Retaining and attracting loan officers is an ever-important issue. It’s even more critical in today’s purchase market where lenders are growing their business by luring top LOs from their competitors with signing bonuses and attractive offers. Jumping ship is an easy decision for LOs who are frustrated by having to wade through a messy appraisal process, which hurts their ability to provide good service to their borrowers and real estate agents.
At Reggora, we’re focused on making fast, high-quality appraisals the norm for mortgage lenders. Recently, we hosted a webinar to discuss how improvements to appraisal operations can help lenders retain LOs and attract new talent. Our panel included Reggora CEO Brian Zitin; Lynette Hale-Lee, Planet Home’s divisional VP of sales - West; and Jim Black, strategic advisor for InstaMortgage and veteran LO.
Here we will outline how the appraisal impacts the LO and borrower experiences, and the ways in which a streamlined, automated appraisal process can offer workflow visibility and foster better communication among all stakeholders.
How LOs are Adapting to Market Circumstances
The down cycle for the real estate industry in the latter half of 2022 has sales leadership in a different spot than the 12 months prior. Hale-Lee describes an atmosphere of change. Many people are exiting the industry, but loan officers who are staying are intent on pushing through the current market conditions by adapting, leveraging new technologies, and seeking a lender that shares their values.
“We’re finding quickly that only the strong are going to survive a time like this,” Hale-Lee says. “The ones who are strong enough and competent enough to get through a tough market like this are working on reinventing themselves. Loan officers are looking for similar companies, those that are strong visionaries and strategically looking into the future so that they can be provided the tools they need to thrive in the next 18 to 24 months.”
From the LO perspective, Black says that the current mindset is around recession-proofing relationships and only making moves that would enhance their business.
“As a loan officer in the trenches, I want things that are easy to adapt to, simple transitions — things that are not going to make me recreate myself from a learning perspective,” he shares.
A smooth transition is crucial for ensuring a new LO feels good about their work and that their transactions go well, says Hale-Lee. The tools and processes LOs use in their daily work play a major role in that transition, as well as help LOs stay competitive and keep their reputation intact with borrowers and within the industry.
Appraisal Challenges That Frustrate LOs
The process of buying a home is collaborative, but there are some parts that are closed off in communication, derailing an LO’s ability to provide good service to their borrowers. The status of an appraisal, for example, is often difficult to obtain. “A lot of times when the market is very hot, appraisers might not be as proactive with communication with loan officers when we need answers,” Black explains.
Likewise, the process from Intent to Proceed (ITP) to an appraisal payment can be particularly cumbersome. Hale-Lee describes an experience she had at a previous organization where confirming ITP was so laborious that it was a hindrance to the borrower, and then the payment aspect was so disorganized that it created ill will.
Attracting Talent and the Recruiting Process
When it comes to an LO deciding to make a move, the company’s name will only matter so much in the end, Hale-Lee says. She’s found that top producers care more about a lender’s tech stack and processes — which are key to an LO’s efficiency, productivity, and service level — because these are the things that will ensure they are successful at the destination.
During the recruitment process for one of her top producers, Hale-Lee was asked granular questions about Planet Home's tech stack to paint a picture of how the candidate would interact with other departments. “Integration, collaboration, communication — all that stuff we think sounds so simple and take for granted doesn’t exist everywhere,” she explains. “Everyone always says it, but there’s a difference between saying it and executing it.”
When lenders are considering upgrading their tech stack, Black cautions that any platform might seem great at the outset, but the best choice is the one that people will actually consistently use. That is, one that helps everyone work collaboratively as a team.
“To be a top producer or influencer is to take a team approach — I’m only as good as the weakest member of my team,” he says. “When LOs think of change, they think of what the team experiences in either process workflow challenges or opportunities in other platforms. I think people now are looking at those systems and innovations to make sure they get time back in their day.”
The borrower’s experience is also affected by the tech a lender uses, and this matters to LOs too. Digital tools like Reggora’s appraisal management platform improve the appraisal process in four key areas:
- Speed. Integrated, automated systems enable faster appraisals and lead to shorter loan cycle times, which can be a make-or-break for borrowers.
- Communication. Borrowers also get frustrated by a lack of appraisal visibility. Improved communication meets their expectations of transparency and faster response times.
- Payments. A simple payment process for borrowers in the lender’s branding is key, as the borrower only wants to work with the lender, not disconnected third-party solutions.
- Touchpoints. Through an open API/LOS, POS integration, every touch point, from scheduling the appraisal to payment, must be in service of the lender providing the borrower with a seamless experience.
Getting buy-in for new technology can be challenging, even when the benefits are clear. Given that stakeholders have different needs and preferences, Hale-Lee suggests a different approach: “I believe in soliciting their input, soliciting their feedback, making sure we're clear on their most important pain points and preferences. But I think we have to make those decisions and get that done for them.”
Reggora Supports LOs and Provides Visibility Into Appraisals
Disconnected systems and a lack of appraisal visibility hinder a loan officer’s ability to provide good service to their borrowers, who expect frequent status updates for a service they must pay for. These challenges frustrate LOs and lead to retention issues for lenders. It’s important for businesses not to lose top-line revenue producers in a purchase-driven market, a point we touch on as a per-loan cost in our recent value series. By implementing technology and efficient workflows that mitigate or eliminate LOs’ biggest pain points around appraisals, lenders can both retain and attract new talent.
Reggora’s appraisal management platform empowers LOs and enables them to take a proactive approach with their borrowers by providing visibility into appraisals and improving communication through an integrated system that connects LOs, appraisers, and borrowers. This leads to several key outcomes that keep LOs happy:
- Improves the operations team’s efficiency and employees’ experience by eliminating the constant calls, texts, and emails from LOs who need regular appraisal status updates.
- Improves borrowers’ experience and increases referral rates by making it easy for LOs and processors to answer questions quickly.
- Improves loan officer recruitment and retention by fixing a long-standing pain point in the mortgage industry.
Do you want to see how Reggora empowers loan officers to become trusted advisors for borrowers? Request a demo to see how to guide borrowers through the appraisal process and improve the customer experience.
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