Over the last few years since the Real Estate boom hundreds of thousands of salespeople flocked to the mortgage industry to cash in. There were more than one million brokers and loan officers, nation-wide not counting banks and direct lenders in 2005. Since that time the market has cooled and many of the mortgage lead generation vendors have gone out of business. In July of 2005, for example, there were approximately 450 providers leads to mortgage brokers and loan officers. By the summer of 2006, that number had been cut in half and in 2007 in half again. The reason for this is that generating the leads became much tougher now that the consumer has become a smarter shopper and the tactics used to entice them to fill out forms on the internet are no longer effective. Today brokers and loan officers need to learn how to either generate their own leads or how to find the best provider in terms of quality and policy. I say quality and policy without mentioning quantity because in the past there was too much focus on numbers of leads and actual quality of the lead nor the policies of the company behind it in terms of credits for leads that need to be returned.
If you are a Mortgage broker and intend on developing your own leads there are several things you will need to keep in mind before moving forward. First, you need to consider the current market conditions as opposed to the 2004 - 2006 conditions. Today those with good credit and money in their pockets are not actively looking at the same pace they were during the boom. They made their move at that time and are sitting tight now except for those who seek to invest. With the sub-prime market all but dead this presents a problem. You will spend money to develop leads, the majority of which will be people with poor to fair credit and little or no cash. The percentage of good/excellent credit prospects you will develop will range from 5% to 15% of the gross assuming they provide accurate information and valid contact info. If you are prepared for this financially and mentally you will know or should know to go in that conversion is the key in order to recoup your marketing dollars. The more diverse your lender portfolio in terms of types of loans and scenarios you can process the more likely you will be successful in converting leads to loans.
Secondly, you will need to consider the cost of building a pipeline of leads before loans start to close. In the residential market that could be anywhere from two or three weeks to a few months depending. If you can consistently advertise and spend dollars to acquire more prospects keeping your ads up and your brand out there during this time you will succeed in most cases. If you advertise in a spotty fashion or give up quickly after the first week or so you should stay out now and go directly to a provider. Marketing is not for the faint of heart as it takes time, money and tons of trial and error. While you tweak your ads you are spending dollars to try the next idea. A budget of at least $50,000.00 would be my recommendation for this time period as you will most likely try pay-per-click ads on Yahoo and Google both are now blind bidding environments where you can't really see what the next guy is bidding and therefore the keywords you buy are sold at an inflated price for each click as novice advertisers drive up the cost by simply pushing to the max PPC to stay up for the short time they can afford to be there. If you choose banner ads you will need a larger budget as they are priced based on CPM or cost per thousand impressions, not clicks. That means that your ad shows 1000 times for each $50.00 or so you spend with no guarantee of a click, call or lead.
This was the reason lead providers popped up in such numbers and diluted the market with leads while souring the attitudes of their target audience, Mortgage Brokers. It is the eternal battle. Salespeople blame marketing and marketing blames admin. This goes on in almost every organization and industry in the world. The sales staff are never satisfied with the leads they get from marketing whether that marketing is provided by an internal department or external company.
Marketing constantly blames budget constraints put upon it by admin or their clients. Admin is always frustrated with both for not understanding the economics of running a business. Most of the brokers and loan officers that purchased leads from providers during the boom did so based mostly on price per lead and not quality or policy. As a result, they drove down the quality across the board as providers realized that the quality effort was not going to be rewarded with renewals and that the client only wanted mass vs. net quality.
Our Company provides Real Estate Lead Providers under what we thought was a better model for our clients. Leads that can be returned for no answer, not interested and or signed docs with someone else. The thought was that there would be no reason to complain if you can replace leads you don't have a fair chance to speak with or do business with. We were certain that this policy would set the standard in the industry and that the brokers and their loan officers would love it because at least they could return those leads that did not have a reasonable chance for conversion. We were dead wrong. They wanted a quantity period. They wanted to pay close to nothing for the leads and get thousands of them. This was because the majority of those brokers and loan officers buying leads were new to the industry and had come from other telemarketing environments or they were in the industry for some time and had previously been making cold calls to consumers at home at night before the Do Not Call list went into effect. It was after that new law was enacted that the lead providers really started popping up and the brokers flocked to them. So they made assumptions as to what it takes to develop a solid lead and demanded quantity to satisfy their thirst for numbers to call vs. better opportunities.
If you are going to buy leads these days know a few things going in and save yourself and your provider(s) some aggravation in the process.
1) Most lead providers develop their leads using the web.
2) These leads are consumers surfing the internet for rates and monthly payment scenarios.
3) They do not want to give their personal information to find what they want so they often use old contact or bogus info.
4) If the lead provider verifies the lead by calling it, they are only looking to validate that the phone works and is the phone for that person. Nothing more.
5) The consumer in most cases is terrified of being contacted and therefore lets most calls they can't identify with CID go to voice mail.
6) They might return a call but it is unlikely.
7) Lead providers will not (in almost every case) allow a return for NA or a consumer who does not return your messages.
8) Trigger leads are not guaranteed to be ready to go for a loan. Trigger leads (caused by an inquiry on the consumer's credit report by a mortgage co) are caused also by their own mortgage company checking the current score to select customers for new loans and offers.
9) Lead companies are data providers and marketers not lenders or loan officers and are not able to validate credit, home value, etc... beyond what the consumer tells them. (Lendingtree.com aside)
10) Find a company that will allow you to return leads you cannot contact or has singed with another company within the first few days of you getting the information because those leads are worthless.
11) Don't expect a refund as opposed to credit. It takes lots of dollars as previously discussed here to generate leads and refunds simply because you did not get off to a great start and are frustrated are counterproductive in most cases. Give it a chance. Go through 30 - 50 leads first to really get a feel for what the closing ratio will be. You cannot judge a marketing campaign on 5 or 10 leads.
12) Try not to be confrontational off the bat with your lead provider. They want to do well and make you happy. They know renewals are based on that. Try to provide constructive feedback and don't expect that they will agree with you every time. Most of all are professional and maintain our cool.
Author Bio: Andrew Thomas is a Content Marketer, Blogger, Best Lead Providers, and Real Estate Discount Broker. He is a professional storyteller at Zipbrands.com
He has studied the Real Estate Lead Programs Business for years. He enjoys connecting with people, keeping updated with the latest in the field of Real Estate and Business, etc. He has also discovered great shortcuts that can help investors make better decisions when it comes to buying and selling. His work across multiple disciplines broadly addresses the narratives of human experience. You can also follow him on Facebook.