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Referral relationships key amid COVID-19: Tom Panos

by Emma Ryan7 minute read

Real estate and mortgage broking sales trainer Tom Panos has shed light on the importance of agents and brokers working together as both navigate the challenges brought on by the global pandemic.

Speaking on the recently launched What’s Making Headlines podcast, Mr Panos and Phillip Tarrant discussed the latest affecting the real estate and mortgages market.

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During the discussion, which was shared on Facebook Live on 23 April 2020, the pair spoke about the value of real estate agents and mortgage brokers maintaining an active referral relationship, noting that those who do so will be better off both now and when the pandemic lifts.

“[The] mortgages [industry] plays a big role in how markets move,” Mr Tarrant said.


“When you think about [access to credit over] the last couple of years, it’s been a lot tighter, [and] property markets have slowed. They bounced back a bit six months after the last federal election.

“But even though the banks [had] loosened some of their serviceability requirements to make it a little bit easier to secure credit, it’s starting to tighten up a little under the current COVID-19 [pandemic].”

Pointing to NAB’s recent decision to tighten its serviceability policy, Mr Tarrant continued: “NAB is leaning on mortgage brokers now more than ever before to actually prove genuine serviceability in order to secure finance.

“They’re conscious that employment rates are spiking. People might be underemployed, rather than unemployed, so they’re really leaning on mortgage brokers to make sure that they can prove genuine income from borrowers in this current market, and I think you’ll see a lot more of that moving forward.”

Mr Panos offered a similar sentiment, noting that such requirements, and general restrictions being put in place off the back of COVID-19, sees mortgage brokers in a prime position to work with real estate agents – and vice versa.

“The most intelligent agents pick up their business from a lot of what I call ‘connectors’ and ‘spheres of influence’. They simply don’t just rely on a single entity or a single mum and dad to contact them,” Mr Panos explained.

“They know that there’s a mortgage broker that might have a thousand clients in their portfolio, and they also know that a mortgage broker is having conversations with those clients.

“Some of those conversations with those clients right now would be, ‘Hey, can I ask you what the situation is here? We might have to sell; we’ve got a six-month freeze on our loan. What does that mean afterwards?’ The conversations they have will help the mortgage broker know who is a potential client for an agent in the future.”

The referral relationship between agents and mortgage brokers has improved significantly over the last few years and is set to grow stronger as both adapt to the “new normal”, according to Mr Panos.

“What we clearly know is the collaboration and partnerships between agents and mortgage brokers has improved and has increased over the last few years to the point where often a real estate agent will take a mortgage broker to a listing presentation,” he said.

“They will actually say to a vendor, ‘Mr Vendor, I’m letting you know that the reason I’ve brought the mortgage broker along is that when we have a buyer, we’re going to make sure that mortgage broker is aware of the buyer. They might actually have a relationship and we’re going to be able to work out how much they can borrow and help them borrow as much as they can because the more they can borrow, the bigger the chance that they’re going to be able to put in an offer at the higher level on your property’.

“Real estate agents have got to do things to differentiate themselves in a very competitive marketplace, and the relationship with a mortgage broker has certainly been one thing that people are using to stand out.”

For those real estate agents and mortgage brokers looking to further their referral relationships, Mr Panos said the solution is simple.

“What you should do is use the most basic of basics forms – it’s the mobile phone,” he said.

“You pick up the phone and you say, ‘Hey, Bernard Desmond… I’d like to sit down with you for 15-20 minutes and have a cup of coffee. I want to find out what’s going on in your world, and I want to share with you what’s going on in my world’.

“It all starts with a conversation. Nothing happens without a conversation in business, and it appears the people that have the most conversations with the most relevant people, and regularly, are the people that seem to do better in business.”

Disclaimer: Phillip Tarrant is the director of Momentum Media, the parent company behind The Adviser.

[Related: Brokers urged to ramp up borrower probes]

Referral relationships key amid COVID-19: Tom Panos
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