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National industry appointments update - 11/29/2006

Nov 28, 2006

Getting the most from loan origination softwareGail JoyceLOS The current mortgage landscape includes fewer loans being originated and more competition for those loans. Properly matching origination needs to available technology could mean surviving in the valley of low volumes instead of going out of business. This means that originators have to make sure that they are using the loan origination software that best fits their needs and allows them to be flexible. It can be a daunting task to select the right system. Let's face it - rather than focusing on a system, originators want to focus on generating more business. But considering the efficiencies gained from using the right loan origination software, a faster origination process will allow originators to close more loans at a lower per-loan cost. Originators should consider several factors to maximize their usage of their loan origination software. The system's core origination and processing features need to be advanced, meet compliance guidelines, be easily integrated with other systems and offer multiple access methods for users. Originators should also maximize their relationship with their loan origination software provider. A provider that solicits feedback about the system and is willing to incorporate suggested features can lay the foundation for a long-running relationship. Secure, remote access to an loan origination software online via the Internet through a Citrix server or terminal services allows originators to make the most of their time in the field instead of waiting to get to the office to key in information. While this might be taken for granted, being able to access the loan origination software at any time from any place offers flexibility that could provide an edge over the competition. This also eliminates the need to install additional software on already strained systems. Using loan origination software as the conduit to interface with other vendors, including credit bureaus, lenders, appraisers, settlement services and closing document companies, can save originators time and eliminate the need to switch between systems. However, to truly reap the rewards of these interfaces, originators should seek systems that are moving toward service-oriented architecture, whereby programs are communicating with each other through interfaces built around industry standards. When reflecting on the interoperability that a service-oriented architecture approach offers, originators should consider that an effective platform should allow systems to communicate and integrate information from a single point of entry. The challenge that has compromised the success of service-oriented architectures is that many technology vendors continue to promise ease of integration with their systems and those of other vendors. The reality is that the integration process has been fragmented at best and extremely expensive at worst. The successful service-oriented architecture can lower maintenance and create a layer between systems that allows new products and services to be deployed faster. In addition to the features and capabilities of loan origination software, originators should take advantage of the tools that will make it easier to perform daily tasks. For example, using the functionality of a system to automatically synchronize first and second loans, or automatically populate address fields, will cut down on the time to input information and prevent re-keying errors. Many systems now have contact management modules to help originators stay in touch with current clients and potential clients. These features help originators launch marketing campaigns, including sending out flyers and other mailers to existing and prospective clients. Originators can leverage these features as part of an ongoing communication strategy to advise borrowers of available loan products that better suit their needs. Using these features will allow originators to be more aggressive about increasing business during any origination cycle. And with such robust features in their loan origination software, originators can constantly maintain a high level of customer service. The bottom line is that many types of loan origination software have features that allow originators to close loans accurately with quicker processing times that will ultimately benefit the consumer. Using these features properly will make originations easier and encourage borrowers to do business with an originator's company. Some other features that can be particularly useful include: - A comprehensive comparison reporting tool, allowing borrowers to view several loan scenarios at the same time and subsequently turning those files into Good Faith Estimates; - Reports for pipeline management that include lock expiration and closing date information; - The ability to store multiple borrower information on one loan file; - An alert function that warns of impending dates and any action items needing attention; and - The ability to calculate maximum loan amounts for first, second, HELOC and FHA loans. As originators focus on growing their business, it is imperative to have a system that does not require duplicate entries. For example, a system that saves and recalls Good Faith Estimates or loan scenarios without re-entering information can save originators time and prevent errors that may occur when re-typing the information. Since a lot of hands can touch a mortgage, allowing originators to monitor modifications being made to the loan file is important. The originator should watch the progression of the loan and see what changes are being made. Brokers and supervisors can see what point changes are made at as well. These reports ensure that no fraud has taken place during the process. Using all of his loan origination software's features will ensure that an originator is getting a maximum return on his investment. From accessibility to functionality, there are many features that loan origination software offers to improve productivity in the origination process. All loan origination software is not created equal, so make sure that the system has all of the components that will improve the overall origination process. In the long run, it can significantly affect business growth. Gail Joyce is the business development and national sales manager for Byte Software, a CBCInnovis company based in Kirkland, Wash. She may be reached at (800) 695-1008.
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