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4 Common Questions Loan Officers Ask (and Some Answers)

I get a lot of great questions from my fellow loan officers, and I love to share what I’ve learned from my own experience over two decades in the mortgage business. Hopefully these answers might help you out as well.

Let’s dive in!

Question #1: I’m Overwhelmed At Work. What Do I Do?

When I get this question, the first part of my answer is another question: overwhelmed doing what?

There are two kinds of activities we do: A activities and B activities. A activities are activities that bring in the loans, make the phone ring. Things like making phone calls, asking for referrals, teaching at real estate offices, doing social media (the right way). B activities are the reactionary activities—chasing pay stubs and bank statements, putting out fires. When we’re doing those B activities, it’s costing us a lot of money because we don’t have time to bring in more business.

If I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’m probably doing too much of the reactionary stuff. I need to get help with that. I need to delegate those tasks, so I can focus on loan-getting activities. I’ve found that people closing 20 loans a month are no busier than people closing 2 loans a month—because they have help doing all of those B activities.

If you’re overwhelmed, ask yourself if you’re doing menial tasks or impactful tasks. If you’re going on Facebook and “liking” 343 posts by realtors every day, how is that moving the needle? How is that bringing in loans?

Make a list of all of your activities. Put a checkmark by all the ones that actually bring in more loans, and have someone else do the rest. Even if you’re closing just 2-3 loans a month, you need someone to help you with all those B activities or you won’t have time to close 5-6 loans a month. Maybe you can share an assistant with another loan officer until you’re closing enough loans to make it worth having one of your own. 

Another thing you can do is take a look at your last 20 loans. What specific activity brought in each of those loans? Go focus on those activities. 

I also like to use a little acronym: R.E.A.D.

  • Reduce
  • Eliminate
  • Automate
  • Delegate

Want to hear my definition of “automatic?” I didn’t do it. I’m always looking for ways to reduce, eliminate, automate, and delegate. We don’t want to be busy; we want to be productive. And there’s a big difference.

Question #2: How Do I Commit Time to Realtor Calls and What Do I Chat About? 

This one is easy. Just go to your calendar and block out 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM on Monday through Thursday. That’s it. We find that mornings are the best time to contact realtors, because their day is just getting started and they aren’t super busy yet. They also tend to be in a better mood and answer the phone more often.

The key is starting every single day this way. You don’t check your emails or your voicemails. You don’t scroll through social media, because you’ll get swallowed up in that activity and never make those calls. 

Tammy, one of my partners, compares it to picking up your child from school. You set the alarm on your phone and pick up your child right at 3pm. You don’t say, “Well, I’m busy, so I’m just going to let my six-year-old walk home on the highway for three miles.” You head over to the school, and even get there five minutes early, because it’s important to you.

For loan officers, there is no more important thing in my mind than doing realtor phone calls. Put it on your calendar for 9:00-11:00am and do it. I start at 9:00am and make calls for 50 straight minutes. Then I take a 10-minute break outside. We live in a beautiful area that’s warm pretty much all year round. I look at the clouds, smell a few flowers, don’t check my email, don’t check my voicemail, go back inside, and call for another 50 minutes.

This is 50 minutes of outbound phone calls to qualified agents closing eight buyer sides or more in the last 12 months. 10 minute break. Then 50 more minutes of phone calls.

The second part of the question is: what do I talk about? This is often controversial, but I’ll tell you what has worked for me. I don’t want to sound pompous, but there are very few people who have had the success that we’ve had. I’m just being honest.

What I don’t talk about with these successful real estate agents is how I’m going to help them build their business. They don’t need my help if they’re already successful, and we’re only calling successful agents. They’re already at the top of their game. I wouldn’t call Taylor Swift (huge fan here) and offer to help her write songs. We have this thing called the Focus 40 where we focus on 40 real estate agents, and I can’t be an assistant to all 40 of them. That’s not what this relationship is about. Once we have a relationship, do I send business their way? Of course.

But the first thing I do is get to know them personally. We use the acronym F.R.O.G.

  • Family
  • Recreation
  • Occupation
  • Goals 

We don’t do it in that order. We do it in a more appropriate order, starting with occupation, more on a business level. Once we get to know them on that level, we can get more personal. Some occupation questions you can ask a realtor might include:

  • How long have you been doing this?
  • How did you get to be so successful?
  • How do you get all your listings?
  • How do you get more referrals?
  • What do you use for a CRM?
  • Who’s on your team?
  • Where did you find them? 
  • What roles do each of you play?
  • What single thing brings in most of your listings?
  • How do you attract most of your buyers? 
  • How do you stay connected with them?

There are a thousand different questions we can ask about their business. Then it’s a really easy transition to recreation. “Your business is amazing. I’m sure you have to recharge your batteries. What does that look like for you?”

From there you go into family, but maybe not on that first call. You have to feel it out. If they mention a partner or family member when they talk about what they do for fun, a question about family might be appropriate.

What I don’t talk about is loan programs. They’ve had hundreds, if not thousands, of closings. They know all about loan programs. I don’t talk about myself or how I’ll help them build their business. Once we start working together, sure, we can talk about that.

In follow-up meetings, I used Dean Jackson’s line—“How was your weekend? Did you work or did you play?” Once they answer, you can ask more questions.

It’s so simple. You don’t have to be clever. Like my partner Steve Kyles says, “Same way every time.” Just be friendly. Be appropriately curious. This is just a quick conversation. And we’ve got two phone calls we’re making with these agents. A pre-coffee phone call where the sole purpose is to set up a face-to-face meeting and a post-coffee phone call to follow up and stay connected and ask who they’re working with and how you can help. 

Question #3: How Do I Get Over My Fear That the Market Is Going to Change?

First of all, I want to remind everyone that the market changes all the time. We have good weeks, months, and years, and we have challenging weeks, months, and years. There’s no steady increase. We’re closing hundreds of loans now, but I was at zero when I started in 1999. Right before 2009, I probably had 50-70 loans a month. Then the crash came, and we were dropped down to like five loans a month.

The market changes all the time and we have to adjust quickly. Just because things slow down for other people doesn’t mean it will slow down for you. We have Freedom Club members who are literally having their best months ever right now. As for me, I keep plowing away, making sure I’m focused on doing loan-getting activities. Bells and whistles can be cool, but we get back to basics.

As far as hiring and firing goes, we keep our strongest players. We give everyone an opportunity to be a strong player. Some people step up to the plate; some don’t. And that’s on them. When the market changes abruptly, you have to be ready to let your weakest links go.

The bottom line: stick with that Daily Success Plan, and you’re going to have success no matter what the market is doing.

Question #4: How Do I Manage Difficult People Without Letting Them Suck Up My Emotional Energy?

First of all, I don’t manage difficult people. If I allow people to suck up my emotional energy, I won’t have any energy left for loan-getting activity. If someone is difficult, I’m going to let them go (or stop working with them). I don’t believe in “sucking it up.” I’m not going to work with them.

The two most powerful words in business are “I choose.” If someone is difficult, I’ll quickly try to resolve the problem. If I can’t resolve it, I’ll either let them go, or I’m going to go. 

It’s the same thing with real estate agents. That’s why we have a Focus 40. If one is difficult to work with, I let them go. I have 39 others, and I can easily replace that 40th person with someone I enjoy working with. I only work with people I’d normally hang out with. And I have the freedom to only work with people I like. And I really like all the people I work with. 

Stay tuned for more answers to more great questions coming soon!

In the meantime, we’d love to help you map out a plan for success. We’ll answer your questions, give you our scripts (designed conversations), and walk you through the Daily Success Plan. Click HERE to set up a FREE call today.