How to Be a Successful Loan Officer

My colleague Bryce Magill has been in the mortgage business for 15 years, and we chatted recently about some lessons he’s learned along the way.

Bryce started as a loan officer and now leads a branch of his own, so his experience includes boots-on-the-ground expertise as well as coaching.

“In my many years in the business, I’ve seen some loan officers burn out quickly or jump from one lender to another with little real success,” Bryce said. “But other new LOs hit the ground running, build strong pipelines, and be very successful within a few short years.”

I wanted to know what makes someone a top producer in the mortgage industry, and I gathered some great insight.

Be available

The first lesson Bryce learned was the importance of being available to his borrowers and real estate contacts.

If you want to be a top loan officer, you need to respond in a timely manner,” he said. “It helps to be reachable on evenings and weekends—when people are shopping for homes.”

Know your customer

This one might sound a little obvious, but Bryce told me it’s worth mentioning because so many new LOs get it wrong. You have to know your customer and understand their goals, he said. Then, take a full application and determine loan options that suit their needs.

There are many very important reasons to put so much focus on customer service. First, he said, the ability to really listen to your borrowers will earn their trust and their loyalty.

Next, knowing what your borrowers want puts you in a great position to know which products will best meet their needs.

Know your guidelines

Next, Bryce talked about how important it is for loan officers to really know their products—that means rate sheets, matrix, underwriting guidelines, the whole deal. You need to be able to explain every word, every number, and every abbreviation.

“It’s also really important to avoid errors in your documents, and knowing your guidelines is the only way to get it done,” he said. “If you make mistakes and your processors or underwriters have to send you back to your borrower for the same info again and again, the process will be super frustrating for everyone involved.”

Referrals

According to Bryce, there’s only one way to grow your business quickly, and that’s to get referrals. The best time to ask a borrower for referrals is right after you’ve helped them finance that home they’ve always wanted, he said.

“You really just need to ask them to share their experience, and you’ll be surprised at the results!”

It’s also important to remember that real estate agents work with loan officers they can trust and who can get their loans done.

New loan officers face an uphill battle when it comes to building real estate connections in a crowded marketplace, Bryce mentioned. A good way to overcome this as a new LO is to look for real estate agents who are also newly licensed themselves.

Find the right lender

To wrap up the discussion, Bryce emphasized the importance of working with a great lender. You need to have a good system and an excellent team of processors and underwriters in-house, he explained.

To prove his point, he let me in on a secret: part of the reason he’s stayed with Castle & Cooke Mortgage so long is that he trusts his team to get his loans done, on time, without creating extra hassle for his borrowers.

It’s no secret that nearly every lender is hiring now, but not all opportunities are created equal. If you’re looking to change lenders, or even become a new LO, Bryce said you need to find a culture you like, a management system that gives you a voice, and a support team you can trust. Then, get out there and meet some referral contacts.

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