There are some good numbers flowing forth from associations like MBA, ALTA and NAR these days. Numbers that suggest origination volume (and demand) is increasing. Numbers that mean more orders are coming in for the title industry. Numbers we don’t usually see this early on in the dead of winter.
Is it over? Is it finally over? Years of market volatility; seismic change and regulatory scrutiny amounting to a business foundation as sturdy as quicksand….really over?
Well, probably not. But a lot of folks believe we are (finally) grinding our way to a better and newer “normal.”
It may be decades before we see the breathtaking and historic volume we saw earlier this century. It may never happen again. So, right now, your battle is for market share. Yes, we’re likely to see some contraction across the industry as some exhausted owners give up under the burden of increasingly active regulatory changes. But not so much as to counter the “new normal” we’re likely to see in overall origination volume.
So my question to you is, do you have a plan? How will you gain market share? There have been enough changes in our industry to suggest the old ways may not work as well. This is where I make the obligatory “box of donuts” reference. But there’s truth to it. Flyers, phone calls and postcards simply ain’t gonna cut it.
We can all agree that, to keep a client’s business, we need to “provide value.” Yes, the term is a little cliche. Ok…a LOT cliche. But I use it to demonstrate that “providing value” is no longer enough after we’ve won new business. In fact, you probably need to be providing value long before a prospect becomes a client.
Now, believe me, I’m not advocating that we give our products and services away until someone agrees to pay us. But the days of interuption-based marketing; self-promotional communication and counting on the “numbers game” to predict new sales are over. Content marketing is no longer a fad, a trend or a theory. It’s reality, and it’s far more effective (done well) than virtually any of the old tools in the marketing tool kit.
If your marketing isn’t content based today, I’m pretty sure it’s not working. The fact is that your prospects expect something from you long before they start paying for it. And if you haven’t made that correction yet, the market may well correct it for you…
So I have a soft spot in my heart for small business. After all, they don’t come much smaller than my own little shop. I don’t necessarily consider myself an entrepreneur, but rather, a bit of an opportunist. There aren’t many who are willing and able to handle marketing communications for our little industry. I am. Hence…opportunity.
The past year (hell…the past seven years) has been trying for businesses of all sizes in the mortgage, title and real estate industry. We’ve gone from the subprime meltdown and consolidation to the great REO wave to the rise of the CFPB. 2014 has brought QM, ATR and, for the title industry, the spectre of increased costs necessary to meet new lender demands in the name of compliance. Mortgage brokers have all but been purged from the earth. Small businesses are being swallowed by larger firms. Compliance firms are thriving. All the while, opinions, indicators and analysis have been readily available suggesting simultaneously that the market has crashed; is crashing; is about to crash; is rebounding; has rebounded or is treading water. Depending on who you talk to, of course.
The only thing we really know about the housing market right now is that, well..it’s uncertain. That’s a tough climate in which to do business for anyone, but especially for the little guy, the small business–the company without the volume or cash reserves to stay afloat when revenue dips.
I don’t have an easy answer as to what to do. I’m a PR/marketing guy, you see. And I suspect a self-supporting pitch to hire a PR guy right about now won’t go over real well with a company just trying to keep the lights on. I do strongly believe however, that change always brings opportunity somewhere. Again, my little business will never be mistaken for the Apple or Google of title/mortgage marketing. But I can say that it has been successful–in spite of the market and economy over the last five years. Much of the reason has been my ability (or luck, perhaps) to spot the next wave and ride it. More or less.
Consider this a vote of confidence for the small business owners in our industry. In many cases, YOU are the innovators. YOU are the ones who don’t go “by the book” when the market shrinks. YOU are the ones who show the rest of the industry new ways to do old things. YOU are not (always) driven by fear, but rather, opportunity. This will get better. Keep it up!
If you’re a part of the mortgage industry right now (especially on the settlement services side), you’re aware that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has proposed yet another “simplification” to the HUD-1, somehow incorporating the Truth in Lending statement. I’m not a title attorney, but even I know that you may want to consult with one or get up to speed quickly if this is the first you’ve heard of the proposal. Big change (think about the last form change, and now add teeth to it) is coming. Again. more
So, it has admittedly been a little while since my last post. Okay. A long while. This is the point where I tell you I’ve been busy, and you, my loyal reader or readers, admonish me for using that tired excuse.
But an interesting thread has popped up in one of my industry LinkedIn groups, and I think it merits comment and consideration. more
My apologies for the lengthy delay. I’ve been busy!
One of the things I have been doing is observing the way our industry reacts to the sea change affecting it every day. The regulatory scheme is different, and getting differenter every day. (Nice thing about blog postings is that one doesn’t need to use perfect grammar all the time.). more
Admittedly, I’ve offered some strong opinions here recently about the government’s new take on the mortgage and real estate industry. I stand behind those and remain cynical that anything leaking out of our nation’s capital under the guise of a “solution” is really that. more