Selling Millennials A Mortgage

LOs find it’s more about the message than the technology

Doug Page Headshot
Doug Page
Selling Millennials

But there’s something else that gives them added importance for any mortgage broker or loan officer: These digital natives currently comprise 43% of all homebuyers, reports the National Association of Realtors, up from 37% of all homebuyers a year ago.

Often criticized for taking their time to grow up and slow to make decisions, millennials are similar to preceding generations: Like baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, and Generation X, born between 1965 and 1980, they, too, faced issues and experiences unique to them, including increased college tuition costs, which means they’re likely still paying off student loans, and continue to feel the fallout from the 2008 mortgage crisis and the recession that followed.

Reaching The Milestone

Katherine Jeffrey
Katherine Jeffery, generational strategist

“The 2008 financial crisis, student debt, and then the skyrocketing prices over the past two years have kept them from reaching that (homeownership) milestone,” said Chicago-based generational strategist Katherine Jeffery. “For many, home ownership is important, but some feel like renting is where they will end up.”

Her discovery of how millennials view the possibility they’ll become homeowners was backed up earlier this year by Bankrate, when, in a survey, it learned that 44% of millennial non-homeowners cited high home prices as the reason they continue to rent.

Lisa Fenske, senior vice president for marketing and communications at Pewaukee, Wis.-based Waterstone Mortgage, echoed Jeffery’s views.

“Their age group — just like any generation — has seen its share of unique challenges. From student loan debt to unpredictable job security, millennials continue to face some tough obstacles,” she said.

To better understand the best way to approach and sell millennials a mortgage, National Mortgage Professional Magazine surveyed over 300 mortgage brokers, originators and loan officers via email, soliciting them for their best suggestions on working with this generation, many of whom are now in their prime homebuying years.

It’s The Message

Claire Richard
Claire Richard, branch manager,
Park City Mortgages

One Texas-based mortgage loan officer warns that brokers and loan officers who don’t change their message do so at their peril.

“Millennials are planners, researchers and spreadsheet builders,” said Dallas-based Claire Richard, who is also a millennial and a branch manager for Park Cities Mortgage. “They recognize the importance of building equity and have access to a vast resource, the internet. The best way to encourage millennials to take action is to take a step back and promote no action.

“What I mean by this is that we need to pitch the conversation, not the sale. Pitch your expertise, your likeability, and your availability. Take time to provide different down payment scenarios and define a goal to which they can work. Start by playing the long game,” she added.

For the loan officer that doesn’t recognize how millennials operate, Richard offers this warning: “We must adapt, and we must adapt quickly because if the rate of change outside of our business happens faster than inside the business, we won’t survive.”

Millennials Are Researchers

Lisa Fenske
Lisa Fenske, senior vice president
for marketing and communications,
​​​​​​Waterstone Mortgage

While there are a variety of views on how millennials act before deciding to buy a home, one of the answers received most often from those responding to the survey is that the way millennials conduct research separates them from previous generations.

“We find millennials are information seekers and like to do plenty of research on their own before taking action to speak with a professional,” said Tucson, Ariz.-based Margaret Taylor, a senior loan officer with Nova Home Loans. “This is the generation that has grown up learning from Wikipedia and YouTube as much if not more than they have from traditional education.

Margaret Taylor
Margaret Taylor, senior loan officer,
Nova Home Loans

“Online content helps them understand what they need to do to be prepared to make a purchase and understanding the steps necessary tend to resonate with them,” she added.

Another mortgage originator describes millennials as knowing that the sooner they buy, the better off they are financially.

“They aren’t waiting for the marriage, white picket fences and 1.5 kids (before buying a house),” said Peoria, Ariz.-based Loan Consultant Matt Oliver, with the Lund Mortgage Team. “They understand, at a younger age, that buying property is a large step towards wealth creation.”

Where to Message

Matt Oliver
Matt Oliver, Loan Consultant,
Lund Mortgage Team

While many responding to the survey agree about where to reach millennials — online, especially on social media sites, like TikTok and Instagram — there are aspects of this generation some mortgage originators and loan officers might find surprising.

“They may be mobile-first digital natives who will expect a seamless online experience, but they also value human connection and one-on-one guidance from a trusted advisor,” Anderson said. “First-time homebuyer seminars, workshops, podcasts and in-person consultations are particularly powerful for brands and advisors to demonstrate value and build relationships with potential customers.”

Dallas-based Richard says monthly emails, and the way they are presented, are essential for reaching millennials.

“When crafting your email, you should angle to avoid ‘the unsubscribe button,’” she said. “You achieve this by keeping your emails concise, visually pleasing, geographically pertinent and engaging. The unfortunate downside of all the wonderful resources millennials have at their fingertips is a short attention span.

“You must hustle harder to stay relevant. Remember, no one needs a loan officer until they need a loan officer and when they need one, it’s your name they should be seeing,” she added.

‘Empower Through Education’

Matt Gouge
Matt Gougé, branch manager,
UMortgage

Any message, says generational strategist Jeffery, must be genuine.

“They want to buy from brands that show authenticity and are somehow making the world a better place,” she said. “If something is going to improve their life or someone else’s, that is a very good thing.”

Adds Sacramento, Calif.-based Matt Gougé, the branch manager at UMortgage, “If you want them (millennials) to act, you have to empower them through education. In the mortgage and real estate space, the content that provides value and educates is the content that gets consumed, shared and engaged.”

But it’s not all about a website, he says.

“Millennials want a combination of high tech/high touch, which means you need to have technology to make the application and home buying process smooth and easy (but) you also have to insert the human component to advise, listen and guide. It’s a multi-prong approach.”

Remember To Listen

Eric Mitchell
Eric Mitchell, executive vice
president, Gold Star Mortgage
​​​​​Financial Group

Eric Mitchell, an executive vice president with San Diego, Calif.-based Gold Star Mortgage Financial Group, also says listening is important when it comes to engaging with millennials.

“They don’t want to be persuaded or feel coerced,” he said. “They want transparent access to simple information so they can make a decision on their own terms. The company that listens will win them over.”

And the message is crucial, says Waterstone Mortgage’s Fenske.

“One of our biggest challenges is helping millennials understand that their financial situation doesn’t have to be perfect if they want to purchase a home — and that building long-term equity via homeownership is almost always worth the financial commitment,” she said. “This is where transparency comes into play — if we can be genuine, upfront and clear with our messaging, millennials are more likely to trust us with their business.”

The message also needs to be to the point, says Jim Anderson, senior vice president of marketing at Plano, Texas-based Finance of America Companies.

– Claire Richard, branch manager, Park City Mortgages

Keep It Short

Jim Anderson
Jim Anderson, senior vice
president of marketing, Finance of
America Companies

“Brands need to follow the ‘TLDR rule’ (Too Long, Didn’t Read) and build snack size content and video is effective here,” he said. “Finance of America Companies regularly launches campaigns that incorporate videos, infographics and social media to concisely highlight a myriad of financial subjects.”

Anderson also counsels that millennials, like other first-time homebuyers, can be confused about what it takes financially to buy a home.

“If a homebuyer doesn’t understand the different mortgage options available to them or has misconceptions of what it takes to buy a house — for, instance, believing that a 20% down payment is required to purchase a home — then they’re less likely to consider purchasing a home,” he said. “It’s important to focus on providing guidance and education for these potential customers and work with referral partners like real estate agents and financial planners to reach them.”

Doug Page Headshot
Doug Page
This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine November 2022 issue.
Published on
Oct 27, 2022
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