Century Mortgage Rolls Out Marketing Plan for HomeReady Mortgage
By Karen Nielsen | March 24, 2016
Jeff Ratanapool first heard about the HomeReady® mortgage late last year. He knew at once that the affordable lending product was something Century Mortgage Company could rally behind.
“Part of our business plan is to always look for new products and increase market share,” says the chief operating officer of the Louisville, KY, lender. “And this fits in with that strategy. We decided in 2016 to spotlight HomeReady. It’s another tool to match up borrowers with a home they can afford.”
Century Mortgage’s marketing team tapped into Fannie Mae’s HomeReady marketing outreach materials. They are available here and are easily customizable.
The lender put its own spin on the mortgage. Its campaign portrayed a woman preparing to run a race, a family engulfed by moving boxes and a goldfish needing more space.
All of the collateral pieces incorporate selling points. Those include: 3 percent down payments, alternative qualifying sources of income, online homebuyer education and the possibility of canceling private mortgage insurance to make mortgage payments more affordable.
At its annual sales summit, the lender created a special HomeReady session to ensure everyone was well-versed on its benefits. It also shared the new informational pieces.
Next came a “drip” campaign on March 4 to distribute the marketing materials to clients. They included correspondent lenders on the wholesale side (dba Century Lending), and real estate agents and builders on the retail side.
About 70 percent of Century Mortgage’s market is purchase business. Their annual originations top $1.3 billion. Ratanapool sees real opportunity in reaching homebuyers with a more flexible loan product that’s supported by Desktop Underwriter®.
“Fannie Mae is really putting their money where their mouth is, showing commitment to this bucket of borrowers,” he says. “HomeReady is nothing but a positive for borrowers.”
Fannie Mae’s HomeReady marketing materials include letters, fliers, fact sheets, inserts, FAQs, logos and email templates. Since December, lenders of all sizes have downloaded them more than 1,000 times, says Robert Greenbaum, Fannie Mae’s senior director – communications and marketing services.
Some use the materials verbatim, inserting their contact information, logo and legal disclosures. While others capture the key benefits they want to promote and add their own customized touch. Spanish and English versions also are available.
“We’ve learned from our consumer research and focus groups over the past few years what’s important to prospective homebuyers when they want to get a mortgage,” he says. “These materials give lenders a good start to think about the key benefits they want to market to their customers. We put the materials out there. But I’m sure many lenders will tweak them with their own branding, and specific tone and voice.”
In April, Fannie Mae plans to launch an online “Marketing Center.” It will house all of its marketing and servicing support materials in one place. Customers will be able to upload their logo, easily personalize any of the collateral pieces and download print-ready pdf files.
Ratanapool says the Fannie Mae support materials are helpful and turnkey for lenders.
As part of its education blitz, Century Mortgage is promoting HomeReady on its Facebook page. It also plans to host HomeReady “lunch and learns” and classes through local real estate boards. Ratanapool is speaking at an annual real estate conference in Kentucky to spread the word “to everybody who will hear us.”
Once Century Mortgage closes some HomeReady mortgages, it’s planning a second round of marketing drips. These will have more detailed information about mortgage payment comparisons.
“The next round of marketing will provide further details so people can see the nuts and bolts of the HomeReady program,” he says. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s a win-win for Fannie Mae, us and the customer.”
Karen Nielsen is a freelance writer based in Dallas.