Mortgage brokers took the brunt of the criticism for the subprime mess and the collapse of the housing market that followed. In the eyes of the average consumer, mortgage brokers seemed to be the ones pushing homebuyers into products that were unsuitable for them. Because the housing market collapsed, many mortgage brokers could no longer make a living and thousands left the industry. As one of the survivors, you need to educate the public on how you can better help them with their mortgage needs and how you can get them a better deal than they would get by going to a bank.
Although mortgage brokers held about 70% of the mortgage origination business at one time, that percentage has dropped significantly. Your customer base has shrunk for a variety of reasons. Fewer people are buying homes. Even when buyers fill out a 1003, it may be questionable whether they qualify for a loan. Or the property may not appraise high enough to get a loan commitment. With the lowest interest rates in years, refinancing is not as big a part of your business as it should be because so many homeowners are underwater or there is not enough equity in the property or their credit history is not clean enough. So you have to fight for every customer you can find. You need to give them a reason to come to you rather than the big banks that everyone has heard of. Can you make a list of those reasons that a customer should come to you rather than where they keep their checking account?
It is a smart exercise to make that list even if you never give out that list to your customers. It helps you focus on why your business is better than your competitors. Thinking through your competitive advantages will help you get new customers. Can you help borrowers with less than clean credit history? Do you have investors for borrowers who are self-employed? Are your fees better than a bank’s? Can you offer a better rate than the banks? Did you spend time answering their questions when a bank loan originator didn’t have the time or inclination? Did the bank loan officer know about different types of loan products? If a customer is shopping for a new loan, why specifically should they choose you? If you are stuck on the answers, survey your current customers and your past customers. Find out what they liked about working with you.
Once you have figured out why you are the better choice for a consumer, you need to educate the public. Most consumers don’t know enough about your world to even ask the right questions. You need to ask the questions that they should be asking and then answer them in a way that shows your advantages over the banks (and your mortgage broker competitors).
Whenever you are creating materials that may be categorized as advertising, don’t forget to include all required disclosures that your state law requires for advertising materials (and that kind of disclosure may be a competitive advantage itself).