Issue 10: Q&A with Jason Cohen
From time to time, Deeper Thoughts will sit down with some of our favorite industry thought leaders to get their insights on the trends affecting the mortgage industry. Today, we’re pleased to share our conversation with Jason Cohen, Chief Operating Officer for NJ Lenders Corp.
We appreciate you joining us today, Jason! We can probably agree that we’re undergoing a period of intense and profound change throughout the mortgage industry. But what’s the one thing you’ve seen change the most over your time in mortgage lending?
Borrower technology. The customer experience has been modernized to provide an easy to use and real-time updatable interface to guide them through the mortgage process without leaving their electronic device (laptop/cellphone/tablet). Everything from borrower disclosures and supporting documentation to communication and status updates is available in real-time and through whatever connected device the consumer has available to them.
Second (even though you didn’t ask for a second!) would be compliance. The CFPB has done a lot to standardize mortgage compliance and remove a lot of regulatory ambiguity, but at the same time added levels of complexity to the process that are in place to protect and educate the consumer. Customers often question why we do what we do (with regards to timing and documentation) and, unfortunately the answer is that regulations require it. This is something that didn’t exist 20 years ago.
What’s the one thing you WISH would change faster (or more) in the mortgage/real estate industry?
eClosings have been “on the horizon” for a few years now. At this point, they are here, but are still a little clunky and if you lend in states where ink-signed notary docs are still required, a hybrid eClosing is the only option. If there was some uniformity across all states, the next step in the eMortgage evolution could be more consistent and, quite possibly, a simple reality.
If people in the industry were to remember one thing about you (or your company/brand), what would you hope that to be?
The NJ Lenders brand is one that is synonymous with “getting the tough loans done.” We pride ourselves in establishing long lasting relationships with investors who give us flexibility in being able to structure and place difficult transactions. It may sound like a cliché, but where other lenders fail, we succeed.
Finish this statement: “The most misunderstood element of the mortgage/real estate industry is ________.” Explain.
Again—it’s compliance and regulation. Customers (who are supposed to be the beneficiary of most regulations) are often disappointed with us because we are following regulations. We see this with the timing associated with the sending of Closing Disclosures with initial figures. The CFPB website is very informative and if a customer takes the time to review and process the information, the expectations of the lender would be more realistic.
Please state whether you agree or disagree with the following statement and why. “One of the mortgage industry’s biggest challenges is collaboration between service providers in the course of closing the loan.” Also, how could this be improved?
I agree. As a lender, we are the quarterback of all transactions. We don’t control all aspects of it (title, appraisal, etc.) but we are looked at as “the” vendor. As a result, we are often held accountable by our customers for things that are simply out of our control. With more seamless collaboration between lenders and service providers, we could more accurately manage consumer expectations.