An old-school approach to connecting with new referral partners

LO takes humble, honest, analogue approach that may be perfectly suited to the post-COVID era

An old-school approach to connecting with new referral partners

Kenneth Troope (pictured) will readily admit that he doesn’t always do the best job forging new relationships with real estate agents. The loan officer with Community Mortgage Advisors in Nashville, TN. offered a refreshingly honest take about his work: when things are getting really busy, as they were through the balance of the last year, he doesn’t put in the time and effort needed to forge those new relationships. But growth starts with goals, and Troope is already setting new targets to increase his presence in that community.

Now also seems to be the perfect time for Troope, and thousands of loan officers like him, to make new referral partners. The white-hot housing market, and otherwise dismal unemployment situation, is seeing a raft of new real estate agents enter the industry. While many won’t make it, this surge represents an opportunity for mortgage professionals looking to fill their pipelines with purchase volume as the refinancing boom ends. Troope’s approach now is to use the same simple strategy that’s won him referral partners in the past: providing education and service.

“I think that educating realtors is probably my strength,” Troope said. “In the longstanding relationships I have, especially those I made when the agent was new in the industry, the common thread is that they appreciate the way I educate them and keep them informed throughout the process…Ultimately, doing a good job is the best way to get business.”

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Even with that strategy, Troope noted the challenges in pinning down new real estate agents. As they themselves try to build a pipeline and generate business of their own, it can be challenging to find the time to meet and discuss deals and the eccentricities of financing. Accessibility can be a real challenge from both ends, as loan officers have trouble connecting with real estate agents and they have trouble getting a hold of busy loan officers.

Troope’s approach to cutting through any communication issues is to be as forthright as possible when he’s in front of the realtor. He’s admittedly not pushy, and would rather meet in person or over the phone than in a series of endless email exchanges and follow-ups. He’s found that his referral partners prefer a forthright approach to financing and a straight sense of what can and can’t be done. He admits that he makes no pretense to have ‘all the answers,’ but offers honest, thoughtful service that his clients and partners respect.

That forthrightness has already won Troope some new partners. He recently partnered with a local real estate group as one of their two advertised loan officers. The deal came through a title rep he’d worked with for years and gave him access to seven agents and a digital marketing outlet.

Troope explained that digital marketing hadn’t been his forte up until now, preferring old-school referrals and radio advertising. Now, however, he’s moving his practice into the current moment.

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Still, he has no intention to abandon the old-school outreach method, especially with new realtors. He agreed that as vaccine rollouts ramp up and restrictions start to be lifted, he can redouble in-person outreach efforts in earnest. He noted that, like so many Americans, most of his industry and prospective referral partners are craving in-person meetings and closer contact. With springtime coming and reopenings already underway, Troope believes that the post-pandemic way to forge new referral relationships might be less about digital marketing blasts and more about an honest conversation over a cup of coffee.

“I think getting physically in front of folks and having lunch or coffee, that is really the way to go to maintain, or at least initiate, real relationships,” Troope said. “It’s just too easy to shoot an email or to make a phone call and ask ‘what do you have for me?’ I just don’t think that that sticks. I think there’s a lot to be said for meeting in person.”