With the volatility within the mortgage markets causing such problems within our industry, it is more important now than ever before to ensure customers are financially capable of moving. Time spent with people who have yet to take mortgage advice is trusting to luck and can result in wasted time and money in servicing them.
The default approach of many agents is the unimaginative “Come and see our Adviser, he/she has access to loads of lenders and can save you money”. If the customer is hearing this for the third or fourth time having already been in touch with other agents, it is not surprising that the barriers go up.
Far too many front-line estate agents have not been furnished with sufficient knowledge to have the confidence to engage customers in dialogue about their finances.
At one of our recent training courses on how to secure more mortgage appointments, it became rapidly apparent that the dozen or so attendees were unaware of current rates, the range of options available, and in some cases even how a mortgage works – the majority having never had a mortgage themselves.
The course in question focuses on a tried and tested approach to ensure customers understand the reasons for and benefits of seeing an adviser and therefore attend the subsequent appointment as they genuinely want to be there. This may sound basic, however many agents suffer from “no shows” because come the time of the appointment, the customer does not have the desire to attend, doubtless because some were browbeaten into booking the appointment in the first place.
Timing is crucial. Establish information during the qualification of the customer, but do not go for commitment to an appointment until later in the conversation once trust and rapport has been established. Asking too early will come across as too pushy and desperate!
The need for a customer to speak with an adviser will vary according to their situation, experience and knowledge. By careful open questioning (“Who have you spoken with about financing your move?” “When did you last take mortgage advice?”) when qualifying the prospective buyer or seller, information will be gleaned as to which is the most appropriate benefit of your adviser’s service to promote.
For example, if the customer has not moved before or for some years, a free moving costs analysis will be extremely helpful – make a habit of asking “How much have you allowed for the costs of moving?” and you will often find that the customer has not yet done so – if you are the agent that is first to offer a solution to this need, you will get the appointment.
If the buyer has limited deposit, establishing which lenders are prepared to offer a high loan to value and discovering the cost of the higher lending charge early in the process is invaluable information.
Someone looking to move quickly should have it explained to them that some lenders are currently dragging their heels so badly on mortgage processing that any desired or necessary deadline for the move could be threatened as a result. Steering applicants to an adviser who can offer advice on speed of process that lenders typically adhere to is great customer service and will help you nurse any resultant transaction through quickly and smoothly.
Knowledge of the range of products available is also a vital part of an estate agent’s armoury, however on many of our recent seminars, it has struck me as extraordinary that many agents are unaware of some of the fundamental financial options which can facilitate moving home.
The benefits of securing more appointments for your Mortgage Adviser are numerous – time invested ensuring staff have appropriate knowledge and skills will reap rewards.
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