There Are Many Ways to Evaluate a Mortgage Lender

There are many ways to evaluate a mortgage lender.

I’m a student of the mortgage industry — I read everything I can on the business, whether it’s written for consumers or for industry professionals, and especially if it includes information pertaining to or coming from the CFPB. For those of you who don’t know, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a regulatory authority that was formed four years ago. It oversees consumer financial products and the organizations that provide them. To learn more about the CFPB and their mission, visit www.cfpb.gov.

I’m always surprised and disappointed when guides to finding a suitable lender are published and focus primarily on rates, points and fees. A home purchase is generally the largest financial transaction in which most consumers will ever engage. I appreciate that cost and fees are a large factor when shopping for a mortgage, but there are many other factors to consider when selecting a lender.

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” — Benjamin Franklin

In addition to costs, what else should real estate professionals and consumers be seeking from a loan officer/lender?

Do they have a signature line in their email that includes their contact information and their mortgage licensing information? This is required by law.
Is their written communication well-produced, utilizing proper language, punctuation? Is it professionally formatted? Does the communication make sense? Is it helpful?
Did the lender offer or prepare any written details pertaining to the loan, like a spreadsheet or preliminary estimate of costs and fees, and a loan product comparison?
Did the lender explain how a rate lock works?
Was your initial call or email returned promptly?
Is the lender available to work with you when you’re available?
When they offer a pre-approval or pre-qualification, do they require that the consumer submit all pertinent financial documents to review before issuing a letter?
Are they fast to respond when needed?
Do they have a team backing them up?
Do they offer to talk with the seller or listing agent about a specific borrower/offer?

This list could go on forever — mortgage financing is complicated, and it requires the services of a confident and experienced professional to guide the consumer and agent through to the closing. Of course, no matter who you call, you’ll always be able to find someone willing to do the job for less, but making a large financial decision based exclusively on price can lead to a stressful and unhappy experience. Be sure to shop for quality service too, so that your real estate closing will be a celebration instead of an aggravation!

We’re here to help you and your buyers do more, learn more and grow more!

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Want to provide great customer service? Empower your people!

Everything in business sales — and sales is customer service. How do the people who represent you show up and serve your clients?

I needed to upgrade the prescription for my glasses; the frames were barely used, so instead of just replacing them I wanted to re-use them. (Did you know that it costs more to buy lenses for existing frames than it does to buy a complete set of glasses? Well, that’s another story.)

I went to the eye doctor, got a new prescription, and handed it to the manager of the store along with two sets of frames. I begged for a rush job since I would be traveling, but she said she “couldn’t control that.” Hmph!

I picked up the glasses, and over the following weeks I realized that the prescription was wrong: they were supposed to be progressives, but I couldn’t read anything wearing them. Cut to another trip to the store, where — after much haggling — the manager agreed to take the glasses back to replace the lenses again, but only after she could speak with my eye doctor. Because of the confusion I had to make a return trip to the eye doctor, who told me that they had installed the wrong prescription — period.

Back to the store — again — where I was told that, because progressive lenses were more expensive, I would have to pay an additional $120 to get my frames filled with the correct prescription. Since I’ve been a great client/customer at this store (five pairs of glasses in the last two years from the Tierces), I wondered if perhaps she could do something about the additional fee to compensate for the fact that they had it wrong from the beginning. The store manager wrote down the name and number for her district manager and suggested that I take it higher up!

No one could find the district manager because she’s on the road, and after much deliberation I was put in touch with the customer service manager, who offered to replace the lenses for $25.00 per pair. I said that was nice, but zero would be nicer.

They have an annoyed customer on their hands — had they empowered their manager to negotiate with me, or had the manager called her boss while I was in the store to plead my case, this could have been prevented. I was annoyed when I walked in because I was prepared for a battle and I got one. It would have been easy for the manager to make me feel like my experience matters to the company by behaving as though she cared. How? Well, she could have called her manager directly and fixed the situation, or she could have waived the cost on her own.

Is that how they want me to feel? In the world of blogging, tweeting and Yelp! customers have a voice, and not one that service providers or retailers really want us to have. No matter how right or wrong I think one of my clients is, I will always do what I need to do in order to have them walk away satisfied — not annoyed or angry. Empower the people who represent you to work out issues, to right wrongs, to take responsibility and action on behalf of their reputation.

If someone on my team takes action to correct a concern or problem they’ll be applauded first — if I don’t agree with the tactic used or the money refunded we can address that later, but customer satisfaction is number one on my list of what matters. It should be number one for all retailers, service providers and professionals. I know there are other mortgage companies to serve my clients, just like there are other eyeglass stores (at least 10 near me) where I can take my business. I’m loyal, until I’m given a reason not to be — you should be too!

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Loyalty Check too – are you worthy?

With the New Year I decided to evaluate my loyal relationships, both personal and professional — but now it’s time to look in the mirror.

Over almost 30 years in the mortgage and real estate industries, I’ve built some tremendous relationships, but no matter what, I need to take a look to be sure that I’m earning loyalty from my consumers, referral partners and employees every day.

Five years ago, a move to a new home prompted me to reevaluate my dentist’s and doctor’s practices — I wanted to see if the value they provide was worthy of the longer drive to continue seeing them.  In the end, I chose new professionals — here are some of the reasons why I made those changes, and how I look at my loyal relationships:

  • Proximity is important to me in my crazy life, so I’ll choose a provider by location.
  • Being good is the cost of admission — I want to work with smart, innovative, life-long learners in whatever profession I’m reviewing.
  • If location doesn’t matter, then technology will — if you don’t need to see the provider live, you’ll still need to communicate well, such as with a financial planner or accountant.
  • Communication is my top requirement; effective, efficient and smart communication from service providers is at the top of my list of loyalty requirements.
  • Education – I want to learn new things, try new approaches and routines, and look at issues through a different lens. Whether financial or medical, there are many approaches to different subjects — my loyalty will go to a provider with knowledge, and the ability to communicate a new way of considering a subject.
  • Friendliness of staff, cleanliness of facilities, easy to use technology — all of these are important to me.
  • I want to feel as though my providers are on top of everything, but I never want to feel like they’re trying to upsell me. I’d rather be provided with options — I don’t want to be sold, but rather feel that they’re providing a solution.
  • I want to feel hugged — yes, that sounds silly, but I want to feel like my loyalty is valued, that I’m respected by my providers, and that my opinion matters.

So when I look in the mirror, I need to review where my loyalties stand, and question what I need to do to strengthen those bonds, or create new, stronger bonds with each person who chooses to do business with me.

What are you doing to earn and retain loyalty in your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

To lots of loyalty in the New Year!

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Let’s take a Loyalty Check Up!

Are you worthy?  Are they worthy?

The beginning of a new year is a great time to evaluate our personal, professional and business relationships. Are our partnerships working? Are our loyalties being reciprocated? Are our partners of the highest quality? I look at all of the people I conduct business with as service providers. I believe that as consumers we should expect high-quality service from our doctors, dentists, hair dressers, plumbers, drycleaners — any business or person who we pay to provide us with a service in return.

I’m an incredibly loyal person — I’ve had the same accountant since I first entered the workforce, many decades ago. I saw the same hairdresser for 15 years, until she passed away suddenly.  I had the same doctor and dentist from the age of 12 until just five years ago, when moving caused me to review my situation.  Moving one town away isn’t a big deal, driving an extra three to five miles is nothing… but considering how busy our lives are, I decided I needed to conduct a loyalty review of my personal practitioners and partners.

In the end, I found a new dentist just blocks away, and I love the practice; since my doctor was going to retire, it seemed like a good time to find a new physician anyway, and that was a fantastic decision.  I replaced two of my most loyal relationships and haven’t regretted that for one minute.  The new perspective from both professionals changed many practices in my life. In fact, a new relationship can very likely produce new and different results.  Many people don’tlike change, but remaining attached to a professional relationship can mean that you’re actually missing out on something better.  I would suggest that a move is great reason to re-evaluate — I didn’t want to add another 20 minutes to a visit with my doctor or dentist if I could find a better practice closer to home; however, if I believe a practitioner is worthy,  then my loyalty would withstand the 20 added minutes.

As I network and meet new people each and every day, I’ve realized that it’s time to consider my other loyalties, and whether or not I’m receiving any rewards for my loyalty in the professional space.  Everyone complains that companies are always rewarding new customers with special offers — ‘first month free’ or ‘six months of extra services’ — but those same companies do not reward the loyalty of their long-time clients.

Take a few minutes to do a loyalty check today!  Who are you doing business with in your personal and professional life, and are you getting the best service today for your loyalty, or is there another provider who will take better care of you?

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