Mid America, a small wholesale lender, has found a system that brokers are using to handle Internet originations. The key to its success seems to be brokers don't have to leave their loan origination software to use it.
WHEN IT COMES TO DEVELOPING AND FOSTERING BROKER relations, wholesale lenders have quickly learned the possibilities the Internet offers for improving on current systems. "On paper," as they say in sports, the potential to streamline processes, improve customer service and reduce cost is incredible. Yet even with all the benefits of an Internet offering, companies implementing online solutions continue to experience frustration and lack of user adoption.
Incredible amounts of time and money have been spent creating Web sites, only to see them go unused and the potential unrealized. Lenders find the daily faxing of rate sheets and receipt of loan packages is not decreasing. In some cases it's increasing.
One small Dallas lender, Mid America Mortgage, Inc., has bucked this trend by providing some innovative technology that a high percentage of brokers immediately feel comfortable using. According to John Hollister, vice president of sales with Mid America, the key is streamlining transactions by letting brokers handle all phases from inside their loan origination software. "We allow the broker total control, so they're not waiting on the lender," Hollister says. "They don't have to sift through faxes and chase phone calls, and they can perform all functions--including confirmed loan locks and approvals--24/7."
Perhaps the best indication that Mid America is on the right track is the demonstration of increased efficiency; it has increased business fivefold since joining the POINT Lender Network[TM] (PLNTI[TM]) while adding only 20 percent more staff, and has doubled its profit margin at the same time. And the automation helps simplify things for the lender as well as the broker. According to Hollister, Mid America started with about i6 products and now has more than 700.
Mid America has enjoyed success in the past year persuading brokers to handle all phases of a loan transaction--including product and pricing eligibility, rate lock, automated underwriting and loan submission over the Internet. But the real story lies in the fact that it has succeeded by not forcing brokers to leave the desktop loan origination system to visit a separate Web site. The entire process can take place in Windows[R] screens that look and function exactly like the screens the originators and processors work in every day.
Based on the success of this offering to date, Mid America knows it's on the right track. In addition to seeing its production numbers rise in 2000 as national origination volume declined, the lender now has another positive sign to which it can point: Two top-10 lenders have recently signed on to the same technology partnership with Calyx Software, San Jose, California, upon which Mid America's entire wholesale strategy is now built. One of those lenders is FlagStar Bank, Troy, Michigan.
"FlagStar recognizes that in this high-volume environment, service to our customers is the key element to retaining relationships," says Jeanie Lutterbei, vice president and director of the Technology Integration Group at FlagStar. "We also recognize that simplicity in the process will result in speed. The POINT Lender Network allows FlagStar to provide access to our system directly from within the POINT software."
Mid America account executive Ellen Belew, who, until recently, worked as a broker and performed the beta test on the POINT Lender Network, understands what this means from the broker's perspective.
In 1999, Belew...