The Maxwell team recently had the privilege of sitting down with Christina Whelan at Cornerstone Home Loans to ask how she built her business and advice she would give to new loan officers.
Maxwell: Real estate is a relationship-based business. What advice can you give to new or young loan officers who are starting to develop their referral network of trusted partners?
Christina: Yes, I agree, this business is highly-relational and it can take a lot of time to develop a network of really great partners. As one of the two primary quarterbacks in the homebuying process you [the loan officer] need to be working with realtors that truly align with your values so that both of you can deliver a great homebuying experience for your customers.
Start building your network with your natural connections and people within your office. This is almost always a good place to start because you have already established rapport and trust, and should be able to quickly determine if they are someone you want to work with on a continual basis.
Another way I build my network is through clear communication with sellers’ agents. If you are working on a deal and can communicate clearly, consistently and calmly with the seller’s agent it makes everyone’s lives easier. Often I get to the closing table and the seller’s agent is now eager to work with me again! Don’t forget, there are a lot of people in every transaction, so you need to deliver exceptional customer service to all of these people. If you can do this, your referral network will begin to grow naturally.
M: That is great advice. It is true that there are so many different moving parts and people in each transaction, so communication is critical. So when you are looking for new referral partners, what qualities do you look for in a realtor that make a good fit with how you do business?
C: I actually love to work with realtors who are also mothers. This may sound funny, but mothers can make great realtors because they naturally show empathy with their homebuyers, are often great with problem solving, and are good at remaining calm and collected if issues arise during the process. Obviously, I don’t work exclusively with mom’s but they often have exhibit these qualities, which I highly value in my realtor partners.
M: What is some advice you might offer to someone who is thinking about becoming a loan officer?
C: I would highly recommend that new loan officers work for a large, well established lender. These larger companies can provide a new loan officer with a great deal of training resources, and often have a very structured training program.
It is important for you to really get a grasp on the basics of lending as an agent through a program such as this before you move to a smaller office, which often doesn’t have the same amount of resources to commit to your training. You will also get exposed to a lot of different types of mortgage products, and it is so important that an agent have a good grasp on different mortgage options to truly serve and add value to their future homebuyers. Having a good grasp on basic fundamentals is key to growing your business down the road. Become an expert!
Don’t forget your job is going to be to educate your homebuyer with their options!
M: Are there any things that you do, which other lenders may not think about, which will help you grow your business?
C: I go to 100% of my closings! Even if they closing is a long drive I make sure I can be there at the table with the homebuyers. More often than not this is purely relationship building, but if for some reason there are questions or issues at the closing table I am right there. I already know the loan better than anyone else in that room, so we can quickly work through any things that might arise. Don’t forget, there is a very human side to this transaction, it can be so rewarding to sit with a homebuyer as they get the keys to their house!
M: Christina we really appreciate you sharing some of your advice with us, and our network of lenders.
C: Thank you! I could talk about the industry all day, so I’m always happy to answer your questions.
We always love meeting with Christina. She is a wealth of knowledge and always challenges us about how we think about building our business. Thanks Christina!
Christina has been opening the doors to homeownership for her clients for over 32 years across multiple states. In addition to being a very active loan officer at Cornerstone, Christina serves on the Board of Advisors for the Opportunity Coalition, which is a Colorado non-profit that provides leadership, collaboration and support to help grow businesses and create economic vitality.