Tech-heavy lender offers a shining example of endurance
The following article is written in association with Orion Lending.
In the night sky, Orion is one of the most prominent constellations distinguished by its multitude of bright stars. Like its ancient namesake, Orion Lending has emerged from a dimmed mortgage market as a shining example of endurance.
Despite a rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage reaching a high not seen in 20-plus years, one is left knowing the sky isn’t falling after chatting with Tracey Corbett (pictured). Rather than focus on uncontrollable market forces that have dampened the market, the executive vice president of strategy at Orion Lending zeroes in on controllable actions to mitigate mercurial tides.
“It’s definitely been a challenging market,” Corbett acknowledged. “One of the key elements of our focus is how we serve our customers. They expect more in a slower market, without a doubt. So we’re evaluating what we do well. We’re taking this opportunity to do that and focusing on those items.”
The tough times have only served to deepen the wholesale lender’s ties to its brokers, she added. “We’ve also seen a deepening of our relationships with our broker partners as they trust Orion with not only their customers but also with their broker referrals – sources like realtors, CPAs, etc – and rely on us to help protect those relationships. We’re seeing a lot of that in this tight market.”
Focusing on the right things
For Orion Lending, the key is to focus on the right things.
“Product suite is very, very important,” Corbett explained. “Focusing on borrowers who have very distinct needs, such as needing, our proprietary DPA [down payment assistance program that offers no down payment from the borrower]. And at the other end of the spectrum, there’s a lot of investors out there who need to do cash-flow type loan products. So our suite of DCSR product has really come into play,” Corbett said of debt-service coverage ratio options. “Focusing on those distinct needs has helped serve the broker community well.”
Shining a light on technology
The approach is hardly an abstract concept. In tailoring its focus accordingly with each shift of the market, Orion Lending has emerged as one of the fastest-growing wholesale lenders in the US. As its profile rises, its tech-heavy approach has not gone unnoticed.
Corbett posited those technological elements as a key cog in the Orion Lending machinery: “We’re constantly focused on our proprietary tech,” she said. “Our STAR portal is completely our own and we’re always looking for ways to expand that broker experience – it’s absolutely critical to us. We’ve identified our top 10 tech initiatives, which will empower our customers with additional self-serve solutions within the portal. Having our own tech really allows us to be agile and nimble and move quickly jumping on not only trends, but customer needs.”
Notwithstanding its successes so far in navigating the market, Orion Lending has yet to reach its apogee. Corbett offered something of a sneak peek into future offerings amid ever-changing terrain.
“There’s a lot on the docket, I’m telling you,” she began. “We’re going to continue to focus on our proprietary down payment assistance program – not requiring it to only serve first-time homebuyers – that really speaks to the market that we’re in and being able to serve more borrowing needs.”
Another element in development centers around the lender’s broker partners, who Corbett positioned to be of paramount importance.
“We don’t intend to be all things to all borrower types,” she said. “However, we’re really committed to serving the broker partner needs and that’s what we feel is critical. We are building a new solution around our final approval process that will really empower our customers to manage their clear to close, which has been a bit of a challenge for certain brokers.”
With other planned product launches, she was more cryptic given their nascent phases: “A new CD [closing disclosure] solution which will be very robust and includes settlement partners .. And an automated underwriting solution, but I can’t say too much about that one. It’s very exciting,” she offered.
Having the best bells and whistles the market has to offer is one thing. But the glittering gadgetry has a greater purpose than serving as industry bragging rights – homeownership. “Our focus is really driving value to the broker community,” Corbett said. “That’s what it’s all about. It’s being in the trenches, understanding where the market is now, knowing that it’s not forever. This business is all about ups and downs, and there are different cycles throughout the years. It’s all about tenacity, working together with our customers and driving to the ultimate goal of homeownership.”
That’s no mere wishing on a star, but reliance on the robustness of Orion Lending to help achieve that dream.