The mortgage industry has reached a turning point. Interest rates are up over the last year and uncertainty in the market is creating a new urgency for homebuyers to lock in a mortgage while rates remain low.
This pressure is driving buyers into the market, creating an enormous opportunity for lenders. However, as rates increase and inventories decline, access to the market is tightening — leaving both offline and online lenders to compete for a more narrow slice of buyers.
If you’re an offline mortgage lender with a physical location, you’ve traditionally relied on networking and recommendations to drive prospective homebuyers to your office. However, given the current state of the market, have you thought about your online marketing strategy and how a lack of one may be crushing your business?
The National Association of Realtors® reports that 90% of all homebuyers search online for their home. For 42% of that group, the internet was their first step in the homebuying process — before contacting an agent. And now that tech-savvy Millennials represent the primary home-purchasing segment of the population, the number of potential homebuyers conducting online lender research is only going to increase.
On top of this, nonbank online lenders now represent a whopping 73% of new loans. That’s an imposing statistic, and even the most digitally savvy lender could understandably feel overwhelmed at the prospect of going up against institutions dedicated solely to the online market.
As a mortgage lender with physical locations, you actually have an inherent edge in the online world. You’re local. The secret to competing online is to have your lending officers and branch offices show up in search and in maps — precisely where your prospective clients are looking. In fact, with the right digital strategy, you’ll be able to command the mortgage search landscape in a way that online lenders aren’t able, and which most local lenders aren’t utilizing.
A study recently conducted at Yext revealed startlingly high error rates in even the most basic online information about mortgage lenders and loan officers — a major no-no for any business in any situation, but especially for one that is trying to appear in local search results.
Of the 5,849 loan officers whose online presence Yext examined across the search ecosystem (including sites like Google, Facebook, Bing, Yelp, and many others), 57.8% had no online presence at all. Of the remaining loan officers that did have some online presence, 64% of their business listings contained incorrect addresses, 42% had errors with their phone numbers, and 46% had errors in business names.
Since so few mortgage lenders have reliable and consistent digital knowledge, just by updating and maintaining yours, you can take advantage of this wide open opportunity to appear prominently in local search results. And by creating listings for each brand and individual loan officer, you can essentially flood the search ecosystem with your offline brand.