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Client Ghosting: A Mortgage Broker Story

A long time client of mine came into the office to sign their commitment last week. I was excited for this one. It was over $500,000, which in my market doesn’t come around on a regular basis so I was even borderline giddy.

When she and her husband came in, I had two sparkling waters and some of my famous homemade chocolates ready and waiting on my desk for them to enjoy as we went through the documents.

I was so happy. Not only for the size of the deal, but just so happy that these clients came from their little condo, to their first little home, and have now grown as a family into this big forever home and I did the mortgages all the way.

They walked in, gave me big hugs, we chatted about life and all seemed great! Until I picked up the pens…

That’s when they did it. They did the one thing a broker struggles with on a regular basis, the one thing we all hate….they ghosted me.

If you have ever been on dating sites, or have been recruited to a point you almost got the job, or even thought you had it and then it was taken away, you probably know how it feels to be “ghosted”. But this one hurt just a little more. Long time clients.

What is the “ghost” you ask? Client ghosting is when they appear to get to the finish line with you, you put in all of the work, time and effort to get them approved and then they drop this on you:

“Thanks so much for getting us approved, we have always loved working with you. It’s just that, we told little Timmy at the bank the rate your are giving us and after changing his pull up, he came back to the table with a lower rate and I think we will take it”.

Oops, do I still sound bitter? That may not have been an exact quote (I can neither confirm nor deny the “pull ups” part, it’s possible that will get edited by M|M, but raw is what I do, so I hope not.

Anyway, ghosted, again. But this time by a loyal long time client!

If somehow you are not a broker but a client and reading this or better yet, broker family, why not share this out to clients….read this:

Client Ghosting is one of the worst things you can do to us in our business. You may visit us for 20 minutes to take an application, but behind the scenes we put hours and hours of work into finding you the right lender, getting you approved, proving you are the good paying awesome mortgage holder you are, and navigating the always choppy waters of pre-funding…yes your lender reviews you again before close so for the love of god don’t change jobs. Then we also help coordinate with your realtor and lawyer. We work hard for your business.

But we don’t get paid until you close the mortgage with us! That’s right, not a dime. Timmy at the bank gets his $18/hr no matter what, and did no real work for you. Wait until you check out that penalty he buried under page 6.

My point here is, as brokers we are always looking out for our clients, it is our passion, it is what we live for. Don’t Ghost us.

How I Handled it and Won Them Back

For those who know me well, they know that I rarely give up without a fight. As infuriating as client ghosting is, if I gave up on each one, I wouldn’t be as successful as I am.

I may not have been as tactful above writing to you, my peers, but with the client tact is always my first approach. This was the conversation:

Me: “Oh Mr. and Mrs. Smith, I am so glad you have taken such a deep interest in our process that you brought it up with your bank. Doing as much research as possible is exactly what I do and I am glad you followed suit.

I am also very sorry that they (the bank) didn’t take the time to get to know you well enough to be aware you needed this better rate in the first place. I always hate having to tell the businesses I deal with how to do their own jobs”

Clients: “How to do their jobs?”

Me: “Well yes. Let me ask, why did you visit the bank in the first place?”

Client: “Oh we were just transferring some money into our account for the rest of the deposit and when we mentioned what it was for that was when the teller brought Timmy over”.

Me: “Oh good so these funds came from your mutual funds as you stated to me in the application, correct?”

Client: “Yes”.

Me: “Wonderful! That was exactly the idea we had when I called you in March after Jordan was born and you were worried the house wasn’t big enough, right?”

Client: “Yes! Thank you for that by the way”.

Me: “Oh you are welcome, I was just so excited Jordan was here with us all now and wanted to say congratulations, but totally understood it was perhaps time for a bigger home. Tell me, did Timmy or someone at the bank agree with my idea about using some of those unregistered savings to help you get into this house, when they called after Jordan was born?”

Client: “Oh no, we didn’t bring it up to anyone until just now, they didn’t call”.

Me: “Oh I thought they would have with the birth of Jordan”.

Client: “Oh no they didn’t”.

Me: “Well you would have been pregnant during their mandatory annual review of your mutual funds, I would have thought they would bring it up then, given the life event you were about to have.

Client: “We did not have an annual review”.

Me: “Well you must have. The banks mutual fund license holders need to abide by the ‘Know Your Client’ (KYC) rules and have a full review with you at a minimum annually. Tell me, when Timmy opened those mutual funds for you he didn’t inform you of that?”

Client: “Oh Timmy didn’t open them for us, actually he is new! He just graduated.”

Me: “Oh good for him. So he is new to the business. So, he didn’t call you when Jordan was born, and didn’t open your investments, so you effectively have no relationship with him. (client nods at me)

The bank didn’t call you to review whether your investments were right for your life situation or risk profile anymore, even though they are required to do so. (Client nods again)

You essentially had to tell a teller that you were buying a home to get the teller to refer you to a representative essentially in training. That rep then had to tell you about a rate available to you that you would have known about long ago with proper client care and a full review before I put all of this work into getting you approved. Is that correct”?

Client: “I think I see where this is going”.

Me: “I would hope so. Yes, you did their job for them. I hate when that happens”.

The conversation went on about how the rate difference impacted overall cost, how they were attaching another $20,000 as a line of credit and the impacts of that HELOC being on there and the astronomical possible penalties.

In the end they decided rate wasn’t the most important thing and stayed with me.

The lesson here is two fold…

Yes it is absolutely rage inducing to have a client “ghost” you. Such is the life we lead fellow colleagues. Don’t let that deal walk! It will mean the difference between epic success and the “mushy middle” as another article on here put it.

Help them see why the rate was offered and how the bank was jumping on a cheap opportunity to make a sale. You are the expert, you have the license, you are driving the bus, even when it seems like your ghost across the table is driving.

Will you win them all back? No. But if the baby doesn’t cry the baby doesn’t get fed. Open your mouths and save your deal. You’ll thank me later.

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