How to give mortgage advice
by Julian O’Dell
As a director of an established estate agency with several branches, I have gone back to the front line in an effort to show my staff how to sell. One of the weaknesses I have already noticed is that they - and I too if I’m honest - often encounter resistance when trying to get customers to speak with our mortgage adviser. How can I improve this situation?
The current volatility in the mortgage market means that it more important than ever to ensure that all clients have the funds necessary to move. Why waste your time and money on clients who have yet to take mortgage advice and may be unable to secure funding?
The default approach of many agents is the unimaginative suggestion to clients that they should come and see their adviser, that they have access to loads of lenders and can thus save them money. It ism unsurprising that agents are met with resistance to this patter if clients have heard it multiple times from other agents.
Far too many client-facing agents lack sufficient knowledge to have the confidence to engage customers in dialogue about their finances.
At one of our recent training courses on how to increase agents’ mortgage appointments, it became rapidly apparent that the dozen or so attendees were unaware of current mortgage rates, the range of deals available, and in some cases even how a mortgage works, the majority never having taken out a mortgage themselves.
The course in question focuses on a tried and tested approach to ensure that customers understand the reasons for and benefits of seeing a mortgage adviser to maximise the chances of them attending an appointment with them. This may sound basic, but many agents suffer from missed appointments – and therefore the likelihood of commission from a mortgage lender – because a customer does not have the desire to attend their appointment with the mortgage adviser. No doubt, many appointments are missed because a client has been browbeaten into booking them in the first place.
Timing is crucial. Establish a client’s need for mortgage advice when qualifying them as a serious buyer, but do not attempt to secure their commitment to an appointment until later in the conversation, once trust and rapport has been established.
Clients are likely to interpret premature questioning as pushy and desperate. The need for a customer to speak with a mortgage adviser will vary according to their situation, experience and knowledge. By careful, open questioning, such as a question about who they have spoken with about financing their move or when they last sought mortgage advice when qualifying the prospective buyer or seller, agents can glean the most appropriate service for their adviser 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 a client has allowed for the cost of moving and you will often find that the customer has not done the sums.
If you are the first agent to offer a solution to this need, you are far more likely to secure a mortgage adviser appointment.
Similarly, buyers with a small deposit are likely to value advice about exactly how much individual lenders are prepared to lend, as well as information about their charges.
Product information is also a vital part of an estate agent’s armoury. But on many of our recent seminars, it is extraordinary just how many agents are completely unaware of some of the fundamental financial options, which can facilitate a client’s move.
The Government launched two homebuying initiatives in April – Ownhome and MyChoiceHomeBuy – to enable certain buyers to fund a purchase.
Buyers simply add an equity loan – paid back at an incredibly competitive interest rate of 1.75% in the case of the latter scheme – to their mortgage, to increase it to the price of their targeted property.
Funding of over £8bn has been made available via housing associations for these schemes, but the majority of agents I have met during training and consultancy work in the summer months have had no idea about them.
It is also useful to know that existing mortgages do not always have to be redeemed before clients take out a new one. This is known as ‘non-simultaneous purchase’, which can help buyers with properties to sell to secure the purchase of their dream home without the stress of selling their existing property at the same time. This moves a buying chain along and allows the agent to win a sale and doubtless the instruction of the original property too. A mortgage appointment is also secured along the way, maximising the chances of an agent boosting their income.
The benefits of securing more appointments for your mortgage adviser are numerous, so time invested in ensuring staff have appropriate knowledge and skills is crucial.