As mortgage industry professionals aim to better their business models and improve the customer experience, more are considering the advantages of offering end-to-end services that allow borrowers to begin and complete the home buying process under one roof. FinLedger recently spoke with Clint Casabella, SVP of Strategy & Business Development at Westcor Specialty, about the potential advantages of an affiliated ecosystem model.
FinLedger: From Realtors and mortgage lenders to title agents and HOI services, the home buying experience traditionally includes a collection of disconnected services and products that can be difficult for the borrower to navigate. How can housing these services under the roof of one business create a better customer experience?
Clint Casabella: Consolidating the various products and services under one umbrella offers several advantages for providers and customers alike. One of the most obvious benefits to providers is the ability to create additional revenue streams for the same transaction. The more verticals a provider controls, the greater the ability to offer bundled pricing to customers, which is often more competitive than what can be obtained elsewhere.
In this tight market, pricing is an important variable in the customer experience equation. Providers should also expect considerable pickups in efficiency from the tight coordination and technological integration an ecosystem of affiliates affords. For their customers, this translates into more convenience and greater speed. Given the complexity of the process and the low frequency and high value of the home purchase transaction, it’s easy to see why a customer would prefer to consume as many of the products and services as possible from an efficient ecosystem – it’s significantly less stressful than the alternative. And even though not everyone will want or need to close as quickly as possible, it is certainly reassuring to have the option.
Improvements to the customer experience often come from new innovation. In our industry, implementing any sort of innovation typically requires tremendous collaboration across transaction stakeholders. The more internal the stakeholder loop becomes, the easier it is to mobilize and the greater likelihood of quick and successful adoption of new solutions.
Take eClosing as a case study, and RON specifically. There is a reason that 90%+ of eNotes being delivered to the GSEs are coming from lenders who have an affiliate title agency (some also with affiliate servicer, RON platform, et al.). Assuming that all services are provided competently, it’s hard to argue against the benefits for both providers and their customers of disintermediating the home buying process.
FL: While many industry participants have been able to streamline their lending and closing processes with the help of evolving tech solutions, few have approached modernizing the customer experience through the affiliated ecosystem model. What are the potential business advantages of this holistic approach to closing?
CC: The overwhelming majority of technology investment and impact in our industry has been front loaded, targeting the beginning of the customer journey. Many different vendors, solutions and platforms have emerged to bring about meaningful change to the way consumers search for a home, select a real estate agent and even apply for a mortgage. But those great strides that have been made on the front end only serve to further highlight the whiplash customers feel when they are dragged back to the stone age for the closing process.
With the back half of the transaction being the final frontier that is still ripe for transformation, the choice existing industry participants need to make is whether they are content to wait and rely upon third-party peer companies that live in the closing space to bring about change and progress, or whether they would rather opt to control their own destiny by bringing more of the ecosystem internal.
Those entities that are dissatisfied with the status quo are likely to view owning more of the ecosystem as a strategic advantage that allows them to be in the driver’s seat more holistically, ultimately empowering them to curate their customer’s experience from end to end.
FL: With many other worthy adjacent businesses contending for priority, why should industry professionals turn their sights towards owning an affiliate title agency?
CC: Whether someone is buying their first home, upgrading to a larger home that better fits a growing family, buying a vacation home or even purchasing an investment property – there is a certain enormity to that occasion. There are very few purchases a person will make in their life that are so closely linked to their hopes, dreams and aspirations. People remember that moment, at closing, when they cross the finish line and become the proud new owner of a home.
For existing industry participants, owning an affiliate title agency allows them the ability to own their customer’s apex moment – the “closing ceremony”. It’s an opportunity to enhance that experience and make it even more memorable for customers. On the other side of the coin, it’s also the only way to mitigate the reputational risk of outsourcing the bigness of that moment to someone else. Beyond the customer experience implications, owning an affiliate title agency also creates additional monetization on a per file basis and enables workflow and operational efficiencies for the broader enterprise.
FL: The decision to embed the title and closing vertical into an existing business ecosystem can seem like a daunting task. How can the eAgency program make starting, owning and operating a title agency possible?
CC: Ease, accessibility and simplicity are not words that have historically been associated with launching and operating a title agency, but the eAgency program is out to change that. eAgency is a first of its kind, hybrid SaaS product, available to entities who want to embed the title and closing vertical into their existing business ecosystem.
Partner eAgents benefit from a proprietary technology platform that drastically simplifies the workflow, shortens the learning curve for new entrants to the space and seamlessly connects to the system(s) of record for their core business. In addition to the technology platform and its bespoke configuration, eAgents also receive consultative and administrative services (entity formation, licensing, compliance, rates, forms, etc.) and leverage a back office fulfillment solutions team to supplement the experience and workforce capacity of their newly formed title agency.
Combining this suite of services allows the eAgency program to offer efficient operations, predictable margins and a partial shield from liability to its partner eAgents. eAgency is the smarter way to own and operate an affiliate title agency.
For more information visit https://goeagency.com/