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New Data: New Year is “Sweet Spot” to Engage Home Buyers


CU Realty Services’ research: Engage home buyers before spring buying season

Scottsdale, Ariz. Nov. 16, 2015 – It’s well known that people tend to buy homes in late spring or summer – the weather is nicer and kids are out of school. But that isn’t the best time to attract buyers’ attention if credit unions want to close more mortgage deals, according to just-out 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.

CU Realty 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,” says 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.”

As shown in Chart A, 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.
Chart A: Total HomeAdvantage Registrations
Chart B shows the average volume of monthly registrations in the HomeAdvantage program
since 2010.
Chart B: Average Monthly Volume of HomeAdvantage Registrations
Vincent says CU Realty’s volume of registrations has grown tremendously over the years as more credit unions look to increase their loan volume and pull-through rates by subscribing to the firm’s services. “As the volume increases, we’re able to discover and define these marketing opportunities,” she said.

CU Realty says 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 encourages 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 is sharing these findings ahead of a more comprehensive report on member usage over the last five years. Vincent says the full report is scheduled for release in late January.

“Here’s the bottom line: Credit unions that get in front of their home-buying members earlier in the year have the best chances of identifying and engaging more buyers, earning their mortgages later,”
Vincent said.

About CU Realty Services, LLC

CU Realty Services provides real estate services to credit unions across the nation, helping them increase their purchase mortgage business. Launched in 2001, the CUSO has worked with more than 100 credit unions and thousands of their members. CU Realty’s range of web-based tools helps homebuyers find homes, research neighborhoods, calculate costs, connect to experienced real estate agents, and earn a Cash Reward. By offering this program to members, credit unions are able to achieve significant increases in their purchase mortgage business. CU Realty Services partners with hundreds of credit unions and mortgage CUSOs in 22 states. To learn more, visit www.curealty.com.

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"We have been exceptionally pleased with the partnership with CU Realty. Participating in the program has assisted us with mortgage lead generation, and the relationships built with the CU Realty agents have proved to be invaluable, bringing awareness about the program to our members through the CU Realty events. Our members love the program and have saved over $46,000 in Cash Rewards since its inception."

Ron Collier
President & CEO
Indiana Members Credit Union
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