While cold snaps and ice storms across the country might make spring feel years away, it is actually just around the corner. With March and warmer weather comes the onset of the spring buying season. A nationwide real estate market that’s already white hot is expected to somehow get hotter. Real estate agents will be coping with more business than they can handle as they try to help their clients through a brutally competitive market.
Helping real estate agents through the start of the spring season could present a real opportunity for mortgage originators. The refi boom can’t last forever and, when it ends, purchase volume will make or break a mortgage business. If an originator can be there for their real estate agent partners now, as they prepare for the first big push of the year, they could forge a relationship that will last for years. The first step will be understanding just what real estate agents are dealing with in the market right now.
“Coming into the spring home buying season, real estate agents are ramping up their efforts, and working harder than ever to service the demand and the need in the market,” said Matt Weaver (pictured), VP at CrossCountry Mortgage in Boca Raton Fl. who has built his business almost entirely around serving real estate agents. “I happen to believe this spring season will be unprecedented. We are seeing a heavy restriction on housing inventory which is causing a lot of frustration in the buying community. We have more buyers than there are sellers and going into the spring, it’s going to increase exponentially.
“I can tell you that now more than ever, agents in the January and February months are running around, highly productive, highly busy. And that’s just going to increase exponentially coming into the spring.”
If originators want to capture more agent partnerships in this busy market, Weaver believes that immediacy will be key. Real estate agents are going to be working around the clock to get deals closed, and their mortgage partners need to be doing the same. Weaver preaches 24/7 availability because in this competitive market where so many homes are going for cash offers, realtors and their clients need to get the strongest offer in as quickly as possible.
It’s going to take commitment and serious work to serve agents in this market, Weaver explained. While his whole business is designed to serve the purchase market, many originators have pivoted to a refi focus during this historically low-rate period. Purchases are harder and require you to maintain capacity and pipeline space for busy closing periods. Refinances are still tempting right now, and making the shift towards serving real estate agents is something of a zero-sum decision.
Nevertheless, Weaver believes that mortgage pros should go after that purchase business now as they think about the long term. Purchase has the long-term sustainability that refinances lack and real estate agents are the key to that purchase volume. If you can deliver for them now, when they need high-level service the most, Weaver explained, you can forge a relationship that will last for years to come and deliver a consistent positive impact on your business.
Read more: What features do homebuyers want in a new house?
When you’re making that shift, however, Weaver stressed that it’s crucial not to bite off more than you can chew. Promising a 12-day turnaround when your pipeline’s clogged with refis won’t win you any friends in the real estate agent community. Make sure your operations team can cash the checks your mouth is writing. It’s crucial to remember, too, that you’re serving two customers: the borrower and the real estate agent. You should behave accordingly.
“I ask agents all the time, ‘what challenges did you have with your prior loan officer,’” Weaver said. “Their answer, the majority of the time, is bedside manner. We have to remember to be a reflection of the agent that referred us. We should hold ourselves to that standard in how we communicate. I’ve found it’s always best to be the ultimate professional. If you do that, you can never lose.”