Residential Magazine

‘Hey, Peeps’ Isn’t the Best Conversation Starter

AI certainly has marketing uses, but a clear-eyed approach is warranted

By Eric Simantel

There are seemingly hundreds of webinars, articles and discussions on artificial intelligence that explain why folks should be using this tool in marketing and communications with potential and current mortgage clients. AI can be useful, but proceed with caution.

Let’s start with how and why AI is used. The “how” is pretty simple. There are multiple AI services available, including ChatGPT, Claude and Jasper. You might already be using Grammarly, which bills itself as a free AI writing assistance tool.

“There are benefits to AI. If you have writer’s block when putting together a social media post on reverse mortgages, this might be a way to break it.”

Once you create an account (many are free), you can teach it to learn your writing style. Simply type in something to the effect, “Do you want to learn how I write?” The prompt is no more complicated than an internet search bar.

Now for the “why.” AI has been publicized as being wickedly smart and a true timesaver due to its ability to learn and grow in the future. There are specific concerns about AI’s use in mortgage and business lending. These include the potential to insert bias in the mortgage process, as well as possible security and privacy risks. The late physicist Stephen Hawking even warned about AI as a would-be threat to humankind, although these existential worries are thankfully not as immediate.

Overly informal

Setting aside these concerns, ChatGPT was given a writing example and a prompt to produce marketing materials on a loan program. The prompt stated, “Using an informal tone and a humorous example, write a social media post about reverse mortgages.” Here’s what the AI tool produced (emojis were removed):

Hey, peeps! Let’s talk about reverse mortgages, or as I like to call ‘em, “The Robin Hood of Mortgages”! Picture this: You’re retired, living it up in your dream house, but your bank account is starting to resemble a dried-up raisin. Reverse mortgages are like that lifeboat you didn’t even know you had!

Here’s the scoop, without the snooze-fest: Instead of sending your hard-earned cash to Mr. Banker every month, the bank sends YOU a check! It’s like they’re saying, “Thanks for being a homeowner; here’s some cash for your troubles!”

Let’s get down to brass tacks with a hilarious example: Meet Aunt Edna. She’s 75, loves her cozy cottage, and is always up for bingo night. But Edna’s wallet is flatter than a pancake, and she’s thinking, “How can I afford more bingo and maybe a fancy hat collection?”

Enter the reverse mortgage! Edna turns her humble abode into a cash cow. The bank coughs up some dough, and she can keep living in her cottage, rent-free, until the cows come home. The best part? Aunt Edna doesn’t have to pay back a dime until she’s sipping her morning coffee in the great bingo hall in the sky.

But before you start dreaming of all the fancy hats you could buy, remember to chat with a mortgage wizard to understand the ins and outs. Reverse mortgages have some twists and turns you need to know about! So there you have it, folks! Reverse mortgages can be your golden ticket to financial freedom in your golden years. Just remember, with great mortgage power comes great mortgage responsibility! #ReverseMortgageWins #CashForLife

Omitted specifics

First, the obvious: Yikes. Among other things, it’s a very rare occasion that one would address older clients as “peeps.” That writing style is more in line with a teenager trapped in high school in 1995 than a professional mortgage originator’s writing style.

That said, there are benefits to AI. If you have writer’s block when putting together a social media post on reverse mortgages, this might be a way to break it. The technology also wrote the post in about 10 seconds. Reportedly, it does learn a user’s writing style as more examples are put in. In the example above, it might not have had enough previous content to match the requested writing style.

There are pitfalls to AI content too. How was it generated? Is it unique content or does it plagiarize a post from elsewhere? If it’s original, who owns the content? A mortgage originator is potentially on the hook from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for advertising unsubstantiated content.

It is also incorrect in stating that “Aunt Edna doesn’t have to pay back a dime until she’s sipping her morning coffee in the great bingo hall in the sky.” With a reverse mortgage, if Aunt Edna dies and her spouse is still living, in an eligible circumstance, they get to continue living in the home as their primary residence. The post also doesn’t speak to the fact that Aunt Edna isn’t allowed to convert the home into an investment property. In most situations, if she moves out, the loan becomes due.

What about using AI to produce a shorter post on X, formerly Twitter, to help drum up reverse mortgage interest? The simple prompt of asking ChatGPT to write a Twitter post on reverse mortgages produced this result:

Considering a #ReverseMortgage? It’s like tapping into the hidden treasure chest of your home equity! But remember, with great power comes great responsibility. Before you dive in, consult a financial advisor (sic) and weigh the pros & cons. Your home, your future! #Retirement

Falls a little flat, doesn’t it? How many likes or shares will that post get? Likely, the inside of a doughnut.

Regulatory caution

What about lead generation? AI companies boast about the ability of these tools to help mortgage originators find leads. Below is what ChatGPT says when prompted, “Write about using AI to bring in new mortgage leads and how to communicate with clients.”

The AI Wand: Turning Data into Leads. Imagine AI as the magician’s wand, waving over a sea of data, and voila — out pops a list of potential clients. AI has the incredible power to sift through massive amounts of information faster than a blink of an eye. It identifies prospects who are actively looking for mortgages, like a hawk spotting its prey from miles away.

The Rabbit Hole: Where AI Finds Your Leads. But where does AI find these leads, you ask? Well, it’s a bit like a scavenger hunt. AI scours social media platforms, real estate websites, and even good old Google to discover people who have shown interest in buying a home. It’s like finding Easter eggs — except instead of candy, you get valuable leads.

AI vs. Manual Search: The Tortoise and the Hare. Now, let’s talk speed. Imagine manually searching for leads as being the slow and steady tortoise, while AI is the speedy hare. The tortoise may eventually find a few leads, but AI has already raced ahead and gathered a bouquet of them. AI saves you time, and as we all know, time is money in the mortgage game.

That all sounds well and good. But if you use AI to bring in leads, are you sure that you aren’t taking an action that potentially discriminates against some clients based on their race, religion, sex or other characteristics?

Meta (formerly Facebook) already landed in trouble with the Federal Housing Administration over discrimination with its targeted advertising system that uses AI. And CFPB Director Rohit Chopra has warned that more regulation is called for with AI-based lending decisions.


Bottom line, artificial intelligence can be and will be a timesaver for originators and many other mortgage professionals. Originators can rely on AI to create content, but the person using the content is responsible for what’s published. Be brave, but be careful. ●


  • Eric Simantel

    Eric Simantel is a branch manager and mortgage originator for the Ryder Mortgage Group (dba C2 Financial) in Portland, Oregon. Simantel spent more than 17 years in the sponsorship and advertising world prior to getting his mortgage license in 2020. He received his MBA from the University of Oregon in 2002. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from San Diego State University in 2000.

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