The nation’s mortgage mess has had at least one side effect that consumer will likely welcome: an overall drop in direct mail offers from lenders looking to coax borrowers into new and refinanced mortgages and home equity loans. Data released Tuesday by Mintel Comperemedia, a media monitoring service, found that mortgage and home equity lenders reduced direct mail by 50 percent when comparing the first six months of 2008 to the first six months of 2007. Lenders sent an estimated 750 million secured loan mail pieces from January to June 2008, according to the report; In 2007, they sent 1.5 billion during the same period. Secured loan direct mail has been steadily declining each quarter since Q1 2007, when the mortgage and credit mess first came into view. Mintel Comperemedia’s Q2 2008 estimates show mortgage and home equity mail volume 10 pecent lower than during Q1 2008 (360 million versus and estimated 400 million mail pieces in Q1). “Economic struggles have hit lenders hard,” said Farah Huq, senior analyst at Mintel. “As companies work through a shaky market and new legislation, they’re scaling back notably on direct marketing. Many seem to be waiting for winds of change before they send more offers.” Others, quite frankly, might simply be out of business altogether. Interestingly, mortgage-based direct mail increased from Q1 to Q2, while a strong drop in home equity mail drove overall totals down; the strong falloff in HEL offers speaks to the effect of steep price declines in many of the nation’s hardest-hit housing markets. Lenders actually mailed 8 percent more mortgage offers during Q2 2008 (240 million) than during Q1 2008 (220 million). “Though mortgage mail volume remains far lower than a year ago, this is the first uptick we’ve seen in two years,” commented Huq. “It could be because spring is a prime ‘buying’ season or it could be a sign that lenders are slowly beginning to increase direct mail. Still, we don’t expect significantly higher mail volume until the market settles and consumer confidence returns.” Major players Chase and Capital One drove the quarterly increase in mortgage direct mail, according to the Mintel Comperemedia data. Chase increased its mail volume 90 percent, while Capital One boosted offers nearly 140 percent between quarters. The top direct mail campaigns from each lender encouraged recipients to refinance into a fixed rate mortgage for predictable, affordable monthly payments, the researchers noted. For more information, visit http://www.mintel.com.
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