MReport March 2019

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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28 | TH E M R EP O RT FEATURE answers, and generally, lead both lenders and their customers to better decisions. While fully digital mortgages can accelerate the overall process, they can also create a barrier to open communication that minimizes or negates its positive benefits. Many borrowers have an aversion to submitting personal information in a digital form online or chat desk, but if the initial engagement is built upon a video call, for example, the lender can establish that face-to- face connection with borrowers from anywhere at any time. At that point, the lender can engage with the borrower through their medium of choice and have a clear connection between the two. Keep in mind, financing a home is much different from purchasing a book online, and is a decision people and families live with for years, if not decades. Technology can assist in the process, but will never replace insightful guidance and advice. The intelligent use of technol- ogy should not only be applied to the origination process but to support borrowers in their home search as well. And, it's here, where there is a unique opportu- nity for lenders to set themselves apart from the competition by providing access to mobile apps that feature the latest real-time MLS listings, same-day pricing updates, home value comparisons, and quick and easy access to local agents and loan specialists. Con- sumers need to be careful here, however, as most online home search technologies function more as marketing magnets than real estate advisors. Lenders will have to be cautious in their investment decisions and identify those home search tools that truly equip con- sumers to shop for a home with respect for consumer privacy and accurate data. Also, there is an opportunity for lenders to use technology to better identify, target, and engage with borrowers at just the right time. Often, borrowers will ap- proach lenders without under- standing the critical role their current finances play in purchas- ing a home, not to mention their credit score. Technology can help lenders track these borrow- ers throughout their lifetime by providing periodic updates on their current financial situation or credit rating. This helps the lender identify the best time to approach a bor- rower. Rather than sending out mass email blasts that may turn borrowers off, lenders can see when a potential borrower has reached the appropriate credit score and turn that into an op- portunity to engage them and discuss long-term goals for the future. Technology to Enhance Borrower Education I n addition to home search tools, borrowers benefit from technol- ogy that enhances their financial knowledge and wellness as well. Taking out a mortgage is no small endeavor, and making uneducated decisions can lead to significant complications down the road, or worse, a regretful purchase on the borrower's part. To avoid such pitfalls, lenders can creatively leverage technology to help their borrowers make smarter mortgage decisions. While webinars, ebooks, digital white papers, and workshops are by no means new, they do offer lenders a modern way of engaging with borrowers and educating them on the mortgage process. This is particularly true as bor- rowers want to learn and research such materials in a way that is convenient for them (i.e., quickly, in a mobile or digital format, from anywhere, at any time). And, as referenced earlier, borrowers still view mortgage lenders as more trustworthy than online sources. Those lenders who neglect to take advantage of similar tools run the risk of seeing borrower engage- ment decline as they seek out competitive lenders who do a bet- ter job of educating and informing them about the mortgage process and its impact on their long-term financial wellness. Ultimately, lenders should be working to establish themselves as trusted advisors to borrowers and their families, in addition to helping them feel more comfort- able with the overall process. This will often require more personal- ized solutions. This plays a critical role in borrower education as the needs of one borrower differ from the next. Such details must be accounted for in the borrower education process, and thanks to modern data analysis tools, lenders can better tailor specific resources to meet the needs of various types of borrowers. Digital technology is a power- ful tool for the mortgage industry. Not only do customers expect lenders to engage with them within channels they are familiar with, but once time-consuming processes are automated or streamlined, lenders can focus their efforts on borrower engage- ment and satisfaction. Shifting to a fully automated lending process will not appease all borrowers, however, and could equate to some lenders losing touch with their customers. As lenders look forward to the remainder of 2019 and beyond, they must determine how tech- nology, and all its complexities, fit into their strategic vision. The goal is not to chase the latest and greatest technologies with little to no return on investment, but to selectively—and strategically— invest in products, services, and resources that drive engagement and enhance the borrower experi- ence in a meaningful way. MATT CLARKE is CFO and COO for Churchill Mortgage, a privately owned company by its more than 350 employees. A full-service and financially sound leader in the mortgage industry, the company provides conventional, FHA, VA, and USDA residential mortgages across 46 states. For more information about Churchill Mortgage, visit or follow the company on Twitter @ ChurchillMtg, LinkedIn at company/churchill-mortgage/, Instagram @ChurchillMortgage, and Facebook at As borrowers seek out lenders who bring more to the table than a low-interest rate or automated workflow, they will look to those who not only leverage convenient, resourceful, and educational technologies but also guide them throughout the mortgage process and serve as mentors to them.

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