It seems as if there’s nothing that hasn’t been touched by the technological advances in the mortgage process, and credit reports are no exception.
There are a number of systems that have automated credit reporting, but is there more to it? Could the process be improved upon?
As always, the answer is yes.
Startmyapplication.com is a product exclusive to credit reporting company Avantus. It’s a URL address that’s created for an individual originator, and it allows the borrower to start the mortgage application and concurrently apply for a loan and receive a copy of their credit report. Once that credit report is pulled, the originator immediately receives a notification, and the borrower information and credit report will be provided to the originator within the Avantus system. So even though the originator was not directly involved with ordering the credit report in conjunction with the mortgage application, the originator can use it as if they had pulled it themselves—in addition to having the ability to generate leads 24/7.
“[Startmyapplication.com] allows the consumer to initiate the process, to act on their own, but also the upfront credit cost elimination is great, so if that loan doesn’t go forward, you’re not out the cost of the credit report. But certainly, in my opinion, above that, the lead generation capabilities are phenomenal. And it’s all for free. There’s several products on the market, application POS products, that are available but they all come with a cost, whether it’s a subscription fee or a per application cost; this URL, created by us, is completely free of charge,” said Paul DeCoste, regional sales director at Avantus.
The site is also customizable with a photo, bio, and contact information that’s particular to an individual originator. That URL can be embedded into an originator’s current website, included in an email signature, shared with business partners, or however the originator chooses to use it.
It’s a creative solution, but that shouldn’t be a surprise coming from Avantus, a nationwide company that services about 2,500 clients and has been in business for more than 75 years. The company’s programmers are all local Avantus employees, and because they don’t outsource the system to a third-party vendor, they’re able to develop, maintain, enhance, and customize their products at will.
“We’re a technology company. Our technology is second to none, the fact that we own and operate our own system is huge in our industry, and it has to be, we need to have the technology to deliver the products our clients need and the integration our clients need,” he said.
Apart from startmyapplication.com, they’ve also developed the Loan Shield suite of mortgage fraud and compliance solutions. The product suite includes a Comprehensive Mortgage Fraud report, which allows the investor to verify borrower identity, address history, and property ownership, among other things, as well as the ability to create and check an excluded parties list. Another popular product is the Loan Shield Credit Review report, which pulls a merged credit report on an applicant, and in the days leading up to closing, the report allows an originator to pull a soft inquiry, which only notifies the originator of anything that has changed.
“Rather than have to pull a whole other credit report and look at 15-20 pages, we break it out into basically a one-page credit report,” DeCoste said. “It’ll alert you to changes in revolving debt, certainly any new tradeline information that pops up there, any new liabilities, certainly if anything went from a paid-as-agreed status to a derogatory status we will alert you to that as well. So it gives a quick shot, one-page snapshot, really, comparing the two credit reports, the one you initially pulled and the one that you pulled prior to closing. It doesn’t create a hard inquiry so it doesn’t affect the borrower’s credit score at all and it’s a great tool that many of our, not only lenders, but many of our brokers use it and send it along with their package to their lenders.”
Even originators who have been in the business for decades may not be up-to-date on credit reporting news, and DeCoste said that Avantus has been in a position to respond and adopt to industry changes. An example is that the three credit reporting agencies no longer report information that can be found in public records, such as tax lien and civil judgement information. As a result, Avantus now provides a Loan Shield Civil Court Report Search, part of the Loan Shield suite. It can be run as a one-off report or can be run every time a credit report is requested and searches for any tax lien/civil judgement information that’s now missing from the credit reports.
Having a team in-house to develop these systems is a great advantage, but it goes hand in hand with the expertise of the people who are implementing and sharing it. According to DeCoste, the average employee at Avantus—from executives to support staff—has been with the company for more than 22 years.
“When you need something, when you have a question, a three-file merge credit report is a three-file merge credit report; the information is the same, it only comes from three places. However, when you have an issue, when you need a trade line updated, when you have a credit score issue that you need to resolve to close a loan, when you call us, when you pick up the phone and you have a question, you’re going to be dealing with someone with 22+ years industry experience. So they understand the business, they understand our client’s sense of urgency to get the loans closed, and that makes or breaks some deals.”
Turns out there’s more to credit reporting than meets the eye.