Servicers: Innovate With the Consumer in Mind
By Kerry Curry | May 10, 2016
Mortgage servicers are dealing with a far different environment than they were before the housing crisis unfolded, and they must innovate to remain relevant, panelists said at a recent mortgage servicing conference.
In 2007, it cost $55 on average to service a mortgage loan, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Servicing Operations Study. That’s a far cry from today’s estimated cost of $208.
During a session titled “The New Norm in Mortgage Technology – Becoming Consumer-Centric,” a panel at Source Media’s April 20-22 mortgage servicing conference in Plano, TX, tackled the changing face of the industry and its need to be more oriented to the consumer.
Panelist Lisa Weaver, senior vice president of ISGN, a mortgage technology company, encouraged the audience to think big.
“What could we be as an industry? How could we transform it completely?” she asked.
In today’s regulatory environment, servicers should track their quality control in an automated system, not a manual one, she says. And they should revisit their borrower website portals to add such features as expanded online payment options.
Clay Tol, chief operating officer and director of capital markets at Intercap Lending, says even small lenders and servicers such as his company can make technology changes to become nimbler and more responsive to consumers.
Intercap, he says, is in the midst of upgrading and improving its technology. Once complete, the lender/servicer will be able to track how the consumer comes into its system. And that will enable it to work with the consumer via their preferred communication channel.
“If someone has emailed us three times and has never called, then we will reach out to them digitally,” Tol says. “If someone has only called us for contact, then we will call them.”
Intercap will also install a chat option for its customers with its new technology platform, he says.
“To us, it’s all about comfort with the borrower,” he adds. “Hard situations are hard. And to make it more aggressive or more intimidating will hurt the borrower and will hurt us as well as a servicer,” he says. “The worst we can do in our industry is have that intimidation factor with a borrower.”
The website will also include “knowledge-based tools” that will enable consumers to find explanations of confusing mortgage terms. A third party is designing the technology and website, Tol says, and he expects the new platform to be dynamic and intuitive and have a strong visual element.
The servicing technology will also focus on encouraging borrowers who may be having trouble paying their mortgage to reach out to Intercap, he says.
“If they are comfortable with you, they will tell you, ‘Hey I’ve experienced the loss of my job and my income.’ You want them to call you on day 1 and not on day 90. We’ve found out through testing the technology that people will reach out electronically. Then we can say, ‘Hey, it’s OK. We have several modification programs that you may qualify for,’ and then they will call up.”
Trey Matkin, director of default servicing at National Mortgage Insurance Corp., says the private mortgage insurer is focused on providing self-service options and real-time data to its customers.
After a customer enters a claim, they can see its status online and follow it through the process.
Matkin encourages mortgage servicers implementing or upgrading technology to “keep it dynamic and keep it intuitive.”
Mortgage servicers and lenders should realize that many Millennials who are becoming first-time homebuyers grew up in the midst of the housing crisis. And that has colored their view, he says. They won’t hesitate to lambaste a company they are unhappy with via social media platforms.
“Take control of your online content. Control your messaging,” Matkin advises. Servicers will want to use technology to convey to their defaulting borrowers that they are there to partner with them on finding a solution.
Servicers will also need to decide whether to go with overlays of a current platform or install something new.
“Sometimes it’s hard to patch old systems,” Matkin says. “At a certain point, you may need to make a decision to start something fresh and new.”
Kerry Curry is a freelance writer for several Texas and national publications and is the former executive and magazine editor of HousingWire.