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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   November 2016

Online Advances Create Better Connections

Technology can link real estate deals and mortgage financing

Much like time, technology just keeps marching forward, and mortgage professionals must keep up to stay competitive in a changing marketplace. The critical part of making technology work for you and your business is in making connections and increasing efficiency. Mobile apps and websites may promise new and exciting results, but unless they’re fully integrated into the process of buying and financing a home — for the originator and the borrower — can they really deliver on those promises?

Many in the real estate industry already are aware that the first step consumers make today when thinking about buying anything — even a house — is to look online. According to the 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 42 percent of recent buyers searched online for properties for sale before doing anything else, and just 14 percent reached out to a real estate agent first. In addition, 82 percent of those surveyed by NAR indicated they considered online websites a “very useful information source.”

Similar numbers have been seen when looking at the mortgage arena. According to a topical analysis of the Fannie Mae National Housing Survey, 57 percent of recent homebuyers obtained a mortgage quote online, and 12 percent obtained one via a mobile device. The survey also found that 70 percent of recent homebuyers wanted to obtain a mortgage quote online, while 30 percent wanted to obtain one using a mobile device. It is clear that the desire for online and mobile applications is strong among borrowers, and the gap between those who obtained a quote online and those who would like to obtain one indicates that significant demand is not being met.

Variety of tools

Addressing the demand for more online and mobile services among homebuyers represents a significant opportunity for mortgage professionals. By working with lenders who offer online tools that today’s borrowers desire, mortgage brokers and originators can grow their business and, at the same time, increase their efficiency and output by using better technology.

Many lenders offer a variety of online tools for borrowers and originators alike. Although the most common of these is the prequalification app, not all prequalification tools are created equally. When assessing lenders and the services they provide for online borrowers, mortgage professionals should look for the latest innovations in the field that offer borrowers the best response for their time.

Some lenders even bundle lending tools with real estate tools, offering borrowers the kind of one-stop shopping that engages them — and keeps them on the website, which, by extension, keeps them with you. When considering a lender’s online offerings, here are a few tools and key features to look for:

  • Prequalification app: This should offer instant responses based on actual loan products tailored to the borrower. Prequalifications also should show both mortgage rates and estimated payments.
  • Digital mortgage applications: Being able to apply online saves the borrower time and simplifies the process as well.
  • Educational tools: Borrowers, particularly those securing a mortgage for the first time, need to learn all the particulars of the financial responsibility they are undertaking. Also, mortgage brokers themselves need help to keep up with changing guidelines and regulations.
  • Personal support: Although borrowers love the ease and simplicity of online tools and information, sometimes they still need to speak with a human who can answer questions or clarify issues. Lender websites and apps should have a way to connect originators directly to borrowers to ensure quality customer service is always provided.

Improving connections

Borrower tools are just the starting point when assessing a lender. Mortgage professionals also should look for technological innovations that only Realtors and originators see, as well as opportunities to further integrate the two sides of the real estate coin: finding a home and finding financing.

Does the lender’s website or app provide real estate services or partnerships that might produce referrals from working agents, for instance? These kinds of relationships are critical to mortgage professionals as they seek new clients. By using online tools to work with real estate agents, mortgage professionals can create a synergy in their business that benefits everyone — and these connections also will provide a seamless experience for borrowers.

Mortgage professionals also should look for tools that help borrowers after the loan closes. Although many originators usually don’t spend too much time worrying about what happens after the loan closes, the post-close period is important to borrowers. A happy borrower — both during the loan process and after closing — leads to more referrals and more business.

•  •  •

In this fast-paced lending environment, mortgage brokers and originators need all the help that today’s financial technology can provide. Prequalification tools are getting better all the time, and new integrated systems offer originators a chance to work closely with real estate agents as well, creating a beneficial synergy for all involved.

Mortgage originators should critically assess the latest tools being offered by lenders — targeted at mortgage professionals and directly at borrowers — and make sure they are working with lenders that will help them improve and grow their business with all the latest advances that technology affords.


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