Today’s homebuyers are more educated than ever about the housing market, prices and financing options. But even though borrowers are doing their homework, a sizable share of the work still falls to mortgage originators and lenders.
There is still a tremendous opportunity — and even a duty — for the mortgage professional to be a trusted adviser and an expert for clients. To better help meet these needs, the mortgage industry has increasingly turned to analytics and technology, offering support at every stage when a borrower wants to obtain a mortgage. This is good news for everyone involved — brokers, lenders, agents and, of course, the borrower.
Historically, originators and lenders had access to data about the mortgage process that wasn’t widely available to consumers. This information only trickled down to the borrower once a relationship was established.
Today, borrowers can learn about interest rates and pricing with a quick Google search. Additionally, borrowers can navigate through online real estate databases to find their next home (e.g., comparing properties, locations, price points and more). Combined, these resources put them in an advantageous position long before they even approach a broker or loan officer.
Mortgage companies must do their own research to understand their clients’ needs and preferences long before they walk through the door or begin the homebuying process online. When leveraging data and analytics to achieve this, there are several factors that must be considered — everything from specific business needs and client segments to price elasticity and sensitivity.
As with homebuyers, not all mortgage brokerages and lenders are the same. Each has its own unique operational processes, cost components, balance sheets and risk tolerances. The most successful mortgage operations should have the ability to leverage their data and analytics to match their clients with the appropriate products and properties while also achieving organizational goals.
Although residential mortgages are not necessarily commodities in the strictest sense, these products are often perceived as such by consumers. As a result, mortgage originators and lenders must stand out among the competition. Without studying data trends, reports and research on the various housing and financial markets, originators and lenders would be offering the same products and services to each borrower regardless of circumstance or need.
A blanket approach for all clients will not suffice. Unfortunately, many industry participants struggle to define and execute a comprehensive data and analytics strategy. This begs the question: How can mortgage companies leverage data and analytics to increase margins, volumes and profits?
For today’s lenders and brokers, data and analytics can help sort clients and prospects to better target them based on actual spending patterns, financial behaviors and types of services. Data-driven mortgage companies are gaining rich, effective insights about consumers, and then targeting the right ones to provide highly relevant products and services.
When it comes to pricing, mortgage lenders need access to specific tools that provide real-time market and competitive data analysis. This helps them to take a more calculated approach while making data-driven decisions in both margin management and their overall pricing strategies. It is critical to set prices on each loan, understanding that prices vary from state to state and even between communities. Although mortgage rates have a national average, pricing also tends to vary regionally, so lenders need real-time data and intelligence to take an in-depth, granular approach.
In the current mortgage market, businesses of all sizes should look toward data and analytics to increase the effectiveness of their marketing and operational efficiencies. Smaller organizations can consider technology plug-ins and partnerships to help reduce the resources and overhead costs needed to compete. A recent Ice Mortgage Technology (formerly Ellie Mae) report indicates that these tools can help formulate better overall lending decisions while controlling costs and risks for such things as accelerated loan processing and the identification of new growth opportunities.
By investing in data and technology, mortgage originators and lenders effectively arm themselves with the necessary tools to analyze mortgage rates, understand the full scale of their offers, and evaluate the market at the local, regional and national levels. These companies can then effectively communicate this information to their clients.
Because today’s prospective borrowers have likely already done their own research, lenders need to not only understand client scenarios but also how these individuals’ needs or expectations may have shifted in light of the current digital environment. Research from McKinsey & Co. suggests this modern environment is changing consumer expectations in all areas of their lives. From speed and convenience to transparency and personalization, today’s homebuyer is constantly being influenced by their own digital experience.
Often, a client may have an idea of what they want based on their personal preferences or peer group, but the reality is that they may have completely different loan qualifications. Their broker or loan officer must be able to leverage data, analytics and advanced technology to understand exactly what these qualifications are before routing them to the right product and explaining why it makes the most sense for their situation.
Having the data science to back this level of counsel helps the borrower better understand and further streamline the entire process. Additionally, it helps to build and reinforce the client relationship, which increases the likelihood that they will return when they are ready to refinance or purchase their next home.
Ultimately, the combination of data, analytics and sophisticated technology is defining the nature of today’s homebuying process. For borrowers, it helps them to better educate themselves beforehand. For mortgage brokerages and lenders, it enables them to make more in-formed business decisions; compete more effectively with existing competitors as well as digital entrants into the market; and remain a trusted adviser to each and every client they serve. ●