Simple Strategies for Today!

So many complicated discussions in our industry about the markets, their effect on home buyers and the Realtor® relationship and how to find, cultivate, and secure great relationships with the better producers. Sometimes people are acting as if these ideas are somehow “new” to the industry. For years I have pushed using simple strategies to generate opportunities for both you and your referral partners, now is a time to revisit a couple of those simple strategies that will help you generate transactions, and provide opportunities for your Realtor® referral partners.

“The Forever Home Strategy®” is a very simple strategy that works in every market to generate listings, purchases, and refinance opportunities. Like all of my other simple strategies, it requires a little planning and a little bit of work. The best part is, you can go to the exact places you want to do business in and focus on the homes that work best for you and your agents.

Key factors are:

  • Selecting the neighborhoods that work best for you.
  • Work with your agents in advance to understand that price point.
  • Know the difference in value over the last five or so years.
  • Target current homes for sale in trade-up and trade-down communities.
  • Use the combination of Personal, physical, and electronic marketing to communicate your message.
  • A minimum of two hours once a week for 4 to 6 weeks of committed time for you and your agent.
  • If people want to move, list their house and find them the next one. If they are staying put, refinance them if they benefit from a change in term, rate, or to remove a HELOC.

“First Time Home Seller Strategy®” is along the same path as the Forever Home Strategy®, but in this case we focus on the typical first time home buyer homes and neighborhoods. We work with our Realtor® referral partners to comb specific properties, communities, and our past closed clients to find our targets. We can even search our company or branch records for those houses sold that fit the criteria that were sold and financed by others to be part of our group.

Key factors are:

  • Identifying specific targets so you have a minimum of 60 – 100 targets.
  • Follow the same criteria as above to identify past cost, current value, and the VALUE of an additional bedroom or bathroom for the difference in the monthly payment.
  • Buying now before the price and cost of the transaction goes higher!
  • Capturing a rising market from a higher value home.

Both of these ideas are gone through in detail on the website as part of a “Lunch & Learn” segment, a “Power Partnerships” segment, or a play from “The Coaches Playbook”. Having “ACCESS” to the tools is simple and a very minor investment in your business!

Using the tools in the website is something you can do today, that helps improve your tomorrow!

Questions or comments:

“Working toward the fourth quarter”

Glad to be back from vacation, but it’s time to reconnect with the work at hand. The beginning of September marks the beginning of the end for our business year. Chances are, you have less than 90 days to get deals into the system and get them closed to count for your 2016 numbers. It’s likely you even less time if you want to get paid on those deals in 2016.

So first let’s take a look at your numbers year to date and see where we stand.

  • What is your year to date earnings?
  • Home many closed transactions?
  • Now add to those numbers deals already in your pipeline that have not closed yet.
  • What is your current number of pre-approvals out looking?

Now you have a good idea of how 2016 is shaping up for you. Compare the final numbers to what your projections were and you have a good idea on the work you have left to accomplish in the next 90 or so days. Warning!!! You may not be happy with the numbers you see!

To those of you that have exceeded your projections or have already closed more transactions this year than you planned for, GREAT JOB! But don’t let off the gas! The coming fourth quarter will not only help push you further to the good; but it will be the work you put in place to start 2017!

So either way, let’s talk about the list of things we need to pay attention too in September:

  • Check in with all of your accountants and use those filing their taxes in October as a reason to connect with that accountant.
  • Share the strategy that shows us that filing in October, and then again in February for 2016 gives us two years’ worth of documented income in less than six months! So anyone thinking about buying a home in the next few years, this is a very important time!
  • Set appointments with your financial planners for breakfast, coffee, or lunch. The fourth quarter is a time when portfolios get rebalanced and is a perfect time for the “Annual Mortgage Fitness Check-up & Identity Theft Screening!
  • Prepare for your fall event or Halloween party!
  • Decide on what your plans are this winter for the holidays or if you are going to work the “Black Friday Sale Strategy®” this year.

September is a critical month for checking your numbers and making your fall and winter plans. Time will pass very quickly and before you know it, this year is over and you will have wondered how it all got past you. So take a few minutes and do the work. It only takes a little time and effort to figure out what you need to do and schedule the time to do it!

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“Do it right, do more business. The 8 Simple Steps of Success”

It never gets old when a client tells me that referral partners are finding them! The complete reverse of the paradigm, referral partners coming to YOU! Asking to meet with YOU! Taking you to breakfast, lunch, coffee, or a drink and THEY grab the check! This happens more frequently than you might think. It can happen to you on a regular basis if you just take the time to master the skills that matter!

Here are the 8 Simple Steps of Success that can make all the difference in your journey to success!

  • Show Up!
  • Set the proper Expectations
  • Provide a solution to the challenge at hand
  • Create the timeline to succeed
  • Communicate clearly and in the client’s chosen form!
  • Deliver on the promises set in your expectations
  • Stay connected providing ongoing value!
  • Work with those who “get it” and fire the ones that don’t!

I know you think this is too simple or that you already do these things, and maybe you do, but do you do all these things every time? As I have shared with you in the past, “Consistency is Currency!” If you don’t have a schedule plan of visitation, communication, and conversation, then you don’t have a plan, and if it isn’t scheduled on a regular basis, you are not going to be consistent. You have to show up in people’s lives in a meaningful way using all forms of communication. We have talked about this before; master all levels of communication, not just the ones you like.

Setting the proper expectations is the backbone of the process. I would rather you lose a deal in the beginning of the transaction because you were too specific and too complete, than to end a transaction, late, sloppy, or not at all. You are the expert and clients and referral partners need you to set the tone on how this will go from contact to closing!

The client isn’t always right! Often they will come to you with a plan that either will not work, or may not be the best possible option. Your job is to listen to the client’s story and then propose all possible solutions. Sometimes their plan is the best plan; and sometimes it isn’t. If a customer wants to make a bad choice, that is their right, but you are obligated to provide all the options so they know that they had a choice!

Don’t forget the timeline! If you don’t build in milestones along the way, nobody will know when the deal is off track until it’s too late! We have talked a great deal about the transaction timeline. Use it!

You must learn to ask the client how best to communicate with them. Never assume! Some people want to meet in person. Some prefer email, text, or phone calls. Some want to Skype® or use Facebook Messenger®, whatever form they choose, adapt and communicate!

All of the preceding means nothing, if you fail to deliver on your promise and meet or exceed the set expectations. The ability to master and control the transaction timeline is simple; it’s just not easy! Under promise and over deliver is a wise saying for a reason!

You can’t just walk away from a transaction and expect future referrals. You must continue to keep connected with everyone in the transaction long after the one deal is closed. You can’t keep sending them mortgage information. NOBODY wants or needs mortgage information from you every month! But they would appreciate you sending them something of value. Use video and electronic coupons like we have talked about in the past. Deliver exceptional value from exceptional product and service providers on a regular basis and people will keep you and your business flowing with referrals!

Your business, your systems, your tools, your very procedures and timelines are the very filters by which you will find the business and the referral partners you are looking for! There are people out there who would love an originator who followed this plan. Clients and referral partners need and are actively seeking quality mortgage professionals to do business with! Stay true to your system and those people will find you! If you run into people or “professionals” who didn’t think your system is what they want or need, PLEASE let them go! You can fire your way to success! Don’t work with those who don’t want to follow your system. There are plenty of clients and referral partners who will!

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“Story from the Street!”

Every once in a while I need to share a story from the street. I think it serves as a reminder to all of us as to the actions and activities we can and should be doing, but sometimes forget the value of. Today I wanted to share a story about one of my clients in Florida who shared the “Open House Strategy” from our recent “Lunch & Learn” with one of his agents. While they couldn’t execute all the items we spoke of, they did make a commitment to do some of the activities.

For this Saturday Open House, they elected to hit the streets with a flier sharing the house information and inviting the neighbors to a special preview prior to the public open house. They also elected to use more street signage than just planting one in front of the home.

So originator and agent go off on Friday afternoon and proceeded to knock on 54 doors and distribute the Open House flier and talk to those who would come to the door. All in all, the walk through the neighborhood took a little more than an hour. When I asked my client about the reception they had received, he sounded a little disappointed. He told me than there weren’t that many people home and only one person they spoke to wanted to schedule an appointment for that agent to come back and do a CMA for his house, because he thought now was a good time to sell his house and buy another one.

I was confused. I asked my client “how many CMA appointments do you think this agent gets in a year?” He said about twenty. So I said, “Your agent works all year to generate about twenty appointments, and in a little more than one hour working with you she generated an appointment, and you aren’t thrilled?” He paused to reflect on what I said. He had never thought about it in those terms. And that was my point. If we don’t think about things in that way, how do we ever know if the actions and activities we are doing, are actually generating the result we want?

We go further along into the story and find out that on Saturday, the day of the actual Open House, four of the neighbors who read the flier stopped by to tour the property. An additional two people saw the signs and came through as well. My client seemed a little disappointed that only six people came through the Open House. So I had to ask him; “How many people would have come through if you didn’t put the fliers out and used the signs?” That’s when he realized that NOBODY would have come to this Open House at all if they hadn’t walked the neighborhood and used additional signage! NONE!

Then I quizzed my client about the effort/outcome investment in this particular action and asked him; “A total of three hours of additional work doing the Open House the way you did it and the way she was going to do it resulted in six buyer opportunities and one CMA appointment, verses NOTHING! Was it worth the investment?”

Now we don’t know if that agent will actually list and sell the house she is doing the CMA for. We also don’t know if she will sell a home to any of the six people who attended. Further, we have no idea if my client will see any loans from having done this work, but we do know a few things.

  • 54 fliers out into the neighborhood
  • One CMA appointment
  • Six new contacts that had some interest in a home.

Will any of this result in a transaction? I don’t know. Is the number of opportunities generated by these actions significantly higher than if they weren’t done, ABSOLUTELY! In our business we can only close opportunities. Opportunity generation is the beginning of our sales funnel. No opportunities, no outcomes! We all have to maximize our opportunities. Looking at the tools and strategies we employ and by tracking the results of those actions is the only way to take control of your business and make winning adjustments!

And one last thing; that agent called my client and wanted to schedule another Open House for another property!

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“Numbers tell the story”

Stock market near all-time high levels, yet nobody seems happy with the economy. Interest rates near the all-time low, and we have the lowest percentage of home ownership in decades. Pressure on both listings and rentals are causing multiple bid situations all across the country and yet builders are reluctant to engage in large scale development. These are just a few of the stories of our situation that might make you pause and try and figure out what is going on.

63% homeownership is the lowest percentage many of us have ever seen; falling almost 5% in less than ten years. The entire mortgage meltdown was caused when guidelines were relaxed or eliminated trying to move that number from 67% to 70%, and now we find ourselves not better off for the experience. Many lost their homes that they could have never qualified for in the first place. Those properties falling into trouble put pressure on the rest of the market and the slippery slope got really steep in a hurry!

Builders who bought huge tracks of land and started many projects were left without buyers and sustained significant losses. Even the biggest and best builders were not exempt from losses and they have become far more cautious and are not in a hurry to expand broadly, at least not at the moment.

The Federal Reserve Board who seemed to be in a hurry to raise rates seems almost to have regretted raising rates just that little .25%! Now the markets seem almost sure that another rate hike won’t happen this year! Looking at the ten year near all-time lows, and oil pushing back below $40 a barrel, is anyone comfortable and confident?

Then we add into the mix a presidential election that most people are unhappy with and two seriously flawed candidates that each would likely have lost to just about anyone else, yet here we are!

So let’s look at some numbers that can really matter. People will argue that credit standards and people with declining credit scores are the reason more people aren’t buying homes. That argument is just that, an argument. It isn’t based in any fact. The reality is more than 75% of the population has good enough credit to qualify for a mortgage loan. Some may argue that income qualification is too difficult to become qualified for a mortgage. Again, if you really earn the money you say you do, and you can really afford the money you would like to borrow, there are many products and programs that will help get the job done!

In my opinion, these numbers just don’t add up to a falling homeownership rate. And when the cost of owning where you live is less expensive than renting where you live in most of the markets we all service, the only conclusion I can come to is that as an industry, mortgage professionals and real estate professionals aren’t doing a very good job getting the word out about all the benefits of homeownership.

Each and every one of us needs to connect with our referral partners and look at our specific market and review the local numbers. What are the facts behind supply and demand? What are the real numbers rent verses owning and with the likelihood of home prices and mortgage rates both being higher in the next few years, doesn’t now represent a significant opportunity?

So do the math. Know your numbers. Talk to your referral partners and gather all the information. Only then can you go out into your specific market knowing the numbers and why now is likely the time to either become a home owner, or to find your “Forever Home” and buy it and finance it before the cost of both go higher.

We may not know what is going to happen in the stock market. We may not know who wins the elections. We may not know very much about what the future holds; but we will all need a place to live! So why not get into that place now and lock in the cost before it goes any higher?

Information and education are the two things you can provide in your market on a very local level. Since all markets are local, get out and know your numbers and share that information with those around you! Become the local expert! That is where today’s opportunities are located!

Questions or comments:

“A quick look in the mirror”

As we close out the month of July and roll into August, we have to take a moment to update our own status. With more than half the year in the books, and likely a real good view as to what the numbers through September are going to be, we need to take pause and look into the mirror!

First thing we need to check is our production numbers. Where are they in relationship to our projections? Are we ahead, behind; or are we on course to meet our projections? Total up the number of transactions and the dollar volume and see where you are.

While these numbers may or may not be an honest representation of the future, we can add in our current number of pre-approvals and those units in our pipeline to get a much more focused and accurate look at how we stand. There is never a good excuse for not knowing your numbers! So take some time and get it done, you will be glad you did!

Now that you know where you stand, it is time to take a good look at how you got here. Look at each transaction and referral partner. Where did each deal come from and who was the referral partner if it came by referral. Going back to your business plan where you listed each referral partner and the anticipated number of referrals they were going to send your way, and see how that measures up? Are you ahead or behind? Are the numbers you projected in line with the reality of the actual referrals received? Are there new referral partners in the mix?

  • Once we have gotten this picture, we need to then recalculate our own numbers.
  • Am I making the required number of visits?
  • Am I getting the right number of referrals?
  • What is my acceptable credit percentage?
  • What was my pre-approval percentage?
  • How many of my pre-approvals went into contract?
  • What was my closing percentage from contract to closing?
  • What was my closing percentage from Contact to Closing?

This will help you recognize where you are and make it simple to see where your projections may have been off. Don’t panic, there may be great reasons behind why the numbers don’t match up. In some cases the numbers may even be better than anticipated! But the information will be helpful in any case.

August is a great month to calculate where you are and make any adjustments you may need to make to reach the goals you have set for yourself. For those of you who are ahead of your projections; great job! DON’T LET UP! You have momentum on your side so ride the wave to beating the numbers! Remember, this has been a very good year for the mortgage industry. People are excited to buy homes and with lower rates, we have seen a huge number of refinance opportunities that really weren’t expected!

So take a quick look in the mirror and see where you are. Run your numbers and recognize how you got to the numbers you currently have. Double check your referrals and your referral partners to be sure all is well and on track to meet or beat your expectations. Be sure to review your own performance numbers and see where you are. The numbers are what the numbers are! It doesn’t matter if the numbers are good, bad, or exactly what you thought; knowing your numbers are always helpful in letting you know if you are on track or need to make some adjustments! August is a good time to get this done!

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Quick Observations

After another strong week of activity, I wanted to share a few observations with you. First and foremost, please keep connected to your pre-approvals. Your failure to keep connected is like giving them permission to go to someone else! If you aren’t showing an interest in their search, you are likely losing your grasp on their transaction. So please; give your people a call at least every two weeks to ask how the search is going. Be supportive and optimistic. In many parts of the country low inventory of listed homes are making multiple offers more common, and your client may become frustrated. Now is the time for empathy. Encourage them and share possible strategies to help them, and their agent, find that next home.

Next, please mind your pipeline! It’s not anyone else’s problem but yours to manage! I don’t care if you have an assistant or a processor. It’s YOUR responsibility to make sure things are on schedule and making this a great experience for your client and referral partners! After all, this is how you earn future referrals, by setting proper expectations, timelines, and executing your plan! This is what you have to own. You can certainly delegate, but you can’t abdicate! You are the face of the transaction. Nobody cares if your assistant, your processor, your underwriter, your whoever made a mistake or forgot to do something! It’s YOUR transaction and YOUR reputation! So keep connected to your pipeline and your file flow! It takes only a few minutes a day, and it’s well worth it!

I know the “dog days of summer” are upon us! I know everyone is on vacation. Yes, I agree that nobody buys houses in the summer. Of course, there isn’t any inventory to sell! NOT TRUE! There are plenty of transactions to get in front of. There are plenty of people who are working or looking for a new home to buy or one to sell! And there are plenty of people who would list their homes for sale if they knew what they could get if they just sold their current home!

Work with your Realtors® using “The Forever Home Strategy®”. Get out there and talk to the people in the market who already own the homes you would like to be available to your clients. Share with them the information on how much home they can get for the same or slightly higher payment! Remember, they likely have been out of the market for a while. They might have a current payment based on a smaller loan amount but a much higher interest rate! The next step up for them may very well be about the same monthly payment!

So please remember to keep connected, do the work, and use your tools! There is no reason to take your foot off the gas right now! In fact, I think now is an excellent time to stomp the pedal to the floor and air it all out! There are plenty of transactions to get in front of right now! Just use the tools and follow your plan!

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