Many people in the real estate industry have been living the high life for the past 18 or so months. Agents are having their best year in history, loan officers can barely keep up with demand and auxiliary services tied to the home-buying industry are seeing record volume.
While nobody could quite predict that all of the events of the past two years would produce what might be the most energetic real estate market in history, this too shall pass.
That doesn’t have to mean lean times for loan officers.
There is a unique opportunity for everyone from agents to LOs to use the gains they’ve made over the past 18 months to thrive even when the brakes begin to pump on this runaway market. Being prepared for the post-boom chapter is all about reinvesting a little of what was gained into smart, high-ROI marketing and advertising.
This is vital for putting yourself in a position to maintain a steady flow of qualified buyers even when this current state of client overflow passes. Again, this doesn’t have to elicit panic. It simply means that anticipating what’s next will mean tweaking your current business plan.
The good news is that it’s very likely that the upcoming “thaw” will come on slowly. That means that loan officers have time to get into position.
Here’s a look at the little cracks that are beginning to form in the red-hot market:
- There’s still a home shortage. However, the clues are there that we’re shifting toward a buyer’s market as more owners begin listing their properties.
- As of June, new listings increased 5.5 percent year over year. We’re also seeing monthly listing increases of 10 percent.
- Home supply shot back up to a six-month inventory after hovering near three months for most of the boom.
- Listings in major markets are up by 20 percent from a year ago.
- Sales of new homes hit a 14-month low during the summer.
Loan officers aren’t in the business of making market predictions.
But they often know what’s coming earlier than any cable-news analyst simply because they are the ones watching the ebb and flow of applications. Loan officers have enjoyed a period of having more money for advertising that coincided with lower online mortgage lead costs.
Both of those wells are likely to dry up when the market slows. As markets begin to retract city by city, it becomes harder to court buyers because the coming combination of homes that are priced too high with a lack of available homes could make qualified, motivated buyers scarce.
Something else very interesting is happening that needs to be on the radar of LOs. We’re not just looking at a potential downturn that will put us back in the pre-2020 waters that we feel comfortable in. We’re also looking at advertising costs rising sharply based on price per lead.
There’s no denying that 2020 was the year of the great career shift. Enticed by the prospect of making big money while working from home, many people decided to take advantage of the unprecedented market by becoming loan officers. That means there are more LOs competing for clients and advertising space (including Google and Facebook) in markets across the country than we had just two years ago.
Let’s talk about how to work around all of these challenges without fear.
Treat Each Lead Like Gold
Lead nurturing needs to become a major objective for LOs in the months ahead. During the “gold rush” of the 2020 real estate market, it was easy to get clients simply by being available. That won’t cut it any longer.
Clients are feeling uncertain. They are no longer looking for someone to “rubber stamp” the process for them. As hesitation moves into the market, clients are truly looking for a guide over a paper pusher. They need to know that you bring unique value to the table.
“Unfortunately, in the mortgage industry, the bar is set low,” Simon Sinek shared in an interview with Dave Savage on Mortgage Coach. “Treating clients like a person as opposed to a dollar amount will start a momentum in your business.”
Most LOs are familiar with the way that professionals at every level in the industry view buyers. Many are far less concerned with whether a client is making a good choice than they are with seeing how quickly they can get their cut.
While clients may be too preoccupied with “getting in” when the market is blazing to notice, they will begin to look for professionals who make them feel secure and valued during slow markets.
According to Sinek, bringing a human element is the key to building a long-term successful business with interest. It’s how you’ll stand out!
“Every conversation you have could be the one that makes or breaks the relationship,” Sinek reminds mortgage professionals. “Even if we don’t get the business right away, building good relationships will get you business exponentially from word of mouth and branding.”
Success comes down to making people want to do business with you. It also comes down to making people want to tell others that they have to work with you after having a rewarding experience.
Keep Your Pipeline Steady
We get it. You’ve grown choosy during this booming market because the leads just kept coming. Many LOs got into the habit of dumping low-credit leads and first-time buyers because they had bountiful options.
Going forward, stop dumping what may appear to be small-time clients. There is a real niche to be found in helping first-time buyers put together game plans. In fact, being an authoritative, helpful source is one of the best strategies for building a personal brand.
Here’s how to build a niche when buyers need help navigating the market:
- Create toolkits that you share to help buyers succeed.
- Do a slow drip of information based on the latest market trends and data. Become the “this is what you need to know today” person.
- Use your customer relationship management (CRM) software to stay in front of clients.
- Be a sharer of resources! Guide followers to websites, articles and tools that are closely tied into the needs of future buyers.
Dave Ramsey always instructs his financial followers to look for a person with “the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman”.
Adopting this mindset for how you interact with clients takes you from just trying to land clients to building a client-focused ecosystem. By getting leads “early” in their journeys, you’re nurturing them up through the closing process. This can create an endless funnel of “new converts to closings” that keeps its own healthy, steady pace.
Be Intentional About Your Relationships With Real Estate Agents
We’ve only covered relationships with clients up until now. Equally as important are your relationships with agents!
Here’s how to foster strong ties with agents that deliver:
- Position yourself as a resource and teammate to agents. Convey the mindset that their success is your success. You’re more likely to get referrals if they feel like they can trust you to create a good experience for clients.
- Be reliable. As an LO, you know the frustration of being the linchpin in a scenario where so much is actually out of your control. Control what you can control impeccably. Make up for the “wild card” factors of your job role by being extremely consistent and organized on the fronts that are “all you.”
- It’s also important to be transparent. Be clear about expectations and limitations instead of overpromising. While overpromising can buy you points in the now, transparency will give you credibility for the long term.
- Be an updater! Always keep communication channels open. In fact, many LOs make the mistake of only checking in when they have news to share. Be the LO that checks in to let agents know when news is coming. These micro-updates are so important for giving agents peace of mind over the fact that you’re not dropping the ball.
- Bring the leads. When you have your own lead generation, agents see you as bringing something very valuable to the table. Tell them about your marketing and how many pre-approvals you generate each month. This instantly places you above LOs that don’t bring steady, quality leads.
Getting value from your relationships is all about bringing value into your relationships. A big part of this simply comes down to being consistent, present and prepared. Pairing those qualities with your ability to deliver qualified buyers into the hands of real estate agents can make you an in-demand LO in all market conditions.
Focus on Advertising and Brand Building
Far too many LOs are relying on the market to bring them clients. If your ear is to the ground, you know that the upcoming slowdown means that basing your career on the “luck” of the market only works if you want a career that taps out after 18 months.
LOs have an amazing opportunity to use the incredible revenue they’ve made during the wild ride of 2020 and 2021 to reinvest in their own future success. Start building a brand now using leads and advertising to ensure that you’re still getting client traffic when the newer LOs are struggling with dried-up funnels.
While your word of mouth from happy clients and real estate agents is going to prop you up nicely, you’ll still need a positive online marketing presence to get found. Make sure that your marketing outreach has a “social proof” aspect to it.
People expect to read and hear about the positive experiences others have with a product or service. It makes them feel confident that they are making a choice based on a trusted referral. More importantly, you need to build a marketing budget based on positive ROI instead of wishful thinking.
Don’t Get Burned on ROI:
Only Trust Marketing Products Made for Loan Officers!
Lots of LOs throw away money on services for “generic” sales leads. Being in the business of helping people realize the dream of owning a home is nothing like trying to clear out an inventory of toaster ovens. That’s why “sales leads” fail.
At Empower LO, we’ve built a done-for-you lead generations system for LOs that was built by LOs. Thriving LOs are already using our system to transform their mortgage businesses to have staying power in both red-hot and icy markets.
Let us help you get in front of the market changes coming your way. Having a way to generate leads when others sputter out is the key to having golden months even after the market cools.
We’ll see you at the top!
The Empower Team