How B of A streamlined its digital mortgage

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When Bank of America mapped out what digital mortgages might look like, they saw an opportunity to make the overall application process easier.

The bank pared down the application to 50 questions and made it possible for people who are already clients of the bank to have information prefilled.

"We refer to it as a digital mortgage experience," John Schleck, senior vice president of centralized and online sales for Bank of America, said at Digital Mortgage in Las Vegas. "It's not just about trying to create an application. We didn't want to take 300-plus questions that are in the traditional mortgage application and just digitize and put it on something that somebody then had to fill out."

Schleck found that customers enjoy doing the easy parts of the application themselves and that they tend to provide documents more quickly than in the traditional mortgage process — even though the bank designed the process with the intention of giving borrowers as long as they needed to finish.

"We don't have the appraisal integrated yet, but we can be done pretty much by the time they are done with that app," Schleck said. "We'll give them conditional approval right then and there online."

The bank also hopes to add e-notes as well as e-closing. Currently, the digital mortgage process takes Bank of America customers 35 days on average to close — seven to 10 days less than what it took them through the traditional route. Even as the bank moves to digitize end-to-end the mortgage loan application process, Schleck intends to process more loans as opposed to cutting loan officers.

"When we built the digital mortgage, we built it very intentionally and with the loan officer in mind," Schleck said. "We don't see digital replacing the expertise of a loan officer. Everybody that goes through it digitally is assigned a loan officer and the loan officer follows up, if they get stuck they have someone assigned that they can talk to right away.

"The client can, at their own pace, collect documents, fill out the application then spend the time with the loan officer not on data collection but on what’s really important — their financial life and why they are buying a home," he said.

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