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Industry Wrap: Quicken and SoFi Take Very Different Approaches to Test Super Bowl Ad Waters

By Laura Haverty | February 18, 2016

Industry Wrap: QuiQuicken and SoFi Take Very Different Approaches to Test Super Bowl Ad WatersThursday’s Industry Wrap summarizes important news and events each week from around the housing finance industry. Material on external websites may be subject to publisher’s access policy.

Mortgage Companies Quicken and SoFi Test the Super Bowl Ad Waters

The Super Bowl is the big leagues for advertisers and not many mortgage companies have ventured into it – yet. At this year’s game, Quicken Loan and SoFi were two notable exceptions. Presenting itself as “a modern finance company that's fueling the shift to a bank-less world,” SoFi used imagery and messaging targeting the Millennial homebuyer. The company tells HousingWire the Super Bowl spot was “well worth the money” – 20 percent of its annual ad and marketing budget. "2016 is a pivotal year for SoFi,” says Meg Ciarallo, the company’s vice president of brand marketing. “We’re expanding beyond lending to help financially responsible people reach their money, career and relationship goals.” Quicken’s “Push button, get mortgage” messaging, on the other hand, took a very different approach and generated a quick Twitter backlash with criticism that it was promoting “a lending environment similar to the years leading up to the housing crash and the Great Recession,” reports CNN. The ad emphasized the ease of getting a mortgage on your phone. Responding to its critics, Quicken explained that “all of its mortgages are fully underwritten.” "We don't change the underwriting criteria or guidelines," Quicken Loans President Jay Farner tells CNN. "We are empowering the client to see what is going on and see behind the curtain." While the two spots raised awareness and controversy, it’s not apparent if either has pushed origination numbers. (Read HousingWire article, Read CNN coverage)

Fewer Listings May Slow Spring House Hunting

Over Presidents Day weekend – traditionally seen as the unofficial start of the busy spring home-buying season – buyers and their agents were left to ponder a problem in many markets – low inventories. The National Association of Realtors® reports that inventory at the end of December was down nearly 4 percent nationally from the previous December, while sales were up nearly 8 percent. "I think inventory is going to remain tight. The closer you are to urban centers, the tighter the inventory, because the demand is strong, and a lot of that stuff gets scooped up before it hits the market," Jane Fairweather, a real estate agent in Bethesda, MD, tells CNBC. (CNBC coverage)

Luxury Housing Prices Bounced Back at Close of 2015, Says Redfin

The luxury housing market – homes priced at $1 million or higher – rallied at the end of 2015, ending a nine-month slump, according to data from Redfin. A low supply of luxury homes in many cities has likely played a role in driving up prices at the top of the market. Sale prices for the most expensive 5 percent of homes climbed 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter over a year earlier, led by big gains in Philadelphia, Austin, TX, and Sacramento, CA, the company says. Nela Richardson, Redfin’s chief economist, is hesitant to call this a lasting trend. “A slowing economy and volatile stock market have many luxury home sellers on edge,” she says. “This concern is warranted in large luxury markets such as Houston, Miami, Tampa, FL, and Chicago. Instead of shifting into high gear, luxury prices in these markets declined.” (Read article)