The mortgage tech big picture.

AuthorSchneider, Howard
PositionTECH TALK

MORTGAGE PROFESSIONALS CAN BE "A LITTLE RETICENT TO FORGE AHEAD" with new technology, says Nancy Alley, vice president of strategic planning at Provo, Utah-based Simplifile. She describes many lending executives as having a mentality of "If it ain't broke, why fix it?" [paragraph] Despite some managerial inertia, automation has brought far-reaching changes to the mortgage business. From electronic delivery of initial disclosures to e-recording of final documents, mortgage firms are finding they can't sidestep new technologies.

Current technology does more than imaging loan documents or automating routine tasks such as ordering credit reports. Joe Tyrrell, executive vice president of corporate strategy at Pleasanton, California-based Ellie Mae Inc., finds lenders are letting "consumers take control of the pre-approval process."

Yet using online tools to gather and analyze borrowers' financial information raises questions regarding the role of loan officers. How much consumer-facing technology a lender employs also determines the types of customers it will attract, Tyrrell says.

Millennials make up a large group of future homebuyers who have "very different expectations" regarding how they want to interact with lenders, adds Tyrrell. Lenders must "balance the experience millennials want" against the "needs of current borrowers," he says.

Older clients didn't grow up online, and often prefer more-traditional borrowing approaches, Tyrrell explains. Today those consumers are in the market for real estate finance more than younger millennials are. What matters for lenders is getting to know their prospects and then "using technology to leverage" a strong relationship with them, says Tyrrell. Automation is moving from making business processes more efficient to producing "a more-effective experience" for borrowers, according to Tyrrell.

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Improving customer communication with technology's help means borrowers "will remember that lender," he asserts. However, new approaches shouldn't be chosen lightly, says Tyrrell. "Lenders have incredible challenges," he notes, and regulatory demands are near the top of that list.

He contends that automation "needs to have a purpose--and needs to be easy to deploy." Tyrrell says lenders should look on technology initiatives as being "evolutionary more than revolutionary."

Lenders hoping to transform their operations and gain a competitive advantage with technology can...

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