In the years since the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) was created, times and consumer preferences have changed. In an industry struggling to interpret and adhere to CFPB guidelines, responding to the way consumers wish to be communicated with can land companies and loan officers in trouble with another government agency - the Federal Communications Commission.
According to Fannie Mae's (FNMA) National Housing Survey released October 19, 2017, consumers are going increasingly mobile and they want to interact with lenders on their devices. This growing preference adds complexity to the CFPB's marketing, contact tracking and archiving requirements and exposes mortgage loan officers (MLOs) to potential FCC violations if they fail to obtain the proper opt-in permissions for SMS messaging.
It's possible to safely engage in text message marketing, but doing so requires commitment and concerted effort by companies to put safeguards in place that will meet consumer demand; additionally, these safeguards should attempt to shield producers from regulatory mishaps as more consumers want the ability to research and transact on their tablets and smart phones.
Growing Appetite for Using Mobile
Fannie Mae's latest National Housing Survey (NHS) asked recent home buyers during the first quarter of this year if they had ever engaged in mortgage activities on a mobile device in the past, and whether they would like the ability to do so in the future. People at every life stage and income level showed an increasing appetite for using mobile to shop for mortgages and to complete tasks during the loan process.
Mobile Usage for Mortgage Activities
Other findings in the survey showed mobile usage by consumers for mortgage transactions more than doubled in a two-year period: In the first quarter of 2015, only 29% of recent home buyers said they completed a mortgage-related activity on a mobile device compared to 65% who responded they did so in the first quarter of 2017. However, this increased mobile usage hasn't dampened the public's desire to communicate with their lender in more traditional ways.
When asked how they would like to communicate with their mortgage professionals going forward, the number of people who responded that they wanted in-person contact in the future increased while preference for phone and online communication declined. The human element in mortgage and real estate transactions shows no sign of becoming obsolete; however, companies, MLOs and Realtors must still adjust to safely and effectively conduct business in the evolving tech ecosystem.
Tips for Embarking on a Text Marketing Program
Before embarking on a text marketing program, make sure you have controls in place to manage this type of communication. It's best to choose a system that can distribute SMS messaging through integration with your CRM to avoid the pitfalls of working across multiple platforms. Make sure your system has the following:
- Opt-in and opt-out management
- Clear and conspicuous disclosure language surrounding opt-ins
- Response tracking
- Archived communication
These features may help keep you from violating FCC rules and TCPA regulation regarding permission for contact, and provide you with necessary records in the event of a CFPB audit.
Consumer preferences are a moving target. The good news is, it’s an exciting time to be in the housing industry. The same technology that’s influencing consumers is giving birth to unprecedented solutions that drive efficiency and production increases. There are more tools available to mortgage companies, loan officers and their referral partners than ever before, but choose wisely and avoid “solutions” that create problems.
Read the complete Fannie Mae National Housing Survey Topic Analysis here.