April 2016 – Kristin Messerli
With the rise of multicultural consumers, now expected to make up two-thirds of homeownership growth over the next decade, lenders must have a clear understanding of the cultural nuances that exist and an ability to deliver a quality customer experience across cultures.
According to the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), Hispanics accounted for 69% of the growth in homeownership in 2015. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) states one in three home purchases were made by Millennials in 2015.
Maria Zywiciel, President of NAHREP Consulting Services, says there is also a significant opportunity to reach the Latino Millennial, who now makes up 21% of Millennials and has a higher propensity towards homeownership than non-Hispanic Millennials. However, she states that as is the case with other cultures, the opportunity is only available to those who understand the cultural nuances and can deliver a service that addresses their needs.
The market is driven by Millennials and multicultural segments, each with unique needs, preferences in purchasing experience, and communication styles. Mortgage Coach offers a tool that allows lenders the ability to communicate across any culture, language, and education background.
For many Asian and Hispanic borrowers, there are several family members involved in the purchase or decision-making process outside of the primary borrower. Asian and Hispanic families are twice as likely to be multigenerational households, and they seek the advice and input of their families when purchasing a home. Many of these family members do not speak English, have low financial literacy, and have little trust in their lenders.
Manuel Rodriguez, a top producer for Alterra Home Loans says his favorite aspect of Mortgage Coach is that it transcends cultural differences. He shares the following example:
“Take my client Maria, for example. She is a 55 year old, non-English speaker, who does not use email. While helping her with her home loan I almost didn’t put together a ‘Total Cost Analysis’, since I figured it may be too advanced for her. Ultimately, I ended up color-printing the report for her and, to my amazement, she used the report to shop for her home loan and chose the long-term savings option to meet her goals. I don’t know how I got through my 17 years of experience without using this tool and I don’t see myself ever again working without the Total Cost Analysis.”
The majority of first-time borrowers have limited knowledge about how the mortgage process works and what they need to know to make a smart decision about their loan. Ed Diaz, Sr. Mortgage Advisor for Banc Home Loans, shares that this is a particularly big problem in the Latino community, as many are first or second generation immigrants with language and cultural barriers layered with low financial literacy.
Traditionally, the first touch point with a prospective customer includes an email with a number that tells the borrower how much they can qualify for. Naturally, those borrowers will often shop around until they find someone who gives them the most credit and the lowest rate. They are not aware of the many factors that should be considered to ensure they make sustainable, smart decisions.
Diaz shares his passion for using the Mortgage Coach Total Cost Analysis tool, stating:
“Mortgage Coach has been a huge way for me to deliver a way to break the chains of no education. It gives me the ability to really explain to a client in any culture as to how the numbers are calculated and what it means for them. It allows them to take ownership over the process. At the end of the day, they are the ones turning the key in the door and paying the mortgage every month. I am the advisor to help them make sure those financial decisions are wise and informed.”
Today’s buyers desire information and transparency when making a purchasing decision. Developing trust with the consumer is critical to getting loyal business and reduces the likelihood that prospective buyers will rate shop. In fact, research has shows that Asian and Millennial consumers will pay more for a service or product when it has a perceived higher quality or trust associated with the purchase.
The needs of first time homebuyers have changed dramatically and will continue to change with demographic, cultural, and economic shifts. Mortgage Coach provides a solution that not only increases business but also empowers borrowers across any culture to make smart financial decisions, ultimately building stronger communities.
The problem in today’s industry is the cultural gap between providers and their consumers, and the access today’s consumers have to choose from various providers. In today’s crowded marketplace, professionals must speak the language of their consumers.
The following outlines steps that can be taken to meet the demands of today’s diverse consumers and how Mortgage Coach can improve the experience.
- EXPECTATION FOR INSTANT GRATIFICATION
Instant gratification has been built into our economy and expectations for service. We want it and we want it now is no longer an unreasonable expectation. Millennial consumers are not expecting to buy a home within a few days, but they are expecting to have service quickly and their questions answered immediately. In fact, current research highlighted in wired.com shows that if millennials don’t have access to answers right away, half of them will walk away from the purchase.
- DIGITAL LANGUAGE
Mobile technology is a part of daily living today. 89% of cell owners used their phones during their most recent social gathering. The majority of adults today own smart phones, and they use them to accomplish many of their daily tasks including anything from getting directions to applying for a job.
This generation consists of native speakers of “digital” language. They have grown up in a world that integrates our experience of “real life” with mobile technology. Millennials are mobile and prefer using mobile devices to communicate or perform research. Therefore, it makes sense they would prefer to have a simple, open communication with their providers over their mobile devices.
- TRUST AND TRANSPARENCY
As consumers and employees, they also tend to be less outspoken. They are culturally taught not to speak up unless called upon and to respect authority. It is critical that companies provide content and conversations that can be shared and considered at home.
Most millennials are not trusting of people in general, much less someone in the mortgage or banking industry. According to Pew Research, only only 19% of Millennials say people can generally be trusted, in contrast with 31% of just the previous generation. Additionally, Millennials entered the marketplace during or after the market crash.
Millennials want to do business with people they can trust. Millennials want to feel informed before making a decision. They don’t care what company you work for. They care about you as a person and whether they believe you will provide the most value during their experience.
- EMPOWER WITH INFORMATION
Today’s consumers desire to be empowered with information and resources that help them make confident decisions. In purchasing something as small as a dress shirts, consumers will look through reviews and multiple sites to make the “best” decision.
If you can be a guide and resource to your consumer, providing them with information from your first encounter, you will set yourself apart from the competition. This kind of service creates loyal customers and referrals.
While many providers in the industry are still not sure how to address the cultural divide, it leaves others the opportunity to stand out with a competitive advantage in service and gain millennial advocates.
– April 2016
Kristin Messerli is the Founder and Managing Director of Cultural Outreach Solutions, specializing in helping companies in the mortgage industry better reach and serve multicultural and Millennial homebuyers. Her expertise is in multicultural marketing, Millennial homeownership, and compliance with diversity regulations in the Dodd-Frank Act.