Provide Service After the Sale
Brokers who help past clients facing financial trouble can earn trust and referrals
By Eric Johnson, marketing specialist, California Housing Finance Agency
It is true that mortgage brokers’ best leads are their clients. This
is why many brokers’ business cards
have that tattered-but-effective phrase
on the back: “One of the greatest compliments I can receive is a referral from a satisfied customer.”
Many brokers, however, don’t continue
to provide post-sale service to ensure that
clients remain satisfied. Consider, for example, a scenario in which prior customers face trouble. Whether the problem
arises from an increased payment, a
changing life circumstance or another
reason, a great broker will work diligently
to help them stay in their home, seizing
the opportunity for service. Such situations separate the average brokers from
In the past, many brokers and lenders
either ignored such problems or foreclosed
on the house with little to no due diligence.
In today’s turbulent market, however, brokers can’t afford to alienate anyone. Compounding the necessity for providing
service after the sale, some state governments have passed legislation to make sure
that lenders do everything they can to help
homeowners prior to foreclosure. Clearly,
mortgage brokers should be aware of these
California’s Senate Bill No. 1137, for example, lays out precise instructions for what
a lender must do prior to initiating foreclosure on a property.
■■ Making at least three phone calls to the
■■ Sending a first-class letter; and
■■ Following up with a certified letter, if
Additionally, the lender must have a link
displayed on its Internet home page that
provides information for homebuyers having financial difficulties. If all these steps
don’t occur, then the lender can’t issue a
notice of default.
There also are government programs
to help homebuyers. Many state governments have allocated millions of dollars
to help stabilize communities hit hard by
foreclosures. These programs include loan
counseling and downpayment assistance.
The best way to access these resources is
to visit the Web site of your state housing-finance agency.
Although the main thrust of these agencies has historically been to help those buying their first home, the surge in foreclosure
action has led some of these agencies to revise their missions. Many are getting into
the refinance arena, prompted by the federal
government’s recent passage of the Housing
and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. The
act contains provisions for a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan program
called FHASecure, which allows families
who have been making timely payments to
refinance into a fixed-rate loan before their
loans reset to a higher interest rate. Some
states have implemented similar programs,
some of which preceded FHASecure.
Before suggesting these programs to
your clients, check to see if there are any
restrictions in place. Some may exist because of tax-exempt-bond funding. Many
programs, for example, have income restrictions and are intended for single-family
owner-occupied homes. Duplexes and rentals probably won’t qualify.
If your clients do qualify, competitive rates and predictable loan terms are
some of the biggest advantages of using
Eric Johnson, marketing specialist for the California Housing Finance Agency,
travels throughout the state educating real estate agents, loan officers, mortgage brokers and consumers about CalHFA’s affordable-housing products. He
also represents CalHFA on television and radio. The highlight of his job is when
someone says, “I bought my first house with a loan from CalHFA — it wouldn’t
have happened without you.” For more information on state affordable-housing
products, visit www.calhfa.ca.gov or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mortgage brokers can and should be a valuable part of the affordable-housing market
on the front end of such transactions. They
can also help on the back end. Remember
that a good client is an informed client,
and an informed broker will have outstanding opportunities.
Stay up-to-date on affordable-housing
programs in your state, keep track of important housing legislation and keep in
touch with your clients. If you do, they
may pay you the greatest compliment you
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