The vast majority of home buyers still rely on Realtors to buy homes, and get referrals to mortgage lenders. That makes agents a top priority for home loan companies and loan officers. How do you reach and convert them?
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) 87% of home buyers use a real estate agent. An additional 6% purchased through builders, which often includes an agent as well. Titan Lists says 69% of those buyers rely on lender recommendations from their Realtors.
As a mortgage CEO, CMO or front line LO, it’s clear that marketing to these referrals sources may be one of the richest and most profitable strategies. Instead of trying to spend all that money and go through building all of the architecture it takes to target individual home loan borrowers, an agent may be able to feed you 10 plus deals every month. That’s far better than a 10x improvement.
Or course, you’re not the only one who knows this. Every savvy mortgage lender and loan officer who is licensed to do business in your town is after the same prospects. You’ll hear “no” a lot. Especially from newer agents who are being highly pressured into referring to existing in-house brokers. On the bright side, most aren’t very good at it. Most in-house mortgage people are also notoriously uncompetitive. So, what at the best strategies to attract and convert agents into being loyal referral partners?
Make Them Feel Special
Kick the boring old spam to the curb. You’ve got to make them feel like you are really interested in them as a unique company or individual.
The ‘Hardcore Closer’ says “The best mortgage marketing strategy that I have used lately, is to show up at an open house and record a video of the Agent selling the home MTV Cribs style. I even ask my Agents to open the fridge during the filming. Agents love this strategy and it really does help them sell houses.”
Give Them a Deal to Get a Deal
There are endless professional networking opportunities for meeting real estate agents. All without having to stalk them at their offices or open houses. Your local Realtor association will have them. So, will the Chamber of Commerce. No matter where you met them, the best way to attract agents and their inbound referrals is to give first.
Through all of your other marketing and networking you’ll be encountering many buyers. Each of them knows hundreds more people who will no doubt want to buy, sell or lease properties, at least every few years. Even those who don’t need a mortgage should be added to your database.
Make sure you are always asking how you can help through your ongoing follow up efforts. Always ask them for referrals. Then hand out those referrals to the agents you want to attract.
If they do need a loan, then you are just speeding up your own paychecks too.
According to Housing Wire , a survey of 80,000 agents revealed their top two important things in a loan officer they will refer to.
1. The ability to get a deal done
2. Responsiveness from a loan officer
Both are far rarer than you might think. Prove you can deliver.
The most obvious way to do that it to respond instantly when you are contacted. Every second counts. Every millisecond counts. Fortunately, we have so much technology today that this shouldn’t be an issue at all. In addition to old school email autoresponders and phone calls, you can use auto reply text messages for inquiries on your website, and even instant callbacks. Then plug them into a follow up campaign using SMS and ringless voicemail.
Of course, you need them to be finding and contacting you in the first place. Draw them in by using a constant feed of storytelling, showing them how you’ve been successfully closing deals for others. Online reviews simply don’t cut it and aren’t as trusted anymore. Plus, that requires them checking you out first. Instead, consider a social media and email campaign showing them the deals you are closing. Especially the hard to do deals. You can alert them to these stories through text broadcasts too. If you’ve got the extra budget how about using their own strategies and sending out a “just funded” card every time you finance someone in their farm area.
Be Visible. Be Magnetic.
We all know attraction marketing is one of the most powerful strategies. Let them sell themselves, instead of you having to close them.
Achieve this with a string branding campaign in your target area. On and offline. You can take a page from the we buy ugly houses brand with the caveman on the billboards. They go into an area, saturate it for a few months, and then move on. You can do the same for picking up agents, and your dollars will have a greater impact.
Every time they get in the car, check the mail, check their email inbox or voicemail, go into the office or jump on Google, you should be there. Always at the top of mind.
You can count on other mortgage companies letting them down. All you need is the other players to mess up once. To fail to close on time or deny a mortgage application. That’s your shot.
Own Your Niche
Stop spamming agents with how low rates can be, how honesty and integrity are your values, and all the same stuff your competition is repeating. Find your niche. Own it.
What can you do better than everyone else?
Make sure you can really show up. You can nail those loans when others can’t. It may be VA loans, loans for rehabbers, jumbo mortgage loans, alternative doc loans, bad credit loans or being able to close super fast. Let them test you on those.
Wow Them with an Amazing Job on Referrals
Once you get a shot with a new Realtor, make sure you ace the opportunity.
You can’t afford to drop the ball on your other clients, but do go the extra mile when you can win a new lifetime of business from a new source. One agent in a new office could turn into a whole office of agents. Then a whole chain of brokerages. If you mess up, word will travel just as fast.