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Reverse Mortgage Referral Firm Hits Airwaves, Targets Consumers

A major player in the reverse mortgage lead-generation space announced the launch of a consumer-facing website this week, with an eye toward expanding their business by matching potential borrowers with product-specific experts.

Best Rate Referrals recently rolled out Mortgage Advisor, a website designed to consolidate the Clearwater, Fla.-based firm’s consumer outreach into a single place — and, in the process, take direct aim at similar websites such as LendingTree.

The company had previously operated a host of sites dedicated to single types of loans, including reverse mortgages, Best Rate Referrals senior vice president of mortgage partnerships Ray Bartreau told RMD. But that system — which typically attracted consumers looking for a mortgage based on interest rate alone — didn’t match the company’s internal research into borrower behaviors, which indicated that more and more would-be lenders are searching based on loan type, Bartreau said.

“A lot of the search terms that people are using today aren’t just specific to the interest rate environment,” Bartreau said.

The lead-generation company sees potential in increasing specialization, bucking the recent trend of “generational lending” — in which brokers attempt to offer a wide range of loan products in an attempt to cast a broad net and generate organic referrals among borrowers.

“They don’t service the consumers the same,” Bartreau said of brokers or lenders that specialize in purchase, refinance, or reverse mortgages, for instance. “When you’re working with specialists, they know the loan more, and that leads to a higher conversion on the leads themselves, and it allows us to grow as a company.”

“Our partners are converting more because they’re specific, and consult on a specific loan niche,” he said.

Bartreau and Best Rate Referrals plan to reap extensive growth from the new website: While the company currently generates thousands of leads per month, Bartreau said he hopes to raise that number by more than 300% within the next six to nine months, as consumer awareness of the Mortgage Advisor brand grows and the company rolls out a planned nationwide ad campaign that will likely include television and radio spots.

Best Rate currently generates about 20% to 25% of its business from reverse mortgage leads, Bartreau said, and while he doesn’t expect the proportion of Home Equity Conversion Mortgage inquiries to grow, Bartreau said he anticipates a reverse mortgage increase on a volume basis through the company’s 800-number. Though some consumers may have been reluctant to provide quote information online, a campaign that directs viewers or listeners directly to Best Rate Referrals’ call center would expand the company’s overall lead volume, Bartreau said.

Written by Alex Spanko