Good relationships key to loan officer success
Mortgage banking consulting firm executives share how relationships with REALTORS® lead to borrower satisfaction and loan officer success
By Lisette Hilton
Among the telling statistics to come out of that research: Eighty percent of the business in the mortgage industry is done by 40% of the originators. “The 40% that does the 80% of business absolutely focuses on developing relationships,” Graham said. “In fact, we did over 150,000 consumer surveys last year on behalf of lenders, surveying closed loan borrowers. We asked a lot of specific questions on how that process was from the borrowers’ perspective. We then scored each lender and each of the individuals at the lender’s office on how they performed based on the borrower’s expectations.”
Key relationships STRATMOR also asks questions about borrower shopping patterns. According to the research, relationships with REALTORS® are the most important relationships for loan officers and the greatest determinant of loan officer success, says Mike Seminari, director of MortgageSAT at STRATMOR. MortgageSAT is STRATMOR’s real-time borrower satisfaction monitoring and intelligence measurement tool. “Our National Benchmark data shows 45% of borrowers say they were referred by a REALTOR®. Friends and family come in second at 22%. Repeat business (worked with my loan officer in the past) was 11%. Those are the top three,” Seminari said. Customers consider their relationships with loan officers the number one reason for choosing a lender, Graham said. “Maybe the customer developed the trust and engagement during the course of the interaction, but at some point, they felt comfortable with the loan officer, and that is the reason they chose the lender,” Graham said. Not only did loan officer interactions sway customers on which lenders to choose, but those interactions also determined customers’ overall satisfaction with the process. “The people who chose their loans based on their interactions with the loan officers were the happiest with the process,” Seminari said.
An important reason to attend closings
REALTORS® are the most important relationships for loan officers and the greatest determinant of loan officer success.
One of the things that loan officers should try to do to improve relationships is attend closings, according to Seminari. “The national average shows that originators attend closings 33% of the time,” Seminari said. “The key to that is the borrowers whose originators attended closings gave 94 out of 100 score on their satisfaction surveys. Borrowers who had originators who did not attend, dropped six points, which is quite a big drop, and could be the difference between someone who will recommend you and someone who will not.” Why is attending closings important? If a loan officer attends a closing and an unexpected rate or fee pops up, he or she can address the issue before it becomes a problem. For loan officers who are too busy to attend some or all of their closings, there’s another strategy that helps to keep them in touch with clients through what can be a stressful process. The strategy is this: Notify the client that you won’t make it to the closing, but offer a lifeline — your cell number or how to contact an associate. And promise to answer and take care of whatever may happen with the call. Regardless of whether a loan officer attends the closing, it also helps to call customers before their closings to review the numbers, Graham said.
Handle hand-offs with care
Top loan officers say developing relationships is a big reason for their success, according to Garth Graham, senior partner at the STRATMOR Group, a premier consulting firm in Greenwood Village, Colo. The firm offers performance and financial benchmarking for mortgage lenders, measuring lender performance across a lot of metrics, including borrower satisfaction.
Borrowers who have good relationships with their loan officers tend to want to interact only with those loan officers. But sometimes, loan officers have to ask others to respond to or talk with those clients. “When you do those hand-offs, you better do them well,” Graham said. The key is to let customers know someone on your team will be contacting them, explain their role and to let you know if it’s an issue, he said.
“The 40% that does the 80% of business absolutely focuses on developing relationships.” — Garth Graham
Testimonials help tell the story
It helps loan officers if others who look them up on the Internet can see that others are satisfied and happy with the service they’ve received. “One of the things we offer with surveying borrowers on behalf of our lenders, is that we can syndicate responses from consumers who are very satisfied,” Graham said. “We can syndicate those as testimonials on a website, such as” Sharing testimonials online helps secure potential clients after they’ve been referred. “The challenge is, if a REALTOR® or former customer referred you, the borrowers, especially millennials, have a pattern of looking you up online. If they can’t find you and see testimonials, they begin to wonder how good you really are,” Graham said. “It’s a shame when a loan officer who does a great job doesn’t have a lot of testimonials to prove that. Our solution enables you to have testimonials appear online so that your digital presence is as impressive as your traditional referral-type presence.”
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EDITOR'S NOTE: Lisette Hilton is a freelance writer.
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