By Stephanie Andre
RISMEDIA, March 5, 2008-As the market correction continues to bully both real estate professionals and consumers, lenders are looking to bring some confidence back to the industry. Now, more than ever, mortgage industry leaders need to offer programs and plans that both assist agents-and reassure buyers and sellers. To that end, Chase has brought to fruition a robust, smart, agent-centric program that serves as a valuable resource to both agents and customers alike-the Chase Preferred Agent program.
“We wanted to develop a stronger value proposition for our agent-partners-a program that was best-in-class in the industry,” explains Lesley Corydon, senior vice president of retail marketing at Chase. “We wanted it to be really easy for our loan officers to explain ‘this is why you should do business with me and Chase’.”
Officially launched this past November during the Annual National Association of Realtors Conference & Expo, the program has already “exceeded expectations,” according to Chey Loraine, vice president and strategic partnership event manager of retail marketing at Chase. “It works from the agent’s point of view, and offers tools for agents to grow their businesses, but also provides resource-related benefits for their clients.”
Plus, says Corydon, “Agents will gain preferred access to one of the strongest home-lending partners in the industry. Agents also get special pricing for their clients because of their relationship with Chase and they gain additional marketing impressions/touch points to their consumer base alongside Chase in ongoing marketing programs.” Some of its offerings include: discounted rates on Realestateshows.com; co-branding opportunities; relevant industry news and success tips; and access to Chase-branded merchandising/sales aids.
“We’re offering agents the opportunity to give their clients added incentives that they typically wouldn’t receive,” explains Loraine.
Indeed. Agents who take part in the program can offer their clients inducements, such as application incentives; closing-cost discounts; pre-approval and 90-day rate-lock options; and service guarantees.
Fostering the Agent/Loan Officer Relationship
In the current industry climate, Corydon says it’s imperative that agents have solid information and a trusted source behind them to put their clients’ minds at ease that the deal will get done.
By participating in the Chase Preferred Agent program, she says, “agents will have peace of mind that their client’s mortgage lender is going to do right by their customer and show up at the closing table.”
What’s more, the program helps to strengthen the relationship between the loan officer and agent, says Loraine. “We have a common goal,” she says. “We want to grow both businesses, and can do so by doing everything we can to work and partner together.”
To that end, when agents enroll in the program, they are automatically paired up with the loan officers they already have a relationship with (if they currently work with Chase). However, everyone who signs up gets a dedicated loan officer-even if they’re new to working with Chase.
“For agents who are already working with us, it’s a way for them to continue working with loan officers they already have a history with,” says Loraine. “For those who are new, we want to give them as much attention as possible and give them someone who they can form that strong bond with.”
Don’t Forget Your Sellers
Not just for buyers, agents can also use the program to bolster their relationship with sellers-by way of the “listing-lock” feature.
“When an agent visits with sellers, they can lock in a rate on that property (terms and conditions apply) even before a buyer is found,” says Loraine. “If rates increase, it’s a great benefit.”
For example, says Loraine, through the program’s partnership with realestateshows.com, the agent could list the home on the site with the information that “this house is rate protected.” When buyers view the listing, they’ll know that if they choose Chase as their lender (and qualify), the rate’s already locked in. “It’s really a wonderful benefit for sellers and helps the agent get the listing,” she says.
Regardless of the type of client, program participation offers agents the stability of working with a proven lender. “What a great way to connect with the power of the Chase brand,” Loraine says. “In this tougher market, Chase is a stable company. There’s no question-we are committed to agents, their clients and this market.”
A Rave Review
Simplicity. That’s what Cece Kimura believes is the key reason for her satisfaction with the Chase Preferred Agent program. “It’s self-explanatory-and not complicated,” says Kimura, CEO of EXIT Realty Arizona Properties in Phoenix, Arizona. “It’s a very simple, straightforward idea: what you see is what you get-and what you get is phenomenal.”
Kimura concedes that with today’s market-and a lot of doubt from buyers and sellers-having the ability to offer such a program to her clients is priceless.
“The program gives us that edge that we need,” she explains. “Buyers have lost confidence in the mortgage industry. If you give buyers a little incentive, that’s all you may need for them to take a look at what we have to offer.
“I had buyers recently who were going to go with another lender,” she tells. “I said, ‘Chase has an excellent Preferred Agent program, and through my involvement, there are many benefits for you. The loan officers at Chase take great care of me and I know they’ll take great care of you.’ Immediately, they were very receptive to it-and why wouldn’t they be? They know the name recognition is great. There was no hesitation, and that’s a testament to Chase.
“Chase has an established product that works,” Kimura says. “So when they introduce something like this, it puts them above and beyond.”
For more information, please visit www.chasepreferredagent.com.