Summary:

  • It’s important to view automation and technology as an ally and not competition.
  • Automation and AI have become mortgage tech buzzwords, making MLOs think they will be replaced.
  • Automation can be used to decrease tedious and repetitive tasks, build new income streams, and create marketing communication campaigns.
  • MLOs that adopt automation tools can strengthen their customer relationship and grow their referral business.

In the last 20 years, the mortgage lending industry has started undergoing a digital transformation, providing new tools for loan originators and closing teams. While some MLOs were quick to adopt technology to automate and grow their business, others have been slow and hesitant to take the leap.

Automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) are the new buzzwords thrown around to get lenders, processors, and underwriters on the technological bandwagon. But for many professionals, who don’t fully understand these tools, the terms conjure the feeling of a hostile robo-technological takeover that can make their job obsolete. The fear is understandable, as popular websites such as willrobotstakemyjob.com erroneously and unjustifiably claim that there is a 92% chance that automation will replace LOs.

What’s important to understand is that yes, mortgage technology is completely and positively impacting the lending industry. And no, originating and closing teams will not be replaced by technology, as they are vital and irreplaceable to the complex loan process and customers needs. 

Even if borrowers start the initial loan application process using a POS (Point-of-Sale), loan officers are the primary point of contact, helping borrowers smoothly navigate through the entire process. Technology should be viewed as a helping tool, or a complement, rather than a replacement for lenders and borrowers. Qualities such as critical decision-making, experience, relationships, or empathy cannot and never will be outsourced to automation and technology.

Below are 4 simple ways MLOs can leverage automation and other technologies to close loans faster, error free, and scale their business.

Process Automation

Automation serves everyone involved in each mortgage transaction, not just LOs, benefiting processors, underwriters, 3rd parties, and borrowers. It helps diminish manual, time-consuming, and error-prone steps, as well as serve as a project management tool for all parties involved in the loan closing process. 

Every new loan application can be viewed as a “project” with a unique process, where a loan originator “invites” different members of the closing team (such as processors, underwriters, borrowers, and 3rd parties) and assigns their respective tasks and deadlines. This way, everybody is synced and follows the correct process from day one, leading to cleaner loans, faster closings, and more earnings. Automation also provides transparency, where all parties clearly understand their deliverables, and can track the loan process. The borrowers also benefit from this because they get an entire process outline, key status updates, and understand every step of the approval process.

Automation also helps MLOs that focus on units over volume. With so many loan transactions happening simultaneously, it’s easy to get swamped and overwhelmed. However, automation can help close more loans faster and increase profits on each loan. According to the 2021 Annual Mortgage Banker Performance Report, per loan profits rose from $1470 in 2019 to $4202 in 2021. Although a lot of success is attributed to pandemic-related low interest rates, technology played an important role, as it decreased costs and improved efficiency of the loan process, while increasing per-employee loan production.

Lastly, the 2008 financial crisis triggered a huge commission rehaul. Previously, originators were able to negotiate their own earnings which could range from 2% to 5% of a loan value. However after the crisis, the commission structure was standardized at ~1%, putting everyone on the same playing field. For many, these changes drastically impacted their earnings. In order to earn what they used to, MLOs would have to close a lot more loans. With automation, they could do that by cutting down on manual and repetitive tasks and growing their business further by finding new clients. With rates increasing, and no reprieve in site, originators will need to differentiate and compete more than ever. Technology will play a crucial role in improving efficiency and productivity to gain access to the best products and preferred underwriting that provides a competitive advantage over those slower to adopt.

Strengthen New Referral Income Streams

Now that the housing market is slowing down due to increased interest rates, MLOs have to work harder to find new borrowers and referrals. Having a reputation for smooth and fast transactions from application to closing can help MLOs get new referral streams by growing and strengthening their partnerships with real estate agents. 

Real estate agents have direct relationships with buyers, who once they find a property, oftentimes ask around for a reputable lender. Word of mouth and referral business is the bread and butter for MLOs, and having a relationship with agents can be a new income stream. Real estate agents, who must maintain a good reputation, are more likely to refer buyers to lenders that are known to have good processes, close loans fast, and provide great customer service. 

Marketing & CRM Automation

MLOs not only originate and close loans, but also have to find new clients and maintain relationships with past ones in hopes of assisting them with future transactions or referral business. Lenders can leverage marketing CRM automation tools to maintain relationships with past borrowers as well as strengthen relationships with referral leads to keep them informed about market changes and refi opportunities. Although CRM tools do require a big upfront time investment to create customized marketing and communication campaigns, once programmed, it can be a self-functioning tool that frees up time to focus on other ways of scaling their business.

AI Tools

Artificial intelligence still has a lot of room for growth and development in mortgagetech. While many companies claim that they have sophisticated AI tools, the majority are simple search engines for guidelines or chatbot functions. RealKey is a step ahead, and has created an AI platform that not only automatically identifies requirements for the most complex transactions at the application, lender, and loan program level, but at the document level as well. This provides loan processors with clear guidance on what to look out for when reviewing collected documents and data. RealKey’s AI technology also leverages OCR text- recognition and APIs to automatically identify discrepancies and create re-conditions and new document requirements on the fly.

The Future Of A Loan Officer

With technological innovation in the lending industry, the role of an MLO will not become extinct, but rather move away from tedious and repetitive tasks to allow originators to focus more on problem solving, customer service personalization, and relationship building. Loan officers will become more valuable than ever because they will be able to focus on assisting their customers, and guide them through complexities during one of the most stressful times of their life. But in order to serve their customers better, MLOs must put their egos aside, get out of their comfort zones, and embrace technology. By letting automation handle the manual and time consuming tasks, LOs can allocate their time on what they do best–build relationships and drive long-term referral business.

RealKey is an innovative mortgage automation solution that can help lenders run and grow their business efficiently while providing customers with the best experience. The RealKey platform provides automated and intelligent collection of documents, review of data, and secure communications among all parties involved. These combined capabilities shorten the loan processing cycle by roughly 50%, giving MLOs time to close more loans and grow their business. RealKey’s software works seamlessly with existing point of sale and loan origination systems to bring an end-to-end, fully digital mortgage processing experience and submit clean files for complex loans and to strictest lenders. 

Contact us today for a demo, and learn how RealKey can help you scale your business.