Empowering Consumers

US Mortgage was founded in 1994 and has been committed to providing an outstanding borrower experience ever since. That commitment means being willing to change as consumer demographics, and expectations, evolve.

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“If you look at the numbers today, 35 percent of all homebuyers are Millennials—and that number is growing,” said Scott A. Milner, President of US Mortgage Corporation. “We had to step back and look at how we could service everyone—and give our borrowers the empowered experience they wanted to have.”

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In recent years, that meant giving buyers self-service options.

“People want to feel empowered, like they’re controlling their own process, their own destiny; whether they’re buying diapers on Amazon or comparing mortgage products online,” Milner explained. “Although we had an online 1003, it really didn’t engage borrowers or give them agreat experience. So, we started looking for more of a unified platform that connected mobile and desktop experiences, and would make the mortgage process simpler and more enjoyable for the consumer.”

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Milner knew how critical it was to roll out the right digital solution the first time. So, he and his team developed an extensive list of criteria and started what would become a two-year search.

“We wanted a 1003 that was dynamic and easy-to-follow—one that stepped consumers through the process and provided them transparency into how much of the application they’ve completed, and how much more they have to go,” Milner said.

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The borrower’s movement from mobile to desktop had to be seamless, so if the borrower completed part of the application on her phone, she could pick it up where she left off on the desktop, or vice-versa.

“By having a loan application that was mobile friendly, browser agnostic and wizard-based, we believed we could drive over 80 percent of our consumers to complete their applications online,” Milner said. “They know more about their financial picture than anyone else, so they should be jump-starting the process.”

From the time the application was complete to the day the loan closed, the platform had to give the borrower, as well as the referral partner, visibility into the process.

“We wanted to limit, if not do away with, the calls coming into the loan officer that started with, ‘What is my loan status?’” Milner explained. “If we found a platform that gave borrowers and Realtors visibility into the loan process, the borrower experience would improve, and the referral partner would feel more like a partner, not just a lead source. And, if our loan officers quit wasting time answering status questions, they could manage bigger pipelines, be more productive and stay focused on higher-touch conversations.” During the extensive search, Milner and team demoed every alternative on the market— and watched each company’s progress.
“We kept coming back to the concept that we really needed to have a mobile app presence as well as a desktop experience,” Milner said. “There really wasn’t another option that was as dynamic from a desktop and application perspective as SimpleNexus—and offered the ability to white label our unique brand.” Although Milner was sold on SimpleNexus, he wanted to make sure his loan officers were as enthusiastic about the platform as he was.

“Before we signed on with SimpleNexus, we did a companywide webinar for all of our LOs to demonstrate the platform. When it was over, we sent everyone a survey that asked two things: do you like it and would you use it,” Milner explained. “We had 99 percent buy-in from the get-go which allowed for a much more seamless rollout.”

The decision was made.

US Mortgage has branded the platform as USMPower, a combination of the company name, and the fact that it empowers borrowers to control their own mortgage experience.

“We actually just finished rebuilding our web site, www.usmortgage.com, to better leverage SimpleNexus. The new site has a single button that says, ‘Let’s Get Started,’ which seamlessly flows into the SimpleNexus platform so the borrower can start his or her application,” Milner explained. “Our loan officers’ individual landing pages link to their customized, SimpleNexus app, as well. We’re really fully integrating the platform into everything we do.”

As the company pays for the platform and provides it as a value-add to its loan officers, the adoption rate was 100 percent from day one. But, Milner is quick to point out that to maximize SimpleNexus’ value, companies have to keep the platform top of mind.

“Choose one person in your organization to be the point person for SimpleNexus—and don’t assume that that’s automatically someone from your IT department,” he said. “Honestly, it’s more of a marketing mindset, so, make sure it’s someone who not only understands the platform but can continually promote its value.”

That strategy has paid off. At the time of this writing, US Mortgage’s top seven LOs have shared the app more than 200 times each, with its top LO personally sharing it a full 678 times. The top 10 of the company’s LOs have received 50 or more loans via SimpleNexus, with its top LO receiving 112 loan applications via the mobile app.

According to Milner, with SimpleNexus, borrower self-provisioning is a simplified, streamlined experience.

“Now, our borrowers can go to the online or mobile application and do their e-consent and authorization right there. They can use the calculator to see how much of a loan they can afford. They can upload their documents from their phone,” Milner said. “All of that data flows into Encompass, so it’s a much cleaner path.”

To date, US Mortgage’s top six LOs have each acquired 200-602 loan documents each through SimpleNexus, with that number growing every day.

When the loan is in progress, push notifications go out to borrowers, referral partners, and the loan officer, whenever the loan hits a particular milestone. So, no one has to call in to find out loan status.

“I don’t know if SimpleNexus has reduced the number of phone calls our loan officers get, but I do know that the calls they are getting are now more high level. They’re building relationships instead of reporting on status,” Milner said.

In addition to giving borrowers convenience and control, SimpleNexus also gives US Mortgage loan officers the flexibility to work from anywhere.
“Now, our LOs have the opportunity to start the mortgage process with the consumer in a Realtor’s office, or at a remote site; run credit, get pricing— instantly help the borrower on the spot,” Milner said. “If they start the process on their mobile device, they can seamlessly continue on their desktop. It makes them more productive, and better able to service our borrowers.”

According to Milner, the fact that his LOs can co-brand the app with their Realtors and referral partners is also a significant competitive advantage.
“With that co-branding, and the transparency SimpleNexus offers, our partners actually feel like they’re part of the process,” Milner said. “In a lot of ways, your referral partners are where you’re going to create the stickiness with the app. The Realtor is going to keep the app on thephone for extended periods of time.”

So far, the response has been extremely positive, with US Mortgage’s top seven loan officers co-branding with 40 Realtor partners, and its top loan officer engaging 119 partners through the app.

“We have a lot of Realtors who are pushing their IDX feeds through the app, so, their customers can use it for home searches,” Milner said. “It’s not only marketing for them, but it gives us a symbiotic relationship with the Realtor community. As a purchase-focused, referral-based lender, those relationships are a big priority with us.”

Although, at the time of this writing, US Mortgage has only been on SimpleNexus a short time, the numbers already show that this platform is positioning the lender for the future.

“In 2015, about 27 percent of our online applicants were Millennials, with that number increasing to 37 percent since SimpleNexus,” Milner said.
He’s also seeing more Millennials doing conventional loans—up from 35 percent in 2015 to 50 percent today. Conversely, the number of government loans the company is writing for Millennials has decreased from 64 percent to 51 percent.

“We anticipate that with these trends, we’re going to see a continued increase of the use of the mobile app in the months and years to come,” Milner said. 

The key is continuing to add new features that make borrowers’, referral partners’ and loan officers’ lives easier.

“Ultimately, we want to work with SimpleNexus on the next phase of our rollout, adding features like eSign, as these become available,” Milner said. “By continuing to build on what we have, we can better serve our borrowers and fulfill our mission that everyone deserves a roof over their head.”

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