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The Goodfellas: An Agents Guide to Finding the Perfect Loan Officer



birdsIn the great long food chain that is real estate, agents sit at the top. The mortgage loan officer sits right underneath with a bucket trying to get the agents to drop a few trinkets. While this may sound a bit harsh, it is well known in the industry that any successful mortgage professional will have a handful of very strong Real Estate referral partners. For loan officers this is a very successful and time tested marketing strategy. That is why loan originators love Real Estate agents.

Now sitting at the top of the food chain, Mr. or Mrs. Agent gets lots of calls from lenders. I’m sure you’ve been to lunch or, coffee or, a seminar sponsored by a salivating hungry loan officer. You probably felt good about yourself and liked the attention. However, at the end of the day how do you decide which ones to keep in your wallet and which ones to turn away? Because believe me there are plenty of bad loan officers out there.

Finding a good loan officer to work with is almost like dating to find a partner. While it may not be quite as complicated as dating, when the loan officer puts their best foot forward, you do need to know that the bad foot in the back isn’t going to kick you one day before the transaction is supposed to close?

Agents, fear not. Today, I present to you the five critical factors to evaluate the loan officers knocking on your door. If you do your homework as I’ve outlined below, I’m confident you’ll find a good loan officer who will not only do well with your buyers but may even send you some new buyers all together. Now, isn’t that something!

#1. Service: You hear it every day. In any service based industry. And any loan officer with a brain will repeat it verbatim. “I provide good service.” Blah, blah.. blah. But ask them what good service looks like? Does it have a color? a smell? a logo? because, in my opinion good service will always have a distinct flavor. To toot my own horn, my good service is a black and white faxed weekly status report called a “Details. Details” sheet. Ask any agent I’ve worked with and they’ll tell you exactly what I mean. One agent almost asked my wife out because of this!

#2. Communication: In a way this is a subset of service, but I consider it important enough to give it a separate category. A lot of things happen during the loan process, sometimes unexpected things come up. That is why straight, direct and regular communication with the agent is vital in having a smooth transaction. Any loan officer who lacks this skill is not worthy of your time. When it comes to communication, I also like a professional communicator. I personally frown on E-mails with too many grammatical and spelling mistakes, telephone conversations that feel fishy, and unprofessional phone messages.

#3. Attention to detail: When it comes to lending, the devil is truly in the details. Details such as rent payment method (cash or check), alimony payments, current marital status – can all derail a transaction if the loan officer has not asked the right questions while doing the pre-qualification. When selecting an LO I would ask lots of questions and measure their “anal-ness”. The more the better when it comes to a real estate transaction.

#4. Tech-savvy: In today’s world, as an agent I would like to know if the loan officer has a technology footprint. And how big, deep, wide is this footprint? I’m not talking about just having a Blackberry, an iPod and the cool blue tooth ear piece that makes them look all techie. I’m talking about web presence, CRM systems and the size of their offline marketing universe. I suggest searching the loan officer on Google and see what you find.

#5. Muscle Tenacity: Specifically, brain muscle tenacity. This ties into service a bit too, but what I mean is I don’t like quitters. Will the loan officer go the extra mile? Will they take an easy “no” over a slightly difficult “yes”? For example will they run all the loan scenarios? Can they do a thorough cost benefit analysis on an ARM vs. Fixed rate loan? Can they look at the big picture and propose effective solutions for long term financial success using equity management techniques? If the experience of the past few years teaches us anything, it’s that bad loan officers can bring down Wall Street.

BirdsAny loan officer who rates high on these five factors will prove to be a valuable business partner. In fact, if you’re working with a strong mortgage professional the food chain is a bit different. The loan officer and you can both be at the top, passing trinkets back and forth. Believe me, I’ve passed on a few very lucrative buyers to the agents I work with. The look on their faces is quite breath taking!

Writer for national real estate opinion column, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.

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  1. Mariana

    October 25, 2007 at 4:32 am

    I think that the largest hurdle that many of the lenders that I run into is #2. Like too many agents are – up front all kinds of communication, but in the middle of it – BAM! Where’d they go?

  2. Benn Rosales

    October 25, 2007 at 4:36 am

    I remember being told when I was new to the business, a lender worth their salt isn’t reachable by phone. I tend to lean towards lenders who aren’t salty and actually will talk to me when I need answers. I also evaluate their processing system and it had better be above par or the lender matters not.

  3. Ken Jansen

    July 23, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    Hi Shailesh,

    WOW great list. I think you are a genius because we agree on all points, hah. In my 13+ years I narrowed it down to just a small handful of LOs that are a good fit. All are very customer service oriented. Nice job, well written.


  4. real estate agent guide

    July 8, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    nice and great post..readers will be like this… planning to loan is good to start investing.. but use wisely…thanks

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Economic News

Is the real estate industry endorsing Carson’s nomination to HUD?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ben Carson’s initial appointment to HUD was controversial given his lack of experience in housing, but what is the pulse now?



NAR strongly backs Dr. Carson’s nomination

When President-Elect Donald Trump put forth Dr. Ben Carson’s name as the nominee for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, NAR President William E. Brown said, “While we’ve made great strides in recent years, far more can be done to put the dream of homeownership in reach for more Americans.”

At the time of nomination, the National Association of Realtors (the largest trade organization in the nation) offered a positive tone regarding Dr. Carson and said the industry looks forward to working with him. But does that hold true today?

The confirmation hearings yesterday were far less controversial than one would expect, especially in light of how many initially reacted to his nomination. Given his lack of experience in housing, questions seemed to often center around protecting the LGBT community and veterans, both of which he pledged to support.

In fact, Dr. Carson said the Fair Housing Act is “one of the best pieces of legislation we’ve ever had in this country,” promising to issue a “world-class plan” for housing upon his confirmation…

>>>>>Click to continue reading…<<<<<


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Economic News

Job openings hit 14-year high, signaling economic improvement

The volume of job openings is improving, but not across all industries. The overall economy is improving, but not evenly across all career paths.



young executives

job openings

Job openings hit a high point

To understand the overall business climate, the U.S. Labor Department studies employment, today releasing data specific to job vacancies. According to the department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLT) for April, job openings rose to 5.38 million, the highest seen since December 2000, and a significant jump from March’s 5.11 million vacancies. Although a lagging indicator, it shows strength in the labor market.

The Labor Department reports that the number of hires in April fell to 5 million, which indicates a weak point in the strong report, and although the volume remains near recent highs, this indicates a talent gap and highlights the number of people who have left the labor market and given up on looking for a job.

Good news, bad news, depending on your profession

That said, another recent Department report notes that employers added 221,000 jobs in April and 280,000 in May, but the additions are not evenly spread across industries. Construction jobs rose in April, but dipped in professional and business services, hospitality, trade, and transportation utilities. In other words, white collar jobs are down, blue collar jobs are up, which is good or bad news depending on your profession.

Additionally, the volume of people quitting their jobs was 2.7 million in April compared to the seven-year high of 2.8 million in March. Economists follow this number as a metric for gauging employee confidence in finding their next job.

What’s next

If you’re in the market for a job, there are an increasing number of openings, so your chance of getting hired is improving, but there is a caveat – not all industries are enjoying improvement.

If you’re hiring talent, you’ll still get endless resumes, but there appears to be a growing talent gap for non-labor jobs, so you’re not alone in struggling to find the right candidate.

Economists suspect the jobs market will continue to improve as a whole, but this data does not pertain to every industry.


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Economic News

Gas prices are down, so are gas taxes about to go up?

Do low gas prices mean higher gas taxes are on the way? Budgeting for 2015 just got a bit more complicated, if some politicians have their way.



gas tax


Gas taxes and your bottom line

Many industries rely heavily on time in their vehicle, not just truck drivers and delivery trucks. Sales professionals hop in their vehicles throughout the day, as do many other types of professionals (service providers like plumbers, and so forth). For that reason, gas prices and taxes are a relevant line item that must be budgeted for 2015, but with politicians making the rounds to push for higher gas taxes, budgeting becomes more complicated.

Gas prices are down roughly 50 cents per gallon compared to a year ago, which some analysts say have contributed to more money in consumers’ pockets. Some believe that this will improve holiday sales, but others believe the timing is just right to increase federal taxes on gas. The current tax on gas is 18.40 cents per gallon, and on diesel are 24.40 cents per gallon.


Supporters and opponents are polar opposites

Supporters argue as follows: gas prices are low, so it won’t hurt to increase federal gas taxes, in fact, those funds must go toward improving our infrastructure, which in the long run, saves Americans money because smoother roads mean better gas mileage and less congestion.

Gas taxes have long been a polarizing concept, and despite lowered gas prices, the controversial nature of the taxes have not diminished.

While some are pushing for complete abolition of federal gas taxes, others, like former Pennsylvania Governor, Ed Rendell (D) tell CNBC, “Say that cost the average driver $130 a year. They would get a return on that investment” in safer roads and increased quality of life, he added.

The Washington Post‘s Chris Mooney points out that federal gas taxes have been “stuck” at 18 cents for over 20 years, last raised when gas was barely a dollar a gallon and that the tax must increase not only to improve the infrastructure, but to “green” our behavior, and help our nation find tax reform compromise.

Is a gas tax politically plausible?

Mooney writes, “So, this is not an argument that a gas tax raise is politically plausible — any more than a economically efficient tax on carbon would be. It’s merely a suggestion that — ignoring politics — it might be a pretty good idea.”

Rendell noted, “The World Economic Forum, 10 years ago, rated us the best infrastructure in the world,” adding that we “need to do something for our infrastructure, not in a one or two year period, but over a decade.”

Others would note that this rating has not crumbled in just a few years, that despite many bridges and roads in need of repair, our infrastructure is still superior to even the most civilized nations.

Regardless of the reasons, most believe that Congress won’t touch this issue with a ten-foot pole, especially leading up to another Presidential campaign season starting next year.

“I think it’s too toxic and continues to be too toxic,” Steve LaTourette (the former Republican congressman best known for his close friendship with his fellow Ohioan, Speaker John Boehner) tells The Atlantic. “I see no political will to get this done.”

Whether the time is fortuitous or not, and regardless of the positive side effects, many point to a fear of voters’ retaliation against any politician siding with a gas hike, so this matter going any further than the proposal stage is unlikely.

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