Mortgage loan officer success guide
A comprehensive guide to help retail LOs improve their skills, efficiency, and productivity.
In this period of constantly changing market conditions, it’s understandable that many of today’s loan officers feel anxious about the future.
However, there are many reasons to stay positive. Recent conversations with our customers suggest they are looking to invest in long-term LO staff that are prepared to meet the needs of any market.
The job can be incredibly satisfying too. Research suggests 74% of loan officers are satisfied with their job, and the majority say they find their job makes the world a better place or helps to make someone else’s life better.
And there’s significant earning potential. According to recent predictions, the median annual wage for loan officers is $63,960. But many LOs earn significantly more than this — earners in the top 10% achieve over $132,290.
This resource aims to help retail LOs realize their full potential.
In this guide, you’ll discover:
- What makes a good loan officer
- How to delight customers while driving more business
- How to market your services effectively
- Strategies for working smoothly with the broader lending team
- How mortgage loan officer software can help
What makes a good loan officer?
It’s widely believed that retail LOs are at their best when they’re acting as “hunters” — when they are actively seeking out and closing business. But “hunting” is ultimately only a small piece of an LO’s success. In addition, they are challenged to provide white glove experiences and facilitate loans that are less feasible for the consumer to complete themselves.
With this in mind, versatility and being nimble are core attributes. This is especially true when operating in a purchase-oriented market and lenders can’t rely on more passive refi volume. With the market shaping up to be focused more on purchase, good hunters are likely to be in high demand — but only if they understand and foster the key qualities that drive success.
Conversations with our lending experts at Blend revealed five key attributes that not only drive success, but which also help LOs close more mortgage loans. These are:
- Great organization
The mortgage process is notoriously complex and reliant on accurate progress against a tight deadline. Stand out here by maximizing the structure you bring to your work — and that you offer to your customers. As an added bonus, by being efficient and methodical, you can spend more time seeking and building relationships.
- Very responsive
If you can respond to a customer quickly, then they have a better chance of getting to their goals — speed is the name of the game in competitive markets. Connect with existing customers regularly for the best results — and don’t forget to re-engage with previous customers too.
- Highly knowledgeable
Benjamin Franklin once said that “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” This can be applied to the LO role. If you have done your homework and have a strong understanding of the lending process, current market conditions, and underwriting criteria, for example, then you will not only become more confident, but you will be able to offer honest, helpful advice. This will help you gain customer trust — and that can give you real competitive advantage.
- Good at communicating
There’s a lot of jargon in lending, and this can be incredibly confusing for your customers. There’s an opportunity for you to bring value to your customers here by explaining complex information in a simple way. Help your customers understand the terms of their loan, including the repayment period, deposit requirements, monthly payments, and overall costs. Provide detailed guidance early on, and you’ll save time in the long run.
Customers who feel appreciated are more loyal and are more likely to do more business with you. The best LOs understand this, and are therefore intently focused on the customer in everything they do.
How to delight customers while driving more business
Intently focusing on the customer and delivering a great experience can not only speed up the process — it can also help you close more loans as a result. As a bonus, delivering great service can encourage your customers to provide the positive reviews and referrals that drive even more business.
You can deepen your customer relationships by offering:
- A consistent experience
Enable consumers to get the same great experience no matter which channel they choose to go through. Think about whether the advice you offer differs depending on whether you are speaking to a customer in person or via digital channels, and make an effort to streamline those interactions. If you notice your customers are subjected to different experiences depending on the channel, advocate to your technology decision makers for changes in support of consistency.
- Real-time decisioning
Customers get frustrated when they have to wait for a decision. If you can, champion the adoption of technology that can help deliver pre-approvals and instant decisioning. The business case is compelling: the faster you provide a decision, the more time you save and the faster you can close.
- An easy and intuitive process
Intuitive user interfaces, responsive design, and data pre-fill can result in a more pleasant customer experience and can help drive higher digital conversions. Take a close look at what you are offering in this regard, and try to see it through your customers’ eyes. If change is needed, then push for it. You’ll be less likely to lose customers who value convenience above any other factor.
How to market your services effectively
Effective marketing is key to getting yourself noticed by those who matter and fundamental to helping you capture new business.
A successful marketer will consider the 4Ps of marketing: product, place, price, and promotion.
When reflecting on your “product,” you should of course think about your specific loan offering, but don’t forget that you are selling yourself as much as your product. How do you stand out against the competition? Why would a borrower come to you as opposed to one of your peers?
The second ‘P’ is place. Where are borrowers looking for loans? What can you do to make it easier for them to find you?
Then we have price, followed closely by promotion. How competitive are your prices, and what added value do you bring? What marketing strategy will you employ to get customers to do business with you?
Once you have answers to the 4Ps, you are in a great position to leverage loan officer marketing tools and to start promoting your services. Here are 6 of the most popular:
- Your website
58% of homebuyers look to a lender for advice on planning and budgeting. By creating a website that offers useful and practical advice, you can foster relationships and build trust early on.
Local real estate agents and other important stakeholders can be a valuable source of information and experience. Open houses, loan closings, training events, and conferences are all good places to network with these professionals.
- Social media
78% of salespeople use social media to outsell their peers. Facebook (60%) is the most widely used social media platform by LOs, followed by LinkedIn (27%) and Instagram (20%). Some LOs are even experiencing success with YouTube.
- Email and phone
Top LOs deploy a variety of methods to communicate and re-engage with past clients, but among the most popular are e-mail (84%) and phone (51%). Using these tools can lead to valuable repeat business.
- Customer relationship management
A customer relationship management (CRM) platform can help you keep track of customer interactions and automate some of your most menial tasks. 93% of LOs use a CRM tool.
- Technology to capture applications and close loans
Make the loan application and closing process easy, and you can promote repeat business and positive word of mouth. This can be a really useful marketing tactic.
Strategies for working smoothly with the broader lending team
Relationships really do matter. Build strong connections with the broader lending team, and you can secure a better chance of success.
Building a great relationship with key underwriters, for example, can help you ensure the loan process is as smooth and fast as possible for your customers. It gives you a trusted go-to when bottlenecks occur, so you can stay knowledgeable about what the hold up is and keep your customers informed.
Outside of your internal lending team, there are other key stakeholders to consider, while remaining mindful of limitations and regulatory requirements. Builders, for example, can get you involved in a customer’s homebuying journey far earlier than any other stakeholder. Lawyers can help you build your knowledge, and financial advisors can ensure you see the bigger picture, helping you to meet your customers’ short-and longer-term financial goals.
Real estate agents are particularly valuable to have on your side, not least because they can be a key source of valuable business. In fact, in a recent survey, almost all (96%) top loan officers said that real estate agents are one of their best sources for generating leads.
Here are 3 ways you can strengthen the loan officer and real estate agent relationship:
- Stay in touch
Most real estate agents (nearly 80%) value efficient communication and responsiveness ahead of all other concerns, including costs. And the top LOs frequently stay in touch with their contacts, with over 60% saying they connect multiple times a week.
- Build trust
Referring your own customers to real estate agents builds trust and deepens relationships. Research backs this up: 81% of top loan officers identified referrals as an important relationship building tool.
- Be visible
If you are visible to key real estate agents, then they are more likely to remember you when it matters. Closings can be a great place to network. In fact, 53% of top loan officers attend at least one closing per week.
How mortgage loan officer software can help
Loan officers deserve tools that make their lives easier — and mortgage loan officer software offers four key features that can help:
- A single portal for all key workflows
A unified portal can support most, if not all, key loan officer workflows. It’s one place for all notifications, so you don’t have to keep switching between screens while moving borrowers through the process. What’s more, having a modern experience and interface for each step can help make individual tasks simpler to complete.
- Flexibility in process, consistency in output
Not all LOs work in the same way, so it makes sense to choose mortgage loan officer software that offers the ability to tweak standardized flows to align with specific business needs — and the unique ways in which you prefer to work. Superior solutions will ensure that these workflow changes don’t impact data structuring so that back office staff have everything they need to complete the loan.
- Support for the entire loan cycle
Since your work continues far beyond the application process, modern solutions should do the same. Great mortgage loan officer software offers support for getting applications completed accurately and quickly — and then continues offering helpful tools and workflows to help close the loan.
- Machine learning and automation
Effective mortgage loan officer software can automate many of the laborious, repetitive tasks that take up much of your time. In addition, machine learning can be leveraged to make intelligent recommendations on loan conditions.
MarketWise survey respondents reported that using Blend allowed them to handle an average of 54% more volume while expanding staff by just 27% in 2020. This could be because Blend offers a single workspace for loan management, from the initial application right through to close.
Blend’s powerful platform includes the LO Toolkit – a suite of tools that enables LOs to start applications, pull credit, structure loans (including product, pricing, and fees management), create loan scenarios, and grant pre-approvals.
Overall, Blend can help secure the future of loan officers by helping them to:
- Stay organized
Access everything you need for the entire origination process, all from a single workspace that can be accessed from digital devices.
- Be more responsive
Pre-approvals, instant decisions, and automatic verification mean that you can respond to customer needs faster than with traditional methods.
- Be more productive
Use automation to reduce the burden of manual paperwork. Free up your time to network with important sources of new leads such as real estate agents.
Want more tips about how to be a successful loan officer?