Month: October 2017

Man Versus Machine – The Infiltration of Technology in the Mortgage Industry

More and more of the loan process is happening for the consumer via the Internet. Mortgage applications, document uploading such as W2s and appraisals, document signing, communication and approvals are all happening more often on mobile platforms. There is no doubt that technology is infiltrating the mortgage industry.

But there is still something to be said for the human touch, that personal interaction where the loan originator gets to know the borrower and understand their needs better.

No doubt, in today's world, where people may prefer to do everything online, there needs to be a balance. But what is the right balance?

NFM Lending President, Jan Ozga, shares his take on what the right approach should be on man versus machine in the mortgage industry.

For more from Jan Ozga, please watch his interview with NFM TV regarding leadership and company culture. How Experience Affects Leadership at NFM Lending

Building Builder Relationships with Ryan Sandell

Ryan Sandell is Branch Manager of NFM Lending in Tempe, Arizona

Ryan Sandell is Branch Manager of NFM Lending in Tempe, Arizona

How does one loan officer in Tempe, AZ, close nearly 50% of his monthly volume leveraging builder relationships?

Forming relationships is the foundation of any success in business. The mortgage industry is no different. If anything, it is of paramount importance.

There are many types of relationships the loan originator is responsible for. From customers to appraisers to real estate agents, title companies, lawyers and more, the loan originator is always discovering new ways to leverage partnerships to build business and foster mutually beneficial growth with other settlement services providers.

Once of the most elusive relationships for some loan officers is builder relationships. Builder relationships, especially the builder of communities, can be one of the most lucrative partnerships because of the volume of business that is available from that one relationship. It’s also one of the hardest inroads to establish. So how do loan originators get their foot in the door? What value can they bring to the relationship with a community builder that will make that LO the go-to home financing lender for that builder.

NFM Now  host, Greg Sher sat down with Ryan Sandell, Branch Manager of NFM Lending in Tempe, Arizona to discuss his success at marketing to builders and bringing value to them like few can. Ryan closes 60-70 units a month with nearly 50% being related to his relationships with builders. Hear how, starting 7 years ago, when he first began going after builder business, Ryan has built his branch into a powerhouse in the Tempe area.

Press the Play button to listen to the podcast now:

This interview is also available on iTunes.

Here is a transcript of the interview:

Welcome to another edition of NFM Now. I’m Greg Sher, joined by NFM branch manager Ryan Sandell out of Tempe, Arizona. Ryan, thanks so much for being with us.

Ryan Sandell: Of course. Thanks for your time.

Greg Sher: Yep. We’re so happy to have you here. We’re gonna go over builder business. It is a lost art and an unknown art to so many. We’re gonna get into how to get in a moment. First of all, you’ve been doing it since when?

Ryan Sandell: Since about 2010.

Greg Sher: So, you’ve got six and a half, seven years under your belt doing builder business and you do roughly how many units a year that are tied to builders?

Ryan Sandell: I’d say at least 300 units a year.

Greg Sher: Wow. That’s a huge number. So, roughly 25 a month. And, I should mention that as a branch of NFM, you close between 60 and 75 loans a month. So, kudos to you. How do people get into builder business, people that are just used to the more traditional channels of realtor engagement?

Ryan Sandell: Yeah, I think that’s the toughest part because most of these builders will have their own in-house lender. But, what that means to me is that they are gonna to take the cream of the crop loans and obviously a builder side of it, they wanna close as many loans as possible. So, any value you can provide outside of their own lender and their overlays is a huge asset to them.

Greg Sher: How do you wiggle your toe in the door? Take us back to when you got started? What was your first big break?

Ryan Sandell: Well, it’s funny. My first big break happened to be with a realtor who got me into DL Horton, who’s a national builders, so I think most people should know them. He told me that I was his guy and we actually hadn’t even closed a deal together, but I had marketed to him and I ended up meeting the salespeople through him. And, I didn’t even close a deal, one deal with him, but I ended up making relationships with the salespeople and getting their turn down business, and it took off from there.

Greg Sher: And, look at you now. So, knowing what you know now and obviously it’s so much, what is missing? What can a lender bring to a builder that you think they’re starving for? What kind of value add?

Ryan Sandell: Well, listen, I think that’s the key word, is value. Because, any lender can close loans now. We all have the same program, same rates. So, it’s thinking outside the box on what you can bring to them. An angle that I use, and still use, in recruiting my builder relationships still, even though I have them, is just making sure that I am not just receiving their loans and doing a good job there, which is obviously important, but it’s also thinking outside the box as far as marketing on their behalf. I think most builders are probably not the best at marketing themselves to the general public, and we are in the trenches with realtors, trying to get as many leads as possible. So, if we can bring that mentality to the builders and provide value that way, I think that’s a huge step in the right direction to get a foot in the door.

Greg Sher: That’s great insight. You’re listening to NFM Now with host Greg Sher. Ryan Sandell is on the line with us, a brand manager of NFM out of Temp, Arizona who does 300 builder related transactions a year. Just an astronomical number. Ryan, what is the cycle like, of trying to woo a builder compared to the experience and cycle of wooing a real estate agent? What’s the horizon like in terms of time?

Ryan Sandell: Well, I think it’s gonna take some time for sure. It’s gonna take some really rough business at first, to get yourself in the door and gain that trust. Because again, everybody wants the good deals and you’re not gonna get that right off the bat. So, you’re gonna have to spend some real time with some clients who may or may not qualify at that point in time, but if you can get them in a position to buy and give them back to the builder, that’s the first step in the right direction, developing that trust.

Greg Sher: So, when I think of the word builder, I guess it could mean two different things. You’re either building one house or you’re building a community. Do you go after both?

Ryan Sandell: I only go after your builders who will build multiple units per month. Otherwise, the onesie, twosie builders, I think that that’s probably more on the realtor relationship side, which is still important, but to go over your multi-subdivision builders who are gonna do at least 100 to 150 units a year, that’s where you wanna really spend the time.

Greg Sher: And so, if you go after a realtor and you get their business, maybe the realtor’s doing two or three transactions a month. It sounds to me like what you’re saying is that if you get a builder, you’re on the line if you do a good job for so many more potential transactions.

Ryan Sandell: Yeah. It’s endless. And, what I do with my staff is, in the communities that they have open, we’re gonna go sit at those communities every single weekend. And, what that does for us is two things. The first is, obviously when buyers are there we can qualify them on the spot, which builders love. Number two, 60% of those people are not buying those houses, but they’re still qualified buyers. And, of that 60%, 40% of them don’t have realtor relationships yet. So, it’s a whole nother thing that we can expand on, as far as getting these referrals that we can hand out to our referral partners, which are realtors, or obviously getting people qualified on the spot to get a builder prequalification letter right then and there, because we don’t want people to leave without knowing that they’re qualified for that house.

Greg Sher: Wow, what a gold mine that is. Never even thought of that, that you can turn some of those people into qualifiers for a mortgage down the road, maybe in just a traditional house that’s already on the market through an agent that you know, that you can link them up with that agent or something like that. So Ryan, how do people go find a builder community? What’s the first piece of advice you’d give someone who’s looking to get into that game?

Ryan Sandell: Well, I think us as lenders probably are all too familiar with losing deals to builders that have their own lenders. So, I think we all know of the culprits that are in our community that we lose deals to because we can’t compete with the incentives that builders get. So, that’s the first thing, is just finding out who the competition is that you’re dealing with out there. And then, not looking at it as a threat but trying to find a way to provide an asset for them to be able to do this. And so, the big thing for me is, I talk to the salespeople. They’re the ones. And, builders are different. Some are very controlling on where they send their outside business and some are not. So, the better you can develop relationships with those salespeople, those salespeople wanna make just as much money as the realtor out there, so once they find an interested buyer they need to turn them into a transaction. So, if we can help them do that, then great. And, the next piece to that, and how it helped me get more and more builders, is the salespeople for builders usually change their employment every couple years. So, if you make relationships with certain salespeople and then they go to a different builder, guess what? You already have a foot in the door with a new builder. So, it’s important to keep up those relationships with the salespeople.

Greg Sher: And, for those people who hear those salespeople, you use that term those salespeople, it could be foreign to them. So, if you could, even though it’s very simple, walk us through what a salesperson does with a builder?

Ryan Sandell: So, salespeople are the one or two people that are sitting in the model home seven days a week, waiting for people to walk in the door so they can sell them a home. And, that’s exactly what they do. So, any assets you can provide them, whether it be person, realtor relationships, marketing, anything like that, would be super beneficial to them, and they will return the favor.

Greg Sher: Incredible knowledge about how to get builder business from NFM Branch Manager Ryan Sandell out in Tempe, AZ. Ryan, thanks a ton for your time. This is gonna be very valuable to the field.

Ryan Sandell: Thanks, Greg.

Greg Sher: All right. Pleasure having you. This is Greg Sher, you’ve been listening to another edition of NFM Now. See you next time.


Interested in learning how to build realtor relationships? Listen to this NFM Now interview with Jane Floyd.

Lunch and Learns, Building Realtor Relationships – with Justus Sharp

Justus Sharp, a loan originator for NFM Lending out of Columbia, Ohio

What is a Lunch and Learn? Who do you invite? What makes for a great topic?

Building business relationships is essential for a loan originator. One of the most mutually beneficial relationships is the one between a realtor and a loan officer.

Justus Sharp is a loan originator for NFM Lending out of the company’s Columbus, Ohio branch. Daniel Sa is the Branch Manager in Ohio.

Justus is on-pace to close between 120-130 loans in 2017 through hard work in building, nurturing and maintaining those relationships with realtors, title companies, builders and other settlement services providers.

In this podcast, Justus talks about the key to his success, including the use of Lunch and Learns to provide educational opportunities and experiences for realtors and other business partners.

Want to know how you can incorporate Lunch and Learns to build referral partner relationships? Take a listen.

Press the Play button to listen to the podcast now:

For more information on Justus and his team, visit

Listen on iTunes.

Here is a transcript of the interview:

Greg Sher: It’s time to welcome in one of NFM’s brightest producers and best producers, Justus Sharp from our Columbus, Ohio branch. Justus, this year in 2017, on pace to close between 120 and 130 units. Huge numbers. Justus, it’s a pleasure to talk to you. How are you?

Justus Sharp: Doing well, Thanks, Greg. I appreciate the introduction.

Greg Sher: Absolutely. That’s a big number. 120 to 130 units. It’s not easily achievable. How do you do it?

Justus Sharp: I’ve been in the business for a while. It’s mainly through fostering great relationships with realtors, business partners, sphere of influence, just being out in the community and being forefront and trying to be top of mind with anyone we’re engaged with throughout the years.

Greg Sher: And so of those 120 and 130 units, do you know roughly what percentage are purchase?

Justus Sharp: Percentage-wise, probably close to 85 to 90. Rarely is there a whole lot of [inaudible 00:01:28] Mainly past clients will contact us about refinancing and whatnot, but the vast majority is purchase business from realtors.

Greg Sher: And I think there are two schools of thought when it comes to grabbing realtors. Some people like to just a core three, four, or five to send them 80% or more of their business. Others will just take one deal here, one deal there, and collect as many agents as they can. How do you go about grabbing your agent relationships?

Justus Sharp: Diving a little deeper. Just making sure they’re a good fit, that they do business the way that I would and we can feed off of each other to make sure that the client’s taken care of from a standpoint, not only just communication, but also long term, because when we partner up with those realtors, we tell them, hey, we want to be around for the next time this client five years, seven years, 10 years down the road wants to do this again. It’s deeper relationships. Not as many relationships, but probably deeper relationships.

Greg Sher: And so what are some of the main points in terms of the value proposition that you put forward, should the realtor be a good fit? What can they expect from you, a top producer during the process and beyond?

Justus Sharp: Just an open mind, too. Because I want to know mainly … when we started a lot of the relationships it was do they have the mindset of growth. Do they want to continue to grow their business? Are they exiting the business soon? Are they bringing somebody else on to take over their book of business? What do those things look like? Because if you don’t treat it like a business, it won’t perform like a business. But having that business relationship first, has helped me to garner the friendship second. After quite a bit of time and knowing that we’re hitting on what they want us to deliver, and that’s excellent response time, good communication, knowledge about the product, and just make them look good and make sure that things close on time and close accurately, those are the main things that almost all realtors are looking for that we touch base with or interview.

Greg Sher: Okay, so you spend a lot of time trying to make sure that it’s a well oiled process from beginning to end so you can continue to get more business from the realtor on the buyer’s side. What about the listing side? What do you do to approach the agent on the other side of the table, who represents the person selling the home? What’s your approach with them and do you try and approach every listing agent at some point during the process?

Justus Sharp: Yeah. We do follow the core model. On Tuesdays, I will call the agents and make sure that we’re following up. Make sure they’re getting the communication. If it’s an initial contract, there’s an intro script that we have to just make that opening conversation about the file and also just picking their brain on their business and seeing again if they’re a good fit or if there’s somebody that we want to go after if they are … maybe it’s their first deal. Maybe they’re a new realtor. I don’t ever just place somebody off for that. If they’re new, I go back to hey, are you willing to grow your business? Are you doing this full time? And I “attack” the listing agent just to find out more about their business and again see if they’re a good fit.

Greg Sher: I’m Greg Sher, Chief Business Development Officer of NFM Lending. You’re listening to one of our many valuable podcasts on NFM Media. I’m with Justus Sharp right now, one of the company’s top loan officers, projected to close between 120 and 130 units in 2017 out of our Columbus, Ohio branch. Justus, let’s get into lunch and learns. I know you do a lot of these things. What are they?

Justus Sharp: Sure. It’s a pretty simple concept. Just hosting an event for realtors, your business partners, and it be a topical-based. Maybe it’s about the appraisal process. Maybe it’s about underwriting, continuing education. There’s a number of different things that we can really cover as a topic.

Greg Sher: And so the realtors for this lunch and learn, do they typically come into your office? Do you do it off premises and is there a limit to the amount of agents you like to have to keep it intimate?

Justus Sharp: Depends on the topic. We have done them primarily at our local library. My community that I live in is Grove City, Ohio. We have a new library there, so it’s a very good conducive space for a lot of my agents, and since about 75, 80% of my business comes from that Grove City market, it was best to do it there and not here at the office, but we are hosting some here at the office, as well, for this corridor, this area of town, as well.

Greg Sher: And is it the more the merrier or is there a number that you try and shoot for and not go above?

Justus Sharp: Well, we want to try to gauge that, depending on if there is a CE requirement class, so we have partnered with our Ohio Housing Finance Agency who is our bond program here in Ohio. They do have a minimum requirement of 15 or more at least have signed up, since it’s a CE class. That’s the only way those can be done. Other than that, I don’t mind having them a little bit more intimate, because then you can engage with each and every one of them, especially if it’s just realtor-based. Now if it’s a pretty broader range topic, where we have business partners and realtors there, the more the merrier.

Greg Sher: In some instances, you’re actually encouraging them to come. Not only are they going to hear something very valuable, but they’re also going to get credit. What does that credit go towards and how often are you doing these things for credit for them and how often is there no credit involved?

Justus Sharp: It’s probably, I would say, over this year it’s been about 50/50. We’ve had a handful of them be for continuing education credits for the realtors. Our Ohio Housing Finance Agency, they have a specific person that has a bunch of different topics that they can address, and they can be anywhere from one hour to three hours of continuing education, so depending upon that. And then the other topics that are well attended by realtors are … we had a Meet the Appraiser, so that one was very, very well attended. There wasn’t any CE, but we’ve also joint ventured with a title company, so those have been a co-branded, and allowed us to leverage their invite list as well as our invite list.

Greg Sher: Got it. You’ve done so many of these lunch and learns. Is there one that comes to mind or one scene that comes to mind that seems to resonate most with realtors that keeps their engagement level as high as it can go?

Justus Sharp: I think two of the most well attended ones were Meet the Appraiser. That one we had 20 plus sign up. Also very well attended was with [OFA 00:09:45]. It’s a one hour CE credit that was for marketing to millennials, which is an approved elective credit for the realtors. That one was very, very well attended.

Greg Sher: If loan officers are listening right now that love the idea, believe in the idea, but have no idea how to get it off the ground, give us a couple of pointers, to get their first lunch and learn together.

Justus Sharp: Sure. What I did is on the calls to realtors, on my communication with realtors was hey, what topics are you interested in? I just asked them. It’s fairly simple. You just, hey, what’s new? What’s the latest, greatest? What’s going on? And just poll them, so to speak, and then go out and find, through my network, the speaker, because I didn’t want to do the speeches always. The first one that we started it off, I did, and just did a briefing on training model. Outside of that, we survey everyone that’s there at the lunch and learn, asking them if this was beneficial to their business, if they’d come again, what topics they want to hear about again. That way we’re always presenting them something that will bring them back. Something that’s interesting to them.

Greg Sher: Well, Justus, this has been really valuable. Appreciate your time. I know you have loans to close and realtors to engage with. Continued success. We love having you at NFM and really appreciate your time.

Justus Sharp: Hey. Very thankful to give this and I appreciate the opportunity. Thanks, Greg.

Greg Sher: It’s a pleasure. We’ll see you next time on NFM Media.

Which Home Improvements Give You The Best Bang For Your Buck?

Ever wonder which home improvements bring the greatest return on your investment? NFM Lending's Chief Appraiser, John Liberatore discusses remodeling and contributory value with NFM Chief Business Development Officer, Greg Sher.

Scroll to top