Louise Thaxton actively began her support of the military community in 2005, a few years after she began originating. She met a Realtor who had a passion for the military and made a good offer. “She told me if I treated the soldiers right she would trust me with her business,” said Thaxton, Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation, with several offices in central Louisiana. “I jumped in with both feet and the business increased dramatically that next year.”
Thaxton developed a military marketing campaign of “Zero to the Hero” (Zero closing cost to military buyers) and began providing Realtors with brochures and flyers that had a patriotic theme; incorporating the American flag, eagles, and key words such as “serve,” “freedom,” “hero” and “team.” “We marketed to the Realtors on both sides of the sale,” she explained. “I was attending all of my closings, meeting agents and title reps, making weekly sales presentations and promoting our ‘Zero for the Hero’ theme.” She has also sent hundreds of special care packages to armed forces customers serving in Iraq or Afganastan.
When Thaxton began offering VA seminars to area Realtors, she knew it had great potential. The initial “lunch and learn” sessions designed to educate agents regarding VA loan programs were quite popular. “It has provided them with the information they need to better understand how to work with the military borrower,” said Thaxton. Of course, she also emphasizes Fairway’s capability to close a VA loan in less than two weeks, a significant benefit to military homebuyers.
Based on her experience working with military borrowers, Thaxton recently saw an even greater opportunity—to create a Military Mortgage Specialist certification for her company’s loan professionals, of which she was named National Director. There is an initial mandatory attendance at a “boot camp” (or basic training) where an overview of the Military Mortgage Specialist program is outlined, along with a follow-up 90 day period of coaching, mentoring and training, whereby individuals are coached and instructed on how to meet the specific home loan needs and requirements of United States military service members; both active military and veterans.
With the significant support of her company, she was encouraged to create additional resources to benefitreal estate agents as well. Working with Terri Murphy, a long time Realtor, speaker, author and trainer, Thaxton has developed a special program for Realtors that will provide them with certification as a Certified Military Residential Specialist (CMRS).
The new certification also will include “boot camp” training sessions to offer Realtors more extensive instruction on serving military clients. “The objective in offering the Certified Military Residential Specialist Program is to provide a platform whereby real estate professionals can be trained and equipped to handle with excellence the home purchase needs of active duty and former military clients.” she said. “We will address all the basics as well as examine the military culture, including for example, how to work with deployed buyers, and the fast turnaround needed by many military borrowers.”
The first CMRS boot camps are scheduled for April, with more planned for the future. (For more information : www.CertifiedMilitaryResidentialSpecialist.com )
David Robinson is Associate Editor of Broker Banker.