Go back to the basics to help more renters become homeowners

As a mortgage professional, I’m sure this has happened to you: You’re at a backyard barbeque or your child’s soccer game, and the question of what you do for a living comes up. After you tell them you’re a loan officer, they say, “Mortgages, huh? I don’t think I could ever qualify for one of those!”  

These folks – people who could be ready for a mortgage now, or later with a little work on their credit, but just don’t know where they stand – could be an important part of your mortgage pipeline. They may require a little more time and energy to cultivate, but if you actively seek out and guide these less-confident borrowers through the process of buying a home, you’ll find it’s a rewarding process that yields referrals. Each successful homeowner will become an evangelist to others in their community who may have felt doubtful about their ability to buy a home.    

How to find folks who don’t know much about how to buy a home 

Of course, the challenge in reaching potential clients who don’t know if they’re ready to buy is that they haven’t self-selected by reaching out to a lender or a real estate agent or even by conducting an internet search on buying a home.  

Here are 4 ideas to try: 

  • Apartment complexes: The largest untapped source of non-homeowners is, of course, renters. Loan officers often fear reaching out to the owners or managers of apartment complexes, but remember that turnover is in their best interest, as it creates an opportunity to adjust rental pricing  
  • School districts: Salaries for teachers – especially those early in their career – can make it tough for teachers to consider owning over renting. But as educators, they’ll appreciate the value of financial education that helps them understand what they may need to do to be able to afford a home. You’ll also have the opportunity to explain special homeownership programs for teachers they may not have known about 
  • Major corporations and employers: You may be able to partner with large area employers to educate entry-level employees about personal finance and homeownership. Entry-level employees may eventually become managers with the income that will qualify them for a mortgage loan. We at Thrive are currently working with a national home improvement chain to offer financial education to their employees 
  • Churches: Here in Austin, there’s a church around every corner. If you are a member of a church – or even if you aren’t – you can help educate the congregation and strengthen your local community  

Go back to the basics and treat customers like friends and family 

Potential clients who are just starting to consider whether they could buy a home will need a little more TLC than clients who self-selected by giving you a call. You may have to spend some time dispelling the myths and fears that have held them back in the past. (Read and share my article on Readynest: Don’t let these 5 fears hold you back from owning a home.) 

 

"Remember that your clients may feel vulnerable throughout the mortgage process."

 

Remember that your clients may feel vulnerable throughout the mortgage process. You’re going to know everything about their income, their credit history, mistakes they may have made – so you need to go the extra mile to earn their trust and remove any discomfort they may have about opening their lives to you.   

To develop that comfort level with a customer, go beyond the transaction and interview them as if they’re family. You’d give your mother different advice than you’d give a stranger off the street. Take the time to get to know the customer, build a rapport and really figure out what options might be best for them. 

This may sound old-school in today’s “click on my link and apply” world. But to help borrowers overcome their obstacles to homeownership, I believe loan officers need to interview people like we used to. True customer service will never go out of style!    

The opinions and insights expressed in this blog are solely those of its author, Tay Toliver, and do not necessarily represent the views of either Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation or any of its parent, affiliates, or subsidiaries (collectively, “MGIC”). Neither MGIC nor any of its officers, directors, employees or agents makes any representations or warranties of any kind regarding the soundness, reliability, accuracy or completeness of any opinion, insight, recommendation, data, or other information contained in this blog, or its suitability for any intended purpose. 

Tay Toliver

About the author

Tay Toliver, Director of Community Advancement - Thrive Mortgage

Tay Toliver is the director of community advancement for Thrive Mortgage, where he has spearheaded initiatives focused on expanding and reinventing the way we talk about and address financial literacy in underserved communities. He has spent more than 20 years in the mortgage industry and has served as a member and officer of NAREB, Austin Black Real Estate Professionals, AREAA, VAREP, NAHREP and more. Tay was born and raised in Lubbock, Texas, and graduated from Lubbock Christian University. 

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