You want a strong start to 2018. Good thinking. In their latest forecast, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) expects further volume compression in 2018, driven by the shrinking refinance market, with total origination volume down to $1.59T from $1.69T in 2017. The silver lining is an increasing clip in purchase volume, growing to $1.2T and representing the lion’s share of volume in 2018. That significant volume of purchase volumes means the paradigm has shifted and new tactics will be required to grow. Maxwell is here to help.
To see great business growth next year, you have a couple of weeks left in 2017 to lay the foundation for January 1. That means time for thinking, planning, and getting advice — all critical investments for a successful 2018. The Maxwell team canvassed our network of top lending leaders to learn the top five things you need to do to make 2018 a great year.
1.) Schedule a Retreat
It’s amazing the clarity, ideas, and motivation you can find by stepping into a different environment for a few days or even hours. Albert Camus, the French philosopher, once wrote, “In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.” Getting away with your team from the day-to-day distractions of chasing leads and pushing loan paperwork can focus minds to solidify long term goals and achievements that would make 2018 a successful year. Invest the time to also dig deeper into your team’s personalities and motivations to better leverage team members to drive the business forward. Working more efficiently together begins with mutual understanding.
You don’t need to go overboard and have a multi-day retreat to Palm Springs to drive positive results. Teams on a budget can rent an AirBNB in a nearby town or different neighborhood to create the feeling of being “away.” It’s amazing how little the change needs to be to get the creative juices flowing.
2.) Improve Your Digital Presence
The market in 2018 is expected shift even more towards purchase volume, putting greater emphasis on generating new leads from real estate agents, delivering a superb borrower experience, and making it easy for potential borrowers find and know you. Did you know that for four years running Millennials have been the largest segment of homebuyers? Many of these first-time homebuyers want a human to guide them through the process, but you can bet they’re spending time online researching you before they reach out. So take a critical look at your entire process: how easy is it for a borrower to find your website in a Google search? Once on your website, how many call-to-actions are there and where are they placed? Can a prospective borrower reach you in multiple forms of contact (i.e. call, email, chat, etc.)? Is there an easy and simple application button for you to capture motivated leads? An easy way to assess your digital presence is to create a focus group of friends of friends or a Google survey on improvement opportunities and weaknesses of your lead engagement process today. The smoother, easier, and more inviting the research-to-application process can be, the better volume and experience you can expect from borrowers.
3.) Invest in Productivity
Up-leveling the throughput on your team is another way to accelerate success. Before 2018 gets too far underway, spend time with your team and take a critical look at their process. Ask for feedback on where they spend most of the time of the day. Is it on growing relationships and closing new volume? Or is it spent on time-sucking tasks that new tools, better communication, or advanced planning can overcome and create more efficiencies? Streamlining your process can have positive effects in not only increasing production and margins on your current employee base, but also create a more positive borrower (and real estate agent) experience. Another exercise is to lay out your average day across a week — how many hours are you spending on emails, on shuffling documents, on coordinating with your processor — and then determine how best to minimize the largest inefficiencies.
4.) Invest in Your Differentiation
So, what makes you different than the guy or gal down the road? If you go online to research mortgage lenders, it seems like everyone has five-star reviews and promises a fast closing process. So in 2018, make sure you’re clear on what really makes you different from your competition, and own it. Talk to some borrowers and some of your real estate partners and find out why they choose you for their referrals … and what could make them switch teams and prefer your competition instead. Make your differentiation the highlight of a borrower’s or agent’s experience. The shift to purchase volumes means that rate will no longer be the driving factor in purchase decisions and instead, experience will be king. As new homeowners come into the market it’s worth investing in your borrower and referral partner experience. Use your borrower feedback as stimuli for improvements and additional points of differentiation from your competition.
5.) Listen to Your Borrowers
After closing, follow-up with your borrowers and referral partners for feedback. One way to do this is to put together a simple survey or Google Form to collect their likes, dislikes, and ideas on what you did well and where you can improve. It’s easy to focus on your role alone and lose touch with the consumer and their stresses and expectations. You’ll also get some great comments to post on your website, in social media, and to integrate into your marketing material! How much do positive reviews matter? BrightLocal reported that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust a personal recommendation.
Finally, In your survey, ask if they would recommend your company to a friend or family member. And track this number every month! If you are doing a good job, you should see this percent increase and improve.
Go Conquer 2018!
The holidays are a time to celebrate, take a deep breath and step away from the chaos of origination. Enjoy that. In some ways, we’re fortunate to work in an industry that is seasonal and enables us to take a breath for a few weeks. Embrace it too. That means using these few precious weeks of quiet to reflect on what worked well in 2017 and where you want to turn your mortgage business in 2018. The mortgage industry will have another strong year ahead, but the dynamics have shifted. Taking the time to lean into those shifts will set you up for success that less reflective competitors will fail to capitalize. Get out there and win!
Delight your borrowers and empower your loan officers with modern technology. Maxwell is a lightweight borrower portal designed to connect lending teams with the homebuyers and real estate agents they serve every day. Maxwell was created on the principle that mortgage companies will win by betting on the augmentation of human ability, not by replacing it with faceless technology. At Maxwell, the power of the human relationship is core to how we build software. www.himaxwell.com