SOUTHFIELD, Mich. -- When First Integrity Mortgage of St. Louis faced being orphaned by their sun-setting loan origination system, it went looking for a replacement whose provider reflected its personal service values in addition to helping them stay competitive by keeping costs down.
"We started our due diligence by looking at advertisements in industry publications and reading stories written about loan origination systems," said Eve Janis, senior vice president and operations manager for First Integrity. "I spoke to many of my counterparts with other companies and found out who they were using and discovered they didn't have many nice things to say about most of these providers. Then I found out about Mortgage Builder, and from all accounts, they were the LOS to use."
After almost a year of research and investigation, First Integrity Mortgage selected Mortgage Builder (www.mortgagebuilder.com) both for its all-inclusive pricing and functionality, as well as for the personal approach the software company took during the due diligence period and later, during implementation.
First Integrity is a regional mortgage bank in the St. Louis area, serving all of Missouri and nearby Illinois communities. They close about 100 loans a month, have been in business over 15 years and have 30 employees, most of whom have been there at least seven years. They offer traditional agency products and have been a very active FHA/VA lender, currently adding reverse mortgages to their product mix. They narrowed the field of candidates down to two competing systems over the course of months of investigation. They ultimately decided on Mortgage Builder because it allowed them greater autonomy and control over processes, such as having their own library.
Of closing documents, Janis quipped, "We don't even outsource an incoming call to voice mail. We wanted to handle things like docs, HMDA data and 1098s ourselves because it gives us control over our customer service levels. It's one reason we enjoy a 98% percent approval rating from our customers." She spoke to Keven Smith, Mortgage Builder's president/CEO, and found he understood exactly what she was talking about.
"They were ready with referrals from companies very much like ours in terms of size and needs," she explained. "I wasn't impressed with the other companies' referrals to big mortgage banks that they thought would impress me. Mortgage Builder listened. They referred me to companies that did government loans and conventionals, knew about which forms were supported and had individuals multi-tasking, just like we did."
"The tipping point was when I had Countrywide wanting me to resolve an APR issue, and I asked myself which of the loan origination systems I was looking at might have caught a problem for me," she related. "I placed a call to Wendy Bennetts at Mortgage Builder and within minutes she had their compliance expert, Melissa Kozicki, on the line with us. She explained Countrywide's specific point of view and said Mortgage Builder had already been programmed to anticipate issues like this one and would warn us. I felt that if I could get that level of knowledge and response before I was even a client, my odds were really good after becoming one," she said, adding "I have not been disappointed."
First Integrity installed and tested Mortgage Builder in the first week of March 2008, trained their people during the third week of the month, and by April 1, every one of their closings took place in Mortgage Builder. Janis found the system intuitive and easy to use, training their trainer herself, with Mortgage Builder people available by phone at a moment's notice. "Our internal staff loves the system," she said, "and the sales force is using it in the field, remotely accessing the system with their wireless laptops. If a borrower or Realtor calls at nine o'clock at night, the loan officer can give them a status report instantly." First Integrity is taking the implementation process in stages, currently using the basic modules. They will be adding the warehouse monitoring and image management capabilities over the course of the year. Having all the functionality in one place at one price resonated with the company, and Janis expects to save a lot of money using Mortgage Builder. "If we had gone to a company without the extensive document library, we'd be spending about $36,000 more per year than we are with Mortgage Builder, where docs are included," she said. "We can deliver electronically without fees, and with the imaging capabilities, we'll be saving on archiving costs, too."
More than a loan origination system, Mortgage Builder handles everything from prequalification through interim servicing and delivery, without the need for outside software, whether for retail or wholesale production models. Mortgage Builder also has the lowest client turnover rate in the industry, due in no small part to the things their clients tell each other. As Eve Janis puts it, "When operations people talk to one another, we share information. Missouri is the 'Show Me' state, and when we've been shown something that works well, we don't keep it a secret. I've already recommended Mortgage Builder to several of my industry colleagues."