Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Buying broker business

During a refinance boom, a broker may have to wait for days to get a loan program question answered by a wholesale lender. But now that the phones aren't ringing, brokers have become much more popular again. It's not like they have all that much to whine about; they do exactly the same thing to real estate agents. In the mortgage business, your calls get taken if it pays the person you're calling to take it. Like many other businesses, it comes down to money.

And yet, every time the cycle turns, you'll see mortgage brokers carrying boxes of donuts back into real estate offices and wholesale lenders trying to play nice with mortgage brokers.

In the news recently, for example, we have San Francisco-based Wholesale Lending Online rolling out a new "Broker of the Month" incentive program. The company works with about 200 brokers in 25 states. The broker judged the best each month will get his or her picture on the company website and a refund of the company's lender fees for that period. That's a nice thing for a broker that has already agreed to work with the company. But is it enough to get new brokers to pick up the phone when WLO's AEs call on them? I'm not sure.

As the business gets more competitive, everyone in the chain is going to have to start thinking about more than just saving their partners money. That's going to become a given. The winners will be thinking about how to make their customers more money.

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