What Real Estate Agents Expect from a Loan Officer and Lender

The importance of the loan officer and real estate agent relationship cannot be overstated.

Having a trusted lender to recommend to new clients is a big help since many homebuyers have little or no experience in borrowing to finance a home purchase. The bond between the loan officer and agent is also a source of new business and referrals. It offers a unique co-branding opportunity that extends your reach while providing a reliable stream of business to the lender.

Who Benefits from the Lender-Realtor Relationship?

When a real estate agent and a lender work together, they become an invaluable team for their clients. Both are service-based businesses with the goal of getting their client into a new home as smoothly as possible and keeping the client satisfied. So at the end of the day, the client is the one that benefits from the lender-realtor relationship.

Some do not know a lender to work with and go to a real estate agent first or vice versa. As a real estate agent, encourage your clients to do their own research, but you can suggest lenders that you’ve dealt with and trust for successful transactions. Let your clients know your experience with the loan officer and what to expect during the home financing process when working with them.

What Is RESPA?

The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) eliminates kickbacks and referral fees for any settlement provider involved in the real estate transaction. This ensures transparency to the consumer. Real estate agents are subject to the rules under the act when co-marketing with and referring other service providers, such as lenders.

Three Ways for Loan Officers to Maintain Long Lasting Relationships with Real Estate Agents

1. Have a “Give and Take” Mentality

As you begin to develop more real estate agent relationships, it’s important to remember to give as much as you receive. It’s not feasible to simply meet up with a real estate agent for coffee, give them your rate sheet and expect new clients to be flooding through the door. Real estate agents are always looking for new business, so figure out how you can add significant value to them; referrals go both ways.

Perhaps you can show them the ins and outs of a new mortgage application technology that can get them to the closing table more quickly, or keep them posted on mortgage rate trends. Perhaps you have a friend in the market for a house you could send them their way. The more you differentiate yourself by going above and beyond for them, the more likely they are to send their buyers your way.

2. Communication Is Key

Whether it’s good news or bad, communication is key and can make or break any professional relationship, especially with a real estate agent. For example, don’t wait for an agent to contact you asking about the status of a loan. Be proactive and keep them in the loop during the entire process. If a loan is held up or has no significant updates, still be sure to inform the agent, because odds are that their buyer is already asking them for an update.

Ensure that your partners and their buyers look to you as the go-to mortgage expert. It’s your responsibility to not only keep everyone updated on the loan status, but also walk the buyer through the entire process, from pre-approval through closing.

3. Hold Yourself Accountable

Not every loan is going to make it through without a glitch. Instead of making excuses or pushing the blame, figure out a solution and communicate as soon as you know something is not going as planned. The worst thing you can do in these situations is keep the real estate agent in the dark. Showing accountability and proving you’re working toward a fix is much better than hiding from a problem.

4. What Do Realtors Want from Lenders?

When establishing a lender-realtor relationship, realtors are looking to partner with lenders to best serve their clients.

When selecting who to work with, real estate agents are typically looking for a good cultural fit, a reputable track record, and speed.

Nine Things a Real Estate Agent Should Look for in a Loan Officer and Lender

1. Service Oriented

As with real estate agents, lenders are also in the business of serving their clients. In a lender-realtor relationship, real estate agents expect lenders to also have exceptional customer service and communication skills. This includes one who takes pride in client satisfaction, follows up frequently, is professional, knowledgeable, and knows their product. Real estate agents also want to ensure the loan officer is able to explain and answer any questions that their clients may have about home financing.

2. Reliable Pre-Approvals

Real estate agents will typically use a pre-approval as a guide for figuring out which properties to show their clients. This will keep their client within budget and ensure they have the best chance of receiving home financing. Therefore, real estate agents expect lenders to thoroughly verify and ensure the pre-approval is accurate.

3. Transparency

A real estate agent wants to work with a loan officer or lender that they can count on, one that won’t fail to disclose an issue as soon as it arises and has an alternative to remedy the situation whenever possible. That is very important. When something goes wrong (a closing is delayed, or worse, your client’s loan application is declined) the loan officer should alert you immediately, take responsibility, and be able to explain the lender’s decision to you and your client.

Source: theclose.com

4. Fast Turnaround Time

Especially during busy seasons, real estate agents may need pre-approvals quickly to put in an offer. As is the nature of real estate, agents should expect to have access to the lender on Saturdays and Sundays. These are typically the days when their clients are looking at homes, and potentially putting in offers right after. If a client needs an updated pre-approval, they will expect a lender to be able to do it quickly to move the process along.

5. On-time Closings

Turning a loan application into a closed sale requires a certain amount of handholding by the loan officer. Pulling together required documentation and processing it through underwriting to get “clear to close” requires a high level of competence across the lender’s organization. A seasoned loan officer knows where the pitfalls are, and how to avoid them to make sure that everything is in place for the closing and that closings are on-time.

6. Marketing Support

A good lender has marketing resources readily available for the loan officer and real estate agent’s co-branding efforts.

From open house flyers to social media posts, a lender’s marketing team should be able to promote these efforts across multiple channels. Your loan officer should be able to assist in providing presentation materials for first time homebuyers’ seminars, social media training, etc.

7. Diverse Products

Each client is different and has different needs based on their financial situation or financial goals. When a real estate agent has a positive experience working with a lender on a transaction, they’ll want to use the same lender in another transaction. The real estate agent wants to ensure the lender has a diverse product offering for the needs of all the different clients they work with.

8. Superior Customer Service

Expectations naturally run high when one professional hands off a client to another. You want a loan officer that shares your commitment to providing excellent service, a loan officer that listens carefully to your client’s needs and can find the best loan program, interest rate, and terms to meet these needs. A knowledgeable loan officer will take the time to explain the importance of your client’s credit score, available down payment options, the underwriting process, and exactly what is needed for a smooth closing. You want a loan officer that will pick up the phone whenever possible and always returns calls in a timely fashion. You want a loan officer you can depend on to communicate proactively, keeping you and your client up-to-date on the progress of their loan application.

9. Help with Lead Generation

How to get more clients is frequently on the real estate agent’s mind. And one of the creative ways to reach potential new clients is to work with a loan officer and lender, where they are mutually beneficial to each other. Sometimes a home buyer will go to a lender first before a real estate agent. This is an opportunity for the lender to help the real estate agent, and vice versa. Though it is important to note, realtors do not get kickbacks from lenders.

How Do Agents Form Lender-Realtor Relationships?

Maintaining and finding new connections in the real estate transaction is one of the habits of successful real estate agents. When finding the right lender-realtor relationships, it’s important to ask questions that will help you determine if these are the people you can work with and want to refer your clients to.

Questions a Real Estate Agent Should Ask a Lender

1. How long have you been in the industry?

Knowing where they are in their career will help you understand how they feel working with the amount of experience you have. You may find some lenders do not want to work with real estate agents who are fairly new to the industry if they’ve been in the industry for a long time. The same can be said of veteran real estate agents working with a fairly new loan officer. But it is always worthwhile to explore a relationship that might be beneficial to both of you.

2. What relationships do you have with other parts of the real estate transaction?

If you form a realtor-lender relationship there could be a conflict of interest so you want to be clear and upfront before starting to work together. They may already have a large network of people they work with and refer to some might even be family members or close friends

3. Who are some other real estate agents you work with?

Check how productive the other real estate agents they’ve worked with are. If they are top producers who use this lender, there may be a reason for it. You may even be able to reach out to see how their transactions have been with this lender.

4. How do you differ from your competition?

Find out what makes the company they work with different from others. This will also help you understand a bit more about their company. You can determine if this is one you’d want to refer your clients to. You could also ask which products they currently offer, for example, do they do more refinances than purchases? Second homes? First-time buyers?

5. What is your process of working with clients?

Getting to know how they work will also allow you to properly refer them to a particular client based on your client’s needs and way of working. If the lender tends to be tech-savvy and communicates via text, is this how your client also likes to communicate? Is their way of working something you can work with too?

6. How are you currently marketing your services?

See if there’s an opportunity for you to share an advertising budget. You can place ads in local papers or on social media. This is an opportunity to market together since you are both wanting to reach a similar audience, like first time home buyers.