How to Move Faster: From Conversation to Application with Barry Habib

Industry expert Barry Habib, from MBS Highway, shares where the housing market is headed, the advantage you have as an Advisor, and the easiest way to cultivate referral sources.


It's all about trust and tollbooths.

Industry expert Barry Habib says both made him successful and can work for you too.

Trust. Well, that’s obvious and not always easy. But tollbooths? Sit tight, this will become clear shortly. 

We recently spoke to Habib about the market, his career, and what advice he has for LOs. 

“When I first started in the business, it was hard,” Habib says. “It’s hard to build a customer base and to gain the confidence of realtors. Let’s face it, this is a tough business to learn.”

He’s been at it a long time, beginning as a loan originator in 1986, then starting several companies, including his latest, MBS Highway. During his career, he’s originated over $2 billion in mortgage loans, been recognized as the top real estate forecaster by Zillow, and has regularly appeared on CNBC and Fox Business Network. 

Habib boils down the mortgage business to one thing: 

“It’s about conversation to application. You have to convert more of the opportunities you have whether you have a lot of opportunities or not so many opportunities.”

If you’re new, you probably won’t have many—if any—realtor partners feeding you opportunities. You’ll have to generate your own to have those conversations.  

And like most new LOs, Habib was in this situation in his career. He had to look for opportunities even in the most unlikely of places. 


Tollbooths and Other Captive Audiences

“Anybody you give money to is a potential audience,” he says. “Your hair cutter, the pizza place, your gym, your dentist, your accountant, your doctor. These are referral sources. You’re going to have a captive audience, and they’ll have to listen to you.”

In the early days, Habib put this into practice in one unusual place. 

While driving in New Jersey, instead of throwing change into the basket at the tollbooth, he used the lane tended by a toll collector (think of Sonny’s final scene in The Godfather but without all the shooting). He gave the collector his money, his business card, and said: 

“If I can help create wealth and save you some money, please just give me a call.” 

His friends laughed at him, it slowed his trips, and while the audience was captive, he had only a few seconds to pitch before driving off. But Habib didn’t care because he was hungry and didn’t want to fail. 

It soon paid off.  

“Finally, a guy by the name of Steve Horton called me. And not only did I do his refinance, but I did 17 of his colleagues who were all toll collectors.”

Tollbooth collectors may be a thing of the past, but there is always someone in your life you are paying even if you’re using technology to do it. And once you start having these conversations, you’ll need to develop one crucial thing—trust.


Build Trust by Dropping Knowledge & Going Negative

It’s no secret that trust in sales is a big deal, but earning it isn’t easy. The deck is naturally stacked against you. According to research by HubSpot, salespeople (3%) are only slightly more trustworthy than politicians (1%). How’s that for a handicap? 

On top of that, people form impressions quickly when they first meet someone—just one-tenth of a second according to one Princeton experiment. That’s a blink of an eye to form an opinion based on just someone’s face. 

Aside from a genuine smile and a well-groomed appearance, you can have a successful first conversation by building trust, but you have to do it fast.  

Habib recommends two ways to build this precious commodity.   

The first is with knowledge. 

“If you’re a new person in the industry, you can make up a lot of ground by gaining knowledge because a lot of people in this industry, unfortunately, don’t want to continue to grow,” he says. 

This means being a resource and developing an always be helping mindset rather than immediately trying to sell someone. Be a student of the industry and stay informed on the latest products, rates, and changes.  

Closely linked to the first, the second way to build trust is to tell them everything that’s potentially “bad” about the process. 

He says that when you work with a client, instead of selling them, pretend they are ”somebody you really care about” like your parents, kids or best friend. 

Then use your knowledge and expertise to show them what to look out for, which builds a bond of trust. It’s the same way an employer should also reveal the negatives about a job to a potential candidate rather than sugar coating everything. 

“If they trust you even if your rate’s not the best, a lot of times you’ll be able to overcome that because you’ve gained their trust,” Habib says.  


Improve Production with a Mortgage CRM 

One area that’s dramatically changed the game for LOs is technology and in particular mortgage-specific CRMs.    

Habib explains that you still need the “tenacity” to keep having conversations but with technology, follow up becomes largely automated. With their ability to customize and automate emails and texts, a mortgage CRM becomes a force multiplier. 

“When I was originating loans, I wish I had a tool like yours [Whiteboard] to make that so much more efficient and easy because I was doing all of that work,” he says. 

The industry has changed a lot since Habib started, but his advice for building trust and having more conversations remain crucial for success as long as people are involved. And though most tolls are now paid electronically, there are plenty of opportunities to have conversations.   

Who knows, yesterday’s tollbooth collector could be today’s Uber driver—and your next application and referral source. Talk about a captive audience! 


Topics: Industry News

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