If loan officers want to build partnerships with Realtors, they might want to rethink their approach.
As part of HousingWire’s engage.marketing event in Dallas on Thursday, panelists convened to discuss the lender and Realtor partnership, and the general consensus was that the old method of buying a Realtor lunch and slipping them a rate sheet wasn’t cutting it anymore.
“They want my clients, and in turn they are offering a rate sheet or co-branded flyer,” said Dustin Brohm of eXp Realty. “No one cares about those anymore.”
What do they care about? Clients.
“Lenders are coming at it backwards,” Brohm said. “They are coming at agents and they are basically saying, ‘Hey, I’ll buy you lunch in return for your clients.’ No, bring clients to the Realtor, and then you can attract any Realtor you want.”
Rocky Stubbs, SVP and head of consumer direct and digital mortgage lending at Flagstar Bank, agreed.
“You have to be able to give a deal to get a deal,” Stubbs said.
Anne Hartnett, managing partner at Agent Publishing, said her company recently surveyed its 80,000-member agent audience to reveal what really mattered to them.
“The top two things they care about are the ability to get a deal done and responsiveness from a loan officer,” Hartnett said. “Ironically, 1% care about getting the lowest rates.”
Jason Frazier of The Agent Marketer said Realtors want to work with someone who can help their business, and if you can personalize your messaging, you have a better shot of getting their attention.
“You have to understand, you’re probably not the only loan officer who is marketing to them,” Frazier said. “They are getting hit with the same canned message from 10 to 20 loan officers – that isn’t relationship marketing. That isn’t how you build business with agents today.”
“We’re being sold to constantly as consumers,” Frazier said. “So in a noisy world, how are you going to differentiate yourself? That starts with personalization.”
Stubbs pointed out that agents often work with multiple lenders, and they may not be interested in signing into multiple portals to find an update.
“We can use technology, but use it thoughtfully,” Stubbs said. “Send push notifications or text messages, and do it naturally, use a personalized message. They will respond to those things more than they will automated drips.”
Brohm said he often gets status updates that don’t provide any new information. He said it’s still good to communicate, but suggested sending details on next steps if there’s nothing new to report.
“Let people know what’s going on, especially the consumer. If you can make the consumer’s life easier, then their agent is going to be happy, because they are getting good feedback from their client,” Brohm said. “You just have to go above and beyond a little bit more and realize what the consumer needs.”
Brohm also said that reviews matter, and suggested loan officers create a local business listing.
“People are searching Google and Yelp, so you need to actively build those profiles,” he said.
Stubbs said another thing loan officers can do to endear themselves to a Realtor is to show up to the closing, and if that’s not possible because of distance, call in and let them know you’re available.
The home buying process can be trying, Stubbs said, but the closing is the best and happiest part. Be there for that to earn some goodwill, and maybe bring a real gift instead of your company’s marketing swag.
“How do we spike the ball at this most emotional moment? How do we make the Realtor go home and say, ‘Damn, that was awesome!” Stubbs said. “If you’re not showing up to the closing, you’re missing the peak of the process.”
Written by Jessica Guerin