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Home sales are down sharply, and so is mortgage lending.

And the refinance business is a fraction of what it was before inflation surged out of control and the Fed began aggressively hiking rates.

What’s a mortgage lender to do?

Well one option, and a tried and true one, is to dig in and double down on building the web of relationships that leads to new business, during both good times and bad, says Brian McCauley, a veteran loan officer at Fairway Independent Mortgage in Texas.

In an interview with Mortgage Professional America, McCauley says a key part of that process of relationship building is encouraging brokers to establish their own personal brands.

“Most people don’t choose loan officers because of the company, they choose the person, and as I’ve grown over 18 years and developed a team, I want to make sure I shine a light on them as well,” McCauley, who runs Fairway’s two branches, told the industry publication.

What kinds of relationships should brokers cultivate?

McCauley encourages his brokers to build long-standing relationships with Realtors, CPAs, financial advisors, home builders, and even wedding planners and divorce attorneys!

And while building effective relationships with Realtors can be especially challenging given the vast number of agents practicing out there, over time brokers can zero in and build links to the standout players in the field.

“I always look for key business partners and pillars that will help create opportunities for home loans,” McCauley told the trade publication. Realtors are a great one. There’s a lot of them out there, some of them good, some of them not so good, but I’ve tried to make sure that I’ve connected with some of the best over a long period of time.”

To build an effective relationship with these potentially valuable referral sources, brokers need to ensure it’s a two-way street, one in which the friendly local realtor, builder, or CPA also benefits.

That means sending them clients in return, referring potential buyers, who, say, are in need of a wedding planner or CPA, to one of the professionals in his network.

“I also try to reciprocate back to that partner to be more valuable outside of the home loan,” McCauley told MPA. “Can I send them clients? Can I grow their business? Can I do something to help them, so I won’t be just a loan officer and more of a partner?”

That’s wise advice, and not just for tough times.

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