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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   May 2014

Add Technology to Traditional Customer Service

Today’s homebuyers are younger and more connected

As we marvel at technology that evolves more quickly than many of us can keep pace with, the mortgage industry must not let the opportunities it offers to slip by. Mortgage professionals who are self-proclaimed social media addicts have embraced the 140-characters-or-fewer world of Twitter, as well as other new mobile and social-networking applications. Today, brokers and bankers send and receive information directly to and from the people of their choice, enjoying a practically spam-free virtual universe.

The opportunity has never been better to take your business to the next level with the selective, focused technology many have already embraced. In looking at the technological habits of the industry’s current and future homebuyers, it’s apparent that many are no longer anchored by a desktop computer. Smart-phones and tablets are often the prefer-red vehicles for networking, researching, connecting and communicating.

Because we live in an increasingly app-based era, it’s an opportune time for the mortgage-lending world to adapt to and embrace this technological movement. What might an ideal app look like, and what broad tenets must mortgage professionals keep in mind when working with technology?

The ideal app

A hypothetical example of this concept in action is a mobile app tailored to individual mortgage companies. This app would be customized for a company’s real estate referral partners and focused on providing services for real prospective clients. It wouldn’t be used to sell potential buyers as leads to randomly selected Realtors who don’t hold the listing under consideration and who may not even work in the chosen geographic area.

Millennial homebuyers and technology

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has revealed a number of interesting facts about the increasingly youthful demographic of homebuyers and their Internet and mobile app usage in its 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers and 2014 Home Buyer and Seller Generation Trends reports.

  • 92 percent of buyers used the Internet during their home-search process. For 42 percent of buyers, their first step was to look for homes online; for another 14 percent, their first step was to research the homebuying process online.
  • Among homebuyers 33 years old and younger — the group that’s generally known as millennials or Generation Y — an impressive 58 percent used a mobile website or application to search for a home. For Generation X buyers between the age of 34 and 48, the figure was also high: 53 percent.
  • Of the Generation X and Generation Y homebuyers who used a mobile site or app to search for a home, 22 percent and 26 percent, respectively, found their home with a mobile app.
  • This past year, millennials accounted for the largest share of homebuyers, 31 percent, followed closely by Generation X buyers and baby boomers, both at 30 percent.
  • Among all buyers, 88 percent financed their home purchase. Predictably, millennials were the most likely to finance (97 percent).

The app would work to benefit a mortgage company and its clients by keeping track of the homes and loan information that a potential buyer has requested, creating a highly customized buyer experience. The buyer’s information would be entered into a customer relationship-management system, where an appropriate Realtor would be able to follow up with the prospective buyer. The Realtor would then be able to speak knowledgeably about neighborhoods and homes that interest the client.

The information and connections that this app would make available to referral partners, Realtors and potential buyers would result in a tremendously beneficial business and timesaving tool for mortgage companies that take advantage of the app. Such an app is not a futuristic fantasy, but rather a technological reality that our industry is on the brink of.

The human touch

Some have predicted that the role of the mortgage professional will eventually diminish and even be taken over by the Internet. Although possible, this is unlikely to happen.

At the end of the day, people like to interact with and buy from other people. Savvy professionals don’t have to worry about being replaced by technology, but they do need to find a place for it in their businesses while maintaining the human touch expected by clients and business associates.

The Internet is said to have more information than any one human being can consume in 10 lifetimes, which provides a prospective client with an unprecedented and daunting amount of available of real estate, mortgage and financial data to sift through — and potentially be mislead by.

The personalized, value-added service that mortgage professionals offer their clients and referral partners can help borrowers find the true and accurate information they need. Using our expertise to filter out misinformation and put verified, real-time data in their hands is essential.

•  •  •

As an industry, the mortgage business has endured a multitude of recent changes and challenges. Mortgage professionals have adapted and reinvented themselves to be much more than a “donut-catering service.” This adaptation and reinvention must continue. When it comes to technology, millennials are going mobile with or without you. This is the perfect time to sharpen your skills and prepare yourself to meet the needs of the future generations of homebuyers.

The mortgage industry has seen itself evolve into a place where efficiency goes hand-in-hand with profitability. Providing cutting-edge technological resources in addition to time-tested, personal customer service will help propel the industry into new levels of success.  


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