mortgage professional, here are a few strategies you can use over the last few days of the year that could provide an additional deal or two for the coming year and maybe find you a few new referral partners along the way.

Holiday parties: You are certainly welcome to partake in the festivities, just be careful not to overdo it. A drunken originator is not a professional. Be sure to consume all in moderation. If you are going to an office party, be certain to acknowledge the host with a gift for all to share. Food is always a good thought because adding more alcohol may only add fuel to the fire!

Be social and network but be careful not to “sell”. As a professional you are always sharing and never selling, especially at a social function like a holiday party. You can always make appointments to follow up with business related conversations at a later date. Always be sure to follow up with a “Thank You” note the following day to the person that invited you and the host of the event.

Expired Listings: December 31st and January 1st see a large number of expired listings hitting the market. Talk to all of your agents about their plan for these opportunities and be certain to share your thoughts on how you can help engage and support an expired listing.

Mailing HUD-1 statements: Now is a great time to print out a copy of every HUD-1 from every closing you had this past year. Then get them in the mail with a note telling them that their accountant will likely want this document to help prepare their tax return. It never hurts to remind them that you are available to help or answer any questions.

Volunteering: Always great to help a group, organization, or charity during the holidays. Being someone people learn to count on to get things done is never a bad thing for your business. It also makes you feel good to help those in need of your assistance during the holidays.

Accountants & Financial Planners: As they get ready for tax season and rebalancing portfolios, it is always a good idea to remind them about the “Annual Mortgage Fitness Check-up and Identity Theft Screening®”. You never know who is thinking of moving, needs to move, or would benefit from a refinance.

Queue up that database: Who is over 4.5% on a fixed rate loan and who may have an ARM recasting in the coming year? How about we refinance out the old with a new loan that saves them some money and helps them pay off some holiday debt by missing one mortgage payment when they refinance?

December 26th – 30th and January 2nd – 4th: What are your plans? If you are working, be sure you know who else is working as well, and locate who is covering for those that aren’t. There will be buyers looking and sellers selling on these days. Don’t miss out a chance to make connections and put together some transactions but have a clear contact plan for these days. If you are thinking about working, have a clear plan to get out and get engaged! Visibility rules!

I wanted to thank all of you for keeping connected through this post and I look forward to a great 2015! Have a Very Merry Christmas and a Healthy, wealthy, and safe entry into the New Year!

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

Quality will lead to Quantity

As this year comes to an end and as people are planning for 2015, it is time I shared the one thought I wish all of you would take and run with; the knowledge that Quality will lead to Quantity.

In the loan business we are faced with three tasks, prospecting for new business, processing the opportunities generated from that prospecting; and managing the communications created and needed from the first two things. We all have seven days a week and twenty-four hours each day. So how is it that some people get more done than others? Before you say they have assistants, or work for a better company, or have better referral partners; try and look at yourself and the time you spend doing your job and ask yourself, “If I did a better job doing this, would I have more time to do more of that?”

You see, time is the investment we commit to take action and generate an outcome. How we use that time makes all the difference in the total time spent getting the job done. The old carpenter’s saying, “Measure twice and cut once” comes to mind. How often do we go back and revisit areas of a loan that could have been dealt with sooner and with fewer consequences than what we encountered? How frequently do we fail to finish something or double check something we have to go back and deal with later?

Higher producing originators develop great systems and build in redundant accountability to be sure they work every time, and if they don’t, someone catches the issue before it causes a major meltdown! How many times do you hear the phrase, “putting out fires”? What are these fires? How did the fire occur? Is there anything we could have done to prevent this fire or detect it before it got out of control?

Taking the time to get things right upfront is an investment in your own future. When you get things right at the beginning, you spend less time “fixing” things down the road. In fact, many of the so called “fires” we deal with on a regular basis were detectable had someone bothered to look. The time it takes to review a contract, pay stub, bank statement, tax returns, or other documentation BEFORE you move the file along can save you hours or even days down the road. It isn’t good enough to put the paystub in the file, you have to review it and check the numbers! It isn’t good enough to upload the contract of sale into the system; you have to read it to be sure everything matches what you have. I just had an originator tell me today that a deal blew up at the closing table because the name on the contract of sale didn’t match the name exactly as it appeared on their driver’s license and the loan application. Everyone missed it. Everyone! It is the originator’s job to check the documentation and do the math and check the spelling. As long as the originator makes the most money from closing a loan, I will maintain it is their job to double check the documentation in that file to be sure it matches what they wrote on the application and that the math works!

Taking a quality application and setting a proper expectation makes for a better client experience. It also makes for less time spent in total getting the file closed and makes the referral partner happy to have referred you which leads to more referrals! Doing a better job by focusing on the quality of your work will lead to more opportunities and a higher quantity of loan opportunities and closed loans! It’s not an “either/or” situation; one will lead to the other!

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

“Four More Weeks”

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday and spent some quality time with family and friends. I also added my 58th birthday to the festivities so it was a grand four-day weekend for sure.

Early results from the “Black Friday Housing Sale®” are pretty interesting; some were highly successful while others didn’t seem to make an impression. For those that followed the plan and generated real value to the consumer the results were pretty significant. For those who just marketed a small discount off closing costs, the effort was less than satisfactory. Like everything else I suggest you need to follow the plan. If you try and “wing it” with less than 100% effort, the consumer ignores you and may even move away from you because you were clearly using a “Sales Approach” not a “Value Approach”. You can’t differentiate without clear value no matter how much you hype something, if it isn’t a significant value, people don’t show up. Nobody gets up at 3am on Black Friday to save ten percent on a $50 item. You needed to present significant value.

We have four more weeks until the end of the year and we need to focus on more than just where the next holiday party is tonight. Attend all the parties you want, but you have to keep working while the others ease up and coast. Besides, there aren’t many parties going on between 8am and 3pm so you have no excuses to get up, get out, and do the WORK! Share the message of WHY it is important to be working now. Talk about the needs of the people who can get into contract today, close in January, and make their first house payment in MARCH!

People looking for a house in the next four weeks have a real need to make a deal happen. They also are likely to find less competition from other buyers who have decided to put off the search until after the first of the year! Think about it; is it better to shop for a home when more or less people are looking? After the beginning of the year, you will have many more people out looking at the same houses YOU are interested in. Would you rather be the only offer or part of a multiple bid situation?

The same thing also holds true for sellers. Many listings expire December 31st or January 1st. In fact, it is the single largest number of expired listing of the year! What happened when those expired listing relists or change to an agent with a more aggressive marketing plan? What about all the new inventory that will hit the market after the first of the year once the holidays are over? Would you rather show off your home fully decorated for the holidays with little competition, or when all the new inventory hits the streets? Wouldn’t you like to just get the deal done and move on? Sometimes less is more. Less buyers = less competition but by more serious buyers. Less inventory means your house can stand out as the best of the small group instead of one of the many.

So keep your buyers moving. Keep your sellers open to showing their properties. Keep your eye on the agents who want to work and NEED to work to get those final deals put together for January so they can start the year off with some closings and some commission checks! Also, work with your better referral partners to identify all the pending expired listings and get to work coming up with a plan to get in front of them as soon as the agent is allowed. Have the plan in place before the listing expires will lead to a greater number of listing appointments. You can help your agents by working up the numbers for them. What does five or ten thousand dollars really mean to them? In most cases, it’s only a few dollars a month on their next mortgage payment.

Four more weeks left this year to work. Four more weeks to keep active and in front of your referral partners, working the strategies that lead to closings. 2015 will soon be here and all the numbers will reset to ZERO! If you haven’t done the work, January and February closings won’t look so good! You can’t just coast to the finish line, you run right through it!

Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com

“A Home for the Holidays!”

We have just a couple of weeks left to put deals together and get them closed before Christmas and New Year’s. All calls and visits need to remain focused on the fact that there is still time to get deals done and that getting a deal done before the holidays often means you will be paying less for the home and competing with fewer buyers because of those “waiting” until after the holidays to make something happen. Seriously, will prices come down or will there be less demand in January? I really don’t think so. So making sure your referral partners and clients know that you can still get it done is the message you need to bring to the streets. You need to bring that message hard for the next week and be certain you push right to the last day!

We also need to be aware that as we come upon Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday party season, that we remember to be social and not sloppy! Enjoy yourself but be careful to manage the merry making to a low roar! You can’t afford to be the life of the party or to over enjoy to the point of no return! You need to remain professional at all times and helpful to those that may have overdone it. This is not the time burn bridges; it’s the time to build them through respectful and professional celebration. You also need to be sure you make appearances at all the functions that you are invited too, and be certain to keep RESPA in mind when you are planning gifts. If you aren’t really clear that what you are doing is compliant, be certain you ask someone to review your plans that knows the rules and follows your company protocol. Different companies have different rules. Just be careful.

This is also a good time to support your referral partner’s charitable efforts or work within your company framework and support one as a group. I know from past experience that working with charitable organizations during the holidays can be very rewarding and they all can use the help. Be certain you are the one doing the work, nobody needs more queen bees; charitable groups need worker bees! Do the work and help, the reward is in making the effort!

There will be no blog post next week because of the Thanksgiving holiday, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to coast! The “Black Friday” weekend can be a great weekend to put loans together and I know many of you are working the “Black Friday Home Sale” idea we have talked about here in the past. These last few weeks of effort will all come together resulting in a few extra deals and a number of new referral partners because you have executed a plan based upon providing exceptional value following a sound strategy. These benefits will reward you both short and long term. While many originators have already packed it in for the year, you have been doing the work and will see the rewards of those efforts all through 2015!

I thank you all for taking the time each week to read and share these posts. I am also very thankful to those of you that took the time to visit www.forever19.org and like us on Facebook®. It means a great deal to my wife and I and to those of you that took the time to order tee shirts, dog tags, and bracelets; or who made generous donations, we will keep you in our thoughts and prayers and thank you for helping us help remember all those who have served!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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