Life’s “Big Moment” Events Often Lead to New Home Loans

Some of our biggest financial decisions – such as taking on a mortgage – are triggered by major life events. Personal milestones like having a baby, starting a new job or getting married tend to prompt the need for new financial products. This creates opportunities for credit unions looking to grow their purchase-mortgage volumes, with success coming from knowing what’s going on in the lives of their members.

Forrester Research has reported on this trend – and many of its findings continue to hold true. Chief among them: When considering various financial products, purchase mortgages seem to be the most affected by life events. Forrester’s survey findings were summarized in a June 3, 2011, paper, “Life Events Drive Financial Product Purchases.” The study, which surveyed 26,000 online adults in North America, also found that the top life events tied to buying financial services were moving and getting married, two common events among consumers seeking mortgages.

Rethink your Internet strategy

It’s significant to note that Forrester’s survey also acknowledged the role the Internet plays in consumers’ financial decisions. It cited that 41 percent of the respondents who applied for financial products, such as mortgage loans, first researched them on the Web.

Additional research by the National Association of Realtors® goes further, saying that 52 percent of all homebuyers in 2012 went online as their first step in buying a home. With the Internet growing more central to the lives of many consumers, credit unions are wise to work this to their advantage. Your members are already looking for information online – make your credit union the place they can find it. Doing so can increase your likelihood of securing their mortgage business.

Rethink your marketing strategy

Instead of focusing on rates and loan options, credit unions should focus on building connections with members and potential members during key life events. Here are some ideas to help identify these special times:

Arm the front lines

Look to your own branch lobby. Your front-line employees are the eyes and ears of the credit union; they know your members, interact with them, and hear what’s on their minds. If a member is facing a major life issue, your tellers probably know about it. If someone is transferring a lot of money to a savings account, ask them why? Maybe they are saving for a house or a wedding – again, two of the biggest financial-decision moments. Arm your tellers with the tools and training to effectively engage your members, and then create an internal process to collect and share this information with appropriate staff.

Mine your data

To understand consumers’ current interests and needs, some companies use applications that track behaviors to help you better segment “likely to buy” groups and target messaging specifically to them. In fact, there are lots of new players in this game, so do your research and ask for success stories and client testimonials.

Build in value

Another way to capture more life-moment activity is to create new products and services that appeal to specific segments. If you are targeting first-time homebuyers, then you should be hosting regular Home Buying 101 seminars. If you want an even bigger cut of your members purchase mortgage business, build partnerships with companies that can help power up your online presence with real-estate related features and benefits – like access to MLS listings so your members can do their “first step” web search right from your credit union’s website.

Life is full of “big moment” occasions – and often they lead consumers to look for new or additional financial services. As the country’s most trusted financial institutions, credit unions are well-positioned to fulfill these needs, specifically for life-changing decisions such as buying a home. It isn’t a matter of simply helping members find a good mortgage rate; it’s a retooling of your marketing strategy to help them search, buy, sell and save during the home-buying process.

Mike Corn

Mike Corn

Mike Corn is an entrepreneur with 20-plus years’ experience in credit union and real estate-related ventures, as well as technology start-ups. Prior to CU Realty, he was founder and president ... Web: Details