Are you looking for unique ways to interact, network, and gain visibility with referral sources? Do you desire to become the “trusted advisor” for every client you serve? Is your ultimate goal to have 100 percent of your business generated by referrals from loyal past and current clients? One of the most effective ways to achieve these goals is to attend your loan closings. Many originators don’t think they have the time to attend closings or believe that their presence isn’t that important. That’s simply not the case.
When you commit the time and employ the following strategies, attending loan closings can reap huge rewards. Think about it: you have the Realtors, seller, attorney/title representative, and your clients in one room. When the closing goes well, you are there to be the “hero” and take credit for creating a smooth process, accurate documents, and satisfied customers. If something goes wrong, you can help fix it. Either way, you show that you are committed to providing a level of service far above your competitors. You make a positive, professional impression on everyone in the room.
First, remember that successful closings actually start with the initial application process. Your consultative professionalism, which ends the loan process with a smooth closing, begins the first time you communicate with the client. You must guide clients through all critical phases of the loan process. And you must help them see that you are their financial expert. How do you do this? By educating every client about some of the ins and outs of his or her mortgage loan. For example, demonstrate how making annual or quarterly principal payments can reduce their loan term and interest costs. Or show them the process to follow to have the mortgage insurance removed from their loan. Or, explain how they might use home equity to invest in a child’s college education or their own retirement. When you take the time to add value, your clients will trust you, tell everyone they know about you, and come back to you again and again for financial assistance.
The two-week period prior to closing can be an anxious time for your clients. Eliminate the anxiety by doing final reviews with your loan support team to make sure loans close on time and priced as expected. Then call or visit your clients to walk through the final steps, such as establishing a firm closing time and place and reviewing final closing costs.
Contact your client to remind them of the closing date and other critical information associated with their new loan. If appropriate, offer to pick them up and “chauffeur” them to the closing. Purchase a small, inexpensive gift (remember RESPA rules) for your client. Potential items include gift baskets filled with things to enjoy after a long day of unpacking boxes, gift certificates redeemable for car washes, carpet cleaning, lawn services, or just a meal at a nice local restaurant.
Arrive at the attorney’s or Realtor’s office 10 to 15 minutes early. This allows you time to meet the other agents, the paralegal, and the title representative and review the closing package. By doing this, you build rapport with those in the office who handle the closing packages. You might also catch errors in closing documents or discrepancies in loan closing figures.
Greet your clients when they arrive and build excitement around this major life event. Ask for any last-minute questions they have and talk about their plans to move. Give them the gift you brought, unless you would like to save it until after the closing.
When the closing is complete, celebrate with champagne (or cider) and a cake that has a picture of the house on it. Most bakeries are able to do this using your color photo or a copy. Encourage your clients to fill out the survey they will receive. Also, ask them, “Who do you know right now that could benefit from my services?” (Hopefully you’ve been asking this question all the way through the loan process.) I almost guarantee you’ll get positive feedback about your service, and you’ll probably get a few referrals of their friends, business associates, and others.
Following the closing, have a photo taken of your customer and you, preferably in front of their new home, if appropriate. Use this photo in a testimonial photo album to show future customers the high-quality service you have provided in the past. Also include positive written comments customers provide on surveys and letters as further proof of your sales efforts.
Attending loan closings may seem unnecessary, especially when you’re extremely busy. But customers will appreciate your presence and you’ll benefit from the ongoing referrals.