The debate about whether to launch a digital mortgage initiative at your company — or whether now is the right time to deploy — is over. Digital mortgages have arrived and in a big way.
Every aspect of the mortgage process — from consumer-facing application intake, document collection, credit pulls and preapprovals, to back-end tasks such as underwriting, funding and secondary market sales — are now fully digital operations. If this is surprising, it shouldn’t be, as this digital transformation of the industry has been taking place since the early 2000s. From the start, technology partners have witnessed a steadily increasing demand for digital origination tools, and that demand has grown exponentially over the past three years. The evolution of technology, consumer habits and compliance have made it absolutely clear: The mortgage industry is going 100% digital.
A technology overhaul upended the travel industry in the late 1990s as companies such as Expedia, Priceline and Travelocity were born. A similar situation occurred in real estate in the mid-2000s with the emergence of companies like Zillow, Redfin and Trulia. This tech shift finally started happening in the mortgage industry and the catalyst for this evolution was the Day 1 Certainty technology introduced by Fannie Mae in 2016 along with its beta implementation through platforms such as Rocket Mortgage.
It was clear that making mortgages a “self-serve” product via increased transparency to the process would make it easier for borrowers to do business online and with confidence. This also would cut costs while upping productivity and profitability for mortgage companies. You could ask any mortgage executive about digital lending platforms and they would’ve told you they were considering a launch within the next 12 to 18 months, if they had not already done so.
Then came March 2020 and the global coronavirus pandemic. Overnight, the mortgage industry was thrust into a new and indefinite state. It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention but, in this case, necessity was the mother of transformation.
On one hand, social distancing fueled a need to do everything online, while on the other hand, the lowest mortgage rates in years resulted in huge volumes of refinance and purchase loans to be processed. This accelerated the need to adopt a solid digital mortgage platform. The inevitability of going digital was pushed higher on the priority list for many lenders and originators. With the right platform, lending is now touchless and automated.
The utopian promise of a simplified, intuitive and revenue-boosting digital mortgage platform has been realized. These touchless point-of-sale (POS) systems typically combine an originator-centric interface with a high-converting set of borrower-based tools.
An ambitious, touchless mortgage platform does more than take you from working in an office to working remotely. It’s about elevating the mortgage experience for originators and borrowers alike. It must help you stay connected, competitive and productive while providing a configurable ecosystem that supports a growing business, no matter the circumstances.
Tools for borrowers to complete their home-purchase or refinance journey are by far the most important components of any digital mortgage platform. Unlike social media or other popular apps that are used on a daily basis, consumers apply for a mortgage once every eight to 10 years on average.
Lenders and originators must make sure that the borrower journey goes smoothly. They cannot afford to make mistakes, otherwise they will lose inherently anxious borrowers who are making the biggest financial decisions of their lives. The application intake has to be user-friendly and inviting, and accessible via any device — mobile, tablet or desktop. The right POS system can offer an intuitive, interview-style questionnaire, which creates a positive experience through-out the approval process and keeps the application moving toward completion.
Configurable “if this, then that” trigger settings guide borrowers from intake to compiling lists of necessary documents to gather. The borrower can upload files from any device at any time. Mortgage professionals can easily adjust these hierarchy settings by turning triggers on or off.
A POS platform can then organize the large quantity of unstructured data from various sources into a universally fluid format. Instant notifications allow borrowers to see whether the documents were accepted or rejected, and how to make corrections and resubmit. POS platforms that include instant-messaging capabilities boost consumer confidence while helping the originator organize communications for each loan file.
Although real estate generally has been declared an essential business during the pandemic, getting preapproval letters in the hands of borrowers is not an easy task due to social distancing. A robust POS system, however, makes that possible. For example, an originator can set a maximum preapproved loan amount and the platform will give the borrower real-time updates on their mobile device. Once approved, the borrower can generate and print as many preapproval letters as they need while shopping for their desired home.
The POS platform should be scalable and synchronize with a mortgage company no matter its stage of growth. Originators can accomplish many tasks with the platform, starting with the creation of teams. Loan assistants, processors, underwriters, managers or account executives may be assigned to any loan or multiple loans for easy collaboration.
Additionally, mortgage companies can partner with real estate agents and assign them to specific loans or individual originators to reinforce relationships and referrals. Each communication or interaction, as well as any changes to the loan, can be tracked. Access to each loan can be limited to specific team members. Chat and note tools can keep everyone in the loop and moving forward. Lastly, the POS system should be able to intelligently interface with essential loan origination and customer relationship management systems, as well as Zoom conferencing, to create a processing ecosystem that is accessible to anyone from any place.
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A robust POS platform can be customized to replicate the look and feel of a mortgage company’s brand. When seamlessly integrated into a company’s website and mobile app, it elevates client confidence while making the experience more enjoyable and meaningful.
The DNA of mortgage technology companies should be about the consumer experience. Designing a crown jewel among point-of-sale systems typically takes years of collaboration between software developers and their mortgage industry partners. These systems are being launched at a time when mortgage professionals urgently need a comprehensive digital solution. The age of the digital mortgage is here and strong tech partners are ready to help those who dare to dominate. ●