Technology Provider Rethinks Loan Origination Systems
You'd think that the mess in the mortgage market would mean curtains for tech providers specializing in loan origination systems, or LOS platforms. And, to a certain extent, you'd be right -- more than a few smaller providers have gone out of business as the credit mess has winded on. Yet, surprisingly, more than a few have managed to make the credit crunch work to their advantage. Regular HW readers know that LOS providers have begun consolidating and pushing e-services out at a much faster pace than during the recent boom cycle in housing and mortgages: the latest example is West Palm Beach, Florida-based OpenClose, which said last week that it had purchased the assets of Seattle-based LION, Inc. in an effort to push its vision for a completely Web-based LOS that can reach all the way out to consumers. LION's Precision LPX suite offers loan pricing and retail Web site services, and OpenClose said in a press statement that the acquisition allows the company to offer lenders and brokers "a single tool" to handle every task in the loan life cycle from consumer through to the secondary market. "OpenClose will give our existing customers continued support to the software they rely on, while also offering additional services to help them automate the mortgage pipeline," said David Stedman, president of LION, Inc. "In addition, OpenClose gains the tools needed to become the first completely Web-based, end-to-end mortgage software that touches all points from the consumer to the investor." The idea of an all-in-one LOS platform may seem to be a non-idea for many in the current marketplace, but OpenClose senior vice president of sales and marketing Rob Pommier told Housing Wire that it's a vision the industry has only recently begun to embrace. "A few years ago, everyone was so busy with the volumes they had that they were using bits and pieces thrown together," he said. "It takes time and energy to do that, but it was easier during the boom to hire someone to handle new functions as they came up rather than to integrate across." OpenClose, along with a few other LOS platform providers, have moved to adopt a more integrative strategy as the market has turned; it's a strategy borne of necessity, of course, but also one that has helped the company grow during a time when origination volume has been falling at a record pace. As lenders cut back staffing, those still in the business are finding that the varied origination functions that once operated separately now need to work together -- the jobs that were once done by 5 people now need to be done by one person. It's that shift that has actually put LOS platform providers that can offer a complete solution at a competitive advantage, Pommier said. "We're busier today than we ever were in 2005," he said. "We've grown staff by 40 percent in the past 12 months alone to keep up with demand." For more information, visit http://www.openclose.com.