Ron Vaimberg on Relationship-Building

Ron Vaimberg is an international success strategist and trainer/coach of sales professionals. A former top-producing loan originator and real estate agent, he has coached loan officers and brokers who have ranked in the top 1% in loan production and earned over $1 million annually. He began his career in 1983 as a real estate sales professional on the North Shore of Long Island. In 1995, he created the New York Mortgage Institute, one of the nation’s first training program for mortgage originators. Ron can be reached at

MBA NEWSLINK: Why is building a real estate agent relationship important to a loan officer’s business? 

Ron Vaimberg

RON VAIMBERG: 86% of residential real estate transactions are handled by real estate professionals. If a loan officer tries to go directly to the consumer and bypasses real estate agents, the cost to their business would be extremely high. On top of that, real estate agents are where most homebuyer leads are created. By developing relationships with those agents, you stand the greatest opportunity to work with people who are seriously considering purchasing a home.

By the way, many people believe that it is the older generation of homebuyers who are using Realtors. The reality is that 85% of all homebuyers between 24 to 32 use the services of a professional real estate agent, according to an NAR report.

NEWSLINK: How can LOs compel people to want to refer business to them?

VAIMBERG: Loan officers first need to get away from the traditional thinking that their products are what makes the difference. All too often, loan officers are focused on the loan programs they have and only talk to agents about qualifying and all the nuances of financing. Agents need to see the loan officer as someone who does something different than their current lender does or other loan officers do. To stand out and win those relationships, loan officers must learn and master how to talk about what problem they are solving or what opportunities they are creating for agents or their clients. 

NEWSLINK: What question should LOs ask potential for all partners to help them stand out from the crowd?

VAIMBERG: There are numerous questions that loan officers could be asking. But the most important ones involve finding out what the agent’s expectations are. What challenges or frustrations have they experienced with other lenders and loan officers? If they had the perfect loan officer, what would that experience look like? What is most important to a Realtor in a lender? These questions should be asked to every potential partner.

NEWSLINK: How can LOs overcome real estate agent roadblocks and resistance?

VAIMBERG: In the current market, it’s very easy for agents to blow off loan officers with the standard objections: “I have an existing relationship,” or “I have an in-house lender.” To overcome these roadblocks, first and foremost, loan officers must understand that the key is not what you say, but what you ask. You want to interrupt the agent’s pattern of rejecting or removing you from consideration by asking questions that they don’t expect.

For example, you could ask, “Does your current lender offer help you get more listings?” The assumption is that you can help the agent do this. The bottom line is to interrupt the rejection pattern. When you offer a solution to a problem, that’s what really makes the difference. 

NEWSLINK: What other professional relationships should LOs focus on besides real estate agents, and why? 

VAIMBERG: There are many different relationships that LOs could focus on. For instance, divorce attorneys. In a divorce, there could be one spouse buying out the other, or there could be the opportunity for the property to be sold. If a loan officer has developed a relationship with a divorce attorney, they can help explain to one or both parties in a divorce what it would take to buy out the other. If neither one could buy out the other and they wanted to dispose of the property, the loan officer could also be in a great position to refer the attorney and the divorcing couple to a real estate agent.

Another potential referral source is accountants. Interestingly, accountants and loan officers have diametrically opposing goals. Accountants want to save borrowers money on their taxes, and loan officers want borrowers to claim as much income as possible to qualify for the maximum loan amount. One approach involving accountants is to engage them after the tax season—not during, because they are too busy—and emphasize the importance of encouraging their clients to discuss their intentions about buying a home and getting a mortgage. The strategy is to advise accountants to incorporate this inquiry when helping clients for the next tax season or as they do tax planning with clients throughout the year. This way, they can educate their clients about the potential benefits of such a financial decision. If the client does plan to buy a home, then it would behoove the client and the accountant to speak to the loan officer to see how the tax preparation or the tax planning may impact the borrower’s ability to qualify. This also avoids a potential problem for the accountant in the event the client is looking for financing and the accountant is unaware of it.

NEWSLINK: When it comes to learning new relationship-building skills, what strategy works best? 

VAIMBERG: The strategy that works the best is to be committed to learning. Many loan officers say they want to do something unique to generate more business, but only some will put in the time, effort and energy. Understanding the principles of persuasion and how to employ them takes real commitment.

Going back to my earlier response— it’s about what problem are you solving, what opportunity are you creating, and how do you deliver that message? Learning these things will give you a huge competitive advantage, but it takes practice, effort, and energy. The problem is most loan officer sales strategies are counterintuitive and conflict with a loan officer’s personality, which impedes the loan officer from wanting to take action. However, if you use strategies that are in line with your natural personality and your communication style, you can learn very quickly.

The more a strategy is in line with who the originator is and their character, the easier and faster it is to implement it.

(Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect policy of the Mortgage Bankers Association, nor do they connote an MBA endorsement of a specific company, product or service. MBA NewsLink welcomes your submissions. Inquiries can be sent to NewsLink Editor Michael Tucker at or Editorial Manager Anneliese Mahoney at