Have you ever really looked at the junk mail that comes to your residence? Most people don’t; it is junk, after all. But there’s a unifying thread for single-family homeowners – and if your brokerage, agency or bank is part of it, you’re losing business because of it.

A little background: A member of Banker & Tradesman’s editorial board bought a house in the suburbs in 2012 with an FHA loan and carries PMI. The state’s gangbuster housing market has improved her equity so greatly that, less than four years later, she is eligible to refinance. Pitches from potential refi partners have come every week – sometimes every day – for more than a year.

But the vast majority of them are immediately tossed into the recycling bin – because they are addressed solely to her husband. That alone is enough to earn a toss; adding salt to the wound, however, is the realization that the unaddressed spouse works for a real estate trade publication. Nevertheless, her name does not appear on 90 percent of the unsolicited real estate and financial correspondence sent to the house she co-owns.

Utility bills are addressed to the person who set up the account. But what about water bills, real estate taxes and census forms? To whom are those addressed? If you’re a married straight couple, chances are high those bills are addressed to the “man of the house.” From an admittedly small and anecdotal survey sample, unless a resident has specifically requested items be sent to the female party, towns and cities default to the man.

The source of this is troubling. In most home transactions, the man’s name is listed first and the woman’s name second in the filed paperwork. Evidence of this can be found in the very pages of this newspaper – in the real estate records section, entries list the names of the buyers and sellers as they appear on the deeds. In some cases it’s two men; in some, it’s two women; when it’s a man and a woman, the man’s name almost always comes first.

Public records are used for much more than you might think. The Warren Group will sell you lists of people who took out FHA loans four years ago in a desirable suburb so you can market your refinance programs to them (or any other housing-related data you can think of). From those lists – which include the names of all parties – come pamphlets for lawn care services for new homeowners, offers to beat a competitor’s price per gallon for heating oil and pleas from Realtors to consider selling – all addressed to just one resident. All in the recycling bin.

Of course it’s cost-prohibitive to research each and every prospect – that’s why people buy lists. But it’s not cost-prohibitive to add a second name to the envelope. What you lose in ink costs, you may regain in revenue. Take a look at your mailings. In an effort to avoid alienating half of the state’s homeowners, make sure there are two names on those envelopes.

Casual Sexism Is Hurting Your Bottom Line

by Banker & Tradesman time to read: 2 min