Technology has forever changed the role of today's mortgage loan officer. It now plays a much bigger — if not necessary — part of the mortgage loan life cycle. Consumer demand has moved online, and nonbank, online lenders now lead new loan sales. According to the Federal Housing Authority, nonbank, online lenders represent 73% of new loans. However, the market has never been hotter for mortgage loan officers and it will only get hotter for those who employ the right tactics to reach prospective homebuyers.
We have officially entered the era of the digitally empowered mortgage loan officer.
In a recent study from National Mortgage News, 83% of mortgage loan officers said digital mortgage technology was key to their company's future growth, and two-thirds stated consumer self-service digital tools were "very" or "extremely" important to their career satisfaction.
The digitally empowered mortgage loan officer uses technology to:
Acquire new business
Improve their ability to service clients
Automate manual interactions with prospects and clients, increasing reaction time to opportunities
These individuals play in both the online and physical world to establish and nurture demand.
According to the National Association of Realtors®, 90% of all home buyers search online for their home, and 42% state the internet was their first step in the home buying process — before contacting an agent.
This is great news for digitally empowered mortgage loan officers, who have an office and physical location. This location data will be used to determine your ranking in organic search results and help you appear at the top of the results. As more nonbanking competitors and aggregators sell leads, they will depend heavily on paid search media. This competition has already caused mortgage search terms to be the most expensive in the industry — at almost $50 Cost Per Click (CPC).
Normally this would be depressing news for mortgage loan officers, but atlas online publishers — Zillow, LendingTree, Google, Facebook, and hundreds more — provide free online real-estate to market yourself.
In a recent study, Yext estimates this high-intent traffic (i.e. prospective homebuyers searching online) is 3-12x higher than the traffic coming to your website.* This is a major advantage for mortgage loan officers over the digital disruptors. And with new technologies such as voice search beginning to dominate the search market, consumers may depend more heavily on these digital channels for different aspects of the customer mortgage buying journey.
However, there is work ahead for mortgage businesses and mortgage loan officers. Yext recently ran a study and found more than 60% of mortgage loan officer information was incorrect on online publishers.* The study points out a combination of issues — either mortgage loan officers aren't showing up at all, or their information is missing or incorrect.
Imagine this scenario: you're a highly respected loan officer, and a realtor or insurance agent refers a prospective homebuyer to you. The customer goes online and finds your general listing, but the numbers are wrong, and the links don't point to an online profile where they could fill out a request for contact form. They will simply move on. And you will lose out on a new client — and even worse — revenue. What can you do to fix this?
Five Simple Steps to Win in Local Search
Fix the mess: Control your brand by cleaning up incorrect information about your online presence and ensure you show up in search results. This is the highest ROI activity you can do to improve lead generation.
Tune up your performance: Drive lift in market and optimize your channels to generate leads. Fields to focus on that drive local performance are name, address, phone number, hours of operations, language, and products you support.
Extend and amplify your network: One of the first things a successful mortgage loan officer does is build relationships with financial advisors, insurance agents, and realtors. Digitally empowered mortgage loan officers take this game online by publishing social events to amplify their brand in the community. Remember to also ask past clients to leave reviews.
Drive automation: Automate time-consuming tasks like updating the information about your locations and officers every time something changes — giving you more time to focus on growing your business.
Leverage insights to inform your strategy: Get competitive reports on what consumers want, and how your competitors are performing against you. Every market is different, so take the time to learn what will make the biggest impact for your efforts.