Residential Magazine

Let Your Best Self Shine Through

Win over clients and referral partners with an authentic, caring approach

By Felicia Newbern

Who doesn’t love the “unsung heroes” who quietly give their all because it’s the right thing to do? These people invariably draw others to them — not just because of their actions but because of how their selflessness makes people feel.

What does this have to do with the mortgage world? It’s an important reminder that in up and down markets, the ability to connect with borrowers and referral sources is among the most important skills a mortgage professional can have. After all, it’s natural for people to do business with others whom they like and trust.

Winning over key demographics can be a challenge, especially when it comes to millennials and members of Generation Z. Together, these groups comprise about 45% of all homebuyers, according to the National Association of Realtors’ 2022 generational trends report. And one in three people in these generations lack trust in their loan officer to help them make mortgage decisions, according to the 2022 NextGen Homebuyer Report, which surveyed 1,000 adults between the ages 18 and 44.

“In today’s difficult real estate market, having a network of supportive, appreciative and like-minded partners and clients makes all the difference.”

What can mortgage professionals do to change the minds of these skeptical people? Start by delivering a positive, helpful experience in every interaction with a client or referral partner. Mortgage originators who offer this type of experience will create a distinct advantage in a competitive marketplace. So, how do you make this happen?

Higher purpose

Mortgage industry leader Barry Habib, who is also the author of “Money in the Streets,” says that he has one overriding passion — improving people’s lives. That passion manifested itself when he entered the mortgage profession and realized its vast wealth-building potential.

He wasn’t content just to grow his own company, MBS Highway. He wanted to help borrowers and fellow mortgage professionals to maximize their financial opportunities too.

To do this, Habib realized that he had to approach every interaction as a master of his craft. He became a student of money, understanding every nuance and then making sure others did as well.

Habib discovered his “why,” and when others in housing finance do that, their world will naturally open up too. Authenticity is a powerful business builder, especially if it stems from a higher inner purpose.

Problem solver

Part of delivering a fantastic experience to borrowers or referral partners is to demonstrate that their needs come first. In this challenging housing market, there are different ways to do this. One is to anticipate and solve the problems of prospects or partners before they even share them.

For example, mortgage brokers and loan officers may wish to reach more creditworthy, self-employed borrowers who dream of homeownership but think they’re shut out. These prospects might be in their very neighborhood just waiting to be heard and helped.

Indeed, the 2021 NextGen Homebuyer Report indicates that many individuals believe they can’t get a mortgage without a W-2 form and a traditional job. But originators who take the time to amp up their nonqualified mortgage (non-QM) product expertise may be able to help borrowers who are self employed build the lives they’ve always wanted. Non-QM loans are often quality loans that don’t meet the requirements to be sold to the government-sponsored enterprises.

Another way is to treat every partner relationship as a potential friendship to be nurtured, with no expectations of reciprocity. True friendships grow based on shared interests and genuine delight in helping others flourish. When that’s the intent, networking becomes both a vital and enjoyable part of the mortgage business, whatever the economic climate.

Educating friends about new mortgage products; digital innovations such as “instant title” decision engines and remote appraisal inspection technologies; and lender services such as property tax assessment reviews can open business opportunities for everyone. One-on-one meetings that allow for even deeper connections pave the way for the referrals that can be life changing.

Grow connections

Social media offers enormous potential for a mortgage professional to expand their network of leads and channel partners — especially for those who are real and intentional in their approach. Use platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram to make connections based on shared goals, interests and experiences (while conforming with your company’s social media policies).

Did a mortgage originator take a day off to volunteer for a nonprofit organization that serves military veterans or homeless individuals? Social media opens up opportunities to share these experiences and resonate with people who become important new connections.

All social media users should consider themselves “friendly influencers” who provide quick, attention-grabbing, value-added posts and videos that educate and inform. Know your target audience and schedule content based on when they are most likely to see it. From there, watch the number of connections grow.

Earn loyalty

Friends don’t stop being friends after traditional working hours, and the mortgage industry shouldn’t either. Time-sensitive questions from borrowers or partners are a fact of life, and the individuals and organizations that are consistently responsive earn loyalty and referrals.

The 2022 NextGen report indicates that Gen Z and millennial homebuyers may indeed have questions about what is likely to be the biggest transaction of their lives. Lack of financial knowledge was one of their top challenges last year. Moreover, only 56% of respondents felt they had the “advice and support they need to achieve their financial goals.” Mortgage professionals who empathize and cheer on these borrowers like members of their own family — on weekdays or weekends (while abiding by company HR policies) — are well positioned to fill this gap.

The client feels everything in a mortgage transaction — from an originator’s upbeat, confident manner to the edge in a broker’s voice when critical documentation is missing. Building close relationships with all partners in a transaction — and working as a team to preempt problems — leads to a happy borrower experience from beginning to end. When possible, this should carry over to the closing table, where “teammates” can celebrate with borrowers, just like friends and family, without a hint of what was happening behind the scenes.

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In today’s difficult real estate market, having a network of supportive, appreciative and like-minded partners and clients makes all the difference. The mortgage professionals who let their best selves shine through — and commit to helping others be their best — are positioned to meet their most cherished goals. And even when closings don’t come through, they’ll always have friends they can count on. ●


  • Felicia Newbern

    Felicia Newbern is senior vice president of national sales at BNT Title Co. of California, which is part of the Boston National Title Agency LLC family. Newbern is an active volunteer who serves as founder and president of the Enduring Love Foundation; vice president of development for CIM; treasurer of the Baja Educational Initiative; director of sponsorship for the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals’ Montebello Southeast LA Chapter; and as a foster parent with Safe Families for Children. She also hosts homebuilding projects for the poor in Mexico with Baja Bound and supports an orphanage of 150 children in the Congo. Connect with Newbern on LinkedIn.

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