Customer relationship management technology providers are busy marketing to originators new or enhanced products aimed at helping originators serve the needs of the expected to evolve purchase market.
The Mortgage Bankers Association at its annual convention in October predicted there will be $634 million in purchase originations this year, followed by $731 million in 2015 and $791 million in 2016.
Tactile Finance, a New York-based technology company, recently made a major release of its flagship Pro sales software product. The changes, said the company's CEO, Nicole Hamilton, reflect "a tremendous amount of testing," not just with loan officers but with consumers as well.
The Pro software is designed so that consumers can understand the details of the mortgage they are being offered. The update represents a slight change in Tactile's philosophy. The product now is aimed at being a differentiator for mortgage lenders, putting them out as being more innovative than the competition, Hamilton explained.
"Mortgages are presented in a way that really is a focus on the monthly payment, and obviously there is more detail to that," she said. The update seeks to reduce customer confusion created by the quotes they receive from originators.
It is a way for originators to reduce their regulatory exposure, especially when it comes to compliance with the Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices rules. Using Pro should help to reduce complaints from customers who feel they were misled by the loan officer, she said.
Also, Tactile has changed the user interface to make it easier for the consumer to see at any point in time how their loan will amortize.
"It gives the customer a lot more insight into what they're committing to," she said.
Millennials are looking for more detailed information about the mortgage product being offered and that changes to Pro help realize that, Hamilton continued.
FocusIT has created the Pulse CRM system. According to the company, Pulse automates email communications to coworkers, borrowers and real estate agents.
The aim behind Pulse was to have "a better referral engine" for loan officers, said Josh Bopp, who is the president of the Scottsdale, Ariz.-headquartered company. "But instead starting with the idea that we're just going to manage a prospect and send out some drip marketing and set some task reminders to call somebody back, we help (originators) automate the loan process.
"And what I mean by that is we automate how tasks flow between all the workers in the organization," making sure that the "ball doesn't get dropped" at any point during the process and helping to create consistency, especially in organizations with multiple offices, processors and/or underwriters.
There is a loan-in-process marketing system that issues alerts to everyone involved with the application every time a critical milestone is achieved.
"They get a very nice, professional, email letting them know that the appraisal has been ordered, or that we are cleared to close and what that means to them in the loan process," Bopp explained.
Furthermore, every week the originator can schedule a loan status report to be sent out to the borrower, giving them the overall picture about what is happening with the application.
The purpose of this is to let the buyer and the real estate agent know that the mortgage company they are working with is more organized and more thorough, he said. It automates the traditional method of the real estate agent calling the loan officer on a constant basis to get a loan status update.
FocusIT has been in business since 2002 and it introduced Pulse to the marketplace in 2011. Until it created Pulse, its primary role was as a host of loan origination systems. But its clients came to the company looking for a platform where they could send out alerts and manage other tasks. FocusIT tried to find such a product but was unsuccessful so it elected to create one, Bopp said.
Pulse syncs with the LOS so that data is transferred seamlessly and does not get out of date. The user creates a template with all of the milestones listed; the template can be customized by product.
There is a dashboard for management to follow along with.
There are a variety of different ways leads can be entered into Pulse and different ways those leads can be distributed to loan officers, he said.
Its strength is keeping the loan officer and others up to date on their warm leads, those people in the process of applying for a loan, said Bopp.
If Pulse works best with an existing lead, Velocify's product is best for managing new leads coming in. Velocify, a Los Angeles-based provider of sales tools software, has created a version of its technology that works with the Salesforce CRM software.
Salesforce "is good at managing the opportunity. Where we come in, what Salesforce lacks, is contact and lead management.
"We have rules that are built within our system to help with the initial contact strategy," said Kelly Booth, who is director of the mortgage vertical at Velocify.
The Velocify technology, she said, helps originators reach the lead opportunity first before a competitor can contact them. It also lets originators profile the borrower and then qualify and distribute the lead to the most appropriate loan officer to work with the customer.
When the lead becomes an actual sales opportunity, that is where Salesforce takes over, she said.
At least one lender is taking the opportunity to unify its customer contact systems into a single platform.
In September, Waterstone Mortgage implemented Vantage Production LLC's CRM system.
Pewaukee, Wis.-based Waterstone has been growing its retail production operations across the country. Until it made the commitment to install the Vantage Production technology, it let each branch do its own thing in this area, said the chief information officer, Tom Knapp. He noted the company does use the Ellie Mae Encompass loan origination system, which does have some CRM capabilities but not to extent management felt it needed.
"We recognized that from a business development standpoint we needed to have a better solution, one with more control, more organized and more effective than we had in the past if we're going to continue to grow," he said.
As it recruited branches and loan officers to join Waterstone, the company believed these people were looking for a new home with one which could provide a strong overall infrastructure and that includes a CRM system, he said.
Waterstone is able to put its policies and controls into the Vantage platform, giving it a level of control when it comes to regulatory compliance.
In addition, in picking a CRM, Waterstone was looking for mobile and web capabilities as well as a platform that would integrate with Encompass, Knapp said.
"There has been a sea change in acceptability. People are beginning to understand that there is a practical solution to their compliance issues, but embedded in that solution can be much more effective marketing for and much greater productivity from the sales guys," said Paul Zoukis, the CEO of Red Bank, N.J.-headquartered Vantage Productions.
Vantage's CRM platform not only integrates with the loan origination systems but also the product and pricing engines and third-party providers of credit scores and closing costs.
Bringing this data to the point of sale allows loan officers to make more effective decisions about what products to select and how to present them to the consumer, Zoukis said.
Lenders need to control the message being given to the consumer and document all communications with the borrower. Failure in either of these areas is a red flag for regulators.
Besides compliance, cost is also a concern for lenders, he continued. A good CRM system should optimize and automate the marketing process and enhance productivity.
"Because you make a better decision at each point in the transaction, from the time you start to target the client to be marketed to, to the loan product (to be offered), you are making more effective decisions. So you are actually increasing the conversion rate," he said.
But lenders need to know this has to be a corporate-wide system. Having just some branches using the system is like being "somewhat compliant," Zoukis said.
It took a while for Vantage to get that point across to lenders.
Zoukis cited a Hammerhouse survey from April which noted almost half of loan officers want an advanced marketing platform and easy-to-use integrated systems from their current or potential employer.
"In a rising market, you can pretty much be anybody and make a lot of money. The thing you don't know is if you made the most money or not, but you don't really care because you are rich.
"In a purchase business you have two things going on. Not only do I have to win the purchase business, but I have to do it against people like Quicken and Wells Fargo," organizations heavily invested in technology, Zoukis said.
Originators need to match the consumer experience from these firms and that is what Vantage brings to the table, he continued.
CRM system improvements are not just being created for the forward mortgage originator.
ReverseVision, headquartered in San Diego, has come out with RV Sales Accelerator, a CRM system specifically designed for the reverse mortgage originator.
"Our market research validates that a large number of loan officers are using multiple tools that are less-than-perfect solutions for their needs. The large majority of these solutions are not geared towards the Reverse Mortgage industry," said Joe Rinner, who is the product manager for RVSA. The beta version of RVSA will be released in December.