How do you respond when someone asks you what you do for a living? Do you give them your job title? The name of some tired old occupation that they’re most likely going to forget five minutes later along with the face that told them? Or do you capture their attention and engage them into active listening? Do you make a lasting impression?
Studies have shown that, upon meeting someone, you have seven seconds to capture their attention. People will generally know whether or not they like you and whether or not they’ll collaborate with you within seconds of first meeting you. With therefore not a second to spare, you must make those first seven seconds count. What do I do for a living? I make peoples’ dreams come true! Corny? For sure! But guess what! You’re listening and you’re actively engaged.
Successful mortgage loan originators don’t care about interest rates. I was a top producer when the 30-year, fixed interest rate was 9.875%. Successful mortgage loan originators don’t overly concern themselves with their competition. Successful mortgage loan originators know how to set themselves apart from their competition. But let’s get back to all that later. I have some more important things to discuss first.
Working as a mortgage loan originator affords a degree of freedom not found in many other occupations. Flexibility, freedom, job security, and the ability to help others … it’s all there. As a mortgage loan originator, you are, for all intents and purposes, self-employed. Oh sure you have a boss to whom you must report. And if you don’t originate loans, your sponsor will eventually grow weary of sponsoring you. But, aside from that and having to adhere to the industry’s rules and regulations, you’re likely 100% commission and therefore free to generate business however you deem fit.
As a mortgage loan originator, you maintain the flexibility and freedom to set your own hours, work your own schedule, and establish your own boundaries. All to conform to your own personal lifestyle and extracurricular needs. Of course, you must be available to accommodate your customers and referral partners, but there’s definitely something to be said for not being chained to the standard nine-to-five.
Since people will always need homes in which to live and they will rarely be able to pay for them in cash, demand for what you do will not be disappearing anytime in the near future. And, when combined with your primary perspective in working with applicants and borrowers is being of service to them, genuinely helping them, and positively affecting their lives, your reputation will flourish and success is all but guaranteed.
As a new mortgage loan originator, there are two simple steps to effectively hitting the ground running:
- Find the Right Sponsor
- Stand Apart from Your Competition
Find the Right Sponsor
As I discussed in a previous article, finding the right sponsor is critical to launching a successful career. As a newly-licensed mortgage loan originator, it is imperative that you look beyond the compensation structure that the prospective company is offering. It is critical that your first sponsor is one that, not only offers a wide array of mortgage products and programs, but also one that highly values quality training. Training, training, and more training is the absolute key to success. Mortgage companies that subscribe to the “learn as you go” method of training are cancerous toxins to the mortgage industry. I can’t emphasize enough how critical is it to avoid any company that does not enroll their new hire in a formal training and mentoring program from day one. Furthermore, if the manager to whom you would be expected to report is a producing manager responsible for training new hires in addition to managing his or her own pipeline … RUN! There is no way that a producing manager can ever provide new hires with the mentoring and guidance that they need while managing the demands of his or her own pipeline.
Stand Apart from Your Competition
What NOT to do!
New mortgage loan originators regularly ask me to recommend lead companies from which they should buy their mortgage leads. My answer is usually, “There’s the garbage receptacle. Why not save yourself some time and effort and simply throw your money into that?” I was a top producer and I never bought one lead. Leads are typically worthless. Most leads connect the loan originator with highly-unqualified customers and, unless you’re receiving quality leads in real time (within seconds of the prospective customer submitting their lead online), by the time that you call them they’ve already heard from one to two dozen other loan professionals. Don’t waste your time and money buying leads.
New MLOs frequently ask me how they can get Realtors to take and return their phone calls. May I ask you something? If your phone was ringing off the hook with title agents trying to work with you, especially new and inexperienced title agents, would you enthusiastically take their calls and return their messages? Of course not! So why would you expect established Realtors to take your call or want to collaborate with you? Especially when their phones are ringing off the hook with mortgage loan originators all salivating to work with them. Forget about cold calling Realtors. There are far more productive efforts on which you can focus.
What TO do!
You make peoples’ dreams come true, right? You help people achieve the American dream of homeownership, correct? Well then get to it! Learn all about and focus on niche mortgage programs such as vacation properties, condominiums, and community lending products that can help people with challenges. Hold first-time homebuyer seminars and build your reputation. Be of service to others. Help people.
Take advantage of every opportunity that you can. Every person with whom you interact is a potential customer or referral source, even the person standing behind you in the grocery store line. I once took a friend who just happened to be a loan originator out to dinner. By the time we were leaving, she had the maître ‘d’s as well as the valet’s telephone numbers with permission to call them about refinancing their mortgages the following Monday morning.
Ask! When asked why referral sources tend to give referrals to some people and not to others, most of the time the reply is that the person to whom they gave the referral asked for it. Asking for a referral is awkward? You know you’re in sales, right? How do you expect to get anything if you don’t pursue it? Do you want the referral? Ask for it!
Build relationships. What makes you think that you can approach a real estate professional, whose livelihood is contingent on her reputation and closings, and simply expect her to give you a referral? Oh! Because you have low rates? Because you have the best programs? Because you can get the loans closed quickly? Allow me to let you in on a little industry secret. EVERYBODY claims to have the lowest rates. EVERYBODY claims to have the best programs. And EVERYBODY claims to be able to quickly close their loans. You need to distance yourself and stand apart from the multitude of loan originators who are all doing the same thing … getting ignored.
Become a source of value. Help the individual from whom you’re requesting help. Network with all of the various professionals operating in the real estate industry within your local community. Join affiliate groups, social groups, and professional organizations. Establish and foster partnerships and build relationships. Doing THAT will get you the referrals that you crave. Most importantly, make sure that everything that you do is intended to be of service to someone else … and you must be patient. Building prosperous relationships takes time.
There is no magical way to break into the residential mortgage loan origination business. Anyone who expects to pass the NMLS exam, get licensed, secure a sponsorship, and start earning $150,000 annually is going to be highly disappointed. The mortgage origination industry certainly offers high earning potential along with the ability to help others in tremendous ways. But this success can only be achieved by patiently progressing through the process step by step by step.
I hope that you have found value in this three-part series about getting started in the Residential Mortgage Loan Origination Business. For many more exciting and creative ideas to build your pipeline, to get referral sources to want to refer to you, ways to take winning mortgage loan applications, and unique strategies to generate business, grab your copy of The Mortgage 101 Boot Camp© available through https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/rich-leffler/the-mortgage-101-boot-camp/paperback/product-14mym5w5.html?page=1&pageSize=4.