When looking for a place to call home, where is the first place people tend to start their search? In years past, it was the real estate section of their local newspaper, or homebuyers would put their trust in the hands of an agent to show them the ropes. However, in the age of the intelligent search, mobile, and on-demand technology, that has all changed.
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 (Millennials accounted for 84% of closed home loans in January 2017), the percentage of prospective homebuyers conducting online research is only going to increase. Therefore, a strong digital strategy is critical for mortgage lenders to capture this new generation of homebuyers.
As more and more millennials turn to the internet for help in the homebuying process, and search on-the-go from their mobile devices, appearing in local search results has become critical for lenders. On top of this, search engines are filtering results more before consumers even get a chance to see them. All consumers are increasingly using the information that's presented to them directly — without ever choosing between links. Homebuyers — including millennials — also rely on intelligent personal assistants such as Apple's Siri, Google Personal Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Microsoft Cortana, which provide only a single "answer" to a query — as opposed to a list of results.
Since artificial intelligence depends on detailed business information to supply users with accurate answers to questions like, "Who are the top-rated mortgage brokers in Illinois?" or, "Home loan providers New England," it is crucial for mortgage lenders to build a robust online presence in order to rank at the top for specific queries. To put it in another way, if the online listings for your mortgage business don't include things like your credentials, your specialties, and the languages you speak, your customers won't find you when they search using those parameters.
Since so few mortgage lenders have reliable and consistent digital knowledge, just by updating and maintaining yours, you can take advantage of this opportunity to appear in local search results and reach today's millennial homebuyer as they search. And by creating listings for each brand and individual loan officer, you can increase the prominence of your mortgage brand everywhere it lives across the search ecosystem.