When coming up with a strategy to strengthen partnerships with realtors, it’s best to keep in mind that not all realtors are created equal.
Originators who are able to make distinctions between a great realtor and a great partner are the ones who get consistent results, and there is more than one way to go about strengthening those partnerships. At the Originator Connect conference, originators shared the approaches that have worked for them, and those that haven’t worked well at all.
Andrew Cady, also known as the Epic Mortgage Guy, separates realtors into categories. The whales are the “monster producers,” and although targeting the whales for partnerships is the obvious approach, Cady, who’s only been in the business for three years, didn’t want to fight for their scraps.
“Early on I decided that I wasn’t going to chase the whales,” Cady said. “I wanted to get myself in a position where whales were chasing me.”
Instead of focusing on the whales, he looks instead to the tunas, those realtors who Cady calls the “meat and potatoes” of the industry, who close between 10 and 30 deals a year. He’s been focusing his efforts to realtors at that level, and he has 58 agents who each send him up to three deals a year. They’re consistent, they’re solid, and Cady avoids relying too heavily on one partner for a big chunk of his business.
Jason Knee has been in the industry for more than 15 years and takes a slightly different approach.
“My motto’s always been go deeper, not wider. Most of my real estate agents are true partners, I don’t ever ask them for business,” he said. Most of his agents are actually tunas as well, but he has an ulterior motive in mind: his goal is to take a realtor who’s a tuna and get them to be a whale.
Rather than going after individual agents, Matt Boyce, vice president of purchase loan originations at Garden State Home Loans, chooses to focus on real estate teams. He closes about $100 million in loan volume each year, and he finds teams to be the most efficient use of his time.
“I love teams, and I like it because I feel like you put the same amount of energy into . . . the team that you put into the individual agent,” he said. Real estate teams also have a team leader, with marketing professionals at their disposal, and with a division of labor similar to that of Boyce, with transaction coordinators and other people who can coordinate with others on his team.
It can seem daunting to approach a real estate team, but Boyce said that a motivated originator has a leg up on most other people out there.
“I could literally invite everybody in my market in my office and do a seminar and give them all my secrets and tell them all the technology I use, and probably 98% of them won’t do it,” he said. “If you’re just consistent hitting these [teams] up, you’re going to get that business. And if you implement whatever technology, whatever road you go down, you’re going to, it’s going to work.”
It’s easy to see realtor partners as just numbers—how much they bring in for your business and how many deals they send you over the course of a year. Some of those tracking strategies are helpful when it comes to deciding which realtors are worth the time and effort an originator puts into the relationship.
When it comes to cooperative marketing, for example, something to keep in mind is that nothing is permanent. Boyce and Cady both recommend a trial period, whether that’s 90 days six months, or somewhere in between, after which there should be a thorough examination of the ROI. And sometimes teaming up with a realtor can be used to break away from the norm; instead of participating in existing systems for buying and sharing leads, originators can partner with realtors on campaigns to drive their own leads.
There are other low-cost ways to connect with realtors, such as interacting on social media. It’s the blending of the personal and the professional that can attract like-minded partners to you, and being open to engaging with everyone.
Knee isn’t a big user of social media for business relationships, but says that regardless of how originators make those connections, learning as much as possible about the person on the other end is why people choose to work with him over anyone else.
“I like working with people who like to work with me,” Knee said. “Agents who send me business, it never feels like work.”
There are times in every relationship where it’s either too one-sided or isn’t working out for either party involved. Dropping an agent can be a tough conversation to have, but sometimes it’s necessary. There’s a fine line between giving skills and service without the expectation of return and being a doormat, and some realtors will take advantage of everything realtors give to them. For Knee, that line is a pretty simple one.
“You either have a relationship or you have an inauthentic interaction. There’s nothing in between.”