More than half of the mortgage brokers in the country use Calyx Point 5.0 as their loan origination software (LOS), and I have watched it evolve from its original DOS version to its new and greatly improved Point 5.0 version. For those of you who only read the first and last paragraphs (I am guilty of that also), Point 5.0 is a substantial upgrade, and I encourage all of you to buy or upgrade to it. I also encourage you to purchase the upgrade plan, for I have seen the future (parts of Version 5.1), and I like it. It is hard to become excited about an LOS program, so I will temper my enthusiasm, but this program not only does everything I need it to do as a relatively small mortgage brokerage operation, it also does what medium-sized shops will need as well. More importantly, as the industry standard, I dont have to worry about whether my application will be understood by my lenders online system. I am not aware of any lending institution Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or any of the banks that permits you to upload your loan directly online and does not formulate it based on Point.
So, whats new with 5.0? The moment you turn on the program, you notice a different opening screen. It screams, Lets get to worktell me what you want to do. On the left side of the page is command central, which differs from Encompass dashboard approach. (By the way, I will be reviewing Encompass 2.0 in January, if you are one of those sitting on the fence, not sure which program to invest in). The simplicity of Points opening screen works well and is easy to navigate.On the left side of the screen, your choices are: loans, tasks, reports and templates. On the right side, which is blank, you can choose new if you want to open a new loan or prospect. No time wasted here, click on new, and you are ready to go. The next screen shows you the familiar choices of importing the file from a Prospect file or a Master Template (I swear by the template files set it up once and forget about it). Of course, you can also create a whole new file without using a template or just cancel out of the screen. If you transferred from Master, you may choose from all of the different templates you have created (yes, you have to set it up the first time the program is good, but you have to do some work also). This is really important if you have different templates for various states that you lend in or use different templates for various lenders. If you have no idea what I am talking about with templates, you will just have to read on and I will explain more soon.
So, pick your template of choice (or if you just started as a new file), click open, and the first thing you will notice is that Point keeps command central open all of the time on the left of the screen. It is an evolution from the shortcut screen of the past. It gives you the opportunity to click on the shortcuts and go to any page from the loan application, VOD, VOE or any form that Point creates. You can be linked to these pages immediately by clicking on the left and viewing it on the right side of the screen.
I am not going to insult you or myself by reviewing the application or the forms; just know that if a bank requires it, it is in the Point Library; if not, send them an e-mail and they can incorporate it for the next release. For example, in New York, we keep a lender log, so Calyx has the New York application log imbedded in the program as well as the New York brokerage agreement. They have considerately added this feature to other states as well. Of course, all of the FHA/VA stuff is there as well.
What is really cool is a feature that I have used for years. At the moment, CMG, Flagstar Bank, MIT, New Century Mortgage Corporation, Aegis Corporation and Saxon Mortgage Inc. are imbedded right within the program. So, if you are on with any of these lenders, complete the application, go to lenders on the top, click on your bank of choice, and you are automatically logged on to that lenders database. It has saved me so much time; I use Flagstar all of the time because it has become so easy and seamless. I only hope the rest of the lenders get smart and jump on board. Of course, by clicking on the interface tab, you can do the same thing with either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. You can order appraisals, title/escrow, credit reports and flood certifications directly online; get bundled services and closing docs; choose from Internet services, the providers who offer them, and lender services; and be privy to loan servicing, mortgage insurance, prospect marketing and tax services. They have added an interface log, which permits you to keep a record of interactions.
It is hard to keep up with all of the various functions we perform in the loan process, but Point 5.0 is making it easier to do them all from one place, and more importantly, remind us of what has and has not yet been ordered or completed.
As far as I can tell, the utility section still has all of the same items, with one big and important exception: The first category is show tasks. With a click of the mouse, you can see all of the things you have yet to do. The utility sections still have the Cardex database, which I love (it automatically completes commonly used vendor names into the appropriate form, and displays ratios and conversation logs). Even the smartest of us cant remember everything we say to everyone. To digress, I have saved many a deal by reading back to the client, or reading a note, which I had taken previously, back to a bank. Getting back to utilities, this is where you can launch the calculator; create escrow and title tables; set up your Web-caster preferences or main panel settings; create custom screen settings; change the colors of your screens and dialogue boxes; visit the Web browser; automate file naming; set up auto save; and of course, my favorite, feature zip code options. I love entering the zip code and having the city and state auto-populate. I just wished my regular database would do that.
Of course, Calyx offers a complete help section as well. You can receive help on the current screen, search for help online or within the program, e-mail tech support with your file, check for updates, and find out when Calyx training will be held in your area or nearby.
So, I have given you a good picture of what you probably already know, so lets get to the good stuff: the taskmaster. Click on the task icon, click new, and set it up as a global task or task to do for a specific client. You can search for all tasks, overdue tasks or specify your own parameters for which to search. You can also look within the various folders.
I am not going to delve into it here, but there is a voluminous report section where, if you can think of it, Calyx will give you a report for it. It makes it very easy to keep track of everything.
Finally, on the command central side, there is a template section that helps you create templates by loan program or closing-cost scenarios; for either Prospect Master or Borrow Master; for importing or exporting data; and of course, for your own forms. So, now that I have exhaustively told you what you already know, it is really simple. Point 5.0 is excellent. It is a natural improvement and progression from all of the other Points before it. I heartily recommend it; I use it every business day. I have told several of my friends who are using older versions (some are several years old) to spend the money and buy the upgrade, because it is well worth it. The program has more features than any one of us will ever use, but it is simply enough that even a newbie can use it effectively. Buying the right LOS makes a difference in the way you present yourself to the client and how efficiently you do your business. By using other programs, such as VForms and the host of marketing programs out there (I will be reviewing them in coming months), you can take the data from Point, populate it into your favorite database, create marketing and promotional literature, and follow up on forms to your hearts content. The whole process becomes seamless, and all of the various programs work together as one. Now, if we can only do that as people, the world would be a better place.
John D. Svirsky has been a mortgage broker for 24 years, doing both commercial and residential mortgages. He is also a volunteer firefighter, avid cigar enthusiast and cook. He may be reached by phone at (845) 424-3388 or e-mail [email protected].
Product: Calyx Point 5.0
What is it: Loan origination software
Price: $350 to purchase, $295 for renewal. Its worth every penny. Dont be cheap order the upgrade. For so little money, you get so much.
How to Order: www.calyxsales.com or (800) 362-2599. You can also order a free demo.
Rating: Five stars. One of only six programs to receive five stars from me in the past seven years of my writing technology reviews. I use this program every single business day. What better rating can I give it than that?