There seem to be two theories behind lead generation. Some top producers say that their realtor partnerships are strong enough that they’re happy to continue receiving the majority of their business from those partnerships. Others say that it’s smarter to market directly to the consumer, get them into their sales funnel and become valuable by directly providing realtor partners with business.
With both of those theories, however, one party has the upper hand by getting to the borrower first. Realtors want a true partnership as much as mortgage originators, and the foundation of that is joint lead generation.
Ronnie Glomb is one of the top real estate agents in the country, operating in New Jersey. He says that there are few differentiators between mortgage professionals anymore, and joint lead generation is key to a distinct value proposition. The rest of it—the lunch and learns, the CE credits, the marketing materials—is all icing on the cake.
“There’s no shortage of loan officers, just like there’s no shortage of realtors. I think nowadays, if a loan officer is going to show value to a real estate agent or agency, I think you really have to partner in lead generation, in driving leads into the brokerage,” Glomb said.
Historically speaking, he said, mortgage companies haven’t been in the lead generation business. They’d go after realtors or buy leads rather than investing in generating their own. Continuing to operate that manner is not the model of the future.
“It’s the old way of doing business: I have a buyer, I’m going to call up a realtor and say, ‘I have a buyer for you, and in return, you’re going to give me business.’ But that’s one. Here’s one, and what are you going to give me back? It’s over. But if we partner, and now we’re both invested in this system, it’s long-term,” Glomb said.
Even then, for mortgage originators to expect that realtors be exclusive is an unrealistic one in most cases. There are very few lenders—if any—who can handle borrowers in any conceivable situation who wants a mortgage, and even with solid partnerships, realtors are going to need to have a variety of lending options at hand. (Whether this means that realtors will be more likely to work with mortgage brokers as their market share grows remains to be seen.
Originators and realtors share the same goal of keeping the customer happy, and working with someone who isn’t in the best interest of the client simply because they’re paying for some sort of co-marketing isn’t doing the consumer any good. That being said, real relationships aren’t at risk from other lenders, including online entities with rock bottom rates.
“Nowadays, mortgage companies are pretty much the same, their underwriting guidelines are all kind of much the same,” he said. “I don’t think we have ‘wild wild west’ anymore, but even with that, I don’t want to send somebody to a mortgage company that I don’t really have a relationship with; where, if something’s going bad, I can’t pick up the phone and make a phone call and make something happen.”
Before originators even get to forming those relationships and turning them into long-term, lead-generating partnerships, however, they need to physically meet realtors on the ground and become memorable. Digital prospecting can only go so far.
“I get 10 emails with a newsletter from the same mortgage company, from 10 different loan officers from that company,” Glomb said. “Somebody taught them that that’s their way of prospecting. All it does for me is, I just unsubscribe, and now I don’t want anything from the whole company. So I think some of the stuff that they’re being taught really isn’t as effective today in a way that we primarily do business.”
Getting in front of realtors and asking what they want, need, and expect is the first step when it comes to combining efforts to bring in borrowers, and the success of a long-term partnership.