We call one of our regular segments on our LodeStar’s Lending Leaders “America’s Next Top Homebuyer.” On these episodes, we talk to regular people who have little to no experience with our industry and whom, many times, have recently purchased a home or undergone a refinance. Our goal is to remove the lens industry “insiders” tend to use when we try to anticipate how consumers view…well, us. And the mortgage process. Believe me, at times, it’s eye-opening.
Recently, we spoke to my good friend, Justin Dowlatshahi, MD. Justin, who also just so happens to be a Millennial, recently made a home purchase and walked us through his process. Several things jumped out immediately. While industry insiders tend to assume every consumer has his or her hand held from the get-go by a REALTOR (or mortgage broker), Justin found his agent almost by accident, after looking at a few houses on his own, latching on to the agent showing one of the properties he and his girlfriend found interesting. Possible lesson: real estate agents do not initiate 99% of transactions out there, after all!
Justin and his girlfriend originally decided to seek a mortgage through a special program dedicated to medical professionals, and so, their first choice was a local lender affiliated with that program. When they decided to shop around, they didn’t immediately run to Google. They didn’t check out Yelp. They didn’t watch TV until they’d seen enough lender commercials to make an informed decision.
They drove around.
I repeat, they drove around! They went cruising for a mortgage!
The bank they walked into randomly happened to have a loan officer who clicked with the couple. And the rest is home-buying history.
Is the lesson for lenders to stop marketing and just put as many brick-and-mortar branches on major avenues nationwide? Well, probably not. Is it that lender choice is completely random? Although some of my friends in lending believe so, it’s probably not either.
I think it is a reminder, however, that people still do want some personal touch when it comes to a transaction as big as a mortgage. Go back and review the two examples. Their decisions came while seeking out people, not reviews. Now, do people want to wait 40 days to get their keys because every process is manual and human-driven? I’m pretty sure they don’t. But when it’s time to make the decisions, I think we’re hearing that there still needs to be a knowledgeable human available to the humans who need help.
Of course, if the process behind that human touch is automated, so much the better!
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