Conversation, connection and conversion are key to closing home loan deals even in a tough market.
For many years, rates have been optimal to purchase a home. Inventory was plentiful, and mortgage loan officers could easily keep pipelines full. The market was blissful for originators, and competitors joined in by the truckload. Credit union mortgage lending was the place to be.
In 2021, the market shifted, and we started seeing interest rates slowly climb and inventory stall and we began to inch into a very new market. Right now, we have a generation of potential homebuyers who have never seen interest rates above 10%, even 5% for some. To make matters even more challenging, home prices have increased as well, which means not only is it more expensive to borrow money today but the home itself is priced higher, too.
What does this mean besides mortgage lending is a hard place to be right now? Homebuyers are motivated to shop. More than ever, we are seeing homebuyers looking for a deal to help them buy as much house as they can for as little as possible. This challenges loan officers.
Mortgage loan officers must be very creative in their sales techniques to keep members interested in credit union loan options. With my more than 20 years in lending, I’ve managed to find a technique I love to help me turn pre-quals into conversion. Here it is, narrowed down into three easy steps.
1. Engage with the Member
These days it is very easy to lean on all the digital methods of reaching out to people that we forget to have an actual conversation. The most important thing you can do to grow your pipeline is to pick up the phone for every single pre-qual you receive. That has been an essential part of my sales technique for years. If you don’t talk with members, you can’t win their deals. So first, you must pick up the phone and stop leaning on automated emails and text messages. While emails and texts are an important part of follow-up, it is essential to get on the phone to talk to members every single time. Have a conversation.
2. Build Trust
As an important part of your conversation, you’ll want to create a connection to build trust. This will happen with a caring and empathetic dialog, asking questions, providing options, and understanding their needs and frustrations. We want to make members feel comfortable and willing to share all the details that make them excited about financing a home. This comes with asking the right questions and shaping the conversation.
In my 30-plus years in sales, I’ve heard loan officers make the conversation very transactional and then ask themselves why they see borrowers go to another lender for a better rate. Unless you have the absolute best rate out there, you can’t lead with the rate and expect to keep the deal. Let’s be honest, you aren’t always going to have the best rate, and that’s okay. You aren’t selling rate. You are selling solutions. Engage members by asking them questions that spur conversation about their story. This builds trust. Gather all their info and provide all the options, and you teach them through different scenarios. This builds connections.
You’ve made the call. You’ve connected with them, built rapport and trust, asked all the right questions and given them options to consider. They are pretty invested at this point. Next, you must ask for their business. This is where loan officers fail the most. They don’t get the business because they don’t ask for it.
Once you’ve gathered the information and you’ve heard their story and established their goal in financing, ask them to move forward with the loan. Start with: “Do you have any questions about what we’ve discussed so far? Is there anything I have presented that you are not comfortable with?” Finally, you’ll say: “If you have no additional questions, our next step is….” and then discuss the next steps to move forward with the loan. The goal is to keep them on the phone to where they want to move forward without being pushy. If they get off the phone, you may lose your chance to get the loan. It is still possible to make the deal. They might call back. But, if you can keep them on the phone, you have a better chance of closing the deal.
That’s it. Conversation. Connection. Conversion. Those are the secrets to selling around rate and making every pre-qual turn into a closed loan. As you face a sparse pipeline today and are looking for ways to grow, ask yourself if you have completed these three steps. If not, you are leaving members vulnerable to shop the next lender.
Todd Cholevik is the loan officer manager for the east coast with CUESolutions provider CU Members Mortgage. He began his career in mortgage lending in 2000 and joined CU Members in 2005, where he has reached President’s Club recognition for eight years. Cholevik is an expert Veterans Administration loan specialist with a passion for helping veterans receive the home loan that best fits their needs. He can be reached at 800.607.3474 Ext. 4277 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.