"What is separating you from the competition?"

The Fed Reserve's approach to rates may be making business tougher, but there are ways to get ahead

"What is separating you from the competition?"

One of the most significant challenges for the mortgage industry in the past few years has been the Federal Reserve’s series of rate hikes. During this time, borrowers have faced a daunting reality – monthly mortgage payments have surged to 1.7 times what they used to be.

However, speaking to MPA, Eric Gasper (pictured), vice president of Madison Mortgage Services, said that during these uncertain times it’s important to focus on the bigger picture and not get bogged down by interest anxiety.

“The more that you know about your consumer, the more you understand their situation, the more you can put yourself in their shoes,” he said. “While we can’t predict the future, we can try to protect ourselves in a way where we feel comfortable. And here, communication is key. Instead of worrying that the rates are high, don’t focus on the interest - focus on the benefits and the goals.

“What is separating you from the competition that’s not just getting on a telephone with somebody, not doing any due diligence, or not pre-underwriting a file?”

Using technology in mortgage

And this efficiency, another cornerstone of Madison Mortgage Services’ success, is rooted in technology. The company’s commitment to staying ahead of the curve is evident in its significant investment in new tools and digitization.

“AI is big for us,” said Gasper. “We have implemented it into everything: our lead generation, communication, communicating with borrowers, we’re very big into tech.  We’re trying to be ahead of the curve - our big investment is on infrastructure for technology and to stay ahead of the game.”

The impact of AI on the mortgage industry has been profound – however the debate around when and how professionals should be using the tech is still ongoing. According to data from MFM Bankers, 99% of lenders believe that tech will play a vital role in the mortgage application process, while 74% think it’ll simply be part of it. What’s more, 67% think AI and tech will reduce data entry and 70% think it’ll reduce the time to close.

For Gasper, he thinks tech and AI will ultimately change customer expectations around firms – specifically the speed at which they move. However, that doesn’t mean that a one-size-fits-all approach to tech roll out will help. In fact, it could hinder the process.

“We tried [different] CRMs until we just developed our own,” added Gasper. “You could get one of these CRM softwares that tries to do everything for you, but it’s not done the way that we need it to be done – the way the client needs it to be done - to make it more efficient. That’s how we’re going to scale our business. Sales brings in the revenue but it’s about growing the company to the next level, and the only way to do that in today’s market is technology.”

Looking to the future of the market, while there may be some predictions of a mild recession floating around, Gasper isn’t worried. He told MPA that, once again, the key to survival is adaptability – something the mortgage profession has had a lot of experience with of late.

“To maintain growth, to target different territories, work harder,” he said. “The market is different, you have to work harder. You have to find different ways to prospect. It’s not in our control if there’s going to be a recession. But what is in your control is understanding patience and how we can be better. So when the wave comes again, it’s for the taking.”