Monday, February 18, 2008

Avista: Grew in 2007

Avista Solutions is another mortgage technology player that had good news recently. The company reported late last month that its 2007 mortgage volume was up 42% over 2006 to $187 billion. The company further reported that its Agile Network handled over 1.1 million mortgage applications in a single year for the first time.

"Avista's customers, especially those that run us end-to-end, tend to be leaner shops," said Mark Phlieger, CEO of Avista Solutions, "That was important in two ways this year. First, when the products with fatter margins completely disappeared from the market, our end-to-end customers were able to hunker down and make it through on the thinner margins of conventional and government loans. Secondly, the move to conventional and government products puts a focus on price. Running a lean shop has given our customers a pricing power that lets them control their regional markets, pricing for the volumes and the products that they want. They've been able to capture a windfall of these new volumes."

Avista won Mortgage Technology magazine's 2007 Help Desk Award last year and specializes in Web-based loan originations. According to the company, the Avista Agile LOS™ origination system combined with the Avista Product Advisor™ and Avista ImageFlow™ allows users to create loan applications via the internet or by import from external loan origination software.

I think it's fairly safe to say that the LOS has left the desktop and that any company that really wants to be a player in this space in the future will adopt SaaS delivery and create systems that will work in the presence of an Internet connection or not. There are a number of players working in this space.

What may have been most beneficial to Avista last year was the ability built into its tool to originate across a number of channels and product types. While Agile is a word the company is trying to brand, it helps when the tool can actually deliver on that. Avista has at least one client that says its platform does deliver.

"I entered the year with a 70% Alt-A pipeline, and we left it with a pipeline that was 99% conventional," said Glen Ogden, CMB, Vice President of Mortgage Services, The Mortgage Co-op. "Avista's platform allowed us to re-evaluate and quickly reinvent who we were and what we did not once, but twice in 2007.

More than ever, having front line originators back up your product's claims will be key to success as the downturn continues.

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