The life of a successful mortgage loan officer revolves around high levels of self motivation and organization – and it certainly helps to be an early riser. Having said that, loan officers also often find themselves working into the evening, but the ultimate payoffs make the extra effort and longer hours worthwhile. So, we can also add “flexibility” to the list of attributes the best mortgage loan officers possess. No two days are the same on this career-path, making it ideal for those who want to avoid daily repetition.

A loan officer’s schedule has to remain flexible. Most loan officers split their time between client meetings and house-hunting, or filling out pre-requisite paperwork. Loan officers are empowered to set their own schedules, so the order in which each activity gets done varies from officer to officer. A mortgage loan officer’s day typically begins at 7a.m. or earlier. It’s common for loan officers to claim that their morning breakfast routine involves responding to emails before they even make it into the office.

At some point in the morning or early afternoon, loan officers usually meet up and prioritize the to-dos of the day. Staff members review the current pipeline together and organize their plan of attack to accomplish the tasks at hand. If any files are still in process, most loan officers will try to have them completed in the morning, to enable a focus-shift onto pre-qualification and applications later in the afternoon. A typical pre-qualification takes between 24-48 hours to complete, after the client has provided all the necessary documentation. If any aspect of the client’s life changes during this process – perhaps they got a new job, car, started college, or made a large purchase – the loan application process restarts all over again, taking into account the new set of circumstances. Overall, it usually takes 30 days to go through the entire loan approval process.

It’s often necessary for loan officers to meet with their clients in person. Because of this, loan officers’ timetables are regularly shifted around, often at the last minute, in order to accommodate their client’s schedules. This means that some loan officers have to set aside time on the weekends to meet with their clients, if they are unavailable during the weekday.

Another attribute of a successful home loan officer is empathy. It is essential that the officer puts each client at ease and makes them comfortable during the process. Customers can be hesitant to openly discuss their financial situations, especially with a stranger. Officers become accustomed to discussing loans 24/7 with a variety of people, and they are intimately familiar with the ins and outs of the mortgage world. A good officer will keep in mind that for many clients, this could be their first association with the mortgage business. Making a good first impression with each individual client is critical. Mortgage loan officers must be able to balance their drive for a great personal result with delivering a satisfying outcome for their client. Repeat business and positive word-of-mouth promotion are the hallmarks of a good operator.

But there will be tough moments, according to an article from Mortgage Professionals of America: “The best performers know they must have a positive confident attitude when in front of new referral partners. And that’s tough to do if you know back at the office you are going to have to put out fires for the rest of the day. They [loan officers] adjust and adapt so that the business is not running them, they are running their business.”

With so many facets to their career, outstanding time management skills are critical for a home loan officer. They must dedicate time to acquiring new clients, while helping current clients. However, significant time is also devoted to developing an effective marketing strategy with fellow loan officers at the company headquarters.

Being a loan officer does not necessarily mean the hours are difficult. Loan officers often leave at 5 p.m. to go home and plan for tomorrow. Some days, however, late paperwork or an extra effort to please a client will mean an officer leaves the office at 8 p.m.

Being a good loan officer hinges on the drive to get things done, and becoming a master of time management. It’s a career that requires a high degree of self motivation, given the diverse and challenging nature of the role, and the flexibility and changeability of the associated daily schedule.

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