The Human Touch by Hunt Gersin

by 26 Oct 2011
Would mortgage fraud be less of an issue if we were more personally engaged?
I love technology.  Can you imagine not having your computer, your smart phone, or not checking your Facebook every minute?  I can not and will not.  Technology makes life better, more informed, and connected.  It is a tool to create a connection, and, in my opinion, not the end all solution to true client service, especially in the most important transaction in most people’s life. As a mortgage professional for over 20 years, I know that “interacting” with clients on their mortgage as the highest level was the key to success.  The prevailing momentum of the last several years has been focused on technology.  I believe strongly that the industry must go back to the basics, and the focus should always be personal relationships. Let’s face the facts, qualifying for a mortgage is not easy, with tight underwriting guidelines, overlays from most investors, and the general uncertainty of one’s job, there is, unfortunately, a lot more stress involved than ever before.  Prospective borrowers, whether it’s a purchase or a refinance, want the personal contact, want the friendly handshake, without question, want to meet face to face with their mortgage professional.  The mind and body interprets a supportive touch and person to person contact, as, “I’ll be there for you.”  There is nothing more important to us, as humans; the most social creatures in the universe, as knowing and feeling this support. Many companies have become lost in the matrix of constant fixation to data and information and are losing the ability to relate to others as human beings.  One could ask if mortgage fraud would be less of an issue if we were more personally engaged and connected with people through face to face meetings.  The answer is clear, and we are all better able to keep each other in check when we have personal contact. Getting to know the people with whom you do business, and there is no better way than meeting with them, will increase trust, open communication and build a deeper relationship that can withstand the winds of a difficult transaction, and will provide numerous referrals and supportive referral sources.  When you truly care about your clients, you are investing in the longevity of your own business, and when you care about the people on the most personal level, you answer a need and actually get people who want to do business with you for life.  Business success is predicated on making the extra effort and making a personal connection. The popularity of “location based” services such as Foursquare suggest that people want to actually meet with others, want to know where people are so they can meet up, have that social interaction in person.  These services also promote spending time in your neighborhood and supporting local businesses.  Tweeting, and posting is fun and even productive, many of us do it, yet, there’s nothing like “being there.” The business and psychological benefits of engaging one to one by person to person interaction cannot be underestimated.  The concept and delivery of meeting anytime, anyplace is crucial for world class service, and, for creating the trust needed in these challenging times.   As much as I spend time communicating via phone, email, and text, with my clients as a mortgage professional nothing beats meeting up with them in person.  We have relied too much on the convenience and electronic means of interaction, instead of taking the time and effort to see our clients face to face. Numerous recent studies suggest that meeting personally with clients is the most important part of developing and maintaining strong client relationships.  The mortgage business and offering superior service, is about trust, and the best way to earn that is with face to face meetings. In order to have these important face to face meetings, a mortgage professional should focus their energies in offering their services in their own neighborhood.  Most prospective clients want to do business with a professional that knows their community, is available to meet, and can have a personal relationship, especially in a financial transaction such as buying or refinancing their own home, their most important financial asset.  The ideal place is at their client’s home, yet, meeting at their place of business or at a private conference room at your local library or most anywhere else works fine.  One advantage of making “house calls” is that the home is likely to be the place where many, if not most, relevant documents are stored.  Most people are very concerned about distributing their own personal confidential information documents over the internet, whether it is through their email or any other process, even with sophisticated encryption systems.  Perception is reality. Interestingly enough, the tools of technology, including the smart phone, tablets, and the notebook computer, have made being mobile much easier.  By utilizing these tools, we can make any meeting; especially face to face more productive.  We are in a mobile society, and the acceleration of “cloud computing” has made using various technology tools, including specific mortgage origination tools, at a client’s home or literally anywhere else attainable. I do not think that it is an “either/or” scenario regarding technology or face to face meeting, I believe itis a “both/and” scenario.  I think that they will not only co-exist, I believe that co-existence will be one of the many ways that technology can have a direct pay off to businesses and clients in the future.  This pay off, among other ways, comes through the integration of technology with personal meetings. There are many ways for mortgage professionals to seek business in their own neighborhood, including joining a networking group, such as BNI, hosting a seminar on buying your first home or the multiple benefits of VA mortgages, doing a direct mail campaign to apartment dwellers, engaging in an opt in email campaign, launching a pay per click campaign or purchasing online leads in your area through various reputable national lead sources.  Utilizing social media such as Facebook and Twitter, helps initiate and develop the connection.   Through a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) system and managing of various campaigns, including social media, innovate companies are able to pinpoint leads in specific neighborhoods, and help the marketing effort to create that personal contact.  Of course, developing a referral network through former clients, real estate professionals and other local affinity partners is important. By offering numerous niche products such as the 203k; a mortgage that was designed for prospective homeowners who want to rehabilitate or repair a home (typically a foreclosure) so they can live in it as their primary residence, and Hompath Financing; a mortgage that allows a borrower to purchase a Fannie Mae owned property with a low down payment, among other benefits, mortgage professionals can create business for themselves and help their communities.  With foreclosures spiking to unprecedented levels throughout the United States, mortgage professionals can and will make our nation stronger. Mortgage professionals know and want to support their own neighborhood.  By strengthening connections and relationships with others in the neighborhood, through personal mortgage services, perhaps to buy their first home, will create positive effects throughout the community.  Especially in today’s troubling housing market, which is, and will always be a location centered business, being the mortgage expert, and leading the process from preapproval through closing through personal meetings, and consistent interactions will make a significant impact on neighborhoods across the country.  There is no doubt that strong neighborhoods will help restore our national economy back to growth.  The housing market is one of the key contributors to a healthy economy by, among many benefits, increasing job growth and stabilizing the community.   By helping your neighborhood, we, as mortgage professionals, can make a difference, locally and nationally.  It’s a privilege to offer our mortgage services, and this leads to greater responsibility.  We need to embrace this responsibility that accompanies this place of privilege.   There’s no better way than sharing this experience on the most personal level.   Earlier this year, I originated a tough (aren’t they all) purchase transaction.  This referred loan, from a local business leader, was challenging, and had to close in ten days based on the purchase contract and the dozen other closings that were related to success of this transaction.  By far, the most productive and satisfying interaction with my client was when I met with him and his family at their home.  Our meeting created comfort, trust, and made this transaction work better for all parties. We had our typical communication by phone, email, and text, but, what created confidence and made for a successful transaction was that personal face to face meeting.  When I went to the closing, I was honored to have the real estate agent, sellers, and the buyers clapping as I came into the room.  Everyone knew it was challenging, and we got it done.  Giving and receiving hugs felt quite satisfying at the closing table, try doing that through the phone or through your computer.  Maybe there will be an app on iphone for that down the road, but, for now, embrace your clients, be there for them on a personal level.  There’s no better feeling than contributing to your neighborhood and being there for your clients. With the only constant in business and life being change, don’t ever lose sight of the human touch.

Hunt Gersin is the Managing Member and a licensed Your Neighborhood Mortgage Expert located in West Bloomfield, Michigan.  Your Neighborhood Mortgage Experts support licensed loan officers and  mortgage companies by providing marketing, technology tools, and numerous other benefits.


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