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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   September 2018

The Best in the Business Earn the Borrower’s Trust

The emotionally charged homebuying experience calls for truth, honesty and transparency

The Best in the Business Earn the Borrower’s Trust

The ability to establish consultative relationships with borrowers built on trust is a core foundation of a mortgage originator’s business. Not only is purchasing a home an important step in an individual’s life, but it also is one of the most significant financial decisions a person will make.

Because of the twists and turns that are part of the mortgage-approval process, it is replete with a host of potential pitfalls, which are best overcome when the borrowers have faith in their mortgage originators. Those in the industry know that the steps to building trust are by no means clear-cut or simple. 

Historically, most originators have done a fair job of guiding borrowers through the mortgage process — ensuring their individual needs are met and that the funding is secured quickly with little inconvenience.

Homebuyers, in the past, however, rarely questioned where the money was coming from for their mortgage, what truly qualified them for a mortgage beyond their credit score or what would happen with their mortgage once it was signed and they were in their home. In many ways, these “good old days” were considered by many to be a golden age for our industry.

The often-opaque practices of this past era, however, are no longer applicable today. Thanks to the advent of digital resources and the internet, borrowers have access to more information about the mortgage process than ever before. Although the best originators always have striven to provide transparency and honest execution of transactions, this has now become a vital necessity.

Become an adviser

Despite improvements to the pre-approval process and some mortgage companies even offering borrowers the opportunity to be pre-underwritten, many borrowers still delay approaching an originator until later in the process, typically after selecting their desired home. The truth is that in doing so, borrowers miss out on a valuable opportunity.

An experienced originator can help borrowers clearly understand and avoid potential mistakes along the way while also helping them make more informed and well-educated decisions regarding their new home and its impact on their overall financial wellness. This is why it’s so important for mortgage professionals to more actively engage borrowers with the “heart of a teacher,” and not solely as a salesperson looking to make a transaction. Any borrower who walks into a branch should be treated as one would a family member or close friend, regardless of where they are in their home search.

Where many businesses falter is in trying to recruit talented employees who may not be a proper cultural fit.

Borrowers also come with high expectations, expecting to close a loan rapidly, oftentimes well outside of their price range. It’s an originator’s job to help put those expectations into perspective for them — honestly and transparently.

Mortgage professionals should adopt more of a consultative, advisory role in providing borrowers with calculated, specific answers to questions, such as the following: How much can they afford? What type of payment plan should they adopt? Should they pay down their loan early? Truthful and honest answers to questions such as these help borrowers make more informed decisions and achieve their long-term financial goals more efficiently. The key is to be transparent in the approach and focus on what’s best for the borrower’s individual situation.

With such an approach, not only do borrowers make better financial decisions that will facilitate their long-term financial success, but the originator also becomes a trusted partner whose value extends beyond closing. This is simply good business practice as borrowers will tend to utilize that professional as a resource throughout their lifetime and become an advocate for the originator, referring friends, family and colleagues.

Keep your word

It’s a simple truth that the mortgage industry still suffers from a poor image even a full decade after the Great Recession. Borrowers today, unfortunately, view the mortgage process with a sense of unease and distrust, and not without some cause. Originators back then were not held to the same standards as they are today, and certain bad actors’ unscrupulous sales tactics put proper originators in a bad light.

Originators truly are only as good as their word and the service or guidance they provide their borrowers. While the industry may still be working to overcome a negative stereotype, borrowers are more poised than ever to seek out originators who value truth, honesty and commitment more than anything else.

Not only should originators be honest in their relationships, they must also ensure they are keeping their word and following through with action. When originators tell borrowers they are going to help them select a loan that’s in their best interests, they should do so and, if they say that they are going to get a job done by a specific time, there should be no stopping them from meeting that deadline.

After all, borrowers will gladly take their business elsewhere if they are unhappy with the service they are getting from mortgage professionals, and such originators and lenders will never see repeat opportunities — much less referrals. Part of speaking honestly with borrowers also means having tough conversations that no one wants to have. When a home is out of a borrower’s price range or simply not a proper long-term fit, originators should be forthcoming and honest about such issues.

In the end, it’s the lifetime value of the client that matters. They will remember such counsel in the future when the time is right for them to make another purchase.

Build a strong team

All of this begins with internal buy-in from staff and a commitment to build their business with a focus on relationships, not transactions. This starts with establishing one’s corporate culture and the foundation upon which it lies. A powerful starting point in developing a company’s culture, for example, is building it upon tenets such as “people over profit,” or perhaps even more simply, “trustworthiness,” “humility” and “empathy.”

Establishing the right corporate culture is just the start, though. It’s also necessary to ensure the right people are in the right positions. Where many businesses falter is in trying to recruit talented employees who may not be a proper cultural fit, rather than selecting them based on their ability to seamlessly integrate into a business. It can make all the difference when companies are hiring employees who are smart, hungry and humble, and who also fit in within their overall company culture.

After assembling a proper, dedicated team of mortgage professionals, it’s time to coach employees through both their mistakes and successes. Much like how working with borrowers requires the heart of a teacher, so too does a manager need such traits when engaging employees. Successes should be celebrated with employees, even small ones, and can be broadcast across an organization to demonstrate the great outcomes that hard work and dedication provide.

Likewise, when mistakes are made, they should be corrected, not in a heavy-handed manner, but rather with a focus on guiding employees to the right decision. It does little good to berate an employee for a misstep, when what they truly require is proper education to know what to do if such a situation arises again. If an originator miscalculates the numbers, and it’s clear the company will have to eat the cost on a mortgage, for example, avoid criticizing the employee needlessly, but instead help them learn from such an experience so the same mistake does not occur twice.

•  •  •

With truth and honesty as core foundations of an originator’s business, employees will understand they are working for a company headed in the right direction, both financially and morally. This understanding helps them derive true fulfillment from their jobs by looking at each borrower as both a person and a neighbor in their community, whether that’s on a national level or right next door.

Engaging borrowers with the heart of a teacher and establishing truthful, consultative relationships with any individual who walks through your company’s doors, or visits its website, functions as a long-term business driver that impacts not only your future career, but also contributes to the overall health of the mortgage industry as well.


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