Online lenders have made the application process easy for many. Now they are developing new tools to help borrowers make decisions throughout the mortgage process.
Quicken Loans launched Rocket Mortgage in an ad that ran during the 2016 Super Bowl, promising to “turn a daunting process into an easy one.” It simplified the documentation of income and wealth – and competitors were quick to do the same.
However, collecting documents is just one of the many intimidating steps in getting a mortgage. One of the most difficult decisions is choosing a loan offer. A 30-year loan, a 15-year mortgage, or something in between? A higher rate with lower fees or a lower rate with higher fees? A personal loan or a home equity line of credit?
Rocket and its competitors are currently developing tools borrowers can use to make those decisions – and they are encouraging borrowers to make informed decisions online, over the phone, and in person.
Reduce paperwork, add flexibility
Lenders leading the way in the digital age of mortgages include Quicken Loans with its brand Rocket Mortgage and LoanDepot, whose “digital lending platform” is called Mello. There are also service providers like Roostify that create online application software for lender websites.
These companies automate the tedious task of applying for a mortgage loan. Rajesh Bhat, CEO of Roostify, says his business is “based on our traumatic consumer experience.” He wants the mortgage application to be as easy as buying a plane ticket or booking a hotel online.
Keep human contact
These innovations can be helpful, but many people still want to talk to people when they are ready to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars. This applies in particular to first-time buyers.
In a survey conducted in late 2016 on behalf of Ellie Mae, a mortgage technology provider, mortgage borrowers were asked, “What could have improved your recent experience?” The # 1 answer for millennials was “more personal communication”. (The # 1 answer for Gen Xer and Boomer was “a faster process”.)
Get questions about your loan answered by phone, chat, text or even in person.
The results of this survey come as no surprise to Marchetti of LoanDepot. “Although Millennials are digital natives, they don’t understand the APR, the cost of the transaction, and the complexity of a mortgage, so they’re not typically done online,” he says. “They want to talk to someone, they want to be informed of the process. They don’t feel comfortable going through the whole digital process. “
According to Marchetti, the Mello credit platform does not prefer one form of communication over another. It doesn’t matter if the customer wants to “go to their local Starbucks and meet their salesperson,” make phone calls at night, or access all the information online.
Quicken follows a similar philosophy. According to Hadiaris, customers can call, chat, or communicate by text at any time.
Small lenders also appreciate the personal touch. 360 Mortgage Group, an Austin mortgage bank that prides itself on its internal online application technology, encourages borrowers to call loan officers to ask questions, says President Mark Greco. It is part of the lender’s philosophy to allow clients to “go through and consider different options without pressure,” he says.
Next limit: mortgage advice
The next limit with online mortgages are credit recommendations based on each client’s goals.
LoanDepot and Quicken are among the leading providers of machine learning for mortgages. Machine learning makes predictions with large amounts of data. If you buy an item from Amazon and get a list of other items that you might want, that’s the result of machine learning.
The goal is for artificial intelligence to tailor credit options to the needs of the borrower.
The Amazon shopping experience is a benchmark and a source of inspiration for mortgage loan managers. When a website offers multiple borrowing options for a borrower, the choices are in part based on what other customers have chosen in the past.