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MortgagePoint » Your Trusted Source for Mortgage Banking and Servicing News 28 April 2023 F E A T U R E D uring slow market cycles or pe- riods of uncertainty, most mort- gage lenders turn their attention to finding replacement revenue, be it through new markets, additional prod- ucts, or increased promotion. Yet periods of volume decline also offer an opportunity for lenders to shore up their operations for the inevitable upswing ahead. While many have turned their focus to automation and im- proved technology, there is also an incredible opportunity afforded through partnering with optimal third-party service providers, such as title and settlement services firms. For lenders, now is a good time to review and reconsider their own unique needs, and whether or not they've partnered with providers that deliver the most bang for the buck. As we saw so frequently during the re- cent refinance surge, operational shortcom- ings tend to stand out during times of high volume. For lenders who did experience challenges in their production pipelines, "automating anything automatable" has since become a high priority. But when one considers just how much the typical mort- gage lender relies upon third parties to bring a mortgage to closing, it's surprising to learn that more than a few perform minimal eval- uations before selecting new vendors—espe- cially when entering new markets. Whether it's the appraisal management firm, the title agency, or closing provider, a lender is forced to rely heavily on the capabilities and expertise of quite a few third parties. None- theless, it's not unheard of for some decision makers on the origination side, in a pinch, to fall back to outdated methods to locate a new vendor to fit a pressing need. Too many times, the primary criterion for finding the right vendor starts and ends with geographic location or overall bandwidth. But a small, boutique agency may not have the produc- tion capability some lenders need—even if they are serving the market on which that lender is focused. Other lenders opting for big providers with wide name recognition may also find that the largest providers have little flexibility in their processes, leading to gaps and bottlenecks in the workflow. Know Thyself A utomation remains a hot topic for lend- ers in this down market. But other areas can be scrutinized for increased efficiency. As is the case when selecting a technology partner, lenders should start the vendor selection and vetting process with an objec- tive look in the proverbial mirror. If it can't be done objectively through the eyes of the in-house decision-makers, then a knowledge- able consultant should be brought in. What are the company's strengths and weaknesses? What kind of markets do they serve? What is the product mix and will that be changing in the near future? Without this information, a lender will find itself bending its workflow to fit the processes of the largest vendors, which can be disastrous from a CX, compliance, or pro- duction performance viewpoint. If a mort- gage lender has a major presence in a state like North Carolina or Georgia, where state law and regulation are very particular about having an attorney active in the closing, or if it wishes to grow its presence in such states, OPPORTUNITY IS HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT While streamlining operations and automating are the top priorities for lenders, there are opportunities to be found within their service networks. b y S C O T T D . K R I S S , E S Q . S C O T T D . K R I S S , E S Q . is President & CEO of Kriss Law/Atlantic Closing & Escrow. Kriss founded Kriss Law/Atlantic Closing & Escrow in 2008. He quickly grew the full-service title and settlement services firm into a national provider, earning multiple awards as Banker and Tradesman's top regional closing firm. Today, Kriss Law/Atlantic Closing & Escrow is licensed in 30 states and partners with mortgage lenders of all sizes, nationwide. Contact him at

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