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Applying for a mortgage can be a grueling experience. Even though the industry is investing in better technology to improve the process, many borrowers still relate the experience to a financial investigation. Financial institutions feel the growing demand for better user experiences as new borrowers prove they’re willing to go anywhere to get it – even if it means making one of the biggest purchases of their life through an unknown fintech company.

It’s not shocking news that digital natives have a digital presence so deeply intertwined with their daily lives that they’ve grown accustomed to an on-demand lifestyle. Despite the common misconception that Millenials (loosely defined as individuals born between 1980-1996) aren’t buying homes, they’ve in fact surpassed Generation X (1965-1980) as having the largest share of loan originations by dollar volume.

Millennials overwhelmingly prefer online lending and have far higher expectations when it comes to customer experience than previous generations. Large banks have lost over 50% of their market share in the last 7 years, while online lenders have grown by 100%.

For Millennials, online lenders offer a quicker, more streamlined, easy-to-use experience. To gain digital natives as customers, mortgage lenders must deliver:

  • Highly personal, premium customer attention
  • Fast communication and processes
  • Streamlined, trustworthy technology
  • Easy-to-use interfaces and apps

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Insurance can be a complicated purchase. You’re not buying bread or milk. You’re buying a promise of protection that could potentially make or break your financial well-being. How do you know that you’re making the right choices about coverage? Are you sure you’re getting the best possible value for your dollar? The options can seem bewildering, and here’s the thing – where you buy it determines your future with that policy. You buy a house, you get a homeowner’s policy. You obviously want one at the best price, with the right coverages, and a great agent who is always there when you need help. What some people don’t realize is that their entire experience is going to be determined by the type of insurance agent they purchase their policy through – a direct agent or an independent agent. Direct agents, otherwise known as captive agents, are the everyday guys with the little gecko and the catchy jingle. An independent agent is an agent who partners with many insurance carriers (including the little gecko company) and offers coverages customized for you at the best price available. Independent agents are advisors, not salesmen. Here are 7 reasons why we believe you should choose an independent insurance agent:

They give you a choice

Independent agents represent many different insurance companies that offer a wide variety of coverage options and price points. Most on average sell for five to eight different insurance companies (just so you know, we partner with over 60, including every big-name carrier you’ve ever heard of). There’s no need for you to accept one quote from one company, and there’s no need for you to spend time filling out many different online applications to get your own quote comparisons. With their connections and their knowledge of the market, independent agents can often find a better value for your insurance dollar than you might find searching on your own. Agents do the shopping. You do the saving. They find you the right blend of price, coverage, and service.

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As a mortgage broker, you’re the crucial link between future homeowners and the financing they need to secure their investment. You know the tricks of the trade – how to get the best rates for your clients, what to look for in a mortgage contract, and when to sign on the dotted line for a life-changing loan.

But, as we all know, the real estate market is far from static. Just look at what happened when the housing bubble burst back in 2008, and what’s happening now with the economic turmoil caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. Staying competitive in such a speculative industry means protecting yourself against a number of risks with business insurance for mortgage brokers.

Here are just 3 reasons why mortgage brokers need business insurance to operate with confidence and peace of mind.

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Augmented reality is a burgeoning industry with frequent advancements and a promising future. AR technologies have impacted nearly every industry, and real estate is no exception. The technology has gone from a futuristic maybe to a realistic way of showing a building in detail on a client’s smartphone. Many agencies have already incorporated AR technology into their everyday practices, introducing interactive demonstrations on-site and on the phone.

Augmented reality has valuable marketing implications that are only just being tapped into. AR is also a unique way of encouraging clients to make a profitable decision.

How is AR affecting Real Estate?

Most real estate agencies struggle with the presentation of their catalog at some point, facing roadblocks including unemotive text descriptions, lackluster photos, and lack of devoted time to visit each site with clients. AR tools and mobile apps can overcome most, if not all of these obstacles with the single touch of a button.

Clients can use an agency’s built-in AR capabilities to view a site from all angles, gaining a better, in-depth understanding of a property without ever leaving their homes. Agencies can set up their augmented reality applications to allow clients to browse different categories, compare various sites, and make informed decisions.

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Borrowers and lenders will face 3 new and unfamiliar ways of doing business

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. Business leaders in all parts of the US economy are taking bold steps to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic. Those in the mortgage industry are implementing reforms that will be long-lasting in terms of how lenders operate and how consumers obtain financing. Here are 3 ways in which the coronavirus pandemic could change mortgage lending:

Increased Digitization

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in mortgage lenders revisiting and, in many cases, adopting measures to digitize the mortgage process. Many firms favor an omni-channel approach, giving consumers the option to work with loan officers in person or over the phone and online.

The current crisis has “brought forward” some of the internal conversations firms were planning to have about how to massively transform the online digitization and automated underwriting process for borrowers. That time is now, as consumers are opting to research and buy their homes online – not wanting to risk their health with in-person exchanges. One popular home listing website saw its online traffic for virtual tours increase more than 190% in March, compared to February. Another real estate brokerage experienced almost a 500% surge in requests for home video tours. Innovative realtors are even providing “drive-thru closings” in which customers and realtors exchange paperwork and keys while sitting in their own cars.

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In the last few years, customers have come to expect streamlined digital experiences from every company they do businesses with.  Companies are evolving to meet these changes, adopting technology tools to reach out to customers through various digital channels. This year we’ve seen the importance of those technology tools more clearly than ever as companies have had to quickly adapt to doing business remotely. Digital transformation is no longer a far-off ideal; it’s a necessity. Read more about creating your company’s digital presence.

For more traditional companies, it may be helpful to think of your company’s interconnected technology tools in terms of the role they play in your digital “office.” Your company’s digital space can augment your physical office and extend your agency’s capabilities. It can make it easy for clients to do business with you even when they can’t come into your company’s physical office.

Websites: your digital storefronts

Your website is where many customers start their digital journey with your company. As a basic starting point, make sure your website is well-designed and easy to use – just like you would want your storefront to look clean and professional.

It’s also a good idea to test your website’s loading speed and mobile-responsiveness. Potential customers are going to bail if the pages are slow to load or if they have to pinch to zoom in to see the website on their phone.

You can test your website’s responsiveness with the Google mobile friendliness test.

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An active 2020 hurricane season combined with coronavirus is likely to present unprecedented challenges for some coastal communities – what happens when a hurricane meets a pandemic?

Meteorologists have been warning for months that the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is going to be severe, with estimates this year could produce as many as 19 named storms and 10 hurricanes. And based on early activity, there is little reason to doubt their predictions.

Even before the official start of the season on June 1, two named tropical storms had formed – Arthur, then Bertha, which made landfall near Charleston, South Carolina, on May 27.

What this means residents, businesses, and property owners from Texas to New England is that they need to be prepared for the worst.

In addition to the prospect of spending the next six months monitoring satellite images of cyclones forming over the Atlantic Ocean, they may also have to contend with the added challenge of preparing for and recovering from a catastrophic hurricane amid a global pandemic.

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Technological innovation is revolutionizing one of the oldest professions in the world. Augmented Reality has just broken onto the scene and has already been transforming civil construction. The changes are seen not only in designing and modeling but also in building. Augmented Reality benefits the entire construction team: engineers, designers, architects, project managers, and service providers.

Unlike Virtual Reality, which creates a totally new and independent environment of the real world, AR includes virtual elements that interact with what already exists. It is thus possible to combine virtual architectural designs with the reality of the construction site, increasing efficiency and accuracy, reducing the occurrence of errors, saving time, money, and resources.

Construction sites are often chaotic, noisy, and dirty spaces. Although the adoption of the BIM system reduces many of the incompatibilities and unpleasant surprises during the construction process, it is inevitable that doubts arise and errors occur during construction. And, more importantly, every mistake or redo costs a lot of money and time.

The idea is that AR applications can provide a more accurate view of what will be built, including layers of materials and installations that are often complex to understand through drawings. For this, 3D plans and even virtual model holograms are used to improve the understanding of the project and facilitate the execution of projects. And even during construction, the ability to see through walls and understand the path of the technical installations facilitates the process, reduces the possibility of errors, and even guides the construction of complex geometrics.

To fully use AR you need a device (usually goggles or glasses). Currently, several companies manufacture AR hardware, but the most popular used in construction is Microsoft HoloLens. One of the big reasons why home builders choose Microsoft HoloLens is the price and the fact that it is now certified as basic protection glasses. The company DAQRI has developed a safety helmet integrated into the glasses, to facilitate even more use by construction professionals.

Below are some Augmented Reality technologies that can revolutionize the way companies approach the construction industry:

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The COVID-19 pandemic, an unprecedented event in modern history, continues to leave its mark on societies and economies around the world and is actively changing the insurance industry. We have learned many lessons so far, the most poignant one being that we weren’t prepared for this.

The impact on the global economy has been devastating. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says the global economy will shrink by 3%, the worst decline since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Many advanced economies, including the US, UK, Canada, France, and Germany are expected to enter a recession this year. The Dow and FTSE have suffered their worst quarterly drop since 1987. Oil prices have crashed as lockdowns have brought commuting and traveling to a standstill. In the US, the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) dropped below zero for the first time in history.

Amid the outbreak, businesses are trying to stay afloat, scaling down operations or shutting down altogether. The insurance industry, which supports businesses through crises and disasters, is one of the sectors at the forefront during this challenging time. And like everyone else, insurance companies are drawing lessons from the pandemic and learning to adapt.

Insuring against a pandemic is hard but not impossible

Pandemics like the coronavirus outbreak are inherently different from other natural disasters. While catastrophes such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods hit a specific region, pandemics have no geographical bounds. The timeframe of pandemics of highly contagious diseases such as COVID-19 is virtually unpredictable.

All this makes it harder for insurers to assess and accurately model the risks.

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Even if you need to close due to health and safety concerns, there are many ways of retaining customers during the Coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing, while good for public health, is bad for small businesses. Foot traffic has dropped steeply since the coronavirus outbreak as more and more customers stay at home and self-quarantine. Many business owners are worried that the impact of COVID-19 will be deeper and more long-lasting than anticipated. As a result, merchants in every industry are looking for ways to keep their customers during the coronavirus lockdown. Here are some tips to keep your employees and customers engaged from a distance.

Communicate proactively with your customers

The situation is evolving rapidly, and no one is quite sure what news each day will bring. Customers can empathize with merchants facing a crisis, as long as you communicate with them properly. Let your customers know if you’re closing your doors, changing your hours, and what steps you’re taking to keep your employees and work environment safe and clean. If your store is closing, notify your customers on your social media channels, through email, and on your website. If your store is staying open, describe the steps you’re taking to mitigate risk. Beyond letting customers know the logistics of your approach, give them a way to stay connected. Customers spending more time at home will still need to shop for things. Direct consumers to your e-commerce store, take orders over social media, and be prepared for more people to view your website than in previous months.

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