Every day, we have the opportunity to reflect on technological advancements like cell phones and the internet because we use them to conduct business, connect with friends, find a little diversion, and so on. These advances were made by women and men far more intelligent than I am (shocker, right?), which makes these advances all the more astounding to me.
In a few short days, though, we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of one of the greatest achievements wrought by the sacrifice and sheer will of women and men who did nothing more than step up. June 6, 1944 – better known as D-Day – saw one of the largest forces of human beings thrown into the gaping maw of the Nazi war machine at a place where it held the high ground and had the odds overwhelmingly in its favor against the Allies.
You’re likely reading this on a smartphone or a laptop that is wirelessly connected to the internet while sitting in a Starbucks waiting for your next appointment or lounging by the pool after a long weekend full of open houses, showings, and contracts. Technology is great. The far-smarter-than-I folks out there who have developed these technologies have my respect – and they have my thanks as shown by my purchasing their device and/or service.
The far-stronger-and-braver-than-I folks who stepped up and did their part in D-Day are awesome, literally. I am in awe of their willingness to do what they did. Some had advanced degrees. Some had specialized skills. More than the vast majority of them, though, were our neighbors, our co-workers, our fellow parishioners. Equal in number, too, were people who held wildly different political, social, and religious views than our own, but all that was put aside to preserve the one thing we held in equal importance in every corner of the world: freedom.
Seek out a member of the military this week and thank them for what they do – there’s nothing political about it. While a few generations removed, they are the people who willingly stepped aboard landing crafts and airplanes to make their next steps on solid ground toward preserving freedom no matter the cost.
Continuing the theme from last week’s Priority Pulse of offering something insightful and unique to your potential customers rather than reposting a meme that every realtor and their cat have already posted, I’ve prepared this idea for you. This idea is meant to reach those who believe they know enough about the “investing world” that it’s hard for them to decide between purchasing a home or investing their money elsewhere. (My “preferred” message for these types of people is to slap them upside the head and say something profound like, “Don’t be a fool,” but this idea involves less violence and will persuade more people.)
When you meet these folks who are weighing a purchase against another type of investment, ask them this simple question: Have you given your choices the SPICE test? No, this isn’t a test designed to determine what investment the Spice Girls would recommend – it’s far less complicated. While you still have their attention, tell them that SPICE stands for the following: Security, Payoff, Imitation, Control, Effort.
Security: Because real estate is brick and mortar, it’s not going to vanish. Even if catastrophe (fire, flood, tornado, etc.) were to strike, you can insure your property against loss. Most other types of investment don’t have any mechanisms that allow you to insure against loss – they have far less security than owning property.
Payoff: Even when things went to hell in a handbasket in the earlier part of this century, if you didn’t do anything drastic and continued living your life in your home, your values have likely recovered, and you’re ahead again. (The same can be said moving forward.) If your investment is stock in a particular company or product, you can’t decide whether that company or product will stay in business, and your payoff could be gone. With a house, it’s still yours and the potential for payoff still exists.
Imitation: Millions of people have done this before you, and just as many will do it after you – they’ve all demonstrated that the success of purchasing a home and owning it is easily imitated and repeatable. Other types of investment don’t have anywhere close to that type of track record that you can trace and follow like you can with home ownership.
Control: It’s your property. You maintain it and improve it. You’re the CEO and Board of Directors of your home. With other investments, you’re HOPING the CEO and the Board will do smart things, but you have no control.
Effort: You have to live somewhere. You might as well make some money through paying down your mortgage and appreciation while you’re living your life – renting’s not going to do that – so no extra effort is required. Other investments don’t offer that effortless combination.
You might say that I’ve oversimplified it, but the fact of the matter is when someone is trying to decide between purchasing a home or investing their money elsewhere, they’ve over complicated it. By asking them to apply the SPICE test to their choices, they’ll have a clearer view of what they’re truly undertaking, and you’ll be seen as the expert who helped them gain that vision.
So, the other day I receive a newsletter from a fellow mortgage person detailing how the “little squabble” (i.e. the trade war) between the US and China is keeping mortgage rates down. Makes sense: the longer the squabble lasts and more tariffs are introduced, the longer the global economy will hold its breath waiting for the next shoe to drop, and mortgage rates will remain lower. It’s a tale as old as time – at least as old as my time. Obviously, this little bit of news is intended to make us want to break into song in the middle of a crowded train station letting our fellow commuters know that all is right with the world.
While the rest of you are sorting out who’s going to sing the melody and who’ll harmonize, I started thinking about the many ads I’m seeing on social media trying to catalyze people into buying a new home or selling their existing home to trade up or down size. The ads all seem to have a common theme that play on the topic of the aforementioned newsletter: the rates aren’t going to be this low forever, so get off your hindquarters and do something! Sure, some of the ads aren’t quite that discrete, but I think I’ve captured the general mood, right?
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve created a lot of FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out – ads in my lifetime, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with them if they motivate someone to respond. The teenie tiny problem I’m seeing here with these “rates” ads is that they’re all practically the same. Sure, the FOMO factor may motivate a reader to respond to the message, but are they going to respond to YOUR message? In other words, if your ad looks and feels like everyone else’s, what are the chances that YOUR ad is the one that lifts them out of their malaise and gets them dialing the phone – or is your ad going to be lumped in with everyone else’s, and the reader will eventually call on your competitor’s ad? Let the fear of missing out on a chance to set yourself apart be your motivation.
The next Facebook Ad or Instagram post you put out there should tell people why they should call YOU – why your brand and product are going to change their lives. And when they do allow you to meet them face to face, make sure you have something unique to offer or they’ll feel like you duped them. I have a unique way of making contact with real estate agents, I’ll admit, and when I am able to convince them to give me fifteen minutes of their time, I make sure I offer them something none of my competitors are offering (that’s legal, of course). After one such meeting, this is what the agent said to me, “I’ve been in real estate for over 15 years, and I’ve never had a loan originator offer that to me.” I’m not going to tell you what “that” is (but get your minds out of the gutters, kids!) for two reasons: (1) it’s something I worked very hard to perfect and make valuable, and (2) you should stretch yourself to come up with a unique offering that sets you apart from everyone else, too. But I will give you this last piece of advice: whatever you come up with, I can assure you if it involves a photo of you flexing in the mirror at the gym or of the kale smoothie you’ve convinced yourself to drink, you’re on the WRONG track!
This is a few days later than usual – sorry – but the first part of the week had me doing some other things that, quite frankly, were more important. I attended the funeral for the teenage son of some very dear friends of ours.
The last gentleman to address all who were gathered at the funeral made a comment that reminded me of a very important lesson for those of us who work in the real estate and mortgage world. He made it clear that he was not decrying technology and what it affords all of us, but he said we should make a concerted effort to talk more to one another – actually TALK, not communicate through email or text messages. If one were to start a list of people guilty of using email and texts more than making phone calls and speaking face to face with other human beings, I’d very well be near the top.
Talking affords everyone the chance to get immediate feedback and see if their message was received as intended. Talking allows us to show emotion (excitement, concern, worry, etc.) and spur others to give it right back to us. Don’t fool yourself into believing that was the reason emojis were invented.
We argue that email and texts are a much more efficient way to communicate. No, they ARE more efficient means to DELIVER a message, but that’s not communication. Long ago, before email and text messages existed, I learned that in order for actual communication to take place, the message has to be delivered and FEEDBACK has to be given. All too often, we forget about that second part because we feel our message is more important than anything else and don’t care how it’s received.
While I’ll certainly admit to being guilty of using technology more than I should, I always try to meet with people whenever possible. I want to see the expressions on their faces when I say something; I want to be able to read their body language to make sure we’re COMMUNICATING. Meeting someone in person is worth 100 times more than the time I’d save by talking to them on the phone instead of driving across town or to another metropolitan area to make that meeting.
If you think about it, this article is the perfect example of NOT communicating – I’m basically talking AT you rather than WITH you. In that vein, give me a call and let me know what you think about this and what you do to communicate better with your clients. I’m all ears!
Fair warning: I’m going to brag a little, but there’s a point to it – I’m not just taking this moment to crow while I have a captive audience. (Come to think of it, you’re not a captive audience at all. You can leave anytime you like. Are you still there?)
When I started my career in the mortgage world over four years ago with Priority Lending, I made a point to meet with as many real estate agents and escrow professionals as possible (to this day, I STILL do). You’re my partners in this, so it made sense to talk with you and find out as much as I could with respect to how you viewed mortgage folks. I was regaled with a lot of stories, both good and bad as you can imagine, but one of the most common themes I experienced was that they noticed how loan originators hop from one company to the next every 18-24 months. To a newbie, that was odd and, I’ll admit, a little troubling. Troubling, of course, because I was wondering what I go myself into.
The reason I found this so odd, though, was that as I looked at the other loan originators working at Priority Lending, that timeframe didn’t apply. One of the loan originators had been with the company for over eight years, and another had been there for five. Fast forward to now, and those folks are still with us, and we’ve brought on more loan originators who have made Priority Lending their home. Buckle up, kids. This is where I’m going to brag a bit.
What creates an environment at Priority Lending that makes it so we want to stay and keep this our home? ABC. Assortment & Breadth of product offerings: other lenders have 10-15 core products (with some, that number is high) that they offer, and if the borrower doesn’t fit into one of those products, they’re told “thanks, but we can’t help you”, and they’re shuffled out the door. We have over 80 different products so we’re NEVER the “thanks, but” guys (I have to admit, though, that “The Thanks, But Guys” would be a good name for a band). In other words, we have no reason to leave because if we did, we wouldn’t be able to help you close those transactions that don’t exactly fall under the “standard” category – and we all know, the population of that category is dwindling. Consistency: as you know, this industry isn’t for someone who expects things to stay the same; at times, we see things change on almost a daily basis. However, amidst all the change and upheaval (that’s a great word that just doesn’t get used enough) in this industry, we know that our operations remain consistent. That doesn’t mean they don’t change – of course they do – but the approach and the attitude remain the same so we know what’s coming.
Whether other loan originators are hopping from one company to another is due to the company changing the game plan midseason on them or because they’re just restless souls who are always looking for the greener grass (I used two wholly unrelated metaphors in the same sentence – sorry), I can’t say. What I CAN say, though, is that because we have an ASSORTMENT & BREADTH of products found nowhere else and we’re CONSISTENT, it doesn’t make much sense to follow an LO from company to company because you never know where her hands are going to be tied or when he’ll have to come back to you and say, “thanks, but . . .”