The originator-realtor relationship is an important one. For many originators, those specific relationships are vital to the life of their business. Whether it’s 50% or 90% of an originator’s business that comes from realtor partners, originators need to know how to best nurture those relationships and keep them fertile.
Paul Lucido, chief marketing officer, and Kevin Peranio, chief lending officer, at Paramount Residential Mortgage Group, Inc., spoke to a group of mortage brokers at AIME Fuse about how to partner for success with realtors. Even for people who have been in the business working with realtors for decades can let some of the basic tenants of the relationship slip away.
“We get older, we get set in our ways, but we really forget how to create that relationship with the realtor. There’s a saying: ‘he who controls the lead controls the transaction.’ And the idea is, you need to put yourself in a position where you are controlling that lead and you have the choice to do as you choose with that lead,” Lucido said.
There are three reasons why a realtor might be open to having a conversation with a new originator, he said. One, they’re not happy with their current originator; two, they think that the new originator might be able to offer them more value; and three, the new originator can offer them better referrals in terms of more qualified leads.
Given those reasons for a realtor to open dialogue with a new originator, here are 10 concrete steps that an originator can take to create the ideal realtor relationship and make it a career-long one.
1. Treat the realtor as a client
The realtor is as much of a client as the borrower. They have needs, they want to be taken care of, which means the originator needs to listen to those needs, and follow through with the commitment to addressing those needs.
2. Be transparent
Most realtors crave transparency and honest through the loan process. Whether it’s goods news, bad news, something in between or just clarity on a specific issue, they want to be informed.
“Don’t return phone calls, make them,” Lucido said. “Keep everybody informed of the progresses and challenges. If stuff isn’t going well, make them aware . . . versus pretending that everything’s okay and you’re going to get hit with a huge pie in the face just before closing. You don’t want to do that.”
3. Make time for them
Originators don’t have to drop everything when a realtor calls, but it’s important to make time throughout the day to reach out to realtor partners and respond to them. “The human will seek the path of least resistance,” Lucido said. “So if you’re not there, somebody else is going to be there in your place.” If you don’t answer your realtors’ calls or respond to their texts, there’s no shortage of other mortgage professionals who will.
4. Face to face still has its place
Maybe the old-school method of dropping off bagels and coffee isn’t as effective anymore, but there’s still a time and place for in-person communication, presentations, and collaborations. It’s easy to get lost in technology, but technology doesn’t exist to replace interpersonal communication. It exists to simplify and pick up efficiencies on the back end, so that there’s more time to build trust and have closer communication in real time on the front end of the process.
5. Don’t do the realtor’s job
Let the realtor be an expert in their space. Overstepping boundaries and assuming knowledge about real estate is a quick way to burn bridges and lose partners. When an originator has a good lead, give it to a realtor who will take care of the property-locating process. When they work with a good partner, that borrower will return the gesture.
6. Keep it simple
Mortgages are complicated. There are always new products coming to the market and new guidelines to learn. More than likely, the realtor doesn’t know the jargon and the intricacies of particular product types and requirements (and with a great originator partner, they don’t need to know!) so it’s not beneficial to speak to them as if they do have that knowledge. Keep language and concepts simple, be clear in transmitting that information and ensure that they understand everything before moving ahead to the next step.
7. Be the expert
A realtor partner expects their originator to know all of the things that they don’t. Originators have to exceed that expectation, and ensure that their team meets that expectation as well.
“You have to train your staff, train your hires, to leave your legacy, to know what you know so you can continue to build your brand in your communities. Be that expert,” Peranio said.
8. Know when to hire help
Service is such a big part of an originator’s relationship with a realtor, so if service starts to slip, it’s best to hire someone quickly to redistribute some of the load. Once a realtor receives poor customer service, they’ll look further afield.
9. Technology isn’t a magic pill
Just as technology doesn’t replace face-to-face communication, it doesn’t maintain relationships. Even with the most modern automation and tracking tools, partners want to have relationships with other people, not with a phone number, profile, or email address.
“[You] can’t just hope your email or your CRM just does your job for you. You still have to make the calls. It helps you be more organized, it helps you collect your thoughts, but you still have to do the work,” Peranio said.
10. Give and take
Bending over backward doesn’t always result in a great partnership; sometimes it just results in a sore back. If a realtor isn’t sharing their leads, then they’re not a good partner, and they’re not worthy of getting the precious qualified borrowers that originators work so hard to obtain. If a realtor isn’t reciprocating the leads in a relationship, there’s no reason why an originator can’t seek out another realtor. The best originators know their value, and isn’t afraid to sell that to find the partner that best suits their business.