The wave of Millennials now entering the housing market is fundamentally changing the way mortgage companies have to operate. Forty-three percent of new homebuyers are already in this age group, and those numbers are only going to continue to grow.
“Millennials are unlike other generations — they expect to do things differently,” Rick Arvielo, president of New American Funding, contends. “A lot of companies have focused on the loan application process, but the changes have to go much farther than that to really serve this market.”
New American Funding has been developing its own technology for years, a natural result of Arvielo’s passion to innovate the process beyond what was available. In the early 2000s, few loan officers were interested in how tech could make their business better. Today, New American Funding’s deep technical expertise is a clear differentiator for loan officers who want to grow.
For example, the company offers a whole set of mobile apps for LOs that provide a complete back-office organization so that they can conduct business on the road with their client base.
“The LOs don’t have to run to the office to run a borrower’s credit, or send a prequalification letter or approve the loan because they can do it all through the app,” Arvielo said. “The app gives them total transparency so that they can see who is working on the loan and communicate with service providers on the app all over the U.S.”
New American Funding also has a complementary app for real estate agents. This mobility means loan officers can work with real estate partners and borrowers in the field and serve them in real time. And that cooperation benefits both real estate agents and loan officers as they deliver an experience that builds borrower loyalty. Collaborating like this is especially important in competitive housing markets, where fast action by all parties can make the difference in a borrower submitting the winning offer.
But the value doesn’t stop there. New American Funding merges its tech with its marketing prowess to extend real-time, relevant marketing to the borrower before, during and after the loan transaction closes. This marketing can be co-branded with LOs and real estate agents so they can expand their online presence. It also prompts borrowers to write reviews of their experience.
“Obtaining a customer review is the single most important thing a loan officer can do to extend their personal brand, especially when interacting with the Millennial subset of the market,” Arvielo said. “To me, the 5-star review is like the Holy Grail, and we generate 4- to 5-star reviews on 58% of the loans we close. Our process helps our loan officers build a presence on the internet so when they are googled they can highlight the fantastic feedback they get from clients.”
This proactive review process also ensures that when borrowers don’t have a great experience, it gets resolved right away by New American Funding’s customer service department. The company prioritizes these borrowers, taking quick action to solve any potential issues.
Another part of the marketing process talks to borrowers about the importance of providing reviews for valued services they receive. When reviews come in, New American Funding’s system automatically shares to social channels for the loan officers. As a result, “We have LOs with more than 100 positive reviews.” Arvielo said.
New American Funding’s investment in technology yields a wholly different result than companies that deploy tech but do it in silos.
“We don’t want loan officers to have to go in and out of four or five systems to get anything done. My philosophy is that I would rather take an extra year and integrate the technology than just go with off-the-shelf solutions that are completely unrelated to what they already have,” Arvielo said. “We’ve been doing this for 15 plus years, so our foundation is very mature and our goal is to incorporate technology that is very cohesive for what they are doing.”
One critical benefit of New American Funding’s tech expertise is the way it opens up avenues to new borrowers. Whereas some households do not have access to the Internet through desktops or laptops, the proliferation of smartphones enables an easier connection for these potential borrowers.
“Everybody has a mobile phone, and there is so much pent-up demand in this segment,” Arvielo said. “Millennials and minorities are the biggest waves in lending, and mobile reaches both. We are happy to serve these segments, which are only getting larger.”