Category Archives: The National Real Estate Post

Posts by Sam DeBord on the National Real Estate Post

Lenders: How To Meet More Realtors (Without Making Us Cringe)

This article was originally published on The National Real Estate Post:

Lenders and Realtors are salespeople. Most of us are paid on commission. We need to do two things to be successful:

  • Meet new clients to broaden our customer base
  • Provide superior service to retain those clients and their referrals

Lenders need to meet Realtors and attract the business of their clients. The methods most use to do so are antiquated:

“Check out my rates and programs!” “Can I buy you a cup of coffee?” “Let’s grab lunch and talk about your goals.”

Talk to any Realtor who has been in the business for a few years and they’ll cringe when they hear these pitches. It’s not that we don’t like lenders. It’s just that we don’t have time to waste on repetitive requests for business with no reciprocal payoff. We get them almost daily and they rarely have any differentiation or offer of new value.

Do you want Realtors to see you as a partner and a respected expert? Join your local Realtor board.

You want Realtors to see you as a peer, a knowledgeable professional in the industry. By joining the Realtor board, supporting its committees, and showing your dedication to the profession, you’ll gain acceptance with your local Realtors.

Teach classes through your Realtor association’s offices. Write articles for their websites, newsletters, or magazines. We need to know what’s happening in the lending world, and you need to be connected to the issues we’re facing every day.

Realtor boards are looking for unified support from the real estate industry. Realtors themselves are looking for serious, professional lenders who will educate their clients and be trustworthy partners in their businesses.

So stop trying to get Realtors in their cars, one at a time, to meet you at a coffee shop or café. Go meet them en masse, on their turf, at their request.

The relationship you make will be based on respect. We’re salespeople, too. We know a pitch when we hear it, and we’ll choose a valuable partnership proposition over an “ask” for business every time.

Open Door PartnersInvite Us Into Your Offices For A Safety Check-in

Getting us into your office might be difficult. We do everything virtually these days. There is a way to get agents to stop by your office, though, without even having to ask.

Sign up your office with Open Door Partners. You’ve probably heard a handful of stories in the past year about agents being assaulted, kidnapped, and murdered on the job. That’s because they go meet unidentified prospects at vacant property locations.

They need convenient offices near properties to meet these unknown clients. If their broker’s office isn’t nearby, maybe your office is.

Agents are using our nationwide online map of lenders, title companies, and broker offices as locations for quick safety check-ins. Sign your office up at Open Door Partners, and if an agent in your area needs to meet a new client in your area, they can stop in at your front desk for the meeting.

It provides you an opportunity to give something of value to a real estate agent, and meet them face-to-face while they’re working in the field. It costs you nothing, but creates and opportunity for business—and improves the safety of your industry partners.


Sam DeBord

Sam DeBord is a managing broker with Seattle Homes Group and Coldwell Banker Danforth. He is 2016 President-Elect of Seattle King County REALTORS® and has been featured in Inman News’s Top 101 In Real Estate and the T3 Swanepoel Group’s Top 20 Social Influencers. His team sells homes and condos in Seattle and Bellevue.

The Millenial Mortgage Myth

This article was originally published on the National Real Estate Post: 

Millenial Mortgage MythMillenials, if we’re to believe media revelations, are an information-empowered generation that seek less human interaction. They don’t need a real person to guide them through financial transactions. They simply want devices and software to automate the processes for them.

There’s plenty of truth in the cavalcade of hype surrounding technology’s influence on consumer behavior. The connectedness of our devices causes us to become more disconnected from the need for interpersonal service. Young consumers who grew up in an atmosphere where it was easier to ask Google than grandma have been trained to seek the efficiency of an application over the advice of a trusted advisor.

The fascination with this mindset, though, becomes a self-reinforcing cycle. Millenials crave efficiency via technology, the media locks in on that generational persona, and businesses cater more and more to removing the human interaction from their services. The snowball keeps rolling downhill, growing in size and speed.

Not All Technology Is Gain

Sometimes, though, everyone loses when we cater to the preconceived notion of efficiency through automation. There are many processes that are improved by diminishing the level of personal interaction. In other cases, the human experience, knowledge, and flexibility that’s only possible through direct interaction is necessary to deliver a quality experience.

That has been our experience in the mortgage financing world. As real estate agents, throughout our careers, we’ve interacted with mortgage lenders. They’ve proven to us, and our clients, that they have the skills and responsiveness necessary to make our transactions run smoothly. We’ve built up a level of trust with our most qualified lenders and those of our associates.

We recommend a list of these professionals to our clients because we understand the alternatives. We’ve seen the bad actors in lending. We’ve watched transactions go sideways. We’ve experienced fly-by-night operators and inexperienced rookies who botch transactions that put home buyers and sellers out in the cold. We know how expensive, painful, and inconvenient mistakes in the mortgage lending experience can be.

Technology has improved much of the processing and underwriting functions of modern mortgage companies. But as much as we love technology’s influence on the efficiency of our industry, we often cringe at attempts to use its influence on the selection of a mortgage lender.

Online Reviews: A Risky Selection Criteria

We’ve been told that millennials trust reviews as much as they trust advice from their friends. While online reviews are great for easily described products on Amazon, in today’s climate, they’re a poor way to judge a mortgage professional. Much like how real estate agents game the online review system for oodles of five-star reviews, mortgage lender reviews are a wasteland of trumped up data. The vast majority of lenders have no reviews on any given platform, so consumers are choosing between a select number of marketing-driven review profiles.

Most consumers don’t know this, though. Younger consumers trust reviews, so they trust Yelp. They trust Zillow and LendingTree. They trust whichever app has helped them buy the best bike accessory or webcam. It doesn’t work out as well for mortgage providers.

Anecdotally, we’ve had three recent transactions where our young buyers did their own research online and selected a lender of whom we’ve never heard before. These lenders came highly recommended from online review sites, so they were selected over our preferred lenders.

None of them closed on time. Twice, we had to “save” the transaction with one of our preferred lenders at the last second.

Our situation isn’t unique. Sit down at a real estate conference and ask a group of agents how they feel when a client selects a lender based on online reviews. The overwhelming response will be a groan. We’re not suggesting lenders to our clients for any sort of financial reward or kickback. We make money, and we make our clients happy, when transactions close according to plan. That’s our only incentive in guiding the lender selection process.

So the next time an app developer, industry consultant, or mortgage company owner says that we need to distance the personal connection of the lending process more to enable millennials, push back. That may be what they say they want, but we know better. Sometimes the best referral is done with a phone call to a trusted adviser.

Don’t believe the myth that millennials don’t need our personal advice. Get in front of your clients’ lending education process early, and explain the gaps in the information available to them online. Reinforce the importance of working with someone who has a track record and level of experience that everyone involved in the transaction can trust. Don’t give in when your clients say “I found a great lender on Yelp.” They’ll thank you for it later.


Sam DeBord

Sam DeBord is a managing broker with Seattle Homes Group and Coldwell Banker Danforth. He is 2016 President-Elect of Seattle King County REALTORS® and has been featured in Inman News’s Top 101 In Real Estate and the T3 Swanepoel Group’s Top 20 Social Influencers. His team sells homes and condos in Seattle and Bellevue.