You will quickly learn that much of your success as a commercial mortgage broker depends on bringing your deals to the right loan officer at the bank. If you bring a commercial loan to Loan Officer A, he will quickly turn the deal down; but if you bring the exact same commercial loan to Loan Officer B, he will find a way to get your commercial loan approved.
But who are the right commercial mortgage loan officers? Who are the loan officers who are closing most of the commercial loans for the bank? Below are some techniques and clues that might help you spot a “hot loan officer”. I’m not talking about looks here, but rather who has the highest closing ratio.
- Ask the bank’s receptionist or the commercial loan department's secretary. “Ma’am, I’m just a starving mortgage broker here on straight commission. Would you please-please tell me who closes the most commercial real estate loans for your bank?” It’s been my experience that if you are really good at sounding pathetic, the clerk will direct you to the right loan officer. “They’re all good,” she’s likely to say, “But you probably want to work with Bill Bradley. Do you want me to transfer you?”
- Pay attention to tombstones. Tombstones are announcements about commercial loan closings. In the old days tombstones were little display advertisements placed in financial newspapers; but modernly most tombstones go out by email. Which loan officer for the bank closed that deal?
- Stay close to the speakers at commercial real estate finance conventions. These guys and ladies are usually the “big guns” at their banks or lending firms, and they have lots of buddies at other firms who are also big guns.
- Look for the younger male loan officers who are, at least partially, on commission. The ideal loan officer will be a man in his late 30’s who is either on commission or a salary-plus-bonus compensation system.
- Avoid the sleepy old men. It’s been my experience that most of the old men working as commercial loan officers for banks are on straight salary. Too often these sleepy old guys couldn’t give a flip if they ever make another commercial real estate loan. Often these older guys are just counting the days until retirement. They certainly aren’t going to risk their retirements by fighting hard for you in Loan Committee.
- As a general rule, I am also not crazy about submitting my commercial deals to women bankers who are on straight salary. If you find yourself a little outraged by the above comment, please keep in mind that if she would get my deals closed, I would be happy to do business with a green-haired lesbian from Lapland. What do I care? I am just reporting my very painful observation that my closing rate with salaried female loan officers is about 1/10th my closing ratio with salaried male loan officers. (Please read that last sentence again. This closing rate differential is too important to ignore simply because the subject is politically sensitive.) Too often, it seems, these women loan officers are just out to prove that they are strong enough to say no. Since every commercial loan has at least a few black hairs on it, these women bankers merely glance at the package until they find a black hair. Then they kill the deal. I have tried to figure out why the closing rate of women bankers is so pitifully low. Perhaps it is because these ladies are often the sole breadwinners for their families, so they dare not risk their jobs by arguing too passionately for my deals in Loan Committee. Women loan officers also seldom go out to nudie bars with the “good ‘ole boys” on Loan Committee, so women in banking really are the subject of a little discrimination. Hey, I’m not sayin'... I’m just sayin’... All that being said, I have to confess that my very last deal was closed for me by … a salaried, divorced, female banker with children. She was excellent. LOL. Still want to scratch my eyes out? I'm really not prejudiced against women. The top three executives at Blackburne & Sons are all ladies, and their abilities are miles above our men. All I'm saying here is that I have had a miserable record of geting salaried women bankers to close my deals. After 33 years, its hard to ignore the reality of the statistics.
- But if a woman banker is on straight COMMISSION, she may be my first choice, especially if she is attractive. It’s been my personal observation that women on straight commission can be very powerful business animals, like a mama bear protecting her cubs. Don’t get in this woman’s way. She’s on a mission to get deals closed.