Ben Smidt, Digital Strategy Manager
Being a loan officer is about being savvy and open to new ways of increasing your referral sources. We all know the typical referral sources for loan officers — real estate professionals, educational institutions, financial planners, builders and so on. But how do loan officers effectively market and build these partnerships to increase referral business?
Here are a few examples that highlight how referral sources for loan officers can increase your business opportunities right now.
1. Real Estate Professionals
I know some loan officers think real estate referral partners are not always needed. That may be true, but consider the fact that there are approximately 2 million actively licensed real estate professionals in today’s market — 91% of which use social media on a regular basis. They oftentimes have a larger network of valuable connections (consumers) than the average loan officer. Finding ways to collaborate and build relationships with these referral sources is worth the effort.
One way to find and build relationships is to consider the use of mortgage apps like the If This, Then That (IFTTT) app, which allows you to connect different technologies to automate functions through ‘recipes.’ You can create a recipe that will email you whenever a new listing becomes available in your area. Knowing this information offers you the opportunity to quickly reach out to the listing agent and find ways to collaborate.
For example, consider attending an open house with real estate professionals. Provide information and insights to prospective homebuyers about available lending programs. Offer to pre-approve them for a loan, if they are not already. The value to the real estate agent is that pre-approval ensures the right buyers are ready and able to purchase the home they are touring — and it provides you a new customer referral opportunity.
2. Educational Institutions
Establishing a clear presence with local educational institutions is another way to build a network of referral sources for loan officers. Offer to volunteer your time at local high schools or colleges to talk about the value of saving money or building and protecting credit. Providing handouts that include your contact information can put your name in front of their parents and increase your profile in the community.
Taking time to participate in these types of activities works to validate yourself in the mortgage industry and expands your reach to a larger number of young potential homebuyers.
It also increases the likelihood the professors and teachers you communicate with at these educational institutions will become referral sources as well. Meaning, they may need assistance or know somebody who needs assistance in the home-buying process. Your contact with them through prior speaking engagements for their students will keep you top-of-mind.
“Establishing a clear presence with local educational institutions is another way to build a network of referral sources for loan officers.”
3. Financial Planners
Financial planners as referral sources for loan officers, is a great way to secure high-quality leads that can increase your business revenue. If you don’t already have or know an established financial planner in your area, consider properly using LinkedIn to start your search and see how you are connected.
The value-proposition in exploring this comes down to quality of leads. If potential customers are aligned with a financial planner, they are probably more likely to have their finances in order. If they need to refinance a home or upgrade to a new home, there is less work to be done on your end for the deal to close.
A key selling point in working with financial planners is to assure them a partnership with you is a two-way street. You can provide this assurance if you have an established relationship with a credit counselor as a referral partner. Oftentimes the leads that come to you via a credit counselor will need a bit more hand-holding and, at some point, will be in need of a trusted financial planner to ensure their assets and money are kept on the right track. Being able to refer these types of customers to your financial planner is a great selling point and an opportunity for your financial planner referral partner.
Reaching out to builders in your area can provide you the opportunity to increase mortgage leads. Think about an approach that allows you to help streamline the buying process for a builder who has a number of potential customers who want to build a home.
Offer to collaborate with builders in a way that removes the need for them to vet qualified buyers on their end. Consider running the pre-approval process for those interested buyers. This ensures the builder is working with a strong homebuyer and is an added convenience to the customer.
Establishing this relationship works to keep you top-of-mind and opens the door to sharing valuable information about the mortgage industry with potential homeowners.
“Offer to collaborate with builders in a way that removes the need for them to vet qualified buyers on their end.”
5. Community Relationships
This is a broad section, with many opportunities. Bonds built around a commonality can be some of the strongest. This could be an alma mater, hobbies or interests, extracurricular activities or religion. Specifically let’s look at referral sources for loan officers as it relates to the community relationship found with religion.
Churches and religious organizations oftentimes have support groups and educational groups centered around different topics to help the members of the church succeed. Consider offering to help educate and speak about topics such as how to secure a loan, the value of a great credit score, why homeownership is important and seasonal DIY tips for homeowners. Spending time with group members who attend these informational meetings works to build a great relationship with potential customers.
The commonality of religion is already established, and now you have become a trust agent around the commonality of finance, credit, homeownership, etc. Coupling that relationship and then providing attendees with great relevant content and visuals can help ensure they get the best information possible about a key topic where your expertise can shine. You are not selling to any of these group members; rather, you are providing the insights and information that allow you to become a trust agent to those with whom you wish to work.
6. For Sale By Owner
Referral sources for loan officers should be extended to the ‘For Sale by Owner’ (FSBO) demographic. Engaging this group of sellers can expand your lead pool for mortgage business.
To stand out from other loan officers and real estate agents who are hounding these sellers, take a different approach by reaching out and showing them the value of working with potential buyers who are pre-approved. Leave the sales pitch at home and simply provide a clear visual or a branded handout that helps paint the mortgage process picture as it relates to the value of pre-approved homebuyers.
This will serve two purposes:
1. You are now top-of-mind in your local community, assisting a seller with valuable information at no cost
2. If they reach back to you, consider offering to pre-approve any leads that come through for them — this no-cost offering means ready-to-buy homeowners will be reaching out to you for a pre-approval, which means more leads for you
Check out our recent blog post that discusses how to engage this demographic with minimal effort through the use of savvy mortgage apps.
“Going to a closing is a simple way to show that you care about the future success of your clients.”
7. Current/Past Customers
Probably one of the most important audiences to consider as referral sources for loan officers are current and past customers. In business, it’s not the first sale that counts, it’s the repeat business that drives success. Maintaining relationships with past customers is imperative to this success model. Social media is a great way to approach this re-engagement, top-of-mind, philosophy. But there are other ways to cultivate a past business relationship.
Going to a closing is a simple way to show that you care about the future success of your clients. This gesture offers you additional opportunities to stay relevant in a customer’s life after the loan has closed. Consider bringing tangible materials about being a new homeowner. These could include ways to save money on their new home: DIY tips, infographics, lists, etc., are all valuable to a new homeowner. Easy-to-digest material that provides value is what’s key here.
In addition to this, by attending the closing you are one of the last people they have contact with in the loan process. Take the opportunity to exchange information that allows you to stay in touch after they leave the closing. Based on your strategy, this could be email or social media information. Securing this relationship allows you to follow up with information about refinancing opportunities or cancelling mortgage insurance, if applicable. These re-engagement efforts show you are looking out for what’s best for them and helping them to succeed.
Referral sources for loan officers are plentiful. The key to success is determining how you leverage and engage these opportunities. Considering a few of the above tactics will help you garner increased mortgage business, build relationships with advocates in the industry and work to secure yourself as a trust agent to those you serve.
Have a referral source I missed? Share in the comments!
Ben Smidt serves as MGIC’s Digital Strategy Manager. He leads corporate development and management of MGIC's digital marketing strategy. This includes establishing a clear vision for all digital marketing initiatives and providing strategic direction for the company's social media marketing efforts. His primary goal is to increase brand awareness and improve user experience.