MReport October 2019

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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26 | TH E M R EP O RT COVER STORY built incredible consumer trust over the past decade. No matter how someone ends up selling their home, Zillow can help," the company's spokesperson told MReport. "Selling a home is stressful and Zillow research shows potential sellers want an option for a quicker, more certain sale, especially if they're trying to simultaneously buy and sell, which 61% of sellers are. Zillow Offers is providing that option for consumers, all with the magic of essentially pressing a button." Offerpad, another iBuyer, lists tech and industry expertise to "provide homeowners with fast and accurate home valuations in 24 hours when they request a home offer online or in our mobile app." The company's internal tech in- tegrations allow it to work quickly and efficiently and, therefore, serve the customer better. "We are also developing addi- tional real estate tech solutions that give consumers better experiences in all aspects of real estate like buying, moving, home loans, and much more," said David Stephan, Communications Manager at Offerpad. The Elephant in the Room A mazon had created a stir in 2017 when it attempted to hire Realtors through its site. However, Amazon told the Wall Street Journal that it isn't interested in selling real estate—at least for now, which explains its current partnership with Realogy. The turnkey initiative is likely to compete directly with Zillow's Premier Agent program, which drew $898 million in revenue for the company last year. For now, Amazon seems content with providing its move-in ready tech products like smart home devices and other move-in services. "Customers can be over- whelmed when moving, and we're excited to be working with Realogy to offer homebuyers a simplified way to settle into a new home," said Pat Bigatel, Director of Amazon Home Services in a statement when the companies announced their partnership. "The Amazon Move-In Benefit will enable homebuyers to adapt the offering to their needs—from help assembling furniture to assisting with the smart home device set up, to a deep clean, and more." Yet, the industry is working towards meeting this competition head-on. "There's been a rumor for quite some time that Amazon may enter the mortgage space. If Amazon does enter, we welcome that and hope to work with them," Garg told MReport. "It's less about competition and more about combining assets as partners, the way we did with Ally earlier this year." For fintech lenders like Haus. com, it is through a commitment to automating and streamlining every aspect of the homebuying process that they hope to stand out. "Haus is innovating around the entire homeownership experience when other companies might only consider financing, which is just a small piece of the equation. We'll compete by offering the best possible homeownership solution and a consumer-first experience," McNulty said. Companies like Opendoor are looking at similar solutions. According to Aziz, Opendoor's vision of becoming an end-to-end real estate platform is the big dif- ferentiating factor that allows it to compete in an already crowded market. "This is our north star, and if we continue to deliver a superior experience at the lowest cost, we see a world in which Opendoor is the first choice for consumers no matter what their real estate needs are," she said. "Getting into this business, we knew there would be compa- nies—big and small, existing and new—that would advertise services like ours," Stephan said. "Part of our growth over four years has been the enhancement of our core offering, as well as the expansion into new product offerings that help a broader body of consumers enjoy excellent real estate experiences." For traditional lenders like loanDepot, a laser-focus on what consumers want and need will be a huge differentiating factor. "It's more important to stay ahead of consumer demand than worry about the competition," Richards pointed out. "However, competition is healthy, so we should welcome it." Graziano agreed. "Our discov- ery process is a continuum, where our clients' needs and expecta- tions will continue to evolve. We must be in a position to recognize their changing desire early on and respond to it," she said. "Because ultimately, it's not about us—we are hyper-focused on delivering what our clients want and need, and delivering that experience in the best possible way to remain relevant in the marketplace." The customer experience, in fact, is and will remain at the center of all the technological innovations that the market is seeing today. The Big Differentiator T D Bank recently conducted a survey of more than 1,800 American homeowners about the mortgage process and found that a significant knowledge gap exists regarding mortgage terms and con- cepts. The survey revealed that 14% of respondents said that confidence in understanding how to navigate mortgage financing most negatively impacted their most recent home purchasing decision. Nearly a third (30%) said they incurred $2,000 or more in unexpected charges. "This should never be the case," Bechtel said. "It's up to loan of- ficers to translate their expertise into understandable discussions with borrowers. This is how lend- ers earn trust, create transparency, and deliver an exemplary customer experience." McCormick pointed out that, though many fintechs were using digital tools to enhance customer experience, only a few are focused on these exclusively. "Digital tools can make the process simpler and faster, enabling enhanced customer experience. Most fintechs recognize this," he said. "We have seen that few are focused on exclusively digital "For so many people, purchasing a home is one of the most significant financial decisions they will encounter in their lifetime. They want to understand the process, discuss all of their options, and have their questions answered. Humans still want to talk to humans." —Rick Bechtel, Head of U.S. Residential Lending, TD Bank

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