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Reach Your Target Market

Jeff Grover rightly asserts that “starting a business can seem daunting, albeit exciting, but it doesn’t happen all at once – nor should it” in his recent article published in Forbes entitled “Three Things You Can Do To Identify Your Target Market Today.” He goes on to note that as productivity expert and author David Allen has been quoted as saying, “You don’t actually do a project; you can only do action steps related to it.”

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I have found that determining a target market is an important “project” that requires time, resources, a supportive network and extensive market research. However, this process is much more manageable when viewed as a series of actionable items.

Whether your product or service is new or you’re improving a current issue in your field, here are three actionable steps you can take today to identify your target market.

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1.) Use basic keyword research tools to pinpoint top queries.

Data mined from highly specified queries will inform you of what drives your competitors’ organic traffic. Keyword research data will help you regardless, but especially if you plan to use online marketing strategies. This information can also be useful for established businesses, as they create and share content online.

First, begin your research with a generic phrase or keyword for your target market. This will establish who your primary audience is, what questions they are asking and what solutions they expect.

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Once you’ve entered your keyword or phrase into Google Search, take note of all the top auto-suggestions as well as which companies rank in the search engine results page (SERP). Determine who your main competition is and what kind of products and services they provide. Not only will this information give you valuable insight into your competition in the field, but it will also allow you to find where there are gaps in services or product efficiency.

Utilize Google’s free AdWords Keyword Planner to guide your preliminary research. According to the 2017 Google Economic Impact report, companies make an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on AdWords. Investing in such tools can increase profit and expand your company outreach.

Factoring in keyword research prior to starting your business will put you ahead of the game. Beyond the technical aspect of search engine optimization (SEO) benefits, these tools can help you determine the intent and problems of potential customers searching for answers.

2.) Gather anecdotal data from your personal network.

A newly formed business relies heavily on engaging with actual customers. It is one thing to enter in queries and get a general picture of your target audience, but it doesn’t help if you can’t attract their attention in the real world.

Send out a survey on social media or through email asking some fundamental questions about your business idea and the problem it solves. Using your Google Search query as your guide, and ask questions like these:

>>What solutions or resources are currently available to you?

>>How satisfied are you with available products or services?

>>How would you go about finding the information you need?

>>Describe your ideal product or service in this market.

>>Under what circumstances would you use such a product/service, and how much would you pay for it?

Take the responses from your survey and weigh each suggestion carefully. Will any of the ideas take more time or money to accommodate? Will you have to compromise goals or morals? How will these suggestions fit into your business plan or model?

Family, friends, acquaintances and strangers will all have ideas regarding what would work best, and the more diverse insights you can obtain, the better. Keep in mind that the most valuable input is from those who are both highly interested and able to buy the product or service you propose.

3.) Identify commonalities and research pain points.

Though not comprehensive, the information gathered from the above steps can pinpoint demographic or value-based similarities among those most interested in the problem you’re tackling.

Look at the queries generated from your preliminary searches. Do the related terms seem to resonate with a particular life stage, occupation, physical condition or geographical area? Of the email or survey responses, is there a certain gender, age, hobby or income level that unites the enthusiastic survey responders?

Pursue each common thread by learning more about that particular commonality. For example, if your product or service seems to appeal to do-it-yourselfers (DIYers), consider subscribing to Make: magazine to read more about what they value. If your business plan solves a problem primarily plaguing baby boomers, arrange an informal focus group with your friends in that age group to discuss those issues in more depth.

Almost every industry has outlets for information and conversation. Join these communities to begin a mutually beneficial exchange of value between your ideas (eventually your business) and your target market.

Down the road, you may decide to pursue generational market research, which explores age as well as social, economic and psychological factors, and/or cohort marketing research, which studies groups of people who underwent similar experiences during their formative years.

Regardless of the similarities shared by your target market, keep in mind that many consumers don’t want their personal characteristics or habits rigidly categorized, preferring to feel unique and cared for in a personal way.

The remainder of David Allen’s well-known quote reassures: “When enough of the right action steps have been taken, some situation will have been created that matches your initial picture of the outcome closely enough that you can call it ‘done.’”

Certainly, a company’s market research is never done, but initial target market research initiatives can provide personal momentum and bring you close enough to your target to warrant measures that are more expansive (and expensive).

By taking simple steps today toward identifying your target market, you’ll rapidly approach the bullseye of an audience that both desperately wants and has the ability to pay for your product or service.

About The Author

Michael Hammond

Michael Hammond is chief strategy officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and is the founder and president of NexLevel Advisors. They provide solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. He has close to two decades of leadership, management, marketing, sales and technical product experience. Michael held prior executive positions such as CEO, CMO, VP of Business Strategy, Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Marketing for a number of leading companies. He is also only one of about 60 individuals to earn the Certified Mortgage Technologist (CMT) designation. Michael can be contacted via e-mail at mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.

Creating The Ultimate Experience

Across every industry, organizations are racing to differentiate when it comes to the customer experience – and this is especially true in mortgage lending. Truth be told, there is no golden ticket or a single tactic to improve the experience. It takes a balanced and thoughtful approach with careful consideration for what consumers really want.

Finding this approach is vital in today’s “Amazon” world. Every organization is competing to deliver the experience consumers expect, which is being shaped by Amazon, Netflix and the likes. While these companies may do well when it comes to a superior digital experience, they may not be ideal models for financial services organizations, including mortgage lenders. They lack the localization and personalization that consumers increasingly want.

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In fact, according to a recent Fannie Mae survey of both lenders and borrowers, as lenders continue to “digitize,” borrowers still expect a human touch. As part of the survey, participants were asked about the future role of person-to-person (P2P) communication (via phone or in-person channels). Nearly half of lenders said that P2P communication will be equally important as it is today, while nearly 40 percent expect it to be less important. In contrast, nearly all (90 percent) recent mortgage borrowers indicated that they would like to use P2P channels in the future when communicating with their lenders.

But organizations cannot focus solely on a local presence and forget about great technology and superior digital experiences either. There must be a balanced approach.

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At Gateway, we have heavily invested time and resources to find that right approach, achieving what we call the “Gateway Experience,” a service-intensive partnership between the homebuyer, real estate agent and the loan officer. Our goal is to earn customers’ business every day, for their entire life. This experience balances local mortgage professionals with superior technology and digital experiences, while also offering a wide array of products. This, along with being compliant and focusing on growing in the right areas, has allowed us to succeed and become one of the largest and fastest-growing privately held mortgage companies in the nation.

Keeping it Local

Creating a great experience starts with finding the right mortgage professionals – and the right professionals are local ones. Buying a home is a huge investment, and the process can be overwhelming. This is the largest, and most important, financial transaction that most people make in their lifetime. You’re also talking about people’s finances. It gets very personal, and borrowers want to work with a person they feel connected to and comfortable with.

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For us at Gateway, we look for individuals that have a strong commitment to their community and share our values: to strengthen families and communities through homeownership. This core purpose has become a passion. Our loan officers work with the people in their community in a trusted way. They’re able to help them determine how much they can afford, explain their loan options, tell them how best to prepare for their mortgage application and then walk them through the process.

Through this unique connection, borrowers can take comfort knowing their mortgage needs are handled by a local professional who offers best-in-class services. They are there, by their side, in their community, enriching the home buying experience.

Powerful Technology

Investing in the right team with local expertise is the first part of creating a great experience, but that team needs to be equipped with powerful technology. Having the right technology helps make the process easy. In an era that is heavily driven by digital experiences from the likes of Netflix, Facebook, Amazon and others, mortgage lenders must keep pace. Consumers expect to be able to easily upload documents or even apply for a loan with the click of a button.

By generation, 75 percent of millennials have used an online application process for all or part of their last mortgage, according to Ellie Mae’s 2018 Borrower Insights Survey. About 55 percent of Gen Xers also leveraged an online application for all or part of their most recent mortgage, as did 43 percent of baby boomers. Still, these consumers also expect to have the option to call a person or meet with someone if they have questions, and more often, to start the process.

Gateway places a significant emphasis on powerful technology to facilitate superior digital experiences. In fact, we recently launched LinkStep, our new web-based digital mortgage experience that dramatically simplifies the home buying process. LinkStep is designed to enhance the Gateway Experience, and we will continue to pursue new technologies to improve the overall customer experience.

Smart Solutions

Finally, the third part of a great experience is having the right products. A great team of local professionals and superior technology are only as good as the products and services they offer. It is critical that mortgage lenders have a dynamic offering to compete with larger financial institutions and alternative lenders. By offering smart solutions that meet nearly any mortgage need, along with great rates and technology that powers it all, mortgage lenders can ensure they have a product that fits nearly any borrower.

To achieve a superior experience – one that combines both the digital and human element – mortgage lenders must focus on finding the right talent in their communities while also equipping those local professionals with the right technology. They cannot focus merely on one or the other. Then, by adding smart solutions with great pricing, lenders can better meet consumers’ expectations and stay ahead of the competition.

About The Author

Kevin Stitt

Kevin Stitt is the founder of Gateway Mortgage Group, LLC, a privately held, full-service mortgage company licensed in 41 states and the District of Columbia.

A Digital Education

As we all know, everyone is talking about the digital mortgage. FinKube, a company that provides AI-powered Platform-as-a-Service solutions for a range of industries, announced that the company will offer a free webinar featuring Plaid Inc. – a financial technology platform that powers modern, digital financial services.

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The free webinar on Thursday, October 18 at 2:00PM EST will provide tips and best practices to help loan originators adopt financial technology (fintech) at the point-of-sale to attract borrowers and offer fast pre-qualifications.

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“Speed is critically important to today’s borrowers, and lenders that respond quickly and then pre-qualify quickly will win more business,” said Jorge Sauri, founder and CEO of FinKube. “Our point-of-sale technology was designed to allow lenders to use the best tools available to win more business. Plaid is an excellent example of a company that is using fintech to speed up the loan process. In this webinar, we’ll find out how every lender, regardless of size, can harness this power and deliver this speed.”

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Plaid’s suite of products streamlines account authentication and drives efficiencies throughout the lending process. When using Plaid’s digital asset verification product at the point-of-sale, loan originators can boost application completion rates and reduce time to close. Additionally, Plaid is a Day 1 Certainty asset verification report supplier for Fannie Mae Desktop Underwriter, which offers peace of mind to lenders by providing rep and warrant relief on verified loan components. Fannie Mae has seen loans with assets validated through the DU validation service close 17% faster on average.

FinKube is the creator of ELSA, which stands for Electronic Loan Services Assistant. ELSA uses machine learning to enhance the loan process from origination to close. ELSA can gather borrower information, render decisions, automate time-consuming tasks, and help lenders produce fully compliant mortgage loans in as few as 20 days.

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.

Automating Loan Acquisition For Correspondent Lenders

LoanLogics and Optimal Blue have formed a strategic partnership aimed at changing the digital correspondent experience. By delivering a real-time integration between LoanLogics’ LoanHD Correspondent Lending platform and Optimal Blue’s product eligibility and pricing platform, the companies significantly advance the automation of correspondent loan transactions and create a compelling competitive advantage for clients of both firms. In conjunction with this partnership, Optimal Blue has acquired LoanLogics’ product, pricing, and eligibility (PPE) technology business, LoanDecisions.

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LoanLogics’ LoanHD platform provides automation for every step in the loan acquisition process – from initial seller application review to loan funding and servicing onboarding – and overcomes the challenges that stem from a traditionally manual and fragmented correspondent loan purchase workflow. With the capabilities of LoanHD, investors ensure the loans they are buying are high quality, compliant, and accurately priced, while sellers experience rapid turnaround for funding and enhanced availability of warehouse lines. Additionally, both parties gain value by finding and curing defects before loans are purchased.

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Through real-time integration with Optimal Blue’s product eligibility and pricing platform, LoanLogics fully automates loan-level pricing and eligibility controls that are pervasive throughout loan file review and enhances a critical aspect of the correspondent workflow inside the LoanHD Correspondent Investor Module. The granular feature set of the Optimal Blue solution will drive greater configurability of the LoanHD platform, bringing new and unique capabilities to clients. Additionally, Optimal Blue will provide support for automated adjustments to loan- and bulk-level pricing based on automated due diligence results, while simultaneously delivering maximum flexibility in support of an investor’s secondary guidelines and pricing requirements.

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“Working closely with the Optimal Blue team, we will expand the value each company can offer our respective clients through an integrated solution,” explained Brian Fitzpatrick, LoanLogics CEO. “Individually, we are leaders in our respective disciplines. Together, we offer powerful technology to help investors ‘automate first’ across their loan purchase, pricing, hedging, trading, and counterparty risk oversight practices.”

“We are delighted with this transaction and extend a warm welcome to LoanDecisions’ customers and staff,” said Scott Happ, Optimal Blue CEO. “We are investing deeply in our PPE technology and are committed to delivering the best-in-class solutions and innovative partner connections across our marketplace.”

LoanLogics and Optimal Blue share a long-term vision for the relationship and consider this the first step of many together. With a collective focus on providing innovative automation for the mortgage industry and compelling value for joint customers, additional strategic initiatives and collaborative integrations across the companies’ respective technology platforms are already being considered.

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.

MAXEX Raises $38 Million In New Funding

MAXEX, LLC, a residential mortgage loan exchange provider, announced today that it has successfully closed a $38 million new funding round led by Moore Asset Backed Fund, LP, an investment fund managed by Erik Siegel of Moore Capital Management, LP.  GreensLedge Capital Markets LLC was the sole placement agent.

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MAXEX’s prior Series A rounds brought in over $35 million from private equity and venture investors, including Ellis Capital, Fenway Summer Ventures and Bienville Ventures, bringing aggregate capital raised to date to more than $73 million. Additionally, J.P. Morgan has been a strategic commercial partner in MAXEX since late 2017.

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MAXEX will utilize the additional funding to enhance its exchange operations and counterparty structure as well as continue to build out its innovative end-to-end cloud-based platform, which is transforming the trading of residential mortgages between participants in the secondary mortgage market. MAXEX’s exchange brings centralization, standardization, transparency, automation and a streamlined settlement process that translates into a more open, efficient and less risky secondary market.

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MAXEX is now operational and has traded more than $2.3 billion of mortgage loans between select participants, including more than 80 approved sellers and buyers that range from bank and nonbank originators to a number of the most active Wall Street dealers. MAXEX has contributed loans into 16 separate private MBS securitizations and plans for a broader public launch later in the year. The company currently has over 50 employees and is seeking to add additional senior level positions to its team in technology, operations as well as sales and marketing.

“MAXEX has been quietly building technologies that will revolutionize the $2 trillion per annum secondary mortgage trading market and level the playing field for all participants,” said Tom Pearce, CEO and Chairman of MAXEX. “This next level of funding will enable us to further enhance our technology platform as the backbone for trading and settlement in the secondary mortgage market. We are pleased to have our new investors join our existing investor group as we prepare for a broader public launch.”

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.

New eBook Outlines Ways For LOs To Cut Production Costs

Loan originators have been finding it increasingly difficult to remain profitable in the face of increasing loan origination costs. Between declining loan applications, higher interest rates, and the increasing cost of compliance, an increasing number of originators are seeing a net loss on each new loan they originate. Now, Visionet Systems Inc., a global services provider to a number of industries including the US home finance business, has released a new eBook that could help. In the new eBook, the company outlines 6 ways to reduce loan production cost by 50%.

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More than ever before, loan originators need access to right technology and variable priced back-office mortgage services to ensure the profitability of their loans,” said Alok Bansal, Managing Director at Visionet Systems. “We are always developing new ways to reduce costs for lenders, to simplify their lending process, and to provide them greater flexibility for meeting their varying production needs without incurring additional expenses. This new publication offers information that will help them.”

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The new eBook details several tools and options for decreasing costs across the board, including bulk processing to reduce cycle time, utilizing pay-as-you-go services and variable staffing to meet changing demands, customizable QC applications to reduce errors and weed out bad loans with no upfront cost, and increasing flexibility in infrastructure, technology and people.

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Visionet provides leading technology solutions in mobility, bulk processing, digital QC as well as several back-office mortgage services. All of these can help turn time by 25-30%, while reducing costs by over 50%. All of this while ensuring upwards of 99.5% accuracy. The free publication is available now: Download the eBook.

Visionet executives will be discussing these advancements at the upcoming MBA Annual Conference in Washington DC. Any interested parties can contact Visionet for a meeting time to learn more. For further information about any of these offerings, or for a free web-based demo, visit the company’s website.

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.

Creating The Ultimate Experience In Today’s Mortgage Environment

Across every industry, organizations are racing to differentiate when it comes to the customer experience – and this is especially true in mortgage lending. Truth be told, there is no golden ticket or a single tactic to improve the experience. It takes a balanced and thoughtful approach with careful consideration for what consumers really want.

Finding this approach is vital in today’s “Amazon” world. Every organization is competing to deliver the experience consumers expect, which is being shaped by Amazon, Netflix and the likes. While these companies may do well when it comes to a superior digital experience, they may not be ideal models for financial services organizations, including mortgage lenders. They lack the localization and personalization that consumers increasingly want.

Featured Sponsors:

 

 
In fact, according to a recent Fannie Mae survey of both lenders and borrowers, as lenders continue to “digitize,” borrowers still expect a human touch. As part of the survey, participants were asked about the future role of person-to-person (P2P) communication (via phone or in-person channels). Nearly half of lenders said that P2P communication will be equally important as it is today, while nearly 40 percent expect it to be less important. In contrast, nearly all (90 percent) recent mortgage borrowers indicated that they would like to use P2P channels in the future when communicating with their lenders.

But organizations cannot focus solely on a local presence and forget about great technology and superior digital experiences either. There must be a balanced approach.

Featured Sponsors:

 
At Gateway, we have heavily invested time and resources to find that right approach, achieving what we call the “Gateway Experience,” a service-intensive partnership between the homebuyer, real estate agent and the loan officer. Our goal is to earn customers’ business every day, for their entire life. This experience balances local mortgage professionals with superior technology and digital experiences, while also offering a wide array of products. This, along with being compliant and focusing on growing in the right areas, has allowed us to succeed and become one of the largest and fastest-growing privately held mortgage companies in the nation.

Keeping it Local

Creating a great experience starts with finding the right mortgage professionals – and the right professionals are local ones. Buying a home is a huge investment, and the process can be overwhelming. This is the largest, and most important, financial transaction that most people make in their lifetime. You’re also talking about people’s finances. It gets very personal, and borrowers want to work with a person they feel connected to and comfortable with.

Featured Sponsors:

 
For us at Gateway, we look for individuals that have a strong commitment to their community and share our values: to strengthen families and communities through homeownership. This core purpose has become a passion. Our loan officers work with the people in their community in a trusted way. They’re able to help them determine how much they can afford, explain their loan options, tell them how best to prepare for their mortgage application and then walk them through the process.

Through this unique connection, borrowers can take comfort knowing their mortgage needs are handled by a local professional who offers best-in-class services. They are there, by their side, in their community, enriching the home buying experience.

Powerful Technology

Investing in the right team with local expertise is the first part of creating a great experience, but that team needs to be equipped with powerful technology. Having the right technology helps make the process easy. In an era that is heavily driven by digital experiences from the likes of Netflix, Facebook, Amazon and others, mortgage lenders must keep pace. Consumers expect to be able to easily upload documents or even apply for a loan with the click of a button.

By generation, 75 percent of millennials have used an online application process for all or part of their last mortgage, according to Ellie Mae’s 2018 Borrower Insights Survey. About 55 percent of Gen Xers also leveraged an online application for all or part of their most recent mortgage, as did 43 percent of baby boomers. Still, these consumers also expect to have the option to call a person or meet with someone if they have questions, and more often, to start the process.

Gateway places a significant emphasis on powerful technology to facilitate superior digital experiences. In fact, we recently launched LinkStep, our new web-based digital mortgage experience that dramatically simplifies the home buying process. LinkStep is designed to enhance the Gateway Experience, and we will continue to pursue new technologies to improve the overall customer experience.

Smart Solutions

Finally, the third part of a great experience is having the right products. A great team of local professionals and superior technology are only as good as the products and services they offer. It is critical that mortgage lenders have a dynamic offering to compete with larger financial institutions and alternative lenders. By offering smart solutions that meet nearly any mortgage need, along with great rates and technology that powers it all, mortgage lenders can ensure they have a product that fits nearly any borrower.

To achieve a superior experience – one that combines both the digital and human element – mortgage lenders must focus on finding the right talent in their communities while also equipping those local professionals with the right technology. They cannot focus merely on one or the other. Then, by adding smart solutions with great pricing, lenders can better meet consumers’ expectations and stay ahead of the competition.

About The Author

Kevin Stitt

Kevin Stitt is the founder of Gateway Mortgage Group, LLC, a privately held, full-service mortgage company licensed in 41 states and the District of Columbia.

Enabling All Documents For eSignature For A Better Customer Experience

Electronic loan documents have come a long way in the past decade. Today, most lenders incorporate eDocs for at least part of the loan origination process, whether it be electronic disclosures, digital closing docs or other document needs. Making eDocs even more effective has been the adoption of eSign technology, which has streamlined the delivery and signing of loan documents for a more complete and convenient experience for the borrower.

One frustrating challenge that has remained, though, is the ability for lenders to easily send one-off documents, independent from the standard loan doc package, in an efficient manner that allows those documents to be attached to the core loan doc package and electronically signed by the borrower. This results in a situation where a borrower can receive and sign some of their loan docs electronically. However, the lender is then stuck sending the other independent documents physically, or including the documents in an electronic package but requiring the lender to print and sign the extra forms, scan, and return via email.

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To provide the flexibility and customization required to compete in today’s marketplace, lenders are turning to two key electronic document technologies. The first is using dynamic document generation to ensure that only the necessary documents – with the right information – are created in the first place.

The second is leveraging integrated all-in-one eSign technology for a complete process including integration with doc generation, ability to customize independent documents for signature, eDelivery, enabling the borrower to sign anywhere, anytime, from any device, built in compliance checks and electronic storage in a secure eVault.

Building Custom Doc Packages

Dynamic documents have become the standard for loan document generation over the past few years. Instead of managing through empty space in a static document template, dynamic documents utilize rules-based intelligence and calculations to automatically pull the accurate data fields from the LOS to create transaction-specific documentation.

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Lenders using dynamic document software can then use the data to electronically generate and deliver accurate docs to the borrower and investor. Dynamic document platforms that leverage two-way data pushback can also greatly reduce the lender’s susceptibility to errors caused by manually reentering data and eliminate the need to manually create new sets of documents for each transaction, enhancing quality, compliance and efficiency.

Dynamic document engines also make it possible to insert other documents a lender might require, such as disclosures of business relationships with settlement services, documents related to the transactions between realtors or change of circumstance addendums. These forms are not generated by standard loan document software, and the ability to insert them into an electronic disclosure or closing package for delivery is valuable.

Building a Custom eSign Framework

Many lenders have taken the first step in using dynamic document platforms to customize their disclosure and closing packages. However, the next phase in providing borrowers with a fully digital loan experience is ensuring that all forms can be eSigned.

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Currently, most of the “extra” documents added to a package that are not specifically generated by the document software either are not mapped to eSign capabilities or the borrower is asked to use a separate system from what they have been using with the lender. This means that when the borrower receives an electronic document package, they will be able to sign some of the forms electronically but must print out the others. From there, they have to scan and email or mail the wet-signed forms back to the lender, slowing down the loan workflow.

The best loan document generation systems will offer lenders multiple options for adding external documents to an eSigned doc package. First, custom documents should be easy to add to a lender’s library in the doc generation software, so that they can be seamlessly included with all doc requests in the future. Second, external documents could be included in the initial doc generation request, along with the mapping coordinates for the electronic signatures. And finally, lenders should have the option to quickly and easily add one-off documents manually after the eSignable package has been created, editing them to add the appropriate eSigning points along with any other borrower interactions like check-boxes or text fields to be filled in.

These options provide lenders with maximum flexibility to include their custom documents within the loan doc package and make them eSignable, enabling their borrowers to complete the entire package in one seamless online experience.

As lenders move more of their loan operations into the digital world, the ability to customize all documents for eSignatures and inclusion in document packages will keep them on the leading edge of competitiveness, customer service and cost efficiencies.

About The Author

Harry Gardner

Harry Gardner is executive vice president of eStrategies for Docutech, a leading provider of compliance and documentation technology. Founded in 1991, Idaho Falls, Idaho-based Docutech offers a wide range of solutions to institutions all over the world. From document generation and imaging support to eDelivery, digital signatures and print fulfillment, Docutech sets the standard in providing market-proven technology and unrivaled client service to you, your workforce and your clients.

The Right Tools For Success

With real estate inventory low and a new wave of first-time homebuyers entering the market, home shoppers need every advantage when it comes to finding the right house as quickly – and seamlessly – as possible. The process can quickly become overwhelming. Lenders’ expertise can make the search more effective and, ultimately, successful. In turn, more and more borrowers are turning to lenders at the beginning of their home search to ensure a better experience.

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We live in an increasingly digital world. Homebuyers have come to expect the same digital experience when buying a home as they have when buying a cup of coffee through a mobile app. Fortunately, many of us in the mortgage industry are working to facilitate this experience, by providing borrowers with various digital tools, apps and online resources that are specifically geared toward the home-buying process.

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Some of these digital resources include:

Home Search Apps

Real estate and home search apps offer a convenient way for borrowers to begin their search for the perfect home. According to the National Association of Realtors, 51 percent of buyers found their home online last year and 44 percent began their home search from a computer, tablet or smartphone. Mobile apps such as HomeScout allow prospective borrowers to see real-time MLS listings, save their favorite properties, receive same-day pricing updates and other alerts, and access local agents and loan specialists.

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Mortgage Calculators

Online calculators allow borrowers to run all the numbers before they commit and see exactly how all the variables will affect their mortgage payment. From how much they can afford, to assessing interest rates and other points and fees, these tools offer users the opportunity to the find the right mortgage product. For lenders, these tools allow us to better understand a borrower’s budget and work within it to ensure they are not only getting a house they can afford, but also the right loan to facilitate debt-free homeownership.

Making sure borrowers understand the difference between the amount they can be approved for versus what is recommended for their budget is critical when it comes to their long-term financial success. Tools such as online mortgage payment calculators help ensure borrowers are on target.

Customized Mortgage Reports and Analytics

One of the best ways lenders can offer peace of mind for borrowers is with customized reports and analytical tools that compare different loan options and scenarios. These provide prospective homebuyers with a clear breakdown of the costs and benefits of each loan option. Having this information allows them to work in real-time with their lender to tweak the details and find the right program for their situation.

Homebuyer Educational Tools & Workshops

The home-buying process can be complex and learning face-to-face with local experts is a powerful method for borrowers to learn the ropes. And, for lenders, it can further establish that initial relationship. Whether in-person or through real-time webinars, these sessions prove invaluable for borrowers, helping them understand the processes and options. It can also, if posted online, allow them the freedom to access this information from anywhere, at their own pace.

Technology Only Goes So Far

While these tools are great resources for homebuyers, there is no substitute for the value an experienced mortgage lender can provide. Whether helping to answer questions or offering insight and advice, a knowledgeable lender can be tremendous support and the greatest tool in the process.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” product when it comes to a mortgage. Matching borrowers with the right loan can be a progressive process. As borrowers take the journey to homeownership, lenders should guide them along the way through upfront underwriting to position the borrower as a reliable buyer with more negotiating power. This helps borrowers close up to two to three weeks faster than their competition. In today’s housing market, it’s essential that lenders are able to provide this option to borrowers to help them market themselves as a trustworthy buyer during a bidding war.

Often in today’s high-speed culture, the mortgage industry can promise borrowers fast approvals and underwriting, but those same borrowers can end up feeling lost. By establishing one-on-one relationships with borrowers and educating them, lenders create trust and peace of mind in the home-buying experience.

Taking the time to understand borrowers and working to meet their needs – whether digital or otherwise – allows lenders to make sure potential homebuyers have all the tools to make the best decisions. Those choices can be the first steps towards building lasting relationships.

About The Author

Whitney Blessington

Whitney Blessington is Vice President of Marketing for Churchill Mortgage, a full-service and financially sound leader in the mortgage industry. The company provides conventional, FHA, VA and USDA residential mortgages across 45 states. For more information, visit churchillmortgage.com or follow the company on Twitter, @ChurchillMtg, LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/churchill-mortgage/ . Reach Blessington at whitney.blessington@churchillmortgage.com.