Housing agencies and community organizations have mandatory counseling and education coursework that is required for individuals to qualify for specific grants or down-payment assistance. However, many lenders and realtors also offer informational, typically free, educational programs that are open to a wide range of consumers at various stages of mortgage preparedness. These programs can be in the form of seminars and webinars, and are a form of outreach that has not yet been fully utilized by the industry. Professionals who do not capitalize on these tools may miss out on the pipeline of business it brings down the road.
Frequently, consumers seek out the presentations because they are apprehensive about directly approaching a bank or lending office with questions. Many people are new to the home buying process, or haven’t made a purchase in a long time, and they may have a sense of resistance or fear when it comes to the mortgage process. Some of this may be driven by the overabundance of information available, which can make it difficult for consumers to know where to start. Many people are also afraid to ask questions, because they feel like it’s a stupid question, and they don’t want to make a bad impression.
Carolyn Morganbesser, assistant vice president of mortgage originations at Affinity Federal Credit Union, has heard her share of unexpected questions during her presentations. Among Affinity’s educational offerings are a four-part home buying webinar series that Morganbesser leads, covering topics from credit to closing costs. These question highlights the knowledge gap among many potential buyers nervous about mortgages, an issue seminars and video presentations end up addressing because the information is difficult to find elsewhere.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated growth of video education tools and drove home the need for more professionally produced work. It also coincided with the explosive growth of TikTok, the video app highly popular with millennials and Gen Z. The increased popularity of TikTok drove Linthicum, Maryland’s NFM Lending to create an influencer division specifically developed to appeal to younger consumers and teach them about home buying. Adding loan officer Scott Betley, also known as That Mortgage Guy on TikTok, to its team last year, NFM now has 10 influencers, who generate between 2,000 to 4,000 exclusive leads a month from their videos, according to Greg Sher, NFM’s chief business development officer.
Like seminars, the educational videos created by NFM influencers are aimed at finding the home buyer early and helping develop brand trust, while also serving as a means to gather a consumer’s data when they sign up to follow a creator. NFM found that 97.5% of the people who watch their videos want to purchase a home as opposed to renting. “Eighty-seven percent of them don’t have a real estate agent yet. That’s how early we’re getting to them in the process,” Sher said.
Overall, these informational programs and video education tools are a valuable way for industry professionals to reach potential buyers and address their concerns, as well as for potential buyers to educate themselves about the mortgage process. As an industry, it is important to continue to utilize these tools and capitalize on the benefits they bring.