The New Era of Marketing and Technology: Looking Ahead

Dave Zitting Future of Marketing

By: Dave Zitting and John Seroka
This was originally published in California Mortgage Finance News, a California Mortgage Bankers Association publication.

Results. We want them quicker now than ever before. There’s an app for just about everything you want to do in your life. Want to get healthy? There’s an app for that – try Fitbit which allows you to control your weight, set goals, monitor your physical activity and calories burned, map your running routes and much more all in one place. No need to build spreadsheets and gather information from a collection of devices. Would you like a personal assistant? There’s an app for that too – try Speaktoit which will search for websites, make calls, get weather data and help you prepare for meetings. Suffice it to say that since the birth of the iPhone, we’ve been conditioned as a society to expect more and more from technology.

It used to be that enterprises (medium to large businesses) were the primary users of technology. Enterprise technology vendors like IBM, Oracle, Salesforce and many others would, and still do in many cases, target the CIO of an organization with their solutions. The focus of the technology was to capture, store, manage and deliver content and documents to eliminate paper, lower costs and create other efficiencies. However, the accelerated growth of content and information, the Cloud, analytics and collaborative technologies at a time when workforces were becoming increasingly mobile started to drive change.

Enterprises are no longer the primary purchasers and users of technology. This change has happened largely over the last decade and arguably started about 20 years ago. Remember the Palm OS released back in 1996? A bit clumsy to use, but early adopters were all over it. It was the first true PDA (personal digital assistant) that allowed for basic functions to organize your day, store contacts and take notes. Then, shortly thereafter, was the introduction of the Nokia phone that came with a game called “Snake” which landed in the pockets of millions. Fast forward to the release of the iPhone in ’07 and about a year later the App Store was launched with 552 apps created by third party alpha “rock star” developers…and life changed as 10 million app downloads were recorded within a week!

Now, Android users have access to over 1.6 million apps. Apple’s App Store gives consumers access to over 1.5 million apps. This kind of rapid innovation makes it so that consumers just want an end result, which is what these apps all do their best to provide – constantly updating to provide the best user experience they can deliver.

Today, the bottom line is that enterprise level technology platforms like IBM, Salesforce and others that you use to manage your business, sales efforts, marketing and more are becoming obsolete. We now live in a world of apps that are designed to provide us with the results we’re looking for in an instant. And, not just any result, but the very end result. For example, if you’re in a rental car travelling to a meeting and want to get a Starbucks coffee on the way, you don’t need to pull over to Google it and then open a separate app to find a location, you just ask Siri and she’ll find it for you and start telling you how to get there in about 5 seconds. This is the level of responsiveness that people expect from technology now. Anything less is too much work and wears quickly on the nerves of a populace accustomed to instant gratification.

What does this mean for the future of marketing?

When it comes to marketing, businesses are demanding the same thing – just bring me the end result. They don’t care what steps you took to get there, they just want to have the customer materialize in front of them. So, much like their alpha developer counterparts, enterprise developers are creating apps that businesses and business people can use with the goal of delivering the end result to replace older platforms still in broad use today that enable users to simply “do a lot of marketing.” Newer platforms, however, focus on smarter, data-driven marketing to help businesses find only their most valuable prospects.

So, where does this data come from and how is it used?

Frequently, companies will turn to 3rd party data sources like BlueKai or eXelerate which are data aggregators. For the most part, they pay publishers to let them collect information on site visitors and then segment the data into various user profiles. Then, this data gets sold to advertisers who use it to develop highly targeted online ad campaigns, called “programmatic display.” The data they sell is great for demographic, behavioral and contextual targeting of online ads. These online ads are programmed to reach the specific people that fit the correct profile when they visit particular websites. These people are targeted according to their behavior, demographic makeup and context…the closest you can get to PII (personally identifiable information) without actually having it.

Here’s one example of how all of this comes together to the benefit of all parties in a real estate transaction…

Not long ago, Nationstar launched an end-to-end real estate platform called “Xome,” giving homebuyers a better alternative to Zillow, Trulia and other apps with far less functionality. Once in the Xome app, users can search homes, place offers, sell a home, arrange inspections, arrange appraisals, become prequalified by a Nationstar MLO, receive and e-sign most mortgage documents and more. Users also receive a minimum 1% savings on the transaction if they close through Xome which also means using a Xome-approved Realtor®. Accordingly, this app provides a win-win-win situation for the consumer, Xome and the Realtor®.

From what we can see, Xome has a site retargeting strategy (based upon ads that we’ve seen after visiting their site) and likely has a programmatic display strategy in place as well that leverages third party data sources. That’s just a guess, but probably accurate and would make sense since it was just launched and they surely want to build their brand awareness and drive users.

In an interview with investors, Jay Bray, Nationstar CEO, states “Today, real estate search engines allow you to search for homes, find the estimated property value of your home and, somewhat realistically, those of your neighbors.” He goes on to say, “However, these search engines are not currently designed to allow consumers to transact.”

The future of marketing is upon us and it’s all about obtaining real results. We’re quickly moving away from a long era of enterprise technology solutions that capture, store and manage data and into an era where data is analyzed, correlations are made and real results can be instantly provided. In fact, right now, there are new technologies that we’re either aware of or directly participate in, that will change the game for real estate professionals and consumers alike – all with the end result as the top priority!

Stay tuned…

Navigating the New World Of Qualified Mortgages

At PRMI, we are excited about the long-awaited arrival of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Qualified Mortgage/Ability-to-Repay rules (QM). We believe these new rules will allow us to help even more Americans pursue the dream of home ownership now that we have a clear line drawn in the sand of what is considered a quality (QM) and non-quality (non-QM) mortgage based on CFPB interpretation of the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act. By distinctly separating the two categories of mortgage-transactions based on consumer borrowing criteria, the new Qualified Mortgage rules will play a significant role in the interest rates and fees a consumer will recognize in the mortgage shopping process.

Most mortgage lenders will largely focus on serving QM borrowers, or only those who meet the more stringent government lending criteria. At PRMI, we see an opportunity to better serve all customer needs by providing products to consumers who don’t necessarily meet the QM standards, but who may still be able to demonstrate the ability to perform and repay a mortgage utilizing a Non-QM solution that properly considers their unique circumstances.

The QM rules were put into effect as a preventative action to protect against another housing finance crisis like the one that began in 2008. It also provides mortgage lenders legal protections from being sued by the consumer for extending a loan on which they are not performing when QM standards are met. Although the QM rules will have an impact on the industry by tightening the loan restrictions, it is my belief that Non-QM products will play an important role in the strengthening of the broader housing market, as new products allow for a greater number of consumers to access credit. In fact, the lack of mortgage-credit options today has been one of the major roadblocks preventing the housing market from a achieving a complete recovery.

Allow me to illustrate the limitations created by QM with a real example. After the housing meltdown, the loan qualification requirements tightened to the point where some well-deserving consumers were completely unable to qualify for a housing loan. For example, a consumer with a 760 credit-score, 30 percent down and seven years of successfully running a business found it much more difficult to get a loan than a consumer with a 600 credit score, 3.5 percent down and twelve months on the job. What’s the reason behind this discrepancy? The first consumer had written off too much of his/her income as a self-employed borrower (depreciation, investment in equipment, thus bettering the business, etc.), and in doing so reduced their adjusted gross income (AGI) to a point at which they don’t meet new income qualification requirements. But where did all of the money for such a large down-payment come from in the first place? Their hard work in operating a successful business! We can clearly see that a more in-depth investigation of the first consumer’s financial characteristics may very well prove him/her to be a less risky borrower. It certainly seems reasonable that this consumer shouldn’t be prevented from accessing mortgage credit.

With Non-QM, lenders will now have the ability to build new products to better serve their customer’s specific and unique needs. We will be able to offer more loan options to those who fall outside the stringent criteria of the QM realm (Although, Non-QM loans are still evaluated to ensure that the borrower has the ability to repay).

Living in a QM world does not necessarily limit the lending options as much as some naysayers have feared. The new rules do not condemn the mortgage industry to an atmosphere of negative growth and minimal risk-adjusted profitability. On the contrary! Regulators have afforded us the opportunity to establish a robust lending business in a significant part of the market—one that has been undeserved in recent years. If implemented responsibly, judiciously and with the protection of the consumer and the U.S. taxpayer in mind, I believe lenders can both properly serve credit-worthy consumers, and in so doing, restore the strength of the housing market that is critical to overall economic growth.

PRMI is gearing up to provide more options for consumers, including private mortgages that fall outside the QM definition. Although 98 percent of the loans prepared by PRMI fall into the QM category, the Non-QM loans offer exciting possibilities. In time, I believe the Non-QM loans will be as relevant and common as the FHA, VA, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Regardless, I feel that these changes will inspire exciting debates among mortgage professionals and consumer advocacy groups over the next few years.

I remain positive and optimistic regarding the future of the mortgage and real estate industry, and the opportunities that these new rules bring. It is time that we put the consumer first. In achieving that, we need to deploy new ways to safely provide financing options that fit the broader market and the many unique needs of the individual home buyer.

Primary Residential Mortgage, Inc. Joins Forces with West Point Community Council

Even though Primary Residential Mortgage, Inc. is a nationally known mortgage lender, we believe strongly in the responsibility we have as stewards for our local community. We continually encourage our employees and Branch Partners to give back to their local communities through fundraising, service projects, and working with local outreach organizations.

To that end, Primary Residential Mortgage, Inc. has started working with the West Point Community Council in Salt Lake City, Utah. Our new/future corporate headquarters is located within the vicinity of this local Community Council and we are excited to serve to our local community.

Community councils are made up of local residents who weigh in on projects and concerns within their local area and make recommendations to their city council. City councils are the overseers of the city’s budget. Here in Utah, the Salt Lake City Council is an important branch of city government whose main tasks are the adoption and oversight of Salt Lake City’s annual budget. Their other responsibilities include introducing legislation, setting city policy, and giving advice and consent on appointments made by the mayor to city boards and commissions.

Community councils are vital to the growth and sustainability of local neighborhoods. Community council members volunteer of their own free time and are very invested in making their neighborhoods better places to live. It’s important that we as corporate members of our communities make sure we are doing everything we can to show our support and investment as well as utilize our resources—be it time, people, or money—to help better the communities in which we live.

I am continually amazed and encouraged by the involvement we as a company have in each of the local markets in which we reside. From sponsoring little league teams to cleaning up local parks to participating in community councils, Primary Residential Mortgage, Inc.’s employees and Branch Partners know what it means to be true corporate stewards and I couldn’t be more impressed and thankful. We look forward to our future involvement in the West Point Community Council and are excited to hear what others are doing to give back where they work and live.