Just Digitize Everything

I remember the late 1990s when everyone wanted to do an eClosing pilot. Everyone thought that eMortgages would blow up and go mainstream faster than you can imagine. Well, here we are over 15 years later and today everyone is talking about the digital mortgage.

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Maybe I’m old school, but to me it doesn’t matter what you call it, just do it. Lenders have and should automate and/or digitize every-thing. It just makes sense.

Why does it make sense? First, because higher interest rates and a slowing of refinances as a result demand that lenders be as efficient as possible. And interestingly, the higher rates are not scaring away younger borrowers that want a more convenient, digital process.

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According to data compiled by Ellie Mae, conventional loans remained steady at 64 percent of all closed loans by this generation, while FHA mortgages stayed at 32 percent—a market share they have held since June. The average loan amount for loans closed by Millennial borrowers in August of 2017 was $185,919, which was a slight increase from August 2016’s average $184,113, despite the average 30-year note rate having increased to 4.211 percent from 3.706 percent last year.

In August 2017, the average Millennial primary borrower was a 29.4-year-old who took out a Conventional loan of $185,919 to purchase a home with an average appraised value of $223,882. This average homebuyer had a FICO score of 724, which helped them get a 30-year note rate of 4.211 percent, and they closed on their home in 44 days. The majority (64 percent) of primary borrowers were male.

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Additionally, more than half (52 percent) of borrowers were married.

Overall, Millennials were most likely to close loans for the purpose of purchasing a home (87 percent). Refinances accounted for 12 percent of loans closed by Millennials in August.

And guess what? These borrowers want convenience. So, going digital will both make the lender more efficient and help them reach new borrowers. Beyond these benefits, going digital will also allow lenders to prove their compliance with new rules and regulations that is just not possible in a paper world. I’ll say it again: Going digital makes sense.

Some lenders may wonder: How do I get started? Going digital is actually much easier these days as compared to the late 1990s.

Why do I say that it’ easier? Because technology vendors are launching new solutions literally every day to help lenders digitize. For example, Capsilon, a provider of cloud-based digital mortgage solutions for mortgage companies, unveiled its vision for the future of mortgage production and servicing with the launch of the Capsilon Digital Mortgage Platform, powered by Intelligent Process Automation.

The new Capsilon Digital Mortgage Platform doesn’t replace a loan origination system (LOS). Rather, it integrates with leading LOS’s and uses Intelligent Process Automation to automatically complete key steps throughout the mortgage production process, from the initial loan application to delivery to investors. Unlike Robotic Process Automation, which uses computer programs to mimic simple manual tasks, such as data entry, Intelligent Process Automation uses contextual artificial intelligence to understand which documents, data and rules are required to accomplish key tasks at every step of the mortgage production process, and automatically completes these steps. Human intervention is required only for items that fall outside of established parameters.

And lenders are responding. “UWM shares Capsilon’s vision of how the mortgage industry needs to transform,” said Mat Ishbia, president and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage. “We’ve partnered with Capsilon for years and think their technology has been key to helping UWM become the #1 wholesale lender in America.”

“The Capsilon Digital Mortgage Platform transforms the speed, user experience, and economics of the mortgage process,” said Sanjeev Malaney, CEO of Capsilon. “By leveraging Intelligent Process Automation, the platform transforms existing mortgage production and servicing processes into a modern digital factory.”

The point that I’m trying to make is that embracing a more digital mortgage process makes sense and the barriers to adoption are becoming few and far between. The real question should be: Why wouldn’t you digitize?

Loan Document Automation

The mortgage lending industry presents a number of unique challenges for classifying and extracting data from key documents, due in part to the large volumes of disparate documents in most loan files.

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New documents and the regulations related to them put a new emphasis on the need for quick and very accurate data. Lenders in particular face significant penalties for inaccurate data and missed delivery deadlines. Sorting and capturing critical data from thousands of diverse documents has historically been labor intensive, slow, and expensive. To stay competitive, and meet these new and constantly changing challenges, automation through technology is no longer optional.

The key is finding a provider that specializes in automated document classification and data capture specifically for mortgage lending and the financial services industries, which scales to process millions of pages per day.

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Leading edge 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 quick and accurate identification of over 500 unique documents in the typical mortgage file, along with the ability to capture nearly any data element from those documents that an organization requires.

Here are some examples of applying this advanced technology to specific mortgage documents:

Application Processing

Extract relevant content from borrower-provided pay stubs, W-2s, bank statements, and tax documents to expedite underwriting and reduce origination costs.

Post-Close Processing

Identification of each document in the loan file, bringing structure to what was a 300+ page blob of content.

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Verification that relevant documents have been signed

Compare key data elements from loan file with your systems of record to verify changes haven’t been made without your knowledge.

UCD File Generation

Create the Uniform Closing Dataset (“UCD”) file required (as of Sept 25, 2017) when selling loans to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Reporting And Audit Automation

Extract key loan file data elements to support the following reporting/audit activities:

HMDA reporting – our system is ready to capture the additional demographic data on the new Uniform Residential Loan Application (effective Jan 1, 2018)

RESPA audit

TRID audit

Lenders can longer afford to manually classify and manage large volumes of disparate documents. Manually preparing a batch for scanning by inserting document separator sheets and manually classifying loan documents is a labor-intensive, inefficient and error prone process. Not only is it critical that this process be done accurately, but also that it be done efficiently in order to allow downstream underwriting and servicing decisions to be performed in a timely way.

At the end of the day it is about finding a provider that focuses its skills towards delivering the most efficient, accurate, and flexible freeform document classification and data extraction solution available. The time is now for lenders to reduces manual labor costs and increases accuracy levels associated with classifying and capturing data from loan documents.

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TRID 2.0: Now What?

Over a year in the making, TRID 2.0 was finally released on July 7, 2017. With an effective date 60 days after the final rule is published in the Federal Register, and a mandatory compliance deadline of October 1, 2018, the industry is sure to have a lot to say about these new regulations.

TRID 2.0 is meant to provide additional clarity to the original TRID rule that went into effect on October 3, 2015. Changes include:

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Cooperative Housing. Loans on cooperative housing are now covered by TRID, having previously been left to state law definitions of real and personal property.

Tolerances. New tolerances have been added and others have been clarified, including total of payments, the “no tolerance” category and good faith, and property taxes.

Rate Locks. A new Loan Estimate, or Closing Disclosure, must be provided upon rate lock, even if nothing has otherwise changed.

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Escrow. The Closing Disclosure Escrow Account Disclosures have been clarified, allowing for 12 months in “Year 1” calculations.

Additional Guidance. The amendment provides additional guidance around disclosure of construction to permanent loans, simultaneous second loans, disclosure of principle reductions, and a reiteration that re-disclosure of the Loan Estimate (LE) or Closing Disclosure (CD) is permitted at any time.

What’s Missing?

The CFPB has not yet finalized proposed changes to resolve the infamous “black hole” issue; instead, they published a new proposal. In case you’re unfamiliar, complications arise due to potential timing conflicts between the Loan Estimate and the Closing Disclosure. If a borrower experiences a change in circumstance after they have received the Closing Disclosure and needs to delay the date of closing, there are concerns that a lender will be unable to comply with both the requirements to provide a revised disclosure to the consumer within 3 business days of the change and simultaneously within 4 business days of consummation in order to reset the tolerance thresholds for the good faith determination. There is even uncertainty of the ability of a re-disclosed Closing Disclosure to reset tolerances at all. Can we expect a final TRID 3.0 to resolve the issue? Only time will tell.

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Similarly, the issue of disclosure of simultaneous title quotes for owner’s and lender’s title premiums remains unchanged and unaddressed. The current, and very complicated, method of calculating lender’s title in the case of a simultaneous quote still stands and is not currently included in the “black hole” proposal.

What Happens Next?

Our main concern after dissecting TRID 2.0 is the phased implementation. On the surface this sounds like a great thing for lenders, but what happens when a consumer compares disclosures between lenders? This gets tricky when it comes to the application date. Additionally, you don’t want to change to the new calculations in the Calculating Cash to Close table mid-loan cycle with your consumers. This would result in re-disclosed Loan Estimates, or the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure on a single loan may utilizing different logic. This could confuse consumers as well as investors on loan purchase, and examiners down the line.

Regardless of the outcomes our industry will adjust. One thing is for sure, policies, procedures, and technology will continue to play an essential role in mortgage compliance.

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Your Brand Matters

What you stand for is important. Relationships in the mortgage industry matter a lot. Often technology decisions, for example, are made based on who else is using that same technology.

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For this reason a lot of mortgage technology vendors are reluctant to tinker with their brand, but I’m here to tell you that’s the wrong approach. In the article entitled “The Importance of Updating your Brand” by Chirag Thumar, he defines a brand as “what your consumers perceive of your company. The idea or feeling that they associate with your company is the brand of your business. If you ask your clients of what comes to their mind when your business is mentioned and they respond consistently with an emotion or perception, which is your brand.”

Your company’s brand plays a vital role in the workings of its business, as it helps create an impression, evokes curiosity about the company and its business, and gives out an essence of quality and professionalism.

Why should you update your brand?

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Brand image is crucial in communicating properly with your target clients the goodwill of your business and to assure certain levels of expectation. Even if your business has an established brand, it needs to evolve as the business itself changes. Re-branding and refreshing your company’s appearance is crucial to keep it relevant to your old clients as well as to attract new ones. There are many reasons why to do so, such as:

>>To reflect internal changes

>>Business growth: As a business expands, the brand needs to extend itself to appeal to the increasing mass of consumers that the company is trying to interact with.

>>Globalization: When a company expands its products and services to the international market, the brand name has to evolve to be represented constantly in all the countries.

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The biggest of the international brands like Google, eBay, Apple, Coca-Cola update their brands frequently to cater to their expanding business strategies.

When is it time to update your brand?

Re-branding your company is a decision that should be made after a systematic analysis of the response pattern of your consumers. There are certain signals that your brand needs an update, which you need to look out for, like-

>>If your brand is being associated with negative feelings

>>If your brand is out of sync with your business identity

>>If your brand is not making your business stand out

How do you get your brand updated?

A refresh comes in many forms and it is important to have an understanding of your clients’ attitudes to opt for the most suitable re-branding for your business. The options include:

>>Getting a logo: If your business doesn’t have a logo, consider getting one developed. Or if your company has had the same logo for a long time, consider getting it changed. A case in point is the company Starbucks, which has become a very easily recognizable brand with its much simplified logo.

>>Changing the company’s name: For a business to appeal to the popular mass, the company needs a name that is easily accepted and recognized by its large variety of consumers. For example, the digital giant Google was once known as “Back Rub”.

>>Releasing a new product that has gained relevance among the consumers.

>>Changing the way of advertising: It is essential to advertise your company the right way and by right way, what is meant is the way your target audience will find your product or service the most appealing. It is equally important for the advertising strategies to be relevant to both your business identify as well as time.

And most companies can’t do this alone, which is where partners like NexLevel Advisors come in. NexLevel Advisors marketing services helps its clients strategically market products and services whose complicated selling propositions or complex technical offerings require the communication of highly specialized information to elevate results. We offer world-class expertise and marketing insight to deliver dynamic marketing strategies and campaigns that will truly take your organization to the next level.

So, don’t be afraid to change your brand to meet today’s mortgage industry needs and don’t be afraid to ask for help in making sure that you do it right.

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Serious Delinquency Rate For Home Loans Holds

Data from CoreLogic shows that nationally, 4.6 percent of mortgages were in some stage of delinquency (30 days or more past due including those in foreclosure) in July 2017. This represents a 0.9 percentage point year-over-year decline in the overall delinquency rate compared with July 2016 when it was 5.5 percent.

As of July 2017, the foreclosure inventory rate, which measures the share of mortgages in some stage of the foreclosure process, was 0.7 percent, down from 0.9 percent in July 2016 and the lowest since the rate was also 0.7 percent in July 2007.

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Measuring early-stage delinquency rates is important for analyzing the health of the mortgage market. To monitor mortgage performance comprehensively, CoreLogic examines all stages of delinquency as well as transition rates, which indicate the percentage of mortgages moving from one stage of delinquency to the next.

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The rate for early-stage delinquencies, defined as 30-59 days past due, was 2 percent in July 2017, down slightly from 2.3 percent in July 2016. The share of mortgages that were 60-89 days past due in July 2017 was 0.7 percent, unchanged from July 2016. The serious delinquency rate (90 days or more past due) declined from 2.5 percent in July 2016 to 1.9 percent in July 2017 and remains near the 10-year low of 1.7 percent reached in July 2007. Alaska was the only state to experience a year-over-year increase in its serious delinquency rate.

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“While the U.S. foreclosure rate remains at a 10-year low as of July, the rate across the 100 largest metro areas varies from 0.1 percent in Denver to 2.2 percent in New York,” said Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Likewise, the national serious delinquency rate remains at 1.9 percent, unchanged from June, and when analyzed across the 100 largest metros, rates vary from 0.6 percent in Denver to 4.1 percent in New York.”

Since early-stage delinquencies can be volatile, CoreLogic also analyzes transition rates. The share of mortgages that transitioned from current to 30-days past due was 0.9 percent in July 2017, down from 1.1 percent in July 2016. By comparison, in January 2007 just before the start of the financial crisis, the current-to-30-day transition rate was 1.2 percent and it peaked in November 2008 at 2 percent.

“Even though delinquency rates are lower in most markets compared with a year ago, there are some worrying trends,” said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “For example, markets affected by the decline in oil production or anemic job creation have seen an increase in defaults. We see this in markets such as Anchorage, Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana where the serious delinquency rate rose over the last year.”

eClose: Moving Toward The Holy Grail

A fully paperless eClose has long been the Holy Grail for the mortgage industry. Just as Sir Galahad embarked on a quest to find the Holy Grail that would bring the ultimate benefits of self-actualization and salvation, brave lenders and tech vendors have been working tirelessly to achieve fully electronic closings and reap their invaluable benefits.

Not only do eClosings offer a wealth of operational benefits for lenders—improved efficiency, cost savings, tighter security and compliance, just to name a few— but they also enable lenders to extend more convenience and transparency to their customers. For lenders, they truly are the Holy Grail worth questing after.

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Luckily, eClosings are seeing more traction within the industry than ever before, but there’s still some distance to journey before they become standard. The first important step is understanding where the industry is currently and where it still needs to go before it can get its hands on the Holy Grail.

The Current State of eClose

A majority of eClosings today are hybrids between a standard paper closing and a full eClosing, meaning part of the process takes place electronically, but some portion still involves paper, usually for the notarized and title documents. Hybrid eClosings indicate progress for the industry and are still preferable to an entirely paper-based process, as transferring even part of the closing to digital brings business benefits to the lender and an improved experience to the borrower.

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Now it’s time for pioneers in the industry to address the handful of obstacles that remain on the path to eClosing.

(1) eNotarization

eNotarization is the aspect of eClosing that has perhaps most complicated the industry-wide transition to paperless closings.

This difficulty can be traced to confusion and lack of consistency in the current legal environment. While there is an existing legal infrastructure to confirm the validity of electronically notarized documents, notary legislation is controlled on a state level, which has resulted in a patchwork of differing laws.

While some states simply accept the ESIGN/UETA legal infrastructure, others have crafted their own legislation, and still others have yet to proclaim whether or not they will recognize eNotarization. This issue has been complicated even further now that some states recognize remote eNotarization—similar to standard eNotarization except the notary witnesses the closing ceremony via webcam instead of in person.

Due to differing state laws, title underwriters have been hesitant to insure loans closed with remote eNotary, because of the risk that a county recorder might notice that the notary was from a different state than the borrower and refuse to record the loan. As a result, investors have also been hesitant to purchase loans that have been remotely eNotarized unless they’re working in the few states, like Virigina and Montana, that have explicitly passed laws around the practice. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s official policies initially stated that they would accept remotely-notarized loans only for borrowers and properties in the same state as the remote notary. More recently, those policies seem to be evolving toward acceptance of a remotely-notarized loan “as long as the title underwriter insured it,” regardless of location.

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The most straightforward solution would be for all states to simply accept the legal validity of electronic notary signatures under the existing ESIGN/UETA legislation. Only once the legal landscape has become more standardized across states will eClosings become the norm.

(2) Widespread Misconceptions

While most lenders and consumers recognize the benefits of conducting closings electronically, commonly held misconceptions among all parties involved have also impeded eClose traction. Luckily, this is an easy obstacle to overcome, as addressing it simply requires a little more education.

With the increasing frequency and complexity of data breaches, perhaps the biggest worry among lenders is that eClosings could be less secure than paper closings. However, digital mortgage processes actually have the potential to be more secure, as there’s less manual data management and better authentication methods to confirm the borrower’s identity. And it’s always important to remember that regardless of the method used to sign the final documents, on paper or electronically, lenders must store and secure the borrower’s personal information in the same back-end LOS systems, so eClosings don’t introduce any new issues related to data breaches.

Borrowers are generally happy to embrace eClosings, since many of them are already familiar with completing financial transactions online and would prefer the convenience of this method. However, they may also have security concerns, so lenders should make it a point to be transparent during the process to ensure borrowers feel comfortable.

(3) Technology

Technology solutions supporting eClose exist today, but they vary in their areas of focus and don’t yet comprehensively address every need at the closing table. Solutions that focus on eNotarization or remote notarization lack tight integration with document generation and employ manual tagging for signature points, introducing opportunity for human error if a signature point is missed.

There have been recent announcements of “completely electronic closings,” which indicate good progress toward a completely paperless process. However, in each case a lot of manual work and document handoffs were necessary to pull together all of the closing documents into a single eSigning event. Still, as the industry develops greater integration between lenders’ loan origination systems, doc generators, title production systems, closing agents, and electronic notarization and recording, we will continue to move toward more seamless solutions where document assembly and tagging will be performed automatically.

These developments attest to the hard work technology vendors have been putting into heralding in the age of eClose with optimal technology. The increasing prevalence of APIs and vendor partnerships are also facilitating the transition.

Additionally, there are still individual solutions that lenders can use to take some of the paper out of the process. Since eClosings hinge so significantly on documents, the most important feature to have in today’s lending environment is integration between the doc source and eSign platforms.

The industry is closer than ever to possessing the Holy Grail of mortgage lending: a fully paperless eClosing. All that remains of the quest is to overcome some difficult but conquerable obstacles, and then the entire industry will reap the benefits of eClosings.

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Getting The Most Out Of Your Contact Center

The first and fourth quarters of the year are when the tax servicing industry is flush with high call volumes. During these times especially, when customer demands are escalated, it becomes even more important to ensure service levels are not jeopardized. One of the most important and influential means of providing the best customer service is to take a proactive stance, rather than reactive.

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The contact center, when managed properly, can be a source of great information. Below are three ways to get the most out of a call center.

Reduce Call Volume

Why are borrowers calling? While this may seem like an obvious question, it is important to use data to corroborate and to make changes if necessary. For example, in your due diligence efforts, you could uncovered that a lot of the calls requesting information for 1098 forms for income tax purposes. In response, you can update your interactive voice response system to route these calls to right department.

Properly managing calls can improve caller experience as well as abandon call rates. This afforded companies financial benefits in the money saved from reducing overtime – without affecting performance. Customers will ultimately be happier as they will not need to be transferred from one department to another and agents could more effectively assist borrowers with their property tax inquiries.

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First Interaction Resolution and Staff Training

When a request requires research, it is imperative for the contact center team to be well trained in active listening, effective questioning, timely follow through and collaborated solutions. This ensures that, if the call cannot be resolved immediately, a timely resolution will be found with all the information gathered that is needed by the borrower.

For example, if a homeowner calls about delinquent taxes, an agent should listen carefully without interruption and gather as much information as possible. Usually, this will allow the agent to obtain critical information such as; the agencies name to which the taxes are delinquent, the amount due, and if any action is being taken against the property. The agent can advise the borrower on the time frame for either a follow up, update or resolution. In this way, companies can operate efficiently and effectively to address borrowers’ concerns. When a customer understands what is being done, and when, it prevents an escalation of the situation or repeat calls.

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Random Call Audits

There is always room for improvement. Random call audits are one of the tools that lead to call quality improvement. Through this training system, the agent can better understand his or her strengths and correct any areas that need improvement. In this process of streamlining the call center, you could uncover areas that could benefit from better quality control efforts.

Even if you exceed requirements, it is important that companies understand the importance of continuous efforts to improve the caller experience service.

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Ultimate Flexibility: Leveraging An Open API In Mortgage Tech To Bridge To Digital Lending

In any business, companies can only move as fast as the slowest part of the process. For mortgage lenders, the slowest part of the loan process – outside of regulatory mandated waiting periods – has often been the limitations of physical paper. Whether it is the printing, delivery and fulfillment of paper-based disclosures and closing packages or the transfer of data from a paper application to an underwriting system, manually completing any task dramatically slows down a lender’s efficiency.

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Along with the rest of the nation’s industries, mortgage lenders have spent the past two decades transitioning to a digital economy. In its truest form, digital lending refers to a lending process in which all parties conduct all steps of the loan process electronically. This encompasses everything from the initial application submitted by the borrower to delivery and servicing by the investor.

With the rise in consumer interest around conducting financial business digitally, it’s vital for lenders to embrace as much of the digital mortgage as possible. This paradigm shift requires that all documents undergo an entirely paperless closing process—or in other words, are signed, notarized, registered, delivered and stored electronically.

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While the mortgage industry is better positioned than ever to accomplish this feat, there are many other factors impeding fully-realized electronic mortgages from becoming the industry-wide standard. One of the biggest challenges is getting all the technology tools needed to process loans electronically working together. One approach that is helping lenders build the system of their dreams is leveraging an open API to simplify the task of integrating many excellent vendors into one efficient system.

Bridging to the Future with API

The foundation for a successful digital lending strategy is having the appropriate technological infrastructure. With the proper technology in place, borrower data seamlessly moves through each phase of the origination process, along with reducing the risk of human error.

Lenders need three main tools to build a fully digital lending workflow: an intuitive and responsive point of sale (POS) where borrowers can initially complete loan applications and manage their loan status; a loan origination system (LOS) to address all necessary verification and underwriting; and a document and eSignature provider for closing, delivery and servicing.

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Of these tools, the LOS is the foundation into which all other tools must integrate into. While some LOS providers try to offer every tool in one system, most lenders find that they prefer to build a custom tech environment that leverages the expertise and functionality of several different software providers.

This is where an open API becomes essential for the evolution to digital lending. When lenders select an LOS with an open API, they gain access to more resources that can enable them to streamline their lending process. Instead of waiting months or years for two vendors to reach an integration contract, build and code a proprietary integration, test and finally roll out the solution, vendors can instead use the API to build integrations more quickly and accurately using data standards provided by the LOS.

This choice creates an environment of competition where vendors are increasingly challenged to continue refining and improving their solutions to provide the best value for lenders. Lenders are also able to continue configuring their LOS’ long after the initial implementation, which is beneficial during period of growth or changes within the lenders organizations that promote new ways to lend.

This is vital for lenders as they move toward the primary goal of a complete end-to-end digital mortgage. An open Application Programming Interface (API) provides a more efficient and streamlined experience for both lenders and borrowers alike. Lenders will also have singular, standardized proof of compliance and be able to maintain a higher level of data integrity by significantly reducing manual data processing.

Along with time-efficiency, improved data integrity and transparency are additional benefits found in leveraging the appropriate technological tools. The increase in data integrity not only helps expedite the origination process, but also provides clarity on the secondary market. This technology helps both lenders and investor mitigate risk and ensures the loans initially meet the standards required for origination and servicing.

The bottom line is that electronic lending affords all parties involved a wealth of benefits. Lenders and investors who manage their loans electronically will be able to cut down significantly on the time it takes to originate and service these loans, enabling them to handle a greater volume and thus drive greater profits. Not only that, but they’ll be able to show their borrowers a better experience, making it more likely that these borrowers will return for future lending needs.

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What Day-1 Certainty Showed Lenders About Workflow Efficiency

Thanks to a combination of factors, first mortgages have seen two consecutive years of growth: regulatory guidelines and smarter lending have strengthened the quality of loans; the unemployment rate in the U.S. is at its lowest point in a decade, wage growth is emerging, consumer confidence in the economy is up. Data from the Equifax National Consumer Credit Trends report showed that 8.46 million new first mortgages were originated in 2016, a year-over-year increase of 13.7 percent. In that same time, the total balance of first mortgage originations in that time was 2.08 trillion, an 18.8 percent increase. In one of its U.S. Economic Outlooks, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed year-over-year increases for:

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Existing Home Prices: 6.9 percent

Existing Home Sales: 4.9 percent;

New Single-Family Sales: 17.1 percent;

Housing Starts: 7.7 percent;

Since being introduced, Day-1 Certainty has demonstrated the power of workflow efficiency and lenders have caught on quickly. The ability to get a borrower into the workflow – over the phone or on a website – and confirm that they are a W-2 employee, pull credit, verify all of the essential information and see bank statements has revolutionized the origination process because it moves qualified borrowers down the pipeline much faster. It’s something we’re still all getting used to, but so far, these capabilities have established a couple of key takeaways for lenders:

A Matter of “Good, Better, Best” (not “Right or Wrong”)

Lenders are still trying to figure out where verifications should fit in their respective workflows and processes and they’re having a tough time. Some have never used manual verifications and many of those using instant verifications are applying it within operations, some use it, but not until 14-20 days in the loan cycle. Paystubs and W-2’s are still being requested up front. Make no mistake, lenders want to get rep and warrant relief as fast as possible and they truly desire to make the borrower happy by providing a seamless mortgage process, but there’s a lot of concern with how to roll this out across branches and origination channels.

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The good news: workflows can be modeled to fit a specific business. Granted, the application of verifications will differ between online, consumer-direct and retail and each lender will need to determine the best approach; figuring out where the right place is for you in your processes is what is important. Generally speaking, pulling verification earlier in the process is better than doing it later in the process, as many lenders still do today.

Although there’s going to be a learning curve, verifications will make things easier for lenders and borrowers, which brings me to the next point…

The Borrower Experience Determines Success

Lenders have historically had to ask borrowers, sometimes repeatedly, to produce document after document after document. Thankfully, the mortgage industry has gained so many efficiencies as a result of Day-1 Certainty, annihilating those inconveniences. Lenders that are performing verifications earlier in process are helping boost customer service, which is a very effective selling point. As you’ve likely seen, some lenders’ advertisements focus on telling the prospective borrowers that all they have to do is go online and apply; no need to deal with all of the paperwork, it’s all up front. Without the need to collect paystubs, bank statements or W-2s, lenders are closing faster and consumers are happier.

Telling a customer they don’t have to go home and gather multiple documents makes for a better lending experience and earns you the reputation of being a lender that caters to the borrower, which leads to more referrals.

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Moving in the Right Direction

Data and analytics are changing the way the mortgage industry functions and everything is moving faster – prospecting, qualifying, verifying, buying and selling. Improved access to essential verification data is helping lenders connect with borrowers through every channel earlier than ever. It’s impressive to think that today, all a prospective borrower needs to do is download an app, provide some basic information, and, within minutes, be approved for a residential mortgage.

Because of these developments, we also need to speed up the learning process for where verifications will appropriately fit in lenders’ respective models. A workflow that suits one origination strategy won’t necessarily fit another, so focus internally to reveal the best way verifications can be implemented to deliver faster ROI and an unparalleled borrower experience.

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