Privilege vs Right

I’m sorry sir but we are out of Swordfish…

An amazing month in our business with strong purchase business all along the East Coast along with some solid refi business to add on top. Per the WSJ, the Housing Bust is over!!  Product changes,  value issues, tough credit, last minute LRR adjustments title issues, bursting bandwidth and overworked staff all added together to create a maxed out month for all. However, for the most part, the customers never experience what is really going on when you are doing it right. It’s not that we are blowing smoke and hiding the facts it’s that the making of the sausage isn’t what they need to be part just what will it be and when will I get it -- no surprises! Solid assessments upfront with overly realistic expectations create buy-in, concern for the worst case and respect for the value you bring.

I’ve been thinking about the front of the house and the back of the house watching the summer help deal with the seasonal onslaught in all the summer establishments. I had a great experience working in a restaurant during my summers from dishwasher to waiter to singing bartender (that’s another story!). The Saturdays in summer were madness, especially 4th of July as everyone was still fairly new and working out the kinks, while dealing with a surge of diners.

Communication was a key factor. There was a meeting at the beginning of the night with the chef and owner discussing any changes in menu and limitations on amounts. Throughout the night the word would go from the chef to the waiters that an item was “86’d”, meaning we were out of it. You should have known as it was coming as there was a countdown of amounts left of the scarce meals – “2 Swordfish left! “ In a poorly run restaurant you would find out when everyone else is brought their meal that they ran out of Swordfish.  Knowing what your kitchen can and can’t do is crucial. Knowing the Soufflé takes 30 minutes, and the House special has ground nuts is crucial BEFORE you accept an order and say “sure! No problem!”  If a busload of tourists or the rehearsal dinner party of 28 just put their order in, you needed to warn your parties what to expect for meal delivery. Just common sense…right?

We survey all our customers and the few negative comments I see these days are from borrowers complaining about the paperwork or last minute changes. Fortunately they still check that they will use us and refer us again, but that still frustrates me because I know we could have educated the customer better.  Likely, the LO and processor didn’t spell out what was going to happen during the process clearly enough. The “Do’s and Don’ts warning” we put in every app package and have signed again at every commitment weren’t clearly reviewed so the borrower ended up affecting their process by doing something preventable.  The borrower leaves the table unhappy with too much paperwork? Amazing! In today’s world they weren’t expecting that? Not only is it amazing that people actually get loans today but if you can do it on time and smoothly there should be satisfaction not blame for that which is beyond your control. Hell if we explain where this paper comes from maybe they would help put better legislators in office to fix the issue!!

This expectation also holds true for the loans that were on fire when handed to us or were difficult from the beginning. There are countless stories I’ve witnessed in my career where the LO and team have performed miracle work, frequently in miracle time, and then expected deep appreciation from the customer and instead get a bad survey because it was a bumpy process and maybe at terms they didn’t like. I can only hold much of that responsibility on the LO. The LO did not set the expectation with the borrower and the referral source that this would be a high risk process with complications.  Frequently the LO will say “I know I told them the issues!”, but in the end the reality is the truth and you need to investigate how you presented the situation.  Because if this is to repeat itself again you have to ask “should I take this loan again? It took time away from other loans and I now don’t have a customer referring me business and may actually be slamming me in public. One commission cost 2 in process and 3 in future deals – plus unmeasured negativity and stress in your life. Is it worth it if it can’t be run on your terms?

The best home buying experiences are run by leaders who demand attention, loyalty and control their customers with an iron fist. They warn and threaten to get agreement, not pulling any punches to the risks and realities like a good doctor pre-operation.  You know the risks, you know there will be pain; but you know that there is a plan and the odds are in your favor. Strong realtors who tell their buyers to go to a specific lender and to do exactly what that lender tells them, otherwise they can lose the house and their deposit. The strong mortgage guru who tells the borrower to do everything she has told them upfront, whatever his operations team says is law and all docs must be done yesterday closes the most loans with the happiest customers; and, oh yes, there is a lot of paperwork but he/she is there to explain all of it and make sure you are doing no more than is necessary. Sure I like to have a relationship with my Doctor but not at the expense of getting the best care available with the least pain and risk. I want a strong take-charge professional who doesn’t pull punches and directs the process making my feelings and wishes secondary to what they know is the most important thing – walking out healthy with least amount of side effects in the least amount of time to do a professional job. All of this occurred because my assessment was done right, expectations were set and I did what I was supposed to as part of my recovery. It’s a team effort, but we are the captains driving the process and need to act like one.


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Great article, you are absolutly correct theloan officer needs to educate, educate and educate their clients, not only in the product, rate, but most of all the expectations on how their mortgage will be delivered. It is so easy nowadays to take the loan and tuen it in, what needs to be done is to educate your client then hold them accountable to getting their loan.

Brian, What a great idea, Communicate with your clients from the start of their loan to the closing.

Seems pretty simple LOL

Jeff Heidtmann

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