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It’s a tough time to be a loan officer. Refinancing activity has died down, housing stock continues to be at historic lows, and interest rates continue to rise. It’s the perfect type of storm that will show the industry who the real survivors are and who rode the refi wave for the past two years.

Amidst all this chaos, loan officers can be pushed to get creative when it comes to generating new business. Some have pivoted to become niche loan officers, focusing on specific product offerings, such as reverse mortgages or non-QM loans. Some have taken to TikTok to make funny videos about why they’re the best loan officer in the country. Others have decided to wrap it all up and change careers.

For those who want to stay on course and stay ahead, it’s time to get back to basics.

Stop selling!

The best loan officers are those who are not loan officers. Why? Because they don’t sell anything. They provide a service and they unequivocally believe in that service. There is a saying that “when you believe in what you are selling, you are not selling at all”. If you feel like you need to sell anything, focus on selling yourself. There are thousands of loan officers out there. What makes you the best loan officer? Is it your knowledge of the different products? Is helping first-time home buyers your passion? Are you involved in your community? Whatever makes you special, let it be known! If you don’t believe in what you’re doing and you don’t feel good at the end of the day, then you may be in the wrong business.

Build Relationships

Your customer is more than just a unit or commission. It’s probably your friend, your neighbor, your pastor, your mother, or even your children. Some of the best loan officers don’t have to spend money on marketing because they have focused their business on building relationships with their clients. They take the time to get to know them, to understand their needs, their desires, their hopes and their dreams. Through this process, the client develops a relationship with you and sees you as more than just a loan officer. You are both a financial advisor and a dream maker. You have helped them achieve their dream, and you will be the person they refer to their friends and family. You’ll be the first person they call when it’s time to upgrade, downsize or move. All because you took the time to build the relationship.

keep learning

This industry is constantly changing, and if you don’t keep up, you will be left behind. Stay on top of changes in guidelines, hottest products, hottest markets and the overall financial landscape. Spend time with an underwriter and really study how they review a loan file or an appraisal. Open your mind to loans that may not fit within the agency guidelines box.

Know your pipeline

As the saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out!” If you’re flying by the seat of your pants and have no idea what’s going on with your prospects, you’ll quickly learn that you’ve lost all control of the narrative. Keep your CRM up to date, cultivate your pipeline, and set the stage for loans that will materialize over the next few months or even years. Pull out the buddy and feed the shark!

Embrace Social Media

Let’s face it – if you haven’t jumped on the social media bandwagon yet, you’re fighting a losing battle. Even if you learned early on that social media is the wave of the future, you need to stay on top of the latest trends. Some of these trends are here for the long haul, while others may just be a flash in the pan (think “Clubhouse”), but ultimately you need to know how to connect with your prospects. . Social media should be an integral part of your marketing strategies and most importantly, know your audience. What works on Facebook may not work on YouTube!

Conclusion

Being a successful loan officer will never be a “set it and forget it” business – it requires constant attention and evaluation. Although you may need to change positions from time to time to keep up with the market, the core of your process should remain constant. Stick to the basics and you can ride any wave of the market that comes your way!

Leora Ruzin, CMB, AMP is senior vice president of lending at Colorado Federal Credit Union.