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A Closer Look At APIs

The mortgage crisis began a decade ago, and yet additional industry regulations keep coming. The lending and servicing business sector have become more complicated to navigate. Enhancements in technology, increased demands from investors and borrowers, and the continuous introduction of new government regulations have resulted in a treadmill of change.

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This continual change in the mortgage industry has created an elephant in the room: lack of time and resources. Regardless of the organization size, adding employees isn’t always in the budget. Even if it were, adding staff shouldn’t be the only option considered when there are software technology alternatives available to gain operational efficiencies to adapt to industry changes. So how do lenders and servicers successfully capitalize on available technology to achieve these goals?

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One way to succeed is by leveraging software equipped with application programming interfaces (APIs). An API is a software-to-software interface that allows applications to talk to each other without any user knowledge or intervention. API’s can be internal and used primarily within a company or organization, or external and made available to anyone interested in developing an interface or connection to their product or service. API’s also vary in design regarding functionality. An API may be designed to query data or update a database, initiate a process, or add functionality to a software application. Sometimes it is easier to use an API than develop new functionality from scratch. There are many possible uses for an API; however, in the mortgage industry, using it to keep up with business demands is a definite benefit.

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An API that connects scheduling software to servicing software is one example of using an API to initiate a process. An API allows the scheduling and automation of programs, reports, and interfaces so servicing staff aren’t tasked with running the jobs after hours and weekends. In addition to saving time, the API reduces the potential for human error. Consumers are also likely to reap the reward of this type of API since the end result can be quicker access to statements and loan information.

An API can be used to query data and/or update a database when you process a mortgage loan application and order a credit report or credit score from a credit reporting agency. The software application in which the order is initiated is most likely a loan origination system (LOS). The LOS uses an API to send your credit request with the required information to the credit reporting agency application. Then the credit reporting agency application returns the credit report and/or score, allowing the data to be imported into the LOS’ database.

Behind the scenes, many applications are working together using APIs that are seamlessly integrated so the user doesn’t notice when software functions are handed from one application to another.

Leveraging APIs enables mortgage lenders and servicers to use multiple solutions to achieve the specific functionality desired and build a centralized database. APIs also allow users to work with their preferred vendors since the API technology enables the two applications to meet up and run seamlessly.

Efficiency and Automation Capabilities

APIs save time and reduce errors by allowing for the automation of many recurring, previously-manual tasks such as data entry or program execution; execution of programs and reports at a set date and time, with results transmitted to an investor or agency; and transmission of shared data between loan origination software and third-party vendors. To determine loan eligibility, lenders used to manually pull information, such as borrower credit scores and liabilities. Through an API, lenders can integrate their online portal or loan origination system (LOS) with credit agencies to determine loan eligibility almost instantaneously.

Enhanced Data Quality and Integrity

APIs can provide additional automation of specific programs. By sharing information between platforms, such as loan origination and servicing software, an API eliminates the need for manual data migration. Because there is less need for human intervention, data consistency and accuracy significantly increase, easing the data management process.

Furthermore, the API dictates how data is shared, ensuring full compatibility, whereas separate systems may result in incompatible data. APIs can even allow real time access to specific data within another system, even if that data is not actually stored in the other system.

If the loan origination software, borrower’s and loan originator’s online portals use internal API’s, originators can easily assist borrowers with their loan applications. Furthermore, application data can be automatically imported into the separate platforms, eliminating the need to manually re-enter this data. This same scenario provides for efficient updates to the borrower regarding their application status without having to contact the individual.

Navigating the Compliance Maze

Compliance remains one of the largest challenges for today’s mortgage industry. APIs enable lenders and servicers to meet increased requirements in the face of changing regulations. Whether changes involve adjustments to existing data formats or the reporting of new data, utilizing APIs to execute programs and transmit data or capture additional required data can result in more airtight compliance processes. LOS and servicing system integration enables the servicer to access and cite origination history, allowing you to easily research this borrower information later. This ability is crucial whether you service the loans yourself or outsource them to a third party.

Customer Benefits

Thanks to the added automation functionality, the borrower enjoys a better lending experience. APIs manage tasks that would have ultimately been a cost passed on to the customer.

Customers will also benefit from a more transparent lending and servicing experience. By using a web application that’s integrated with the LOS, the lender can provide borrowers with timely initial disclosures and status updates. On the servicing side, borrowers will also have immediate access to their loan data and statements and can conveniently make online payments 24/7.

APIs provide significant benefits both internally and externally for today’s lenders, servicers, and borrowers. The key is to leverage technology changes by choosing systems that work together seamlessly. The result is a more efficient and enhanced process for lenders, servicers and their customers.

About The Author

Susan Graham
Susan Graham is president and chief operating officer of Financial Industry Computer Systems, Inc. (FICS), a mortgage technology specialist that provides cost-effective, in-house mortgage loan origination, residential mortgage servicing and commercial mortgage servicing technology to mortgage lenders, mid-sized banks and credit unions. As president and COO, she is responsible for the overall management of the company’s day-to-day operations, strategic planning, customer relations and product development.

The Benefits Of APIs

The mortgage crisis began a decade ago, and yet additional industry regulations keep coming. The lending and servicing business sector have become more complicated to navigate. Enhancements in technology, increased demands from investors and borrowers, and the continuous introduction of new government regulations have resulted in a treadmill of change.

Featured Sponsors:

 

This continual change in the mortgage industry has created an elephant in the room: lack of time and resources. Regardless of the organization size, adding employees isn’t always in the budget. Even if it were, adding staff shouldn’t be the only option considered when there are software technology alternatives available to gain operational efficiencies to adapt to industry changes. So how do lenders and servicers successfully capitalize on available technology to achieve these goals?

Featured Sponsors:

One way to succeed is by leveraging software equipped with application programming interfaces (APIs). An API is a software-to-software interface that allows applications to talk to each other without any user knowledge or intervention. API’s can be internal and used primarily within a company or organization, or external and made available to anyone interested in developing an interface or connection to their product or service. API’s also vary in design regarding functionality. An API may be designed to query data or update a database, initiate a process, or add functionality to a software application. Sometimes it is easier to use an API than develop new functionality from scratch. There are many possible uses for an API; however, in the mortgage industry, using it to keep up with business demands is a definite benefit.

Featured Sponsors:

An API that connects scheduling software to servicing software is one example of using an API to initiate a process. An API allows the scheduling and automation of programs, reports, and interfaces so servicing staff aren’t tasked with running the jobs after hours and weekends. In addition to saving time, the API reduces the potential for human error. Consumers are also likely to reap the reward of this type of API since the end result can be quicker access to statements and loan information.

An API can be used to query data and/or update a database when you process a mortgage loan application and order a credit report or credit score from a credit reporting agency. The software application in which the order is initiated is most likely a loan origination system (LOS). The LOS uses an API to send your credit request with the required information to the credit reporting agency application. Then the credit reporting agency application returns the credit report and/or score, allowing the data to be imported into the LOS’ database.

Behind the scenes, many applications are working together using APIs that are seamlessly integrated so the user doesn’t notice when software functions are handed from one application to another.

Leveraging APIs enables mortgage lenders and servicers to use multiple solutions to achieve the specific functionality desired and build a centralized database. APIs also allow users to work with their preferred vendors since the API technology enables the two applications to meet up and run seamlessly.

Efficiency and Automation Capabilities

APIs save time and reduce errors by allowing for the automation of many recurring, previously-manual tasks such as data entry or program execution; execution of programs and reports at a set date and time, with results transmitted to an investor or agency; and transmission of shared data between loan origination software and third-party vendors. To determine loan eligibility, lenders used to manually pull information, such as borrower credit scores and liabilities. Through an API, lenders can integrate their online portal or loan origination system (LOS) with credit agencies to determine loan eligibility almost instantaneously.

Enhanced Data Quality and Integrity

APIs can provide additional automation of specific programs. By sharing information between platforms, such as loan origination and servicing software, an API eliminates the need for manual data migration. Because there is less need for human intervention, data consistency and accuracy significantly increase, easing the data management process.

Furthermore, the API dictates how data is shared, ensuring full compatibility, whereas separate systems may result in incompatible data. APIs can even allow real time access to specific data within another system, even if that data is not actually stored in the other system.

If the loan origination software, borrower’s and loan originator’s online portals use internal API’s, originators can easily assist borrowers with their loan applications. Furthermore, application data can be automatically imported into the separate platforms, eliminating the need to manually re-enter this data. This same scenario provides for efficient updates to the borrower regarding their application status without having to contact the individual.

Navigating the Compliance Maze

Compliance remains one of the largest challenges for today’s mortgage industry. APIs enable lenders and servicers to meet increased requirements in the face of changing regulations. Whether changes involve adjustments to existing data formats or the reporting of new data, utilizing APIs to execute programs and transmit data or capture additional required data can result in more airtight compliance processes. LOS and servicing system integration enables the servicer to access and cite origination history, allowing you to easily research this borrower information later. This ability is crucial whether you service the loans yourself or outsource them to a third party.

Customer Benefits

Thanks to the added automation functionality, the borrower enjoys a better lending experience. APIs manage tasks that would have ultimately been a cost passed on to the customer.

Customers will also benefit from a more transparent lending and servicing experience. By using a web application that’s integrated with the LOS, the lender can provide borrowers with timely initial disclosures and status updates. On the servicing side, borrowers will also have immediate access to their loan data and statements and can conveniently make online payments 24/7.

APIs provide significant benefits both internally and externally for today’s lenders, servicers, and borrowers. The key is to leverage technology changes by choosing systems that work together seamlessly. The result is a more efficient and enhanced process for lenders, servicers and their customers.

About The Author

Susan Graham
Susan Graham is president and chief operating officer of Financial Industry Computer Systems, Inc. (FICS), a mortgage technology specialist that provides cost-effective, in-house mortgage loan origination, residential mortgage servicing and commercial mortgage servicing technology to mortgage lenders, mid-sized banks and credit unions. As president and COO, she is responsible for the overall management of the company’s day-to-day operations, strategic planning, customer relations and product development.

Vendor Releases Innovative Web Services API

Paradatec, Inc., developer of an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) solution for mortgage file processing, has released their web services API for real-time integration to their clients’ line-of-business applications. This new functionality can seamlessly transfer documents from the loan origination system (LOS) to the Paradatec solution for page classification and data extraction, with the Paradatec-produced results transferred back to the LOS in place of manual data entry.

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“As application integration becomes tighter in response to the ongoing compression of service level timeframes, Paradatec’s new web services API stands ready to serve as the OCR extension to our clients’ line-of-business applications. Our first solution to leverage this capability is our new WriteUCD module, in which the final Closing Disclosure (CD) is submitted to us through the web services API, our OCR functionality extracts the relevant data from the CD, and WriteUCD then produces the corresponding Uniform Closing Dataset (UCD) file required by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac” said Neil Fraser, Paradatec, Inc.’s Director of US Operations.

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“This new functionality allows for seamless OCR processing scaling from small document sets like borrower-provided paystubs and W-2s up to full loan files. With the ability to integrate tightly with any other web service-enabled application, we’re helping our clients create a very rich and efficient application ecosystem.”

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Paradatec’s OCR solutions offer significant efficiencies for classifying large quantities of differing document types and extracting key data elements from those documents.  In the mortgage market, these capabilities allow for the quick and accurate identification of over 500 unique documents in the typical mortgage file, along with capturing nearly any data element from those documents that an organization requires.

About The Author

Tony Garritano
Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at tony@progressinlending.com.

Black Knight Adds New Digital Framework

LoanSphere Empower, a loan origination system (LOS) from Black Knight Financial Services, Inc., now features a new, easy-to-use Representational State Transfer Application Program Interface (REST API) framework that enables lenders to provide digital capabilities to consumers and loan officers with the ability to interact with Empower data and other LOS capabilities from internet-enabled devices, such as tablets, smartphones or laptops, without needing to directly access the LOS. This framework enables lenders to perform many functions from their digital devices:

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>> Read, add or update data within the LOS

>> Perform various operations, such as uploading borrower information to the Empower system to create a loan application file

>> Request credit or trigger other third-party services

>> View loan documents

>> Check the loan application’s status and outstanding loan conditions

“Going digital is the future of the mortgage industry,” said Jerry Halbrook, president of Black Knight’s Origination Technologies and Enterprise Business Intelligence divisions. “By seamlessly integrating this innovative interface with our Empower LOS technology, Black Knight is helping lenders transform the consumer experience and facilitating easier access to leading system resources and data.”

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Empower’s LOS data and its various capabilities, such as pricing and document management, are now available to the lender’s digital platforms through the use of APIs that support interoperability between web-based computer systems, and form the backbone of any digital mortgage strategy. These APIs are integrated in Empower, which allows lenders to leverage all the controls they have established in the LOS, rather than setting up and managing controls separately. Clients can choose to access APIs developed by Black Knight or request Black Knight to configure the lenders’ APIs specifically for their unique needs.

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“Incorporating the REST API technology into Empower is the first step in our digital strategy to help our clients deliver a digitized loan origination process,” Halbrook added. “We are leveraging digital technology to benefit both lenders and consumers with a simpler, more transparent loan process that can be completed significantly faster at less cost.”

Empower’s digital interface capability is complemented by other Black Knight value-added offerings included in the LOS. With Empower, lenders can gain access to Black Knight’s Data & Analytics, Data Hub and Motivity Solutions, which provide comprehensive business intelligence and near real-time access to information from multiple data sources to help forecast and monitor performance. Empower also includes e-delivery and e-signing capabilities, as well as integrations to Black Knight’s LoanSphere Exchange, offering access to the largest online network of settlement service providers in the U.S.; Black Knight’s comprehensive public records database; borrower asset and income information; and digital technology, without the need for separate “toolkits.”

Additionally, lenders can take advantage of Empower’s seamless integration with Black Knight’s LoanSphere MSP servicing platform, used to service more than 30 million active loans for many of the nation’s largest financial institutions and is scalable to any size portfolio.

Progress In Lending
The Place For Thought Leaders And Visionaries

Optimal Blue Launches New API Initiative

Optimal Blue has unveiled its new Application Programming Interface (API) initiative. The first deliverables available through Optimal Blue’s new API platform, allow secure access to pricing for eligible products for both consumer direct and loan officer implementations. The APIs may be used by customers who wish to integrate product and pricing data with proprietary website, mobile, or point-of-sale solutions, and by vendor partners whose solutions are enhanced through the integration of originator-specific price data for eligible products.

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Through this API initiative, a core element of Optimal Blue’s strategy, the company will enable an ecosystem of third party developers serving Optimal Blue customers. Scott Happ, CEO of Optimal Blue, stated, “Our goal is to support integration through contemporary and best-in-class API technology, with any third party or in-house system that our customers may choose to deploy.” Several vendors have already agreed to utilize the APIs with an eye toward demonstrating functionality at Optimal Blue’s 2017 Client Conference.

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Optimal Blue’s API products leverage Microsoft Azure’s API management platform. In accordance with the company’s newly adopted API-first strategy, the development team is already at work on the next set of APIs and expects to deliver locking and historical pricing functionality later this year. Sue Baker, VP of Product, explained, “While we are happy for customers to utilize the native Optimal Blue user interface, we are equally supportive of customers who would prefer to use third-party or proprietary systems whose UI/UX is supported by our API.”
Optimal Blue’s advanced API products include:

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Best Execution Search Results: This API product supports scaled and streamlined product and pricing data to simplify display results directly to consumers.

Complete Search Results: This API product supports a richer data set and call library than the Best Execution Search Results product. The Complete Search Results API allows for QM testing workflows, best price scenarios, as well as all eligible product scenarios. Subsequent calls for more information regarding product and pricing details, ineligible products, and lender fees are also supported.

During a recent beta period, interest in Optimal Blue’s API was strong, with several customers and vendor partners beginning implementation. Two top tier lenders began deployment, one for a Consumer Direct implementation and the other within a proprietary loan officer portal. “After five months of heroic effort by our API team, we are delighted by the support we are receiving from our most progressive customers,” said Erin Wester, product leader of Optimal Blue’s API initiative.

Vendor partners, all of whom serve Optimal Blue customers, have also expressed strong support for Optimal Blue’s API initiative. According to Bob Brandt, VP of Marketing and Alliances, “Our vendors are over the moon about this initiative because they understand that this will significantly empower them to both innovate and better serve our mutual customers.” The vendor partners who integrate with the company’s new API will be highlighted on the Optimal Blue API Developer Portal.

About The Author

Tony Garritano
Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at tony@progressinlending.com.

Simplifying Hazard Claims

DIMONT, a provider of specialty insurance and collateral loss mitigation solutions to the residential and commercial financial services industries, today announced that the company offers strategic partnership opportunities with providers of property inspection services that simplify the way hazard claims are submitted for residential properties.

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Using an API connection, the property preservation vendors’ system connects to DIMONT’s proprietary system, Eldorado, to establish an immediate data delivery language between the two. This capability makes it possible for DIMONT to more easily submit hazard claims.

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“Strategic partnerships allow for greater efficiency in the hazard claims process, as well as the capability to streamline the delivery of data and images from a property preservation and inspection vendor directly to DIMONT’s document review specialists,” said Tom Stover, senior vice president of solutions development.

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DIMONT is now able to provide clients the same, best-in-class claims process, enhanced with a customized inspection, tailored to the needs of the hazard claims adjusters, as well as a dual party quality control process.

“With access to innovative technology from property inspection providers, we can automatically review all inspection documents and photos,” said Stover. “By reducing the time spent on the download and review process, our internal teams process claims more efficiently, reducing customer costs.”

About The Author

Tony Garritano
Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at tony@progressinlending.com.

Streamline, Streamline, Streamline

*Streamline, Streamline, Streamline*
**By Tony Garritano**

TonyG***Everyone is looking to simplify and streamline, but are they actually doing anything about? Some are. In this case, Sierra Pacific has deployed a customized integration with a la mode’s Mercury Network. The new Web-based software integration empowers all Sierra Pacific origination channels to streamline appraisal ordering, receive higher quality appraisals with shorter turn times, and provides security measures for enhanced company-wide compliance with appraiser independence regulations.

****The new Mercury Enterprise Vendor Framework (EVF) integration routes all appraisal orders to Sierra-approved appraisal management companies, (AMCs) via Mercury Network’s efficient web-based platform. The integration features remote authentication, so Sierra Pacific customers only login once to SPM’s website to seamlessly order appraisals. Accuracy is ensured with automatic data transfer to and from the LOS, eliminating rekeying and manual data entry mistakes. Compliance is ensured through highly advanced AMC selection with no production involvement, based on Sierra’s specific routing rules.

****“Our customers are thrilled with how easily appraisals can be ordered on our website since most of the information is prepopulated from our LOS”, explained Jim Connell, CIO of Sierra Pacific Mortgage. “Additionally, real-time status of the order appears in their pipeline view, so they can track when the appraisal was ordered, assigned, inspected, and completed.”

****Jennifer Miller, President of a la mode’s Mortgage Solutions Division, added, “Our commitment to APIs and modern software development methodologies let us deploy the advanced software integrations and features developed for the nation’s largest lenders and AMCs, across the entire Mercury Network platform to benefit the over 500 lenders and AMCs using it today. It’s a great example of technology collaboration between two companies, scaled to benefit the entire industry”.

****a la mode’s Mercury Network is a Vendor Management Platform operating in the appraisal and BPO industries, offering both interface-less, “black box” MercuryDirect services and APIs, as well as “turn-key” MercuryManaged Web front ends for use by loan officers and compliance staff. It’s used in both capacities by a lengthy roster of the nation’s largest lenders and AMCs, as well as by numerous community banks, credit unions, wholesale and correspondent lenders, and mortgage brokers, simplifying full compliance with appraisal independence standards and banking security regulations.

Tony Garritano
Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at tony@progressinlending.com.