While loan officers disagree on whether to give mortgage closing gifts to borrowers, it’s unlikely that gifts for clients have ever lost anyone a return customer. On the other hand, unless thoughtfully selected, they don’t necessarily earn repeat business either. This is true for loan officer closing gifts as well as realtor closing gifts.
The best real estate closing gifts for buyers go beyond merely thanking customers to creating lifetime clients and solidifying your business now and into the future. If that’s what you hope to accomplish, consider these six tips.
Tip #1: Select a mortgage closing gift that welcomes the client to their new home.
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You want your borrowers to associate you with homeownership. Select the perfect gift they will use in their home or that will otherwise evoke the concept of home.
A gift certificate to a local coffee shop or local restaurant might be nice, and they may even keep you top of mind next time your borrowers visit those places. But borrowers should associate you with the actual product you provide, which is the ability to get them into the home—and home loan—of their dreams.
Kitchens are perhaps the easiest room to think about here. Everyone uses it (though some of us may not enjoy it as much as others), and every home has one. Many treasured memories are created around food, its preparation and its sharing.
The number of options for housewarming gifts outnumbers even the items in your kitchen junk drawer: Coffee to enjoy on the first morning in their new home (or a subscription that keeps the coffee coming), a nice bottle of wine or champagne, chocolate-covered fruit or a gourmet gift basket. For more longevity, knives, glassware or cutting boards they’ll regularly use for years.
Take a mental tour of a typical home to come up with your original home gift ideas. If you’re setting up a home gift basket to give consistently at every closing, you’ll want to avoid options for use outdoors. Some homes, like condos, may not have exterior spaces or entryways.
Tip #2: Choose mortgage closing gifts with a long shelf life.
According to the National Association of Realtors, U.S. homeowners stay in their homes an average of 13 years! That’s a long time to remember a mortgage company!
Loan officers always hope their borrowers will refinance in the interim. Refinancing rates depend significantly on the interest rate environment. Freddie Mac reported that first-time homeowners who refinanced in the first quarter of 2020 had been in their homes an average of 33 months before pursuing a refi.
In a low-rate environment, overall refinances likely come even more frequently. However, that’s still a long while for a borrower to remember the person who financed their loan. While gift cards, flowers and food and drink gift boxes are popular, they may not help buyers and sellers remember your name many months or years down the road.
Tip #3: Personalize your mortgage closing gifts for buyers.
There are a couple of reasons for providing gifts that are personalized for the recipient. First, it shows the recipient that you took extra time and thought just for them. This isn’t some gift you pulled from a re-gifting closet. For example, there is a difference between closing gifts for first-time homeowners and closing gifts for second-home buyers.
Second, let’s be honest: If the gift has their name, their initials or their name and address, they’re less likely to toss or donate it. And when the time comes to purchase another home or to refinance their mortgage, the gift will still be there, keeping you top of mind.
Many home-related gifts for clients can be personalized with first and/or last name, an initial, or a full monogram. Personalized stationery (yes, people still use that!), return address labels or address stampers are examples of closing gift ideas that can include the borrower’s new home address. Engraved cutting boards or prints may even include an image of the borrower’s new home. Address plaques can show the street number and last name of the owner (remember your borrowers who don’t have exterior entryways, though).
Tip #4: Give a practical gift that your borrowers will actually use.
It’s one thing to give something your borrowers will keep. Take it a step further to offer something they will incorporate into their lives. That’s why kitchen-oriented home gifts work well. Still, you don’t want your gift thrown into that junk drawer or pushed to the back of the pantry.
Think about the kitchen items you use the most in daily activities. Can any of those be turned into a meaningful gift? Cutting boards, knives, glasses, and pitchers may fit the bill.
Don’t stop in the kitchen. What about the home office? Even if they don’t have an official space, every homeowner has to set aside a time and place to manage the household, and this offers excellent opportunities for personalized gifts, such as the address stampers and stationery already mentioned.
Tip #5: Incorporate your branding into your mortgage closing gifts, even if it’s subtle.
There’s lots of discussion on this topic, and perhaps there is no right answer.
Critics argue that branding cheapens the realtor closing gift. Put your face and logo on the label of a bottle of wine? The recipients aren’t likely to perceive it as a nice selection. And they’re not as likely to display or perhaps even use household items branded for a mortgage company.
On the other hand, one of the main purposes of a closing gift is to keep you top of mind, particularly if your goal is to earn repeat business. Be sure to consider your gift choice and the type of branding you’ll do carefully.
For items that might be on display or in regular use, you might add your logo in an inconspicuous area, like the back of a cutting board. For home office items that will be tucked away when not in use, you can be more obvious.
Tip #6: To build your business, use mortgage closing gifts consistently.
When you give a closing gift, your immediate purpose is to express thanks to your clients, of course. If that were all you were doing, it might be nice to plan one-off gifts based on the borrower and their preferences when you have time to think about it. You can even go the extra mile on a gift when you have an exceptional experience with your borrowers. The downside is that gift-giving is hit-or-miss. Some borrowers may be forgotten.
For consistent business-building purposes, you’re going to want a consistent gift-giving program. The easiest way to do this is through marketing automation.
Using mortgage CRM software like Surefire, you can integrate with your LOS. At your preferred timing – after closing or at funding, for example – an order for your standard closing gift can be triggered. In classic set-it-and-forget-it style, buyers and sellers will receive housewarming gifts on time, every time, with no extra work from you.
Surefire Takes Mortgage Closing Gifts Even Further
When you put the tips together, you’ll settle on a home-related mortgage closing gift that is personalized, tastefully branded, utilitarian and delivered consistently after every closing.
Surefire has choices to fit the bill. Our most popular closing gift is a stamper with the borrower’s new address. The loan officer’s logo and contact information are on the handle. Loan officers regularly report that repeat buyers make requests for a new stamper with their next purchase.
Surefire also offers several choices for wood cutting boards engraved with the borrower’s name on the front and the mortgage company’s logo tastefully engraved on the back. A modern magnetic spice rack also features prominently engraved names and subtle logo placement.
At Surefire, the mortgage closing gift is just one part of a full Client for Life campaign that delivers a combination of email, text and postal messages to each borrower over the course of five years. Again, the set-it-and-forget-it nature of marketing automation means consistent long-term follow-up with each borrower, every time, with no extra work from you.
To learn more about Surefire’s set-it-and-forget-it opportunities, Client for Life Workflow and closing gift ideas, schedule a tour. We’d love to show you around!