Optimal Blue has always been a data company. Founded in 2002, the company pioneered a variety of technology software solutions and eventually built a Digital Mortgage Marketplace that is now relied upon by thousands of originators, investors, and leading providers. In connecting these different parties through a single, unified technology and value-added services platform, the company did more than just automate secondary marketing — it evolved into a robust repository of data that provides critical insights into the mortgage loan process.
“We are uniquely positioned to provide data driven insights. That has a lot to do with our scale, as we are the largest industry marketplace of this type by a fair stretch,” explained Scott Happ, CEO of Optimal Blue.
Supporting the daily activity between buyers and sellers has positioned the company to see more than 200 million searches in a year and lock over $500 billion in loans. Optimal Blue now touches one out of every four loans being originated in the U.S., generating a huge volume of transactional data.
As part of its marketplace function, Optimal Blue’s platform ingests raw data from investors and translates that into actionable information for originators looking to achieve best execution pricing. Through price comparison tools, originators can achieve entirely new levels of awareness about how others are pricing in different markets, and how competitive their own pricing is. As a result, they gain visibility into what market niches present growth opportunities.
“It’s a hyper competitive market and different originators have different strengths,” Happ said. “Say you want to offer FHA low-FICO loans, or jumbos in Seattle – without a tool to determine how instantly competitive you are, it’s really difficult to execute on that strategy.”
Happ continued, “That’s why we have customers that are running hundreds of geo-specific searches every day to get a quick handle on how they should adjust pricing. It’s a very dynamic marketplace and our tools provide real time information at the loan scenario level.”
But originators are only one part of the equation since Optimal Blue also provides data solutions to investors. When Optimal Blue acquired Comergence in May 2017, it was the equivalent of pouring rocket fuel on a fire — providing a completely new set of data points around the 18,000+ firms that originate the majority of loans nationwide. That information provides location, number of loan officers, licensing and loan production data for Optimal Blue’s investor clients.
“Comergence is a great fit with Optimal Blue because they offer services to the same investor base that we work with,” Happ explained. “Providing an investor with real-time insights into an originator’s profile allows for a more targeted sales strategy while ensuring low risk relationships.”
Gathering data is one thing, translating it into actionable insights is a different, more complex challenge. Last year, Optimal Blue worked with Microsoft to deploy a powerful business intelligence platform. This sophisticated visualization tool helps Optimal Blue make data understandable and meaningful to originators.
“One of the historical challenges with data solutions is that they necessitate additional resources or people who can slice and dice that data, but not all originators employ data scientists to help with analytics,” Happ said. “We built a tool to help originators visualize information – it really democratizes data! The Optimal Blue solution is available to anyone that wants a better understanding of what is happening within their operation.”
With an ever-growing volume of mortgage data, Optimal Blue continues to find new ways to leverage that information for originators and investors, with several innovations ready for release in the next few months.
“We have one foot in the marketplace, facilitating transactions, and another in data,” Happ said. “Our goal is to figure out how to package that information and make it a valuable resource for the mortgage industry.”