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I wish my Realtor/Agent would …

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13 things Loan Officers wish the agents they work with would consider, understand, do or NOT do.

Like marketing & sales, sometimes the relationships between agents and Loan Officers can be love & hate.  From an ecosystem perspective, they are essential to one another, yet there can be tension.

I chatted with some LO’s I know to get their top “I wish” list items.  They have an average of 16 years in the business, none with less than 12, so I think we can consider them experienced.  (Note: these are California based Loan Officers, so the loan process or relationship could differ based on where you live.)

Interestingly, a number of the comments revolved around communication.  I once had a boss that told me “it’s only effective communication if the other person understands it the way you intended”.  Very true.  And, communication is two-way, so it probably pays to clarify.

I wish the agent …

… understood calling me several times a day for status updates doesn’t actually speed things up.

… would NOT quote rates or recommend program types without speaking to me first.  If they get it wrong it’s an awkward start to a relationship with their client.

… knew that when I go back to the client time after time for additional paperwork to meet conditions, it’s the Lender asking time after time (and often at the 11th hour) … I have my stuff together!

… would tell me at the beginning of the transaction how best to communicate with them.  For example, do you want daily/weekly updates, or an update every time some event happens?  Each of your needs are different.  I’m not clairvoyant.  Tell me, please!

… believed I am just as committed to getting his/her deal closed to meet contract deadlines as they are.  I need to make a living too!!!

… knew I don’t blame them for not believing loan officers anymore.  The bad ones are gone now.  Don’t make me pay for their mistakes.

… would take into account that I am human, therefore fallible.  We all make a mistake now and again, and we all work to fix it.  Don’t burn a bridge with me for being human.

… considered us partners.  Our relationship is symbiotic …

… would be clear about what “a reasonable time to return calls” means to them.  It seems to differ depending on the subject matter.  Please let me know up front.

… believed the rate IS the rate.  I have given your client a GFE and have no intention of screwing them.

… would tell me if the client is shopping the loan.  Nothing would change from what I quote or the level of service, but it’s hard to put so many hours into a deal, only to have the rug pulled out from under me at the 11th hour.  You’d think a realtor would understand that!

… wouldn’t withhold information – especially regarding the property –  that could jeopardize the deal.  I mean, if there’s no sink or toilet, please tell me!

… understood I don’t have ANY control over the appraisal.  I can’t schedule it, change it or influence it.

I hope you’ll consider this view from the other side of the fence helpful.  Please weigh in below with anything you’d want Loan Officers to know.

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Brandie is an unapologetically candid marketing professional who was recently mentioned on BusinessWeek as a Top Young Female Entrepreneur. She recently co-founded consulting firm MarketingTBD. She's held senior level positions with GE and Fidelity, as well as with entrepreneurial start-ups. Raised by a real estate Broker, Brandie is passionate about real estate and is an avid investor. Follow her on Twitter.

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35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. Joe Loomer

    July 23, 2009 at 8:02 am

    Sooo true Brandie. A great post and what should be required reading for all agents.

    What are the chances you’ll follow this up with a “I Wish My Loan Officer/Lender Would…..” post from the agent side?

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  2. Lani Rosales

    July 23, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Interesting that communication is the biggest complaint, it seems to me that it’s the same from the real estate end. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched Benn almost have to kick down doors to get a response, and if the LO is in another state, FORGET IT.

    I don’t profess to specialize in LO/Realtor relations, but it seems like LOs could have some sort of website tracking like FedEx so agents and buyers/sellers can see where everything is in the process, does this exist?

  3. Brandie Young

    July 23, 2009 at 11:20 am

    Thanks, Joe. I can follow it up with “I wish LO’s would”. I bet it would get some interesting feedback!

  4. David Gibbons

    July 23, 2009 at 11:21 am

    Awesome post but a word of warning: your relationship with your client is more important than your relationship with your favorite lender. There’s more than one piece of advice listed here that suggests that lenders (or at least these lenders) would prefer to have it the other way around. IMO, agents should be weary of some of these “tips.”

    1) Unfortunately, “the bad ones are gone now” is not remotely true. The “bad ones” made money hand over fist and are not going quietly … and since nationwide Loan Officer licensing has not been rolled out yet, most States still have no way of keeping the “bad ones” out of the marketplace if they are ever identified in the first place.

    2) Considering a lender a “simbiotic partners” is not smart; in fact it’s a one-way street to a Respa violation — don’t even use the word “partner.” A lender is a vendor to your client; no more, no less. It’s your responsibility to know & recommend reputable vendors; not to partner with them.

    3) A good lender should assume that a good Realtor will recommend that their client shop their loan around to multiple lenders (but it wouldn’t hurt to also tell the lenders that.) Lenders have discretion in their margins and rates and fees absolutely will become more attractive in a competitive scenario. A good loan officer can compile a detailed mortgage quote in less than a minute so you’re not exactly wasting anyone’s time by requesting multiple quotes. As a broker once told me; “if you’re calling me, the rate’s going up. If I’m calling you, the rate’s going down.”

    4) “The rate is the rate” is an oversimplified way of thinking about mortgage rate quotes which doesn’t really help anyone. Brokers make part of their margin by earning “yield spread premium” which comes from discretionary increases in the quoted rate from today’s PAR rate. And despite what you hear, all brokers do not have access to the same loan products and investors. Rates and fees can and do vary substantially from one lender to the next and when you throw lenders’ variable margins into the mix, I think it becomes imperative that home buyers shop their mortgage around to as many reputable lenders as possible.

    It’s important to have a great working relationship with the lenders you work with but that doesn’t mean you have to be naive about the mortgage market. I think you should rather look for lenders who are eager to educate you about the inner workings of their world.

  5. Brandie Young

    July 23, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Lani – as usual genius idea … I don’t think that exists. I think some of the processing softwares can auto send event emails, but they need to be manually created (which event goes to whom). The other snag being now each loan is so different requiring such discreet conditions – often demanded at the 11th hour.

    I thought the communication piece was interesting too. I see both sides. I do think a conversation setting expectations up front could help mitigate that in some cases. But like any relationship, it takes some time to get to know the other person …

  6. John De Souza

    July 23, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Has anyone surveyed customers with that question: “I wish my agent would”? Thinking it would yield different answers compared to most traditional surveys.

  7. Brandie Young

    July 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    John – interesting approach to a customer service servey. It would also be interesting to see how the answers differ between a first time buyer and those with experience.

    Hi Dave – thanks for the input – I really appreciate the time it took to put them together.

    To be clear – the folks I heard this from do NOT work for lenders. They are Loan Officers that work for independently-owned Brokerages. These are not bankers. It could be regional vernacular … but I wanted to make the distinction.

    That said, I agree, your relationship with the client is vital. But LOs consider these folks their client as well, and value that relationship just as much. (the ones I spoke with – I can’t speak universally)

    Re: #2 I do disagree with you on the partnering aspect. Financing is essential. Having a partner-like relationship with experts in loan programs, ones you can trust to treat the client as you would and give them the best advice seems smart.

    Re: #3 The LOs I chatted with DO shop the file to multiple lenders. The point in their comment was getting deep into the process then being dumped. They don’t work under a contract like agents do, so it’s not rare to have an LO spend many, many hours with a client, then have them walk.

    Re: #4 YSP are clearly outlined in the GFE so a client will know what the LO earns. The comment was intended to mean they are not pulling a bait/switch, or neglecting to present a program someone may have “heard” about.

  8. David Gibbons

    July 23, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    Hi Brandie,

    Understood (and I’m also primarily talking about Loan Officers at brokerages.)

    #2 — I totally appreciate the spirit of what you’re recommending — it’s important to develop good working relationships with lenders that you trust — but in the world of Respa, “partnership” and “symbiotic” is very dangerous language for describing your relationship with a lender; it’s best avoided.

    #3 — I can’t help feeling that someone is pulling the wool over your eyes on this issue. Regardless of the fact that any brokerage typically has access to multiple investors, you still need to shop the loan around to multiple brokerages. Do not trust a loan oficer who says they’ll shop it around for you. SERIOUSLY. No one broker has access to ALL investors and ALL products and YSP & fees can vary greatly from one broker to the next.

    #4 I think we’re on the same page here but note that not all brokerages broker all products. Again; shop the loan around.

  9. Ken Jansen

    July 23, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    Hi Brandie,

    Great Post! I wish all the LO’s I worked with had the same opinion on how to work as your article outlines. Whenever possible I suggest the clients worry more about customer service than an extra dollar here or there. I have worked with some great LO and some LOsers too. 🙂

    Thanks!

    Ken

  10. Brandie Young

    July 23, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Hi Ken – thanks for the shout out, and for cracking me up … LOsers! ha ha. I’m going to try to remember that one! Yeah, the folks I were speaking with have been around and seen a number of markets. The list wasn’t exhaustive … but I thought 13 was enough!

  11. Brandie Young

    July 23, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    David – we chat again. Yay. Regarding RESPA and your thoughts I think we’re safe from the RESPA police. It was casual conversation among friends.

    As for the wool – none there. I’m fairly familiar with the process, understand no single broker is approved with all lenders (the ones left standing) and fees vary.
    As for shopping the loan among different mortgage brokerages, and having LOs compete based on rate, I’m going to defer to Ken Jansen’s comment “suggest the clients worry more about customer service than an extra dollar here or there.” Just like a good agent, a good LO will assess the individual’s needs and make sound recommendations based on them. It would be akin to an agent showing a buyer all 462 listings in an area to make sure “they’ve explored all options”.
    In fact I surveyed this topic while I was at GE, and we found that consumers working with LO’s (as opposed to visiting a branch of B of A, etc.) did not request specific lenders or loan programs (number was over 95%). They may have asked about ‘features’ of programs (i.e. no fees) but at the end of it all, their concern was payment 1st then rate.

  12. Ken Montville - MD Suburbs of DC

    July 25, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    I have to say, I’m with Dave on this one. I can’t count how many loan officers have courted me over the years. Everyone from LOs that my Broker had an ABA with to the children of past clients who decided to become LOs to old friends who decided to change careers.

    For whatever reason, I’ve never developed that “special” relationship with a LO to the point where everything went smoothly and I was the “preferred Realtor”. A lot of my buyer clients come with their own lender and those that don’t shop ’til they drop. Even when I tell my “fave” LO that they’re shopping it doesn’t seem to make a difference. For many of the reasons Dave points out (the YSP, etc.), these LOs don’t compete well.

    One last point, in today’s tighter credit market with stricter underwriting standards and appraisal issues it is more important than ever to find a LO that can execute and perform. It’s easy to say, “It’s not my fault. It’s the new appraisal system. It’s underwriting.” A good LO will know the system they’re working with and be able to say what they can do and do what they say.

    As an agent…I wish my LO would…tell me if a marginal or borderline client can or can’t get done. Don’t string us along thinking you might “shoehorn” the borrower into something, maybe, if the underwriter is in a good mood that day. If it ain’t gonna work. Tell me. Oh. And give us a good GFE, up front.

    I could go on…..

  13. Brandie Young

    July 26, 2009 at 2:05 am

    Hiya Ken – It’s too bad to hear you have yet to connect with an LO you trust. I hope one day you will. I think it’s difficult on both sides of the fence and there are equal and valid concerns on both sides as well.

  14. Anna Ruotolo

    July 26, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    Brandie-
    I love the thought process. I love the comments. As a 25 year veteran in the mortgage business, I think you hit on some valid points.

    A few things I’d comment on:
    1. Loan officers should learn to set up communication standards with their Realtor partners. Some of the items you hit on are perfect for a “get to know eachother” coffee. Thus, a loan officer can ask the Realtor, how often would you like to be updated, what form of communication do you prefer, how often would you like rates, etc….

    2. You are absolutely in the legal limits of using the words “partner” and “symbiotic” – RESPA makes no statement in their regulations on this.

    3. Realtors need the loan officers to keep them informed of new regulations. A lot has hit our industry, and the Realtors hear about it, but I’m not sure many of them know “what it means to them or their clients”. Thus the loan officers need to educate their partners on HVCC, New TILA laws that take place next week, etc.

    thanks for the great stuff – you are fantastic!
    Anna

  15. Esko Kiuru

    July 26, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Brandie,

    Good reading. Clarifying up front how often to communicate goes a long way toward a smooth transaction. Another thing is what medium to use. Is it the phone or email or text? Email has become quite popular lately, not only between mortgage lenders and agents, but also with customers.

  16. Brandie Young

    July 26, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    Hi Esko – thanks for chiming in. You make a great point re: the communication medium.

  17. Jim Gatos

    July 26, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    This total jerk of a loan officer from a nationally known (and rather screwed up) lender (in THIS agent’s opinion) had every reason in the book NOT to respond in a timely manner and so on and so forth. For years he’s been after my business. Hesitatingly, I gave him a client who actually gave him his mother and his wife’s impending real estate transactions.. This loan officer hardly ever kept in contact with either myself or the client and when he did, usually it was to ask for an extension. Fed up with the horrible customer service my client yanked both loans away from him and gave them to another loan officer who incidentally was more “trustworthy” for my client and at least would respond to voice messages. Upon hearing this another real estate agent who happens to be friends with the bad service loan officer chastised me. I laughed in HIS face when he told me the loan officer is the best and he knows his business, he just doesn’t have good customer service. Oh yeah? People don’t care how much you know UNTIL THEY KNOW how much you care! DUH!

  18. Brandie Young

    July 27, 2009 at 9:58 am

    Anna – thanks for stopping by! Great feedback, thanks. Especially the need for LOs to keep agents up-to-date on changes in the industry!

  19. Brandie Young

    July 27, 2009 at 10:00 am

    Jim – eeek, that sounds like a horrible experience! I’ve never heard someone say someone is “the best, but doesn’t have good customer service” about a service provider. Well, at least you know who you won’t be recommending!

  20. John Vrooman

    September 11, 2009 at 1:56 am

    Great post and dialog for both Realtors and Loan Officers. I think this topic form both the Realtor and Loan Officer should be expanded on/maintained/organized, etc. so that lots of Realtors and Loan officers can offer tips, suggestions, “do’s & don’t’s I like it when, I hate it when, Realtors should and shouldn’t, Loan officers should and shouldn’t…basically have a place where an ongoing dialog of giving and taking can take place over time. After every 100 posts or so a Best of list of tips and suggestions could be culled from the feedback for all to review and put to use.

    Latest headache… Negotiated a deal based on one loan program/pre-approval letter…. get an accepted offer then the loan officer “does the client a favor” and encourages the buyer to go for a loan that requires a seller’s concession. Nothing like trying to re-negotiate a deal and try to work in a seller concession and coach everyone through the process. The story is worse and more involved, but that’s the short version.

  21. Atlanta Real Estate

    October 2, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Brandi:

    Another great post. Crap, now I’m going to have to go real ALL of yours!

    I sent this to my favorite Mortgage Broker to get his reaction.

    Rob

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