From underwriting to approval: How to make the loan process easier on your clients
Today’s home improvement programming has skewed many home buyers’ expectations of how the journey to homeownership really works. These shows filter out much of the frustration and disappointment when searching for a home.
There’s only so much reality that can fit into a time slot, so the loan process often gets cut. This can leave many potential homebuyers in the dark about what it takes to finalize a mortgage loan. As their partner in making their homeownership dreams reality, it’s important for you to help them understand the journey to approval. By breaking down the process, you can reduce confusion and errors and improve outcomes for your clients and your business.
1. Lay Out Expectations Upfront
From sports to romance to business partnerships, success in any endeavor begins with understanding the rules of engagement. So when it comes to working with a new client on a mortgage loan, outlining expectations can pay big dividends.
Many individuals seek out a mortgage with big dreams for their future home but little understanding of the process. Even if your new client is well educated and has other general markers of success, don’t assume they’re mortgage experts.
While many people eventually become homeowners, it doesn’t mean that the process is clear among the general population. Mortgage loans are, obviously, financial transactions. That makes them fundamentally about money, a topic people are often reluctant to discuss. This reality puts the pressure on your business to be a source of truth.
First, provide new clients with an overview of what’s expected from them and you during the entire loan cycle. Start with what your role is, how other stakeholders come into play, and what your client must provide. Prepare a checklist of the items and documents they’ll need to have in order to work with you. Some items will be easy to obtain, like bank statements, but others may require more nudging, like verification of income.
Share tips that can help your clients navigate potentially sticky spots where third parties are involved. Let them know that it’s OK to ask their human resources team to provide this essential documentation. Outlining this information ahead of time can improve their confidence early in the process and reduce time-sucking issues.
2. Learn Each Other’s Technology Styles and Needs
Your office may be well into the digital age, but that doesn’t mean your clients are. And when you consider the sensitive financial information that’ll soon be transmitted between recent strangers, it’s important to be flexible.
Draft a tutorial for potential clients to review that explains step by step how you’ll work together. If you use a secure client portal, develop a video that shows on screen what it looks like. Keep this video up to date as you make enhancements, since novice clients will often reference it in real time. Prepare for individual needs and extra assistance, which can vary based on the client’s workday availability and personal preferences.
If your client is a crane operator, for example, their work environment makes them inaccessible for personal matters. To ensure their safety on the job, schedule calls or meetings ahead of time. This way, they can be responsive to your inquiries while fulfilling their duties and securing their income. If, in contrast, your client is an office worker, chances are they can answer a brief question during an impromptu call.
For those whose tech savvy isn’t sufficient for using your secure client portal, consider setting up a private office for client use. In this scenario, clients can sit with a member of your team during a scheduled meeting to input their information. Their information stays secure and is in alignment with your process, which can improve closure rates and data security.
3. Keep Calendars Clear
Traditionally, a 30-day loan closure was the goal for loan officers and their clients. However, a competitive housing market, legal complexities, and sparse staffing throughout the industry makes quick closures challenging. Even so, buyers are anxious to move, sellers are ready to hand over the keys, and you have sales targets to meet.
There are many steps in the process that are out of your control, like inspections and appraisals. But one factor you and your clients can control is your availability. Just as you set expectations upfront about the process and what documentation is needed, share timeline parameters.
Generally, you know that it’ll take a couple weeks to request and review documentation. Get the ball rolling on inspections in partnership with the real estate agents involved. Collaborate on schedules and be transparent on timing to help your clients close on schedule.
Personal needs like school schedules, new babies, and upcoming travel can quickly derail well-laid plans. Request this information early and share the importance of availability for key milestones like inspections, appraisals, and, of course, closing.
Fulfill Dreams With Every Closed Loan
The mortgage industry is vital to families and individuals across the globe. Beyond the reality that shelter is essential, establishing a home is as much an emotional landmark as it is a financial one. As you help your clients navigate the mortgage process, keep this fact in mind. Emotions may run high, but you have the privilege of guiding them through this milestone investment.
The more transparent you are in the process, the better the outcomes you can create for your clients. And that means that you’ll improve your loan closure rate, reduce time to close, and increase commissions. When they’re ready for their next home, they’ll know whom to call to make their dreams come true once again.