We live in an on-demand world. Much has been made of how consumers are looking for every type of service to be offered in a digital and user-friendly way. This includes everything from the capability to order their drink at Starbucks ahead of time to avoid the line, to interacting with their financial institution through an application on their smartphone.
On-demand services are a necessity to mortgage lenders. As lenders implement tools to provide 24-7 loan applications, automated underwriting and eSigning capabilities to consumers, they also must work with a large network of service providers to move a loan to the closing table.
Traditionally, lenders have had to settle for a patchwork of automation and manual workflows to fulfill settlement services. While the individual tasks have embraced automation – AVMs for appraisals, automated flood certifications, electronic title searches – the coordination and ordering of the services has too often required a manual, time-consuming process of offering options to borrowers, ordering the services and inputting the results into the LOS.
However, just as digital lending innovations have made it possible for consumers to manage their loan application on demand, lenders now have robust platforms available that bring transparency, mobility and ease of use to settlement services.
Building a Solution for Settlement Services
Lenders have many challenges in managing settlement services. One challenge is the lack of integrations. Often, lenders have to go outside of their current Loan Origination System (LOS) to process these orders. This manual process can be cumbersome and error prone. Not to mention, this may require visiting different websites for various services. One site for Appraisals, another site or process for Title, etc. These antiquated processes are inefficient and implore heavy data entry, not to mention tracking the orders, lenders are forced to use spreadsheets, email, or even fax machines. The other is the lack of automation. Why can’t the technology review and interpret the data? Why should the processors bear the burden of “staring and comparing”?
With a comprehensive settlement services platform, however, lenders can take a Solution approach to ordering, tracking and fulfilling every service. Instead of incorporating multiple vendors and having to oversee each one individually, the platform allows a seamless and secure connection to multiple types of services and multiple providers for each service that makes work easier for the lender. This platform would allow web access or have the ability to be directly integrated into the lender’s LOS.
Through such a platform, financial institutions have the capability of a one-to-many integration as opposed to a one-to-one integration which makes managing vendors and partners more efficient because the platform does all the work for them. For lenders, using a settlement services platform means they can simply log in to one central dashboard to take advantage of multiple vendors that offer a wide array of services.
The research, the vetting, the due diligence, the integration and the ongoing maintenance are all taken care of for them. Not to mention settlement platforms are more intuitive and makes accessing and using each vendor within the platform much easier for lenders.
A centralized platform also simplifies the process of updating vendors, tracking orders and upkeeping with regulations and document requirements. Lenders no longer have to do this themselves, they can rely on a trusted partner to help. Whether it’s tracking an individual order that is approaching its due date, or getting ready for a change in regulation policies.
Another advantage to using a settlement services platform is the automation. The platform can automate traditional manual work, such as upgrading a valuation service, or picking the right service based on a set of rules. It is no longer necessary for a person to do this or having to refer to some faded matrix pinned up on a cubicle wall.
Settlement Services Platform Checklist
What goes into a successful settlement services platform? Lenders should expect to have access to a wide network of products and services, cutting edge technology-based features, automation, live order monitoring, and simplified vendor management. Real-time data dashboard, one screen navigation, on-demand production reports, and enhanced communication tools.
Let’s break down some of the features and their importance to lenders.
- ONE Amazing Solution:
- ONE Platform – no need to go to several sites and get bogged down with a lot of data entry.
- ONE Customized Report – all the information you need to close a loan in on one easy to read report.
- ONE Customer Service Department – one dedicated account manager to service all your order outs.
- ONE Agreement – gives you access to our entire network of products and services.
- ONE Invoice – easy to reconcile all your orders.
- Bundled Services:
- Bundled Reports – one click ordering allows you to order title, valuation, and flood and any other services you need with one click of a button.
- Customized Configurations – create your own configuration based on your own unique lending criteria.
- Suitability Logic – determines the best suitable product based on property data intelligence.
- GeoLogic – determines the best appraisal vendor based on geographic competency.
- SMART Select – determines best title vendor based on price and turn-time.
- Instant Title – streamlines the title search process with faster turn-times.
- Simplified Vendor Management:
- Flexibility – ability to switch vendors at will under 1 Master Service Agreement.
- Add Your Own – ability to add local appraiser and title vendors, without any integration costs.
- Live Order Monitoring:
- Our dedicated account managers track your daily activity and orders. They will engage directly with the vendors when there is a problem.
With bringing settlement services to your institution through a single platform, the hard part of selecting and managing providers and vendors is a worry of the past. No more hours of searching, researching, vetting and implementing each type of service individually.
Implementing such robust technology allows you and your institution to focus on the day-to-day tasks of growing your loan originations and ensuring your institution is running at full speed and remaining profitable. Using this powerful technology the right way can slash your turn times, significantly reduce hard costs, and soft costs as well. Imagine the lift this can provide to your organization.
Jorge Ponce is Director of Product and Vendor Management at Austin, Texas-based FirstClose, a highly respected provider of best-in-class property & borrower data intelligence and settlement services nationwide. FirstClose specializes in delivering a powerful web app and LOS plugin that is the industry’s first and only home equity and refi tool that offers everything from application to servicing (credit score, valuation, title, tax, flood, closing and recording) on one easy-to-navigate platform. By delivering simplified vendor management and consolidating vendors into one platform, FirstClose makes it easy to identify and repair the gaps where lender profits can be maximized.