Residential Magazine

What Should Tech Do for You?

There is a long list of digital solutions that lenders should offer originators

By Bill Packer

In a world that is increasingly digital, one of the best investments that lenders can make is in technology. This includes providing a menu of tools to support their originator partners, so they can find the right solutions for their clients.

According to a Fannie Mae analysis, the share of lenders that listed technology as a top priority in second-quarter 2017 was 18%, which grew to 23% in second-quarter 2018 and to 25% in second-quarter 2019.

Of course, there can be a gap between the desire to make technology investments and actually implementing them. A question also must be asked — is it the right investment?

Assessing your partners

Are the lenders you are associated with investing in technology? Originators can conduct simple checks that include whether the lender has integrated with multiple origination platforms and pricing engines, and whether they have a fully built-out web presence for originators and their clients.

You also should determine if their technology is tuned into your needs, or if a lender is simply purchasing systems from the popular provider of the moment and not thinking through how it needs to work so originators can succeed. These simple questions can tell you a lot, not only about a lender’s decisionmaking process with technology but, more generally, if they are a client-centric company or one where the originator is an afterthought. Who wants a partner that builds their servicing portfolio solely for their internal needs?

Technological solutions deliver many benefits and are critical to a great originator and borrower experience. Tech can directly improve the borrower experience by helping lenders be more efficient, which should translate into lower pricing, and by providing tools that allow for greater ease of use by the consumer. It also can help them indirectly by providing the entire mortgage ecosystem with the right information and transactional capabilities at the right time.

This ecosystem includes mortgage brokers and loan officers, appraisers, Realtors, title companies, attorneys, accountants, homebuilders, contractors and renovation specialists. Intelligent customer relationship management (CRM) systems that are continuously monitoring client portfolios and providing engagement opportunities — through both traditional mail and phone methods, as well as the increasing use of digital and social media tools — are an important part of the technological landscape. 

Speed and expertise

The longer it takes to close a loan, the more opportunity there is for something to go wrong in the transaction. Time to close is an important metric and, again, lenders that leverage technology throughout the mortgage process are organizations that help you win this race. In a 2018 report, the Federal Reserve said lenders that leveraged technology reduced mortgage-processing times by about 10 days, or 20% of the average processing time, compared with traditional methods.

Mortgage companies that continuously enhance technology to accommodate the ever-changing lending environment have the greatest success. In the universe of digital, local and national options, there simply is no replacement for a well-educated mortgage professional. Therefore, digitally accessible marketing resources — and well-thought-out and self-paced training tools — are paramount.

Evolving with industry innovations requires looking beyond loan programs and interest rates. Lenders should develop training programs that provide not only on-demand education, but that also support the development of mortgage professionals who are prepared for where the market is headed. Each touchpoint is an opportunity for learning. Lenders and originators need to invest in the latest training technologies to be ready for the next generation of homebuyers and, ultimately, to be successful. Among the technologically supportive offerings lenders can provide their partners are downloadable white-label marketing collateral; real estate broker and homebuilder directories; a variety of interactive training resources; and alert notifications for when a previous homebuyer’s property is listed for sale, or when the homebuyer is seeking to refinance, either through triggered leads and/or a payoff request.

If you are a loan officer or mortgage broker, you want to make sure the organizations you partner with are providing you with these information resources and integrating them into your CRM system, as well as marketing your name using their automated systems. Every life event of a client — such as a birthday, wedding anniversary or the anniversary of the loan closing — is another opportunity for you to connect with the borrower. And today’s CRM systems can do all of this for you in a personalized way.

Of course, it is far too easy to deploy these technologies incorrectly and spend money on something that turns into a negative for borrowers. So, partner with someone who is going to be thoughtful with well-crafted nurture campaigns. And don’t forget about campaigns that include sales sources, such as Realtors. If your lender partners aren’t providing these tools to you, you need to partner with someone who will. 

Interactive training that is updated regularly and designed in small blocks to enhance retention helps create a culture of learning.

Specialized education

Online webinars and on-demand training send signals that a lender values its partners. Additionally, the ability to track user engagement with various classes or segments and provide interactive video elements capitalizes on the most modern, forward-thinking capabilities that technology is able to provide.

Now that training programs can be developed through the utilization of platforms such as Adobe Captivate and HTML5, these tasks have gone mobile and everyone — including originators, sales sources and applicants — can be reached on the tool that suits them best. This includes laptops, tablets or — thanks to the responsive design of newer platforms — even the ubiquitous smartphone.

In this hypercompetitive marketplace, specialized loan programs may be a business solution. Interactive training that is updated regularly and designed in small blocks to enhance retention helps create a culture of learning. This, in turn, keeps originators and their sales sources current on the varied menu of mortgage products, which often have specific qualification requirements, timelines and processes that may shift with new regulations.

Some training programs provide the ability to earn certifications for unique financing such as renovation loans, single-close construction loans, government loans and mortgages for increasingly popular manufactured and modular homes. Potential homebuyers can be assured the originator is “certified” and knowledgeable about these specific loan types.

Any technology adopted by lenders and originators has to be secure, however. It is all too common to read about an information security breach. You want to make sure that whoever has your information, as well as your clients’ information, is following best practices. Ask your lending partners about their system and organization controls (SOC), such as an SOC 2 Type II audit program. Ask them about their penetration testing. Read their privacy policies — what are they going to do with the data you give them? — and ask them about their breach-event policies. If they don’t seem to have a handle on these issues, you may want to look for business elsewhere.

• • •

Identifying and investing in innovative technologies and programs to help power the business of mortgage origination is imperative to compete in today’s market. Lenders that make these investments are positioned to become the preferred partners for today’s mortgage originators.

They also will earn repeat business from borrowers, be preferred by sales sources and be the most successful at keeping data secure. Lenders that value hardworking mortgage professionals are constantly searching for resources to support them and allowing their partners to focus on what they do best — finding the best loan options for borrowers and helping them achieve their homeownership dreams.


  • Bill Packer

    Bill Packer is executive vice president and chief operations officer at American Financial Resources (AFR) Inc. With 30 years of experience in financial services, Packer joined AFR in 2015 and currently oversees operations, technology, new-product development and marketing. AFR is the nation’s leading FHA 203(k) lender for sponsored originations, and is an innovator in the construction and renovation lending space.

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