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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   December 2012

5 Ways to Build Client Relationships

In today’s competitive market, set yourself apart with solid connections

In this age of technology, it’s more important than ever for mortgage brokers and originators to create authentic relationships with their clients. Earning clients’ trust can help you more easily guide them through what can be a challenging and stressful process.

But how exactly does someone build that sense of trust? How can you truly lay the foundation for success and customer satisfaction in this industry? The five following traits and skills are paramount in maintaining and boosting your business in this increasingly competitive market.

1. Be an expert

In this age of 24-hour news and information, the ability to speak with an insider’s knowledge and accuracy can put homebuyers at ease. For many buyers, understanding the complexities of mortgages and the process by which to attain one is confusing. As the industry changes and evolves along with the economy, buyers are feeling even more vulnerable as they seek home loans.

A mortgage professional who can present a real understanding of the market and the lending process — and is able to articulate that process in all its fine details — will have an advantage in the marketplace. Face-to-face communication and setting realistic expectations upfront can help you alleviate stress and build trust.

Related, be sure to take the time to understand your clients’ financial goals so that you can better guide their decisionmaking processes. For example, by asking a number of targeted questions, brokers and originators can discern whether a client may be better off with a 15-year loan instead of a 30-year loan, even if the 30-year loan is what the client initially wants. An understanding of the market and the client’s financial situation can help mortgage professionals and their clients make sound decisions together.

A successful originator must be dedicated to continuing education about the industry to build the knowledge base that ultimately will benefit clients. Mortgage professionals must consistently educate themselves through seminars and daily research. The result: Buyers and real estate agents alike will seek you out as a go-to source for reliable information.

2. Develop your network

Expanding your network with real estate agents and attorneys can provide a more seamless transaction experience for clients, furthering your professional reputation and business. The best endorsement for any broker or originator is a personal referral.

With that in mind, make an effort to meet the real estate agents in your area and explain your processes and services, as well as what makes you unique in a crowded field. In addition, build a network of real estate attorneys to whom you can refer your clients. This will facilitate enhanced communication among the parties in often-contentious periods such as attorney reviews and closings.

When all the parties know and trust each other, the overall mortgage process is more transparent. Even more, there’s a lower incidence of what could be perceived as last-minute changes that may negatively impact the client.

3. Provide guidance

When it comes to mortgage applications, creating the necessary paper trail often is the most daunting task for homebuyers. Collecting tax returns, bank statements and all the other paperwork required for a mortgage approval can create a surprising amount of stress.

Considering that, be upfront about what your client needs to do in terms of collecting documents. Nobody ever wants to receive a call the day before a closing that indicates a necessary piece of information is missing. Create checklists for your clients and be sure to follow up with them to make sure that all of the components are in your office when you need them.

4. Build relationships

In the past — but especially during the boom of the housing market — many mortgage professionals took a short-term approach to building client relationships. As recently as a few years ago, it seemed to many within the industry as if there always was another client waiting to buy a home. During the past few years, however, when new loans have been harder to come by, more and more originators have realized that investing in their clients now can pay off later, be it when they decided to buy another home or refinance their current mortgage.

The best way to nurture these relationships simply is to keep in touch with your clients and know their needs. Understanding their lives — their children’s ages, their career paths and so on — will help you create a schedule that you can use to check in with them. Try to anticipate clients’ life changes that could prompt a home purchase: a new baby, children leaving home, a job promotion, etc. 

Further, when you see mortgage rates that could have a positive impact on a client, reach out. Don’t wait for clients to call you — or another mortgage broker may beat you to the punch.

5. Share testimonials

The mortgage business is a competitive industry. Many homebuyers are skeptical of the industry’s processes and its professionals, especially given the media attention surrounding the housing crisis and the role that many brokers and originators played in offering loans to unqualified buyers.

A satisfied client’s personal testimonial attesting to your skill and trustworthiness will do more for you than any other marketing strategy. Compile a list of clients who will speak to specific attributes and are willing to be called by potential clients. If you are competing for new business, offer this list of clients to serve as your personal references, and let your clients do the talking for you.


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