ost successful strategies of top mortgage originators fall into four major
categories: program expertise, networking, online referrals and family connections. Let’s take a look at each of these categories in more depth.
Many top originators work hard to become “the” expert on a specific program type. Because they
focus specifically on a particular program and know that program so well, their confidence in
handling program questions is quickly noticed by clients and Realtor partners, imparting a level
of confidence that ensures the business is won.
Some top originators choose to focus on U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loans. These
originators tend to either be former military, currently in the military reserves, or are regular civilians but focus on the VA niche and work hard to connect with the military community in their
area. They support the military community, hire former military personnel, take part in military
fundraisers and fairs, volunteer at military functions, etc.
These originators understand the military culture but, most importantly, they know all the idiosyncrasies of VA loans. The combination of these factors instills confidence in VA borrowers and
allows the VA originator to thrive.
Originators who want to break into VA lending may consider reaching out to family or friends in the military and ask about upcoming
military events and how they can volunteer or help support these events. They also can ask for introductions to staff at the local military
base that hosts events like “lunch and learns” and offer to present first-time homebuyer seminars on the base.
Of course, to break in as a program expert, originators also need to study up on the lending products. For VA training, ask around and
find the best VA wholesale lender in the area and ask the account executive for training, or check with your company to see if they have
any good webinar recordings on VA loans.
Another program some originators choose to focus on is the reverse mortgage. Originators who make this their focus enjoy working with
a more mature crowd and helping clients secure and enjoy their retirement. Strategies range from holding reverse mortgage workshops,
to working with certified public accountants and certified financial planners to holding lunch-and-learn events in 55+ communities. Originators interested in reverse mortgages should seek out a company that has a reverse department with proper support and training.
For a slight twist on the program expertise strategy, some originators focus instead on a particular profession, such as police officers,
teachers or firefighters. If these originators do a great job for their clients, referrals from within the respective community will result.
Most of these profession-based originators focus on just a few key professions to become familiar with the lending idiosyncrasies faced
by these professionals. Originators who work with police officers, for example, understand how officers get paid and their overtime
issues. Then, when it comes time to calculate income for a loan, it’s a cinch. This knowledge of their profession will inspire confidence
and loyalty in these clients.
To focus on a certain profession, reach out to family, friends and acquaintances who know someone who works in the profession and
ask for introductions. Then see if those contacts can connect you to decisionmakers in the local professional associations who, in turn,
can give permission to present lunch-and-learn events or discuss sponsorship opportunities for upcoming fundraisers. As with program
specialists, make sure to do some homework first. Talk with wholesale lenders about issues they have seen on past loan files involving
that profession, so you can confidently answer client questions.
Networking is, of course, a staple for mortgage originators looking to increase referrals. Originators committed to working with Realtors
for referrals will do all of the standard things. They will go on caravans religiously, meet at least three new agents per week and attend
real estate conferences with their Realtor partners to further strengthen the relationship. Originators also will hold training sessions —
sometimes with beer or wine — to show their Realtor partners new loan programs for their prospective buyers.
Some make such a strong commitment to Realtors that they sublease a cubicle or office within a real estate office. This practice is completely legal if fair-market rent is being paid. The reason many large lenders and banks pulled out of real estate offices is because they
were likely paying a referral fee by the originator, which is clearly prohibited by RESPA.
When Realtors consistently see an originator around the industry — especially one who is well-versed with loan guidelines — they are
much more likely to give that originator a shot at working with them. Then, that originator can wow them with service and pricing to get
even more referrals. It’s never too late to form these relationships, but they will take time to bear fruit. The biggest mistake originators
make is trying for a few weeks and then giving up.
Other originators work with the relocation department at large organizations or corporations in their area. These originators often know
an influential figure within a local company, university, church, etc. This could be a family friend or a relationship they’ve cultivated.
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