If there’s one thing you can bet on in the mortgage industry, it’s that there will be ups and downs. High volumes and low volumes. We’ve seen quite a swing even from the throes of Covid to the present time. So many areas have been affected: home values, housing inventory, interest rates and more.
The complexities, competitiveness and fast-paced nature of the mortgage industry make for an environment ripe for innovative tech solutions. However, in the current market when interest rate spikes have caused refinance activity to hit a lull, and housing demand outweighs supply, lender pipelines are flowing, but they’re certainly not overflowing.
In challenging markets like we’ve been seeing for the last several quarters, lenders that implement the kind of technology that delivers automation, transparency and efficiency will be able to weather the storm. Here are three reasons why considering tech-enabled mortgage solutions will greatly benefit lenders and their borrowers both now and when the headwinds eventually fade away in the future.
You Can’t Always Lean On Legacy Technology
Legacy technology, while functional, often doesn’t provide the flexibility that today’s mortgage workflow demands. Time is money, especially in a down market. That’s why it’s critical to eliminate manual or repetitive processes—or anything else that even hints at inefficiency. The risks of leaning on outdated technology can include using lesser quality data points, quality control inefficiencies and extended closing timelines—not to mention additional work for employees who are forced to toggle between multiple platforms to perform their tasks. If you want a true assessment of where your technology is falling short, ask your loan officers and loan processors about their specific pain points.
Implementing more AI-driven, agile technology within your mortgage ecosystem can vastly improve the flow of key components. The combination of the right tech stack can shave days off of average turn times, provide more accurate data and give you quicker scheduling of milestone events in the mortgage process. All of this equates to fewer manual touches, overall cost reduction, a streamlined experience and, ultimately, higher borrower satisfaction.
You Can’t Snag Borrowers If You Don’t Stand Out
When pipeline volumes are sluggish and it’s tough to attract and retain borrowers, lenders should look for a differentiator—or ways to stand out from the crowd. To stay ahead of the competition, you need technology that will benefit both the front-end and back-end processes.
A lot of lenders can close a loan, but inviting the borrower to play a meaningful role in the process can help to separate you from the pack. For example, enhancements like digital scheduling capabilities allow borrowers to move the transaction forward on their own terms. This consumer-facing technology offers the borrower an inside look at an appraiser or closing agent’s calendar, so they can choose the exact date and time of an appointment that works for their schedule. This is a unique tool that not all lenders offer. Another offering that’s catching on, particularly among refinance and home equity customers, are virtual inspection products. In general, this gives the borrower or a trained inspector the option to use a smartphone to capture video of their property—to be used by an appraiser to determine a valuation.
Other considerations to beef up the full spectrum of the lending lifecycle could include instant title (IT) technology and/or RON closings (remote online notarization). A colleague of mine wrote about IT in a Forbes Business Council article earlier this year and how this evolving solution can make a big difference in times when competition is high and profit margins are tight. Both of these solutions are available but not leveraged to their full capacity just yet.
Consumers Expect Tech
There’s no getting around the fact that today’s consumers are savvier than ever. In a time when borrower satisfaction is of the utmost importance to retaining loyal customers, tech is arguably one of the best ways to reach that goal. According to a survey produced by the company I work for, borrowers are eager for their home purchase to align with other digital transactions in their everyday routines.
While lenders have offered digital mortgage applications and eSigning capabilities for years, now borrowers are starting to adopt and expect other technologies. As mentioned, virtual products are a growing area of interest. Twenty-five percent of surveyed homeowners said their appraisal was conducted remotely via a virtual platform and another 25% reported that they had digitally scheduled their appraisal or closing appointment.
The survey also found that borrowers of all generations rated convenience and ease of use, time savings and flexibility to make progress on their own schedule as the biggest benefits of mortgage technology. Because of this overwhelming sentiment, lenders should prioritize technologies that offer these specific benefits. When it comes to where the mortgage process can be improved, 48% of respondents said they want more transparency into the steps and fees and another 41% said they want less paperwork and more electronic forms throughout the home-buying process.
Upgrading or implementing new technology during a tough market may seem risky, but it’s even more risky to fall behind when volumes begin to surge. While the usage of mortgage origination technology is critical in all market conditions, slower markets could provide just enough breathing room to implement tech in a way that’s not as possible when pipelines are packed.
So, if you’re a lender that’s looking for a tech upgrade in a particular area, but one that offers the lightest lift for your IT team, consider partnerships with time-tested vendors or other tools that are plug-and-play. The key is to provide the speed, efficiency, convenience and information that today’s borrowers truly desire, because as you can see, consumers are counting on you to deliver.