The home-buying process has changed a lot during the past decade or so, and with those changes have come a lot of new challenges. For lenders who want to remain competitive, simply meeting those challenges isn’t enough. Today’s lenders need to know how to overcome those obstacles — and maybe even turn them into advantages. Here are the top five challenges lenders can expect to encounter during the rest of 2019 and throughout 2020, along with a few tips on how to conquer them.
Challenge 1: Building new real estate partnerships
Even though it makes sense to get approved for a mortgage before going house-shopping, many buyers postpone the mortgage process until they start working with an agent. That means that for lenders, networking with real estate agents is one of the best ways to bring in new business. And acquiring those new leads is one of the most critical challenges for today’s lenders.
What can you do to capture new leads and grow your network? Certainly, you can tap into tried-and true techniques, like taking a real estate partner to lunch or sending them a card on their birthday. But a recent roundtable hosted by Housing Wire found that when it comes to real estate lead generation in today’s competitive marketplace, these activities are the icing on the cake — not the cake itself. Today’s real estate professionals are looking for more; specifically, they want a little quid pro quo: They’ll send buyer referrals your way if you’re willing to refer them to buyers in their area. This type of mutually beneficial exchange represents a much larger potential financial gain for both parties, and it’s an offer most real estate pros are more likely to respond to.
One more tip: Make sure your marketing is personalized to each potential client. Chances are, you’re not the only lender courting an agent. You need to make that extra effort to stand out — and stand above — your competitors. Don’t use generic, one-size-fits-all marketing techniques; understand what’s valuable to each agent or broker, and tailor your outreach to those desires.
Challenge 2: Nurturing existing partnerships
Attracting new clients is exciting; after all, businesses depend on new customers to fuel growth and revenue. But nurturing the clients you already have is important, too. In fact, it can cost businesses five times as much to acquire a new lead as it does to retain an existing client, which means making your current client base happy should be a priority. What’s more, according to a report from management consulting firm Bain & Company, in the finance sector alone, just a 5 percent increase in client retention can yield more than a 25 percent increase in profit. Satisfied clients are also more likely to bring word-of-mouth referrals, which means spending time satisfying the clients you have can be a really effective technique for meeting challenge #1, as well.
Obviously, it’s a lot easier to retain a client who feels valued and satisfied; the challenge is figuring out the best way to achieve those ends. The good news is, the same things that work to get a new client work for retaining clients. There’s no new “magic” you need to learn: Make your clients feel valued and special, just like you did when you were looking to make that initial connection. The problem isn’t’ so much that retention efforts are difficult; it’s that many businesses wind up focusing most of their attention on getting those new clients instead of pleasing the clients they already have. Two more actionable ways to keep clients happy: Be responsive in answering questions and show up at closings. These two simple actions can take a lot of burden and stress from real estate professionals, while earning you their ever-lasting loyalty.
Challenge 3: Generating enough real estate leads
Nurturing real estate contacts is important, but it’s just one part of your success as a mortgage lender. Home buyer lead generation is important, too, and that means you also need to be attractive to buyers who come to your directly. For today’s consumers, that usually means being available online, both via your website and through an online app. Digital origination channels have become much more widely available in recent years, and a recent survey by J.D. Power found customer satisfaction with the loan process has risen as a result. But just being online isn’t enough when it comes to successful home buyer lead generation. You need a digital interface that’s easy to use and able to deliver the information and data consumers need to make their loan decision and sail through the application process with ease.
You also need to make sure the platform you use works well with your own workflow and supports personalized interaction at specific points of the consumer’s journey — particularly during initial follow-up and toward the end of the application process, when consumers may reach out to confirm the loan’s terms or obtain additional information about terms that may be confusing.
And since so many consumers use digital pathways to find a lender, having a presence on review sites like Yelp or Google can give you the visibility you need to compete in specific marketplaces. Just be sure to keep up with your reviews so you can address any negative feedback as quickly as possible.
Challenge 4: Converting leads that come in
Once you’ve got eyes on your site, what’s the best way to convert those leads to customers? Responding quickly to customer inquiries. Delays of even one day can cause customer satisfaction levels to dip substantially, according to that same J.D. Power survey, and satisfaction levels continue to drop with each day of waiting for a response. Research from Forbes says to be really successful, you need to think in terms of minutes, not days. Lenders who reach out within a few minutes of that initial contact are 80 percent more likely to capture that lead than those who wait a day or more; wait just a half hour, and that number drops to about 30 percent.
After the application is submitted, you can keep customers happy by providing them with regular updates so they know where they are in the loan approval process. Make yourself available to answer questions, and as with agents, try to make your interactions as personal as possible so customers feel valued and appreciated.
Challenge 5: Keeping up with the database of prospects
“Big data” is changing the way lenders do business, offering agile solutions aimed at decreasing both the time and the cost involved in the overall lending process. Capturing and analyzing data from consumers and real estate pros not only helps lenders deliver a sleeker, easier-to-use, more satisfying experience for their clients, but it also helps them provide products and services that are tailored to the individual client’s needs. Today’s top companies use big data to drive all sorts of critical business decisions, including decisions about client acquisition and risk management. Lenders can do the same — but the problem is, for many lenders, dealing with a lot of data can be cumbersome and time-intensive, distracting them from other activities, like providing that personalized attention that’s critical for converting leads to happy clients.
Having an easy-to-use digital platform that lets lenders capture, organize, search, and analyze data is essential for taming large amounts of data, enabling lenders to provide a better experience at every stage of the loan process. With the right data analytics at your fingertips, you can conquer database overload and use those insights not only to meet your clients’ current needs, but to predict their future needs as well.
Meeting the challenges of 2019 — and beyond
The lending landscape is always shifting, and that means there will always be new challenges that need to be met and mastered. Fortunately, technology can provide a robust solution for many of those challenges by helping you harness data-driven insights aimed at empowering your decisions and nurturing your growth. The problem is, all too-often, tech solutions that look sleek on the surface are painfully difficult to implement in real-world situations.
At NestReady, our white-label solutions integrate all aspects of the home-buying journey, providing a simple, seamless way for lenders, buyers and agents to interact throughout every stage if the process. The result is an experience that’s richer, easier, faster and, perhaps most importantly, more satisfying for everyone. If you’re ready to learn how our digital platform can help you grow your lending business, visit our site to schedule your free demo today.