Editor’s Note: This article is written for real estate agents by Walter Sanford. Because it has great ideas on affiliate relationships, especially between MLOs and Realtors®, we include it here.
Real estate agents are competitors, but affiliates can be team members. An affiliate is a service provider who affiliates with your business to earn a piece of the transaction. They can be lenders, home warranty providers, title representatives, inspectors, and others. In this article I will highlight lenders, but the same principles apply to all.
First, your broker or firm might warn you about suggesting affiliates for your clients to use. I understand this warning because if the affiliate messes up, there might be liability attached to the referring party. Maybe. In my affiliate relationships, I took care of that concern with a removal of liability clause in my listing and buyer brokerage agreements.
Furthermore, I always did what was right for my client. The client’s best choice was always an affiliate who was afraid to lose my business if they did not meet expectations. It’s simple: if you are loyal to a great affiliate, they will devote the resources to make your life easier as a Realtor®.
I had a favorite one-to-four unit lender. (I always look for a hardworking, smart individual who understands that top producing Realtors are his/her preferred client. He/she always under-promises and over-delivers.) My lender would tell me when I had a client in a low-closing proposition. My lender stayed out of my office and did not tie up my assistant in gossip.
Rates are competitive. My lender knew how to get in touch with the underwriter to “explain” things when needed. My goal was to go to the top of the list for service, follow-up, and favors.
These are the steps I followed in getting my top lender’s attention:
- Asked for his picture and résumé to put on my “meet the team” section of my website used to promote my one-stop service for clients.
- Sold his services to my seller at the listing presentation by mentioning that the only way I could guarantee my service completely is if I worked with the team members who best know the process.
Sold his services to my buyers by not wanting to work with lenders with whom I wasn’t familiar. It is hard to orchestrate a closing with lenders who are servicing a new account where their prospects of future loans are bleak.
- All offers that come in with a non-team member lender are automatically countered by a pre-counseled seller who now believes that a non-team lender may be a hindrance to close. Counter is written: “Buyer to pre-approved by (lender) at (company). After pre-approval, buyer is free to use any lender of their choice.”
Loyalty can bring many benefits:
- I liked to time-block my weekly follow-up on pendings for Wednesday at 1PM. My lender was always ready with a report.
- My lender looked for referral business for me.
- My lender participated in lead generation systems where it benefitted him. For instance, I did all the FSBO research and mention in my advertising to them that I had a lender who could help them. I would then have the lender call the FSBO to offer value. My lender ended up with many loans on FSBO sold real estate.
- My lender ceased coming in with rate sheets. Who cares about rates where the yields between lenders are almost the same? Fewer interruptions from all affiliates allowed me to work on filling the pipeline.
- I was on the top of the list for challenges to be satisfied.
Try a little loyalty to a hard-working affiliate and see how you can work together as a team for mutual benefit.
Walter Sanford has been designing and implementing real estate systems for 30 years. One of the most successful Realtors® (and now wealthy from his systems), Sanford teaches his systems and strategies through his products, seminars, and personal coaching. Call 800.792.5837, email firstname.lastname@example.org and/or visit www.waltersanford.com.