It’s a tough time to be a loan officer. Refinance activity is gone, housing inventory continues to be at record lows and interest rates remain on the rise. It is the type of perfect storm that will show the industry who the true survivors are and who has been riding the refi wave for the last two years.
Amid all the chaos, loan officers may be pressed to get creative when it comes to generating new business. Some have pivoted to become a niche loan officers, focusing on specific product offerings, such as reverse mortgages or non-QM loans. Some have taken to TikTok to make funny videos about why they are the best loan officer in the land. Others have decided to just pack it up and switch careers.
For those who want to stay the course and remain top of mind, it is time to get back to basics.
The best loan officers are those who are not loan officers. Why? Because they are not selling a single thing. They are offering a service and they unequivocally believe in that service. There is a saying that “when you believe in what you are selling, you are not selling at all.” If you feel you must sell anything, focus on selling yourself. There are thousands of loan officers out there. What makes you the best loan officer? Is it your knowledge of different products? Is it your passion for helping first-time home buyers? Are you involved in your community? Whatever it is that makes you special, make that known! If you do not believe in what you are doing, and do not feel good about it at the end of the day, then you just might be in the wrong business.
Your client is more than just another unit or commission. They are probably your friend, your neighbor, your pastor, your mom, or even your kids. Some of the best loan officers do not have to spend any money on marketing because they have focused their business on building relationships with their clients. They spend the time getting to know them, understand their needs, their desires, their hopes and dreams. Through this process, the client develops a relationship with you, and sees you as more than just a loan officer. You are part financial advisor and part dream maker. You helped them realize their dream, and you will be the one they refer to their friends and family. You will be the first person they call when it is time to upgrade, downsize or relocate. All because you took the time to build the relationship.
This industry is in a perpetual state of change, and if you don’t keep up, you will get left behind. Stay apprised of changes in guidelines, the hottest products, the hottest markets, and the overall financial landscape. Spend some time with an underwriter and really dig into how they look at a loan file or appraisal. Open your mind to loans that may not fit into the agency guideline box.
Know Your Pipeline
As the saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out!” If you are flying by the seat of your pants and have no idea what is going on with your prospects, you will quickly learn that you have lost all control of the narrative. Keep your CRM up to date, cultivate your pipeline, and lay the groundwork for loans that will come to fruition over the next several months, or even years. Remove the chum and feed the shark!
Embrace Social Media
Let’s face it – if you haven’t jumped on the social media train yet, you are fighting a losing battle. Even if you learned early on that social media is the wave of the future, you must stay on top of the newest trends. Some of those trends are here for the long haul, while some may just be a flash in the pan (think “Clubhouse”), but at the end of the day, you must know how to connect with your prospects. Social media should be a permanent fixture in your marketing strategies, and above all, know your audience. What works on Facebook may not work on YouTube!
Being a successful loan officer will never be a “set it and forget it” endeavor- it requires constant nurturing and evaluation. While you may have to shift your position every now and then to move with the market, the core of your process should remain constant. Stick to the basics and you will be able to ride any market wave that comes your way!
Leora Ruzin, CMB, AMP is the Senior Vice President of Lending at Coloramo Federal Credit Union.