The shifting landscape: Top lenders share insight on attracting today’s borrowers

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Depending on how you look at it, the wave of Millennial homebuyers is either already happening or may not happen at all. Either way, the face of the mortgage borrower is changing. It may not be changing as fast as we once thought, but change is happening.

And all across the industry, mortgage companies are working to be in a position to capitalize on that change, in whatever form it takes.

That was the subject of the “How to Attract New Buyer Groups” panel held Thursday at HousingWire’s engage.marketing conference in Charlotte.

On the panel were Leora Ruzin, vice president of secondary marketing at Guaranteed Rate; Keosha Burns, vice president of public relations at JPMorgan Chase; Patricia Korth-McDonnell, chief marketing officer at Better.com; and Riffat Lakhani, vice president of marketing at Guidance Residential.

The consensus among the panelists was that mortgage companies need to be prepared for whatever borrower comes to them, whether they’re young, old, or anywhere in between.

“Homeownership is still a universal goal, but we’re getting there in different ways now,” Burns said.

Burns, who came to Chase from Fannie Mae, discussed how Chase is now focusing on being an informative resource for potential borrowers.

“I think we need to be educating first, not sending people straight to pre-qualification,” Burns said. “We need to think about it from the customer’s perspective, not from ours”

Burns said that Chase even went so far as to partner with several social medial influencers on the tasks associated with “adulting.”

Korth-McDonnell agreed with the need for more education, especially around younger potential borrowers, who may be conditioned at this point to believe they’ll never be able to buy a house.

“Maybe these kids aren’t buying because we’ve consistently told them we can’t,” Korth-McDonnell said, referring to much of the media zeitgeist surrounding Millennials. “So we’re trying to change that perspective.”

Burns also spoke about older consumers who may be in the market for a new home, but they’re unfamiliar with how the mortgage process works now.

“If you’ve lived in your home for 30 years, you don’t know what the process is like now,” Burns said.

The panelists all agreed that education is key. Helping borrowers understand the process first and foremost, and then helping with the loan after that.

Another group that Korth-McDonnell said Better.com has seen success with are what she called “system gamers.” According to Korth-McDonnell, system gamers are people who, like the name implies, like to game the system.

“We typically say you have a FICO score of 740 and you’re good. But there are these people that have these insanely high FICO scores, and they love us,” Korth-McDonnell said.

System gamers, according to Korth-McDonnell, are the types of people who perhaps hoard airline miles or hotel points. “They get joy in winning the system,” Korth-McDonnell said. “They say, ‘I bet this system wasn’t designed for me, but I think I can game it.’”

No matter how you look at it, the mortgage business is changing. And the companies that are prepared for that are the ones that are going to find success in the future.

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