At this point, most providers in the industry know that good mobile technology is key to consumer satisfaction. According to a recent survey by HousingWire and Maxwell, more than 70% of lenders said their top concern in implementing new technology was to improve the borrower experience. While there are many amazing technology products on the market, as we outline here, there are also many resources available that housing professionals can utilize to improve the customer experience outside of purchased technology.
Mobile devices have forever changed the way that Americans make purchasing decisions and interact with their providers. According to a survey by the National Association of Realtors, 89% of new home shoppers use a mobile search engine at the onset and throughout their research. Mobile communication and shopping is even more prominent among Millennial homebuyers, who make up one in three home purchases. And, according to Pew Research, 28% of Millennials only use their smartphone to access the Internet.
So why aren’t we using mobile technology in every capacity we can?
For those who either are unable to secure in-house technology or would like to incorporate a greater mobile technology strategy with their customers, we have outlined a few mobile apps to consider that won’t break the bank and will improve the customer experience. We examine the social interaction and communication experience with borrowers, consideration of ancillary products or services with mobile apps, and recommendations the borrower can use along their journey through homeownership.
1. Communication through messenger applications
It may come as no surprise, but the vast majority of consumers today say social media is a major influencer of their purchasing decisions. One reason for that is their ability to connect and communicate with providers online. For loan officers, being accessible through top social media platforms has become a critical way to generate new leads or respond quickly to referrals.
As Quicken Loans’ General Counsel, Jeremy Potter, explained to us, not being accessible on social media is not being accessible to the consumer. “You should meet the consumer at their point of need, which may be Twitter or your Facebook page,” he said.
He explained that federal regulators have always required that you be accessible to consumers. “You should be on social media because that’s where your consumers are.” We recommend being accessible through Facebook Messenger (checking regularly) and Instagram or Twitter if you are an active user on those accounts. Secondly, consider the messenger apps your clients may be using as well, such as WhatsApp or WeChat.
2. Mobile apps from vendors and ancillary service providers
Many companies are releasing amazing technology for every aspect of the home buying process. Know what your partners are using to work with their clients or that may be available for you to offer to yours for free. Consider what real estate agencies, financial advisors, credit repair providers and other partners may be providing your clients that you can participate in or recommend.
Also carefully consider the vendors you choose based on the kind of technology they may be able to offer your clients.
3. Top mobile apps for buyers at every stage of the process
An industry-leading study by PricewaterhouseCoopers points out that 49% of customers are curious about how mobile apps can assist them in streamlining the mortgage and home buying process. Our team created a report of the top mobile apps homebuyers use at every stage of the buying process in order to help lenders and agents better understand which apps to recommend to supplement the buyer experience at every step.
We researched and tested every homebuyer app we could find and have come up with a list of the best ones and at which stage of the homebuying process to use them. Here are four of our top-rated apps on the list. Let us know what you think is missing in the comments!
Redfin: Redfin is rated the best home shopping app on the market due to its accuracy and clean user interface. During the initial stages of the home buying process, users can search neighborhood statistics like local school information, crime rates, or Walk Score and perform 3D Walkthrough home tours. The app is also great for customizing listings and collaboration. Users can add their own notes and pictures to a listing and share them with friends and family. Note, although Redfin is a real estate brokerage and promotes their own agents, the app is still a great platform for finding homes and sharing with a users’ agents of choice.
NerdWallet: Planning to buy a home requires a lot of financial planning, and the NerdWallet app is a great tool that covers a lot of ground. Its basic features include budget tracking, upcoming bill alerts, learning your credit score, and setting goals. Users can link multiple accounts and view all of their cash flow in one place. Our favorite part about this app is the customizability; if a user’s biggest financial goal is to save for a home, NerdWallet crunches the numbers and tailors tips to save smarter. Users can work towards several different goals (lower debt, build credit, save for retirement) and prioritize them according to preference! For an all-encompassing financial app that helps users prepare for a home purchase, NerdWallet is our pick.
Tiny Scanner: If you don’t have a mobile app in your company that allows you to easily upload documents, this is your app. Tiny Scanner turns smartphones into a document scanner so clients don’t have to waste time looking for a copier or running to a print center. The app turns photos of documents into clean PDFs that can be easily shared via email, faxed, or saved to your phone. Uploading to Dropbox or Google Drive and other digital locations beyond email require upgrading to Pro, but the free version gets the job done. Tiny Scanner is a necessity when you need to send over forms quickly and professionally!
Houzz: The documents have been signed, the keys handed over, and the buyer is finally moved in! Now it’s time to make the new house a home and whether it’s remodeling, building, or decorating, Houzz can help. Users can get inspiration from the app’s large database of photos and real life projects, organize ideas by room or theme, read articles by design experts. Once a project is in place, Houzz is a marketplace for products and materials from furniture to tile. The app even has an augmented reality tool to visualize items in a space using a smartphone camera. Houzz is also a network. The app connects users to local home improvement professionals from architects to contractors to cover all aspects of a project. Users can also discuss design topics and get feedback on DIY projects from others!
In summary, you’ll notice the top trends among the best-rated mobile apps include customization and ease of use. Utilize mobile apps to enhance the relationship with borrowers through a more personalized experience, and whether you have a company app or not, your borrowers will walk away happy.