Solano Real Estate Scene: Flowers, jelly doughnuts and farming

Jim Porter

Article By: Jim Porter

Marketing for loan officers was different in 1989 in comparison to 2022 with no cellphones, email, text messaging, social media or the internet.

My marketing routine started when I moved up here in 1989 and began working in Vacaville for Weyerhaeuser Mortgage. I didn’t know any Realtors in Solano County, and I knew they were the key to my success.

As I have written many times, Realtors have what buyers want, a nice home, and a lender has what a buyer needs but doesn’t necessarily want, a dreaded debt. Lenders depend on referrals from Realtors because most of the time potential buyers call a real estate agent before they call a lender.

My marketing routine was simple: I got in my car three days per week and would drive around Vacaville and Fairfield and visit real estate offices to see the agents I was courting and try to meet new ones.

The key was the guard at the gate and getting by the receptionist into the back room where all the real estate agents worked the phones and on paperwork at their desks. If the receptionist liked me, she would allow me to stuff each agent’s mailbox with rate sheets and fliers, but the big goal was to start new relationships and nurture existing ones.

Flowers and See’s Candies were an effective way to say thank you to the kind and considerate hard-working receptionists. It wasn’t a phony thing. I greatly appreciated the office staff who helped me get to know the agents and brokers at their office.

Once in the door, I would often bring in doughnuts and orange juice for the broker’s weekly sales meetings in exchange for a five- to 10-minute opportunity to speak to the group. I was farming for business. I was planting seeds all around Vacaville and Fairfield hoping to find and grow meaningful relationships.

After three or four years of farming, I realized all I could handle and all I needed was two or three top producers, two or three average producers and three or four beginners and veteran part-timers.

A great loan officer-Realtor relationship requires the loan officer to be totally committed to the Realtor seven days per week, 24 hours per day to help the agent sell more homes.

Financing is critical here because we have very few cash buyers in Solano County. A loan officer needs to close escrow on time, be competitive, creative and financially savvy, and make the Realtor look good by exceeding the buyer’s expectations. Having 10 good real estate agents is like having 10 bosses you love working for because they treat you like part of their family business.

Relational selling is way more rewarding than product pitching because meaningful friendships can last a lifetime. This is still true in 2022.

Jim Porter, NMLS No. 276412, is the branch manager of Solano Mortgage, NMLS No. 1515497, a division of American Pacific Mortgage Corporation, NMLS No. 1850, licensed in California by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the CRMLA / Equal Housing Opportunity. Jim can be reached at 707-449-4777.

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