How To Not Ruin Future Business Opportunities
Networking with Real Estate Agents requires you to be strategic, given the RESPA rules regarding professional relationships. While working relationships and even joint advertising is allowed, neither party can benefit more from the relationship on a transaction than the other. This discourages Real Estate Agents from maintaining “preferred vendors” lists. However, they can still provide a list of lenders they have had good experiences with to clients who ask for one.
Earning a spot on such a list means you should understand the overriding need a Real Estate Agent has when it comes to the loan process: to get the deal done correctly with as little stress as possible for the client.
Specifically, Real Estate Agents are looking for the following factors in their relationships:
- Cultural fit: Assurance that your approach to customer service is similar to theirs.
- Professionalism: Evidence that your expertise adds value to their team and to their client.
- Range of products: The ability to provide solutions that meet a wide variety of client situations.
- Speed and agility: Knowledge that your process is free of bottlenecks and can be depended on not to hold up closings.
- Transparency: Upfront guidance on the programs that best serve the needs of the Real Estate Agent’s client, even if you don’t offer them.
Have a Communication Plan
As with most relationships, communication is the key to endurance. Having a plan in place to keep expectations in check can go a long way to making the home buying experience as smooth as possible for everyone. It’s considered a good practice to communicate with the Real Estate Agent and client before a loan, throughout the process with regular status updates, and even after the loan closes, if only to say “thank you.”
Beyond the transaction itself, look for opportunities to be of value. Keep the Real Estate Agents you’ve worked with previously, along with those you are cultivating a relationship with, updated regarding current rates, products, and industry news. Where you have a niche product—like reverse mortgages—seek out Real Estate Agents who may be serving clients or an area where that product might bring added value to their transactions.
Be respectful of how a Real Estate Agent would prefer to be contacted. While showing up at open houses is an old-school technique for meeting Real Estate Agents and learning about their clients’ needs, think about how that person will feel when you show up unannounced. After all, they are there hoping to meet prospects, not lenders. Perhaps, contact the Real Estate Agent first to see if it would make sense to provide rate sheets or be available to talk about any local programs that might be available to first-time homebuyers in the area.
To find Real Estate Agents to connect with, try leveraging social media. Make connections through LinkedIn and share data and insights into local markets and lending trends. Remember that to be followed, you need to follow, and you need to like to be liked. This is especially true with younger Real Estate Agents, who also find this to be a more comfortable way of meeting and greeting than a cold call at the office or showing up at an open house.
A Mutual Benefit
When it comes down to it, your path to success is the same as a Real Estate Agent’s—leading a client through a positive home-buying experience. Doing so takes a team effort, and both Real Estate Agents and clients tend to be happy to reward your role on the team with new business referrals.