Once-Elusive Technologies Now Reality for Small to Medium-Sized Mortgage Bankers

Article excerpt

IN THE OCTOBER 2001 ISSUE OF MORTgage Banking, Angelo Mozilo, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Calabasas, Californiabased Countrywide Credit Industries Inc., laid it on the line-stating that, without superior technological capabilities, a mortgage banker cannot achieve the operational scale required to profitably originate, fund and service mortgage loans.

The capabilities Mozilo was talking about included automated underwriting and valuation modeling, near-instantaneous access to credit reports, centralized processing center capabilities and other loan origination technologies and operating methods. For small to medium-sized lenders, this kind of statement brings up numerous concerns. Does the cost-prohibitive nature of implementing an industrial-strength solution and information technology (IT) infrastructure relegate their business to also-ran status? Can they afford to bite the bullet and install a solution intended for a much larger organization? Can they afford to do without?

Please don't misunderstand. I agree loo percent with Mozilo's assessment of the importance technology will continue to play in the business health of mortgage banking organizations. But until recently, the kind of technical arsenal he prescribes was realistically available to only the largest of lenders. And shoehorning a large-scale enterprise solution into a small to medium-sized mortgage banking operation typically means the mortgage banker must change and adjust its business procedures to match the software at a substantial upfront cost. More often than not, this leads to productivity slowdowns, IT shutdowns and years of negative financial impact before reaching the intended return on investment (ROI).

New options fit small to mid-sized mortgage bankers' needs

Thankfully, things have changed. Affordable software solutions are being developed to meet the specific needs of the small to medium-sized firms that make up the vast majority of the mortgage banking marketplace. As one would expect, however, making sense of the features, benefits and technical jargon relating to mortgage banking automation software can be daunting. Such a buying decision must be approached systematically and with an unfaltering focus on ROI goals.

The following are the top nine things to look for when creating a mortgage banking automation shopping list. This checklist has been developed with the small to medium-sized mortgage banker in mind, but can apply to larger institutions as well.

1. SEAMLESS INTEGRATION WITH EXISTING LOAN-GENERATION SOFTWARE AND BACK-END DOCUMENT PACKAGES

In other words, your mortgage banking solution must integrate with the packages that brokers and loan officers have already invested in and understand how to use. As you are well aware, today's fast-paced market requires brokers to take the path of least resistance. You cannot afford to slow down the process of closing loans quickly and accurately. A solution that seamlessly integrates with other essential solutions from loan origination software to interim servicing without requiring costly custom interfaces will accomplish this goal. In addition, this kind of solution should eliminate the need to key in information more than once. Eliminating rekeying greatly enhances productivity and reduces the chance of someone making a data entry error to a one-time event.

2. EASE OF USE, SIMPLIFIED TRAINING AND HASSLE-FREE IMPLEMENTATION

Your ability to reach a quick ROI is highly dependent upon finding a software solution that is easy to use, requires minimal training and does not impact your company's information systems (IS) support team. There really isn't a viable excuse for anything other than an intuitive and easy-to-use software solution these days. Insist on a program that uses terminology that relates directly to the mortgage banking business and provides the information you need on a single, easy-to-understand screen. …