POINT for Windows 3.5 has just been released. If you are presently using POINT 3.0 or an earlier version, or if you are unhappy with your present loan organization software, consider changing to the product that is in more than 14,000 licensed sites (4,500 more sites than when I reviewed 3.0 a little more than a year ago). In the world of loan origination software, there are four well-known programs at the Mortgage Broker/Banker level: Contour, Genesis, Byte and, of course, POINT 3.5. However, there can only be one Number One program that provides more, does more, and is the acknowledged leader in the field. In my opinion, version 3.0 separated POINT from the pack, and POINT 3.5 makes it even better. I also feel it offers the best value both in purchase and in upgrades. I won't bore you (or myself) with basics of loan origination software; POINT does it all and more. It has a basic contact-manager system, and a good pre-qualification open-house system. It includes many of the forms, verifications, and disclosures that have become a necessary evil in our business. Calyx understands that success in the future involves partnership and cross marketing with other mortgage service providers. This broadens each company's horizons and we, the Mortgage Brokers, benefit. Both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae make sure their latest POS automation is always included in POINT. As a matter of fact, Fannie Mae has partnered with Calyx to provide what they call the "Fannie Mae Technology Pak" (or "Fannie Pak," for short) which includes MORNETPlus; Fannie Mae's private, secure, value-added network; Desktop Underwriter software; and Calyx Software's POINT for Windows 3.5-all on a state-of-the-art computer. Any of us who have used Fannie or Freddie's automated underwriting, find it amazing-less paperwork, and deals get approved faster and easier than ever before. In fact, many deals have been approved that might not have been when using the traditional underwriting scenario. Another reason to buy or switch to POINT 3.5 is that it is the industry standard. New technology is created with POINT in mind. For example, you can click from any open file in POINT 3.5, and be connected with 38 other mortgage service providers such as Chicago or Fidelity Title Company, credit reporting companies, MI companies, and Lenders Interactive Online Services LIONinc.com). Vendors want their services available to this wide network of POINT users, so more links are added each day. This is just one more way to integrate all the steps of the mortgage process into one. (Remember when it was a big deal to download the credit report into the 1003?) Mortgage wholesalers are getting into the act, too. More and more wholesalers are planning to introduce their own version of online underwriting, such as Indy Mac is doing with its e-MITS program. If you are using POINT 3.5, you know that your program is compatible now and will be in the future. Let's get to the specifics of what is new in 3.5 (again I am not dealing in this review with the basics of loan origination software). *I love the new customized tool bar; I can switch back and forth between 15 different forms with a single click of the mouse. It once again proves that Calyx actually listens to their Mortgage-Broker base when upgrading. POINT has always been created with the broker/banker in mind. *The debt-consolidation screen is an excellent addition. In the past I did all the figuring by calculator until I got it right. With this addition, all I do is download the liabilities from the credit agency interface, click on the debts to be paid or not, and the ratios automatically reflect the changes. This permits you to create what-if scenarios and to play with the numbers on a debt consolidation loan. In some cases, it could convince the client to increase the loan amount by paying off all the debt and showing them the reduced monthly payment. This is a really useful feature. *If you get stumped trying to do something, there is a hotlink to the tech-tip section of Calyx's Web site in addition to the 800 tech support. *Customized marketing forms and open-house flyers enable you to include property photos, making each form personalized and unique. I have received several calls recently from brokers looking for a program that does open-house prospecting and loan comparisons for prospects. It is all included in POINT for Windows 3.5. *Integration with service providers such as credit, closing docs, flood, MI, appraisal, bundled services, and more-all in one place. The mortgage business is really catching up. *Soon we will be able to download rates online from major title companies, and have that entered automatically on the 1003. *Import files from other origination systems. This way if some loan officers are on Byte, Contour or Genesis, their files can be downloaded easily into POINT 3.5. You can import a single file or a whole pipeline. I guess the people at Calyx want to make it easy for you to switch to POINT for Windows. (I did not try this feature, so I won't comment on it.) *Automated Underwriting. The really big changes are the streamlined interface to Freddie Mac's Loan Prospector which makes the process easier to complete. Among improvements to the Fannie Mae DO/DU interface is a dropdown list for liabilities in the streamlined 1003, similar to the asset list. *Most of my readers know I don't do FHA/VA loans, but I have been assured by the Calyx people that they have provided more disclosures and FHA/VA forms, including the new FHA Purchase Worksheet. *In Calyx's promotional literature they state that "companies with a high number of computers running POINT can use the Enterprise Installation System to install new copies or upgrades onto multiple workstations faster and easier." *Of course, POINT 3.5 is 2000 compliant. POINT has actually been compliant since the first version. Five short years ago, I was one of the few brokers taking applications on a laptop. Now I go to a client's home or office and can, in may cases, tell them whether or not they are approved right on the spot. Let me be really clear for those brokers who are still reluctant to get with the new technology-before long, your clients will go to their local ATMs and apply for a mortgage. If you are not prepared, you will lose these customers. In today's market, it is not enough to be good. You must be efficient and provide that personalized touch that makes the client want to come back for more, or as Steven Marshall in Washington State put it, "making a client for life." Life is too short to live with second best. In my own life, I have found it is more efficient to have what is best for me. I have also made it a practice to use technology to make my life easier, so I am constantly searching for products that will save me time, make me more efficient, and allow me to raise my standards to higher levels. In the category of loan origination software products, POINT 3.5 for Windows by Calyx is the best on the market today. It is efficient, and it is very easy to learn and to use. As you work with POINT, you will find more ways to use it in order to benefit your business. The features are simply too numerous to mention, and since there are no extra modules, you get it all! POINT is now the standard upon which many mortgage service providers base their products, and surprisingly, it is fairly priced. As always please let me know your opinion. Disclaimer: I have no financial or other interest in POINT for Windows 3.5, nor do I with any product that I review, except that they give me the product for free. I write each month for The Mortgage Press because I am a successful Mortgage Broker and wish to give back to my industry. My intention is to find concepts or products that I would use myself and share this knowledge with others, for one truly does not own something until one gives it away. Info Sheet: Name of Product: POINT for Windows 3.5 for Calyx Software Type of Product: Loan Origination Software Upgrade Price: $895 for 10-user site license with free 800 tech support and Web support. Upgrade to 3.5 from any previous version $245. Price includes full network capability and all available features...no extra modules to buy How to Buy: Call (800) 362-2599 or go to www.calyxsoftware.com for a free demo My recommendation: Definitely upgrade if you are using 3.0 or earlier versions. Consider switching if you are not totally satisfied with your present LOS software. Most files can be imported into POINT all at once. Allow yourself to have and use the best.