So this mortgage guy has been trying to meet me for months.

I am generally suspicious of mortgage people: In my own experience as a buyer, they’ve been horrible. When I bought my first apartment, a little co-op for $65,000 (oh, those were the days!) I thought my mortgage broker was OK, but now I wonder if that’s just because I didn’t know any better. When I sold that apartment and bought another one, he sang me a very pretty song: You can buy before you sell, I’ll get you a bridge loan, no problem.

Well, it turns out he was bs-ing me, which put in motion a terrible chain of events as I scrambled to find $60K for a down payment. So I generally don’t trust mortgage people.

Once I became a real estate agent, it just got worse. I lost a sale because I heard over and over from mortgage brokers how it would be “no problem” for a foreign national client to get a loan. Three brokers later, offered 1 percent over the prevailing rate if she paid points, my client decided she was happy renting, thank you.

So I was pretty surprised to find a mortgage guy who seemed not-totally-full-of-it on craigslist. I spent a couple of months of my career posting on the craigslist housing forum once a day in an effort to drum up business, until I finally decided the anti-broker sentiment was so great I was just fishing in the wrong pond. (I ended up on other boards, where I did eventually get clients, so that wasn’t a total waste.)

But I did end up meeting this mortgage guy, who suggested we meet for coffee, and with one thing and another, I put him off for months. I mean, he’s not going to refer business to me, right?

But we ended up meeting yesterday and it turned out to be delightful. I don’t think our paths will cross much — I’m slowly gravitating towards the $3M-$5M end of the food chain and his business is financing first-time buyers — but he was sweet and had great stories about the business.

“Pay attention to the war stories you hear at a closing and elsewhere,” he said to me. “The stories are how you learn.”

So I listened to stories — the buyers who pulled out at the last minute when their monthlies turned out to be $17 above their good faith estimate was my favorite. And the moral of that tale was that the signs of those cold feet had been visible all along, if mortgage guy had only been willing to look.

Well, that’s certainly sometimes my problem with customers. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt and that’s OK, but perhaps I need to start keeping score of how many times they get that benefit.

I asked mortgage guy what he did, and he suggested, “three strikes and out.”

Now that’s not rocket science, by any means, but it’s a useful rule for me. It’s also worth remembering — as I try to figure out how to spend my time on marketing, clients, looking at properties in the new year, etc. — that I need to spend some social time with other real estate people who may not be referrers. Since they’re not a direct source of business I won’t allocate much time, but I will remember that their experience can teach me something. And who doesn’t want their continuing ed to come through war stories, with a cup of coffee on the side?

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