Zak Stoiber, Digital Marketing Program Specialist
Loan officers and mortgage professionals put so much work into everything preceding the closing that it can be easy to miss out on the great opportunity the actual closing presents for building relationships, generating referrals, and strengthening their brand. And that makes sense! At the end of the day, loan officers’ #1 priority should be to provide their borrower with a positive experience. In this article, I’ll show loan officers how a little bit of extra effort can go a long way on closing day.
Partner with Local Business for a Unique Closing Gift
Upgrade your closing experience from good to great with a thoughtful closing gift from a local business. Here are 3 quick reasons why you might want to consider going local with your closing gift:
1. Supporting your local community is an inherently positive act, which also strengthens your brand image as someone who values community.
2. A closing gift that comes directly from the community is a welcoming, memorable and symbolic gesture to the borrower as a new a member of the community.
3. You’re building a relationship with the local business and expanding your referral network beyond the usual real estate agents and builders.
You can partner with all kinds of local businesses, but here are some ideas to get you started:
• Chocolatier: A box of gourmet truffles (who doesn’t like chocolate?)
• Woodworker: Custom address sign, keyholder, birdhouse, or cutting board
• Painter or photographer: Framed art of the city or neighborhood
• Fabric artist: Knit blanket or stuffed animal for the kids
There may be a tendency to want to gift something with your name on it so they remember you (branded calendar, anyone?), but I think you’re better off with a gift that’s inherently memorable, like a homemade sweet treat to celebrate the closing or a piece of art to decorate their new home, rather than something they’ll want to toss because it feels like a sales tactic.
PRO TIP: Tag the local business in a social post featuring a photo of the closing gift and express how excited you are to gift it to one of your borrowers at their closing. The business will be notified you tagged them and will likely share the post, which will help you build your relationship with the business as you’re generating positive buzz for their product. The business’ followers will also see the post, organically increasing your (digital) word-of-mouth recognition.
A Picture (on Social Media) is worth 1,000 words
The most popular social media posts tend to focus on major life events, which means that if your borrower posts photos of their new home – and they likely will – it’s going to get a lot of attention from their friends and family. This is an opportunity to get your name and information in front of hundreds of potential homebuyers in the same community, and all you have to do is ask!
At the end of the closing, mention that IF your new homeowner plans to post about it or share photos on social media, and if they think you did an extraordinary job, you’d appreciate if they would tag you in the post. You’ll receive a notification when they tag you, and you can now add a comment congratulating them again on their new home.
Another popular option is to take a photo at the closing – often with a prop like a giant key. You can then post this to your own page, which will help your own followers be reminded of the great work you do. However, it’s important to note that when you post to your own social media page, the people seeing the post will already know you. When your new homeowner posts something and tags you on their own page, like the first option mentioned, you’re reaching a whole new audience of potential borrowers!
PRO TIP: New to using social media for marketing purposes? So are a lot of loan officers – just be honest and let the borrower know! Your borrower may feel even more inclined to help you grow your online presence. For more social media tips, check out MGIC’s Social Media Café.
Doing a virtual closing? Be prepared!
All of us are trying to change and adapt to the difficult situation the pandemic has put us in, but the last thing you want to do is lose all the goodwill you’ve built up to this point because you’re unfamiliar with a new tool, software, or headset. Here are a few steps you can take to ensure as smooth a virtual-closing as possible:
1. Email the borrower a few days before the closing with detailed information about all software you’re preparing to use and links to the video call.
2. Offer the opportunity to do a video call test run before the closing, which can double as a great time for them to ask any lingering questions.
3. Make sure you’re not wrecking your video calls with the common mistakes outlined in this infographic.
4. Have a plan B and C ready for back-up video call options in case anyone has difficulties.
5. If you’re using a new tool, do a mock closing with a colleague where you can test everything in real time and get comfortable.
Follow up with value, request review
When homebuyers are looking to make the largest purchase of their life, they’re going to do extensive research to understand their options and work with the right people – including you! As with any product or service, one of the first things a consumer will look for in their research is reviews; if you’re not represented by online reviews, you might miss out on their business entirely.
There are several platforms to consider when choosing which one to ask your borrowers to review you on. Here’s why I think Facebook is one of the best options to consider:
1. Facebook is the most popular social media site with over 2.45 billion monthly active users.
2. When your borrower posts their review, it may also show up on their friend’s feeds, once again increasing your word-of-mouth recognition.
3. As these reviews are tied to the customer’s profile, it provides a stronger impression than other reviewing experiences; another borrower doing research can see the name and profile photo of the reviewer, which gives a more powerful endorsement compared to other platforms which don’t feature photos and might lack credibility.
To increase your chances of receiving the review, make the process as simple as possible. About a week or two after the closing, reach out to the borrower to see how they’re doing and provide value by attaching a link to this Home Maintenance Checklist. Now that they’ve officially closed, they’ll appreciate your continued support and – if they were renters – your help in managing the added responsibility of homeownership. In an ideal scenario, they’ll respond with thanks and appreciation – the perfect time to ask if they wouldn’t mind dropping you a quick review on Facebook. (If you receive a positive call or email from the borrower any time after the closing, don’t wait – follow these next steps right away!)
Ensure the borrower that you know they’re busy, and are under no obligation, but that if they do have a few minutes to submit the review, it’s one of the most meaningful and beneficial things they could do for you. Include a direct link to the review section on your Facebook business page; if they need some guidance, instruct them to write just a few sentences about how you helped them navigate their homebuying experience. While a thorough and glowing review would be great, any kind of positive review at all – even just a few sentences – will make future borrowers feel more confident in working with you.
With these steps, you’ve learned to leverage your closings to create a positive, memorable experience for your borrower while also building referral relationships and generating organic, online referral traffic!
The opinions and insights expressed in this blog are solely those of its author, Zak Stoiber, 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.
Digital Marketing Program Specialist
Zak Stoiber is a Digital Marketing Program Specialist at MGIC who focuses on writing, research, analytics and social media. Zak manages MGIC's social media accounts, and has delivered presentations to banks and credit unions around the country in an effort to help mortgage professionals improve their ability to connect with borrowers and referral partners.
In 2012 he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and has been with MGIC for more than 6 years. His writing can also be found on loanofficerhub.com, readynest.com and mgic-connects.com.