By Doug Wilber
Strategies for empowering the modern loan officer.
The home buying experience has undergone a seismic shift. Highly informed, digitally native millennials are increasingly beginning their homebuying journeys online, with self-service platforms like Zillow and Trulia. And as consumers increasingly turn to digital channels to drive their homebuying journey, savvy loan officers are using social media to distribute compelling content to engage them.
Consider the trends in digital home-buying.
According to Freddie Mac data from the first quarter of 2018, first-time homebuyers accounted for 46 percent of new mortgages—and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that the median age of first-time buyers is now 32. Expectations have changed. Whereas most consumers once used newspapers, flyers, or realtors to research and buy homes, they’re now leaning heavily on digital channels.
This is the age of the self-service home buying market, where consumers can search at any time—from anywhere—and share their results via text, email, and social media platforms.
What kinds of information are millennials seeking out during their home buying process? School statistics, police and crime statistics, neighborhood information, and tax histories on properties.
They’re also turning to the web to research mortgages.
Consumers want to know what they’ll be on the hook for financially if and when they pull the trigger on buying a new home. And they’re already using social to answer these questions.
But despite the fact that consumers are increasingly doing self-service shopping during the beginning of their homebuying journey, the vast majority still end up working with an agent (88 percent for all buyers and 92 percent for millennials). According to NAR, 91 percent of realtors use social media.
And buyers are still financing. Eighty-eight percent of all buyers, and 98 percent of millennials, finance their homes. In other words, most buyers will still want and need to engage a loan officer or a mortgage company.
The modern homebuying experience.
In some ways, the game is still the same—referrals drive business. It’s how these referrals are coming in that has changed. One loan officer we’ve worked with in Sacramento receives over 80 percent of her business as referrals through social media. This is effective social selling in action—tangible business results driven directly by social media activity.
The real estate market has become so intertwined with the digital landscape that agents and industry professionals simply can’t afford not to be there. Amanda Ray, a research analyst at NAR, recently commented that “being on social media is probably too hard to ignore.”
This environment offers loan officers some unique opportunities to use their networks to generate business.
Social selling best practices for loan officers.
- Know your buyer. Make sure you understand the demographics you’re selling into, as well as the markets you’re looking to enter, and post specifically for that audience.
- Engage your full ecosystem. Connect with your networks of referrers on social media—real estate agents, contractors, and house-flippers, as well as customers and prospects. You can do that by providing something of value—information, guidance, anything that can solve a problem or help them do their jobs better. Engagement can also mean nudging real estate brokers and agents to move their applicants through the loan process more quickly.
- Curate quality content. Your channel partners are time-constrained, and likely already have existing relationships with other loan officers. In order to engage them you need to break through the clutter with content that grabs their attention. A reputable and diversified content mix helps position loan officers as thought leaders and approachable individuals.
- Publish at the right time. Timing is crucial. Use a scheduling tool to push content when your audience is most likely to engage. For real estate agents and homebuyers, posts in the evening and later in the week tend to perform better and see higher social shares.
- Be compliant. Loan officers operate in a regulated industry, and content needs to adhere to agency and internal regulations. Use social media compliance tools to help loan officers manage social media compliance processes with features like approval processes and workflows, archiving, team management, and a managed content library.
Doug Wilber is the CEO of Gremlin Social, a company that combines social media marketing with ABA-endorsed compliance tools to make it easy for banks to master the social media landscape and build business using social networks. Gremlin Social helps ensure safe use of social media communication while maximizing social marketing campaigns, guiding strategies, and monitoring return on investments. To learn more, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a recent webinar hosted by the American Bankers Association, First State Bank Mortgage joined Gremlin Social, provider of ABA’s endorsed media content management and distribution platform, to discuss proven methods that banks can employ to arm their loan officers with the tools and social selling strategies to help them close more deals.