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Seven LOS features no originator should live without

National Mortgage Professional
Aug 25, 2005

Seven LOS features no originator should live withoutDavid LewisDavid Lewis, LOS, loan origination system What is the most indispensable business tool for a mortgage originator? Most of you will likely agree that it's a loan origination system (LOS). An LOS is the indispensable helping hand on which we have learned to rely. But are we sure our LOS is doing everything it can to help us originate loans faster, more easily and more profitably? Chances are, the answer is no. Think about it. You'd never settle for an outdated cell phone, nor would you use a cassette tape when you could get much better sound and durability from a CD. Yet year after year, you have become accustomed to the limited set of features in your LOS. The good news is that good origination systems can come at minimal cost. It's just a matter of knowing what to look for. Here's an overview of seven LOS features no originator should live without. If your LOS doesn't have most of these characteristics, it may be time to evaluate whether your helping hand is helping you or holding you back. 1.   Loan status at a glance Tired of relying on phone calls and e-mail to find out the status of a loan? With today's loan origination technologies, you can see current status information right from your computer. Furthermore, you can view your complete loan pipeline and workload on a single screen. That is, all essential loan information is visible at a glance without having to dig down into each individual loan. When you can view all of your loans and sort them by name, timeline, rate lock or deadline, you're on the right path to better loan management. 2.   Anytime, anywhere access to current loan data As a loan officer, broker or processor, you should be able to access up-to-the-minute loan data from any Internet connection at any time. When an LOS is accessible via any Internet connection, there is no limit to your ability to be productive. For instance, if, as a loan officer, you are in the field or at home and receive a call from a borrower anxious to apply for a loan or lock in a rate, you would have the ability to act on it quickly without risking losing the customer to someone who can respond faster. 3.   Automated alerts An LOS should help keep you organized and on schedule. Extremely helpful for this purpose are automated alerts, which notify you of upcoming deadlines. Some loan origination programs even come with established timetables for each of the stages in the loan origination process. For instance, when loan officers send a loan to processing, the program indicates the expected time to complete the remaining tasks. Upon reaching a deadline, the system automatically alerts the user. Alerts help you make sure items won't fall through the cracks. 4.   Integrated customer management features The future health of your business depends on how well you can generate new loans. Marketing is likely an integral part of your daily activities, whether you're marketing to past clients or prospecting from a list of leads. Since there are only so many hours in a day, the key to marketing is efficiency, and the ability to measure what works and what doesn't. The problem is that many originators can't really gauge the success of their marketing campaigns because their LOS does not contain customer marketing software, so they operate with two separate silos of information: one for prospects and one for current customers. When your LOS is separate from your customer marketing software, you will inevitably spend time doing repeat data entry and re-entry in order to keep your systems current, and you will not be able to optimize your marketing efforts. Consider the power of having an LOS that either comes with customer marketing capabilities or is integrated to customer marketing software. If you purchase 10,000 leads, whenever a lead turns into a prospect or a borrower, there's no need for you to input their contact information into your LOS. Instead, the LOS has the ability to track how many of the 1,000 leads you purchased actually turned into customers and what kind of loans those leads generated. Had your customer marketing software and LOS not been integrated, this kind of analysis might have been very difficult to do. Integration is also essential if you'd like to market to customers whose mortgage rates are over a certain rate, like seven percent. This information is already within your LOS, so sorting your loans and launching a targeted marketing campaign is easy, as is tracking the results of the campaign. But beware of simply placing your prospect files into your LOS. Unless your LOS includes customer marketing capabilities, your LOS will not provide the ideal mechanism to manage and market your leads. 5.   Electronic document management Looking to make your business dramatically more efficient? Say goodbye to piles of paper, lost files and overnight shipping bills. To go paperless, it's critical that your LOS helps you manage, store and deliver your electronic documents. First, make electronic versions of your paper documents, including borrower applications, appraisals, closing packages and security instruments. Second, store these electronic documents in convenient electronic folders that work seamlessly with your LOS. When you're ready to send a document to a third party, such as a borrower or a lender, you won't have to worry about the fact that standard e-mail is not secure enough to transmit sensitive documents. When you have electronic document management features, you can easily and safely deliver files or loan packages to third parties. Best of all, you can track the documents to make sure they were sent and received, so you no longer have to hear, "I didnt get it." 6.   Automate the ordering of services Do you like ordering credit and automated underwriting right from your LOS? If so, then you might appreciate the ability to order all of the other documents and services you need to close a loan without ever leaving your LOS. You can even submit a loan to a lender directly from your system. When you transact electronically right from your LOS, you dramatically reduce the chance for errors, and you can benefit from better pricing from third parties. Whether you choose to use an add-on tool to add this functionality to your LOS or switch your LOS completely, you would benefit from faster loan origination and processing. Put your LOS into high gear! 7.   Tight security controls Nobody wants to be subject to big fines for not complying with security and privacy laws. Make sure that your LOS offers the kind of data privacy and security that is expected of you. Is access to loan files password protected? Are passwords encrypted? Furthermore, make sure you are not using standard e-mail to transmit sensitive loan documents. You've seen the list, you've checked it twice. How does you LOS stack up? With any luck, after reading these seven not-to-be-missed LOS features, you feel pretty good about the technology you have been using. But if you don't, it might just be time to explore alternatives. After all, ignorance isn't really bliss when your time and income are at stake. David Lewis is senior vice president of marketing at Ellie Mae. He may be reached at david.lewis@elliemae.com.
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