California MBA Member Profile
Franklin Loan Center
Each month, we'll bring you a closer look at one of our member companies, and ask them three questions about the state of the industry - "TheBig 3"
If your company would like to know how you can be featured, please contact Carol Danaher, California MBA Membership Development Director.
This month, we spoke with Walter K. Neil, President & CEO of Franklin Loan Center, one of the California MBA's residential member companies, about the state of the market, and what to look forward to in the future.
About Franklin Loan Center
Franklin Loan Center has been servicing Southern California since 1989. We have grown from a small, local mortgage banker into a thriving regional enterprise across Southern California. Expanding into the Los Angeles and San Diego, Franklin now provides clients with the means to purchase the homes they have always wanted spanning a large part of the state, while growing the heart of the business here in the Coachella Valley as a strong local employer.
Franklin Loan Center provides a premiere lending experience to clients. All processing, underwriting, docs and funding functions are handled on site by an expert team that follows the loan from application to close. Mortgages are processed in our state of the art system, and available to clients online to handle document submission and tracking for their convenience. Franklin offers a wide variety of tailored products to the borrower, from conventional and FHA loans to more specialty portfolio products for more complex transactions. This integrated product/team/system approach allows us to speed the process along and pay special attention to detail for each of our clients and gives them the flexibility to work with their Loan Officer anytime, anywhere.
The Big 3
California MBA: How is the smart mortgage banker doing more than just surviving when rates are on the rise?
Neil: While rates are indeed rising, the market is still enjoying near record low rates, even with the increases. Showing the value to our clients of purchasing their home vs. renting is still a great way for borrowers to save money, build equity, and enjoy the benefits of home ownership. Keeping in constant contact with prospective buyers and expanding your prospects via CRM or other marketing programs keeps you front and center once they decide to pull the trigger on purchase-in a slower environment you have the time to put energy into these programs to drive customer awareness. And as always, excellent customer service to your borrowers can increase your reputation, both by word of mouth and social media, and that kind of referral is a virtuous cycle. The more satisfied borrowers you have because of great service and a frictionless process means more referrals both from agents and home buyers.
In addition to driving client opportunities, we will push our strengths in the purchase money market and specialize in realtor relationships, while courting and solidifying builder relationships. This will strengthen our partner relationships as the 'go to' lender with the right people, programs, and processes, easing traditional pain points they experience while increasing the turn around on loans. Having great partners, excellent customer service, the best people, and the right platform all help compete as the market tightens.
California MBA: What can lenders do to reach Millennials and first-time homebuyers who are 'on the fence' about homeownership?
Neil: As Millennials move into the time where most people purchase their first homes, it's critical to meet their expectations in service, availability, and features. Millennials are data driven-it's key that you provide information in a format that's clear, understandable, and readily available throughout the lending process. This means an upfront analysis for the borrower outlining the benefits to them (either rent vs. buy cost savings, equity, or other goals they may have). Having a powerful end to end loan origination system, self-service web applications, information/status portals, phone apps, CRM, all are important to obtain and keep the Millennial client. An automated, 24/7 available, live status structure is something Millennials (and most people) have come to expect.
Millennials also place a strong emphasis on social responsibility and your brand as something more than just a business. Authenticity is key. Make sure your organization participates in more than just its own bottom line, but do it modestly! Launching a marketing effort or program just to 'score points' can be worse than doing nothing at all. Efforts through your marketing, charity, hiring, and corporate culture are all things that matter to Millennials, but be real and genuine.
What is the next big break-through in technology that you are looking forward to?
Neil: As the full featured web application and information front ends become more commonplace, mobile expansion of these skills takes on new importance. If your borrower can acknowledge requests and check status on any device wherever and whenever they are your perceived value increases as a responsive lender. Having these abilities from application to asset sale can compress cycle time across the entire process.
And as machine learning technology makes functions that were previously labor intensive a built-in feature of the software, properly positioned lenders will be able to reduce back end costs with quicker turnaround time. Leveraging these systems to do some of the upfront or tedious work: collecting materials, analyzing their situation, and validating submissions will make the origination process smoother while keeping the client and agent engaged.
Finally, while the mortgage industry is well on its way to greater automation and availability sometimes it's simple things that take the longest. One of the biggest impediments is simply the ability to electronically sign every document and communication with you. There has been great progress in the last few years, but it can improve. Remedying this and moving towards truly 'digitally native' files will open up our industry's ability to move faster with more accuracy.