Welcome to the Mortgage Geek Blog

The Geekly Post

Read our Blog

Understanding Marketers Top ‘Pain Points’ When Using Geo-Data

About 38 percent of marketers say they have difficulty deriving context from the historical insights about consumers when using location data, a survey by Verve and Forrester have found.

At the same time, another 37 percent say they can’t achieve the expected “granularity” when attempting a geotargeting campaign. In Verve’s analysis, those findings suggest that brands are not able to take advantage of “the unique characteristics of mobile in the effort to maximize advertising value for the consumer.”

The study, Pursuing the Mobile Moment, was conducted in June and was based on an online survey of 203 “marketing decision makers” in organizations that spend $250 million or more annually on advertising in North America.

On the positive side, the idea of location marketing has clearly achieved mainstream marketing acceptance. About 74 percent of the advertisers surveyed say they appreciate location’s value in helping to craft and deliver more “relevant” ads, particularly when it comes to “micro-moments“— those on-the-go periods when a need to satisfy an impulse (coffee, a place to eat,) come up.

Additionally, nearly half the respondents value location data’s omnichannel usefulness in driving incremental in-store visits. But closing the gap between recognizing location’s importance and the ability to get the greatest ROI out of these marketing methods is something that the industry can’t simply ignore, says Julie Bernard, Verve’s CMO.

“It’s not enough to point to the successful outcomes that leading global brands are achieving with location-powered mobile marketing; we have to strive for even deeper insights into what advertisers across the spectrum of mobile-marketing maturity are experiencing,” says Bernard in a statement.

As Forrester concludes in its recommendations, understanding that the quality of location data depends on the source, and how it differs in accuracy, scale, and access, is the first step that brands and their agencies and vendors need to be clear on.

“Limiting these differences means asking a few questions,” Forrester says. “Where does the location data come from — for example, a first-party SDK, a publisher, and/or a beacon? How accurate is the data and how is it validated? What types of location tracking are available for gathering historical insights, cross-device tracking, measurement, and attribution?”

In terms of the discussions that brands, agencies, and location data providers need to have, Verve CEO Tom Kenney recently discussed the ways platform companies can build confidence and stability in their offerings.

“For location-powered leaders and their brand and publisher partners, the high king is the technology that we use to make all this data and media and expertise come together in a unified way. It’s this unification that drives real-world sales,” Kenney wrote in an contributed piece this past month. “It’s the platform. It’s the result of the engineering inventions that empower us to execute with accuracy, speed, and overall excellence as we create meaningful and responsive mobile moments for the consumer.”

Powered by WPeMatico

Singles Are Falling for Their Dream Home First [INFOGRAPHIC]

Singles Are Falling for Their Dream Home First [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Singles Are Falling for Their Dream Home First [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • According to NAR’s Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers, the share of recent homebuyers who were single at the time of purchase held steady at 24% last year.
  • The percentage of first-time buyers who were single females rose to 17% (up from 16%), as the share of single men dropped from 11% to 8%.
  • The primary reason for buying a home amongst singles was the desire to own a home of their own (38% for women and 37% for men).

Powered by WPeMatico

84% of Americans Believe Buying a Home is a Good Financial Decision

84% of Americans Believe Buying a Home is a Good Financial Decision | Simplifying The Market

According to the National Association of Realtors®’ 2017 National Housing Pulse Survey, 84% of Americans now believe that purchasing a home is a good financial decision. This is the highest percentage since 2007 – before the housing crisis. Those surveyed pointed out five major reasons why they believe homeownership is a good financial decision:

  1. Homeownership means the money you spend on housing goes towards building equity, rather than to a landlord
  2. Homeownership creates the opportunity to pay off a mortgage and own your home by the time you retire
  3. Homeownership is an investment opportunity that builds long-term wealth and increases net worth
  4. Homeownership means a stable and predictable monthly mortgage payment
  5. Homeownership allows for various deductions on federal, state, and local income taxes

The survey also revealed that the majority of Americans strongly agree that homeownership helps create safe, secure, and stable environments.

Bottom Line

Homeownership has always been and still is a crucial part of the American Dream.

Powered by WPeMatico

Home Builder Sentiment Drops in July

home builders

Builder sentiment in the market for newly-built single-family homes slipped two points this month to a level of 64 from a downwardly revised June reading on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). Despite remaining well over the threshold of 50, where any reading above 50 indicates more builders feel good about the market, the latest reading is the lowest since November 2016.

The latest results from the HMI survey reflect growing concerns surrounding higher material costs and lack of buildable lots on the market.

“Our members are telling us they are growing increasingly concerned over rising material prices, particularly lumber,” said Granger MacDonald, NAHB chairman and home builder and developer from Kerrville, Texas. “This is hurting housing affordability even as consumer interest in the new-home market remains strong.”

Despite July’s reading hitting an eight-month low, industry leaders are insisting builder confidence remains solid for newly-built single-family homes.

“The HMI measure of current sales conditions has been at 70 or higher for eight consecutive straight months, indicating strong demand for new homes,” said Robert Dietz, NAHB chief economist. “However, builders will need to manage some increasing supply-side costs to keep home prices competitive.”

The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Each component is scored and used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number higher than 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

All three HMI components registered losses in July but are still within the positive territory, according to a July 18 NAHB press release.

The components gauging current sales conditions dropped two points to 70 while the index that measures sales expectations over the next six months dropped two points to 73. Meanwhile, the component measuring buyer traffic slipped one point to 48.

Regionally, the HMI score for the Northeast rose one point to 47, while scores for the West and Midwest each slipped one point lower to 75 and 66, respectively. The South experienced the greatest fall, dropping three points to 67.

What This Means for Home Buyers

Anyone who’s out there searching for their new home right now is probably already aware that demand is outpacing supply – at least in most markets. With fewer homes going up for sale and more people looking to buy, new construction was a shining hope for the real estate industry and for prospective buyers. However, as buildable lots become scare and the cost of materials rises, confidence from builders is beginning to wane. This could lead to good news and bad news.

First the bad news. When home builder confidence begins to drop, it’s not a good sign that there will continue to be new housing developments popping up across the country. While those who favor slower development might be sighing a breath of relief at this realization, other folks who are eager to buy their first home or move up to their next home are facing a dilemma: fewer homes on the market and fewer homes being built can drive prices higher. As affordability is threatened, the entire housing and real estate industry can be affected.

The good news, however, is that despite the drop in builder confidence, levels are indeed staying within solid ground. Remember, any HMI reading above 50 indicates more builders are feeling positive about the market. In order for the HMI to fall below this threshold, it would have to lose more than 14 points. Since the most recent dips were between 1-3 points, it’s unlikely that this will happen any time soon. So fear not, buyers. But do be cautious about timing. Once you find a home you love, don’t hesitate to make an offer. In fact, it would be wise to go ahead and get pre-approved for a mortgage now if you’re even remotely considering a home purchase this year. Remember, the competition can get fierce in a low-supply market. The more prepared for financing you can be, the better!

The post Home Builder Sentiment Drops in July appeared first on Mid America Mortgage, Inc..

Powered by WPeMatico

What’s Driving The Growth Of Connected Health Devices?

More than 40 percent of U.S. broadband households now own a Connected Health product, up from 37 percent in 2016 and 33 percent in 2015, notes tech research consultancy Parks Associates.

That report buttresses other industry forecasts looking ahead to tech developments in the intersection of connected devices and artificial intelligence. For example, eMarketer has forecast the value of the “Internet of Health Things” will hit $163 billion by 2020, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 38.1 percent between 2015 and 2020.

And within the the next five years the healthcare sector is projected to be “number one” in the top 10 industries for Internet of Things app development. As a separate Accenture report notes, the insurance industry is primed for AI.

The mainstreaming of on-demand technologies that have changed the way people find restaurants and share information with friends online is altering the methods that doctors are “discovered” and engaged by existing and potential patients already.  The use of reviews by patients through platforms like ZocDoc is one case in point.

Is there anything on the horizon that will serve as an alternative means of finding a doctor. Will Siri or Alexa or Cortana likely recommend nearby doctors in the future? It’s a matter of time, Parks Associates’ analysis suggests.

“The steady increase in consumer adoption of connected health products bodes well for the ongoing healthcare practice transformation,” said Harry Wang, Senior Director of Research, Parks Associates.

GeoMarketing: In terms of the Connected Home, as well as devices like Amazon Echo and smart watches, can you put the state of Connected Health in context? How big is this area versus other areas, such as wearables or the Connected Car in terms of consumer adoption?

Harry Wang: Connected Health is intertwined with connected home technology and wearable device industry therefore adoption of these technologies will help connected health industry grow.

We include wearables that directly benefit consumers’ health and wellbeing, such as fitness trackers, smart watch with health & fitness tracking capability as connected health devices (which include connected medical devices, e.g., a BPM, or connected wellness devices, e.g. a Fitbit) from a device adoption perspective, adoption of connected health products as a whole category is perhaps on par with smart home device as a whole category (thermostats, door locks), but ahead of connected cars (depending on its definition). Individually speaking, fitness tracker and smart watch with fitness/wellness features leads with 12 percent adoption each.

Are there any particular use cases that are driving Connected Health? For example, are we mainly seeing growth in Connected Health from wearables like fitness trackers?

Connected health is more than devices. Software and services are actually more exciting. Health and wellness apps are used by more than 40 percent of consumers in the U.S., and access to remote care services (those pioneered by Teledoc and MDlive) is on the rise.

Besides these general categories, the connected health market has many unique, high growth, and niche use cases that are gaining distribution channels and consumer’s mindshare.

These innovations that target specific use cases may be driven more by healthcare providers than consumer marketing efforts.

For instance, Health insurers start to fund/subsidize diabetes prevention programs, hospitals begin to contract digital rehab software makers to offer in-home technology-assisted rehab services.

Each use case has significant room to grow but as their target market is not the entire consumer population, they would never reach the traditional mainstream status.

But for healthcare providers and insurers, if these technologies can help them address the issue of the 80 percent of the healthcare spending by 20 percent population, mainstream adoption is irrelevant.

Is there anything in the Connected Health space that will help doctors, hospitals, and medical clinics, achieve greater discovery through the use of these IoT devices?

We do believe that many IoT devices/software that touch upon people’s life therefore contributing to doctor’s understanding of patient condition and helping patients self-manage their conditions will gain more adoption. Siri may one day evolve to answer health related questions from patients or Echo will collect patient self-reported data to doctors.

Applications targeting health and wellness needs of consumers will find their way to a connected home, a connected car, or a connected speaker platform.

Many remote care applications are mobile driven so consumers can talk to a doctor via video on smartphones, and healthcare system will rely more on these everyday consumer devices to engage patients particularly in preventive care areas.

Barriers still exist; it takes time for consumer and doctor’s habits to replace old ones. But we are getting there.

Powered by WPeMatico

3 Tips to Succeed in Today’s Real Estate Market

3 Tips to Succeed in Today’s Real Estate Market | Simplifying The Market

In today’s highly competitive real estate market, where inventory levels are not keeping up with the constant stream of buyer demand, there are steps you can take to ensure you are most prepared for success when buying a home.

The 3 tips we are going to expand on today come from a recent blog by Trulia entitled, The Skinny on Skinny Inventory. 

1. Be Prepared

“Homebuyers should talk with a lender, real estate agent, and a home inspector BEFORE finding a home to make an offer on.”

Being intentional, pre-approved, and prepared will set you up for the accelerated time tables that come with a highly competitive market. If you are the most prepared buyer interested in a home, if you have already secured financial approval, and if you are ready to move fast, your bid will be that much more attractive to a seller.

2. Think Strategically

“Starter homebuyers don’t have a home to sell and can be flexible on closing dates compared to homebuyers who are also trying to sell at the same time.”

If you are one of the many first-time buyers looking for your dream home, know that being strategic and flexible about closing dates can also help your offer stand out from the rest. But don’t fret if you are a homeowner who will also have to sell your own house first – be upfront about your timeline with your agent and with any offers you make.

3. Seek Out the Ugly Ducklings

“Buyers might consider looking for homes that have been on the market for a while and investigate why. The reasons may be a deal-killer but all it takes is one ugly duckling to turn into a swan.”

Finding a fixer-upper or a home that needs a little love might be your best way to guarantee that you are able to find a home in the neighborhood that you want. The worst house on the best block will go for a steal and offer instant equity once you fix it up!

Bottom Line

In today’s market, full of bidding wars and tough competition, finding ways to stand out from the rest by getting creative will improve your chances of having a home to call your own.

Powered by WPeMatico

Geo 101: What Marketers Need To Know About Chatbots

From geo-targeting to voice search, technology is opening up a world of possibilities for marketers. But it’s also complicated, as new capabilities and use cases seem to emerge every day.

With the goal of breaking down some of the most important concepts to provide a better understanding of the basics — and a jumping off point for exploring how far the power of location may take us — we introduce the next installment of our GeoMarketing 101 series: what marketers need to know about chatbots.

What Are Chatbots?

Put simply, a chatbot refers to a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, responding to texts or other forms of digital chat.

Chatbots able to respond to a to a greeting (“hello, how are you?”) or a simple query have been around for a while, and plenty of older Millennials probably remember the SmarterChild bot of the 90’s in particular. But today, advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and Natural Language processing (NLP) concurrent with the rise of voice-activated intelligent assistants, like Amazon Alexa, have given chatbots stronger conversational abilities by allowing them to learn over time, thereby beginning to expand the possibilities for their use.

With that in mind, it’s fairly easy to see how these bots can be a boon to marketers. Consumers often have far more questions for businesses — ranging from inquiries about products to seeking help navigating a website — than human employees can deal with in an efficient or profitable manner. With bots becoming “smarter,” marketers are increasingly using the technology to engage customers in-app, answer questions, and help build the personalized, one-to-one relationships that today’s consumers seek.

As Trevor Hardy, chief executive at The Future Laboratory, explained to retailers at this year’s Retail Week Live, “we certainly think the future of retail is about service, and about the human element of service — but [it doesn’t all] have to be provided by humans.”

How Chatbots Can Drive Engagement

Messaging apps draw over 4.1 billion users worldwide, indicating that the appetite for this type of communication is functionally universal. But perhaps the more striking figure is the reliance on messaging apps — both for communicating with friends and with brands — amongst the youngest segment of the population: A majority of Gen-z teens (52 percent) say they spend three or more hours per day on messaging apps, but texting doesn’t rank in their top three mobile activities at all, according to Think With Google.

These statistics indicate a strong potential willingness to communicate with brands via text-based means. But in considering how (and whether) to implement chatbots part of a marketing strategy, brands may wonder if consumers are turned off by the idea of knowing they’re conversing with a bot. Does the technology make users feel like they’re getting a personalized response to their questions — or does it seem inhuman?

AI chatbots are still in their infancy. But recent examples underscore the idea that bots can actually drive as high — or higher — engagement than personal brand representatives themselves. Take, for instance, the example of CoverGirl’s “KalaniBot,” a chatbot inspired by one of the brand’s key influencers, actress and model Kalani Hilliker. Far from seeming impersonal or “scaring off” fans, the KalaniBot actually saw 14x the engagement of the live Kalani when she was just doing some promotion on Instagram and Snapchat.

The same trend appeared to hold true in the banking sector as well: While the company declined to release exact figures, HSBC earlier this year reported having driven a marked increase in engagement with the launch of its chatbot — which outperformed banner ads across platforms.

As Masthead Media’s Amanda Pressner Kreuser put it in an article for Inc., “the evolution of chatbots makes them ideal for marketing or as an alternative way to distribute media. If they are scripted well, these bots can mimic a conversation with a customer in a tone that reflects the brand’s identity.”

So, if marketers can identify a clear purpose for deploying chatbots — communicating with millions of customers of a global brand (like Sephora, for instance), or reaching Gen-Z shoppers through improved messaging options — statistics indicate that the technology is a smart bet for driving engagement. And with the rise of connected intelligence and voice search linked to marked advancements in AI, the future of chatbots is likely to be much more sophisticated than we can imagine today.

Read more:

Millennials Are Ready To Embrace AI

How Pitney Bowes Is Using Chatbots To Anticipate CRM Problems

NatGeo And 360i Show The ‘Genius’ Of Using Chatbots As A Marketing Tool

Powered by WPeMatico

Thinking of Selling? You Should Act NOW!

Thinking of Selling? You Should Act NOW! | Simplifying The Market

If you thought about selling your house this year, now more than ever may be the time to do it! The inventory of homes for sale is well below historic norms and buyer demand is skyrocketing. We were still in high school when we learned the concept of supply and demand: the best time to sell something is when supply of that item is low and demand for that item is high. That defines today’s real estate market.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors, recently commented:

“Buyer interest is solid, but there is just not enough supply to satisfy demand. Prospective buyers are being sidelined by both limited choices and home prices that are climbing too fast.”

Yun goes on to say:

“Current demand levels indicate sales should be stronger, but it’s clear some would-be buyers are having to delay or postpone their home search because low supply is leading to worsening affordability conditions.”

In this type of market, a seller may hold a major negotiating advantage when it comes to price and other aspects of the real estate transaction, including the inspection, appraisal and financing contingencies.

Bottom Line

As a potential seller, you are in the driver’s seat right now. It might be time to hit the gas.

Powered by WPeMatico

Is refinancing a mortgage really like starting all over?

house money keys

Refinancing your mortgage can be a great way to reduce your monthly payment. However, refinancing is generally thought to set the homeowner back and “restart” the mortgage, so-to-speak. This can be less than ideal for borrowers who want to own their homes outright. But does refinancing always mean starting again from square one? Not exactly.

Mortgages are paid off over time through a structure known as amortization. Amortization typically favors the lender, allocating a larger portion of each payment toward the interest first, then gradually applying more and more of the payment toward principal. This is why the majority of your mortgage payment goes toward paying back the loan interest during the early years of homeownership.

As time goes by and you progress in your amortization schedule, the percentage of your mortgage payment that goes toward the principal balance will increase. With a 30 year mortgage however, most borrowers barely make a dent in their principal balance until well after 10 years of steady payments. Therefore, homeowners with 30 year mortgages may be less inclined to refinance if they think they will be winding the clock back to the very beginning.

Fortunately, there is a way to refinance without actually resetting your mortgage 30 years. As a homeowner, there is no rule that says you must refinance into a 30 year fixed rate mortgage (unless you refinance into certain loans where 30 year fixed rate is the only term available, such as USDA loans). Therefore, if you decide to refinance, you can choose a 20 or 15 year loan instead. Some lenders may even offer other term options like 25 or 10 year loans, though 15, 20 and 30 are the most common choices.

At today’s mortgage rates (which are hovering around the low to mid 4s) homeowners using 15 year fixed rate loans pay 64% less interest than homeowners using 30 year loans. Not to mention the fact that they can own their home outright in half the time.

That said, there is one significant downside to choosing a shorter term mortgage: higher payments. According to a recent article from The Mortgage Reports, the payments on a 15 year loan are 45% higher than those for a 30 year loan. This is due to the loan repayment being compressed into a shorter time frame. For a lot of homeowners, the higher payment negates the point of refinancing. For others, who purely want to pay off their loan sooner and pay less interest overall, the refinancing to a shorter loan makes sense.

Remember, this method won’t work for everyone, as some mortgages do not allow shorter amortization periods; however, if you are able to refinance to a shorter-term loan, you’ll find that your amortization will be accelerated, allowing you to build equity faster and pay off your mortgage sooner.

Other Options

Prepay

Instead of opting for a shorter term refinance, which will include higher monthly payments, some homeowners choose to prepay their mortgage instead. Prepaying simply means sending extra payments to the lender that will be applied to principal. For example, some homeowners round up their monthly payments to the nearest tenth or hundredth place (instead of paying $862/month, they pay $870 or instead of $1,250/month, they pay $1,300). It might not seem like much, but over the years it really adds up.

Other options include sending in one additional full mortgage payment each year, putting extra money toward the mortgage if you experience a windfall or get a bonus from work, and just making extra payments whenever you can.

This is a great choice for people who want to pay off their loan sooner but don’t want to be locked into a higher monthly mortgage payment.

Refinance & Prepay 

This method, also known as refinance-to-prepay, is exactly what it sounds like. It is when a homeowner refinances their mortgage to a lower interest rate only (does not change the loan term) and then prepays on the new loan using the total monthly savings.

Let’s use an example to illustrate. Let’s say you bought a home for $250,000 two years ago and you currently owe $193,124. And let’s say you are refinancing that balance from a rate of 4.75% that you got two years ago to a 4.00% mortgage rate available now (30 year fixed rate terms). After refinancing, your monthly principal and interest payment will be about $120 less. You would simply take that $120 savings and send it to your lender along with your regular payment. Doing this can shorten your loan payoff time by approximately 4 years and help you save more than $32,000 in total interest.

Keep in mind however, that with refinancing often comes closing costs, which must be accounted for when calculating your savings. Speak with one of our mortgage professionals to get a better understanding of how refinancing may work for your situation. Simply complete the form on this page or give us a call at (866) 544-7013.

The post Is refinancing a mortgage really like starting all over? appeared first on Mid America Mortgage, Inc..

Powered by WPeMatico

Over 80 Percent Of Millennials Want In-App, In-Store Payments

Approximately 80 percent of Millennials are interested in taking checkout into their own hands with scan-and-go payments, scanning products in-store and then paying via an app, according to an eMarketer report based on research from Acosta — but only three percent of retailers have up-to-date “checkout and payment for a customer’s own device” in place.

Millennial and Gen-Z shoppers haven’t completely turned their backs on “traditional” in-store commerce. But this growing disconnect could prove a serious issue for retailers at a time when many long-standing brick-and-mortars are struggling to drive foot traffic.

After all, smartphones “increasingly factor into the retail experience, and younger people are leading in usage,” the report states. “The Acosta data is consistent with findings that the majority of millennials would pay for purchases in-store using an app.”

POS Investment

Approximately 82 percent of Millennials believe it’s important for a brand to have physical stores, and statistics like this indicate that younger shoppers still desire the unique experience that brick-and-mortars can offer. But the friction caused by long checkout lines or understaffed retail flagships is more of a turn off than ever; after all, with same-day on-demand delivery expectations, it’s a rare consumer who will put up with an excessive wait.

As such, it pays for retailers to invest in updated POS checkout lane technologies now — whether that means accepting a wider range of mobile payments and/or enabling scan-and-go in app payment.

Plenty have wondered if the “tipping point” for contactless pay has actually arrived, but Acosta’s research indicates that the appetite is certainly there — and that 80 percent of Millennials interested in scan-and-go payments could represent up to $160 billion in purchasing power.

Powered by WPeMatico

Inspiring the American Dream With Intelligent Design

Subscribe For The Latest Updates

Signup for the Mortgage Geek newsletter and get access to new marketing products for free!