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[PULSE] Finding opportunity in a forced “pause”

What if the mortgage industry could help lead economic recovery from COVID-19

We’ll always remember March 2020.  That’s when it really became apparent that the COVID-19 pandemic would bring the entire planet to a grinding stop.

In the wake of the crisis, the housing and mortgage industries will be forever changed. Although we were already on the path toward modernizing our process, one can’t deny that COVID-19 has and will accelerate those changes dramatically.

Guest Author
Jim Paolino

The eMortgage/eClosing “revolution” has been pending, it seems, since the early 2000s. We can probably all agree that the home purchase process is a little more disjointed and less efficient than it should be.

It’s a cyclical industry, although those cycles have been dramatically disrupted in recent years. When things are going well, it’s “all hands on deck” in the capture of maximum revenue. Who has the time for tech research and investment when that happens? But when the counter cycle or a market dip does happen, who’s willing to spend the money for tech research and investment?

Wouldn’t it be great to look back on this terrible stretch as being on the edge of better days? Although a lot has yet to develop, wouldn’t it be wonderful if our industry, as the economy starts to recover, could help lead that recovery?

Some out there believe that’s a very realistic scenario. We have a lot of equity tied up in our homeownership. That’s potential spending power when the “all clear” is finally given. And let’s not forget that people are, even in spite of the impact of the virus, refinancing their homes at record rates. That’s even more cash on hand to be injected into our recovering economy in the near future. For many Americans, their biggest asset is their home.

There’s also a big opportunity here as we all climb the walls inside our home offices and, well…makeshift home offices. We get a chance to think a little. That’s not to say we don’t think much as an industry. But we rarely give ourselves the opportunity to sit back and dream. After all, we’re either scrambling for business or, when that business comes in, scrambling to capture it.

We’re so task-driven that we rarely get a chance to dream big.

Maybe this forced pause or “reset” can be, in a strange way, an opportunity. There are plenty of things to ponder instead of watching our tenth-straight hour of Netflix:

  • Why can’t the mortgage lending process be seamless from start to finish?
  • What would a “perfect mortgage” look like? How involved – or uninvolved – should the government be?
  • Why does an industry with so many outstanding participants – lenders and service providers alike – struggle to collaborate effectively?
  • What could be done to ensure that our lowest lows (such as the period immediately following the Crash of 2008) don’t have to be that low? Other industries don’t dread the natural down cycles quite as much as we do, it would seem? Why is that?

The COVID-19 pandemic will undoubtedly give way to a new era of strategic thinking about process and experience in the mortgage industry. Already, non-bank lenders compete with all but the very largest global depositories.

Today, there are more than a handful of technologies and solutions to choose from, and few, if any, truly force your business to adapt to their process. We don’t have to think often about servers because most of our systems are in the cloud. In fact, even the term “The Cloud” is dated now!

Tech evangelists and solution brands of today are spending far less time trying to convince businesses to start using technology in the first place. Instead, they’re explaining why their technology is better. But none of this started because of COVID-19.

These trends have been gaining traction for a few years. Instead, COVID-19 may mark the point of no return for our industry – a point where the eMortgage is the standard. We are on the edge of better days.

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