Getting on the front lines with first-time buyers

"Every referral that comes to me, gets me"

Getting on the front lines with first-time buyers

Christian Babcock (pictured), producing branch manager at loanDepot, has a laser-focused client-centric approach that aims to make the mortgage process smooth and fulfilling, especially for first-time buyers. Speaking to MPA, Babcock revealed he’s on the front lines with every single client – ensuring that personal touch from the off.

“Every referral that comes to me gets me,” he explained. “I’ll easily spend 20 minutes to half an hour just going through everything they need to know.”

Most importantly, Babcock avoids overwhelming clients with jargon, recognizing that this is often their first exposure to mortgage concepts.

“Understanding that this is the first time they’re hearing it, I try not to confuse them with too much jargon,” he explained.

It’s this mix of awareness and  misconceptions, thanks to industry myths, that Babcock’s seeing a lot of lately. Especially where deposits are concerned.

“People have a very basic understanding, but there are still common myths,” Babcock explained. “Even though there’s so much media out there and so many programs for first-time homebuyers, people still think they need 20% down. And there’s really no regulation when it comes to credit scoring, and there are multiple different models. People will now tell me what their credit score is before we even get into the conversation. Now I find myself having to explain how credit works on almost every call.”

Staying on top of trends

Specializing in conventional, FHA, and jumbo loans, as well as other lending products like bank statement programs and ITIN loans, Babcock finds himself fielding lots of queries from lots of different types of clients.

“As a company, we’re an independent direct lender, but we also have a broker outlet for non-QM and jumbo products,” he explained.

To ensure a smooth process here, Babcock stresses the importance of staying current with the latest products and regulations in the lending industry.

“In the 22 years I’ve been doing this, the entire landscape of lending has changed probably five times majorly,” he explained. “We went from handwriting good faith estimates and putting our applications in a bag for a courier to pick up, to now an entirely digital platform with 50 pages of disclosure and no paper. We’re lightyears faster than we were 20 years ago.”

Having in-house processing and underwriting has been a significant advantage for Babcock and his clients.

“That’s been a huge part of my growth because we’ve always had in-house processing and underwriting, but I’ve also had it locally in my office,” he said. “If I have a question on a pre-approval, I can walk down the hall to an underwriter and say, ‘Hey, this is what I have. What do you think? How would you calculate this?’.”

And this ability to quickly get answers from underwriters has made a significant difference in Babcock’s efficiency.

“Getting an answer in minutes versus hours or days is crucial, especially in this market,” he said. “With a bad pre-approval, you could be wasting six months to a year of time, especially in this market, finding a house and then not getting the loan.”

Most importantly, once again, is the notion of putting the client first in everything Babcock does. And this isn’t a personal mantra, this is something he instils in his entire team.

“I train my team never to hide behind an email,” he told MPA. “Get that person on the phone as much as you can because it’s an experience. This is a service business is not a commoditized business. And although the internet is trying to commoditize mortgage, it’s still a service business more than anything else.”