Interra Credit Union hosted its first Home Seller’s Seminar in August of 2021 to help members capitalize on a strong real estate market and avoid potential pitfalls.
A panel of local realtors, serving different geographies and demographics, shared insider tips and best practices. Credit union mortgage representatives served as event hosts and answered questions after the event.
Seminars catering to first-time homebuyers are a popular way to educate would-be borrowers, establish relationships with realtors, and ensure a solid pipeline of mortgages. Providing similar events for home sellers, however, is a more unusual concept. But the need for education and the opportunity to work with realtors is just as strong in a seller’s world — albeit for a completely different audience.
“From a selling standpoint, there’s a lot you need to know,” says Todd Potter, senior vice president of mortgage services for Interra Credit Union ($1.5B, Goshen, IN). “Especially in this market, there are more questions than answers.”
Todd Potter, Senior Vice President of Mortgage Services, Interra Credit Union
For example, which improvements are worth making? Is curb appeal a priority, or should sellers focus on neutral updates to a home’s interior? How do “for sale by owner” and other selling options compare with using a realtor? What can homeowners expect in terms of the selling process? What should they consider regarding future living arrangements with low inventory and quick offers and closings?
These questions and more were on the minds of the approximately 50 attendees at Interra’s inaugural Home Seller’s Seminar in August of 2021. The free event was open to the entire community and focused on providing valuable education over promoting Interra’s mortgage business. However, the forum did plant the seed for mortgage financing options as potential sellers think about buying their next home.
Interra selected local real estate experts to match the diverse needs and demographics of the communities the credit union serves. The panelists not only served different geographic areas but also included a builder, a member of the local Hispanic community, and a mix of male and female stakeholders. Each brought knowledge, experience, and credibility to the table as they answered prepared questions as well as spontaneous queries from audience members.
“We did a walk-through with all five of us,” says Potter, who served as moderator. “It was a collaboration as we wanted to ensure we addressed the audience’s primary questions.”
Marketing On A Budget
The credit union primarily marketed the event via social media. Its community partnerships, including with the local realtors’ and home builders’ associations and Chamber of Commerce also helped spread the word about the event to the broader community.
Interra was pleased with attendance, especially considering it only marketed the in-person event for a couple of weeks.
Do you have members selling homes? Check out this seminar flyer and PowerPoint presentation from Interra Credit Union to learn how the Indiana credit union promoted and structured its home-selling seminar.
“In the future, we will market it for at least a month to get the word out to a larger audience,” Potter says.
Interra hosted the event at a local church with an incredible PA system and three large video monitors; however, Potter says Interra might change the venue to allow for live streaming, which would make events more accessible to in-person and virtual attendees.
High Engagement. Personal Touch.
“We had a fantastic audience that was engaged beyond belief,” Potter says. “They started asking questions immediately. The panel could have gone well beyond the hour we allocated.”
Recognizing attendees might have questions they preferred to ask in private, Interra set up tables for each panelist to talk with attendees after the formal discussion ended. Interra staff, including Potter, answered mortgage-related questions from a general industry standpoint.
CU QUICK FACTS
Interra Credit Union
HQ: Goshen, IN
Data as of 09.30.21
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 18.0%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 0.5%
Although the event focused on providing education to the community, it also strengthened Interra’s relationships with the local realtors who served as panelists. This was important after a challenging year with record mortgage volumes pushing operational capacity to its limits.
“We want our local realtors to know they can count on us to close loans on time,” Potter says. “Today we’re back to normal and turning loans around in less than a month.”
Promising Results. Minimal Cost.
Each of the realtors who participated in Interra’s home-selling event secured a new home listing as a direct result of the seminar. And although pushing mortgage loans wasn’t the intent of the event, the credit union’s staff fielded many mortgage-related questions while on-site.
In terms of expense, the total cost to host the event was approximately $500, the lion’s share which went to the room rental. A local title company covered the refreshments.
If Interra moves future events to the corporate office, as it plans, it can host seminars without additional costs beyond marketing and mortgage employees’ time.
Future Plans And Lessons Learned
Interra is planning to host another Home Seller’s Seminar in late 2021 or early 2022 and twice a year thereafter. The cooperative also plans to expand its outreach to include neighboring communities it serves and involve other realtor and builder associations and chambers.
In addition to expanding the marketing time from two weeks to a month, Interra might push the start time back from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. to accommodate younger couples and families who are eating dinner or juggling practices for extracurricular activities.
Considering the needs of this distinct audience is one tip. Another is to think creatively.
“Look for opportunities that are different and approach them with an educational mindset,” Potter says. “From general home-selling to specific transactions resulting from divorce or probate, embracing community experts can help you identify common challenges for your members and provide the resources they need.”