The Death of Mortgage Blogs

iStock_000017972256XSmallThere is a buzz going on among fellow mortgage bloggers about how days may be numbered for mortgage blogs. This is as a largely the result of guidance issued by federal regulators late last year specifically on social media. When I first read this guidance, my initial response was “so what? This is pretty much what lenders are supposed to be doing anyhow”… stuff like properly quoting rates, not being misleading to consumers, etc.  It’s also my opinion that this seems to be written in favor of mortgage banks and not mortgage companies. The big banks seem to not want loan originators who have or express their own opinions.

After more thought and discussion with other mortgage bloggers, I can see the real issue is the compliance factor. Many mortgage companies are already stretched with the cost of compliance with just the day to day operations of originating mortgage loans. It’s my understanding that some lenders have made the decision to just not allow their loan officers to have any independent sights or social media sights (like Facebook or Twitter) as this is the easiest route…no extra compliance cost (additional personal hours) and less risk.

Blogs typically have information released freely and quickly. There are times that I have done “live post” when I’m covering an event, such as the Fed testifying before Congress or to illustrate how something like that may impact mortgage rates. I’m not sure it’s feasible for a compliance officer to be able to regulate and approve everything that a loan officer says or does with social media – imagine a person having to approve any comment or update you put on Facebook or Twitter… it’s simply not realistic and it’s no longer “you” being social or in the moment – it’s you-approved by your employer.

The thought of me no longer being able to blog or to no longer have my  blog, The Mortgage Porter, which I began back in 2006 is absolutely depressing. I really enjoy writing and sharing information with my readers about mortgages, including the process of financing a home and various mortgage programs. At times, it’s even been therapeutic by allowing me to vent or “rant”.  Blogging and social media has brought me so many wonderful opportunities and experiences that I would not have had as a non-blogging mortgage originator.

When I began my blog, it was because of a lack of information, or actually because the wrong information was being shared by the media about loan officer licensing. I never dreamed anyone would read it or that people would actually decide they want me to be their loan officer because of the information I freely shared with them – information that they could not find anywhere else!  I use my blog to share information with potential clients – like “what is a letter of explanation” and sometimes, I’ll write a post just to address an answer to a clients question… if they’re asking it, odds are somebody else is searching for that answer too.

I fully agree that content on mortgage blogs must be compliant – however doing away with mortgage blogs is a travesty.

Less information and less transparency is never good for the consumer.

Good thing I have a back up career! 

Stay tuned.

About Rhonda Porter

Rhonda Porter is an NMLS Licensed Mortgage Originator MLO121324 for homes located in Washington state. Her blog, The Mortgage Porter, is nationally recognized for sharing relevant information to consumers about mortgages.

She has been originating mortgages since 2000 at Mortgage Master Service Corporation #40445 Consumer NMLS Website: http://www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org/TuringTestPage.aspx?ReturnUrl=/EntityDetails.aspx/COMPANY/40445
NMLS ID 40445. Equal Housing Opportunity.

You can follow Rhonda on @mortgageporter, Facebook and/or Google+

Comments

  1. I really enjoyed reading this, Rhonda, for a variety of reasons. Hope all is well with you and look forward to seeing you at barcamp!

  2. Thanks, Ardell! I’m looking forward to seeing you too… I’ll be one of our topics at REBC will be compliance for the social media mortgage peeps.

  3. The cost of compliance is the cost of doing business. Prices will rise to cover the cost and then competition brings prices down. The cost of having loan originators out there on social media posting jokes, comments, and “liking” pictures or memes that are disparaging towards protected classes under Fair Housing/Fair Lending and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act cannot be measured.

    We use to just tell jokes around the water cooler. Now we “like” or tweet stuff or instagram stuff or whatever social media tool will be popular 10 minutes from now. And that stuff that comes out of our mouths doesn’t just float into the air like it use to…. It stays online for anyone to screen shot.

    We really can see, via social media, who a person is by what they constantly post. “It’s just a joke” and “I was just kidding” are no longer acceptable. LOs as well as Realtors best think very carefully about who they are online. It’s a different world than it was when blogging first emerged.

    If you want free speech rights to say anything you want, however disparaging, against women, people of a race other than white, about people of a different sexual orientation other than straight, people of a religion other than god-fearin’ bible thumpin’ salt-of-the-earth ‘mericans, then go get a job doing something other than lending or real estate and have at it on your Facebook page.

    A person can’t split themselves into two personalities….a sanitized “Hi, I’m a lender” online persona and then have a “women are Idiots” online persona. If they are the same person then the “women are idiots” opinions need to be kept offline. If I were that person’s boss (well of course i would never hire that person) then that person would not be allowed to have any social media presence at all. It’s just too hard to manage–too expensive. So for a large corporation, I would expect a complete crackdown and it’s needed.

    For a small corporation, it’s easier to manage. And this could be where you win, Rhonda.

    • Jillayne, you make a good point about LO’s and Real Estate Agents with the ECOA and Fair Housing/Lending regarding social media. I try to always keep in mind that whenever I’m on the world wide web, I’m representing a mortgage originator – even on my “personal” sites.

      My point was more about not being able to write (blog) or having what I write be restrained – sanitized is a good word for it. Why have a blog voice if the voice is not yours?

      How does a compliance department for a mortgage company review every comment, tweet, like or share on a blog, facebook, twitter, google plus… everywhere? It doesn’t seem humanly possible…and it’s not conducive to social media where it is more about “live” or instant responses… not a 24 hour delay for management to review.

      We are also in a very competitive market with volumes being down right now and layoffs have been taking place. Adding staff or cost to do this for most companies is not probable and that’s where I see that many LO’s will not be allowed to blog or share information on FB, twitter etc. For LO’s who work at big banks, this is probably what they’re used to. For those of us who work for independent mortgage companies and who have been able to share important information throughout the mortgage crisis, this is a shame.

  4. And i am finding it SO WEIRD that I can’t “like” a comment or “favorite” or “retweet” a comment here on the blog. Mind Blown.

  5. BTW I’m quoted in this article from National Mortgage Professional… http://nationalmortgageprofessional.com/news47180/ffiec-guidance-and-great-social-media-debate

    I contacted Robert, the author, once it was published because I’ve never tweeted anyone’s age or income before – not sure where on earth he got that… when I’ve quoted rates (and I’m not sure I’m going to do that anymore because of this guidance) I included the terms of the loan, credit score and of course, apr.

  6. I read Robert’s post and it does not appear to me that he is saying you did that. His thoughts on that topic were just poorly sandwiched between two of your quotes. But it appears to be him thinking out loud vs talking about you when he mentions age and income.

    • I know… I don’t appreciate that and I suggested her correct that, which he refused stating that others do quote that… it ironically kind of illustrates what the issue is with talking about mortgages with social media. :(

      I wanted to comment on his post but it’s appears to be an article and not a blog post.. I may have to write some sort of post on it…especially since it bothers me and you also agree that it appears as though I said that.

  7. Rhonda, this is good news for those few originators/companies who can get their social media compliance in order because they’ll have less noise to compete with online.

    You nailed it though with your comment about having to sanitize everything you write about on your personal mortgage blog.

    Kind of takes the “personal” out of the blog, which probably won’t make it much fun.

    • Mark, sorry for the tardy reply… RCG has had some issues that Dustin is working on sorting out.

      It’s unfortunate that it will the proposed guidance may take away transparency that is so needed in the industry – consumers are demanding it. I would say it’s an unintentional consequences – however, I think it’s exactly what the large banking industry would prefer.

  8. Thanks for sharing this, Rhonda. It’s too bad that everything has to be regulated so heavily now. In an age where consumers do more research themselves than ever before, to take away valuable resources from those consumers seems counterproductive. What better way to be informed than to read opinions and info provided by industry professionals?

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