The advent of Technology has called into question the future role of real estate agents and mortgage loan originators. Well-funded tech firms are attempting to disrupt and relegate the role of agent and lender in a fashion similar to the once prominent travel agent.
The future isn’t “approaching.” The future is here! How can you pivot and profit vs. be disrupted and displaced?
If you’re going to survive the digital shift, you have to start with understanding the impact of the digital culture on consumer behavior and expectations. The following are excerpts from my recent book “Disrupt or Die.”
The Rise of The Digital Culture
Remember “going to the bank?” When Amazon sold only books? In 1997, we were warned not to talk to strangers on the Internet, much less get into cars with them at night. In 2020, we use the Internet to bring strangers to our homes and get in their cars.
People are more comfortable than ever integrating technology into all aspects of their lives and demand efficiency, speed and personalization.
COVID-19 has accelerated the pace of change in real estate. Agents and lenders are forced to rethink almost every aspect of their business— closing deals remotely, integrating technology, virtual selling and prioritizing service over sales.
The Rise of Social Media
The average homebuyer spends nearly 14 hours a week on social, and 65% say they are influenced by online friends’ home-buying posts. After seeing that their online friends bought a home, about 33% of millennial first-time homebuyers say they reflect on their ability to do the same, according to USA Today.
That means that it’s important for you to cultivate a strong social media presence to remain relevant to bring in new referrals and leads. Do you have a robust presence on social media? About 93% of consumers expect you to have a social media presence, reports Cone, Inc. If not, you are fading away from consumer attention.
According to Fannie Mae’s 2019 National Housing Survey, fewer people are using their lender as a primary source for information. Just 47% now compared with 58% in 2015.
People are using portals and websites instead to self-educate. Consumers are seeking information. If they don’t get it from lenders, they’ll get it from another source. You and I both know the information consumers get online is not always accurate or relevant.
Is your website or social media presence a source of education for prospects? Do you publish content, videos, articles or podcasts to help guide people in making an informed decision?
You are being evaluated by your online presence. If you’re not producing content, you basically don’t exist.
To be relevant today and get chosen, we must first become known and win the customer early.
Here is a business truth: People buy from who they know, like, and trust. You’re in a business that requires you to be known, be likeable and be trustworthy.
It’s not enough to just be known for getting a mortgage. That’s not unique and doesn’t create authority or human connection in and of itself, relegating you to competing on price alone.
How do you rise above the noise, become known, and get people to choose you? What will you be known for? What can you do that’s uniquely you?You can become known by going “all in” on your chosen social media platform or content type and having a unique style or point of view.
Sean Cahan, president and producing loan originator of Cornerstone Mortgage Group in San Diego branded himself as “The Mortgage Geek.” Denise Donahue branded herself as “The Mortgage Nerd.” Both are leveraging video to become known, lead with education and make it fun.
Another way to become known is to specialize in a loan product or demographic niches. Think VA, USDA, 203K, First Timers, Multigenerational, Divorce, VA, First Responders, Empty Nesters, Investors, Singles and more!
Rick Elmendorf with Caliber Home Loans always had an admiration for the men and women who serve in the Armed Forces, which has inspired him to help thousands of military personnel obtain VA financing. Rick ranks asthe #1 VA lender for purchase volume in Metro DC, funding over $80 million in VA loans in 2019.
Disrupt Proof Your Business
Consumers increasingly value the role of lender as trusted advisor for their unique situation more than ever before.
The modern originator doesn’t just quote rates and fees.They are a helpful guide, assisting consumers in understanding the overwhelming barrage of information by providing meaningful interpretation and implementation of a personalized solution.
Some believe artificial intelligence will disrupt the human interaction with homebuyers and remove loan officers entirely from the equation. However, data does not suggest this will happen anytime soon.
According to consumer research by Price Waterhouse Coopers, today’s borrowers prefer a combination of digital tools with knowledgeable advisors.
You don’t sell mortgages. That’s just the end result of creating trust. Trust is a feeling created through a combination of personal engagement with a brand (you) and the shared experience of others with that brand (what others say about you).
Robert Cialdini is the Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University and was a visiting professor of marketing, business and psychology at Stanford University. His books, including “Influence” and “Pre-Suasion,” have sold more than five million copies in 41 different languages and Fortune lists his books in its “75 Smartest Business Books.”
In a recent interview, Dr. Cialdini was asked, “In this very noisy, overwhelming world, what can anybody do to stand out?” Without hesitation, he said just three words: “Be. More. Human.”
In a world of algorithms, machine learning and automation, being more human creates emotion, gives meaning and impact.