HousingWire sat down with Mike Housewright, chief information officer at Mortgage Contracting Services, to talk about the ways servicers can be proactive in preparing for natural disasters.
HousingWire: The rate of natural disasters seems to be increasing. What kind of technology is available now to mitigate some of these risks compared to what mortgage companies had to rely on in the past?
Mike Housewright: MCS has implemented a geographical information system that allows us to understand the impact of storms (ex. tornados and hurricanes), flooding, natural disasters and fires on the properties we manage and proactively take action. This technology supports real-time alerts, map overlay of satellite and drone imagery, etc.
This new technology allows us to be more proactive in preparing for storms and being ready to handle them after they hit. In the past we had to be a lot more reactive; we would have to wait until the storms passed then get vendors in the area just to assess which areas were damaged and what condition the properties were in. Now we’re definitively out in front of these events, and able to provide our clients with real-time, actionable data.
HW: How is MCS leveraging its technology to help mortgage servicers track and prepare for natural disasters?
MH: By using map overlays of the storm’s tracks and satellite and drone imagery, we are able to look at a client’s portfolio of properties to determine where the risk is. We are also able to determine which properties are occupied and which are vacant. This allows our clients to prioritize which properties need to be addressed first and enables them to prioritize customer outreach immediately.
HW: Vendor management is critical when financial institutions are working with so many partners. How is MCS easing that burden for its clients?
MH: We will continue to see significant technology innovation in the coming years at the point of service with our vendors in the field. Our IT and vendor management teams are partnering to simplify and improve the interaction between MCS and our vendors. We know that communication is key to providing the highest quality of service to our clients.
We continue to focus on improving our integration with third party products, dynamic forms and image technology. We are also continuously working to simplify and improve the quality of work-order instructions, as we believe effective communication with all parties is key to providing exceptional results to our clients.
HW: Companies providing mortgage services like property preservation and inspections weren’t always on the cutting edge of tech utilization. How has that changed in recent years and what new technology will we be seeing from MCS in the near future?
MH: Some of the new technology we are beginning to utilize will allow us to enhance the customer experience, improve quality of our service, and increase the productivity of our staff. Two such technologies are Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and AI/Image classification.
When it comes to RPA, our business team has implemented several dozen “bots” that have improved our employee productivity. One common example is moving data between applications. Many of our APC’s must enter the same data, look up data, and/or transfer data between MCS systems and third party applications and these manual processes can be time consuming. Bots are a great way to automate this process and free-up staff time for more mission critical activities.
Image processing and handling is one of the most important aspects of our business. We recently conducted a successful “proof of concept” that used AI/image classification technology to detect duplicate images, blurry images, and auto-classified (tagged) images into six categories (kitchen, street sign, etc). Based upon the results of our successful pilot, we are in the process of implementing the first phase of our AI project.
This technology will reduce the overall number of images that must be processed and ensure they are tagged properly. We will use this technology as a core part of our business, allowing for improved efficiencies and quality of work.