As published in Scotsman Guide's Residential Edition, May 2011.
The shift in the real estate market in the past few years has been dramatic. Even more dramatic is that an amazing amount of information about this shift is available to the public. Terms such as "foreclosure," "short sale," "H.A.R.P.," "HAMP," "HomePath," "underwater mortgage" and "strategic default" were rarely or never used by average consumers three years ago.
Now, however, these phrases are part of their everyday lexicon, and it is easy to find hundreds — if not thousands — of articles and websites about various aspects of the housing crisis. In this maze, consumers typically are left with their heads spinning and with even more questions about who and what information they should trust.
The Internet gives consumers access to more data than they can possibly digest or understand. Many consumers will use the information they find online to set their expectations, whether about the market, what they think their home is worth, what options are available to them when refinancing or buying a home, or what is a "good" rate. With what they find online, consumers often feel that they know enough to make decisions — but this information overload makes it tougher to sell mortgages.
Mortgage brokers and originators can use this information overload to their advantage, however. By getting to know prospective clients' expectations, dispelling any myths they have come across and providing them with accurate information, you can connect with more clients — and ultimately close more deals.
Become a resource
Don't resist consumers' and prospective clients' desires to seek more information. The extensive amount of available data online is driven by consumer demand. The housing crisis has fueled the fire, and consumers are bombarded with forecasts and advice. Advertising outlets, the news media and real estate websites have all jumped on the bandwagon.
When you type the term HomePath on a search engine, for example, you may get as many as 2.5 million results. When you type the word foreclosure, you may get as many as 79.9 million results.
Most consumers do their research online, and you must be able to leverage that space if you want to grow your business. It can seem overwhelming, but you must embrace this information overload. It comes down to providing a solution for consumers. Your role is to be a guide, and to fulfill that role, you have to get your message out.
Mortgage brokers and originators typically want to give all their clients a fair deal, and this may not always be the lowest rate and lowest cost. The truth is that consumers are not really looking for the lowest rate because they don't actually know what that is — and neither do you. Rates change every day, and timing the rate lock will probably have more impact than picking the right lender for a diligent borrower.
There lies the opportunity: You must become the coach and educate your clients. The Internet gives you a great platform to do this. You can shift your message from "I will give you the best rate and the best service" to "My role as a loan officer is to get you the information necessary relative to your needs and to get you into the mortgage that best fits your situation."
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