Residential Magazine

Beat the Heat

Cope with the busy homebuying season without breaking a sweat

By Steve Richman

When temperatures outside rise, mortgage professionals typically feel the heat. Whether it’s new construction, first-time homebuyers or refinance opportunities from rate cuts, the selling season brings with it a high volume of business to lenders and originators.

Everyone knows it’s coming. Let’s face it, no one likes to be overwhelmingly busy or overworked — and truthfully, no one has to be. As mortgage professionals make their way through the busy season, there are some things to keep top of mind to successfully manage a high volume of work. Consider these tips to survive and thrive during your busiest months.

Let everyone do their jobs — let the processors process and let the underwriters underwrite.

Trust others

The most essential element of staying successful during a busy season is to trust in your team. Let everyone do their jobs — let the processors process and let the underwriters underwrite. Trust each person to do their own job, and give them the freedom and resources to do so.

Making sure everyone has the most complete files will help them do their job quickly and easily, and it minimizes any back and forth that might happen when employees don’t have the right resources. Giving them all the information minimizes questions, helping everyone to do their job quickly and independently.

Remember that each processor and each underwriter may be working on loans for other loan officers. Respect their time, trust that they are doing all they can and let them get their job done.

At the same time, it is important for clients to understand that their involvement also is crucial in ensuring the origination process runs smoothly. Be sure to inform borrowers that their ability to submit documents and respond to messages in a timely manner can be key in moving the process along.

Be sure to also make yourself available to them to answer any questions, so that uncertainty does not slow you down. Ultimately, if clients are dragging their feet, they’ll end up dragging you down. As long as they know their role upfront, clients can help tremendously in keeping everything moving efficiently during busy season.

Limit delays

This may seem obvious, but do not wait until the last minute to order appraisals, credit reports, title work or anything else you need. Be proactive and order the appropriate documents and reports as soon as you know you need them. This will help speed up the process and defend against any unforeseen delays that might pop up. 

When you create that buffer of extra time, you are not only protecting your workload and your own sanity, but you’re also protecting the client from any setbacks. When the season is busy for you, it also is busy for everyone else in the business. Be sure to respect everyone else’s time and make requests in a timely manner.

Although it can be difficult, especially during busy times, remember that it is OK to say no. If you do not have the capacity to take on a new loan, do not take it. Although you will want to help as many borrowers as you can, taking on too many will only slow you down and affect other clients, and it can potentially damage your reputation and relationships.

This does not necessarily mean you have to turn business away. If you do not have the capacity, refer that client to a different loan officer whose pipeline may not be as full. This way, everyone wins.

It also is important to say no to demanding relationships. For example, there might be a real estate agent who takes up too much of your time or expects too much when you are busy. There is nothing wrong with removing yourself from relationships that are complicated or not working well. Just be sure that you are bowing out gracefully and doing so for the right reasons. 

You have the ability to choose not to take on more borrowers. Simply put, however, you can’t say no to taking on clients from certain parts of town or certain ZIP codes. Always seek counsel if you find yourself confused or in a gray area regarding a borrower’s residential location, demographic or creditworthiness.

Stay fresh

When you are handling an especially high volume of files, it is easy to forget about yourself. During your busy season — and any other season — make sure you are getting adequate sleep and taking care of yourself with a good diet and exercise. Be sure to make time for things that refresh you and fill you up. This helps defend against burnout. You have to be your best to do your best work.

As much as you’d like to think you are superhuman, you can-not do it all. There are certain administrative tasks that you can hand off or schedule in advance. There are online services like Fiverr that help business professionals outsource their administrative work. Consulting services can help to create spreadsheets, enter data or complete other tasks, which can help free up a significant amount of time to help you handle your busy season.

When it comes to social media, using a tool like Hootsuite helps you bring all of your social media accounts into one place and schedule posts in advance. This frees up more time in your day to get work done without sacrificing your presence on social media.

Finally, do not be afraid to repurpose content. Many times, it’s unnecessary to reinvent the wheel when you know you already have something that is effective. Do not hesitate to repurpose blog content or social posts if it helps you save time. The key to busy season is working smarter, not harder.

It is surprising how much originators can accomplish when they eliminate the small distractions.

Avoid distractions

Distractions provide a huge challenge to productivity. Especially when things are busy, consider starting your day early. You are less likely to get as many phone calls or have as many interruptions. Earlier in the morning, there are generally less people in the office, making for fewer drop-ins and more time to complete tasks uninterrupted. Starting early can help you knock out big tasks before you start getting calls and e-mails that can drain your attention and zap your energy. 

Most people are at their best at the start of the day when their mind is clear and before any distractions have had a chance to creep in. Start early when your body and mind are well rested, and you will be able to think more clearly and be more productive.

There are plenty of other ways to eliminate distractions. One of the best ways is to turn off phone notifications. Every single time an e-mail pop-up or a notification dings on your phone, you get distracted, and that small alert has taken you away from the task at hand.

Turn off notifications, whether they are work related or not. That e-mail will still be there in 20 minutes and the Facebook notification is not going anywhere. Set aside time in the day for checking e-mails and other notifications, and do not worry about them when working on other tasks. Finish the work in front of you and then check them. It is surprising how much originators can accomplish when they eliminate the small distractions.

Looking at a long to-do list can be discouraging. Instead of reflecting on all the things you must do, take some time to look back on all the things you have done. Thinking about your accomplishments can give you energy for the long list of things you need to accomplish. It also is important to think of how the work you have done has helped others. This can help fuel your enthusiasm for the work you have left to do for others. 

Thankfully, it will not always be busy season. It’s key that you keep prospecting no matter what time of year it is. Although things might be busy now, they will slow down eventually. Keep cultivating your pipeline so that you can stay busy even when it’s not busy season. 

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Each of these tips are important to keep in mind during busier times, but they should not be forgotten during slower times. Keeping efficiency in mind year-round will only help make your business stronger. Each of these ways to survive in the busy season are ways to thrive during the remainder of the year.

Putting some of these ideas into practice before the busy season hits also can help with managing your workload when the pace starts to pick up again. Creating good habits now will help you later. 


  • Steve Richman

    Steve Richman is a national speaker and customer trainer for Genworth Mortgage Insurance who has taught more than 250,000 professionals in every state in the U.S. After a previous career as a successful litigation attorney, Richman transitioned to the mortgage industry to become a loan officer, account executive and manager of a mortgage operation. Statements provided are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genworth or its management.

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