Residential Magazine

It’s Too Late if They’ve Started Shopping

Flag prospects during the aspirational phase of the homebuying journey

By Kristopher Lazzaretti

It’s no secret that the refinance boom is over. Just look at the 40% year-over-year drop in June 2023 for the Mortgage Bankers Association’s refi applications index. Worse still, Fannie Mae reported that refinances as of mid-July were down nearly 90% from their peak in third-quarter 2020.

Smart mortgage marketers are not taking the current interest rate environment lying down. As mortgage rates climb to 7% and higher, these professionals are on the offensive and vying to capture as much of the home purchase market as possible.

“Even the largest and most sophisticated marketers engage partners to help deliver all or part of these tasks.”

The industry’s gold standard for purchase mortgage marketing ― using credit-based inquiry triggers to target consumers who are already shopping ― continues to deliver results. But in today’s hypercompetitive mortgage environment, is it enough to only target borrowers after they’ve applied for a loan?

Critical behaviors

Sophisticated mortgage marketers are always looking for innovative ideas. Today, many enhance their traditional credit-inquiry-based marketing programs with “pre-mover triggers.”

These triggers flag prospects in the early stages of the borrower journey, tracking indicators that demonstrate a consumer is likely to soon be in the market for a new home. This category of triggers includes observed actions such as new home listings, apartment sublet listings and pre-listing inspections, as well as intent-type signals like online home searches and e-commerce activities.

The homebuying journey doesn’t begin with the loan application. It starts at the aspiration phase ― where consumers start thinking about their next home. When their baby starts moving around, new parents realize they need more space than their current apartment has. A retired couple thinks about downsizing now that their kids are out of the house. A young professional moving up the corporate ladder starts thinking about their starter home.

These triggers can dramatically alter the mortgage marketing playing field. By identifying future borrowers before competitors even know they exist, savvy lenders and originators can jump the line and reach these prospects first, sometimes weeks or even months before others.

This early-stage access grants mortgage originators entry at a pivotal juncture. It affords them the advantage of building credibility and preference while walking alongside prospects at the start of their journey — and generally in advance of any prequalification or preapproval activity. When a consumer is ready to bid on a house, they already have your brand in mind.

Data quality

The value of any marketing campaign to reach these prospects is only as good as the data behind it. And mortgage marketers who rely on a single source for data will not have access to all the high-quality leads available in their areas of business.

To get a complete picture of all critical trigger behaviors that suggest a prospect may soon be moving and in the market for a loan, marketers need access to an extensively multisourced database. A robust data solution can offer a 360-degree view of the market. It requires aggregated feeds from dozens of specialty providers on a massive scale — tracking signals, identifying patterns and filtering out noise.

Synthesizing consumer names with individual characteristics and behaviors boosts accuracy and offers a high-definition view of the entire prospect pool. It also directly impacts the return on investment for any campaign. In fact, lenders that utilize data from multiple complementary sources can increase the universe of potential borrowers up to seven times.

Of course, just as data quality and rigor matter, time is of the essence too. Audience responsiveness drops each week after a trigger event. This used to be the “big rock” for many marketers, since they knew that by the time they received the trigger, the prospect would have already moved and the transactional window would be closed. But this is an exciting new era.

New cloud-based technologies are making it possible to gather billions of actionable insights across hundreds of distinct data feeds and activate them in near real time. The marketing implications of this kind of speed are significant. For example, potential borrowers can be engaged across multiple coordinated marketing channels within days of exhibiting their first pre-mover behaviors. Again, this allows mortgage marketers to get their foot in the door with consumers as soon as possible.

Predictive insights

If someone is researching 30-year fixed mortgage rates in your market, or checking online listings every day for houses priced below $450,000, you have some knowledge that they may be poised to move in the not-too-distant future. But do they have capacity to spend? And, if given the option, would they choose you or another lender?

Some marketers are pushing the boundaries of technology and the pre-mover marketing strategy even further. They’re gathering predictive insights into household financial health, investable assets and provider selection preferences, then stitching them together with pre-mover trigger data to build highly personalized and highly effective audience profiles. With this data in hand, they are serving up relevant and timely marketing messages across multiple types of buyer personalities and affluence segments.

If you find that the data, technology and activation processes seem too much, you’re not alone. Even the largest and most sophisticated marketers engage partners to help deliver all or part of these tasks.

Lenders often find it faster and more economical to utilize providers that have already made the required investments in data-sourcing and marketing-activation technology. The right approach can accelerate success by strategically integrating partner data, reporting attribution, and campaign production and deployment capabilities with your company’s unique talents and value-proposition elements.

With the refinance market likely challenged for years to come, few lenders are finding they can afford to wait to advance their purchase loan marketing programs. With more rate hikes potentially on the way, data- and technology-powered marketing programs are among the most efficient levers to keep a mortgage company’s pipeline full of new opportunities. And they also offer a sizable advantage that will leave competitors wondering where all their new business went. ●


  • Kristopher Lazzaretti

    Kristopher Lazzaretti is president of data solutions at Deluxe, a full-service marketing solutions company. Deluxe identifies up to 600,000 pre-movers each week, one to two full weeks ahead of the competition. The company ingests and stitches together hundreds of independent data feeds, and it partners with the three major credit bureaus to create a unified data fabric that is clean and ready for deployment. Learn more about Deluxe’s mover marketing programs at

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