Business
Jul 15, 2021

A Review of the Best Mortgage Lead Generation Platforms for Mortgage Lenders

The mortgage industry is full of mortgage lead advertising partnerships that provide different levels of lead quality. We thought it would be useful to provide an in-depth review of each advertising platform's value proposition. Here we dive into why you may choose to partner with a mortgage lead advertising partner, the overall cost per lead, and the benefits of the mortgage lead partnership. 

Prior to engaging with a mortgage lead provider, there are certain technologies and mindsets that are helpful to have in place. Buying mortgage leads is not for every mortgage lender but as the lead buying industry has matured since the mid-2000’s it’s attracting a much more sophisticated mortgage consumer. Before you spend your first dollar on lead buying we recommend having a CRM in place that can automate the intake of lead data as well as enroll leads into longer-term nurture campaigns.  Most modern CRMs allow you to create custom email, text, and autodialer campaigns. Here are a few mortgage-specific CRMs that are recommended by our customers:  Insellerate, TotalExpert, BNTouch, SetShape. You can also check out industry-leading CRMs Salesforce and Hubspot which require a more custom build-out. All come at various price points and minimum user commitments. 

The mindset of a mortgage lender that is going to participate is a mindset “of service”. Many of the lead providers reviewed below are selling the lead information to multiple lenders. This, in theory, creates competition and provides the lead with multiple loan options from multiple lenders. This requires the participating mortgage lender to be responsive to the initial lead inquiry and have a strong follow-up process in place. If a lead starts their home loan research process online they probably want to keep it that way. This requires a mindset of responding promptly to emails, texts, and online chats. 

Let’s dive into each mortgage lead provider and what makes them unique. 

Bankrate  $$$$

The gold standard for mortgage lead conversion. The goal of Bankrate is to be the online destination to shop for a mortgage. Bankrate has been in the online mortgage lead conversion game for more than 20 years. Best known for its mortgage rate comparison table which provides online home loan shoppers to compare many different mortgage lenders in one online experience. Typically Bankrate provides the highest quality mortgage leads but also the highest cost per lead.  

The business model of Bankrate is to create a combination of organic content each day and pair that with heavy sponsored advertising, Google Ads, and social media ad spending. We are talking $100M in annual advertising spend across all of their channels. The idea is to drive as many in-market visitors to their site as possible and provide an enticing mortgage shopping experience that converts more mortgage leads than any other advertising channel.  

Although the cost per lead can change with demand, the average cost per lead runs between $150-$230 depending on quality, location, time to closing, and other factors. 

The typical minimum monthly investment to participate on the Bankrate rate table is $30,000 with a step up in ad spend to $50,000 after four months. A mortgage lender must be licensed in more than 10 states and take purchase and refinance leads. 

Bankrate does have an ownership interest in two mortgage lenders, Sage Mortgage and Interest.com, which compete with other lenders on the rate table. This has caused friction with participating lenders. 

To contact the Bankrate sales team visit this page

LendingTree $$

LendingTree is like the crusty old man of the group. It’s weathered the many ups and downs of online lead conversion and is still standing. Also in the mortgage lead conversion business for more than 20 years, LendingTree has a loyal mortgage lender base and a trusted name in the consumer marketplace. According to their website, 75% of their audience already knows their brand. LendingTree is best known for its lead workflow questionnaire which is how they capture and convert the majority of their mortgage leads. 

LendingTree is more of a mortgage lead aggregator that does not have much loyalty to one particular mortgage lender. The majority of the leads that LendingTree generates are not exclusive leads. These leads are sold to multiple lenders and become a “speed to lead” game. Although the consumer may become inundated with phone calls and outreach, in the end, the consumer should receive a more competitive offer.  

The average cost per lead on LendingTree can range from $30-$100 depending on quality, number of competing lenders, timeframe, location, and other factors. The monthly minimum is far less than Bankrate and a mortgage lender can get started with a few thousand dollars in advertising spend.  

To contact the LendingTree sales team visit this page

Zillow $$$

Zillow is best known for its real estate shopping experience but has pushed further into the mortgage space with the launch of Zillow Home Loans. It seemed to be a natural progression for Zillow to push its real estate search business further into the home loan experience. Zillow is an online giant that provides a lot of value back to mortgage lenders both in the lender's local markets and with a national reach. 

There are several ways for a mortgage lender to participate with Zillow as an advertising partner. The most common way is to partner with a local real estate agent or purchase a specific zip code location and become the “sponsored lender”. This promotes you, the mortgage lender, alongside a real estate agent directly on the real estate listing page. This advertising channel started to become a growth area for Zillow around 2012. Local real estate agents would request their mortgage loan officer partner to help share in the cost of their Zillow advertising which placed the local loan officer alongside the real estate agent’s active listings. 

Another opportunity is to partner with Zillow on their own rate comparison tables. Similar to Bankrate this experience is an actual home loan shopping experience that allows website visitors to compare mortgage rates from competing lenders in one online marketplace. To participate as a lender on the Zillow rate table the lender does need to purchase the Zillow pricing engine, Mortech. Mortech is what powers a lender's real-time rates into the online rate table. 

Zillow launched Zillow Home Loans back in April of 2019 so you will be competing for the best quality leads alongside a lender that Zillow owns. 

The cost per lead can range from $75-$150 per lead and from what we understand the Zillow rate table leads are exclusive.

To contact the Zillow sales team visit this page.

NerdWallet $$$

NerdWallet is a financial website similar to Bankrate that looks to attract in-market consumers for a variety of financial products including a home loan. Founded in 2009 as a credit card comparison site its since branched out to meet the growing needs of its target consumer base. Generating more than 30 million visitors a year is definitely an advertising partner to consider in the mortgage industry. 

That being said NerdWallet provides both a rate comparison table and a “best of mortgage lenders” section on their website. The value add for a mortgage lender to partner on the “best of” comparison page is the in-market website visitor can have a quick view of your reviews, product offerings, and pros and cons. 

NerdWallet also offers a basic rate comparison table to enhance the mortgage shopping experience for its website visitors. Our mortgage customer feedback is that NerdWallet provides high-quality leads. They recently switched to providing a lead workflow questionnaire on behalf of their customers which greatly improves the chances of conversion but also increases the cost per lead. 

Similar in price to Zillow leads the range is between $75-$150.

We have heard that their sales team is difficult to reach. You can submit a support request for more information about advertising partnerships at this page

Credit Karma

Founded in 2007 and a direct competitor with Bankrate and NerdWallet, Credit Karma is competing for the same in-market mortgage website traffic. Once a website visitors lands on a Credti Karma webpage the initial call-to-action for that visitor is to create an account and create a “credit profile”. This provides a better qualified lead to its ad partners including mortgage lenders.  

The Credit Karma rate comparison table is their big mortgage selling point. The benefits for sites like Bankrate, NerdWallet, or Credit Karma to offer a comprehensive rate comparison table is that is provides a reason for someone to come back to their website. When a mortgage lender partners with with these mortgage lead providers they charge the mortgage lender either per click or per lead converted. The majority of the money that is charged to the mortgage lender is actually invested back into more advertising spend to drive more in-market traffic back to their website. 

You can participate with Credit Karma as a reviewed lender or on the rate table mentioned above.  

To contact the Credit Karma sales team visit this page

Best Money | Natural Intelligence $$$

A mortgage lead aggregator similar to Bankrate or NerdWallet. They are spending advertising dollars to attract in-market consumers to their website and convert those visitors into leads for their partners. Mortgage lenders pay to be featured on the website. Bestmoney.com is the common name of the consumer-facing website, but Natural Intelligence is the name of the company that runs Bestmoney.com.  Bestmoney.com offers mortgage lenders the opportunity to be a featured lender or to be showcased on the rate comparison table. The “featured lender” experience is promoting a mortgage lender's customer reviews and product offerings. The rate comparison table positions competing mortgage lenders against each other with live rate data ranking. 

To contact the Bestmoney.com sales team visit this page

Money.com | Consumer Advocate $$

A great name!  Money.com is creating lots of new content and blog posts to attract in-market financial consumers to their various websites. The legacy brand is called Consumer Advocate, which is how many mortgage lenders identify this company, but Money.com is the consumer-facing website. Money.com is spending mega dollars on Google Ads and other digital marketing channels to attract more visitors to their website. The goal is to convert more website visitors into leads for their various advertising partner's products. Mortgage lenders can partner on their “best mortgage lenders page” which promotes the mortgage lender's available products and programs.  

To contact the Money.com sales team visit this page

I Can Buy | Mortgage Research Center | BrownBag $

The “I Can Buy” rate table was previously operated by BrownBag or Informa which is a name familiar to some mortgage lenders that have been advertising on rate tables in the past. For many years Informa managed the rate comparison table that is published on high traffic websites like Realtor.com or MSN Money. BrownBag was acquired by a company called Mortgage Research Center which also owns VeteransUnited.  

The value proposition for the I Can Buy rate table mortgage lender partnership is to place the rate table, with competing mortgage lenders, into a high traffic website. I Can Buy is not focused on buying advertising traffic like Bankrate or NerdWallet. Its focus is to build relationships with high traffic websites and then split the advertising revenue with those website platforms.  

The I Can Buy advertising partnership offers a lower entry point for mortgage lenders. It’s a cost-per-click model which starts at $10-$15 per click. The monthly minimum is lower than other advertising platforms like Bankrate, LendingTree, and Credit Karma.

To contact the Mortgage Research Center sales team visit this page

Bundle Loans $$$

Bundle Loans, based out of Charlotte, NC and founded by a few mortgage digital marketing executives, is putting a new twist on shopping for a home loan. Their tag line is “Compare Mortgages, Stay Anonymous”. The value proposition for the consumer is an anonymous shopping experience without all of the spam calls and emails. Once a consumer completes their Bundle Loans questionnaire and creates their account the home loan matching process begins. Bundle will match the consumer with up to three mortgage lenders in a chat experience. This allows the consumer to have direct contact with the mortgage loan officer and compare offers. This experience creates competition between the lenders and provides the consumer with a competitive mortgage offer.  

Bundle Loans is building their audience through blog posts and digital ad channel spending. We are not familiar with the mortgage lender cost associated with partnering on the platform.

To contact the Bundle Loans sales team visit this page

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