While many mortgage experts are making predictions for 2023, only time will tell how this year will go for lenders.
Home prices are projected to go down soon, but the looming recession may still hinder some homebuyers’ readiness. The demand for new mortgages will likely hinge on the direction of interest rates in the coming months.[i]
Despite the uncertainties, there are many steps lenders can take to thrive in 2023. We outline three of these steps below.
#1 Revamp Your Workflows
Your business is only as efficient as its slowest workflows. Before the market ramps up, it’s a good idea to review your current processes and identify areas for improvement.
Some workflows you may want to update in the new year include:
- Verification of income and employment (VOE) – VOE is a vital process, but it’s often wrought with inefficiencies. You may have to ask your applicants to send over additional documents and reach out to their employers. This can take up a lot of time—unfortunately, this hard work doesn’t always yield results. You can improve your VOE workflows by automating them with Cascade VOE. This solution uses a rules-based engine to automate your vendor ordering process. In turn, you can initiate orders with various third-party and consumer-permissioned vendor partners all from one platform.If you need to verify an applicant’s income and employment manually, our team at Certified Credit can handle it for you. Cascade VOE will simply send the manual request to our team. In turn, you can officially cross off manual VOE from your workload in 2023.
- Prequalification – Many potential homebuyers have been waiting on the sidelines until interest rates and housing prices improve. These homebuyers are highly motivated to find the very best loan. Offering instant prequalification on your website can help draw in these applicants. Prequalification enables them to see if they meet your basic eligibility requirements. It also gives them an idea of the type of loan terms they’ll qualify for with you without impacting their credit scores. Since prequalification uses affordable soft pull credit reports rather than tri-merge credit reports, it can reduce the upfront costs of attracting these applicants. You can reap the benefits of offering prequalification with Cascade Prequal. This automated solution simplifies the prequalification process and cuts its upfront costs. Cascade Prequal can integrate with our Flex ID SmartSelect Shield, which is a tool that combats mortgage fraud in real-time by authenticating critical information.
- Borrower retention – Many mortgage lenders invest a lot of their time and resources into finding new clients, rather than deriving repeat business from the ones they already have. However, past and present clients are often much more affordable to acquire.[ii] While the mortgage industry has one of the lowest customer retention rates, you don’t have to settle for poor borrower retention in your business. You can increase your borrower retention with Cascade Alerts. This tool constantly monitors your existing and past client base for mortgage-related credit inquiries. As soon as a new lead is identified, you’ll be alerted within 24 hours, giving you plenty of time to reach out and convince them that you’re the best lender to work with in 2023. You can try out Cascade Alerts risk-free by signing up for our free, month-long trial here. After that, you can renew your subscription on a month-to-month basis and cancel at any time.
As you can see, improving your workflow efficiency can be as easy as adopting the right tools. Not only can these solutions save you time and money, but they can also prevent the hassle of cyclically scaling up and right-sizing your staff.
If you’re not sure which automated solutions are right for your business, the team at Certified Credit would be happy to help. Our workflow optimization experts can match you with the perfect tools for your lending processes and goals.
#2 Nurture Your Relationships
While technology can play a vital role in your 2023 strategy, relationship-building is equally important. The relationships you cultivate today can expand your business prospects tomorrow.
Here are a few ways you can strengthen your borrower relationships in 2023:
Upgrade Your Customer Service
According to the 2022 NextGen Homebuyer report, only half of young borrowers gave their mortgage lending experience a five-star rating.[iii] If you want to build a positive reputation and earn more referrals, it’s important to provide five-star customer service consistently.
Here are a few strategies you can employ:
- Don’t forgo in-person meetings – We may live in a digital age, but the evidence shows that online communication can’t compete with in-person interactions. Borrowers that meet with their loan officers in person are 41% more likely to give them a five-star rating.[iv] They also report higher levels of trust. With these statistics in mind, it’s clear that in-person service is still important, even if you offer digitized applications and other convenient online services.
- Personalize your service to borrowers’ needs – You can set your customer service apart by offering applicants customized support. For example, maybe one of your prequalification applicants discovers that they don’t qualify with you. Rather than leaving them discouraged, you can offer them personalized credit score improvement tips instead. Just use these credit score improvement tools. Once the applicant follows your suggestions for a few months, you can encourage them to reapply.
- Build trust through transparency – Mistrust was a big issue for mortgage lenders in 2022. When your borrowers don’t trust you, they’re less likely to report high levels of satisfaction or refer you to their friends and family members.You can build trust by being transparent about your loan offerings and lending process from the start. It’s also a good idea to check in with your borrowers regularly and educate them on any aspects of the home-buying process they don’t fully understand.
Implementing these strategies is easier when you have automated workflows taking the tedious technical work off your hands.
Diversify Your Staff
While some customer service principles apply to all borrowers, others vary from person to person. For instance, some applicants may have decades of experience in the housing market, while others may be searching for their very first home. What’s more, some applicants may face unique cultural, financial, or language barriers.
If you want to expand your pool of borrowers, you need to embody diversity at every level of your business, starting with your staff. A diverse team can serve a diverse market more effectively, since you’ll have staff members who come from the communities you’re trying to serve.
For example, maybe your business operates out of Miami, where over 70% of residents are of Hispanic heritage.[v] To best serve this community, it would be helpful to have plenty of bilingual people on your team. It would also be a good idea to create Spanish-language educational materials and applications.
Or maybe you want to take advantage of the growing market of NextGen homebuyers. In this case, you may want to recruit more young people from local colleges. While these new hires may require more training, they can offer your business invaluable insight into the Millenial and Gen Z borrower experience.
Customize Your Marketing Campaigns
The first stage of your relationship with a new borrower often starts with your marketing campaign. Borrowers require different marketing strategies, depending on their demographics and desired loan products. As a result, you need distinct marketing campaigns to engage each segment of your target market.
Fortunately, creating highly-targeted marketing campaigns is easy to do with Cascade Leads. Cascade Leads can help you forge meaningful connections with potential prospects. It allows you to advertise pre-selected offers to people who are searching for mortgages in your area and meet your eligibility criteria.
Whether you want to target HELOC candidates or first-time homebuyers, Cascade Leads can help you craft cost-effect campaigns that convert.
#3 Focus on Education
Many aspiring homeowners are reluctant to enter the market because they lack confidence in their financial knowledge. They may be confused about credit, anxious about the housing market, or doubtful of the investment value of owning a home.
By addressing these education gaps, you can empower borrowers to feel more confident about taking the plunge in 2023. You can educate borrowers using a variety of mediums, including:
- Blog articles
- Youtube videos
- Podcast episodes
- In-person seminars
As an added benefit, your educational offerings can help you attract more traffic to your website and build your brand awareness.
Prepare Your Mortgage Lending Business for 2023 With Certified Credit
In summary, the most important things to focus on as a mortgage lender in 2023 are your workflows, relationships, and borrower education. By optimizing each of these aspects, you can set your business up to thrive amidst the market’s inevitable uncertainty.
Here at Certified Credit, we offer many products and services that can help you hone your 2023 business strategies with ease. Our offerings include:
- Automated loan manufacturing solutions
- Lead generation tools
- Affordable credit reports
- Flood zone determinations
- Fraud and risk support
- Settlement services
Get ready to thrive in 2023 by scheduling a credit consultation with our team today.
[i] The Mortgage Reports. 2023 Mortgage rate predictions: Will mortgage rates fall?
[ii] Harvard Business Review. The Value of Keeping the Right Customers.
[iii] National MI. 2022 NextGen Homebuyer Report.
[iv] National MI. 2022 NextGen Homebuyer Report.
[v] Data USA. Miami, FL.