This summer I decided to purchase one of the many new Android phones (Samsung Galaxy S) to take advantage of the many features it has versus my old cell phone. After researching the different programs available on the Android market I began to wonder if I could function as a loan officer without my laptop in the field. It's been 6 months now and I am happy to tell you I can, however the best thing I discovered with this experiment came as a total surprise.
Why do most loan officers fail?
Is it that the mortgage business and its guidelines and procedures are to hard to understand? In my 29 years of experience, the biggest problem is getting them out of the office to make calls on agents to generate their own stream of business. So why are they so reluctant to call on them? I find that most of them feel "naked" going out because they don't have the tools with them to help them answer the many questions that can come up. They also feel that if they are not in the office they can't check on the status of their files and assist the processors. As a result, they sit in the office and live on refinances and calls that come in.
I have to admit that over the years I have felt reluctant to leave the office my self sometimes. I have a tendency to sit at my desk constantly check my email, bond market, loan status, rates and business news since I already have a good Realtor base of business. Although this not a bad thing if I had a reason to be in the office, such as a being a branch manager, it keeps my production from being what it could be. Seeing that the new Android programs seemed to be able to do everything I could do at the office I decided to leave the computer on my desk, grab my new phone and go see my agents.
Before I did that however, I had to determine what did I REALLY need in the field. There are many more I use occasionally such as scanning and fax, but here are the programs I find to be indispensable:
RPN Calculator: Being old school, of course I needed my HP12C which I found in the Android Market. The RPN Calculator does pretty much everything I'm used to on the 12C and even looks like.
PalmAgent: How many times have you been called while out from an agent that needed a cost estimate immediately while someone was in their office? This program allows you to set up your companies closing cost templates and with in 30 seconds, email them with one click, a complete cost estimate for all program types. It also tells them how much they have to make and how much they need in reserves and cash to close! This is invaluable and can be done while talking on the phone via a BlueTooth headset or while on speakerphone. It is also a great gift to give to your agents so they can do it themselves (with your fees in there of course). PalmAgent also comes with a home app for your desktop which really helps when you need to get a quick estimate out while your at the office.
Loan Scenario's and Bond Market Information: You can't do an estimate without knowing what the rates are and before you quote somebody a rate you need to know what the market is doing. To solve that problem I simply put a hyper text link to Optimal Blue (OB my pricing engine) on my main screen along with Market Alert (my favorite bond market service) so I can check the market and run the scenario via OB if necessary. I find that Skyfire and the Dolphin browsers seem to the best for Android.
Guidelines - Fortunately, the FHA 4155 and VA guides are available in a PDF format so I downloaded them to my SD card for quick viewing. You can always go online to do that too, but I find it much faster and easier to have them with you in PDF on your device. There are several PDF readers for Smartphones to pick from but most phones come with one. FNMA unfortunately changes so often it is best to use your browser to go to eFNMA and FHLMC's website to search for the information you need along with each investors guidelines. Since Android has several screens to add icons to, you can make a link for each of your investor guidelines or AllRegs.
Phone My PC - Just like GoToMyPC or Logmein, PhoneMyPC connects to you computer and lets you remotely control your computer. This app is fast and works great just using 3G. You can even see both monitors if you have a dual monitor set up like I do at my home office. You can also use it to control a laptop mouse and controls when using the laptop connected to a projector like remote control. Awesome.
Evernote - This program allows you to take written, verbal and picture notes and file them for easy retrieval later. Great when your need to get back to someone and don't have a pen or piece of paper with you. Love that I can use the camera to store pictures of documents.
MightyMeeting - This great little program allows you to do Powerpoint presentations on your phone or by webinar using only your phone. Had to do this once while stuck in traffic after a wreck on IH35 stopped traffic. The agents loved it.
Places - Great little app that finds everything close to you from restaurants to cheap gas by using your phones GPS
GOOGLE Navigation - You must have this free app from Google. Best thing in the world when your going to a new office and not sure exactly where it is and how long it will take to get there.
Pulling Credit, Loan Applications, Loan Status - If my company allowed it, I could pull credit and use Citrix to access my loan origination software directly from my phone. Since it is not allowed on my phone, I just use the remote control app to login to my desktop and do that and email myself the credit bureau via our secure email system. As far as taking an application you can always just login into your website and do the application from an agents computer or send them to your online application website to do the application and pick it up later. My company has a web based loan status so I can easily check on my files with the browser just call of course.
So what did I learn by my Android experience?
I learned that I can do almost anything on my new phone. I realized how heavy my laptop really was! I learned that my agents prefer to SEE me more often versus conversing via IM or email alone. I learned that being out of office is much more productive and fun then I remembered and my production went up 50%. I learned that sharing what I learned about my phone is a great way to get into a Realtors office and it will help them be more productive.
The computer has taken the personal touch out of sales. Leave it at home or work and just get out there. In today's world everything you need can fit in your pocket. Your Smartphone is all you really need.