Blend looks to disrupt home equity lending

Tech company launches software to shave weeks off home equity loan application process

Digital lending company Blend has set its sights on the home equity market, announcing Tuesday plans to apply its tech expertise to home equity loans and lines of credit with a new app that promises to drastically reduce turn times.

The move is a bet on rapid growth for the home equity market as home prices continue to rise. Quoting Black Knight data, the company said Americans are sitting on a record $6 trillion in tappable equity, and that as a confluence of factors drives down business in the purchase market, home equity lending will be the next big opportunity.  

“Home equity lending is expected to be a growth market for lenders in 2019 as consumers take advantage of rising home prices to access credit at a lower cost,” Blend said in a release.

The Silicon Valley company said the move represents its first expansion beyond software to digitize mortgages into apps designed to streamline the process for other types of loan products.

But Blend doesn’t want to just enter the home equity business, it wants to disrupt it by shaving weeks off the process.

The company said its app will streamline the application and origination process for customers, providing a high-quality digital borrowing experience. It said tests of its HELOC application revealed a 50% reduction in turn time, shaving off as much as 19 days.

“At this moment when Americans have built a record amount of equity in their homes, offering a frictionless way for them to take advantage of that equity to achieve their goals is paramount,” said Blend CEO and Founder Nima Ghamsari. “Today’s consumers expect seamless experiences throughout their financial lives, and with our digital home equity offerings, our customers are set up to continue thriving as the market grows.”

Customers at U.S. Bank and Mountain America Credit Union have already used the app, Blend said.

“The U.S. home equity market is ripe with opportunity as American homeowners have a large amount of equity to tap and we’re excited to work with Blend as they expand their business to provide home equity customers with an intuitive, fast and modern digital lending experience,” said Lynn Heitman, executive vice president of Consumer Banking Product Strategy & Support at U.S. Bank.

Blend’s announcement comes less than one month after former Fannie Mae CEO Tim Mayopoulos joined the team as company president, pledging to help the company “continue to drive positive change in consumer finance in the years to come.”  

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