SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.–While people tend to buy homes in late spring or summer, that isn’t the best time to attract buyers’ attention if credit unions want to close more mortgage deals, according to new numbers from CU Realty Services.
Data collected by the real estate CUSO from its online real estate portal, HomeAdvantage, show that most buyers start getting serious about a move just after the new year begins, the company said.
CU Realty said it reviewed the last five years of registration activity and usage to identify marketing opportunities for its credit union clients. In doing so, the CUSO discovered that an average of 22% of HomeAdvantage registrations by credit union members come in during the months of March and April.
“We believe that once the holidays are over, buyers are finding the time to get more serious about the goals they set for themselves in the new year,” said Tandy Vincent, CU Realty Services’ director of marketing. “Especially as it relates to buying a new home since this decision typically takes a long time.”
The CUSO’s research also revealed that members who registered with the program in the first quarter of the year were more likely to close on a purchase mortgage loan. From 2010 to 2014, an average of 16.26% of users that registered in the first quarter resulted in a closing, or are under contract. The remaining quarter’s average varies from 14.5% to 15.3%.
“Armed with the knowledge of when members are starting to focus on real estate decisions, credit unions can maximize their reach by adjusting their marketing schedules,” said Vincent. “And it appears that January and February are proving to be the best months to start promotions.”
Since January 2010, CU Realty Services has seen the largest number of credit union members register for HomeAdvantage in the months of March and April.
CU Realty said that in addition to timing of marketing, there are two other key marketing best practices that can help credit unions maximize reach:
- Positioning. According to the National Association of Realtors, nearly half of homebuyers start their search online, and then connect to a real estate agent. Getting a mortgage is a typical last step. CU Realty said it is encouraging credit unions to get out in front by shifting away from being seen by members as just a lender. Vincent says the first step is to offer real estate-related services and programs to help members make smart buying decisions about real estate. “If messaged successfully, when a member is thinking of buying a home, they will think of their credit union and its services first,” she said.
- Website access. According to various reports, real estate-related web searches have tripled in the last few years, and – in 2014 alone – 240 million unique visitors went to a real estate website. CU Realty suggests that any credit union looking to stay in front of its home-buying members should offer its own online real estate support services to stay competitive. Vincent says a credit union’s online Real Estate or Home Buying Center should be an “easy button” for real estate with information to help members research markets, find homes, get educated, find a real estate agent and get financing.
CU Realty Services plans to release a more detailed report in late January.