Preparing for the Spring Buying Season

APR 10, 2014 10:32am ET

A mortgage originator said to me the other day "I can't wait until things pick back up again." I responded "You are exactly right!"

The last great refi boom faded into history over six months ago. A new year began more than three months ago. Still, it's incredible to see how many loan originators and mortgage lenders out there are still "waiting" for something to happen. How much longer can they wait?

April marks the start of the spring home buying season. Of the projected 5.1 million homes that are expected to sell this year, in most markets the majority of those sales will happen during the next 12 to 15 weeks.

As house hunters come out from winter hibernation to start looking at homes again and the economy continues its upward climb, we could be in for the best spring buying season we've had in years. If you are a sales manager, is your team ready? If you are an originator, are you ready?

"The business comes to those who go after it," is a solid axiom for success. If you are ready to go after the business that's out there right now, here are five things you can do:

1.  Get more voice time and face time with your agents. Emails are nice and it's important to stay in touch with your Realtor business partners, but sometimes you need to stop typing and start talking. Pick up the phone (or better yet your car keys) and make real contact with your agents. Call them on Monday mornings to see if they met any buyers over the weekend who you can pre-qualify. Stop by their open house for 10 minutes on a Sunday to say hello. Set up coffee meetings and lunches. Swing by their offices on Friday afternoons to remind them you are available by phone over the weekend. Agents love when lenders go out of their way to pay attention to them and they often show their affection with their referrals.

2.  Get involved in big local events. During the spring and early summer your local community calendar is packed with opportunities to put yourself in front of hundreds of potential customers. Become a vendor, rent a table or booth and get out there and talk with people who might be in the market to buy a home. You’ll made lots of new contacts, sharpen your customer conversation skills, land some prospects, and best of all write new loans that might otherwise have gone to someone else!

3.  Send an "opportunity letter" to your database. Do you have a database of friends, family, past borrowers and personal contacts? Good for you. Now is the time to exploit that database to its full potential. Craft a short letter letting folks know that 1) the spring home buying season is upon us; 2) mortgage interest rates are still wonderfully low; 3) there are plenty of affordably-priced homes still on the market; 4) you have a great variety of home financing options to choose from; and 5) you are ready to help! Send the letter out now and then again (same letter) in 30 days. You will get calls, and the bigger your mailing list, the more calls you will get.

4.  Market to residents of apartment complexes. More than half the mortgage loans made today are to first-time buyers. You can purchase a list of names and addresses of renters in your area (from a leads list service) and send out targeted letters or you can opt to place colorful flyers on apartment door handles. Let renters know about the low rates and great buying opportunities that still exist and offer free home financing advice and complimentary pre-qualification consultation by phone. Look at it this way: If 5.1 million people are buying a home this year and over half are first-timers, it equates to around 250,000 mortgages made to first-time buyers each month. Don't you want some of that action?

5.   Start asking for more referrals. Many loan originators are shy about asking people for the thing they need most, referrals.  In your daily contacts (coffee shop, grocery store, drycleaner, hair salon, etc.) open your mouth, take out a business card and make a simple request like: "Please take my card. We're in the busy home buying season now and I want to help as many people here in town finance their home purchase as I can. If anyone you know mentions to you they are looking to buy a home soon, give them my card and let me see if I can save them a bunch of money!" Yes, it may feel a bit awkward to do so, but if a loan is worth $700, $1,000, even $3,000 or more to you, isn't it worth getting over a little shyness to make that much money? 

Contrary to popular belief, a rising tide does not raise all boats. Those lenders and loan originators who are proactively pursuing the business opportunities out there will land the lion's share of the loans during the next few months, and the rest will be left with the leftovers. Capitalize on this year's spring and summer home buying season, make lots of loans, and try to help as many people as you can−including yourself!

Doug Smith is a speaker, author and sales trainer. For more information, please visit www.DougSmithOnline.com or call Douglas Smith & Associates at 877-430-2329.

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