“Finding qualified applicants is the toughest challenge in being a mortgage professional
, and the reason that's hard is easy- bad credit,” said Gary Silberman, a mortgage banker who has been working for Contour Mortgage in Garden City, Long Island for the past three years. “I think most people don't have an idea what their credit is, and even if it’s bad they don't know how to repair it. Many people are just intimidated by the whole process, but it's not complicated... it's pretty straightforward and the information is out there. It's just that some people don't take care of their credit properly.”
In an industry where you often have to make your own business happen, leads can be an important part of being a mortgage professional; however, while Silberman said that he would certainly welcome any qualified lead on any given day, his stature in the field is such that buyers often come looking for him first.
“Leads are always welcome - the best place to get leads are referrals - and there's a lot of competition out there and it can be a challenge, but I have a good reputation and I get my fair share of business,” he said. “Once you do right by one or two people and you build that momentum up, they tell people and that's usually the best leads. My business is mostly all referrals.”
Some mortgage pros engage the services of lead providing companies, who provide leads to prospective clients for a fee; but while Silberman said these groups can be helpful, you have to choose carefully and make sure you align yourself with a quality firm when doing so.
“That's always something that keeps people's interest, and there are companies out there that sell leads and I've had some limited experience with that,” he said. “Sometimes they're good, sometimes they're not, and sometimes they're very expensive, but it's always something I'd consider.”
As far as leads go, aside from word-of-mouth, Silberman said that he typically relies on building relationships with realtors, which in turn builds a referral base.
Others don’t necessarily agree with Silberman’s reliance of referrals.
Zach South, president of Best Rate Referrals, a company that generates leads for mortgage professionals
“While referrals are always a good source of new business,” said South, “solely relying on them can cause peaks and valleys for a mortgage professional. One month you receive five referrals and the next you get zero.”
To create a steady source of income, buying leads from trusted partners is the best way, says South, as 75 per cent of home buyers start the shopping process online and most do not realize they need to get pre-approved before looking at homes.
“Our company has specifically targeted these home buyers and educate them that they need to speak with a mortgage professional before looking at homes,” he said. “Based on their credit rating, down payment, loan amount, we then filter these home buyers for mortgage professionals nationwide. In doing so, we have created a steady source of potential clients for the Banks and Lenders we work with.”
With the country dealing with the residual fallout of the bursting of the housing bubble several years ago; many people within housing - both buyers and sellers - are still treading lightly. However, Silberman noted that the market is showing definite signs of improvement, and stands to remain on that path for the foreseeable future.
“I think the real estate market is good... rates are going up right now, so it's going to make it a little more challenging for first-time home buyers trying to get their first mortgages,” he said. “Buyers' ratios are tight, and the prices of houses are probably going to be affected as the interest rate goes up, but overall, I think the market is improving.”
While changes within the mortgage industry instituted after the housing bubble burst in 2008 have made possible the act of doing business more strictly monitored - and thus more difficult for veterans in the field - Silberman noted that the changes made regarding new regulations are a boon as opposed to a hindrance.
“I got into the business after the regulations really tightened up, after the financial crisis, so they really didn't affect me, but they affect people I know who have been in the business longer,” said Silberman. “For a lot of people, the regulations they put in place are really good because they have to make sure that people have the ability to repay their loans and they have to be well-qualified. There are a lot of checks and balances, but I don't think it's a problem, I think it's a good thing.”
As far as the future, Silberman believes that the housing market will continue on its slow yet steady climb to recovery, and in the end that will prove beneficial for everyone - mortgage professional and prospective homeowner alike.
“I hope it stays at the pace it’s at right now; moving slowly. It’s when you have those big gains that people get scared,” he said. “But we’ve had a lot of nice, slow, steady increases over the last few years, and I think the market is heading in the right direction. As long as the interest rates don’t go up too much, I think that it should stay solid.”
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The mortgage game can be a complex arena fraught with difficulties; and the number one hurdle most people have trouble clearing is an all-too-common one: credit, or a lack thereof.