Disruption is all around us. Yes, It’s even coming to the home lending industry. Is a ‘bot going to take my job? Are Zillow and Amazon going to enter the lending space? How can I protect myself and my team?

Clayton Collins of HousingWire has a two-fold prescription to help successful lenders prepare for a technological disruption. One, cultivate a digital presence and, two, build local expertise and local relationships. Having local knowledge and real-world relationships…well, it’s very difficult for technology to compete in those areas.

In today’s episode you’ll learn about HousingWire’s resources for lenders and about their upcoming Engage.Marketing Event in Charlotte. I plan to be there!

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IN THIS EPISODE YOU’LL LEARN:

  • About HousingWire
  • About the importance about reaching the borrower first
  • Shifts coming to the mortgage industry
  • Clayton’s opinion about Zillow’s impact on the lending space
  • How first-time home buyers will impact the 2019 market
  • Why it’s important to diversify and not have all your eggs in one basket
  • Why it’s important to know what your referrals and partners value

LINKS FROM TODAY’S EPISODE

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TRANSCRIPT

Geoff:  My very special guest, president and CEO of Housing Wire, Clayton Collins. Some of you may know that I was recently blessed to have an article published in Housing Wire. Part of their newsletter, their website, is called Pulse, and it is the pulse of what’s happening in mortgage. And this is real world, no fluff, no B.S. stuff about how to succeed as a mortgage originator today — articles, special guests, features, and things like that. I was in there recently, and my article topic was “What I’ve learned from interviewing over 100 of America’s most successful loan originators.” So if you want to check that article out, I’m going to put links in the show notes. Of course, you can go over to HousingWire.com. Look for the Pulse. Do a search for my name or something. Check it out. It’s good stuff in there.

Now on to my special guest, Clayton, who is just a really awesome guy who’s got his heart where I think my heart is, with you, with us as mortgage loan originators, helping us succeed, survive versus just thrive.

And so he and I have a candid conversation in this episode about going digital plus local, the combination of the two, to reach consumers first and to win more agent referrals. And that’s really the game of the future, folks, if you want to compete against… The news about Zillow and so forth and their growing bit out of the market. Look, Zillow is going to fragment the market even more as well as some of these other disruptors who also have mortgage companies. But the difference that Zillow can’t complete with is you being local, in your local community and the combination of online and offline, digital plus local to engage and reach your local consumers. It’s going hyper local, folks, to win the attention of consumer direct but also to leverage that attention and your audience to better engage with agents, perhaps maybe provide them with some leads. What about that for an idea? But also, as we mentioned earlier, teach them to fish, help educate them to do the same.

And that’s what Clayton and I talk about. And I want to make sure you also make a note of and check out their upcoming event. Engage.marketing. It’s their killer event. Their second year doing it, so they’ve really got this thing nailed down. It’s going to be June 13th through the 14th, and it’s going to be in Charlotte, North Carolina. The website for that we’ll put in the show notes links, but it’s also engage.housingwire.com. I’m planning on being there. I missed out on it last year, and I missed out on some incredible content, but this 2019 summit is focused on mortgage marketing and a purchase market, specifically focusing around how you can leverage technology, build referral relationships, leverage your past customer client database experience, and, of course, your online reputation.

Folks, if you’re not learning how to do those things in today’s market, I’m sorry to say that maybe you won’t be here next year. So do yourself a favor and get to one of the most relevant, current, topical mortgage events that’s not just a bunch of fluff and hype and people cheering and jumping on their chairs and touting how great a top producer I am but actual tactical ideas and implementation from people living and breathing it every day. It comes with my highest endorsement. Plus, it’s wicked affordable. It’s like 500 to 600 bucks, maybe, maximum, depending on when you’re checking it out. So go to engage.housingwire.com and register. I’m going to be there. Our fellow industry syndicate members are going to be there. You should be there too.

Let’s get into this week’s show.

Hey, Clayton, welcome to the show.

Clayton:  Good morning. Thank you very much, Geoff.

Geoff:  You bet. Good morning. Welcome. I am really pleased to be able to connect to you finally. For me, it’s been a long time coming, because I’ve been watching what you guys have been doing out there, and I love the fact that you, from what I see, are trying to add value, which is what I’m trying to do, add value to the loan originators life and all they have to deal with. I’ll allow you to give your introduction. Who are you? What’s Housingwire all about?

Clayton:  Absolutely. At HousingWire, our primary mission is moving markets forward. We serve one market, and that is the housing economy, covering everything from real estate to housing finance and all of the services and technology and trends and regulatory happenings in between. So we cover, first and foremost, news. And then we do data and analysis and other media formats like podcasts and video. So we’re really trying to serve our audience of mortgage and real estate professionals, where they are with the information they want when they need it with the primary goal of furthering the entire housing economy and moving markets forward.

So I’m Clayton Collins. I’m the CEO of HousingWire. I’ve been leading the business for about three years now and couldn’t be more excited about our growth and audience and engagement and better serving this mortgage industry every single year.

Geoff:  That’s awesome. Thank you. I’m on your website. So I’m going to be looking to that to pull out some question for you. Of course, we’ll put some links in the show notes. HouseingWire.com, for those who want to go there. We’re going to talk about resources for you listeners right now during the podcast, and we’ll give you links to those.

So here we are. When listeners are hearing this, it’s 2019 already. You get exposed to a lot of different information. I’m a loan officer. If you had to advise me in 2019, what do you see coming as big shifts or changes for the mortgage industry?

Clayton:  I think that a lot of the trends that we saw building in 2017 took place in 2018 and will continue through 2019. And that is we’re not going to see a massive change in inventory, so it’s a competitive market. People are fighting for market share, not just at the lender level but the LOs and REALTORS® every day, fighting for that borrower, fighting for that homeowner. And that’s a really, real dynamic that comes through in the way you manage your business, the way you market yourself, the technology you adopt. And I think the mentality you have to have to be successful in the long term.

So if you was advising you as a loan officer, I’d say don’t think about what you want to accomplish in 2019. Thank about where you want to be in 2020, 2021, 2025, and know that a lot of the decisions you make about how you position yourself, your personal brand, your corporate brand, the tools you adopt, are going to influence your success this year but also are going to be even more impactful in future years. To be successful now, you have to be successful in purchase. But there’s going to be a time when the rates are in the right place for refi again. So be thinking about that long-term strategy of what your client mix looks like, what your referral mix looks like, what your marketing mix looks like to position you for success in future years, not just in 2019.

Geoff:  It’s interesting you say that there’s going to be a refi opportunity down the road. I’ve heard that a couple of times. You have some data that supports that that you want to touch on?

Clayton:  We know the factors that influence interest rates, and we’re probably going to not test market bottoms again in terms of interest rates. But we’re also not going to see a continued upward trajectory. We’ve seen a recent… By the time this podcast airs, we’ll see where rates are, but we’ve seen in recent weeks, in early December, have seen a slight dip in rates, especially in the jumbo category. There actually is a little bit of a refi opportunity right now.

And everything is relative. So first-time homebuyers coming into the market in 2018 who did a 30 year fixed with a four or five handle on it, their refi opportunity might look very different than my refi opportunity, because I purchased in 2016, and I have a rate that’s going to be pretty hard to beat. So it’s all relative. Right?

Geoff:  I’m just going to throw some questions at you, because you do have access to a lot of information and data and things like that. I moved to Vegas. That will be a year in January. I moved to Vegas from Orange County. Sold the house, took some chips off the table, and I haven’t bought yet. I’m renting here. And so I just actually upped for another year in this wonderful house. But I go back and forth a lot of that because we’re both closely tied to the industry, and I’m eyeballing markets and overheated markets and things like that. So what’s your take on pricing for housing coming in 2019 or 2020?

Clayton:  They’re coming on the initial lead-in on that question, on that decision to buy, I’m firmly of the belief that consumers need to make smart financial decisions, but housing has a lot more influences than purely financial. And there are situations in people’s lives and their families where homeownership just makes more sense. And home ownership does provide a lot of intrinsic value to communities and the grounding of families that I think people have to take into account when making that rent vs buy decision. So it’s not always just an interest rate decision, though please don’t let me discount the importance of making a smart decisions. If you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it. That’s first and foremost.

But thinking about pricing, affordability coming into 2019, that’s largely going to be driven by demand of first-time homebuyers. And I don’t want to get into the whole Millennial conversation, but there’s still a massive wave of wage earning, income earning, single and dual income families that haven’t purchased yet. And that’s coming up the pipe, and we saw data this week that HousingWire published. I believe it was 10 million Millennials purchasing homes in the next ten years. That’s a wave that you can’t ignore. And that’s crly not going to be equally distributed across the country. I think there’s going to be pockets that are much more impacted by that first-time homebuyer boom than others.

By the Millennial generation is aging to a point where home ownership make more sense. And that’s not the last generation to come that’s going to value home ownership. I’m firmly of the belief that it’s going to be a demand-based affordability equation and unless new home starts can catch up, then we kind of face a continued competitive market where affordability becomes a major part of the decision making process for first time homebuyers and for people who have growing families or want to relocate, which we’re seeing a lot less job relocation in this market right now than we saw in prior decades and largely because of affordability. Even if there’s great job opportunities in San Francisco, I think you have a little bit of a grasp of what the wages have to be to even afford to step foot on the peninsula or anywhere close to it.

Geoff:  I was talking to somebody yesterday in Palo Alto, of course, the center, the hub of tech. I think the median price for a house there is like 1.3, I think. That’s crazy, man.

Clayton:  …Facebook, it’s still [0:16:14] ballpark.

Geoff:  Exactly. So clearly then, you are bullish on the housing market moving forward.

Clayton:  I’m bullish on the stability and continued growth of the housing market. I think there’s some headwinds. There’s some challenges. We’ll fight through them. Inventory, affordability, rates, margin on lending, competitiveness in the REALTOR® and technology coming in. There’s going to be disruption. There’s going to be competitiveness. People are fighting for market share. There’s going to be winners and losers, but when you go up a level, there’s some parts of this market that are very healthy, and there’s a competitive nature, a competitive healthiness that will support a growing housing economy for years and decades to come.

Geoff:  Let’s then transition a bit and talk about winners and losers, if you will, in the coming year, because market compression, all that kind of stuff we’ve heard, and all the buzzwords. I’m seeing it in front of my face every single day, the struggle, if you will, on the street. Loan officers, like you said, you keep using that word “competitive market,” and I’m seeing it and feeling it every slg day.

Who is going to survive, whether it’s company or loan officer? I think what I want to address is this. There’s a lot of fear going around. There’s a lot of “sky is falling.” And maybe you could re-adjust us a little bit in that the sky isn’t falling, and so how do we then… How should we be best prepared? What should we do as individual loan officers, let’s say, to be best prepared and less fearful?

Clayton:  And there’s definitely some bifurcation there of people that are embracing the competitive market, people who are rightly fearful. But the most successful LOs and REALTORS® that we’re talking to now have figured out a way to double down on their strengths. In a purchase market, it is incredibly important to know where your business is coming from. How do you double down on that channel while also continuing to test out different lead market and referral channels to be prepared, if there is a shift in the market, so you’re not left with your main business source drying up.

So in this purchase market, I think it comes back. This is my quote. But nobody wants a mortgage. People want a house. So that means that more than ever, the REALTOR® and lender relationship is incredibly impactful. You have to think of this entire housing economy as a big that is trying to put people in houses. And that comes down to not pushing credit, not only talking about your rate and pricing power. You’re a better partner for your REALTORS® and referral sources. How are you not just being there and being ready when they send you business, but how are you sending them business? And that’s where we start to see the major bifurcation of successful purchase LOs and the LOs who are just getting by. Are you valuable to your referral sources? And are you sending them business? Are you reliable? Are you closing loans on the timeline that you promise? I think those are the factors that we’re hearing from top-performing LOs and REALTORS® who work with top-performing LOs that are really kind of helping top grade A producers continue to stay in that bucket and not fall to the bottom in the competitive market.

Geoff:  There’s a lot in there, a lot of different questions. The first one that comes up for me is then are you saying that the smart loan officer should, instead of just looking at the REALTOR® as a place to get leads or get referrals, start looking at how loan officers can self-gen? Start generating your own leads online?

Clayton:  Absolutely. We’re seeing top-performing loan officers create their own brands and social presence and marketing campaigns. I think you see that every single day in the institution that you work for. And that’s really powerful. So if you have borrowers coming to you for that pre-qual and it seems to be an increasing trend of prospective homebuyers understanding that they can finance or can afford to buy a property before they start going and looking at 30 homes with a realtor. I think it’s increasingly common that that lender is the first point of contact. I’m not saying it’s the majority yet, but it’s increasingly common. And taking those initial touch points and partnering those borrowers with real estate professionals that you trust and have a relationship with can increase the probability of close on those initial touch points but also hopefully, when that REALTOR® is the initial touch point on a future transaction, you’re the first call, because you’re not only a reliable partner, you’re also someone who brings them business, and it becomes more of a partnership, is what we keep consistently hearing.

Geoff:  So can we… I’d love to get a little bit more specific in terms of what LOs should be doing to fulfill that. I wrote down from our last conversation in the notes here, “Digital plus local equals enablement,” if I can read my own notes — adopting tools and things like that. So any recommendations, whether you see people are doing X, Y, and Z on this social platform or whatever, any kind of coaching moment from you here?

Clayton:  Yeah. I run a media company, and I have a unique vantage point and get to talk to a lot of smart people, but I’m certainly not the one who is out on the street lending or speaking to clients every day. So take that for a what it is.

But on the digital plus local idea, it’s very different by the type of lending institution we’re talking to. We have the fortune of having relationships with small brokers or small broker owners who don’t have the support of a corporate technology branding or marketing team and then top producing LOs at top five, top ten [0:22:47] banks with massive technology budgets and marketing strategies behind them.

But when it comes to the digital plus local empowerment theory, we’re seeing that the most successful LOs are focused on what differentiates them personally. That’s the local side. That’s the relationships with your referral sources, with your past clients, with REALTORS®, with everybody in your community that, when you’re having a borrower or a lead that’s coming through a referral source, you’re there, you’re in the community. You know them. You know the neighborhood. You know the properties. You know how to serve that client best.

The digital side is the support that either you’re putting in place in advance as an independent broker or owner or, if you’re joining a large non-bank and looking for somebody who can support you in the areas you need.

We don’t expect that every LO has the time or experience to implement a thoughtful digital mortgage platform. Even the easier front-end tools to drive leads from a website. But we know that infrastructure is really important, so the digital plus local ethos is that the digital presence and the tools and the backbones of an initial digital application or full digital mortgage or incredible important. But that alone is not going to displace the power of loan originators in communities working with past clients and referral sources. And the most successful lenders and most successful originators will be the ones who understand the power of not only having that digital infrastructure but also having a market-facing presence and know-how to serve a particular community and referral base.

Geoff:  That’s very interesting. It really comes back to the things we’ve been saying all along. The old cliché, “High tech, high touch” just popped in my said. That is proving to be true as well. Personal brand, as well, is as important as it’s ever been, perhaps even more important today.

Let me pivot for a little bit. I think we dealt with the issue of what does a loan officer need to do to stay relevant. You’ve got to be present. You’ve got to show up in your local market. You have to engage with your referral partners, REALTORS®, etc. Even deeper. Go deep vs wide, let’s say. Become more valuable. It’s not about rate and service and can you close on time and all that jazz.

I’m just going to throw a question at you. Zillow mortgage. I had privilege of interviewing Tom Ferry on Monday. I asked him, does he believe Zillow wants to displace REALTORS®.

Clayton:  I listened to that, and I thought Toms’ response that any somewhat intellectual person will look at their multiples that the Zillow stock trades on and then look at the multiples that [0:25:56] trades at and say that it would be completely irresponsible for Spencer [0:26:01] to go to his board and say, “We should become a realtor, because then we’re going to see our multiple cut in half.”

I tried to draw a parallel to their recent acquisition of a mortgage bank and was trying to think through, with that mindset of digital media companies or digital information companies trade in high multiples than lender in REALTORS®. That seems to be relatively true in the public markets. How do you justify, how do you rationalize that acquisition?

One, the market didn’t receive that acquisition extremely well. It wasn’t like there was a pop in the stock. If I remember correctly, it was [crosstalk.] a slight tank. So what’s the play there?

I don’t know yet.

Geoff:  None of us know. Maybe they know or don’t know. Maybe they’re just rolling the dice. You know?

Clayton:  I don’t know the play. I do think that it’s not as apples and oranges as saying that digital media and information services companies trade at X multiple and loan origination and real estate companies trade at Y. It hk in a Zillow type scenario, there is an arbitrage opportunity where a fully digital mortgage or real estate company would trade at a multiple that’s closer to a digital business than a traditional brick and mortar business. So I think there’s a few.

I would love to have a long conversation with Tom about that. I’m a former investment banker. So the thoughts of talking about where businesses trade and corporate strategy to influence evens out multiples, it’s near and dear to my heart.

Geoff:  We’re duking out on finance, man.

Clayton:  But I think there’s some gray area there.

Geoff:  Let’s roll it back to be aware. Should a loan officer feel threatened? Let me put it this way. You see all these other people talking about “REALTORS®, you’re funding your demise by paying Zillow.” What’s your take on that?

Here’s my thought. I actually answered this on a Facebook page. This loan officer was commenting that he’s got these REALTORS® that are paying Zillow a couple of thousand buck, whatever is the number. It’s like if they’re paying Zillow big bucks, if it’s a smart realtor, it’s because they’re getting an ROI. And let’s face it, Zillow is the internet when it comes to real estate, by and large. Safe? Would you agree with that?

Clayton:  Yeah.

Geoff:  I mean, 180 million visitors a month. Right?

Clayton:  [0:28:51] MLS, yeah. They’re it.

Geoff:  So do loan officer need to be awake, aware? But I want to stop the fear and the mongering because every is like “the antichrist, Zillow.” We don’t know yet. Real work, and then I’ll let you respond.

For instance, you probably know this as well, the Zillow i-buyers, instant officers, and now they’re competing with Open Door. What people perhaps aren’t talking about much yet is this could be an opportunity for people. Now, we don’t know about the mortgage piece yet, but the agents clearly with the iBuyers and the Open Doors, they’re only listing back about 1.5% of those properties that they take in, as you heard Tom’s example. He has a REALTOR® who got 300 leads and listed 15 properties. So maybe it’s okay to wear the Zillow badge and take a little bit more money for lead flow, which is the hardest part of this job.

Clayton:  I think, as a business owner, I don’t like the idea of putting all your eggs in any one basket, from sales channels, for leads, for marketing strategy. I think that you have to do — lenders, originators, anybody selling anything has to do the same thing Zillow is doing. It appears that Zillow is testing right now. They’re testing the waters in the mortgage market. They’re testing the iBuyer market. They’re playing with things.

Just like we talk about disruption and innovation in the mortgage industry, they are testing innovation. They are testing strategies, and I think that’s what REALTORS® and LOs must do as well.

there’s a cartoon that shows a manager on the edge of a cliff on a plank, and he’s holding a gun, and his top sales person is on the side like he’s going to shoot the top salesperson and clearly fall off the click.

Zillow directly attacking their core revenue source is bad business. So until the market completely shifts, they’re driving their revenue from REALTORS® and lenders. You don’t directly attack your client base unless you have a…

Geoff:  So you don’t feel they are directly attacking their client base right now.

Clayton:  I think they’re testing strategies that could be threatening, but they haven’t done anything yet that completely takes the legs out from underneath the REALTOR® market. And so if I were a REALTOR® today, I would certainly be working with all of the sources of leads in business and testimonials and reviews that I could find. I think that putting all your eggs in one basket is dangerous. And I think that that takes some diversification and lead sourcing and marketing effort to properly build a business that’s sustainable for the long term in different market conditions.

And if you’re driving all your leads and putting all of budget into a slg business source, then, yeah, I’d be nervous, whether that’s Zillow or somebody else. But if you build a properly diversified funnel, then you should be able to kind of tweak and pour gas on certain sources when the time is right, pull back if somebody is threatening your business model or not delivering returns.

Geoff:  Do you think Zillow is trying to make a play for being a national mortgage player.

Clayton:  I don’t know the answer to that yet. Our editorial team, Jacob Gaffney and our reporters have definitely researched and talked to sources and speculated on, but I’ll tell you right now, I don’t know if Zillow is going to become a national mortgage player, and I don’t know how Amazon is going to enter the mortgage market, but I know everybody is very curious about both of those.

Geoff:  And with that said, even that noise, my suggestion is — and I’d love to hear your two cents on this — what are you going to do about it? And it rolls back to what you just talked about earlier, which is double down on your local presence, your local brand, and your referral partners. Right? Control what you can control.

Clayton:  Control what you can control and know your strengths. Technology disrupts. Technology can be very disruptive, but technology has its strengths and has its weaknesses. If you’re putting your whole income into doing a job or a process that can easily be replicated by technology, I wouldn’t sleep that well at night. But if your value that you bring to your ultimate client, no matter what you’re selling or what service you’re offering, if you add any value through expertise or personal relationships, double down on that because that’s the hardest part. That’s the hardest thing for technology to disrupt.

I enjoy talking about enablement much more than disruption right now anyway. I’m an early adopter of technology. I know you are as well. And if you are willing to test solutions and figure out how new tools — whether that’s marketing channels or loan origins, whatever it is — if you can test new tools and figure out how those tools make you better, you can win market share in the near term and set yourself up in a better position for future market disruption or change, whatever you want to call it.

Geoff:  What I’m hearing you say… For those listening, this is the time to listen up and pay attention. So know your strengths, double down on the local business, local meeting your referral partners, community, get involved, the whole personal branding thing we talked about, content marketing. But then also look at those tools or platforms by which you can make some small bets. Maybe it’s Facebook ads, for example. Make some small bets to get to the consumer first, because everything I’m reading and presentations I’m doing, it’s all about whoever gets to the consumer first is really who wins.

Clayton:  Yeah. I think the other thing we’re hearing from our clients that are marketing to potential home buyers and from our clients who are providing services and solutions to folks that are marketing to potential home buyers is that there are… That value based messaging is really working right now. I’m not talking about the “Love thy neighbor” kind of values. I’m talking about what does your client value? Do they value speed? Do they value technology? Do they value a handshake? Do they value breakfast and lunch or bagels sent to their office? I don’t know. But figure out what they value, and that’s what drives the messaging.

And I think this is a little bit more on the B2B side. It’s never been easier in the history of the world to start a company or launch a technology and have a local or a national voice. I think that buyers are starting to become aware of that. Some brand and consistency start to become some of the values that people do care about. And know that you’re going to be there. This lesson kind of applies to the homeowner and the B2B side of our industry. Your clients want a partner. They’re not buying a software. They’re not buying a loan once. They want someone that’s going to grow with them. I know when I signed a technology contract, I’m not just looking at the tool that’s in place today but what’s the roadmap. Where are we going together? I don’t want to sign a five year deal with you today and then come back to this relationship in 2022 and say, “Oh, we’re still using the same exact platform?” No. I want to know that you’re investing in your technology, in your tools, and we’re growing and evolving together. And I am of the belief that homeowners, home buyers have that same value or value that as well. And they’re looking for a REALTOR® and lender partners that will be there when they’re ready to refi. So coming back to the beginning of our conversation. You get a first-time home buyer today. They’re going to be a time when the market is different, when their family… People are staying in homes longer too. That’s a refi opportunity.

Someone that will grow with them and build that relationship and not just answer the phone when they call but maybe every now and then send a proactive email or phone call or at least see a friendly face in the community is something that homebuyers and clients of all shapes and sizes value.

Geoff:  Top of mind. To your point about people staying in homes longer, they’re not moving as often as they used to. And really, that goes back to you as a mortgage and loan professional, having a true business and one that’s relational vs transaction.

The big technology plays, they can afford to be transactional because of the efficiencies they have in their system. Us, the little independent broker, loan officer out on the streets, I’ve gotta be relational, and I’ve gotta build a fence around my people, or else I’m going to…. I said it the other day. Displacement disruption. I was talking to REALTORS®. I think I said unless you disrupt yourself, you will be disrupted by market efficiencies, by technology and stuff like that.

Clayton:  Yep. Just knowing to importance of knowing what is disruption, what is distraction and knowing when do you focus your… You have to test new things and new marketing channels, new technologies, new relationships. But I think it’s also, going back to my earlier comment that it’s never been easier to start a business or launch a product, know what’s a distraction and know it’s actually worth spending your time on. I know as a business owner, the most important asset I have is my time, and the hardest thing to do is know when to say no and just move on. And I’m confident that is a dilemma or a consideration that every loan officer should have, because the most important thing they have is time. When should they be spending time on the phone? When should they be spending time in the community? When should they be sitting back at their desk with their door shut and thanking about their long-term strategy of how they position themselves and their business to be successful in future years?

So I really do think focus on disruption but avoid distraction. Thank about the long term. Double down on your strengths. I’m not a loan originator, but I get to talk to a lot of smart ones, and that’s what I’m hearing. That’s the message I would share.

Geoff:  That’s awesome. Let’s talk about how HousingWire can help loan officers along that journey. I know you’ve got, first of all, the website HousingWire.com. What are some places — and we’ll talk about your event coming up in 2019, Engage — but where would you direct loan officer to look on the HousingWire page to get connected and start engaging and learning?

Clayton:  HousingWire, we’ve been around for a little over 10 years now. We’re serving four and a half million unique visitors. There are 50,000 people on our daily newsletter list. Historically, we’ve done a really good job at serving the executive side of the lending industry, from origination executives, serving secondary market, real estate executives… In the last couple of years, we’ve really made a concerted effort to better serve loan originators and REALTORS®. And we’re putting in place news coverage of products to really support that initiative.

Earlier this year we launched a new newsletter called Lending Life. We had a group of LOs come into our office, did a focus group, asked them what they wanted, how frequently they wanted it, what information would make them better at their jobs, more impactful for their partners, and a little bit of content they could share on social or email out to their REALTOR® relationship, took that information, launched Lending Life.

So if you go to HousingWire.com, in the top right corner, do the “Subscribe now” dropdown for the newsletters. You’ll see Lending Life there and can register. It’s a two-day-a-week newsletter. 100% complimentary with the sole purpose of engaging the loan officers in the mortgage industry and trying to build a real community. So we’re sending that email directly from our editor in chief. So Jacob Gaffney sends to email. If you don’t like something or if you love something or if you have an idea, respond. It good directly to Jacob’s inbox, and he gets to have those interactions.

So we’re really trying to build a community. This isn’t some you hit reply and you get a no response. We’re real people here. We’re trying to serve real people in the mortgage industry and trying to create a real community there. So that’s how we’re trying to serve LOs.

I think one reason I was really excited to come on the podcast with you today is we see marketing as a key differentiator and an incredibly important part of overall lending strategies, especially as we pivot to a more origination-focused market with a a few headwinds.

So last year, we launched Engage.marketing, which is some of the top marketing minds in the mortgage industry. We had that first event in September here in Dallas. It was an awesome success. Bring out marketing who typically spend their time at industry events, working the booth or setting up dinners or cocktail hours for their [0:43:07] and their sales team. We actually brought… We said, no, no, no. There’s no Expo hall. This is for the marketers. We wanted marketers to come and engage with content and come and engage with each other and build relationships and take something back. It makes them more impact at supporting the loan originators that they essentially work for as marketers. It was a great success.

We’re doing Engage.Marketing 2019, coming up June 13th and 14th in Charlotte, North Carolina. And I hope to bring out the top marketing minds from across the mortgage industry and give them a really tightly focused programming and content schedule that’s focused on competitive differentiation and a purchase market, marketing tactics that aren’t based around pricing and a rising rate environment, technology and tools that are helping LOs and marketing teams differentiate themselves and build stronger relationships, not just with their borrowers and past clients but also with their referral sources. So this is all about… This is for marketers with a content advisory board. So by marketers, and it’s all about supporting loan origination in the mortgage industry.

Geoff:  So it’s just for originators, no REALTORS®.

Clayton:  We’ll have some REALTORS® attend, but it’s to have them participate on panels, talk about how their relationships… How we can optimize a relationship between a REALTOR® and the lending community. But we’re going to be tightly focused around loan origination.

We see a pretty big REALTOR® interest in our HousingWire content around loan originations. We’d love any REALTORS® that want to join, but this is really for the marketers in the mortgage industry. If you REALTORS® want to come in and join us, the more the merrier. We’d love to have them.

Geoff:  That’s awesome. By the time people are listening to this, we may have a link in the show notes. If we don’t, we’ll update it when it does come out. But that’s awesome. So that’s June 13, 14. Charlotte. Engage. And you can always go to the website and learn more about HousingWire.com. Subscribe to the newsletter there for sure.

Also, a quick mention here. You now have a podcast? Can you tell us about that real quick?

Clayton:  Yeah. When I mentioned at the beginning, we want to serve our audience when and where they want to consume our information. So a few of our journalists, Jacob Gaffney, Caroline Basile, a few of our other journalists have been experimenting with a few podcasts. We’ve done a specialized podcast on [0:45:49], and then we’re doing a weekly update on the top news stories.

An unfortunate part of living in Dallas is I spend a lot of time in my car, so I get to absorb a lot of podcasts, and I know a lot our REALTOR® readers do that as well. And then our corporate readers who spend a lot of time on the road are listening to podcasts on planes. So we want to provide content to our audience when and where they want it. And podcasts are part of that strategy.

Geoff:  Yeah. There’s good content on there. You can go right to the website and listen to it, download it. I’m looking at Episode 3, talking about Zillow, B of A, tech, and all that stuff. What I love about what you guys are doing, we need to be educated as mortgage professionals. Obviously educated about our craft, our business, and how to speak intelligently and professionally. But then also educated about what’s going on in the market to your point, our discussion here today, how do we take that information, that knowledge, and then pivot and adjust for what’s our sense of what’s happening in the market. So good stuff.

Clayton:  Jacob has been able to get some great guests. I know he’s had Ben Carson on there and some executives. So the conversations there aren’t exactly about the day to day challenges of loan origination, but you know I know that those are the decisions that are being made with Ben and his team are the decisions that impact this market this year and next year. So we love when our most informed, most engaged loan officers really want that knowledge, are thirsty for it. So we’ll take industry leaders like Ben any day of the week that want to talk to our audience.

Geoff:  I’ll tell you what, just real quick, for me, with my loan officer hat on. The reason why I listen to things like this, these educational sessions, is those are talking points for me and REALTORS®. If I’m meeting with a REALTOR® and maybe the subject of Zillow comes up, I want to be able to intelligently speak about that. So that’s why we listen to podcasts and get access to you guys like at HousingWire.com and all that jazz.

Awesome, man. I’m going to put links in the show notes to all this, as I said. Appreciate you being here. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and thank you for helping the loan officer community rise up and play at a higher level.

Clayton:  It is our honor and our privilege. And thank you very much for having me today.

Geoff:  You bet. And as always, listeners, we appreciate you. So if you like this episode, you know what to do. Give us a little love out on the interwebs. Leave us a review. And we appreciate you, as always. Thanks for tuning in. We’ll see you on the next one. Bye for now.