Far Out Friday: The world’s most awesome closing gift ever?

by 19 Dec 2014

Buying a home and applying for a mortgage is a complex and long undertaking for all parties involved. After mortgage professionals have dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s, the borrower is still left with another daunting task – moving.

A Portland-based mortgage company recognized the woes of moving and has built an entire marketing initiative around it. LoanStar Home Lending’s Moving Starter Package provides each borrower who closes a loan with the company with a gift certificate to a local professional moving company.

The promotion has been in place at LoanStar since its inception on Nov. 12, 2013. However, Kenn Bartley, senior vice president of marketing and business development, and his team knew they needed another way of marketing the initiative.

“Everybody loves the promotion and we’ve been getting good feedback, but what we found was that it was missing an upfront piece to what the gift certificate really means,” said Bartley. “So we thought doing this video would get people more excited about it.”

The creative video opens with the charismatic James Pruitte, a senior loan officer out of the company’s Clackamas, Oregon, office. “At LoanStar we don’t just get you your money on a silver platter, we help you move, too,” he says in the video. “Now, it’s not me helping you move. Let’s get real here. But, I will give you a gift certificate to a local professional moving company.”

The video, which was produced and written by Bartley, features mostly employees from LoanStar. Besides Pruitte, other cast members include LoanStar marketing staff employees: Kayla Bowker, Adrian Khaki, Nick Long, Matt Houston and Lauran Woodruff, along with Bartley’s son Kaden.

“Video marketing is very popular, and we wanted to have a well-produced video that would be important and stand out,” said Bartley. "Giving the moving packing to every borrower every time is an extremely costly investment in the marketing program, but it’s well worth it."

The gift certificate does not have a cash value, according to Bartley. Its terms vary by location and moving vendor but generally include labor, a moving truck for three or more hours and a starter package of moving boxes, tape and a marker.

He added that the closing gift is compliant with the Real Estate Settlement Procedures ACT (RESPA) and Fair Lending laws. RESPA does not prohibit a lender from giving the borrower an incentive for doing business with it as long as the incentive is not based on the borrower referring business to the lender, according to HUD.

"Fair Lending laws say we can't discriminate between any class of borrower, so we give it to everyone," said Bartley. "It's strictly a gift and has no cash value." He added that a competitor complained about the moving program to the Washington Department of Financial Insititutions and the DFI regulators cleared the program.

Watch the video below and let us know about the interesting marketing initiatives your company is doing.


Is TILA-RESPA a good or bad thing long term?