Cracking the Code on Marketing for the Realtor Channel

As lenders adjust to a buy-centric market, HousingWire spoke with Brian Boero, CEO of 1000 wattson opportunities to increase the efficiency of lenders in the market for real estate agents and brokers.

HousingWire: What is happening in the world of estate agents right now that lenders should know about?

Brian Boero: Well, it may seem obvious at first glance, but agents and brokers are facing a level of change in the industry that simply didn’t exist before. I’ve been in this industry for 25 years and the mix of disruptive forces at play right now is new, real and, I think, enduring.

First of all, there are simply too many real estate agents looking for too few homes for sale. There were 1,522,801 real estate agents in America at the end of February. This is nearly 200,000 above the previous peak in 2006. This has created an environment of scarcity. Agents and brokers are worried about it and no one sees that changing anytime soon. There are too many mouths to feed from a shrinking table.

For agents who have a lot of business, the speed of the market is unreal. Working with buyers jostling to compete in an insane sellers’ market has become a 24/7 job; houses sell out in the blink of an eye. The best agents are living frenetic existences right now.

It is in this environment that a historic level of money aimed at changing the way people buy and sell homes has sunk. iBuying has opened up a whole new avenue for sellers. “Cash Tender Lenders” are changing the process of buying a traditional home. The two largest home search portals are moving from an advertising model to a referral commission model in which agents pay 30-40% for new business.

Things in the world of real estate agents and brokers right now are, in a nutshell, intense.

HW: OK, so how do lenders looking to do better in the Realtor channel address this reality?

BB: We’ve done hundreds of campaigns in this space and conducted extensive research with real estate agents across the country, and if I had to distill those learnings into a few basic truths, it would be this:

First of all, being a real estate agent is deeply uncertain way to be. You wake up every morning with no pay to gamble in a crowded market shaped by externalities you can’t control. The job of the lending partner is to mitigate this uncertainty. Mortgage marketers who convincingly communicate that they can meet this basic need and demonstrate how they do it win.

Second, most real estate agents are people people. And people are looking for connection, especially in times like these. Much of the marketing we see from lenders doesn’t seem to fully understand this. Messaging is flat, generic, impersonal, and overly tech-focused. Think of it this (admittedly corny) way: right now, real estate agents need a hug, not an app.

Finally, agents (as well as their brokers) have become quite skeptical of marketing claims – rightly so, in our opinion. They are inundated with proposals and promises from all kinds of potential partners or suppliers and have been disappointed many. This places an additional burden on the marketer and brand builder. There is a lot of distrust.

HW: So what does a good lender brand or marketing campaign look like, or a realtor outreach program?

BB: The details will vary, of course, but at a high level it would take a few things into consideration.

Focus: We see too much widespread lender marketing in the real estate industry. It’s scattered. More time should be spent identifying the ideal target(s). Is it the leader of a team of agents in a virtual brokerage? A solo practitioner at a traditional “independent” brokerage? A native tech newbie working online leads? There are many profiles in this market, and they all have different needs, difficulties and objectives. A good campaign starts with a clear idea of ​​who you are targeting.

Awareness: Generally speaking, people respond to marketing and advertising that reflect shared truths. In other words, from the salesperson’s point of view, show them that you to understand. Housing affordability is a priority right now, and agents working with buyers are looking for any advantage they can get in a hypercompetitive market. Speaking frankly to this opens up the possibility of a connection. Suppose a lender sends a message like this: “It’s brutal for you and your buyers – our strategy-driven LOs and wide product range can give you the edge that makes the difference. It recognizes reality, offers a solution and communicates understanding.

Difference: Pattern Interrupt is a powerful tool when everyone is doing pretty much the same thing. Most lender marketing realtors see more or less the same looks and sounds. It is important to ask yourself this: What can my brand say that no other brand will or can say? Build from there. If you can’t get attention, the rest of the marketing funnel doesn’t really matter.

HW: 1000watt does a lot of branding work. Tell us about your perspective on how this practice applies to mortgage lending.

BB: There has been something of a revolution in mortgage branding over the past few years. The digital shift has driven some of this, and the rise of large non-bank direct-to-consumer lenders with big marketing budgets and a brand-building mindset has also played a part. People are encountering mortgage brands that are warmer, more human, and have a greater focus on design. It’s good to see, but many companies are struggling to keep up with this change.

Branding, in our view, is a business. This is integral to strategy, customer experience and differentiation. This shows up in the design, storytelling, and messaging. It’s what we do every day, so it’s good to see more awareness of the importance of branding in the mortgage industry.