Mortgage Leads – Part 3: Referrals and Competitive Differentiation

Having a diverse web of sources to generate new mortgage leads is critical to growing business for all but the most accomplished of MLOs.

Yes, the most consistently profitable way for a loan officer to fill their pipeline is to develop partnerships with the top real estate agents and builders in their area that consistently refer new business. Combined with a database of satisfied past customers to prospect, these sources encompass the main trio of referral-based mortgage leads.

This is no secret, nor is it surprising when a high producing LO says their business is “100% referral-based”.

The downside of this truth is that every LO in the industry wants to accomplish the same thing. This creates a ridiculous amount of competition for those mortgage leads. Most Realtors and builders already have preferred partners they trust, so if you want to increase your lead velocity, it’s important to diversify referral sources, have a competitive differentiator, and think outside-the-box.

Non-Traditional Business Partnerships

Developing relationships with potential referral sources that are outside the Realtor/builder box is a great way to expand your network as well as increase your inbound mortgage leads. What other professionals have the ear of the prospects you seek, particularly where home loans are concerned?

Life Insurance Agents / Financial Planners

Most people buy life insurance to protect their family and their family’s lifestyle in the event of an untimely death. This often takes into consideration debt obligations that they must pay such as a mortgage. While it’s not always the best product for the situation, there is a line of business called mortgage protection insurance for a reason.

Financial Planners and advisors have in-depth knowledge of a person’s financial situation, including the terms of their loan. This puts the trusted advisor in the position to recommend a refinance if payments could be lowered, advice on real estate investments, or a cash-out refi if there’s an investment opportunity requiring additional funding.


There are times when you may need to work with your client’s CPA to obtain tax documentation needed for underwriting. This is a great opportunity to work the relationship backward and introduce your services. CPAs have a unique perspective on their client’s finances. They know the interest rate someone is paying on their mortgage since it’s tax deductible.

Estate Planning / Divorce Attorneys

Compassion is necessary when working with people going through a divorce or who have recently lost a loved one. Furthermore, these people need someone to quickly provide information or guidance surrounding the terms of a loan they weren’t expecting. For example, they might need to refinance for more favorable terms or find out what type of loan they need to be able to keep a family home.

Local Banks or Credit Unions Without Mortgage Services

This is another off-the-beaten-path business partnership possibility. Particularly with smaller local credit unions, there is sometimes no in-house mortgage origination service available for the bank’s customers. This provides a natural referral opportunity.

Win Trust First, Mortgage Leads Second

LOs struggling to maintain strong connections with new partners always ask, “what do Realtors/builders/partners really want from our relationship?”. A quick Google search will reveal all sorts of Q/A forums with this exact question. Fortunately, referral partners respond to these questions, and their answers mimic those given by high performing LOs when asked how they created their success. These aren’t selling points for a partner (how many times have they heard “I provide excellent service”), but rather how to win lasting and productive partnerships when given the opportunity.

  • Speed: Everyone wants a partner that closes loans on time. When a loan isn’t going to close on time, don’t hold out hope that you’ll get it on track, just take the advice below and communicate to your partner what is happening.
  • Service: Everyone wants a partner that is professional and is going to respond quickly and take care of their clients. Remember, when you receive a referral you are representing the person who made it.
  • Communication: Everyone wants a partner who keeps them informed. They want someone who lets them know how the loan is moving along, or why it isn’t.

Competitive Differentiation

Business partners are inundated with advances from LOs who claim to have the best service, the best rates, and the best process for their clients. What truly makes you any different? What would you bring to the relationship that others couldn’t also claim?

Legacy Mutual’s Jennifer Hernandez uses the knowledge she’s gained through her time as a mortgage coach to help her referral partners with tactics to improve upon their own businesses. As she says, “It’s not just about buying them coffee and taking them to a play, that’s the fluffy stuff. But what am I doing to help them grow their business?”

Another way to differentiate is by giving partners a unique way to work with you. When we built the Floify Partner Portal, it was with our customers’ competitive differentiation in mind. We wanted to offer something that would make our customers stand-out from the crowd, while also pleasing their referral partners with more information and self-service pre-approval letters at their fingertips.

Tips for Managing Partnerships


This tip comes from an interview we had with The CORE Training Coach, Linda Rudd. Linda talks about how she uses segmented lists to track her partners and the activities within that segment.

The great part about this tip is that it allows you to stay flexible with your engagement programs. Realtors are interested in different things than builders, and their businesses operate much differently. By targeting segments and delivering value that is specific to the profession or relationship you can be much more effective and organized with your partner marketing campaigns.

Appointment Stacking

The concept and execution of appointment stacking is a tip that we stumbled upon while scavenging the internet for every piece of content we could find from loan officers. Loan officer Michael Mann describes exactly how he lines up face-to-face appointments with his referral partners in order to be as efficient as possible, extracting as much value as he can. If you’re struggling to find the time for these meetings, check out his post.

Social Media

In part 2 we investigated social media as a viable source of web traffic for your website, but that isn’t the only way to squeeze additional value out of the channel. Social media gives you a quick and free way to engage with your referral partners, celebrate their successes, and share their content with your followers.

Not only does this let your business partners know that you’re thinking about them and care about what they’re doing, but it also keeps you top-of-mind for mortgage lead referrals and reciprocal content sharing.