4 Essential Habits of High-Performing Loan Officers

Rising rates are expected to pull the plug on a hot mortgage market. Banks and credit unions can take steps to soften the blow by applying skills used by successful lenders. Here are the attributes that distinguish the best from the average, along with the technology needed to employ these practices.
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Rates and terms rarely differentiate one lender from the next in today’s increasingly competitive financial market. What does?

Loan officers.

Not just any loan officer, though — only the ones pegged as “high performers.” It’s these high-performing lenders who provide the valuable guidance and personalized customer service borrowers crave while operating more effectively and efficiently than the rest.

These loan officers have found new, technology-enabled ways to do their jobs. They’ve built new habits. They’ve discarded what didn’t work. And all of it has happened just in time.

The mortgage industry funded $3.83 trillion in new volume last year, with 6.9 million existing homes forecasted to be sold in 2021 — the best year for home sales since 2005, according to Zillow. But it’s a much different mortgage market right now than it was in 2005, or even last year.

Today’s market is expected to contract by 40%. 30-year fixed mortgage rates are projected to rise to 4.4% by 2022. Well-funded challenger lenders and financial institutions are moving in to capture their piece of the booming U.S. mortgage market. And Millennials and Gen Z buyers — individuals with greater, more demanding, digital-centric expectations for lenders — are comprising a much larger portion of the homebuyer population.

All in all, the competition is about to get very fierce. And it’s the high-performing loan offecers who can teach us what to do — and not do — to succeed in the coming months.

The Do’s and Don’ts of High-Performing Lenders

Habits are what set high-performing loan officers apart from the rest. It’s these habits — or strategies and tactics, or the “do’s,” if you will — that fuel their continued success.

But just as important as what you need to do to become a high performing lender — perhaps even more important — is what you need to stop or avoid doing.

Here are our top four do’s, with four don’ts sprinkled in.

1. Do make yourself indispensable to realtors.

No longer can loan officers seeking borrower referrals from realtors simply send agents a rate sheet and buy them lunch. Realtors today want a symbiotic relationship with lenders: You send them leads, they’ll send you borrowers looking for a lender.

That’s exactly what high-performing lenders do — typically in one of two ways: They identify and refer hot leads to realtor partners, and/or they help realtors better, more widely promote their listings and services.

High-performing loan officers, for instance, use data to identify and make first contact with the borrowers most likely ready to buy a home. Then, after preapproving the borrowers for mortgages, they refer them to the realtors they recommend.

High-performing loan officers also work alongside realtors to help them better promote property listings, market their services to buyers/sellers, and capture leads as they come in. A free tool from Total Expert enables lenders and realtors to jointly manage shared leads in one place, track lead activity, co-market to homebuyers using fully-compliant materials and property imagery automatically populated from MLS listings, and post single-property sites to social media using relevant hashtags, among other things.


Base a realtor relationship strategy on old-school lunches or vague promises to dutifully care for joint customers.

2. Do make first contact with, identify and convert leads in more modern and efficient ways.

High-performing lenders turn to the latest tools and technology to help them do their jobs better, smarter, and faster. By eliminating manual, error-prone tasks that eat up a ton of time and money, lenders are free to focus on delivering more value and a higher level of service to both borrowers and realtor partners.

Many high-performing loan officers use marketing automation, for example, to build trust, personalize interactions, and give strategic advice to borrowers at every stage of the lending lifecycle. Marketing automation capabilities like “journeys” and automated follow-up help lenders do their jobs in the most operationally efficient way possible. Momentum Loans for example, generated more than $20 million in loan funding from a single email in a single month by having its loan officers focus on their highest-priority tasks while delivering more consistent, personalized communications to borrowers.

What Not To Do:

Rely on manual processes that bottleneck workflows and prevent high productivity.

3. Do be active and purposeful on the right social media.

In the U.S. in 2020, people spent nearly 2.5 hours of their time each day on social media.
Since all consumers today — including borrowers — increasingly rely on the web for information about brands and products, it makes sense that high-performing loan officers are active on social media, too. But they’re not just active — they’re smart about how they do it.

High-performing loan officers, for instance, make it a priority to post frequently on the most effective platforms, identified by National Mortgage News to be Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. They usually post about once per day or five times per week — deemed by experts to be the most effective posting frequency — and schedule their posts in advance. They make sure to post about topics in which the typical home buyer is interested. And they use technology to integrate, automate and streamline all of it while helping to ensure they comply with industry regulations.

Do Not:

Make social media success contingent upon your memory and manual tactics.

4. Do use data to prioritize your day.

High-performing lenders leverage a rich database of borrower data to make sure they spend their time each day in ways that pay off.

With a unified, 360-degree view of data they can understand the full story behind each prospect. They can build a complete picture of each borrower, so they can deliver at the right time personalized communications that resonate. And they can have one-to-one conversations with the leads identified to be highest-priority — i.e., those most aligned with the lending officer’s business goals and most likely ready to speak with them.

Try to Avoid:

Wasting time worrying about missing key actions and/or conversations.

The ROI of High-Performing Lenders

With their strategic mindsets and technology-based approaches to lending, high-performing LOs consistently deliver above-and-beyond value not just to borrowers, but to their financial institutions, too.

Productivity can increase by more than 20% thanks to improved efficiency across sales, marketing, and compliance. In fact, a Forrester study found that, on average, six Total Expert customers increased their loan production per loan officer by 20% in year one and by more than 40% by year three.

Lenders using the guidelines and tools listed above enjoy loan retention rates higher than 60% — well above the industry-standard 18% — due to their lenders’ keen ability to proactively and accurately identify the customers ready to talk with them.

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