Staying ahead of shifts in the mortgage market can be a challenge. When the market is hot, it can be hard to hire and train enough people to keep up with larger competitors. When markets cool, as they have recently amid rising interest rates, it can be difficult to scale back operations fast enough to avoid margin compression.
Scalability is a competitive advantage. But operational flexibility can be elusive with manual processes and outdated methodologies.
A recent survey by Forbes and Freddie Mac found borrowers increasingly prefer online and mobile mortgage transactions. In the same survey, 87% of lenders said the COVID-19 pandemic prompted them to pursue digitization.
Automation improves scalability by eliminating hours wasted with manual “stare and compare” eyes-on an analysis and “sneaker net” orchestration, where physical files are literally walked from desk to desk. And consolidating workflows into a single system has all kinds of other business advantages, including intelligent workflow, exception-based processing, digital consumer interfaces, integrated pricing engines, loan-level compliance testing, actionable analytics and more.
Another study by Freddie Mac found automation cut mortgage processing time by more than 30%.
When embarking on an automation journey, it is important to make sure the solution, or solutions, will not only perform as advertised, but will also integrate well with each other as well as with legacy systems. Seamless integration helps automation deliver on the promise of shorter cycle times and end-to-end process improvement. Here are some things to look for in an innovative, integrated mortgage processing solution:
Automated Task Processing
Automating repetitive, high-volume tasks to be performed without human intervention is fundamental to scalability. Referred to as “lights-out processing,” this advanced technology actively monitors data systems for exceptions and alerts users that additional reviews are needed. By focusing on only the items that need attention, teams can significantly increase production.
Today’s leading mortgage solutions incorporate artificial intelligence to identify and extract data from forms and documents. Machine learning uses algorithms to “teach” the system to find data even in semi-structured and unstructured documents.
A good mortgage processing solution will allow lenders to configure the system to support their unique business needs.
Just as automation allows mortgage lenders to scale their operations up or down with the market, mortgage processing technology needs to be able to scale, as well, to grow with the business.
Finally, a good mortgage solution needs to work well with others. In automation that means providing web APIs to enable integration with other technologies, verification services, document providers, reporting, and fulfillment and closing-related functions.
In addition to these essential back-office processing automations, a truly end-to-end mortgage solution needs to include a full range of customer and lender facing tools including:
- Customer-facing self-service functions, such as real-time document review, to help reduce application-to-close times
- A dashboard to allow loan officers to follow the approval process via desktop or mobile device
- Electronic signatures and automated fulfillment
- Integrated fee monitoring
- Contactless digital closing
- Compliance testing and reporting
- Audit validation and post-closing
Making the decision to embark on an automation journey can be a daunting task, especially now, as interest rates rise and mortgage volumes wane. With opportunities for revenue growth decreasing in the short term, however, now may be the best time to look at automation as a way to increase efficiency and build the automation infrastructure for future growth.
If you are currently in the market for a loan origination system, I encourage you to check out Black Knight’s all-inclusive Empower LOS.