Zillow has now entered the mortgage space. As soon as the email alert from HousingWire hit my inbox, I could already see the responses in my head.
The initial response from the entrenched industry stewards. "Good luck Zillow." "Mortgages aren't easy to do." "This will be another failure by a tech company trying to do what we do." "This will be eLoan 2.0." "I remember when Google tried to do mortgages." And so on…
Then there was the sky is falling responses. "The beginning of the end for mortgage lenders." "Time for me to go do something else." "No way I can compete with Zillow." "Are they hiring?" "I am shocked!" "Who is next? Amazon?"
Yes, Amazon. Yes, they will eventually buy a mortgage company. Yes, they will eventually buy a real estate company. I have been saying this since the end of last year. You're shocked? Really? Have you not been paying attention? Of course this will happen and there will be others.
And no Mr. & Mrs. MBA, this isn't like Google or eloan. You see, Zillow is buying an already fully functional mortgage lender (Mortgage Lenders of America). They don't have to "learn how" to do what we do. They are already doing it.
Oh, and Zillow, thanks to their long-form leads, has been looking at the mortgage and consumer data for a while now. You think they weren't seeing how they could utilize the data that passed through their platform to their advantage? Really? Zillow is a business and they are doing what any other good business would do. Grow and look for opportunities.
There is a reason to be concerned if you are a commodity MLO, with no branding, canned automated marketing, no drive to learn social media, sell on price, and are trading on your phone to ring from past clients. There is a reason to be concerned if you are a "onesy twosey" MLO. Even if you are a good producer, there is a reason to be concerned. There are two main reasons in fact, and here they are:
1) Zillow and Amazon can both lose a lot of money in order to gain market share. You can't. Your company can't. Especially with margin compression being what it is, your company REALLY can't lose a lot of money.
2) Zillow and Amazon have amazing consumer reach, consumer experience, attention, trust, and brand recognition. I am sorry, but whatever company you work for, with the exception of Quicken Loans, you do not have the national brand recognition. And with the exception of a handful of companies like LoanDepot and Movement Mortgage, you haven't been doubling down on your technology, marketing, social media, and consumer experience.
This is very simple. Consumers like a great experience. They also like experiences that play off of one another and that are familiar to them in their everyday life. Consumers want the Amazon and Apple experience. And for far too long the mortgage industry has given them Windows 95.
You think that being a "local lender" and "relationships" are going to compete at scale against marketing behemoths like Zillow and Amazon? Depending on your niche market and your community, the answer is going to mostly be a big fat NO.
If consumers don't even know about you, what does being local matter? Good price? Great service? It all means jack squat if you are invisible.
Out of the gate, you are competing against 160 million monthly visitors at Zillow. You are just a hair under 200 million monthly visitors at Amazon. Do you honestly think you are going to compete with that type of reach and attention? If you do, I will have two of whatever you are drinking.
BUT all is not lost. Oh, no, no, no it isn't. Do you want to be in the best possible position to be what my friend Dave Savage calls "Disruption Proof"? Then keep reading.
Here are my 6 keys on how to enjoy success in our current mortgage climate:
1) Lenders, coach your LOs how to be great advisors (something my friend Barry Habib preaches).
2) Lenders, do not settle for producers not adopting the tools you are giving them.
3) Lenders, teach the value of BRAND to your LOs. Brand local to get Brand national.
4) Lenders, invest in consumer experience tools like Blend, SocialSurvey, MBSHighway, MortgageCoach, CRMs (TotalExpert, Jungo) - See #1 & #2
5) Lenders & LOs, you need to go 1000% in on Social Media Marketing
6) Lenders, invest in a Modern Marketing Coaching program for your company and LOs. Content Marketing, Relationship Marketing, Demand, Inbound taught to you by people who truly understand the shift we are going through right now.
If you are a LO or Lender that is already doing the above, and I mean REALLY DOING IT, then you have nothing to fear. I know plenty of them and they don't sweat things like this, because they already know this next part.
The pie of originations is about to become smaller, BUT if you truly "get it" there will be plenty of business success in your future, simply because those who don't get it will not be in business any longer.