Wells Fargo Home Mortgage will be giving away a total of $750,000 to three consumers who submit purchase loan applications this spring and summer.
To enter, the homebuyer must answer the question, "What makes a place feel like a home?" on the contest website. An independent panel of judges will review each entry and select the three $250,000 winners based on the uniqueness and sincerity of the answers, among other criteria.
Consumers are looking for reasons why they should get their mortgage from a particular lender and the contest is one differentiator for Wells Fargo.
"People who are in the market today are certainly looking for a competitive interest rate. But they're also looking for something more than that—'What else is my lender going to provide that's of value?'" says Greg Gwizdz, executive vice president and National Retail Sales Manager with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.
"There are tangible value-based benefits that consumers can receive right now that [all] lenders are offering right now. I think sometimes consumers don't think to ask," Gwizdz says.
Wells Fargo, the largest lender overall and in the retail channel, also uses affinity programs with groups like unions and a biweekly payment program without additional fees to set itself apart.
The contest will have three separate drawings, one in the middle of August, followed by the middle of September and the middle of October. Each entry is eligible for only one prize period, Wells Fargo says.
The decline in mortgage loan applications played no part in Wells Fargo holding this contest, Gwizdz says, pointing out the company has done a spring consumer incentive program during the last few years.
"The difference is, in past years we done things like a $100 rebate for consumers putting in a mortgage application in the spring. The discussion we had was: What would most consumers like? Would you like to receive a $100 discount off your mortgage or the chance to win $250,000?" he says.
The feeling at Wells Fargo is that most would give up that sure $100 for a chance to win the $250,000.
While consumers can take the quarter million and pay down their mortgage (or use the money around the house), the winners are free to spend their prizes in any fashion they wish.
The contest is open to retail home purchase applicants through Aug. 31. Refinance borrowers, home equity line borrowers or those who file purchase apps at other lenders are not eligible. The only exception is for consumers in eight states where they do not have to have made a mortgage application to be eligible.