Executive Conversations is a HousingWire web series that profiles powerful people in the financial industry, highlighting the operations and the people that make this sector tick. In the latest installment, we sit down with Kirk Randlett, senior leader of Tax Service Operations at CoreLogic, to discuss how lenders can deliver a seamless closing experience for consumers.

Q. What are some of the new expectations that consumers have in the mortgage loan closing process?

RandlettA. A few years ago, in the aftermath of the mortgage crisis, consumers were conditioned to believe that obtaining a mortgage was a difficult process. But lately they’re being bombarded with ads and messages saying that it’s very easy, very fast and very simple. And then comes the closing, with all the confusing calculations and piles of paper, and, frequently, last minute unpleasant surprises when it comes to closing costs. Some regulatory changes have helped to prevent some of these surprises. But lenders and LOs need to do a better job explaining the process and preparing the borrower for all of the costs they will see. This is particularly true for state, county and other jurisdictional taxes and can make up a substantial part of actual closing costs.

Q. How are lenders meeting this demand for improved accuracy when it comes to property tax data?

A. Estimating property tax amounts throughout the United States is a challenging task due to the complexity and differences in taxing authorities across the country. That challenge is even more complicated in areas like California, where legislation caps tax increases for existing residents, and then changes the tax rates for the new buyer after the sale. Lenders today are accessing property tax data in disparate ways. One lender may have the loan officer calculate the amounts, or they use the current owner’s tax base information. Another lender may make multiple calls to the various state and county jurisdictions.

These manual, one-off approaches contribute to longer turn times and inconsistent methods of determining the correct amounts. Also, the calculations may fail to take into consideration the borrower’s status as military, disabled, or some other exemption. Inaccuracy in reporting property tax data can lead to delays, such as reissuance of documents, or in the actual closing process where it can potentially impact the closing process resulting in an unhappy consumer.

Q. How does CoreLogic deliver superior data accuracy without sacrificing speed and efficiency?

A. CoreLogic has built one of the most comprehensive and up-to-date tax information databases that covers most residential parcels in the U.S. By combining this database with our proprietary estimation engine and a new technology platform, CoreLogic can deliver a comprehensive view of real property taxes for the specific address, even for new construction loans. Users can instantly access this information at loan application and provide a response with the taxing authorities’ information, the new estimated tax amounts, as well as the current actual tax.

Q. What specific benefits do lenders gain from using CoreLogic’s Property Tax Estimator (PTE)?  

A. Lenders benefit in several ways. A consistent, valid property tax value is used from pre-qualification through servicing. Their staff obtains property tax information in a fraction of the time via web portal or direct loan origination system integration. PTE provides multiple reliable data points, including actual and estimated tax values, to help lenders demonstrate reasonable efforts to procure the best available data. PTE offers a value advantage through improved time savings, productivity and data quality. And, PTE makes a positive impact to the consumer experience.