I know it goes against what the top mortgage marketing experts and even your manager is telling you, but I would like to make a case against marketing to real estate agents.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am not implying that there is anything wrong with real estate agents. A competent agent can help many, many people in his or her career. I just don’t think that marketing to REALTORS should be our only option when trying to find purchase business.
What I typically see happen is this: you beg and plead to get an appointment with this particular real estate agent that you would like to start getting referrals from. After five letters and six phone calls, he finally agrees to have a lunch appointment with you.
You get all ready and when you meet him for lunch, you give him your best performance. You go on about how great you and your company are, and how you can give him the best service around. You beg and plead for his business, but he gives you a “we’ll see” and you are happy with how the meeting turned out.
Six weeks later he sends you a referral. It is a very complicated lead. The referral just started a new job, he filed bankruptcy a couple of years ago, and has no reserves.
You bust your butt trying to close this loan because you want to look good to the REALTOR that sent you the referral.
You do your best, but the loan falls through. You don’t get any more referrals from that agent and all the time and energy you put in to get him as a referral source is now wasted.
There has to be a better way to get purchase business, and here are seven ways to do it.
1. Market to For Sale By Owners. The FSBO pool is always there and when marketed correctly, can generate many loans. You see, working with sellers directly creates a win-win situation for both of you. They need to sell their home, but don’t want to lose a bunch of hard-earned equity paying a real estate agents commission. You can help them with handling the buyers that are interested in the home. When you get an appointment with a seller, you explain to him that a majority of FSBO deals fall through because the buyers can’t get qualified. Convince him to let you prequalify all buyers, and you have a referral source for the next 30-60 days.
2. Market to financial planners. I knew this loan officer that got ALL of his purchase leads from a very busy financial planner. And the great thing about those leads were that they tended to be with people that had their finances in good shape (they have a financial planner). They also had larger assets and income, and were therefore looking to purchase investment properties, vacation homes, or bigger primary homes. Establishing a financial planner as a referral sources will give much higher quality leads than you can get from a real estate agent.
3. Market to credit counselors. This is going in the opposite direction of the financial planners leads. You will many more leads, but you lose much of the quality. These will be complex and challenging loans that you would probably charge extra on. An option for many people who are going through financial difficulties is to sell their current home, and buy something smaller. I saw this a lot with women who were housewives and the got divorced. Now they have a home (and a mortgage) that they just can’t pay on their income. You can help them with the financing of a smaller residence. Keep in touch with them because when they become established again, they are going to want to buy a larger home, and will need your assistance again.
4. Market to human resource managers. I read somewhere that employees that own their own homes have fewer instances of being late to work, work harder, and are much less likely to quit their jobs than their renting co-workers. And this is the selling point you are going to present to the HR Manager. You want to express that you can help their company and their employees but helping them ALL own their own home. Emphasize that you will be handling all the work, and that it won’t interfere with employees on the clock. Here is a GREAT TIP if you can convince the HR Manager to allow you to put inserts along with their paychecks. The insert would be for a free consultation and $250 closing costs. All you would need is for 2-3 HR Managers to agree, and you would have a strong purchase referral source.
5. Market to renters. Many renters that I have known were unaware that they could be living in their own home right now. For whatever reason, they were given a lot of mis-information about what it takes to qualify to purchase a home, and have never really looked into it. Here is another idea that worked well for me. You are going to do a postcard mailing to a targeted apartment complex near you. It will simply state, “For what you are paying in rent right now, you could be living in a $120,000 home. Call me today for a free consultation, and I will tell you the steps you need to take to own your own home.” Trust me, you will get a ton of calls. Many people won’t people to qualify at this point, but you can give them a plan on how to improve their finances and possibly qualify them later when they are ready. But you will get another group who can qualify, but never thought they could.
6. Market to your past customers. In this instance, I would use a direct mail campaign with a checklist letter. Many of your customers may have thought about purchasing more real estate, but it wasn’t a strong enough concern to warrant calling you for advice. In this letter, you are going to ask them to call. You are going to say something like, “Right now is the perfect time for buying a home. If you have questions about any of the following topics, please give me a call this week.” You will then have a checklist including several reasons why someone who need financing assistance like: buying investment property, buying a vacation home, buying a second home, purchasing a smaller home because the kids have moved out, purchasing a bigger home because the family size is increasing, etc. And please make it easy as possible for them to contact you to get the largest response.
7. Market to builders. This is similar to marketing to FSBOs except that this would be on an ongoing basis. Most builders that I know don’t really like dealing with the selling and financing of their homes. They want to focus on what they do best, which is building more homes. Being able to partner up with a successful builder would provide you with many, many leads. Not only will you be helping those who want to purchase the new construction home that the builder is selling, but you will be helping many MORE of the people who aren’t interested in that particular home, but are still want to purchase.
So do I think that you should never market to real estate agents?. No, I just believe that it shouldn’t be the first or only option that mortgage professionals turn to. As you have seen above, there are so many other possibilities to find referral sources for purchase loans. And once you establish these referral sources and can develop working relationships with buyers before the REALTOR does, than you will now have control of the situation and you will start to get real estate agents calling YOU for business.