For someone to be ranked No. 1 female loan officer in the nation for most closed loans and No. 1 Hispanic loan officer in the nation, that means that someone has to be doing something right. Top mortgage lender, Lizy Hoeffer, Chief Experience Officer of CrossCountry Mortgage, is a genius in her niche. In 2019 alone, she closed a record of 980 loans. With over 17 years of mortgage industry experience, she knows her way around the mortgage market and teaches this knowledge to fellow loan officers and real estate agents. Her focus is on the bottom lender, and she is passionate about giving tips and tools that will help them provide value for their clients, increase their reach, and become more successful in their business. Listen to her talk more about this as she joins Jen du Plessis on the show.
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I want to introduce our guest Lizy Hoeffer. She is the number one woman loan officer in the nation as ranked by Scotsman Guide in 2019 as well as the number one Hispanic loan officer as ranked by NAHREP in 2019. She’s a senior loan officer who proves every day that passion changes everything. We’re going to dig into that. That’s something that’s important to me. Welcome to the show, Lizy. I’m happy to have you.
Thank you. It’s such an honor. You’re everything legend. Everyone knows who you are. Everyone’s like. “You’re going to on her show?”
I know you’ve been in the mortgage business for many years. You got in like most of us did. It’s funny, you and I on another town hall or something and your story mirrored mine. I went in saying mortgage. I don’t even know how to spell it. Rates were 18.5% and I didn’t even know what percent was. I was a receptionist/setup clerk kind of the way that you started as well. You’ve gone up the ranks and things like that. I want to focus on several things that you’re doing in your practice that got you to this point. What is your ranking in the Scotsmans Guide as a whole?
In 2020, I was number ten.
I’d love to talk about how you got to this space, this part of it. To give some people some context here on what you did, you closed 980 loans in 2019. It’s an average of about eighteen a week. Most people are looking for eighteen referrals a week, not eighteen closings. There’s a pattern that you created that you put into play that created this opportunity for you to get an exorbitant number of referrals. I’d like to go back to that because I know that one of the things that you say about your team and your practice is that you’re passionate about your clients, you have a killer process, and your business partners. Let’s talk about those three areas as it relates to how you started building this empire. Where were the triggers in this that took you from one level to blow you up?
The first thing is that you have to understand the math behind metrics. If you focus 100% on conversion and the metrical goals versus the actual closing goals, you will have much more success. Forty-two agents are closing a half-a-deal a month to have a kickass business. I knew that. For me, that was the first thing. It was like, “How do I get 42 agents that want to send me business?” Agents that are doing about six deals a year. What re their biggest concerns? What are their biggest problems? How can I be a solution problem-solver for them? I created a business around educating them on finance principles, taking the hard deals, and teaching them basic Buffini principles.
I started my selling career using the Brian Buffini system. It was all about how could I provide these people value? Once I realized that providing them value also meant teaching them about business, if that 42 each did one transaction a month, I could then double my business. If I could teach them how to do three deals a month then I would triple my business. That’s what the focus came down to. It was figuring out the math. The average real estate event in my time, they did six deals a year. I didn’t try to go for the top, I went for the people that I could provide the most value to.
I’m doing this big Coachathon online because there’s a lack of knowledge in what drives markets and how markets happen. As a result, the clients who are looking to us for the guidance we’re hiding behind that and saying, “I don’t understand everything about it.” Because I don’t have the knowledge, I don’t have the confidence to talk to my clients. I’ve always found that that’s an issue in the lending and mortgage space is understanding the tech down to the tactical. How do loans get sold, etc.? Tell us about how you’ve been sharing that with realtors especially as we’re going through a pandemic and they don’t understand. There’s a lot of them that don’t understand what’s happening with what I call the hidden pandemic of mortgage and real estate.
It’s always been very open and transparent with them. My entire platform is based on how do I prepare them and give them the tools to help sell. It’s about educating them in a way that makes sense that’s easy to transfer information on from me to them to their client. Part of that is explaining things that clients will be hearing in the news, why it matters, and why it impacts interest rates. It’s what I believe is important. I don’t try to get into too much of the nitty-gritty details. It’s like, what are the big bullet points you’re going to be hearing in the news that their clients are going to be repeating back to them? How do I educate them and give them the best tactical advice?
I will say that one of the frustrations I have is that most loan officers don’t understand the market and financial principles. They do understand mortgage guidelines and what it takes to get a loan done but they give poor financial advice. That’s something that needs to change but in a market like this one where everyone is starved for information. They’re freaked out. They’re worried that they’re not going to have incomes. They seek people like me who are giving information out freely because we seem more stable things. In economies like this, my stock rises. The market share that we have increased. It’s because people’s fear of the unknown makes us the attractor because we’re giving information out. If I was a loan officer now and I didn’t have this information, I would sign up for Reuters, Mortgage News Daily, or MBS Highway. I would start educating myself as much as I could and figuring out a good communication stream to educate people in layman’s terms.
I know that you do that through YouTube. YouTube is your biggest stream, is that correct? Are there other methods that you’re reaching out, giving it and delivering this information to people?
YouTube is fairly new to me. I have an email newsletter that I’ve had for a long time. I have about 6,000 or 7,000 people that follow me on Facebook. I have the same amount that subscribed to that newsletter. I’m on all of the channels, but I have the same little tribe that follows me everywhere that I’ll open the door but I do put out a lot of video content.
I do research on everybody for bringing them on. I like how easy your videos are. One of the challenges that I hear from loan officers all the time is they don’t have any content but the bottom line is we’re asked 1,000 questions every day. That becomes the content because that’s the inquiry that people have. How do you pool all of that information to decide what you’re going to do in a YouTube video?
My YouTube is about teaching financial practices. I’m giving and teaching what I’m most passionate about. I wouldn’t necessarily say to recommend that to everyone but there is a zone of genius that everybody has within their business that makes them excited. They get up, educate and talk. They listen to people talking about it next door, they don’t want to interrupt or interject in the conversation. If you feel and notice that, that’s the thing that you should be creating content around because you’ll have endless ideas, it won’t be a chore, you’ll want to wake up every day and do it. Teaching people basic financial literacy is important to me.
What was your background before getting into lending?
I’ve never worked in anything else.
I was curious because you talk a lot about the financial piece of it. Are you a CMPS?
I am not. What I am though is I have multiple seven-figures in the bank. I’ve been a multiple seven-figure earner for a very long time. I have come from nothing. My mom was a single mom who worked two jobs. My dad was a serial entrepreneur. It was difficult for them to pass on any solid financial advice. When I got out of college, I owed $50,000. That was $40,000 in student loans, $10,000 in credit card debt, a car and a house I couldn’t afford. I was like, “How did I get into this place?” Getting out of there, understanding finances, doing my own research, and getting mentors that were more successful than I was has allowed me the opportunity to become more successful. I think that it’s important especially in this era to teach people how to multiply their funds. I don’t want to knock him but I love Dave Ramsey’s audience the fact that he has educated and creating this platform on being debt-free. If you’re debt-free and you don’t know how to leverage, chances are you’re going to be working forever. I don’t want people to be afraid of money or finance. I want them to understand it, lean into it, and figure out ways to create multiple streams of income.
I want to go back to the metrics. I want to go down to the bottom lender, the lender who scarcely does $15 million a year or $13 million the next year. They’re saying, “I’ve been in the business for a long time. I know my guidelines and a bunch of people. Why can’t I get any traction?” What do you see as the number one problem with that particular type of loan officer who meanders along year-after-year?There is a zone of genius that everybody has within their business that makes them super excited. Click To Tweet
The one positive about me is I’m very honest. Most of the time, you meet those people and they’re not very coachable and likable. They think about themselves. They’re not thinking about how to provide value to other people. They pride themselves on all of the guidelines that they know versus how they can impact somebody’s life. When you’re thinking about you too much, it’s hard to grow, be stable and make phone calls because you look at it from a point of view like you’re going to be bothering people. You wouldn’t be bothering people if that was the place that you came from. If you focus all of your attention and energy on what value you can provide to other people, it’s a lot easier to prospect, have conversations, deepen your relationships, get referrals because it’s about other people and not about you.
If someone is reading and they say, “This is it. I’m going to call, go out there and try to help people.” What’s the best way for them to do that? What would be a good strategy, script, way or one idea that they could give to a realtor? If all they do is take one idea and they went crazy with that one idea, what would that look to get this jump-started?
It’s more foundational than an idea. You have to figure out what and where you provide value. One of the most important things that I’ve done for my business is to look at the type of clientele that I serve. I help primarily first-time home buyers. All of my content, value, education classes and marketing, everything is centered around how I help that particular client. When I focus on the value like their biggest problems, what solutions do I provide? How am I thought leader in giving them tangible advice that they can take and implement? When I focus my intentions on this, I create content and value that I can hand off to my partners because my partners are the ones that are also dealing with them. It comes from that place of how do you provide value?
When I was first starting in loans that I became a processor, I met with a gentleman whose name is John Dyer, he teaches a bunch of classes here in Arizona. He was the one who gave me that metric. He’s like, “You need to know the recipe for math. Once you know the math, you can figure anything out.” He was the one that told me about every agent did six deals and I needed 42. I was like, “I need 42 agents that I can provide value to. While I’m a brand-new loan officer, what value can I provide?” At that time, I could give them my time. I could sit any open-house with them. I knew my guidelines, I was a loan processor forever so I could save them stress because it was a time when FHA loans were making a comeback and few loan officers knew how to do them. I could teach them all of the Buffini things. You could make five great phone calls a day where you’re providing value to other people. That’s a strategy that works, but you have to know what value you’re providing to make the phone call in the first place.
I agree with you too because that is something that we both hear a lot, which is I want deeper relationships and I wanted to provide them with value. When I asked my students, “What is the value you’re going to give them?” “I have recipe cards. I do a mailer.” It’s crazy stuff. I don’t think that people spend a lot of time going through that. I love hearing that because it’s something that’s right up my alley. I was going to ask you if you were working with first-time homebuyers because you made that comment in the preliminary information that we got there about a niche. Tell us about your feelings about niching because many people are afraid to niche because they think that they’re cutting out everybody else around them. What’s your take on selecting a niche?
It’s about how can you give people something to connect with you? If you were the master of multiple things, how can anyone connect you with any of it? By helping first-time homebuyers, I also helped the full-blown buyers with their investment properties and they’re parents. I’m not losing any of the other business but also you have to pick a demographic that’s large enough that if that was the only clientele that you ever helped, you would have a business than you can ever think of. That’s what it is for me. I don’t live in a scarce mentality in general. It’s not about me, it’s about how many people can we impact.
I know it sounds cheesy but there was a point in time when I didn’t understand that fundamentally. I was like, “Of course, everybody wants to help somebody.” When I finally realized that what we do and how we do it can have a trickle-down effect on people’s actual lives later on that it isn’t one home loan with a stack of papers that this is literally what they will talk about if it’s stressful in their household. They will talk about the mortgage and argue about finances. Once I got my head around that, then I realized my job is a whole lot more serious and that changes everything. If you’re trying to figure out what your niche is, go back into your business and look at all the clients you’ve helped, 70% of the business will tell you something and then focus on that.
It definitely will, plus it’s important too. I’ve said this several times in this show to work with people that complement and not complicate you, your business, and your team. Sometimes it’s a process of elimination rather than it is of selection. I’ll work with first-time homebuyers but maybe I won’t. If that is a process of elimination as well, do I like working with first-time homebuyers? Do I like doing, not even the government loans, but the county and the state loans? These things I like to do because if I don’t, that might not be your niche. It doesn’t mean you won’t do them, it’s just not your niche. I love that you say to be clear on it. Of the business that you get now which comes from your realtors and some of the other sources that you may have as well, how much of your business is coming from your clients referring? Do you set up that expectation at the beginning of your consultation with your clients?
Years ago, I got fired from my job. I had to restart everything from the ground up so I didn’t have a whole lot of refinance business. I did have to generate all of my business straight from real estate agents or from referrals from clients. I did focus on current client referrals and past client referrals. That has been a topic where it gets a little bit hard in terms of tracking is that I associate every single lead with the referral partner it originally came with. I would say somewhere between 20% to 30% comes from repeat business and past clients, but then it can also get lumped in with a real estate referral. It’s hard to say but I hope that answered your question.
The question I have is when you’re consulting with a client, are you planting seeds that you’re looking for referrals from clients or are you planting seeds that you’re going to be there for the long haul with them beyond the transaction itself so that they come back into the buying cycle?
Yes, the whole time. Our whole process is dedicated towards that. We market to them. We educate them, they get all the money tips, they’re part of our VIP group, and they get birthday cupcakes.
What about your nurturing plan post-closing? What are you doing to keep in touch with them? You mentioned about your newsletter that you do. Is it weekly? Is it monthly? Is it digital? Are you doing a video? I imagine you’re doing videos.
The money tip that you see on YouTube goes out in an email momentary. I do birthday cupcakes and we have two annual events. Nothing huge. All of our clients are friends on social media. I don’t accept people I don’t know. If anyone tries to friend me, if I don’t accept your friendship, it’s because I try to save the spots for clients.
Especially nowadays, I’d maxed out again and I’m like, “I’ve got to go through and sort people out.” You mentioned something about smart steps. Is that what you call your educational platform?
The number one question that I get asked for is, “How much should I purchase? What can I buy?” It occurred to me that people don’t have a roadmap before they get to me on what their budget should look like and how much they should be spending on their house? I created smart steps as a roadmap to teach them about practical finance, how they could be living, and how they could be investing. I have smart steps budget, an education plan and then an online community where I teach financial principles.
That brings me to this question because I was reading through this on Facebook with all the posts and stuff. This one girl said in one of the groups, I wish I had her exact words because it was funny, “I had my husband listened to it because he’s still a mortgage lender. He’s still originating.” I said, “It’s not just you.” She goes, “I don’t get it. I got nine applications in and out of all of them, only one has a credit score of over 640. Where did these people get the thinking that they can buy a house with these kinds of credit scores?” There are a lot of problems behind that comment from a coach’s perspective. I see a lot of issues but I want to ask you specifically about credit and credit challenge clients. What do you do with them? I know a lot of loan officers and realtors too who want to help people. They’re saying, “I want to help them.” You can’t make money helping people that they can’t help themselves. I don’t want to sound brash in that because I have a way that I work with them. How do you work with them? Do you have a line in the sand that says, “If their credit score is under this, they go into this pile and this is how I communicate versus another pile?”If you don’t know how to leverage, chances are you’d be working forever. Click To Tweet
I treat every single client the same. If you come to me, you have a 400 credit score, you’re motivated, we’re going to go over your credit. We’re going to talk about your budget. We’re going to get you in smart steps. We’re going to educate you. You’ll be in an ongoing drip campaign, and we’ll follow-up with you every 30 days. People don’t want to have bad credit. There are certain people that it’s habitual but most people don’t know the fundamentals and they have no idea. It’s not taught anywhere. People don’t get it. There’s a reason that they loan down to 580 and a lot of these people with the right education, homebuyer education class, and tools will be successful homeowners. It’s extremely judgmental to say that you’ve got nine applications and only one of them qualified. How ungrateful? When our hands are out, we say pleased, and thank you. We are grateful for the opportunity to be a part of somebody’s journey because there are 500,000 loan officers. The more education that we can put out there, the more tools that we can give people, the more willing they are to complete them and to refer your friends and family. Talk about impact.
I should learn that lesson a long time ago. Back then, I bought my house for $45,000 and it’s selling for $300,000 now. I did a loan for $67,000. It was a low loan amount and I was like, “These low loan amounts, these are people who put down so much money.” I can draw a leaf-filled Oak tree from that one deal of referrals. They sent them and it a big Oak tree filled with this one $67,000 loan so you’ll never know. My question is do you stay in touch with these clients forever even if they never turn into something? I was curious because I know a lot of people are trying to figure out how to segment and work with them.
Yes. You need good technology to help you with long-term follow-ups like that.
That’s where systems come in. I had something called the Homebuyer Club. That’s what I did. Anyone who couldn’t buy for whatever reason, I didn’t do it out at people, it was credit. I need to get divorced, get married, have a baby, get a new job, or whatever it was, I put them in a Homebuyer’s Club where I did education a lot like what you’re talking about. Later, it became a group on Facebook where they could be part of the Homebuyer Club and I would educate in there until they were ready to pull the trigger. That’s cool as well. The last question I want to ask and also if you want to share anything as well is the software that you’re using, not your LOS nor CRM, none of that stuff. When you think about a tool that you have that you absolutely couldn’t live without, what is that tool for you?
Salesforce, it is the CRM. I couldn’t live without it. For us, I’ve spent a lot of time and money in developing our own. We have our own instance but it’s how my team replaces Slack and Asana. It’s task management, communication, follow-up and consistency. I couldn’t say enough nice things. In fact, I’m stuck in it because I love it so much.
You already gave some advice on how to do engagement during COVID and what’s happening. As we’re looking forward beyond the pandemic when we’re all released back out. If someone’s reading this, we’re in stage 3 or 4, we’re finally out, we’re not anticipating it coming back. What would you recommend that someone say if they struggled through this, you got to get your act together and you need to do this? What would you tell someone? “You missed it last time, better not miss it again.”
You have to start now. The first twenty videos you put out and no one watched them. Honestly, get your crappy content out ASAP. It’s more in your head than anything else. You have to figure out what you’re passionate about providing value with and then it’s easy. If you focus on what other people are doing and copying other people, it will always be difficult but if you can look within and figure out what things you were the most passionate about, I promise you’ll provide value, you’ll attract an audience who wants to love and help you because you’re providing so much value back.
You’re busy but what books are you reading, if any?
I’m reading fiction. I’m reading Normal People by Sally Rooney.
Do you know what I do? I don’t like fiction books, that I’m watching Too Cute! with puppies and kitties so I can laugh, giggle and smile.
There’s so much self-development out there. The last self-development book I read was Marie Forleo on Everything Is Figureoutable. I thought that was good.
I’ve never heard of that one. Any favorite quotes you have?
“Passion changes everything,” is a huge one for me. I have funny sayings. The only one that comes to mind is my mentor used to tell me, “You can’t get the chicken salad out of chicken shit.” Every time I think of my favorite quotes, that’s immediately there. They always talk about not doing my best job the first time.
How do you feel about that? You were saying, “Get your crappy videos out and stuff.” Les Brown says, “You don’t have to be great to start, you have to start to be great.”
It’s always about effort and intention. If the effort was there and the intention was to provide value, then you knocked it out of the ballpark. You’ll get better but your best now won’t be your best tomorrow. You have to focus on what is the best now and putting that out. It’s not to be the best though.
My biggest competitor was never some other loan officer down the street, it was me. Tomorrow, I want to be better than I was now and I want to be better than I was yesterday. I’m my competitor to make that better. What does the future hold for you?
I don’t know. I would love to have a big educational business like Dave Ramsey has. I love where I work. I love my company. The sky is the limit. I’m not putting any limitations on it.
You’re having lots of fun now. How many kids do you have?
I have three children.
How old are they?
Seven, four and one.
The same age as my grandkids, 6, 4 and 2. How are they handling COVID?
The same way that normal kids are. They’re going bananas. They can’t wait to get out.
Are you able to spend time with them?
They come to work with me. I’m home a lot more. It’s nutty.It’s very hard to grow when you’re thinking about yourself too much. Click To Tweet
I want to say thank you, Lizy, for spending some time with us, sharing what you’re doing, and some of the things that you’ve done to grow your practice to this unbelievable congratulatory amount. How impressive is that? I look forward to seeing you on stages together. I’m sure we will be able to meet face-to-face once we can all get back on stages again. I want to tell everybody, if you’ve been reading this, please share these beautiful nuggets with your real estate agents and loan officers. What a great way to do a video audiobook club where you could sit and listen to these types of things and then take action together on how you’re going to implement some of the things that you hear each time. Lizy, it’s been my honor to have you here on our show.
It’s seriously my honor. Thank you for the beautiful interview.
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About Lizy Hoeffer
Ranked No. 1 female loan officer in the nation for most closed loans (Scotsman Guide,2019) and as the No. 1 Hispanic loan officer in the nation (NAHREP, 2019). SeniorLoan Officer Lizy Hoeffer proves every day that “passion changes everything.”
With over 17 years of mortgage industry experience, Lizy works for CrossCountryMortgage, a leading independent mortgage banking company. She started as a receptionist in the mortgage industry and has worked her way to become a top 1percent originator and closed over 980 loans in 2019.
“Our passion for our clients, the process, and our business partners have set us apart from the competition,” she said. “We create raving fans through client education, finding the best products for our clients, outstanding service, competitive rates, and on-time closings. We are dedicated to proactive communication. Which helps give our clients a smooth mortgage experience and our business partners the tools and experience to grow their revenue.”
An active, caring participant of her Phoenix, AZ community, Lizy volunteers her time to St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance and works with homeowners regarding foreclosure prevention. She is also the creator of the White Envelope Project, which is a homeless awareness campaign that gives people the opportunity to help those in need.
Lizy is married to best-friend Skyler and they have three beautiful children, Anabelle, Penelope, and Calvin.
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