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Mobile Devices Mean Lenders Must Adjust Schedules, Simplify Websites

DEC 11, 2012 1:29pm ET
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Mortgage originators are going to have to tailor their online presence to deal with the growing number of consumers who are using mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones to obtain information, Spencer Rascoff, the CEO of Zillow, told attendees at the NAMB National Conference in Las Vegas on Monday.

He said 25% of Zillow Mortgage Marketplace usage comes from mobile devices. Furthermore, a lot of that is not exactly “mobile,” he continued. People are sitting on their couches in their homes and using these devices rather than going to use their desktop or laptop computers.

So mortgage originators are changing their business practices in order to reflect this new reality, he said.

Rascoff cited figures which show that while just 13% of all consumers use a mobile device, those in the age groups of 18 to 24 and 25 to 44, the usage level of mobile apps is 18% for each.

Furthermore, mobile search patterns are not like those of desktop searchers. On Saturday, Zillow finds search traffic peaks at midday, while during the workweek, it peaks during the evening hours.

Rascoff’s message is the old 9-to-5 workday contact patterns don’t work in the new environment. Thus originators need to reconsider their staffing patterns in order to help these consumers.

Furthermore, mobile is forcing companies to simplify their websites. Companies are readjusting their desktop webpage viewing experience to mirror that of the mobile experience, he said.

Rascoff sees continued growth in online mortgage shopping and originators need to be where the consumers are. But lenders need to improve the response times to consumer inquiries to win the business.

To help enhance this experience, Zillow recently purchased Mortech.

Reputation is another important factor in the new online world. Even negative consumer reviews can be used to the lender’s advantage, he said. With the proper response these reviews can be used to help develop and gain consumer trust. But the response has to take the consumer complaint seriously. These responses can help show the originator has empathy for the consumer’s situation and enhances their believability.

Zillow made its reputation on providing home price information for consumers and during the question-and-answer session, someone ask Rascoff about his opinion on the future of the independent appraiser.

He said there is a role for the appraiser, now more than ever. What Zillow provides the consumer is a good starting point in finding the value of a property.

The perception that the company’s Zestimate or any other consumer-facing automated valuation methodology displacing the appraiser is not true, Rascoff said.

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