Staying focused is the only way for lenders and brokers to thrive during the seasonal slowdown, according to Ken Bartz, Chief Visionary Officer of Monster Lead Group.
Bartz is an expert in mortgage marketing and technology with over 25 years in the industry. Historically, the end of the year means less home sales and therefore, less activity in the mortgage industry. For instance, mortgage applications went down 13% from November to December of 2018, with an estimated 37,000 new home sales, according to the Mortgage Brokers Association (MBA). Even though Federal reserve data shows most home sales take place between June and August, Bartz says the winter months should not mean a total shut down.
At the start of his career, Bartz says he turned the holiday season into his most successful by not giving up when competing loan officers did. Scaling back marketing during the week of Christmas is not a bad idea, but he discourages producers to sleep on the whole season.
“It’s not just about marketing, it’s also about keeping your people engaged and keeping them productive,” he said. This way, everyone is prepared when it’s time to kick off the first quarter. In January this year, there was a massive 43% surge in applications from December, and then another 6% rise in February.
From a marketing perspective, strategies like direct mail and reaching out to your customer base can be extremely rewarding over the holidays.
“In 2018, the highest responding weeks to our mail-outs were July 4th and Thanksgiving weekend, and that trend is repeating this year,” said Bartz. A reason for this could be people being more present at home and less material in the mailboxes. “Sometimes the best marketing strategy is to fly in the face of convention.” This could mean touching base with your existing database or reaching out to new prospective clients.
Another option for originators to stay productive during the quieter winter months is to evaluate current systems and see how they can be improved. This can be done by tracking the time it takes to complete administrative tasks or anything that takes the team’s attention away from revenue-focused activity. It’s also a great opportunity to consider investing in technology. Implementing new systems during the slower months could also pay off. While it may seem counterintuitive to bring on new systems during a tough quarter, it will allow more time to adjust to a potentially big change.
Wrapping up the year, Bartz says business has been good, so there is a fear of missing out on this easy period. “People are having market amnesia and forgetting what happened in 2018. Be really careful and make sure that you don’t divest from cash-out transactions.”
His advice is to continue training staff to do the right things while times are good, in order to be prepared for whatever the future brings.