Tech enables streamlined integration to multiple products
By now the acronym “API” (Application Programming Interface) has become commonplace in the mortgage industry and many others. It is programming that helps two or more computer programs communicate with each other, and key ingredients can help make a particularly good API, according to Kenon Chen (pictured), EVP of Corporate Strategy for Clear Capital.
“It’s important, first and foremost, [for an API] to be easy for other technology providers and developers to work with,” Chen said. “It needs to be well documented, so it’s easy to utilize and easy to understand what the functionality is.”
That reasoning informs Clear Capital’s recent launch of two new APIs. One is focused on property valuation and the other on risk assessment. Clear Capital, a real estate valuation technology company, said each API connects directly into existing systems through a single integration for lenders, investors and system providers. The improvement is designed to make it easier for clients to adopt and deploy modern valuation technology.
The improvements address another key need by improving upon how APIs have been previously used, Chen said.
“What we found is that rather than forcing people to integrate multiple times every time they want to bring on a new product or every time they want to try a new offering, [there are typically] a lot of APIs,” Chen said. “People want to integrate every single time they want to make a change or ingest a new product. This is about streamlining that, so you do one integration, one effort and that gives access to all the products we have.”
The company has different APIs for each product, and so it focused on combing them so one will unlock many connections.
For example, the Property Valuation API gives users access to multiple products that address areas including hybrid and desktop appraisals, desktop data collection, property data collection and collateral desktop analysis.
“The idea is that with appraisal modernization ... We want to help the process with better tools, better communication and notifications,” Chen said. “This API has been designed to help folks more easily ingest this new process and move from a traditional appraisal process to something like a hybrid approach.”
The Risk Assessment API connects to multiple elements of Clear Capital’s ClearCollateral Review (CCR) system, allowing users to funnel this into their workflow or platform/technology stack, Clear Capital explained in its announcement.
Using a single API to integrate multiple programs is a relatively new approach, Chen said.
“Especially for the Risk Assessment API, I think that it’s new thing,” Chen said. “For our automated underwriting tools, we’re giving people different access to these tools than it’s been done before and in the industry.”
Chen noted that platforms and software products often force users to log into whatever user experience being offered by the software provider. A streamlined approach gives APIs a more natural purpose, he said.
“We’re actually freeing people up to use their existing workflows or existing user experiences by just bringing in the data and intelligence from our system into their existing processes,” Chen said.
He added that for the Risk Assessment API, for example, clients get to access automated appraisal and underwriting, and automated collateral underwriting as a standalone product, not something that is embedded, forcing clients to use other tools.
“This is something that works seamlessly … without you having to do a larger tech investment of ripping out existing workflow platforms,” he said.
Clients include bank and non-bank lenders that are originating purchase or refinance mortgages that need an appraisal product. Correspondent lenders that need a secondary review of the collateral desktop analysis and other industry partners round out the list.
For APIs, the integration process is much easier than before, Chen said.
With the Property Valuation API, the company provides an online documentation portal for clients who want to work with Clear Capital’s teams on gaining access to the provided API token, plus documents needed to do the integration. Once complete, clients gain access to five products.
Clients can do the integrations themselves, though integration time varies based on their individual systems and approach.
The time from start to finish is “a matter of weeks instead of months,” Chen said.
“Our APIs were always easy to work with, but there’s added functionality and products that you only have to integrate once to get,” he added.
The Risk Assessment API integration is similarly efficient, Chen said, as it is “well documented online and gives you the ability to see all the individual data points and scores that you get back, with the flexibility of bringing that into existing workflows and processes you have.”