If you stay in touch continuously, it will pay off in the long run, according to a small sample poll from PostcardMania.

Lew Sichelman is a seasoned writer with 50 years of covering the housing and mortgage markets under his belt. His biweekly Inman column publishes on Tuesdays.

It’s a small sample — just 123 agents were polled — but a new study from PostcardMania found that some agents maintain their relationship with previous clients for 10 years or more.

The tiny sample may not even represent a microcosym of the agent universe. But the message seems to be clear, if not even a bit self-serving: If you stay in touch continuously, it will pay off in the long run.

The poll didn’t ask whether this kind of allegiance to former clients paid dividends down the road. But it did find that these participants did pretty well. Nearly half, for example, averaged commissions of between \$5,000 and \$10,000 per deal. About 13.5 percent made between 10 and 20 grand, and 3 percent did even better than that.

PostcardMania’s little study found that about a third of its respondents did 11-20 transactions a year, which squares with the latest data from the latest National Association of  Realtor’s members’ profile. The median number of sides nationally in 2018 was 12, according to the NAR’s figures. But 48 percent of all residential agents did fewer than that.

However, 36.5 percent of those responding to PostcardMania logged more than 20 deals annually, with 9.3 percent handling more than 40 and 2.5 percent doing 76 or more! So, if you do the math, 10 sides at, say, just \$7,500 per, the average earned was \$75,000. Just extrapolating here, but 20 deals a year at \$7,500 equaled \$150,000. Even 20 deals at \$5,000 per is \$100,000.

According to the NAR profile, its members’ median gross income of was \$41,800 in 2018, an increase from \$39,800 in 2017. The profile also reported that the typical NAR member earned 13 percent of his or her business from repeat clients and customers and 17 percent through referrals from past clients and customers.

Agents in the PostcardMania study follow up with former clients anywhere from weekly to annually. But for the most part, every three to six months seems to be the norm. And to keep in touch, they do so by telephone, e-mails and direct mail, and a few by social media.

Also worth noting, half the agents who work to preserve previous relationships say they turn half or more of their leads into done deals. For most of the other 50 percent, their conversion rates are less, with some turning 10 percent or fewer of their former clients into either a buyer or a seller again.

In other news, agents for rate-sensitive homebuyers who need 25 basis points or so to qualify for financing and are bumping against the conforming loan limit should realize their clients don’t have to wait until Jan. 1 for the new ceiling loan to kick in. Some lenders already are accepting applications for loans of up to \$510,400 or higher in some places.

The conforming loan limit is the ceiling placed on loans purchased or securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two quasi-government secondary mortgage market agencies which keep money flowing for housing finance.

The limit is scheduled to jump next year from \$484,350 to \$510,400 in most places for all 2020. And in expensive markets, it will be \$765,600.

But some lenders aren’t waiting to take applications from borrowers who will qualify under the new ceiling. Realizing that most borrowers won’t be able to close until the new year — or won’t want to — they are jumping the gun.

One such lender is the United Fidelity Funding Corp. in Irvine, Calif. A direct retail lender as well as a wholesaler which funds loan by mortgage brokers, UFF began accepting applications at the higher limit on Dec. 4. And many others are doing the same.

UFF is even allowing applicants who have already locked in a rate under a conventional conforming or high balance loan program to boost their loan amounts up to the new 2020 loan limits, according to Senior Account Executive Aaron Armendariz.

Lew Sichelman is a seasoned writer with 50 years of covering the housing and mortgage markets under his belt. His biweekly Inman column publishes on Tuesdays.

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