“Peak of the Season”

In most markets across the country we are in the peak buying season. More people looking, listing, offering, and putting together transactions than at any other point in the year. With graduations, schools letting out, and vacations on the way, it is really important that you are clear about your process and your timeline. The more people you have to handle, the more important it is that you have consistent and clear process. You and your team need to have great communication and set proper expectations for everyone you need to manage, because each client and every transaction is important.

We have spent a great deal of time talking here about how your systems and your process act as filters for the clients and referral partners you want to work with. At the very peak of the season, when you have the maximum number of pre-approvals looking, and transactions working through your system, if you and your team are not really clear, you are going to disappoint people and lose business. So take a moment and really drill down on the details and the timeline.

I have shared many success stories about clients who have learned to master their workflow. Since no two people or companies function exactly alike, it is important that regardless of how you are set up, you tie certain actions and activities to your timeline and certain times of the week to review and make adjustments. I don’t want you having meetings every day for the sake of managing your pipeline or to just have a meeting; but I do want everyone focused on the process and clear about turnaround times!

Everyone on the team needs to be a “check and balance” for the other members of the team. As a team member, it is your job to “own” your work and your part of the transaction. It is also important that you don’t interfere with the other team members while they are trying to do their job. Just like in baseball, two fielders can’t catch the same ball. Know and respect each other’s schedule and blackout times. Don’t overload team members with call after call or email after email. And yes, remove the “reply all” thought from your brain. Nothing is worse than being bogged down clear fifty versions of the same email.

Originators, be clear about setting specific times of the week to carry out specific actions. Things like referral partner visits can be put on a “route” and run each week so that you develop consistency in your prospecting. Funny how it is generally prospecting that becomes the first victim of improved production. People get a few transactions racing through the system and right away they become too busy to get out and prospect for new business. So sad; people work hard to generate some momentum and the first thing they do is cut off the very activities that created the opportunities.

Take a few minutes and be clear about your process. Make sure your prospecting is consistent and that you are keeping connected with your pre-approvals to be sure they are looking at property and to show them that you still want their business. Out of sight is out of mind. You disconnect and they will too!

So be grateful we are in our peak season, interest rates are reasonable and people want to buy homes. Purchase inventory is stretched thin, so be sure you work the plan with your agents to help generate a few new listings! Be certain you work your full document pre-approvals so that when they do find that special property, they have a competitive advantage over someone with just a quick online pre-qualification.

Use your tools to be the expert in your market. Set proper expectations and be sure you communicate the way the client wants!

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

“The result proves the theory”

I had an interesting coaching call this week with an originator who I have been working with for about a year, and just shortly after she got into the business. She works for a major lender and for a branch that is widely respected and diverse in the types and quality of originators working there. With all kinds of different styles and approaches to the business, with varied results that is pretty typical in our industry.

I have always pushed my clients to understand that my approach is built through systems, schedules, and the sharing of value. I hit hard on setting expectations and the understanding that we are looking to become the local expert on residential lending in our market, and that our systems, policies, and procedures will help us locate the very people we want to do business with. That by being clear and consistent with the message, and by the execution of a success plan, we can close transactions faster than our competition and with a much higher level of customer satisfaction because we set and exceeded the expectations for the process.

Like all new originators hitting the street, this newbie wanted to believe that she was that expert, she wanted to believe that all she had been taught would make her exceptional; she wanted to believe she could deliver on high expectations and that people would notice her when she did. All the things we say we want to accomplish but with a healthy dose of fear to keep passion from becoming cockiness or arrogant.

Going out into the world sharing these beliefs can be challenging for originators who are faced with an industry that thinks there is no such thing as a mortgage professional, or that the only thing of value an originator can bring to the table is a rate. But she went out trusting her training and that this was going to be a business for her based on relationships and value, not transactions and price.

As she shared her message, most ignored her but a few saw the opportunity to work with someone different. As transactions began to close, as one deal after another exceeded the expectations and the timeline set by contract, people began to see that there was a different way to do business, and that they liked working with a true professional!

So today on our coaching call she shared that a client she had just closed shared with her what a great experience it was to work with her. That she had heard all the horror stories about how tough it was to navigate the loan process and to get her deal closed on time. But that this was actually a good experience. She felt that she was informed and educated from the very beginning about what to expect and what was going to happen. And even while those around her told her that she would never close on time or that she was going to have to be prepared for the last minute price changes and fees, she believed that this experience was going to be different. It would be so because the person she chose to work with was different!

The loan went from contract to issuing the CD in 18 days. The loan could have closed a full week before the scheduled closing date if they wanted to do so; and all the charges were either the same or less than what she was told they would be. Imagine that?

The client called her to thank her again for all of her work. She said that it was truly an exceptional experience and she wonders why more people don’t do things the way she does. She shared her story with some friends and they have already made phone calls to start their own process. Oh yes, the listing agent on the deal was so impressed with the communication and the ease, in which the process took place, that she has begun referring her new business.

We can all make a difference if we choose to. Choose to!

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

“Simple reminders save stress”

You can’t remember everything. The good news is you don’t have too! One of the key coaching points I share is to have your process well defined, and then laid over a timeline specific to that transaction. Every market is different; sometimes loan programs have different requirements that can cause a different timeline from other transactions. As the lending expert, it is your job to be in control of the process and the timeline. Setting up simple timeline reminders can make your life and your business much more manageable.

When you set the expectations for each specific transaction, it is important that you set the transactional timeline for each step of the process. A step by step, day by day, deadline by deadline for you to manage and for you to share with everyone involved to be sure things flow as they should. And if they don’t, you are there to respond quickly to get things back on schedule.

TRID has been a hassle to many and a blessing to a few. Those that saw TRID as an opportunity to differentiate them from the rest of the market have now begun to see the rewards. More and more people are frustrated by the delays and extended timelines are seeking those professionals that are mastering the process and still closing in less than 30 days. This doesn’t happen by accident, it happens with planning and schedule discipline. That discipline can be simply accomplished by setting up timeline reminders so you are on top of your files. If something is delayed, your reminder lets you know and get you back on track. These reminders can be programmed into your electronic calendar, or simply written in your day planner. It doesn’t matter how you schedule your success, just that you do it!

Simple reminders to the client and referral partners can also save you stress. Reminding your Realtors® to have sales comps ready for the appraiser at the time of the appraisal to help justify the price, can help prevent short appraisals. Simple reminders also help keep your Title Company and Attorneys on track to have their final numbers to you at a predetermined time so your closer can have time to prepare the CD early for review and quick delivery to the client for approval.

Simple reminders to the client that keep them focused to not make any big purchases, not to apply for any new credit, don’t move any money around or make large cash deposits. These simple things can cause big problems or even the death of the deal in some cases, so why not be prepared with a series of simple reminders that help keep everyone on track, and focused on a successful transaction?

It won’t take long to look at your file flow process and set it up. Once you have them complete, it’s just a matter of scheduling them for delivery when you set the transactional timeline. The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” really resonates with me on this one. Take some time and get this done. The deals and stress you save will be your own!

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

“What has been YOUR online experience?”

Tomorrow is April 1st and I am sure there will be a significant number of “April Fools” shenanigans for us to be amused or victim of. Unfortunately, there is one significant “prank” being played on the public, and that is the mass marketing of a ten minute, online pre-approval. Yup, a computer program and the client’s personal information and before you know it, you are ready to go out and make the biggest financial commitment of your life!

Let me ask you this; what has been your experience with making important choices online? Now before you answer, let’s get clear that we are not talking about buying something we have had experience with where the product is exactly the same regardless where you go; we are talking about a situation where people often don’t know the answers to specific questions or have no idea what options they may have! While many people think getting preapproved for a loan is the same thing no matter where you go, the reality is really very different.

Why don’t we look at a few scenarios to see if you agree? Have you ever shopped for a car? Did you know exactly the make and model car you wanted? Were you clear on all the options? Did you just go online to a website and pick everything you wanted and clicked a button and ordered your car? Or did you physically go to the dealer and look at the cars? Did you sit in the car? Did you test-drive the car? Did you see what options they had and were they worth the price you were paying?

How about using an online dating site? After reading the profile and looking at the pictures, did you agree to meet this person? When you met them, did they look like their picture? Did they act and sound as they described themselves? Was your interpretation of their information represented by the actual person that arrived?

Some people think they know exactly what they want. Some people don’t realize until they get very specific and very real with the numbers that what they want, and what they get can be far different from what they really need or can really afford!

How many times has a customer come to you looking for one thing and done another? When was the last time a prospective client didn’t really know how much money they made or what their obligations really were? Is an algorithm really capable of asking all the questions, understanding the answers, asking additional questions to clarify the situation and then make a determination as to the proper course of action? And if this is true and people really aren’t needed to work the process, are these companies really going to terminate all of their workers? Obviously not; what is going to happen is, some people will get the proper answer and go on their way. Many other people will either be denied or approved incorrectly. And is this what the industry needs? Ten minutes to rocket your way into the wrong choice?

Is the preapproval process the place where speed matters? Isn’t the beginning of the process the place where we should be taking our time to be sure the client understands all of their options? Isn’t this the time to be sure we have all the information or help prepare the borrower to be the best possible borrower they can be? Speed is a wonderful or a dangerous thing. You can get married in Las Vegas for $25 and in 15 minutes. However, a divorce will cost quite a bit more in time and money! You want speed in the loan process from contract to closing!

So in honor of “April Fool’s Day”, be sure your referral partners understand the value in a full document preapproval consultation. Be sure your clients aren’t fooled by using their speed at the beginning of the process where real danger can be found, and take their time up front so the speed in the transaction can happen when it really matters, after they fall in love with the home and want to close and move in! No need to rocket your way into the wrong product or the wrong terms, or maybe even no loan at all!

Questions or comments: Mike@IMTcoaching.com

“The Expert Gap”

Here we are, approaching the beginning of March and likely everyone we are going to close in the first quarter of the year is already in our pipeline or currently looking to make an offer. Staying in front of your numbers helps you keep your business in front of you and provides an opportunity to react and make changes in time to prevent the “valleys of production” often experienced in our business. I have always maintained that you can best improve overall performance by not focusing on the top part of your business, or growing your best month’s production; but rather by focusing on raising your lower months higher and allowing the top months to just happen as a result of doing the right things consistently. When you focus on your best month ever, it can often come at the expense of prior and following months, and cause a group of consecutive months to average out to a really weak total.

I try to keep my people focused on the “Expert Gap” at all times. Understanding that as loan professionals, we make a clear choice every day to either be an expert or a salesperson. Nothing wrong with being a salesperson, it just becomes a long term struggle to press that sales mentality out into the public when most people hate being sold! By focusing on becoming the local expert, you create a gap between you and your competition. This “Expert Gap” grows each day as those in your specific market come to understand the value in working with a true professional.

A clear representation of this “Expert Gap” comes now in the form of closing times on residential purchases as many in our industry struggle to close loans on a timely basis. Recently, Ellie Mae® has come out with a report that the average closing time on residential purchase mortgages has grown to 50 days on a conforming loan, and as much as 53 days on a VA loan. The self-fulfilling prophesy the industry has put out there since TRID came to us is that contracts needed to be 45 to 60 days to allow for the added work complying with TRID. As you well know, I have spent the last year and a half pushing my agenda that no such time frame was needed, and that all loan professionals had to do was get “BETTER” at their jobs by doing the work up-front with a client and preparing them and their referral partners on how to still close transactions in 30 days or less with TRID in place. I am happy to say, all around the country, originators who took this advice and got better and more professional, are seeing the benefits of “The Expert Gap”. Those professionals I am working with are averaging 22 days from receipt of contract to issuing the CD.

This is a significant difference that referral partners and customers are beginning to see. Even listing agents and sellers are starting to notice that a true full document pre-approval issued by a true loan professional that will close in 30 days or less, represents a significant value over those who can’t. And while some companies are spending millions of dollars advertising some sort of space loan that can be done in ten minutes; referral partners and customers are quickly finding out that a ten minute computer program can’t prepare a borrower with all of their options, and may even send people out into the market with a worthless piece of paper!

Local experts are now more important than ever. Speed in the pre-approval process is a lot like a fast surgeon; you don’t need it fast, you need it done correctly. The speed in the mortgage process can’t possibly happen at pre-approval. It can only come after and expert has examined all the information and discussed all the options before the customer begins the process. With a solid full document pre-approval done by a qualified local EXPERT, borrowers and the real estate professionals involved in a transaction can safely show property, accept offers, and schedule 30 day closings without fear of delays or worse, deals that die because the borrower was never really “Qualified” in the first place,

The “Expert Gap” is very real and growing each day. As I talk to my clients around the country, more and more of them are being invited to meet with realtors® and other referral partners they have never connected with in the past, or who were involved for the first time in a recent transaction, to come and share with them how their local expertise gets transactions to the table and closed, faster and with less hassle than other mortgage people. There is a growing demand for speed in the mortgage industry. But it’s not by going to space by providing a ten minute guess as to what the person might be able to do. Speed in the mortgage arena comes from a local professional doing a thorough job working with the customer in the very beginning to review all the information and helping that client make an informed choice! You can close loans very quickly when you do a great job of preparation. Experts invest their time upfront, so the total experience for the customer is better, with the speed coming from contract to closing!

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

Recruiting

Regardless if you are an originator or a manager, you must always have a place and a plan for recruiting. For originators it is recruiting new referral partners; for managers it is recruiting new originators. Depending on each set of needs, the process would appear different, but is really pretty much the same. It’s all about setting the targets and then scheduling the activities needed to execute the plan.

Recruiting for me has always been less about “selling” the company or the brand as much as it has been about problem solving. Instead of telling the world how great you or your company is; it often works much better to identify with a common challenge and provide the solution to that challenge.

When originators are looking to expand the number of referral partners they have, it is important to be sure they know what exactly they are looking for. Are you looking to expand with just anyone who might refer business, or do you have a specific set of needs for the types of referrals? It is simple enough to look at what you are trying to accomplish and create a realistic number of targets. An example I like to use is if you are looking for a referral partner that can send you one new transaction per month, you need to find someone who can send you two or three opportunities a month. You will also need to target three or four people so you end up with the one person you are looking for. It is also important to do a little bit of research into your targets to be sure the people you are targeting are really the people you want!

When targeting originators, you can’t just look for top producers to leave and come over to your side. While it would be great just to target the best two or three originators in your market, reality dictates you need to also look for more average originators that you can help grow into those top producers you need. Again, sometimes it is easier and faster to grow three or four originators with your better system than to pick off a top producer. Helping a 2-3 loan per month originators go to 5-7 loans a month will not only help your business, it will also give you a larger number of potential targets.

Now that we have looked at targeting, we do need to look at the final two pieces of the puzzle which are solving challenges and consistency of contact. Solving challenges is a pretty simple, ask what challenges people are seeing and resolve those issues. In today’s market we have a few issues that come right to the front that cover both areas, one is dealing with TRID. By now it has become pretty obvious the people and the companies that have a handle on TRID and can get deals closed in thirty days or less consistently. You either can or you can’t. If you can, find those that can’t and bring them over. Realtor® and originators alike are  finding that the public doesn’t care what the process is as long as they close on time. Those who can still close in thirty days or less have a huge competitive advantage; use that advantage to secure new relationships or acquire new originators.

Last but not least is being committed to the recruiting process. You must have a plan and schedule the time to act on that plan. For both originators and managers, it is important to create a consistent long term strategy for connecting. It may take, days, weeks, months, or years to get the attention of your target. You must not give up until that target tells you to leave them alone. Even then, calling them back once a year to see if they are still happy is a good idea, just remain consistent and courteous. Schedule regular days of the week and month to make recruiting calls or visits.

I will have much more on recruiting in this month’s coaching call. For those of you who are clients, you will get your invitation to that call shortly or you can just replay it from the website after January 27th. For those of you who are not clients, now may be a good time to think about investing into “ACCESS!” With “ACCESS” you enter the world of the client’s site that contains all the information. Every webinar, training, all the podcasts, e-books, scripts, fliers and support materials are always available 24/7. One small monthly fee with no long term contracts gets you all the ACCESS you will need to take your business to the highest level.

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

“Be careful what you wish for!”

So here we go again, people are getting themselves all worked up over how hard it is to get a mortgage and how hard it is to buy a home. Yes, even those who should know better are looking for ways to lower standards so more people can qualify for mortgages. Are you kidding me? Has anyone forgotten what happens when you lower standards? Did we not just get through an entire era where everyone thought it was a great idea to lend people money that had no chance of repaying it on some misguided effort to grow percentage of ownership in this country only to find out that this was a bad idea and almost bankrupted the world?

We do NOT need to lower standards; we need to TEACH fundamental financial management in our schools at a very early age. We need to teach SAVING. We need to teach people about CREDIT, DEBT, and DISCIPLINE! We need to stop sending kids to colleges and universities who are borrowing huge sums of money in pursuit of a degree that won’t get them a job that pays enough to repay their obligations. We need to provide more opportunities to train our children in a skilled labor and technical trades that can provide great incomes for far less money than college cost and reduce the demand on these institutions so the cost of that education will go DOWN due to less demand. We need to understand that there are people in this world that will NEVER be in a position to OWN a home because it isn’t the best situation for them. We also need to understand a few basic concepts.

  • If you want to buy a home and can prove you are in a position to repay the money you want to borrow, there is no shortage of mortgage money.
  • With such a shortage of available homes for sale in many markets across the country, why the sudden need to find MORE BUYERS to fight over that limited supply?
  • In most of the country, renting is more expensive than ownership; shouldn’t we be looking into generating more rental opportunities?
  • As more and more people conduct their business outside a tradition office setting, and even some work many miles away and rarely if ever make a trip to a traditional office location, why aren’t we moving out of the cities that are too congested and find or grow new or smaller areas of the country where it is far cheaper to acquire land and build?

As a country we need to take a breath and stop over reacting to everything. Everyone needs realize that so much of the self-absorbed behavior and the almost constant victimization just need to stop. If you are offended, then get over yourself. Grow up and realize that being offended by everything is YOUR PROBLEM, not anyone else’s problem. You’re NOT entitled to own a home in this country. You are not entitled to an equal outcome. You are not entitled to be offended. You have freedoms and liberty and the choice to do with that the best you can to suit your own personal needs. That’s it. No guarantee, just opportunity. And while I am at it, let’s get rid of all the participation trophies. We need to go back and teach winning and losing. It feels good to win and it really stinks to lose. If you don’t like losing than practice and get better or quit and go find something you can win at.

So as the government begins another push to “level the playing field” by lowering standards and making it “easier” for people to borrow money. Maybe we need to take a step back and ask ourselves if this is really a good idea since we have already seen what will happen? Stop lowering the standards and spend your time making better people!

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