For mortgage lenders, changes driven by the pandemic are here to stay

When we talk about 2020, it’s often understood that this actually refers to “early 2020 through early 2021,” as the new year did not bring about sweeping change. In the same vein, changes to the way we live and work that occurred in 2020 will last well beyond the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clint Salisbury

For the mortgage industry, digital advancements embraced during the last 12 months will impact the way we do business indefinitely. The convenience offered by digital mortgage technology will not be forgotten simply because we’re no longer asked to shelter in place at home. Lenders across the spectrum, including credit unions, reacted to a new environment and, more often than not, were able to easily adapt to continue to serve their borrowers.

After the initial lull in mortgage applications at the beginning of the pandemic and work-from-home period, people began to experience a new type of cabin fever. The restlessness many went through as a result of working and living in a single location led to an unprecedented housing surge in the spring. A multitude of personal situations coupled with historically low interest rates led to increased mortgage pipeline volumes. As mortgage lenders across the nation worked to keep, credit unions, as is their custom, continued to provide a solid ground for their members.

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Despite mortgage operations often moving to employees’ homes with little notice, credit unions were able to adapt quickly and avoid disruptions to member service. While members in some cases could not visit a branch in person, they were still able to communicate with credit unions for help in almost every area of personal finance.

For credit union mortgage departments previously operating as paperless as possible, this transition was particularly smooth. Institutions offering e-delivery and e-sign options on mortgage documents were already acclimated to a level of physical distance. Additionally, digital mortgage operations meant minimal paper floating around and few things to worry about coming back in the mail during the pandemic.

To ensure consistently great service to members, many credit unions worked to create a digital “water cooler” environment for sharing and hashing out operational challenges. By implementing systems to encourage collaboration, credit unions kept their employees connected and their operations working smoothly.

Adaptations allowing for remote mortgage operations by both the credit union and the borrower speak to a larger movement on the horizon. The mortgage industry has been implementing digital mortgage solutions for years and in 2020 was forced to speed up that process exponentially. After 2020, borrowers will continue to expect that level of technological advancements as related to the mortgage process. Credit unions can use their experiences from 2020 to expand their digital mortgage offerings at a pace comfortable to credit unions and their members.

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Our world changed a lot in 2020 and some of those changes are becoming permanent, including the benefits of and desire for more digital mortgage operations. As our industry begins to transition back to the office, it’s im portant to note the benefits realized in 2020 from a modernized, digital workflow and ensure that efficiency and convenience will remain available for employees and members alike.

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