The mortgage industry has finally started taking automation and digitization seriously. Extremely seriously. And we welcome that.
We’ve seen the online application process, POS and LOS technology advance by leaps and bounds in really just two or three years. We’ve also seen lender sentiment surveys and other indications that lending decision-makers are planning to turn that focus on the production process. And although one could joke that “production process” means just about anything that isn’t “sales” in our industry, it would appear that a lot of that emphasis is on automating the production pipeline (doc prep, underwriting, et al).
Needless to say, as the producer of a leading closing cost calculator, we have a very personal vested interest in this trend. We applaud it!
In this day and age, there’s no good reason that human beings should be staring and comparing or manually entering basic data—they should be redeployed to areas where humans are really needed, like working with prospects and clients to determine their true needs and best product fits.
And yet, far too many homebuyers (and sellers) making one of the most emotionally charged transactions of their lives get lost in the least consumer-friendly part of the entire mortgage process—the closing. And we’re not leveraging technology to change that. Not yet, at least. Not enough.
The flaws of the closing process have been discussed and dissected here and elsewhere many times before. It doesn’t take a J.D. Power survey to know that, in spite of best efforts by many, the closing can be a confusing and anxiety-provoking process for consumers. And yet, it’s still the equivalent of a carefully orchestrated riot. We’re still using emails, voice mails, text messages, siloed portals and wire transfers to somehow get the buyer, seller, REALTOR(s), title and closing company, appraiser and lender from underwriting approval and sales contract to recorded deed. And it always seems to be “just in time.”
Like a bad cliffhanger.
Let’s change that. Let’s include a new focus on improved, more secure communications—from provider to consumer and provider to provider. Let’s make it much, much easier to learn the status of the transaction or correct missing information. Let’s better digitize the way in which 3, 4 or 5 different service providers are touching the file simultaneously so it’s more of a real-time collaboration and less a game of “blind man’s bluff.” Let’s free the consumer facing professionals—the LOs, the real estate agents, the closing agents—from the manual stuff or the continuous voice mail tag and free them to do what they’d all rather be doing anyway: informing and educating the consumer and guiding them to the finish line.
It’s what a lot of other industries do. And it works. Fortunately, it would appear we’re finally making our way there as well. And we’re looking forward to it.
Agree? Disagree? We’d love to hear from you! Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read our CEO Jim Paolino’s Deeper Thoughts and get the latest mortgage industry news.