It happened almost fifteen years ago but I remember it as if it were yesterday. A woman who I had known for less than a month was crying on the phone to me. And it was in that instance, at that very moment, when I finally understood why I became a mortgage loan originator.
This woman, who I’ll refer to as “Mrs. X,” was weeks away from losing her home. She had no idea what she was going to do, and no other loan originator had been willing to listen. In fact, she was understandably reluctant to even speak with me and did so only at the urging of a trusted mutual acquaintance.
After introducing myself to Mrs. X, I surrendered her my full attention. And I didn’t simply listen. I heard, I understood, and I empathized. By the time she had finished fully explaining why she was several months delinquent on her mortgage and about to lose her home, her demeanor changed. Her defenses diminished. Her sense of defeat emerged amongst an inkling of, I dare to suggest, relief. After listening and understanding and empathizing and showing compassion, I recognized hope. Hope that every other loan originator failed to identify by refusing to do what I took the time and effort to do … understand. It was through seeing her as much more than a potential commission that I was able to recognize a likely solution for her realistically-viable circumstances.
Other MLOs apparently considered expending effort to work with someone facing impending foreclosure to be a waste of time. After all, time is money, and spending their time on such an unlikely financing candidate would not have enhanced their bottom lines. Had they had taken the time to listen, hear, and understand this homeowner, however, they would have, in all probability, been able to help her and earn the income that they desired. And that’s just what I did.
I approached Mrs. X with compassion. I treated her with respect, genuine interest, and dignity. I saw her as much more than a dollar sign. I listened. I learned. And I was ultimately able to put her into a subprime program that rescued her home from foreclosure and provided her with a means for financial solvency. And on that day, the day after her closing, I found myself listening to her crying her heart out with joy and relief because her home was once again safe.
It is absolutely possible to earn a tremendous income as a mortgage loan originator. But, when the loan originator sees him or herself as a problem solver, a helper of others, a person who makes a positive difference in the lives of many by serving, there lies the trailhead to the pathway of success.
There is an enormous difference between listening and hearing. Listening is simply perception, often limited to pre-conceived notions. Hearing leads to understanding and understanding leads to empathy. Could you imagine how disastrous it could be for a doctor to prescribe a course of treatment without delving into the causes of the patient’s ailments? A doctor must listen and understand what the patient is experiencing so that she can appropriately treat her patient.
As a mortgage loan originator, it is critical to understand your borrower’s needs and wants. Not only will doing so help you establish trust and rapport, but that customer will also be far more inclined to return to you for future financing while referring others over. I remember once speaking with someone who couldn’t remember their loan originator’s name less than six months after settling on their loan. Shame on any loan originator whose client doesn’t remember their name after consummating their mortgage.
Establishing proper rapport involves far more than asking your potential borrower what kind of loan they’re seeking or what they’re looking to do. Getting to know them means understanding who they are as individuals. As people. Establishing rapport leads to trust. And through trust, people are more likely to lower their defenses, expose more vulnerability, and share their true desires, goals, and apprehensions. With this information, the loan originator is far better equipped to offer the most appropriate solution and cater to his client’s specific interests, concerns, and needs.
When initially meeting your client, and assuming that it’s culturally appropriate, look them directly in their eyes and shake their hand with a firm handshake. Be perceptive to any indicators of their hobbies, likes, or dislikes. Even if you have no familiarity with trains, if you’re meeting with them at their residence and there, on the wall, is a picture of a train, that’s a likely indicator of their interest in trains. People rarely retreat from opportunities to discuss what they love. Build rapport by genuinely finding interest in what interests them. Eventually, you’re going to strike the common ground and common interests. That’s from where the relationship takes off.
Customers who feel heard, understood, genuinely appreciated, related to, and empathized with are far likelier to trust. Customers who trust, and whose trust is maintained, will be far more likely to remember their loan originator’s name, return to them for future financing, and be more inclined to refer their friends and family.
Successful mortgage loan originators also understand that the pursuit of empathy does not apply to only the potentially qualified. There is no such thing as an unqualified borrower. There is only the currently-unqualified borrower. Karma is real. On which side of it would you like to land?
Even if Mrs. X was beyond my ability to help, had I done nothing more than hear her, I would have afforded her respect and compassion. And, even if there was nothing that I could have done to have helped her at that time, at the very least, I could have provided her with a pathway, a blueprint so to speak, to eventual financial recovery. I did, however, take the time to hear her. I did, however, show compassion by understanding. And, in doing so, I was able to provide her with a solution that no other loan originator was willing to listen long enough to recognize. And I can assure you that, fifteen years later, Mrs. X still remembers my name.