Tricks of the trade to improve the broker-asset manager relationship
Sounds so simple: Know your geographic market where you take REO listings, communicate with your asset manager and get your tasks done on time. Oh, and don't forget to answer your phone and return calls promptly. (Two hours is too long for some asset managers to wait.) But there are nuances to everything, and there is no one-size-fits-all when working with asset managers, according to a free-ranging discussion about the skills that asset managers and brokers/agents need to succeed in the REO industry. The panel was one of several under way Tuesday during the Five Star Default Servicing Conference and Expo. Asset managers on the panel had some divergent views, however, in terms of how their respective shops operate, with one saying he signs up only "individuals," not brokerage firms, and prefers a smaller number of listings per agent, while another saying that he was OK with a "face" broker who takes 500 listings and funnels them out to multiple team members. Views varied as well on experienced brokers versus novice agents. "I may find that rookie who is going to hit it out of the park," said Brandon Gallegos, with National REO Brokers Association. "Don't get me wrong, I love that experience. But if you just got in the game six months ago … and you crush it, I'm going to use you again and again and again." He also added during a portion of the discussion about communication, "By the way, if your voice mail is full, I will fire you right now. How hard is it to delete one message?" Asset managers noted that servicers are judged on their performance, and timelines are critical. If an asset manager gets dinged for being late on tasks, brokers and agents also will get dinged on their performance ratings. Cary Sternberg, with Excellen REO, said it is also critical for real estate brokers/agents to carefully define the demographic area where they specialize when applying to servicers for listings. A broker cannot specialize in an entire metropolitan area, he noted, and he won't choose an agent who claims to be an expert in an area that large. Once the agent is signed up, the broker will be assigned to a particular ZIP code, Sternberg said. However, asset managers are not perfect, the panel noted, and brokers may even need to help them learn the ropes. "There are a lot of asset managers today who weren't in real estate two years ago," Gallegos said. "They may not be as experienced as you are, that is just the name of the game sometimes." On communication, Chris Pitts with Lighthouse Real Estate Solutions, said e-mails may work well in most instances, but sometimes a phone call is needed on a thorny issue. "E-mails are great … but we still have the old-fashioned way of dialing someone on the phone," she said. More than ever, brokers/agents need to find out how the asset manager prefers to work, panelists said. "Asset managers want you to make them shine. They may want an e-mail once a week. Some may want one once a day. Some asset managers are needy. They want a five-minute phone call every day," Gallegos said. Finally, asset managers said enough with the Starbucks gift cards and fruit baskets. Performance is key, and a simple thank-you card is sufficient. Sternberg said sometimes a gift, such as a donation to a nonprofit or the military troops, might be appropriate but should be handled with care, after getting to know the AM. He gave an example of someone giving a donation related to his son's multiple tours in Iraq. Write to Kerry Curry.