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New Focus for Mortgage Tech: B2C Now Challenges B2B

DEC 12, 2012 11:10am ET

There’s a new trend among technology vendors that mortgage lenders would be smart to get a handle on. And that is a move away from the traditional business-to-business model tech companies have shown since, well, forever, to the business-to-consumer mode.

This new focus was evident at an executive roundtable I hosted at the recent SourceMedia Mortgage Technology Conference in Miami Beach. Two of the panelists pointed to B2C as a new mode for them, reaching out to consumers as they do more online shopping or providing education for them through the mazes of mortgage lending.

Two exemplars of the new approach sent speakers to the MTC: Quicken Loans and Zillow. Quicken is well known for its aggressive advertising programs that go directly to consumers. Zillow began in the real estate space with a website that attracted millions of online visitors, and in recent years has expanded its footprint into the mortgage space.

Erin Lantz, Zillow’s director of mortgage business (the firm has just purchased mortgage lender Mortech), told MTC attendees that lenders need to change their approach in light of new market realities like mobile apps. Lenders will have to be responsive to consumers nights and weekends now, and should be looking to build up their online reputations through such devices as consumer ratings.

Patrick Hartford, vice president, emerging technology at Quicken, noted the upsurge in usage of mobile apps but said his firm is now looking for the next trend after this one. Social media came up a few times, with participants in general seemingly undecided as to how to take advantage of it, but Hartford said Quicken is already tracking Twitter posts for clues the social media user might be ready to finance a home. Tweets that say “I recently got married” or “I’m looking for a house” are judged as leads for the lender.

Hartford said lenders have to be in social media “absolutely. If other lenders don’t do it, we will.”

Rick Grant, founder of RGA, also felt lenders will need to track consumers more carefully, especially to prove they are in compliance with an increasing crush of rules and regs.

This is a brave new world, but one that tech-savvy lenders and tech vendors seem ready to tackle. Gaining the confidence of the consumer, having her regard you as a trusted advisor, whether through social media, outreach to them via their mobile apps or any other way, seems to be a key. How much consumers will trust lenders, however, given recent experience, remains to be seen.