MReport June 2022

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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26 | M R EP O RT FEATURE R emember the days when customers went into a bank lobby to fill out a loan application? Or when closing that application meant combing through a stack of papers, nearly as high as a shoebox, intently searching every page to ensure all the signatures and initials were secured? Thankfully, the mortgage lending process looks quite a bit different today. The COVID-19 pandemic ac- celerated the need for a digital- centric borrowing experience. Consumers, who do much of their shopping on mobile devices, now expect digital-first interac- tions in every engagement. They want applications to be available via digital channels, and they need it to be seamless. They demand a mobile-friendly experience. They want the ability to easily upload documents and, because they are accustomed to getting push notifications about such things as food deliveries and news about their favorite teams, they expect to be consistently up- dated throughout the homebuying journey. According to the National Association of Realtors' 2021 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, first-time buyers accounted for 34% of all home sales. That was an increase from the previous year's 31% figure. The typical first-time buyer was 33 years old. And older generations, often characterized as hesitant to embrace current technologies, are quite accustomed to many of the conveniences of a digital-first shopping experience. The Keys to an Improved Lending Experience T he mortgage lending process is still measured in days and weeks—not the seconds and min- utes benchmark that is the norm in other industries. Getting from "yes" to having the keys in hand remains a compli- cated journey that requires plenty of approvals, verifications, and, too often, manual interventions that can lead to higher error rates. Lenders describe the origina- tion process as cumbersome. The average time to offer is multiple weeks, which can lead to frequent cancellations, unrealized revenue, and poor customer service. But over the last two years, lenders, aided by advancements in automation and the ability of staff- ers to work from anywhere, have greatly reduced the time it takes to close. During the pandemic, electronic signatures and virtual meetings for closings became valu- able, and necessary, elements of the customer experience. The homebuying journey is being transformed. Here are some of the key trends that are reshap- ing the process. Increased API Adoption A n application program- ming interface (API) allows software to integrate and interact with other software. It sets the guidelines, limits the scope of available activities, and controls the flow of information. Mortgage lenders can utilize APIs to get data to flow seamlessly across the organization. Lenders, according to research by Fannie Mae, view APIs as the technol- ogy with the greatest potential to streamline business processes. An increasing number of organizations are using workflow automation tools to improve efficiency and allow employees to focus on high-value tasks, not monotonous work. This reduces costs and errors and leads to a better customer experience. In conjunction with the right platform, lenders can integrate multiple systems or applications to take advantage of the functional- ity that best meets their needs. Customers receive access to state- ments and loan information much faster, which is in line with the digital-first interactions that are a staple of their day-to-day lives. By entering information such as a name and Social Security number, the API can supply a borrower's income, employment history, and credit profile. A home address can produce an appraisal Technology Lends a Hand In today's mortgage lending environment, it's critical to find and assess gaps in existing processes so you can develop a plan to address any inefficiencies. By Steve Comer

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