Last week, Qualia’s Director of High Growth Accounts, Jamie Kump, moderated an October Research webinar titled “Evolving Lender Relationships.” Kump was joined by Kate Steineman, Senior Vice President and Business Liaison at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and Landy Liu, General Manager at Better.com.
The panel discussed how the coronavirus has impacted consumer expectations and why it’s more important than ever for title & escrow businesses and lenders to work closely together in order to drive meaningful innovation.
Consumer expectations will shift after coronavirus
COVID-19 has brought about a “renewed interest to innovate and digitize” Liu said of the rapid changes his company has experienced in the past few months. When government leaders called for social distancing, Better.com immediately pivoted to offer additional digital, contactless options whenever possible for homebuyers such as smart phone appraisals, remote online notarization (RON) closings, remote ink-signed notarization (RIN) options, and hybrid eClosing options.
Once the coronavirus and the need for social distancing passes, the demand for digital options will likely continue. “A utopia would be getting to a place where we can meet customer needs to offer digital options how and where they want it,” Steineman said. “We need to pivot with the needs of the customer as opposed to shifting 100% digital or 100% [in-person].”
Liu agreed, noting that the ultimate goal is to match consumer needs with a tech solution. In Liu’s vision, mortgage lenders would offer an omnichannel experience and a consumer could pick various digital options throughout the process. “It’s about finding those needs instead of creating those needs with technology,” he said.
A united response: strong lender-title relationships make all the difference
The shift toward digital closings is certainly a pivotal outcome of the coronavirus; however, another lasting and equally important outcome may be an intensified focus on vendor and partner relationships. These relationships will be crucial in driving forward future innovation in the real estate space.
According to Liu, the lender-title relationship will ultimately come out stronger post-coronavirus because mortgage lenders have needed to rely heavily on their title partners (and vice-versa) during a period of uncertainty. “[At the onset of the pandemic] it seemed like there was information flying around from all directions,” Liu said. “Some of the first people we talked to were our title partners. Those first conversations [in a period of uncertainty] were invaluable for us.”
Steineman and Liu also pointed out that the uncertainty of COVID-19 has forced them to better understand their title partners. “There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes [with the title process] and having that transparency has opened up opportunities for innovation.”
What makes for strong lender-title partnerships?
Steineman and Liu said their relationships with title partners will be more important than ever. Both offered their perspectives on what makes for a strong partnership.
- Understanding. Get knowledgeable about your partner’s constraints and how their process works. Not only does this encourage a positive and symbiotic relationship, it also allows for more productive and collaborative conversations.
- Proactivity. Deliver relevant information to your partners that may impact their operations. “[During coronavirus] our title partners forwarded us announcements and called us to discuss what might impact us and how we could work together,” Liu said. “Those partners went the extra mile as a partner and consultant.”
- Strong communication. “Any good partnership includes a strong feedback loop,” Liu said. Make sure you’re communicating what’s working and what isn’t to make the relationship stronger and more efficient. Over-communication is also key during periods of uncertainty to avoid costly misunderstandings.
- Empathy. “For us, the ultimate success is a great customer experience,” Steineman said. An empathetic partnership recognizes and responds to the needs of the collective customer.
Overall, Liu and Steineman are encouraged by the prospect of improved relationships with their title partners. “I’m excited about the developments in technology and integrations so we can share information more quickly and better partner together,” Liu said.
For example, with Qualia, title & escrow agents and lenders can seamlessly collaborate on files without leaving their core software through Qualia’s two-way integration with Ellie Mae’s Encompass. Further, title & escrow businesses can connect face-to-face with their lender partners on more complicated transactions using the latest video chat features in Qualia Connect.
To learn more about how Qualia improves lender-title relationships with technology and integrations, click below to schedule a time to speak with a Qualia Specialist.