What is top of mind for me as we enter the new year? It is the total pivot to the purchase money market. We have seen refinancings continue to fall throughout 2018 to a smaller percentage of mortgage loans originated, now around only 30%. And there are a lot of signs that the Federal Reserve will raise rates a little bit more between now and this summer. This means purchase loans are the key to growing your market share. As credit unions know, purchase money lending requires more work to “get it done,” and loan officers need to kick it up a notch to compete successfully.
THE POWER OF COMMUNITY
Perhaps the greatest step a loan officer can take, and a credit union CEO or CLO can encourage, is to get out into the community and connect with everyone who can help bring in those loans. At the top of that list are Realtors. Think about it: Housing is local; credit unions are local; and Realtors are local. We work within our communities to match people with homes. We know the local market (and for credit unions, our members) and can provide the best loan products as a result. Do you have relationships with your local Realtors? They can’t work with you if they don’t know you. And with the move to a purchase market, there exists a great deal of urgency for taking action now—before the home-buying season really starts heating up in the spring.
Here’s a quick list of my 2019 Initiatives for Realtor Engagement:
- Make and maintain a list of every Realtor you have contact with. Use the list in marketing campaigns, social media and other initiatives. Your efforts will get you closer to your Realtor network and can benefit you immensely.
- Create an Outreach Program for Realtors in your marketplace. Start with job descriptions of your employees and identify the required skill set and the kinds of people, including your existing loan officers, who should be trained to carry out the program, a critical task for finding loans in 2019 and beyond.
- Create a strategy to add Realtor Broker offices or companies on your SEG hit list. Set a goal for adding as many Realtors as possible to your FOM. (For the most part, FOM issues should not be an impediment.)
WHAT WE DO BEST
Being successful this year will require that credit unions focus on doing what they do well, which is being close to their members and the community.