Susan Graham is president and chief operating officer of
Financial Industry Computer Systems Inc. (FICS), a mortgage-software company specializing in cost-effective, in-house
mortgage-origination, residential mortgage-servicing and
commercial mortgage-servicing software for mortgage lenders, banks and credit unions. FICS’ software solutions operate
on Microsoft Windows platforms using Microsoft .NET
Framework, providing customers the flexibility to choose
an in-house or cloud-hosting solution. FICS also provides
innovative document-management and web-based
capabilities in its full suite of products. Reach Graham at
In today’s competitive mortgage industry, creat- ing an exceptional client experience is essential. Borrowers in this digital, I-want-it-now-age xpect the mortgage process to be quick, easy
Many mortgage originators have invested in new
e-mortgage technology, including web applications,
to satisfy borrowers while containing costs. There’s
strong evidence that people prefer to do many parts
of the borrowing experience online.
At the same time, more and more people are using
their mobile phones to conduct business online. This
poses a question for originators: How should they
reach a digital borrower on their phones?
More specifically, should originators build mobile-optimized websites? Or should they use mobile apps
popular with so many other businesses?
Using web applications in conjunction with loan-origination software streamlines and provides transparency throughout the loan-origination process when
the two systems are designed to interact with each
other. Web applications allow borrowers to apply for a
mortgage 24/7 without assistance from an originator.
Borrowers also can attach supporting documents
online for submission to their originator and view loan
documents and the status of their application online.
Throughout the loan-application process, borrowers
can easily keep abreast of any additional documentation requested — whether for verification, underwriting conditions or for closing — to speed up the entire
process and get them to closing more quickly.
Thanks to cross-device interaction, borrowers can
start their application on a mobile device and finish
it on their laptop (or vice versa). Web applications
expedite the loan-origination process, benefitting
borrowers and lenders.
According to Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey
of 3,000 people, 72 percent of respondents prefer to
complete their mortgage application online, while
66 percent want a fully digital mortgage process. The
percentage of homebuyers who actually apply online
(versus merely expressing a preference to do so) is
somewhat lower but still significant.
Forty-three percent of borrowers applied for mort-
gages digitally in 2017, according to a 2017 JD Power
survey of homebuyers. More than 70 percent of
borrowers submitted at least some supporting
documents to the lender via email, an app or a web-
site, according to a survey by Discovery Home Loans.
Homebuyers who used online tools to submit their
documents said it saved time ( 92 percent), helped
them stay organized ( 83 percent), and cut down on
paperwork ( 68 percent).
Web applications facilitate communication between borrowers and lenders, allowing lenders to
respond promptly to borrowers. With its plethora of
loan products, unfamiliar jargon and complicated
forms, the mortgage-application process can be
intimidating, particularly for first-time buyers.
If the loan-origination system and the web application talk to each other, however, even borrowers
who submitted their loan application face to face
with a loan officer because they needed more
hands-on assistance, can continue the process via
the web application.
According to an American Bankers Association survey, many borrowers lack confidence in their knowledge of the mortgage process. Only 34 percent of
survey respondents rated their knowledge about the
mortgage process as above average or excellent. Only
28 percent of respondents understood the difference
between the interest rate and the annual percentage
rate of their loan. Borrowers rely on their lender for
information about the mortgage process.
In another survey, 24 percent of borrowers indi-
cated that they learned the most about the mortgage
process from both the internet and their originator,
so it’s important for originators to educate borrowers.
Clients expect prompt responses to their questions
and requests for assistance.
Client satisfaction drops sharply for each day a borrower spends waiting for a lender to respond to their
inquiry. Web applications allow greater interaction
between borrowers and lenders, who can communicate updates on the loan process, request additional
information or supporting documentation, provide
disclosures and answer borrowers’ questions — all in
a timely manner.
Borrowers Are on Their Phones
and You Should Be, Too
The digital-mortgage experience needs to account for
the devices where most people access the internet
By Susan Graham
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