Jennifer Henry is vice president and vertical marketing leader at Equifax Mortgage Services. She is responsible
for pricing, product management, product marketing, campaign management, and mergers and acquisitions.
Henry brings more than 20 years of experience to her position at Equifax, including operations, technology,
marketing, sales, product management, mortgage loan quality and loan-origination services. Prior to her
position at Equifax, she held leadership roles at First American Mortgage Solutions and Fannie Mae.
Reach her at email@example.com.
or all of the attention and resources
that the pursuit of the digital mort-
gage has commanded over the last
decade, why isn’t the industry further
along in achieving this goal? As many as 15 years
ago, drivers could successfully purchase auto
insurance online from the comfort of their
office or home. Today — in a matter of minutes
— a consumer can research, apply for credit and
successfully purchase an automobile through
their mobile device and have it delivered to their
home just days later.
Consumers have grown accustomed to the simplicity and ease of self-service applications for just
about every aspect of life — from finances to lawn
service to child care. Digital is the only way many
do business. It’s the “I want it now” generation.
To be fair, the mortgage industry has made
strides in a positive way when it comes to leveraging technology to help improve the loan origination
process. When it comes to comparing a borrower’s
digital experience in the mortgage ecosystem with
that of other industries, however, there still exists a
chasm in terms of efficiency and performance.
Painful mortgage process
Equifax recently completed an anonymous
Mortgage Lending Study in which participants
were executives working at banks, credit unions,
community banks and mortgage banks of all
sizes. One participant had this to say about the
slower pace of the industry: “The mortgage process is painful — too much paperwork, too many
rules. I can buy a $100k car in an hour, but it takes
30 days to buy an $80k condo.”
The mortgage industry has started down a
more efficient digital path with the introduc-
tion (and market acceptance) of online real es-
tate sites and mobile-origination products and
services, but what would it realistically take to
improve the digital homebuying process in the
way that online companies have revolution-
ized the car-buying process? From a practical
standpoint, mortgages will always be more
complicated and logistically challenging than
car purchases, particularly when dealing with
the purchase of an existing (already-occupied)
home. Borrowers need to account for appraisals, inspections, moving-company logistics, title
insurance, utilities set-up, etc. Those simply take
time to complete.
What about new construction or loan refinances? Why, for example, is a traditional appraisal needed on a newly constructed unit in a
condo development or a new home in a planned
community? Why is it necessary to go through
a lengthy title-insurance process on properties
Recent products like Freddie Mac’s Automated Collateral Evaluation (ACE) program or
Fannie Mae’s Day 1 Certainty are helping to
eliminate the need for a full appraisal on certain eligible purchase and refinance loans. This
question, however, needs to be asked: What
else could be done to create the efficiencies
borrowers are enjoying in so many other aspects of their lives?
Changing market dynamics
The industry is already paying a lot of attention
to the self-serve digital-application process. In
some cases, lender workflow also is in focus,
with an eye toward leveraging technology and
supporting products to help accomplish a seamless digital engagement.
What other elements need to be looked at to
really move the needle? Who is focusing on some
of the archaic and redundant requirements that
continue to persist in our industry? Mortgage
originators still have some road to travel in terms
of really achieving the efficiency and automation
demanded by many next-generation homebuyers, and we need an industry call-to-action to
affect this type of change.
Market dynamics will likely accelerate this
move. Data from the latest Equifax National
Consumer Credit Trends Report tells us that
first-mortgage originations in 2017 were down
7 percent year over year — the first decline in
three years. Interest rates are projected to continue to rise in 2018, which likely will feed a continuation of this trend.
As a result, many mortgage companies will be
challenged with improving operational efficiencies while managing increased competition for
borrowers. The market dynamics are going to
force the industry to find ways to extend the value of the investment that it has already made in
the digital mortgage.
So, what realistically would the self-service experience be for mortgage lending? Today, despite
the strides the industry has made in leveraging verification data (like employment, asset and income)
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