10 Ways to Survive and Prosper in a Down Mortgage Market

By: Robert Lawrence

Again the Fed raised interest rates. And if you haven't felt the noose tightening yet, you certaininly will now. With rates continuing their gentle climb and the refinance market now nothing but tumbleweeds, you MUST TAKE IMMEDIATE STEPS NOW if you want to survive in this industry.

Here are 10 immediate action steps you can take now. And, I emphasize the word 'ACTION':

1. Give yourself an instant raise. Find a mortgage company that pays a small salary plus commission, or one that has a very high commission structure like many net branch companies do. Again, my recommendations are: Allied Mortgage, Carteret Mortgage, and 1st Metropolitan. They were my top three picks from my past article on mortgage net branching. They pay upwards of 70% or more and even if you only do a few loans a month, you can still make out pretty well. Ask yourself, how much you are earning now?

2. Stop loan fallout. Review all of your current loan procedures and notice at what stage the majority of loans are killed at. Is it during the sales pre-qual phase? Is it during processing? Is it at the closing table? Wherever your loans fallout is where you should focus and scrutinize your efforts. (If you don't have an organized system in place, you can always use my Sink or Swim Loan Closing System at http://www.loanclosingsystem.com . No matter what, the important thing is to start somewhere and write all your mistakes down. And I've done a lot of the work for you!) Remember, if you can save just 1 extra deal per month from dying somewhere during the loan process, that's an immediate $2,000 to $3,000 extra per month in your pocket. Cha-ching! Another instant pay raise.

3. Focus on purchase money loans. I would give-up on the refinance market unless you are going after sub-prime loans or debt consolidation cash-outs. The interest rates just aren't there and it won't make sense for your prospects. The days of 5% on a 30-year fixed are over. Don't waste your time trying to rework a deal a thousand times. If the numbers don't add-up, the deal is dead anyway.

4. Become an expert in niche loans. Do you know what an Option ARM loan is? What about the LIBOR index? You should. These 4-payment plan loans are the hottest things out there and are extremely popular! Niche loans you should consider focusing on are: interest only, option arm, regular arms, stated income, no-doc, reverse mortgage, A-minus, Immigrant Visa, and first-time homebuyer programs for specific fields like police officers and teachers. These loans appeal to a specific buyer and the interest rate is always secondary to the end-result. Become the 'go-to guy' as an expert in one or more of these specialties and watch the referrals flow-in.

5. Try a new lead source. Where do you currently get your leads from? Have you been tracking their conversion ratio? How many leads resulted in actual closed loans? If you current source isn't performing, you may want to consider another method of lead generation such as live-transfer calls, attending open houses, or choosing another Internet lead source. You can see how I generate all my own leads myself at http://www.FindTheLowestRate.com . You can too!

6. Don't forget about HELOCS and second mortgages. These are small but powerful loans that can put immediate cash in your pocket. Surely, you have a base of customers that would like an extra source of credit if needed?! And the best part is, you already have all of their information on file and to close the loan is SIMPLE. Check with your company to make sure they can broker seconds and what the payouts are. I can tell you this, when times are slow, a few small second mortgages goes a long way.

7. Change your sales approach. How do you approach your customers? Are you saying the right thing? Do you fumble for words? Do what I did, write everything down and come up with your own 'monkey scripts'. Once I started recording the objectives I would get, I simply wrote them down and came-up with a better response and a way to answer the customers questions. How fast you can overcome objections, will mean the difference between success and failure. You must know what to say if you want to sell!

8. Generate immediate referrals. Go through your ENTIRE customer base. Call every customer and thank them for their business. Give them a courtesy call to see how their mortgage is going and tell them that you would be happy to assist anyone else they may know of who is interested in a mortgage with a free rate quote. Even if it has been 6 months or a year, a personal phone call and a simple thank you works wonders.

9. Get into another part of the mortgage industry. Maybe selling loans isn't for you. Maybe you need a change. I know many loan officers who get burnt out and move into the processing or underwriting side of the business and become extremely successful. Because they have the sales skills under their belt and have been on the front lines, they can do things that others can't. Some of the best underwriters I know are former l.o.'s and brokers. Being an underwriter or processor is a more stable salary structure without all the ups and downs.

10. Decide if this is really something you want to do. If you don't love this business, you shouldn't be doing it. The mortgage industry isn't just about money. It's about helping people. You need to have a hunger and passion to be relentless and never give-up no matter the challenges. Top producers succeed because they love the variety and excitement they encounter. No day is ever the same and that's why they love it! You should too!

I challenge you to take at least 1 step a day. Don't wait. Do it now. Just take 1 step today and another tomorrow and you will be well positioned to turn things around. Stop procrastinating. Because if you do nothing, nothing will happen. So do something and even if nothing happens, that's still something. Get it? ;-)

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