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South Carolina industry appointments update - 7/5/2007

Jul 04, 2007

Keeping it real timeRobert O'Branovichwholesale lenders, shorten the loan process, increase close rates, build a more profitable business Look for wholesale lenders that offer dedicated inside support Over the last 18 months, wholesale mortgage lenders have introduced many different tools and initiatives to help mortgage brokers shorten the loan process, increase close rates and build a more profitable business. Such tools include enhanced technology solutions, such as Web sites that offer seamless transactions from the desktop, innovative new products and preferred broker programs that help brokers gain significant operational and pricing efficiencies. But even with all of these new technology enhancements, products and initiatives, the most important need communicated by brokers to their wholesale lending partners continues to be follow-up and the ability to get quick answers from a live, experienced mortgage professional. The fact is that many brokers have been in the mortgage business for less than five years and have never worked through the downside of a cycle. This lack of experience, coupled with the rapid change in both technology and loan products, clearly demonstrates the value a real time support professional located in a wholesale lender's local branch can offer brokers as they focus on delivering the best possible customer experience in the most profitable and efficient manner. Today, brokers need an inside professional who works as a knowledgeable member of a dedicated team with the wholesale lender's account executive (AE). This professional must be accessible to answer any questions on automated underwriting systems (AUS), new or existing products or just be able to accelerate the resolution of an issue so a broker can meet a client's needs. Therefore, if a broker cannot reach his AE, he can contact this inside member of the team at his local wholesale branch and be assisted immediately with loan file issues or learn about Web site tools, marketing opportunities, new loan programs or how to place loan scenarios and pricing. This inside service professional or a broker relationship manager (BRM) needs to be the first point of contact in the local branch and can take a question or problem and see it through quickly from start to solution. Below are a few real examples of how a live service professional or a BRM can help mortgage brokers in the day-to-day lending process and business operations: Example 1: A broker needs help structuring a loan. The broker knows the wholesale lender has hundreds of products, but wants to make sure to select the right one and be aware of all of the options. The broker contacts the wholesale lender's local branch and an AE is not reachable, since the AE is in the field delivering value directly to brokers. However, the BRM is in the office. The BRM introduces the broker to the wholesale lender's Web site, specifically the mortgage product/pricing search engine Product Advisor. He runs the scenarios through the search engine, and instantly, the broker has the loan and pricing options on the screen. The BRM further trains the broker on how to view different pricing for each option and how to view or print product guides and disclosures. No more trying to price out complicated programs manually, trying to figure out what programs are offered for a loan scenario or calling dozens of AEs in their cars on the highway! One call to an inside dedicated service professional and this broker now has a powerful loan scenario and pricing tool at his fingertips available 24/7. Example 2: Another broker is looking to understand the benefits of running his own automated underwriting findings. The broker knows competitors are using automated underwriting at the point of sale and prior to submission, which is making them more efficient and allows them more time to market and sell. A real-time service professional (BRM) who is fully trained in many different AUS/portals loan origination systems and the export/import processes to a Web site can offer immediate assistance. Being proficient in AUS provides the broker and lender with many benefits and efficiencies. First, a broker that uses Desktop Underwriter at the point of sale immediately can issue a prequalification letter with confidence to the borrower or real estate agent. Second, it removes the processing guesswork and provides a clear outline of what documentation is required and how to process the file. The lender can now accept the file and use the broker's credit report for validation. Since the lender does not have to re-pull the credit report, this saves time, money and eliminates the likelihood of the borrower's credit scores dropping and thus changing the status or pricing of the loan. Finally, a properly processed file with AUS findings will move through the underwriting department swiftly and close much sooner. A dedicated inside service professional is able to guide a broker to the best solution and provide continuing support on importing new submissions. Example 3: A third broker is looking to increase his presence in the marketplace by utilizing a wholesale lender's marketing center to customize materials with the broker's logo, contact information and photos to target real estate agents, consumers and other referral sources. The broker believes this will be a key marketing advantage, as the lender can provide quality materials for a reduced cost and will add value to his sales infrastructure. The BRM can show the broker how to access the marketing center via the wholesale lender's Web site, since he is trained on where to find and how to order the various marketing pieces. He can also help customize fliers with the broker's picture and keep the broker up to date in regard to new marketing pieces that are added regularly, so there is always something new to send the broker's clients. In an increasingly competitive market, real-time solutions are important and those brokers who can deliver the right solution quickly will appeal to consumers and origination partnerships like financial planners and real estate agents. Products change quickly, underwriting guidelines vary from lender to lender and having the opportunity to speak with a live, experienced professional at key times is often the difference between a submission that is approved and one that gets hung up in the process. Take a moment to contact your wholesale lender to inquire about what they consider real-time service. Do they offer a live professional at the local level who will take your questions or issues, and see them through to a resolution? In a challenging environment, mortgage brokers need the right solution quickly to be successful and build a sustainable business. Robert O'Branovich is a senior vice president of American Brokers Conduit, the wholesale division of American Home Mortgage Investment Corporation, a publicly held real estate investment trust headquartered in Melville, N.Y.
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