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12 Ways to build strong lender partnerships for happier clients

Clever CEO Luke Babich writes that partnering with well-qualified lenders helps you help your clients, build your brand, and add value to every real estate transaction.

There are few certainties in real estate. Whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market, no matter where prices are sitting, one thing is true: lenders are a key part of the process, and your relationship with them can have a big influence on your client’s overall satisfaction.

Because the vast majority of homebuyers finance their homes, having lenders ready to recommend is one of the best ways to demonstrate true value for your commission fee. While receiving any kind of payment or direct benefit from a lender or service provider is not allowed, there are still significant benefits to developing collaborative partnerships with lenders.

For example, trusted lending partners can give you a heads-up on new products or promotions, provide prioritized support, or share their insights on the market. In some cases, they may even be more willing to work out solutions with clients struggling to secure financing or even send clients your way with pre-approvals already in hand.

Financing can make or break a deal in some cases, meaning it’s critical to create collaborative partnerships. Here’s how to build them.

12 lender collaboration strategies

Developing a strong relationship with a mortgage lender doesn’t happen overnight. But with these valuable tips, agents will be well on their way toward this important goal.

1. Make sure it’s a good fit

Not every lender is suitable for every client. Some may specialize in larger loans, while others may have more creative solutions for self-employed or lower-income buyers. It’s your job to ensure the one you recommend is fit for the lending task. To do this, develop relationships with multiple lenders so you can provide proper guidance no matter who you’re working with.

2. Communicate openly

Start by establishing a clear and consistent channel of communication with lenders. Some prefer email, while others have texting software that makes asking a quick question or getting clarifying details even easier. Set communication expectations up early so it’s easy to get a resolution if problems arise.

3. Get personal

Establishing a partnership can be challenging if you work with larger banks. When possible, make a personal connection at a local branch and work with that person directly. This puts a face to the emails and texts and makes it easier to connect.

4. Act with integrity

Demonstrating integrity is the baseline expectation of a real estate agent when dealing with clients, but this also applies to building relationships with lenders. Be honest and consistent in your actions and communications, and take responsibility if you make a mistake. Partners take notice of Realtors who put in the extra effort and hold themselves accountable.

5. Respect each other’s goals

The banks are interested in making good loans just as much as you are interested in helping your client. Respect that the lender is a business, and it needs to meet specific benchmarks and goals. Understanding this is key to finding solutions when it comes to the right lending products and terms.

6. Consider training together

Smaller lenders or local branches of large banks might be interested in conducting joint training seminars for clients. Education is key in buying and selling real estate, and collaborating with your lenders to explain products and processes helps clients better understand what to expect.

7. Integrate technology

So much of what real estate agents do these days happens online. Work with lenders to identify the best platforms to make data sharing and process management effortless. Using the same tools can lead to better client services, updates in real-time, and faster approvals.

8. Ask for (and provide) feedback

Criticism can sometimes be tough to hear, but it’s the only way to improve. Solicit feedback from clients and lenders to get a good sense of how the relationship is working. Ask for notes on what worked well, where the relationship needs work, and any missed opportunities for next time.

Sometimes, things change, and a previous partnership just isn’t working anymore. This feedback helps you become a better agent for your client and determines if the collaboration is still a good fit.

9. Work on customized solutions

Experienced real estate agents know there are more options out there than just standard financing solutions. When you develop strong collaborative partnerships with lenders, it’s easier to ask for customized products or packages that may help get deals done. These tailored solutions take longer and are more complicated, but they can demonstrate your dedication (and the lender’s) to a client’s satisfaction.

10. Build a brand

Joint marketing with a lender boosts your visibility and helps emphasize the benefits to current and future clients. Building a brand with a lender doubles your exposure and can attract a larger client base for both of you.

11. Keep it legal

The rules and regulations surrounding buying, selling, and lending are complex and ever-changing. Your trusted lender can guide you through those changes in terms of what they can and cannot do; you’ll also need to do some legwork to ensure your relationship with them is fully compliant.

12. Be grateful

Expressing your gratitude doesn’t need to be flashy. But it should be a regular feature of your partnership. Say, thank you when the deal closes with a personal note or phone call. This is especially important for complicated or complex deals where your lender partner has gone above and beyond, but don’t neglect to offer appreciation for every closing.

Collaborative relationships help plan for the future

Many real estate agents don’t spend enough time considering the future. What does your career look like 10, 20, or 30 years down the road? Are you going to be selling residential real estate, or do you envision your career on a different track?

Building strong partnerships with lenders not only supports your career in the present but also means you can turn to them when or if you decide to change your path in real estate.

By Luke Babich

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