For more articles on digital-mortgage technology
Illustration by Dennis Wunsch
Chief technology officer
Patch of Land
BY BRIAN FRITTON
ONLINE APPLICATION AND LOAN-PROCESSING
INNOVATIONS ATTRAC T ON-THE-GO BORROWERS
he mortgage industry may be a late arrival to the computer
age, but the advent of digital mortgages and financial-technology
innovation has disrupted mortgage originations in a transformation
that likely will continue to accelerate and evolve.
Now that anyone can carry a room-sized computer in the palm
of their hand, employing origination technology to offer convenience and
speed to borrowers, while reducing costs and adding efficiencies for loan
originators, is no longer a luxury, but rather a necessity to compete in
today’s mortgage marketplace. >>
View these articles and more at
“The Search for an End-to-End
Adam Thorpe and
Kyle Swensen, October 2017
“The e-Lending Revolution,”
“Flip the Switch on Mortgage Technology,”
“Many mortgage originators also
are utilizing marketing-automation
<< Era continued from Page 104
allow the digital originator to form a judgment-basis
for choosing one lender or loan product over another
to fit the borrower’s specific circumstances.
Human originators can make educated judgment
calls regarding which loan products might provide
the best terms for a particular borrower. They do this
based upon years of experience and previous dealings
with lenders. Digital originators, on the other hand,
are designed to be free of such biases when identifying potential lenders, even where recognizing and
working with such biases would be beneficial for both
consumers and lenders.
Artificial intelligence is being developed to bring
a human element to digital mortgages to help customers feel connected with the originator. Notably,
some mortgage companies are using software that
tailors the language in e-mails based on information
gathered about the personality of the consumer and
using “lingo” particularly geared toward the borrowers being sent the e-mail. If a potential borrower is a
sports fanatic, for example, the e-mail might use sports
analogies. That being said, there could still be a human
The innovators of automation must continue to solve
for the personal touch. Specifically, they need to find a
way to provide borrowers the ability to have live discussions with originators about their particular circumstances, which provides assurance and a sense of trust
in their originator’s knowledge, expertise and ability.
Perhaps AI will become so advanced that a software
robot will be able to establish these characteristics.
Until such leaps and bounds in technology are made,
however, it will be extremely difficult for borrowers to
evaluate, understand or place trust in a machine originator simply because it allows for ease of use as well
as efficiency in process — and ultimately an increase in
The human element
Although there are opportunities for tremendous
technological advances in mortgage origination in
the near future, the industry is not yet ready for full
automation. Personalized e-mails, texts and responses
to customers can simulate the human element, but
they do not yet replace the personal connection and
Automation and implementation of AI has not yet
been able to provide what a human can do — not
just by establishing a human touch — but by utilizing
intuition and knowledge about companies and potential “best fit” loans based on past transactions. Can
automation address the human element of originators who have worked with a company for years and
understand its operations so well that they can quickly
identify and target lenders that will offer the “best fit”
Comparing prices and terms is one thing, but human
perception, intuition and experience is another.
Building such vast knowledge and complicated judgement into an automated system is not yet possible
given the current confines of AI.
Current digital options
Until a human-element component is developed
within automation, the intermediary stage is to combine the digital component with the human touch.
Perhaps this means there will be automated segments
of the process that either parallel human interactions
or involve a human component later in the process.
Could a digital originator “Jane” later turn into a human
“Jane” once the consumer reaches a particular stage?
Given the current drawbacks and confines asso-
ciated with implementing a fully automated digital
originator, some large financial institutions are begin-
ning to use digital-mortgage lending. Such programs
promote efficiency among human originators, but
because they are not fully automated, still allow the
consumer to interact with a person.
In June 2017, for example, financial-services company Morgan Stanley announced development of
a new digital-mortgage application tool. Instead of
replacing human originators, these assistance tools
will be used to increase the volume of residential loans
by allowing clients to access rate estimates, upload
documents and apply for loans online.
This new digital-mortgage process is adapted from a
version of Zelle, a tool created by the collective efforts
of Bank of America, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo and other
large banking institutions to process mobile mortgage
payments. Morgan Stanley also partnered with Twillo
to provide secure text messages between borrowers
Many mortgage originators also are utilizing
marketing-automation software such as Salesforce,
Surefire and Infusionsoft. Salesforce, which is used
across many industries, helps originators track leads,
follow up with clients, review notes and correspondence, and deliver marketing.
Surefire, by Top of Mind Networks, alerts originators
to loan opportunities that exist among consumers
currently in their database. These automatic alerts
notify originators if past clients put their homes on the
market or would benefit from refinancing.
Infusionsoft helps originators keep in touch with past
customers through automated communication options, including personalized e-mail and mail communications and automated social media posts. These tools
and other software programs have proven very helpful
and are used by most large mortgage companies.
n n n
Considering the availability of automated tools and
current advancements in digital-origination tools
coupled with the drawbacks and limitations of a fully
automated originator, the best solution for mortgage
companies today appears to be implementing a process that includes both digital and human elements.
The retention of human originators paired with the
development of existing technology to produce a
digital-mortgage process seems to be the best of both
worlds. This pairs the convenience and automated
efficiency of digital-mortgage applications with the
judgment, knowledge, and human interaction of a
human originator. n