MReport December 2020

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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16 | M R EP O RT COVER FEATURE Advancing Technology I f there is one major takeaway from 2020 that people working across all industries can agree on, it is the value of technology in day-to-day processes. In the mort - gage and housing industry, new technologies and digital tools have helped traditional processes adapt to COVID-19 challenges and make things run smoother at every step of the home buying and selling process. New apps and improved online services have helped keep the mortgage and housing indus - tries running in 2020. This year included the launch of Inspex, a consumer-led inspection mobile application. Inspex is the brain - child of Xome, an end-to-end provider of real estate solutions that provides data enhanced and technological solutions products to companies working in the origi - nation and servicing of mortgage loans. "The use of the tool is to avoid having an appraiser find time to schedule an appointment with the customer, and then having the customer let this third party they don't know come into the house. With this application, we can actually deliver a link to the consumer and it leads them through a fairly easy step-by-step process of quickly taking exterior and interior photos on their own and then deliver them back to the lender," explains Mike Rawls Mike Rawls, CEO of Xome. This is just one example of technological innovations that have given the housing and mortgage industries an edge this year. By using digital tools and avoiding traditional ways of per - forming processes like appraisals that generally involve face-to-face interactions, consumers are kept safe from potential COVID-19 exposure. They are still able to go about the necessary steps in buying or selling their home. Many consumers looking to buy homes were able to con - duct their searches virtually. Traditionally, many potential homebuyers hire real estate agents to aid in their search and would tour homes in person before making a final decision. However, the home searching process has become more web-friendly than ever before. This year, consumers could guide themselves through home tours online using 3D tours and online home search engines. While these digital tools existed already, they proved to be all the more useful during a pandemic. "At the same time when we had kind of digital mortgage experiences happening, we also know that many Realtors, and other parts of the industry, also went digital," says AJ Barkley AJ Barkley, Neighborhood Lending Executive at Bank of America. "There was a lot more on the books and a lot more people doing virtual tours of their properties and their homes and finding ways to be still able to realize the beauty, the wonder of homeownership." Barkley also says that people looking to refinance their homes have been able to do so through digital mortgage experience on apps and online resources. Like many companies with ties to the housing and mortgage industry, Barkley says Bank of America provides consumers with online resources and tools like affordabil - ity calculators for potential home buyers and educational tools such as the First-Time Homebuyer Online Edu-Series. There is no doubt that the new challenges the housing and mortgage industries have faced in 2020 have pushed them to develop innovative digital resources and tools for consumers to help the home buying and sell - ing process run smoothly. Economic Trends Impacting the Industry M ore advanced technologies and online tools aren't the only trends that have altered the mortgage and housing industry in 2020. One economic shift that has impacted consumers' eligibility for home loans is the gig economy's rising popularity. Those who work in the gig economy or who are self- employed have faced difficulty applying for loans. Some continue to struggle to provide the right material to lenders to see their income and eligibility. As these types of consumers become more "We work with housing counseling agencies, we work with agencies that are helping people to reestablish their credit, all focused on helping people realize the wonder of homeownership." —AJ Barkley, Neighborhood Lending Executive, Bank of America

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