Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Agire: Counting on mortgage technology

Robin Cook-Auerbach, a former executive with New Century Mortgage in Irvine, CA, hopes to leverage mortgage technology to succeed in her new venture, according to a story that appeared in ALTA Technology News.

Agire Mortgage Corporation, a firm Cook-Auerbach formed last October and launched last month, will be a paperless mortgage lender using an SOA-based technology platform.

"Our technology enables us to address the industry-wide need for a renewed focus on the customer and uniquely positions us for success," Cook-Auerbach told ALTA Tech News. "Our online Broker Portal and Automated Underwriting System deliver fast and accurate information while keeping the Broker and our internal sales force updated with real-time statuses. These systems and processes allow us to deliver the quality mortgage products the market has long been seeking, that investors can have confidence in and at a lower cost to produce."

She did not divulge where the technology had been developed.

Agire is not the first firm to tout technology as a competitive advantage. Unfortunately, neither is it the first firm to leverage an SOA-based technology platform to operate its lending business. It takes more to run a good lending operation than technology, which I'm sure Mrs. Cook-Auerbach knows. She has surrounded herself with some key executives, including Tony Vigna, SVP, CIO; Ron Harrison, EVP, National Sales; and Doug Speaker, SVP, Vendor Relations.


P. Jackson said...

Rick, I'd like to note that ALTA must have pulled its story from Housing Wire, since I covered this a full 4 days before it appeared on ALTA's tech news section.

Link: http://www.housingwire.com/2007/06/22/former-new-century-exec-other-industry-vets-launch-mortgage-company/

Hope all is well.

Rick said...

Thanks, Paul. That will teach me to leave town and get behind on my blog reading.

Do you know what platform they're using? Is it homegrown or (more likely) one of the commercially available LOS packages?


Anonymous said...

The Technology Solution they're using is from VisionCore. They offer the broker portal and automated underwriting system. VisionCore is a FirstAmerican Corelogic company based in Irvine, CA.

Rick said...

I want to thank our anonymous poster for this information, but since we don't know where it's coming from, I'll warn my readers that this has not been confirmed. Hopefully, someone from First American or Corelogic will substantiate it.

Anonymous said...

VisionCore's Copyright is listed on the footer of Agire's Broker SignUp tool.

Rick said...

That's generally a pretty good indication. :)



Anonymous said...

As the Baby Boomers age, Generations X and Y, the emerging new consumers, are becoming a more powerful force within the mortgage industry, demanding a do-it-yourself immediacy in commerce that can only come from doing business over the Internet.

According to the National Association of Realtors, at age 46.5 the average American will reach their lifetime spending peak. The largest proportion of Baby Boomers was born in 1960, which means this group has just passed its spending peak in 2006, and it is already time to start planning for the next generation's peak.

Gen X, consisting of 40 million people born between 1965 and 1976, and Gen Y, the 60 million people born between 1977 and 1994, have a different view from other generations on how financial services should work. In order to meet the needs of this growing consumer base, lenders must have a better understanding of their mindset and adapt the way they do business.

For new consumers, technology is an essential facilitator that enables them to do everything themselves, without having to rely on others for services. Technology speeds up and simplifies every aspect of their lives. Whereas Baby Boomers are more comfortable working with traditional paper transactions (printing out bank statements, paper checks, etc.), new consumers prefer everything electronic and immediate. Many people in their 20s prefer to rely on their ATM cards and no longer even bother to carry cash.

Lenders must focus on the self-serviced consumer and gear processing systems, origination platforms and front-end point-of-sale systems accordingly. For example, lenders now need to shift their focus from meeting brokers' requirements to empowering new consumers to do more themselves. The customer experience is being redefined so that it is quicker and easier, faster and more efficient.

New consumers as homebuyers no longer need the hand-holding of a Realtor, but prefer a more virtual approach to searching for a home. Increasingly, the Internet hosts websites that allow users to see estimates on home prices of millions of homes across the nation, not simply the ones for sale. They also offer aerial views of homes, virtual tours with satellite imagery, the price of neighboring homes, local schools, value changes of each home and basic data such as square footage and the number of rooms per house. New consumers do their own research; they are simply looking for a third-party agent to seal the deal.

According to the National Association of Realtors, 60% of homebuyers use the Internet to look for prospective homes. Of these people, 77% found their agent online and nine out of 10 found their agent on the same site that listed their interested home. This means that buyers and sellers are already doing more of the research and preparation before even meeting the agent. Once new consumers have fully entered the housing market, this trend will increase.

On average, the most popular time people browse the Internet is between the hours of 7 p.m. and 2 a.m., or times when offices are closed. In order to capture the growing number of business leads coming in from new consumers through the Internet, lenders must rely more on automated technology and provide additional after-hours services. Nine-to-five business hours are not as effective when dealing with new consumers.

The ways lenders proactively reach consumers is changing as well. Agents and brokerages that are serious about serving new consumers should consider investing their advertising dollars towards Web sites frequented by Gens X and Y. Blogs and podcasting are other ways to reach this highly interactive group.

In the last decade there has been a great deal of commerce via the Internet with consumer goods, but this trend towards the Internet and technology has been much slower within the real estate and mortgage industries. Lenders must cultivate a more immediate and refined approach to continue to grow. The very definition of the new consumer yields a more customer-centric, technology-driven path towards profitably doing business with the homeowners of the very near future. It is now a race to win over the hearts and wallets of these young generations, and in order to stay in the running, businesses must constantly upgrade technologies and remain as responsive and available as possible.

Cary Burch CEO LSSI