Mobile technology is no longer an optional luxury. It has become a necessity to compete in today’s market. Whether or not companies adopt it will dictate whether they gain future business from both consumers and real estate agents.
This week, the MBA held its annual technology conference in Los Angeles, in which experts in mortgage technology gathered to discuss compliance, purchasing trends, and consumer experience. One panel focused on the trends in mobile usage and the necessity for lenders to adopt mobile technology.
Moderated by Garth Graham, Senior Partner at STRATMOR Group, the panel shared research that showed mobile usage has become critical to future growth.
Erin Lantz, Vice President of Mortgage for Zillow Group, stated that consumers have shifted from initially looking to their real estate agents for home buying advice to now starting the mortgage process online, often from their mobile devices.
In fact, one in five Millennials use their smartphones exclusively to go online.
As consumers educate themselves online, they often look to a lender to be pre-approved before meeting with a Realtor, said Lantz. “Only 28% of Millennials now look to a real estate agent first. They are starting their process online.”
It’s not just Millennials who are obsessed with their phones. The panel noted that real estate agents (who share an average age of 57) spend about 44% of their time doing business on their mobile devices.
While the call to action seems obvious, lenders still struggle behind their consumer and Realtor demand for mobile adoption. One problem Graham brought to attention is the fact that many loan officers do not want or know how to effectively adopt mobile technology. “They often don’t understand the immediate value to mobile adoption,” he said.
Dave Savage, founder/CEO of Mortgage Coach, suggested, “To get people to act differently, we need to get them to think differently.” That fundamentally starts with understanding the role of customer loyalty in today’s market.
Responsive communication and education are key to generating that customer loyalty. In sharing his mission behind Mortgage Coach, Savage says, “The most important thing is to give options. Borrowers want to self-educate and do research. Your job is to put those options in the hands of consumers in a way they can understand and share with others.”
On an individual level, Rajesh Bhat, co-founder/CEO of Roostify, noted that loan officers must see the immediate value of mobile communication with their customers. This requires education about today’s home buyer needs and preferences. Lenders at a management and corporate level also must understand the necessity of empowering their loan officers to gain that knowledge and utilize technology effectively. This requires the adoption of mobile technology platforms, policies to facilitate compliant communication, and training regarding professional and savvy digital communication.
Consumers want responsiveness on mobile, and if one loan officer is not as responsive as his competitor, he is at a significant disadvantage. “They expect to gain responses quickly and have education delivered to their phones,” says Lantz. “The lenders who are not responsive and engaged on mobile simply will not compete in our market.”