Magazine article Mortgage Banking

Marketing to Mobile Buyers

Magazine article Mortgage Banking

Marketing to Mobile Buyers

Article excerpt

"AN INFORMED BORROWER IS A MORE SUCCESSFUL BORROWER," says Jon Lawless, vice president-underwriting and pricing analytics at Washington, D.C.-based Fannie Mae.

Education removes "a lot of misconceptions," Lawless adds.

Technology can play a leading role in bringing better informed borrowers to the closing table. Fannie Mae is pursuing that objective with the recent introduction of HOME by Fannie Mae[TM]--a mobile app that gives prospective real estate buyers guidance on how to proceed toward ownership.

Basic information on mortgage types and ways to save for a down payment is paired with tools to help potential purchasers calculate how much they can afford to spend on a house. Consumers often "think it's harder to buy" a home than the process actually is, Lawless notes.

HOME by Fannie Mae assists future homeowners by helping them determine if they're financially prepared to purchase. Other aspects of the app describe how to shop for properties, features of home loans and an owner's ongoing responsibilities. Interactive calculators, articles and video are part of the HOME by Fannie Mae experience.

Tomorrow's borrowers

Mobile applications and millennials are important to lenders, observes Lawless. "The industry's very, very focused on mobile" technologies, and "millennials are the biggest generation"--even exceeding baby boomers in number, he explains.

Reliance on technology is a hallmark of the millennial generation, as these 18-to-34-year-olds grew up with computers. Offering "information in a digestible format" is a key to working with today's younger buyers, says Lawless.

HOME by Fannie Mae's development started by looking at existing tools, as well as conducting focus groups and doing surveys. Fannie Mae provides the app to lenders and real estate agents. These business partners then give HOME by Fannie Mae to consumers with whom they work.

However, the app can't be personalized by lenders. Consumers also can download HOME by Fannie Mae directly through Google[TM] Play and Apple's App Store.

More than 75,000 downloads of the app have occurred since its July 1,2015, debut. The vast majority of those were for iPhone[R] users. Fannie is marketing HOME by Fannie Mae through traditional and social media outlets, in addition to making it available to its business partners.

Fannie's app is straightforward, with helpful information organized well and presented simply. Consumers are taken step-by-step through the buying process, and given clear explanations for what can be a confusing experience.

Brief answers to common questions, calculators and links to additional re sources are provided on HOME by Fannie Mae. While the app's even-handed approach doesn't contain information that salespeople might like to see--such as statements encouraging prospects to make home buying a priority--lenders can feel comfortable recommending this app to consumers.

Lawless expects HOME by Fannie Mae to evolve as Fannie receives feedback on the tool, and also to reflect industry changes. Fannie Mae will analyze aggregated data regarding which features of HOME by Fannie Mae are used most frequently by consumers.

Having access to technology doesn't keep young adults from harboring misconceptions about home buying. It's common for these consumers to believe a 20 percent down payment is necessary, says Lawless.

Ongoing outreach

HOME by Fannie Mae is one step the industry is taking to cultivate new customers. …

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