This year is likely to be a watershed for the mortgage industry. Mortgage originators must be prepared for change, especially those that have little or no experience working in a slowing or stagnant housing market.

As margins compress, executives will have to make tough decisions regarding staffing and commissions. Whether mortgage originators have a profitable year or just break even will depend on two things: whether they can build relationships with borrowers and whether they can stay disciplined.

The mortgage industry is defined by peaks and valleys. Even if 2019 doesn?t bring a slowing market, the next valley is always right around the corner. These are skills you need to have no matter the direction of the housing market.

Build Relationships

One trait that sets successful mortgage originators apart from unsuccessful ones is their natural ability to build strong relationships with borrowers. Borrower satisfaction is their ultimate measure of success.

After a decade of extremely low rates, many originators have developed sizeable operations based on a high volume of refinance loans. But as rates normalize, this business channel is starting to dry up.

Originators who have thrived by getting borrowers in and out the door quickly are likely to experience a significant slowdown. Those that have taken the time to educate and engage borrowers will continue to see business during downturns, and for years to come, thanks to repeat business and referrals.

Be Disciplined

A key to long-term success in the mortgage industry is never having just one iron in the fire. Establish a process that ensures you are always working on something new. Below are just a few ways you can do that.

Finish the most critical items first, even if they?re the most time-consuming and difficult. It?s human nature to take care of easy tasks first. Work against your human nature! When you finish your most pressing items at the beginning of the day, it?s easier to budget your time and have real, meaningful connections with the borrowers that come into your office.

Help at least one person a day. It doesn?t have to be anything big. The mortgage industry is more than numbers. It?s about people. By serving others, you?ll better understand the community you?re working in and build relationships outside of work that could ? though this isn?t the primary motive ? come back to you in the form of business.

Learn something new each day. This is especially important if you?ve been working in the mortgage industry for a long time. You know practically all there is to know about the mortgage business, but what about other areas of real estate? Expand your areas of interest and expertise by trying to figure out something new each day. Real estate is full of niche areas of specialization. Add a few more to your repertoire. They may come in handy in the future.

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