Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Learning to Add Value

As a loan officer, the most difficult aspect of the job is learning how to Add Value to the many Real Estate Professionals that I meet every week. If I can enhance the process of buying a home by bringing value to all parties involved, I will have done my job. There can be many different ways to Add Value within this business, but finding them is the hard part. Here is a list of ways to potentially Add Value to your business partners:
  1. COMMUNICATION: This is essential to the process. Think of it this way...there are three "main" parts to the home buying experience: the Realtor, Loan Officer, and the Homebuyer. Realtors rely on the Loan Officer to "pre-approve" the homebuyer for a loan so that they can help the homebuyer find the home they like. Once the real estate agent helps the homebuyer find that home, it is up to the Loan Officer to process the financial paperwork and make sure the loan is in place and ready prior to the COE date. Along the way there are many steps involved from the appraisal on the property, to the underwriting, to conditions on the loan request, etc. In order to be successful, it is beneficial to communicate quickly and efficiently at every step. Not only when there is a problem, but also throughout the entire process. A phone call to say hello and let all parties know you are still working on the loan will go a long way to adding value to the buyer as well as the real estate agent.
  2. PRODUCT KNOWLEDGE: In this ever changing environment, where more often than not products and programs are axed, it is imperative to understand your Real Estate Agents, their client base and needs, as well as understanding all the changes that are constantly occurring within the market. If there is something you can't do as a loan officer, don't be afraid to meet other loan officers who may have access to other products. Even if you obtain nothing from the deal, the Real Estate Agent will know they can come to you anytime; because even if you can't do it you can still point them in the direction of the program/loan officer that will help get the deal done. They are more apt to using you the next time because they know you aren't just in it for yourself but you are in it for the Homebuyer.
  3. TIME SENSITIVE: Though some may take this for granted and abuse your promptness by waiting until the last minute to ask for something, the majority will appreciate the attitude of getting done today what can and should get done. Some are prone to putting things off until "later" but in a business where you are serving the Real estate agent and the Homebuyer, it is in the best interests of all parties to get done what needs to be done as soon as possible.
  4. UNDER PROMISE & OVER DELIVER: The great motto of the service industry. Never promise what you can't come through on; it looks bad to the Real Estate Agent and to the homebuyer. My goal is to always provide the Agent and the Homebuyer with a great experience, and I know from my experiences that when things are done better, more efficiently, and more quickly than expected I am usually apt for repeat business.
  5. REAPING WHAT YOU SOW: Treat the Agent and the Customer the way you would like to be treated and it will come back to you tenfold. Sometimes in difficult situations it is easy to point blame, lose your temper, or react badly to a situation. 9 times out of 10, that response gets you nowhere. Instead always treat the Agent and the Homebuyer like they are your only customer and give them the utmost respect because that is usually what you will get in return. Don't lose sight of the service aspect of what we do and it will go a long way.

I know that there are many more ways to Add Value to Real Estate Agents and Homebuyers. For example, be willing to teach homebuyers about the loan process (educate them) and offer to help the Agents with any items they may need should the opportunity arise (i.e. open houses, marketing material, flyers, etc.).

I do believe there are more ways to Add Value, and I would love to hear about what other Real Estate Agents find valuable from their loan officers. I believe we can all learn from each other and in so doing make the process better for the Hombuyer. In the end, that is what we are here to do.

I look forward to hearing everyone's thoughts.

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