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Lender Supports Financial Literacy

Churchill Mortgage announced the winner of its $5,000 nationwide sweepstakes, which was developed in recognition of Financial Literacy Month and as part of its commitment to financial health and education. Officially established in 2004, Financial Literacy Month is celebrated every April and is dedicated to teaching Americans how to establish and maintain healthy financial habits.

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The winner is 60-year old Michael Bodnar, a resident of Carnegie, Penn. and employee with the Port Authority of Allegheny County. “I enter contests quite frequently and this is my biggest win so far, so we’re going to be smart about how we use the money,” said Bodnar. “After all, that’s what financial literacy is all about: knowing your limits, identifying what your future needs will be and working toward that.”

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Click here to read a Q&A between Churchill and Bodnar and learn how he plans to invest his winnings.

The National Financial Educators Council recently surveyed 2,409 people on what high school-level course would benefit them the most. An overwhelming 54 percent selected “Money Management (Personal Finance)”, emphasizing the need for greater financial educational resources. As a lender focused on providing borrowers with a personalized path to debt-free homeownership, Churchill is dedicated to educating borrowers to ensure that they choose the right home and build wealth over time through a smarter mortgage.

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“Financial literacy is a bigger issue than saving for a home purchase – it’s about making wise decisions every day and understanding the lifelong implications of each one,” said Mike Hardwick, president of Churchill Mortgage. “Education leads to empowerment, which leads to more confidence in exercising responsible financial practices. As lenders, we have a fiduciary duty to help others by guiding individuals with the heart of a teacher and providing resources to help them achieve financial freedom.”

Founded in 1992, Churchill Mortgage operates with zero debt and focuses on providing borrowers with a personalized path to debt-free homeownership. The result is an educated borrower that chooses the right home and builds wealth over time through a smarter mortgage.

Progress In Lending
The Place For Thought Leaders And Visionaries

Churchill Mortgage Educates High School Students

In recognition of Financial Literacy Month and as part of its commitment to financial health and education, Churchill Mortgage is providing four high schools with Ramsey Solutions’ Foundations in Personal Finance, a full curriculum that teaches students how to manage their finances and build wealth to achieve a sound financial future.

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The high schools include: Brentwood High School (Brentwood, Tenn.), Greenwood High School (Greenwood, S.C.), Pine Creek High School (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and South Ridge High School (Beaverton, Ore.).

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According to the Council for Economic Education, only five states require high school students to complete a standalone semester personal finance course before they graduate, illustrating a greater need for financial literacy initiatives. A survey of more than 76,000 high school students (conducted by Ramsey Solutions) shows that high schoolers who take personal finance courses have a greater understanding of financial concepts, such as:

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>>The differences between credit and debit cards (86%);

>>How to pay income taxes (87%)

>>How home, auto and life insurance work (90%)

>>How student loans work (94%)

Launched in 2008 by financial expert Dave Ramsey, Foundations in Personal Finance is taught in one-in-three high schools nationwide and educates students on avoiding debt, budgeting with intention and investing and building wealth. The curriculum is an easy-to-use, turn-key program that meets education standards and benchmarks in all fifty states and Jump$tart national standards. More than three million students have taken Foundations in Personal Finance curriculum nationwide.

“When established early in life, healthy financial habits can make a monumental difference in quality of life. These habits would not be possible without powerful educational resources like Ramsey Solutions’ Foundations in Personal Finance curriculum and nationwide initiatives like Financial Literacy Month,” said Mike Hardwick, president of Churchill Mortgage. “At Churchill, we’re dedicated to educating and helping people achieve financial freedom with the heart of a teacher. Providing this curriculum to these schools is our way of giving back and for these students, it is the first and most important step to building a strong financial foundation.”

Progress In Lending
The Place For Thought Leaders And Visionaries

Lender Furthers Financial Literacy

In recognition of Financial Literacy Month and as part of its commitment to financial health and education, Churchill Mortgage announced a nationwide sweepstakes, which will give one lucky winner $5,000. Officially established in 2004, Financial Literacy Month is celebrated every April and is dedicated to teaching Americans how to establish and maintain healthy financial habits.

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Emphasizing the need for financial education, the National Financial Educators Council recently surveyed 2,409 people on what high school-level course would benefit them the most. An overwhelming 54 percent selected “Money Management (Personal Finance)”.

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“More than 30 percent of Americans have no cash reserves and are living paycheck-to-paycheck, while consumer debt is currently more than $2 trillion. This highlights the troubling discrepancy between what people are spending and saving,” said Mike Hardwick, president of Churchill Mortgage. “Financial Literacy Month highlights this issue and is a great opportunity for us to improve individuals’ financial situations by guiding them with the heart of a teacher and providing resources to help them achieve financial freedom.”

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Registration for Churchill Mortgage’s $5,000 giveaway is open until May 5 and available to U.S. residents 18 and older (excluding New York).

Founded in 1992, Churchill Mortgage operates with zero debt and focuses on providing borrowers with a personalized path to debt-free homeownership. The result is an educated borrower that chooses the right home and builds wealth over time through a smarter mortgage.

Progress In Lending
The Place For Thought Leaders And Visionaries

Churchill Expands Its Staff

Churchill Mortgage, a lender providing conventional, FHA, VA and USDA residential mortgages across 40 states, announced the addition of 17 new employees at its’ branches in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, South Carolina and Virginia.

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In Herndon, Va., Churchill welcomes six new employees, includingMargaret ‘Toni’ Hill as a senior processor, Oray Nicolai as a home loan specialist, Cindy Figliozzi as a loan partner and Melissa Davidson as a home loan assistant. In Phoenix, Joseph Gallo joins as the team’s newest loan manager, while Jacob FrascaMichael McDowell and Eric Smith join as home loan specialists. Churchill’s Grand Rapids, Mich., branch welcomes Matthew den Dulk and Rosemary Roberts as home loan assistants and Shanae Covington joins the lender’s Atlanta branch as a home loan assistant.

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The lender adds Michelle Southern as a home loan assistant in Charleston, S.C.; Kendall Hierl, Tim Hill and Jordan Price as home loan specialists in Orange, Calif. In Yuba City, Calif., Churchill welcomes Jonah Willisas an administrative assistant, and at its’ Colorado Springs, Colo. branch, Jane St. Onge joins as a loan processor.

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“It’s hard to believe that we’re already through the first quarter of 2017, but the growth we’ve experienced is exciting and reflects the strength of today’s mortgage industry,” said Mike Hardwick, president of Churchill Mortgage. “Entering the warmer months, we’ll tap the expertise of these professionals in our effort to provide more borrowers across the country with a personalized path to debt-free homeownership through a Smarter Mortgage.”

Churchill Mortgage is currently selecting talented, driven mortgage professionals for inclusion within its Expansion Program.

Progress In Lending
The Place For Thought Leaders And Visionaries

Lender Ends 2016 On A High Note

Churchill Mortgage, a provider of conventional, FHA, VA and USDA residential mortgages across 38 states, announced the addition of 24 new employees across its branches in Arizona, California, Colorado, Michigan, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

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In Brentwood, Tenn., Churchill welcomes Chris Spence as a home loan specialist, David Bruce as a mortgage planning specialist and Latrese Flowers as a closing coordinator. The branch also adds Zachary McCollum as an associate developer, Stephanie Rogers as a loan processor and Sean Lewis as a technical support specialist. In Herndon, Va., the lender adds Donna Haleand Salman Ahmad as senior loan processors, Lynda Marie StewartRobert Lewandowski and Robert Jenkins as home loan specialists and Annie Tang as an assistant processor.

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Cindy Robinson and Krista Northrop join Churchill’s Phoenix branch as a home loan specialist and loan processor, respectively, and Heather Manning and Lindsey Berry join in Grand Rapids, Mich. as home loan assistants. In Portland, Ore., the lender welcomes Nicole Cook as a home loan specialist and Ashley Davidson as an assistant processor. Churchill’s Dallas branch also welcomes William Brewer and Darren Edgar as home loan specialists. The lender also adds Kathy Rex as a home loan specialist in Colorado Springs, Colo.; Mara Coronado-Maller as a home loan specialist and Suzanne Moreton as a loan processor in Orange, Calif.; and Renee Shepherd as a home loan specialist in San Diego.      

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“The addition of these 24 mortgage professionals, combined with all of our successes this year, gives me a great deal of optimism about the state of the mortgage industry heading into 2017,” said Mike Hardwick, president of Churchill Mortgage. “Every single one of our employees is critical to our mission to serve borrowers with the heart of a teacher and their efforts will propel our ability to make homeownership achievable to families and individuals in communities across the country.”

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.

Putting The Interest Rate Hike Into Perspective

Should the interest rate hike be a concern for the mortgage industry? Will the demand from prospective homebuyers be decimated? The short answer is no.

Like most veterans of the mortgage industry, I remember when mortgage rates reached 18 percent. Today, that’s an APR on a credit card – not the interest on a mortgage payment.

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Earlier in the year it was reported that the median price of a house in 27 major metro areas in the U.S. was $222,700. Even if a buyer puts 20 percent down, an 18 percent interest rate means that the loan costs more than $965,000 over 30 years. Thankfully, this is no longer the case. As I write this, the average fixed-rate on a 30-year mortgage is 3.43 percent, which means that today’s homebuyer would pay less than $286,000 over the life of the loan – that’s a savings of more than $680,000. So a slight rate increase will not be detrimental for lenders. Consumers will still be purchasing homes; they’ll just adjust their budgets accordingly. It will be up to lenders to adjust and cater to their needs.

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All things considered, the industry is doing very well. The industry has been very effective at increasing the quality of loans within the past few years. With new regulatory standards -and most lenders’ ability to now adjust and appropriately respond to evolving compliance requirements – delinquency and default rates are at historic lows. Equifax recently reported that as of June 2016, the first mortgage write-off rate in the U.S. was 3.3 basis points of outstanding balances, while the total number of first mortgage defaults was 17,909, the lowest since January 2007.

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While the industry will not suffer dramatically from a rate hike, the cost of mortgages will certainly increase; therefore, the emphasis should shift toward making sure borrowers are provided with personalized service, a powerful differentiator that will grow your business. Thankfully, we live in an era in which technology is evolving faster than ever and new tools have made the home search and purchase process easier than ever for borrowers. Digital and mobile apps provide the most up-to-date, detailed information on a property, such as days-on-market, square footage, price, age, structure, associated school districts, interior and exterior layout, utility information and more. The borrower is engaged earlier than ever and is coming to the table with greater expectations of convenience and service. And the ability to meet these expectations requires that lenders’ systems are optimized to handle the workload. LOS technology workflows need to be configured so that the process is smooth, timely and compliant. There is always room for improvement and lenders should evaluate where systems can be tweaked to minimize timeframes. With ongoing improvements in operations, you can effectively manage the pipeline growth provided by your marketing department.

In addition to lenders taking a proactive approach to the rate hike, they shouldn’t ignore that the sentiment of home buyers continues trending upwards. In September, the Fannie Mae Home Purchase Index in July-August was up 4.2 points over the same time period in 2015. Doug Duncan, SVP and chief economist at Fannie Mae, said the return to a slight upward trend in the HPSI is in line with Fannie Mae’s forecast, which calls for a four percent growth in home sales this year “to the best level since 2006 and continued improvement for 2017.”

Ultimately, synergy between departments is going to dictate a lender’s success. From a marketing standpoint, the ability to effectively communicate and connect with a diverse population of potential homebuyers of all ages across digital and traditional channels will help you identify the best path to homeownership for everyone – something that is fundamental to helping borrowers achieve debt-free homeownership. Operationally, success relies on the deployment and integration of systems that streamline the origination process and facilitate ongoing relationships. And together, these two components must work in tandem to maximize the quality and volume of business.

About The Author

Matt Clarke
Matt Clarke is COO and CFO for Brentwood-Tenn. based Churchill Mortgage Corporation, a leader in the mortgage industry providing conventional, FHA, VA and USDA residential mortgages across 33 states and the District of Columbia.

Lenders Speak Out

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The mortgage industry is changing. Purchases increased to 65 percent of all closed loans in June, up from 62 percent in May according to the latest Origination Insight Report released by Ellie Mae. This is the highest closed loan purchase percentage since August of 2014. Refinances represented 34 percent of closed loans in June, down from 37 percent in May. Additionally, the 30-year note rate dropped to 4.04 from 4.06 in May, the lowest point in over a year.

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The average time to close all loans increased to 46 days in June, up from 45 days in May. The time to close a purchase rose to 46 days in June, up from 45 days in May, and the time to close a refinance rose to 47 days in June, up from 44 days in May. Similarly, the average time to close FHA loans rose to 47 days in June, up from 45 days in May. Time to close VA loans increased to 50 days in June, up from 49 days in May.

To reflect on the changes going on in mortgage lending we assembled a panel of well-respecting lenders. (Left to right) Daniel Jacobs, the EVP and managing director of national retail lending for MiMutual Mortgage, Joe Detmer, branch manager for Churchill Mortgage Corp.’s San Diego branch, and Jeff McGuiness, chief sales officer for Embrace Home Loans, shared their views on the state of mortgage lending.

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Q: How has mortgage lending changed since you first entered the space?

JOE DETMER: I entered the space in 1994. One thing that has changed dramatically is the rates. It is more affordable to buy vs. renting. People are finding safe haven in real estate. Guidelines have also changed that makes it tougher to get a loan and home prices haven’t gone up much, but housing is very affordable. I also think TRID was a good thing because it pushed out the people that were just in the industry to make money vs. those that are interested in taking care of their clients.

JEFF MCGUINESS: First, the most obvious change is that consumers are more educated. There is more accessibility to education around product types and what the implications are.

DANIEL JACOBS: When I got into the business it was very structured and dominated by sophisticated mortgage bankers and then it went wild. Now I think it has returned to the mid 90s. I feel like I’m back in the beginning of my career whereby everyone is older and more educated.

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Q: In your opinion, what does a lenders have to do in order to be successful these days?

JOE DETMER: You have to be competitive with rates and products, but there are so many new things available to borrowers. We have to offer world-class customer service. During your lifetime you are likely to have six mortgages, so you want to be their lifelong advisor. You have to have the heart of a teacher because most people don’t know what we know.

JEFF MCGUINESS: It comes down to one word: efficiency. Regulatory compliance is very complex and those that can absorb that efficiently into their process will win the day. We are all selling the same products so you have to be more efficient overall in how you get those products to market.

DANIEL JACOBS: If we go back to talking about how consumers are more educated, everyone is more sensitive to the experience. To be successful you have to focus on the feeling about the experience among both your borrowers and employees. You have to be focused on the end user experience.

Q: How can lenders do a better job reaching out to Millennials and new borrowers?

JOE DETMER: You have to understand their preference of communication. Kids are growing up in a digital world and you have to be respectful. I’m 54 years old so that was hard for me to adapt to at first. I thought that I had to talk to everyone, but they are okay getting texts. Also, there is so much information out there so you have to distinguish yourself.

DANIEL JACOBS: We talk about that every month in our marketing meetings. The habits of the Millennials are different as compared to our traditional borrowers and they always change. You need to use social media and alternate forms of communication. I think my kids communicate one way only to find that method is now out of style and they’ve moved on to another form of communication. These days we have to provide various options for communication.

JEFF MCGUINESS: You also have to address the complexion of our sales force to make sure that they are serving the borrower. We have an aging employee base. So, you have to have people at the front of the process to relate to new borrowers. Our employees don’t necessarily have to be young, but they do have to know how to reach out and engage younger people.

Q: What’s your take on TRID 2.0 and the overall regulatory burden?

JOE DETMER: I love it. For a long time we created the perfect loan process. TRID has created a flight plan for the clients to know what’s going to happen next if it is communicated correctly by the loan officer. TRID has clarified the process. Second, it got the fraud out of the industry. I don’t see the fraudulent actors anymore. The rules have made lending a more professional industry.

JEFF MCGUINESS: The way we choose to handle compliance is to participate in the industry through the MBA and other outlets so we understand what’s going to happen and how we will be impacted. We don’t argue the point, we spend our time getting ready. You can’t wait until the eleventh hour. The other key is understanding the impact on your people. We have very standard roles in our industry and we have to analyze how these new regulations impact their job. These regulations as administered can be burdensome on our people and we’re concerned about potential burnout. We want to be sensitive to the overall process changes around compliance and how our people are impacted.

DANIEL JACOBS: That’s right. We want to be different without being the pioneer that changes roles completely so everyone feels satisfied in their roles. There are timing differences that arise around when something has to be done and checked. So, what does that mean to our employees? This is a question that we’re always asking because we have to have that balance. A lot of what used to done pre-closing is now getting done at the front of the process, which is changing traditional roles.

Q: What new technologies should every lender be embracing?

JOE DETMER: If lenders are not using Mortgage Coach, I think they are missing the boat. The technology has been around, but it gives the borrower the total cost of the mortgage. It allows you to generate a full wealth presentation. I use it with all of our borrowers. I can give every borrower a total cost analysis of the loan now and over the next few years. Also, you need an active database technology to make it easy for you to keep in touch with your clients. There are only so many clients out there, so you want to keep them so they keep coming back to you. These are not new technologies, but not enough lenders use these tools.

DANIEL JACOBS: Lenders need to spend some time deciding how they are going to monitor and control the use of social media by their employees. That is the biggest compliance risk because there isn’t much oversight and regulators are going to start looking closely at this. So, what is the balance between employee privacy and compliance? Every mortgage company needs to focus on this area. Ignoring social media is a dangerous strategy.

JEFF MCGUINESS: Our LOS systems are challenged to do much more as compared to what they’ve ever done prior. We expect so much of them. It used to be that you could use a subpar LOS and work around it, but you can’t do that anymore. The reliance on the LOS is becoming greater and greater.

Q: Looking to the future, how do you think lending will change over the next few years?

JOE DETMER: You will see a consolidation among smaller mortgage banks. The consolidation won’t be of companies, but rather of mindset. People that don’t wrap their minds around the fact that we’re here to serve the clients will be pushed out. You have to truly serve the homebuying and home owning public.

JEFF MCGUINESS: We have been operating at artificially low rates for some time and that will change. There is also a lot of demand for homeownership. So, how do we meet that need without low interest rate? Are we going to see ARMs come back as a result? Coming off an over-dependence on the agencies, I think we’ll see more private capitol coming back into our space over the next few years.

DANIEL JACOBS: In the short term the mortgage industry will be boring and steady, especially as compared to the Presidential Election. But in the future mortgage lenders will have to learn how to compete with each other just like restaurants do. The wave of the future is how to capture market share.

Insider Profile

Daniel Jacobs is the EVP and managing director of national retail lending for MiMutual Mortgage. With nearly 20 years of experience in the mortgage industry, he has previously had senior positions at American Financial Network, Residential Finance Corporation and Freedom Mortgage Corporation. Jacobs can be reached at djacobs@mimutual.com.

Insider Profile

Joe Detmer is branch manager for Brentwood, Tenn.-based Churchill Mortgage Corporation’s San Diego branch. Detmer brings more than 26 years of experience in the financial services industry. Prior to joining Churchill, he worked as a consultant for Land Home Financial and Skyline Homes (previously Rancho Financial), where he established partnerships with local industry affiliates. He has served as regional sales manager for U.S. Bank Home Mortgage and was instrumental in increasing the bank’s production volume by 600 percent in the San Diego region and surrounding counties.

Insider Profile

Jeff McGuiness is Chief Sales Officer for Embrace Home Loans, an approved lender for FHA, VA and an approved seller servicer for FNMA, FHLMC and GNMA. Embrace Home Loans has remained a prominent leader in the industry, having provided hundreds of thousands of individuals and their families with mortgage loans, and now helping banks to provide home financing through its Affinity and Assisted outsourced mortgage solutions.

Progress In Lending
The Place For Thought Leaders And Visionaries

Handling A Diverse Population

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Earlier this year, the Pew Research Center announced 10 demographic trends that are shaping the U.S. and the world. At the top of the list was this: “Americans are more racially and ethnically diverse than in the past and the U.S. is projected to be even more diverse in the coming decades.”

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An increasingly diverse population means an increasingly diverse homebuyer population, which means lenders must be prepared to keep pace with the evolving marketplace. This presents an opportunity for improvement and in this effort, lenders can be the leaders in expanding the opportunity for homeownership to everyone.

Creating Internal Diversity

One of the best ways to increase home buying accessibility is to develop a more diverse workforce and business approach. This involves leveraging smarter and more effective approaches to recruiting, training and communicating.

>>Recruiting and Training: Lenders should recruit individuals who exercise a clear understanding of the mortgage industry and their role within it, something that is essential for long term success. Certain intangibles are also important to consider because they are as critical to a lender’s success as the measurable qualities. For instance, recruiting individuals that have a true passion for working with and educating individuals ensures that the right people are leading your efforts to establish and maintain relationships with Realtors and referral partners, and positively influence culturally rich environments. For training, knowledge of processes and regulations are without a doubt a top priority, but your employees should possess a thorough understanding of the demographics and population of the local area, as well as the issues or concerns of prospective borrowers.

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>>Communicating: More diversity in your workforce also facilitates the development of fresh ideas. From a marketing and advertising perspective, things are constantly changing and having a healthy combination of experiences and insights ensures that successful business development strategies evolve appropriately. From a consumer-facing perspective, you’d be surprised how something as simple as employing bilingual loan officers can positively impact a lender’s business and reputation, and eliminating the language and cultural barriers expands the channel of communication and demonstrates a strong commitment to helping others.

When these internal approaches are more strategically aligned, a lender is better positioned to serve borrowers from any walk of life and assume a greater role in educating them on the best mortgage options for their current situation.

Educating the Borrower

During the recession, educational resources weren’t available to many groups of homeowners and financial literacy was not prioritized as it should have been. Because of this, many homeowners did not understand their options and were ill-prepared to manage their situations. As the economy strengthens, more individuals and families are in a position to own homes and lenders must strive to be trusted mortgage partners to support home financing needs.

Borrower-facing efforts, such as educational workshops that target various demographics, are powerful in establishing relationships with an increasingly diverse population in communities across the country whose needs are as unique as they are. For some, paying 20 percent down on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage may be the most practical approach to owning a home, but as demonstrated by many different loan products, there is no “one-size-fits-all” mortgage. As lenders, we should see ourselves as more than mortgage providers. We should recognize that we are consultative partners on the path to debt-free homeownership and that it is a journey – from prequalification to the final payment. Educating the borrower along the way also removes the intimidation factor of the mortgage process, which provides a positive and enjoyable home buying experience.

The Future of Diversity

It’s easy to get caught up in the business of lending, but it is important to recognize each loan as a family, not a file – and then focus on helping one family at a time. The American dream of homeownership is still very real and by prioritizing recruiting, training and communication strategies with multicultural groups, we will make that dream equally accessibility to everyone. I am confident that, with a concentrated effort from our industry and a willingness to adopt new practices, we will see more positive growth in the coming years.

About The Author

Mike Hardwick
Mike Hardwick is founder and president of Churchill Mortgage, a leader in the mortgage industry providing conventional, FHA, VA and USDA residential mortgages across 33 states. For more information about Churchill Mortgage, visit www.churchillmortgage.com or follow the company on Twitter @ChurchillMtg and Facebook at www.facebook.com/churchillmortgage.

Are Lenders Equipped To Handle Today’s Diverse Homebuyer Population?

Earlier this year, the Pew Research Center announced 10 demographic trends that are shaping the U.S. and the world. At the top of the list was this: “Americans are more racially and ethnically diverse than in the past and the U.S. is projected to be even more diverse in the coming decades.”

Featured Sponsors:

 

 
An increasingly diverse population means an increasingly diverse homebuyer population, which means lenders must be prepared to keep pace with the evolving marketplace. This presents an opportunity for improvement and in this effort, lenders can be the leaders in expanding the opportunity for homeownership to everyone.

Creating Internal Diversity

One of the best ways to increase home buying accessibility is to develop a more diverse workforce and business approach. This involves leveraging smarter and more effective approaches to recruiting, training and communicating.

>>Recruiting and Training: Lenders should recruit individuals who exercise a clear understanding of the mortgage industry and their role within it, something that is essential for long term success. Certain intangibles are also important to consider because they are as critical to a lender’s success as the measurable qualities. For instance, recruiting individuals that have a true passion for working with and educating individuals ensures that the right people are leading your efforts to establish and maintain relationships with Realtors and referral partners, and positively influence culturally rich environments. For training, knowledge of processes and regulations are without a doubt a top priority, but your employees should possess a thorough understanding of the demographics and population of the local area, as well as the issues or concerns of prospective borrowers.

Featured Sponsors:

 
>>Communicating: More diversity in your workforce also facilitates the development of fresh ideas. From a marketing and advertising perspective, things are constantly changing and having a healthy combination of experiences and insights ensures that successful business development strategies evolve appropriately. From a consumer-facing perspective, you’d be surprised how something as simple as employing bilingual loan officers can positively impact a lender’s business and reputation, and eliminating the language and cultural barriers expands the channel of communication and demonstrates a strong commitment to helping others.

When these internal approaches are more strategically aligned, a lender is better positioned to serve borrowers from any walk of life and assume a greater role in educating them on the best mortgage options for their current situation.

Educating the Borrower

During the recession, educational resources weren’t available to many groups of homeowners and financial literacy was not prioritized as it should have been. Because of this, many homeowners did not understand their options and were ill-prepared to manage their situations. As the economy strengthens, more individuals and families are in a position to own homes and lenders must strive to be trusted mortgage partners to support home financing needs.

Borrower-facing efforts, such as educational workshops that target various demographics, are powerful in establishing relationships with an increasingly diverse population in communities across the country whose needs are as unique as they are. For some, paying 20 percent down on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage may be the most practical approach to owning a home, but as demonstrated by many different loan products, there is no “one-size-fits-all” mortgage. As lenders, we should see ourselves as more than mortgage providers. We should recognize that we are consultative partners on the path to debt-free homeownership and that it is a journey – from prequalification to the final payment. Educating the borrower along the way also removes the intimidation factor of the mortgage process, which provides a positive and enjoyable home buying experience.

The Future of Diversity

It’s easy to get caught up in the business of lending, but it is important to recognize each loan as a family, not a file – and then focus on helping one family at a time. The American dream of homeownership is still very real and by prioritizing recruiting, training and communication strategies with multicultural groups, we will make that dream equally accessibility to everyone. I am confident that, with a concentrated effort from our industry and a willingness to adopt new practices, we will see more positive growth in the coming years.

About The Author

Mike Hardwick
Mike Hardwick is founder and president of Churchill Mortgage, a leader in the mortgage industry providing conventional, FHA, VA and USDA residential mortgages across 33 states. For more information about Churchill Mortgage, visit www.churchillmortgage.com or follow the company on Twitter @ChurchillMtg and Facebook at www.facebook.com/churchillmortgage.

How Do We Change The Mortgage Process For The Better?

A lot has been made of complying with this rule or that rule, but in the rush to comply I think the big picture is sometimes lost. The big picture should include changing the whole mortgage process for the better instead of just trying to stay ahead of this rule or that regulator.

So, how do you do that? “We focus on the backend processes,” answered David Sohm, COO at Capsilon. “We want to speed that up and keep the communication open. Things change all the time. The most recent change was TRID. TRID was supposed to speed up the process and make the process easier to understand, but it has actually extended the process.”

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Capsilon is provider of cloud-based document management solutions for mortgage lenders and investors. Sohm is responsible for managing the company’s growth plans and overseeing alliances and corporate development.

Sohm has more than 15 years of successful president/chief operating officer experience in software and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) markets, in both public and private companies. He has been directly responsible for the evaluation, selection and integration of multiple acquisitions and mergers (both buy and sell). He has developed and executed worldwide product support, sales, distributor and marketing plans to achieve company growth and profit goals.

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“In the end, if the number of touches can be reduced, that speeds things up. For example, knowing which documents are required and which docs are missing is important. Also, there needs to be a secure place to exchange information so you’re not just exchanging important info through the air,” noted Sohm.

A lot of the heavy lifting required to change the process for the better is done by the LOS because it’s the system of record. So, what contributions are LOS vendors making to improve the space? “There are a lot of ways that people are trying to simplify the process, but beyond that you also have to engage at the right times,” answered Abhinav Asthana, a senior product manager and global head of mortgage consulting at Wipro Gallagher Solutions (WGS), a Wipro Ltd. Company, which is a provider of end-to-end technology products and services for mortgage, consumer, and commercial lenders in the United States and abroad. WGS’ technology products include its flagship NetOxygen Loan Origination Systems (LOS) and mobile lending technologies.

“We at WGS are manufacturing a loan for the borrower so the customer has all the input. So, the touch points should be more skewed toward the borrowers vs. the backend of the process. Today when a borrower starts an application, the loan officer is in constant communication with the borrower, asking for more and more items. While the LO is working the loan, or when the loan is being worked by the underwriter, the borrower is in the dark. The borrower doesn’t know what’s going on. The back office is working the loan, but the borrower doesn’t know what’s going on. You need to inform the borrower upfront and let them know what’s going on and what comes next.”

As vendors talk about advancement and what they are doing to propel mortgage lending into this century, the rubber really hits the road with the lender. If the lender doesn’t adopt new technologies, nothing changes.

“I got in the mortgage industry in 2003 and there was a lot of talk about e-mortgages,” remembered Dan Jones, vice president, technology at Churchill Mortgage Corporation. “Look at where we are today. The industry moves slow. Also there was a lot of talk about younger borrowers wanting everything electronic, but we are finding that they also want to speak to you on the phone.”

Jones has been with Churchill since July of 2003 and has previously worked as a small business technology consultant, Systems Analyst for a national manufacturing company and Data Specialist for an international computer manufacturer. Jones’ experience in customizing and installing Churchill’s multi-branch loan origination platform and integrating their pricing engine, lead management, database marketing, imaging workflow and e-commerce efforts has provided a unique holistic perspective and hands on knowledge of every aspect of the mortgage banking process. In these efforts, he helped spearhead an LOS implementation during Churchill’s transition from Broker to Correspondent Lending in 2003, and played a key role in Churchill’s implementation of a newer LOS.

“If you have to boil the mortgage process down, you have to automate the experience,” Jones pointed out. “Its not just about how you interact with the borrower, it’s about total transparency. Getting a mortgage can be an intimidating process that consumers don’t understand. Going forward we at Churchill are working on automating the collection of information so the need for the borrower to provide and share documents like bank statements, W2s, etc. goes away. The need to traffic in these documents is going away. As this becomes electronic it will streamline the whole process. That’s where every lender should be going.”

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.