Sara Nakae: Mortgage Lenders Must Shift to Meet Borrower Demands

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PERSON OF THE WEEK: Whether they are buying a product or a service, consumers today expect the process to be seamless and, when appropriate, fully digital. That is no less true for the mortgage process.

Because consumers today have the ability to order products and services almost instantly online – and then receive those products and services in a relatively short time frame – they are more prone to becoming frustrated when processes become long, drawn-out and overly complex. As such, mortgage lenders today are making great strides in digitizing and simplifying the mortgage experience – from application through closing.

Still, lenders are facing a lot of pressure to make the mortgage process even smoother, faster and intuitive. Many consumers today feel that taking out a mortgage loan should be no less complicated than applying for a credit card – and a high percentage of borrowers continue to be frustrated with the experience, despite lenders’ efforts.

To learn more about how technology is evolving to help mortgage lenders meet consumer expectations, MortgageOrb recently interviewed Sara Nakae, director of marketing at technology firm FirstClose, which offers an all-digital mortgage origination platform.

Q: How are consumer/borrower expectations evolving?

Nakae: Consumer expectations are constantly evolving, but the rate at which they do so has accelerated due to digitization. Most everything we do today has been digitized or automated in some form and that has changed how consumers expect to interact with everything and everyone – even lenders.

Borrowers have the same expectations from lenders as they do from any other business. Companies like Amazon, Apple and others have shown them superior, personalized experiences and they expect nothing less from anyone else.

Take Amazon, for example. The company predicts what you need to repurchase before you even think of it. This personalized experience has resulted in consumers expecting the same type of interaction with other companies they do business with.

Consumers also want everything available instantly, no matter where they are. Consumers want the flexibility to do all the things they could do in person on a computer or mobile device. Just as they are able to shop for groceries, clothes and cars online, consumers want to be able to take care of their mortgage online, as well.

Q: How are digital experiences evolving in the mortgage industry to meet those expectations?

Nakae: To meet these borrower demands, lenders have introduced technologies into nearly every area of their business – from origination to settlement services to closing – all with the aim of giving borrowers the experiences they have come to expect.

Fully digital mortgages are becoming more commonplace and borrowers are increasingly becoming conditioned to expect quick and seamless experiences for all types of loans. This new digital aspect of lending makes it more convenient for borrowers to interact with lenders, but there are also some technologies working behind the scenes to help personalize experiences and make the process move even faster.

Q: How can lenders better engage with borrowers in the coming year?

Nakae: As borrowers increasingly engage with lenders via digital platforms, there are some strategies lenders can use to make the most of every interaction. Today’s lead generation tools help lenders more easily identify opportunities to engage with borrowers and drive them to a digital platform.

Since lenders already have so much borrower data, a lead generation platform can use that data to, for example, identify existing borrowers who might need another loan, like a home equity loan or HELOC. Today’s advanced lead generation platforms can personalize outreach, send leads to custom landing pages, and provide estimates or data specific to a particular borrower.

In a time where many fear that automation and technology will make interactions less personal, today’s advanced lending platforms have the ability to customize experiences – often in a way that lenders could not do on their own. This keeps lenders working efficiently while keeping up with borrower expectations. Other tools like suitability logic also help lenders work more efficiently, while also significantly improving borrower experience.

Q: What is suitability logic and why is it important to the mortgage lending industry?

Nakae: Suitability logic is a tool that helps lenders automate the decision-making process. With suitability logic, lenders are able to write in their current underwriting guidelines and allow the technology to decide on which – for example – valuation or title product might be best to use for a specific property.

Suitability logic is just another way lenders are able to automate without losing the personal touch. When the technology mimics the decisions they would make based on the guidelines they use, lenders are able to do more work without losing any extra time. In many cases, suitability logic actually saves time for lenders.

Technology solutions like suitability logic and lead generation tools are now crucial for lenders for a lot of reasons – the primary one being that they save time and money. Anytime a lender can become more profitable, it is a win, and this extra time and money can be poured back into the business, allowing lenders to add even more value for new and existing borrowers.

These solutions are also so important because they allow for a lot of personalization and customization. A quick and seamless digital interaction carries far more weight when a borrower feels valued and that their unique needs are being met. This strengthens relationships, which sets lenders up for success in the long term.

Whatever technology a lender decides to implement, it is key that it chooses solutions that increase efficiencies and strengthen borrower relationships. After all, an efficient experience means nothing if borrowers do not feel valued.

Creating personalized experiences is crucial for consumers, and its importance will only grow. To keep up with shifting consumer demands, lenders must work alongside technology to create the optimum borrower experience.

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