With mortgage rates expected to remain low by any historical standard and the ongoing millennial-driven wave of home-buying demand, housing market potential is poised for further growth in 2021. At the same time, the pandemic-driven acceleration of the adoption of a more digital home-buying experience only seems to intensify. Competition across the mortgage finance and real estate industries to streamline the home-buying process with digital technologies is fierce and unabating.
To meet this competitive challenge and pivot successfully toward a more digital real estate transaction experience, mortgage originators and other companies in the mortgage finance industry must make major organizational changes and technology investments. But, before calling these game-changing plays, it’s critical to get your team prepared and your key players in position for success.
Digitizing an entire process is a sweeping change that will affect how partners and internal stakeholders do their jobs. A successful technology implementation requires more than a financial investment and training initiatives. It requires buy-in and commitment – which is a critical first step for every lender, even before selecting a technology vendor.
“To meet this competitive challenge and pivot successfully toward a more digital real estate transaction experience, mortgage originators and other companies in the mortgage finance industry must make major organizational changes and technology investments. But, before calling these game-changing plays, it’s critical to get your team prepared and your key players in position for success.”
As the digital transformation of real estate transactions continues, First American remains focused on innovations to increase efficiency and security while reducing risk, making it easier for our customers to do business with us and improve the experience of buying and selling real estate. First American Docutech’s Accelerate Closings Playbook provides an in-depth guide to help lenders consider the components of the mortgage origination experience that can best benefit from digitization, and includes five key steps to secure internal support and get your team and vendor partners ready to kick off a technology implementation.
- Designate an executive sponsor. This must be a top-down initiative that is clearly communicated by the leadership team. Identify who will be the main driver and communicate the “why” to the rest of the organization. To get buy-in, invite others to ask questions and raise concerns. Address each point to ensure employees are confident about adopting a new process and technology. Once initial buy-in is secured, the executive sponsor should own the process of keeping constituents engaged and supportive of the change, perhaps creating incentive benchmarks as part of the change management process.
- Designate a project lead. This person will ensure the success of the rollout by working in close liaison with the eClosing vendor partner and reporting back to the executive team. Other responsibilities include coordination, interdepartmental communication, and tracking gaps and successes.
- Create a lender project team to serve as advocates to ensure a successful process transition. This interdepartmental task force is critical and should be made up of subject matter experts from sales, operations, compliance and IT. Meeting regularly with the project lead, they should discuss progress, roadblocks and next steps.
- Select settlement agent partners for a pilot program. Starting small will allow you to identify issues and inefficiencies from the settlement perspective before a large-scale rollout. Select a few agents to receive regular volume and who will be good partners willing to provide critical feedback.
- Develop “Be ‘e’ as You Can Be” milestones. Work with your eClosing vendor partner to identify “e” milestones for your team to work toward. This provides individuals with specific objectives, will keep the project moving forward and allow team members to celebrate small wins along the way. It is critical to measure adoption (internally and externally) post go-live. Keep scorecards and celebrate successes and address headwinds to adoption.
A clear strategy and strong interdepartmental communication are key to building internal support and commitment. The next step is to find an eClosing vendor partner that shares your vision and will work diligently to implement and scale digital closings with your organization.
Today’s mortgage origination environment demands a relentless pace of innovation and moving forward on major technology implementations requires thoughtful planning and preparation to avoid setbacks and lost time. First American Docutech has a vision for the digitization of this process that addresses a key challenge to greater adoption of digital closing: the need to merge lender documents with settlement agent documents to give borrowers a true end-to-end digital experience. For additional insight and guidance on implementing digital closings, download First American Docutech’s complete Accelerate Closings Playbook.
Fred Gooch is operations counsel and senior vice president of compliance at First American Docutech.