Chris Backe is the director of financial services at Velocify
and a sales-automation expert with more than 20 years of
experience offering technology solutions to multiple
industries. Backe has spent the last 10 years in the financial-services industry, holding various positions at industry-leading technology companies, including Ellie Mae and
Salesforce. Reach Backe at email@example.com.
Replace the Human Touch
Using automation to enhance personalized service is
the path to closing more mortgages
By Chris Backe
to manage costs — which was driven by the wave of
new regulations and agency requirements that swept
the industry after the housing crisis.
At the same time that lenders were adopting tech-
10 years ago. In recent years, the number of consumers
Although technology has given consumers greater
access to more information about mortgages than
they ever had before, these consumers are not necessarily better informed. In fact, in some ways, technology may have distanced borrowers from the human
expertise they traditionally depended on to make the
largest financial transaction in their lifetimes.
Many borrowers today do not fill out mortgage
applications online, however, even when they have
the opportunity — and that includes millennial buyers, whom we assume prefer an online experience.
It turns out that it is not a digital mortgage that consumers want so much. Rather, they want a good loan,
which involves getting human expertise at the appropriate times in the process.
Recent data from the McKinsey Group shows that
compared to social media, e-mail is 40 times more
effective at gaining new customers. Today, mortgage
professionals are swarming to Facebook and Twitter,
yet many originators fail to respond to an e-mail from
a potential borrower the same day it was sent.
Focusing on borrowers
Making the mortgage process faster and more efficient remains an important goal that also benefits
consumers. Yet mortgage professionals who want
to take advantage of today’s strong housing-market
fundamentals to grow their business would be wise
to focus less on how quickly they can move prospects
For more articles on technology
in the mortgage industry
View these articles and more at
“Remote Notarizations Gain Digital Traction,”
“Machine Learning Offers a Way Forward,”
“Blast Off With Technology,”
Anyone who has kids probably has seen them experience a moment of confusion over “old technology.” In fact, there are hilarious videos online of children try-
ing to use rotary phones, typewriters and 1980s-era
Sony Walkman music players. When you watch these
videos, you can’t help but wonder how long it will be
before a child looks at a pencil and piece of paper and
wonders: “How do these things work?”
That day may not be upon us just yet, but perhaps
it will come sooner than we think. Consider how
quickly mortgage production has become highly
centralized and automated. It’s still a highly paper-
based and fragmented process, but automated under-
writing, electronic signatures and online borrower
“portals” that let consumers self-drive the approval
process are quickly becoming mainstream. Loan
approvals can be achieved in minutes thanks to new
automated borrower-verification tools.
Yet, even with all this technology, the overall mortgage experience hasn’t gotten better for consumers.
Financing a home is still confusing and even a bit scary
— and it’s even more nerve-wracking when borrowers do not get the help they need when they need it.
To reverse this trend, lenders will need to find ways to
give borrowers both the technology and the human
expertise they desire, and at the right times in the
Evolving tech impact
It could not be a better time to improve the mortgage
experience for consumers. Job growth and incomes
are relatively strong, the U.S. is experiencing the highest home-sales rate in more than a decade, and the
Mortgage Bankers Association expects purchase-loan
volume will increase this year and again in 2018.
The last time the housing market was this strong,
more than 10 years ago, few consumers were getting
approved for mortgages online. Back then, mortgage
originators were in control of a process that was neither
very automated nor efficient, at least from the borrower’s perspective. Since then, our industry has
seen an enormous number of innovations. We can
now verify a borrower’s income and assets almost
The same is true when it comes to searching for and
Although these innovations have consumer benefits,
many were motivated more by the need of lenders