The 'treasure trove' many LOs ignore – and why you shouldn't, Surveys reveal enthusiastic buyers, underinformed homeowners, Institutional Risk Analyst: “financial Armageddon” coming to commercial real estate

Mortgage News for 6/3/2020

The 'treasure trove' many LOs ignore – and why you shouldn't

If Richard Grieser could tell mortgage originators just one thing, it would be this:

“You have a treasure trove sitting underneath your fingertips. You don’t even need to be looking for new business right now. You could fill up your pipeline simply by looking at your (previous) borrowers’ needs.”

Grieser, vice president of marketing at Sales Boomerang, said that’s even true as the COVID-19 pandemic batters the economy.

“We’ve got a bunch of clients, and a lot of them are doing very well in this climate,” he said.
“People are still selling homes, and refis, obviously, have gone way up. Our business itself has been growing like crazy.”

Sales Boomerang helps lenders capitalize on what Grieser said is their most valuable asset – their own database of past borrowers.

“What we do, essentially, is when a borrower becomes eligible for a loan, we notify the lender,” he said.
“Let’s say you’ve got a home you own, and you have 80% equity in the home, so you’ve owned it for a while. But say you have $40,000 to $50,000 in high-interest debt – it’s a good time for you to do a refi and take out some of that cash that you have built up in equity, pay down that high-interest debt, and maybe get a better rate and have a lower payment. We send alerts to the lender and say, ‘Based on the data, we know it’s a good time for this borrower to get a loan.’ It’s  incredibly effective.”

Those alerts result in an average loan close of $263,521, Grieser said.

“In our average client’s database, 2.48% of those borrowers are becoming eligible for a loan every month,” he said.
“That’s a huge number. If you take that and add it up over a year, that’s a lot of business. From the alerts we’re giving, we’re getting about 49 loans per client closing, on average. That’s a lot. That results in about $13 million in loans.”

Unfortunately, most mortgage professionals don’t fully realize the value of their own databases, Grieser said.

“The average lender looks at it as a one-and-done transaction, and then (the borrower) falls into this bucket where periodically they’ll reach out to the borrower – and it’s usually at the wrong time. If you just filled up your gas tank at the gas station, and some guy has a bunch of gas and says, ‘Hey, do you want some gas?’ – even if that person is selling it cheaper, you’re like, ‘No, I just got gas. This is the wrong time.’ What we’re doing is making it relevant and timely for every single borrower in a lender’s database.”

Mortgage pros who do internalize that lesson, Grieser said, are seeing results – even during the coronavirus crisis.

“Even in this time, our clients are doing well – and they’re doing well because they’re finding out that their borrowers need loans,” he said.
“What we’re doing is helping them retain their borrowers. Their borrowers aren’t leaving them and going to other lenders, because they’re actually contacting the borrower for a meaningful reason.”

Grieser said that it is “fundamentally important” for originators to change their mindset when it comes to their existing database.

“Think of it like this. If you had an asset – say you had $500,000 – would you take the $500,000 and shove it under your mattress, or would you invest it and try to make some money off it?” he said.
“That’s what a lending company is doing – it’s building up this asset of borrowers. And if you’re not working at investing in those borrowers, then you’re not taking care of that asset, and it’s depreciating over time. What we’re doing is taking care of that asset. You need to treat your borrowers like an asset – and that’s a different frame of mind. But our lenders that are doing that are just killing it – it adds 10%, 20% to their business. … And borrowers respond to it; if you’re really thirsty, and someone right next to you is selling water, you’re going to be very happy that person is there. It’s very different than someone walking up to you when you’ve already got a water bottle in your hand.”

Source: MPA Magazine 6-2-2020 Author: Ryan Smith

Surveys reveal enthusiastic buyers, underinformed homeowners

The results of a pair of new surveys revealed that, while current homeowners still appear to be underinformed about their financial assistance resources relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, America appears ready and willing to jump back into the purchase market.

Sixty-five percent of people who attended an open house within the last year would do so now without hesitation, according to new data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Another 20% said that they would be willing to resume open house visits with assurances of safety from medical authorities and government officials.

To derive its figures, the organization collected responses through a series of biweekly surveys conducted by research firm Engagious, gauging consumer attitudes as National Homeownership Month kicks off.

“The real estate industry – and our country – has endured some very challenging times for several months, but we’re seeing signs of progress and we are earnestly hoping the worst is behind us,” said NAR President Vince Malta,

who added that

“for prospective buyers, the desire to own a home remains strong.”

Nearly six out of 10 buyers and sellers — 59% and 58%, respectively — responded that buying and selling real estate is an “essential service.”

But despite the enthusiasm on potential buyers’ part to resume house hunting, a different survey suggested people who are presently homeowners remain cloudy on their assistance options should coronavirus-related hardship rear its head. A late April survey from mortgage advisory firm Stratmor Group found that 44% of homeowners were either “somewhat concerned” or “very concerned” about making their mortgage payments in the next 90 days. Sixty-one percent of respondents, however, had either no knowledge of COVID-19 assistance programs or were unsure if the available assistance applied to them.

Perhaps even more distressing is that 13% of respondents believed that either the government would be making payments for them or they would be able to skip making their payments altogether during the pandemic.

“This should be a wake-up call to services to ramp up communication efforts to help borrowers understand their available payment options,” said Stratmor’s COVID Homeowner Experience Report,

which detailed the survey’s results.

Stratmor’s survey also pointed to a shift in the number of people per household contributing to mortgage payments. Before the pandemic, 53% of households reported having two people contributing to loan payments; currently, that number has fallen to 41%. The number of households with a single person handling the mortgage bill, on the other hand, has jumped from 42% pre-pandemic to 56% currently.

Taken together, the two surveys, while directly unrelated, appear to paint a picture of a public that is clamoring to return to homebuying activities but potentially unclear and unprepared should troubles arise post-homeownership. The takeaway, as Stratmor suggests, is perhaps a need for enhanced communication throughout the mortgage process, both to take care of borrowers during a confusing time while building foundational loyalty with purchasers and emotional equity with current customers.

“Crisis events have a way of pulling people together,” said Mike Seminari, director of Stratmor’s MortgageSAT division,

in the company’s latest Insights report.

“For the mortgage industry, this pandemic has meant ramping up borrower communications, finding creative ways to ‘virtually’ attend closings, and tapping into the emotional needs of borrowers."

“Even though these practices have in some ways been forced upon the industry out of necessity, lenders should do everything possible to make them permanent habits. They are not only good for the customer — they also build loyalty that will last through any storm, pandemic or otherwise.”

Source: Scotsmans Guide 6-1-2020 Author: Arnie Aurellano

Institutional Risk Analyst: “financial Armageddon” coming to commercial real estate

As U.S. unemployment figures rise and more businesses are put out to pasture by COVID-19, those that have so far survived the country’s latest recession are desperate for a return to whatever new iteration of ‘normal’ will allow them to start rehiring workers, generating profits and paying their landlords. But according to Whalen Global Advisors chairman R. Christopher Whalen, the prospects facing the nation’s commercial space are growing darker and more nauseating by the day.

In a post written for The Institutional Risk Analyst on Thursday, Whalen predicted “financial Armageddon” for both commercial real estate and the cities that depend on it for tax revenue.

“We certainly do know that the world of commercial real estate will be really, really dreadful in the next several years,” Whalen writes. “Default rates could exceed peak losses of the 1990s by a wide margin.”

Ironically, the biggest threat to the health of commercial real estate is the same one protecting the health of the country’s citizens: social distancing.

Social distancing has already changed the retail experience for stores that have been allowed to reopen. Fewer shoppers being allowed in a building means the kinds of lines people have grown accustomed to standing in
outside grocery stores or pharmacies will soon be coming to most retail businesses. There are few everyday retail experiences most people will be willing to stand in extended lines for, especially at the height of summer. (Ice cream shops, maybe?) Who is going to want to stand in line at the mall, that former bastion of convenience? According to Forbes, nobody.

“For a whole host of reasons,” wrote Forbes senior contributor Pamela Danziger,
“I believe shoppers are going to avoid malls ‘like the plague’ once the immediate COVID-19 threat subsides.”

And that was back in March.

Restaurants face a similar challenge – fewer dine-in customers, fewer profits and fewer tips to entice a steady supply of wait staff. Multi-family construction will suffer if large numbers of the unemployed aren’t put back to work. The office and industrial spaces will face their own challenges around providing a safe work environment, but neither requires a steady flow of foot traffic to keep income flowing; unless these offices provide back-end support for struggling retail or restaurant chains.

But even with these challenges facing it, the commercial space may not be ready for the graveyard just yet.

"‘Armageddon’" feels strong as a blanket statement for the industry as a whole,” says RealCrowd CEO Adam Hooper.

“Yes, certain sectors have been crushed and there will be long term impacts and unknowns as to how they recover, but there are still some very strong fundamentals that make the case for real estate as a healthy place to invest capital.”

Falling dominoes and flaming holes

Whalen’s overriding concern is the flaming hole that a faltering commercial sector can leave in a city’s balance sheet. Citing a New York Times article by Matthew Haag, Whalen explains that a decline in rent being paid to commercial landlords can only result in a drop in tax payments to local governments, whose finances have already been spread wafer thin by COVID-19.

“Two months into the crisis,” wrote Haag on May 21,
“the steep drop in rental income now threatens [commercial owners’] ability to pay bills, taxes and vendors — a looming catastrophe for [New York City], they warn.”

New York, despite being the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, will not be alone in trying to mitigate this colossal shortfall. The National League of Cities calculated that U.S. cities could face an overall revenue shortfall of $360 billion between 2020 and 2022.

“We project that the portion of revenues for cities, towns and villages generated by sales and income taxes will have the largest relative fiscal impact on budget shortfalls, followed by revenues generated by fees and charges, and then property tax revenues,” the NLC staff wrote on May 14.

Because the fate of commercial real estate rests with the planet’s wildest of wild cards – human beings – there remains the distinct possibility that if social distancing doesn’t give pent-up shoppers or desperate store owners the results they’re hoping for, they will be all too happy to crowd into commercial spaces and behave as if social distancing never happened.

“It will be really interesting to see how these competing desires duke it out in our psychology,” says Adam Hooper, CEO of RealCrowd.
“I think we've already started to see some people think that enough has been done and they're just ready to get back to life, but at what cost? My fear is if we get back to normal too quickly, we'll face a spike in infection rates which will inevitably lead to a rolling or revolving shutdown, which could be even more catastrophic to the economy and consumer confidence than the lumps we’re takingright now.”

It wouldn’t be the first time profit and short-term convenience have been given priority over the public good, but for any businesses willing to risk their customers’ health for the sake of making rent and covering payroll, it could be the last.

Source: MPA Magazine 5-29-2020 Author: Clay Jarvis

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