Social Business = The Borrower’s Opportunity to Review Resumes
It’s impossible to ignore the impact that social business has on consumer habits, namely the rankings for services, sellers, and products. The concept of online ratings has quickly spread throughout various industries in our digitally driven society. But, what about real estate and loan services? As a consumer, where do you turn to evaluate a team of professionals to assist in what is likely the biggest financial decision of your life? How will you find someone you trust, with the knowledge required?
Keith Akada at RPM’s Seattle office set out to answer these questions. What he discovered, and what he and his team have achieved, is somewhat surprising.
Have you ever heard a home buyer refer to the closing process as the moment when you “sign your life away?” The saying is not without merit. As part of the loan qualification process, your financial history and portfolio are highly scrutinized. Aspects of your financial background such as credit history, assets, income, and debt obligations are all carefully considered. All of these aspects together make up a sort of resume you put forth when applying for a home loan.
While it may not be perfect, the process is designed to protect both borrower and lender. The lender the borrower’s ability to repay the loan. As a borrower, the process is meant to give you a better understanding of the payment amount you will actually be comfortable with, as it relates to home purchase price.
Reputation is Everything
Keith points out that compliance has been a game-changer in the home buying process, for real estate agents, borrowers, and lenders alike. The process has become more complex, requiring highly specialized industry knowledge and services. “The amount of docs for a borrower to sign has tripled from 3 years ago,” Keith explains. The reputation of professionals involved could impact how a deal is evaluated, making it more important than ever for professionals to have established credibility within the industry. Making that credibility highly visible among all of the “noise” online can be challenging.
In order to develop an online resume, Keith and his team established business accounts on Google Local and Yelp, inviting clients to offer feedback in a public forum. The team agreed to put themselves out there and create a transparent process to allow customers’ voices to be heard.
Social Proof: When a Personal Reference isn’t Enough
While word of mouth recommendations are still a critical component in the selection of financial services and real estate professionals, recent research shows consumers are double-checking those referrals against online resumes. In response to this notion, RPM’s Seattle team approaches each transaction from an employer/employee point of view to establish their accountability with the client. “We’re definitely employed with RPM, which is a great company, but until we get in front of a client, we’re technically unemployed, Keith says. So, we take the relationship very seriously [as if] we are applying for a position each time we get in front of a new buyer.” Keith and his team achieved amazing success in asking clients to contribute feedback to their online resume via Yelp and Google Local. According to Keith, “It really comes down to the individual service that’s delivered and the accountability that that lender takes to make the deal happen. And that’s where we really strengthen the relationships with our clients.”
Trust. Knowledge. Community.
For RPMers, such as Keith and his team, who have embraced social business, the secret to five star reviews has less to do with mastering social media and everything to do with building client relationships. When asked about the effect their online resume has had on their business, the team simply says, “We are extremely grateful to our past clients.”
For more insight into the impact of social business on financial services, listen in as RPM’s Keith Akada chats with Brian Bushlach on Business Briefing radio 770 KTTH AM.