Paint Your Own Picture

How do mortgage lenders keep their customers happy with the high volume of business and many delays we’ve seen during the pandemic? There’s no one better to answer this question than Tom “Sully” Sullivan, Mortgage Lending Market Manager with Evolve Bank and Trust. Tom and his team consistently score 5.0 ratings on SocialSurvey, even during the last nearly two years of high demand.

Sully reports that his team doesn’t have issues with the turn times for appraisals or any other facet of the mortgage process due to the culture on his team and the philosophy embedded in everything they do. He says, “We have a very significant focus on managing expectations and being realistic with them. I’m a big proponent of under promising and overdelivering. So, if someone on my team sees an unrealistic appraisal turn time come in on a contract, we immediately jump into gear to address this upfront. Let’s say they have down that they’re going to get the appraisal back in 5-6 days. That may be the case in a normal market, but in this environment where there’s a tremendous volume of record levels throughout the entire industry, whatever service we’re ordering, it’s going to take longer.”

“We call the agent and tell them we need to set a realistic timeframe and that we should focus on what matters - the finish line! You need to close by X date. Does it really matter whether I have the appraisal back in one week or two weeks? I’ll have Triserv check and tell me what a realistic turn time is for a particular geographic area so I can set the expectation correctly at the start. The process is that everything moves simultaneously on our end. Everything else continues to move forward while I’m waiting for an appraisal to come in - we’re still processing the loan, getting other documents in, the client is getting their homeowner’s insurance, we’re doing all our verifications, etc. Then, when the appraisal comes in, it just slides into the package.”

Sully continued, “We have a big focus on managing expectations, and making sure everyone knows we’re focused and we’re doing the best we can in unique circumstances. People tend to text or email, which isn’t always good. If you pick up the phone and call and have a conversation, you can set the tone better than just texting. If they hear that you’re doing everything you can and that you’ll be able to make their closing date, it calms people down. The unknown makes people nervous and they start spiraling. And if you address it later, it makes you look defensive.”

“Here’s the mantra I made up and have pounded into my entire crew for 30 years: “It’s easier to paint your own picture than to un-paint someone else’s.” If you paint the picture up front - we’re going to deliver, we’re going to make it, you don’t need to get hung up on when this or that component of the process will be done - everyone stays calm. Calm people tend to make for a happier transaction and it’s easier to work through any issues that do come up.”

If you’d like to hear more of this conversation with Tom Sullivan, the 13-minute video is available here, thanks to The Mortgage Collaborative and their “12 Days of TMC” Lightning Showcase.

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