A consumer website that really makes a dent in the housing crisis?
This article found on HousingWatch.com is the basis for the blog below — http://www.housingwatch.com/2010/08/27/fannie-mae-wants-you-to-knowyouroptions-com/
A recent pro
ject bloomfield knoble provided for Fannie Mae was the KnowYourOptions.com website and communication campaign. This effort includes internal and external marketing material for every viable channel. The intent, after careful thought and planning, was to develop a communication platform that informs borrowers that face the risk of foreclosure exactly what their options are in today’s market. Sounds simple, but it was not an easy task by any means. One of the most critical factors in the breakdown of the housing market has been lack of communication. As I explained to my son the other day, as we discussed how best to manage difficulty with a subject in school, “If you are not in communication with your teacher about struggling with the work,then how can they know you need some help? Before long, it will just be too late. You will be behind and failing. And it ill be your fault for not seeking help in time.” The same is true for borrowers in financial difficulty. I don’t intend to equate any fault here on a struggling borrower’s situation. I simply attempt to illustrate the lesson that communication can be a key factor to avoiding problems whether in middle school or adulthood. If you think you have broken your arm, you don’t tough it out. You communicate your pain and seek help. It is the same concept.
Anyway, back the lesson at hand . . . There exist numerous terms and concepts based around the mortgage foreclosure crisis. One of the main tactics to successful communication is to make certain everyone is speaking from the same lexicon. If I said that you need to look into a “deed-in-lieu” or ask for “forbearance” from your servicer, would you understand the terms? The fact is, many of us have never heard those terms. Much less, we don’t know the definitions of said terminology. Therefore, we are not well armed when it comes time to face the fact we are struggling and have suddenly missed two mortgage payments and receive a call from our mortgage servicer to discuss our situation.
Too many people feel overwhelmed and just avoid the calls, the emails, the direct mail, etc. They don’t understand they have options. Instead, they face it like it is a debt collection believing things will get better soon enough and if they ignore it; time will heal all. Well, there is a great book you do not need to read called, Hope Is Not A Strategy. (The title is all you need to know.) So, armed with these thoughts, we developed for Fannie Mae a communications platform that would help American borrowers understand their situation by making the terms and definitions clear and offer tools to educate struggling borrowers about the situation and options available based on situation.
Using a variety of means — video, customized personal information, glossaries, calculators, step-by-step explanations — we set out to make the concepts accessible. We believed that marketing through education was the route to follow. In this case, we are marketing empowerment through knowledge. And like our client, we take great pride and personal responsibility for delivering what people struggling need to ease their worries and their situation. We even include stories and videos from actual borrowers that have successfully faced every scenario so visitors understand they are not alone and the options actually works! While not easy, perhaps. There are realistic alternatives to foreclosure and avoiding the subject.
After all, we are talking about American families and their family homes. What is a more noble cause today than helping people stay in their homes or improve their situation, if possible? We literally live and breathe this stuff because it is the RIGHT THING TO DO.
Contrary to some public perception, Fannie Mae is filled with extremely hard-working, caring individuals that take their current mission very seriously — to help American borrowers facing crisis. (Did you know if a family home is foreclosed, they may not be eligible to purchase a new home for up to 7 years? Not what America needs.) So Fannie Mae has put serious and thoughtful individuals on this task of helping the American homeowner. After countless hours during the work week and hours more on the weekend for literally months, the research and testing has begun to pay off. Together, we have developed the first website to openly discuss what all of the terminology means and takes on the real task of helping borrowers be able to be prepared when talking to their servicer.
In fact, one might rightly state that the true concept that drove KnowYourOptions.com was “forewarned, forearmed.” Okay, not a perfect fit. But you get the gist. We were just proud to be part of this process of good.