Developing relationships with real estate agents is one of the most valuable actions a lender can pursue when building professional networks and business. The strength of these relationships is forged through collaborative communication and in serving a shared client, the borrower.
Overall, agents want to know that you will be adding value to their business. In a similar vein, the partners you decide to work with can hurt your brand if they don’t bring the same care and attention that you do. Good real estate agents will carefully evaluate lender partners, learn about their reputation, get to know them, and work with them to build a solid real estate team and network. To build solid relationships with real estate agents, consider the following seven tips:
Show your knowledge of the mortgage industry. The mortgage industry constantly changes, and real estate agents need to have confidence that they are partnering with a mortgage expert who has the knowledge and experience to successfully guide them and their borrowers through the mortgage loan process. You will need to demonstrate that you have a deep knowledge of the products you represent (e.g., FHA to Down Payment Assistance) and that you understand how to work with the clients they serve. When you first meet agents, consider focusing on relationship building by having sincere conversations to develop a common ground about working together. Stay away from the “Pushy Loan Officer” who only wants to push loans and set appointments to talk.
Demonstrate added value in agent communications. Real estate agents constantly receive marketing communications from lenders. How will you stand out? How will you provide value? How often will you send communication? The key is to make sure that you provide value. Ask real estate agents what type of information will help them and their borrowers. Try to keep regular contact; for example, you could send a weekly email with industry updates, with rates, and sharing your industry experience on how agents can guide their clients on financing options. Or being able to develop leads in joint communications to build business.
Expand your social media presence. Real estate agents rely heavily on referrals to drive business—you help each other find business this way. Your presence, or lack of presence, on social media will say volumes about your ability to help them expand their business to future clients. When you have a growing social presence, it shows your value, in terms of recommendations provided by current and former borrowers, and networking ability. Of course, you will want similar exposure from agents. Be willing to share the posts of agents within your social network and interact with them digitally.
Co-branding digital and print media. There are many ways that you can include agent partners in joint digital communications. Show the agent that you can provide value to the relationship with multiple marketing touches that attract clients, including both physical and digital (or print) content. Some more value-producing ideas include:
- Email drip campaigns to inform clients on the homebuying process
- Social media posts
- Property websites that showcase both the agent and the preferred financing partner
- Property flyers
- “Just Listed” and “Sold” postcards
- Open house flyers and sign-in sheets
For an example of co-branded marketing material, see the Chenoa Fund marketing resources. Chenoa Fund correspondents have an extensive library of 100+ marketing resources (e.g., flyers, door hangers, yard signs) that they can use for co-branding messages with agents.
Establish a track record of trust. Real estate agents want to know that you have a track record of delivering on your promises, such as helping clients close on time. It doesn’t take many empty promises to scare off a loan officer. Whether your promise is to call back with an answer by a specific time or take a specific action on a loan, you and your team need to have the reputation of consistently delivering on promises and have the facts ready to prove your record. Keep the agent informed throughout the escrow. A simple way to keep everyone informed and establish trust is to send clients and realtor partners milestone emails based on loan progress..
Be local and available. Real estate agents like working with lenders who are local and have a strong understanding of the community and market. Being able to meet with the agents’ clients and to provide pre-qualification letters will go a long way to be more competitive in the eyes of borrowers. Become an affiliate member of the local or regional real estate agent association. Also consider joining business networking groups, which can also be a good source of referrals.
Demonstrate diverse product offering. Agents want to know that you have product offerings that will match the client base they serve. Help the agents understand types of mortgage loans you can provide: conventional loans, FHA loans, VA loans, fixed-rate loans, adjustable-rate mortgages, jumbo loans, and more. Don’t assume that agents understand all the nuances about loans such as each mortgage loan may require certain down payments or specify standards for loan amount, mortgage insurance, and interest. As a nationwide provider of down payment assistance, Chenoa Fund is a product that many lenders are adding to support the creditworthy, lower income clients of their communities.
About the Author
At CBC Mortgage Agency , we offer nationwide down payment assistance in the form of second mortgages through Chenoa Fund. We offer five different second mortgage products, each with their own individual underwriting requirements and guidelines, in an effort to provide options to borrowers of any income and most DTIs. Our options include products for both FHA and conventional loans; some of our products include 0% interest rates and no monthly payments.