Saturday’s Wall Street Journal had an interesting headline: Massive Effort To Save Mortgages. The article went into how JP Morgan was planning on targeting 400,000 loans for modification of terms on top of what they were already doing. It also mentioned some other banks such as Bank of America’s efforts to modify the terms of existing loans in lieu of foreclosure. The article points out that “…7.3 million American Homeowners are expected to default on their mortgages between 2008 and 2010.”
As you might expect, when banks transact business with other banks, things can be done in a largely electronic environment generating minimal amounts of paper. Since individual homeowners don’t have systems that hook directly into lenders the process of modifying the terms (mod) of a loan is done almost exclusively on paper. Things like pay stubs, tax returns, letters of hardship are used to determine what can be done for each loan. This means that even simple mods may carry 20-40 pages of faxes, mail, etc. inbound to the lender. Multiply that by say 7 million and you have yourself a mess of paper.
So many times I see companies in Corporate America spending money on technology for the sake of technology instead of a solid Return on Investment like cutting costs. In this case however, I came across a service that is specifically targeted to handle all the paperwork related to the workout options for these loans. I put a copy of the PDF for the service on my website if anyone is interested in an overview (full disclosure: I have worked on various projects with this company for over ten years and am not a totally disinterested party). It is exciting to see how technology can be used to effectively address something that is urgent, timely and expensive without being overcomplicated.
The service is particularly appealing to lenders because they really don’t have large capital expenditure budgets floating around right now. Instead of a long drawn out implementation and large amounts of money down, they “pay by the drink” if you will. It gives lenders who are under pressure to mod loans an option other than throwing more bodies at the problem and hope they can keep ahead of the tide. Essentially it is a way for them to focus on the decision making aspect of the process rather than the menial, clerical and repetitive tasks.
This is technology and efficiency at its best and it is great when it happens. Do you have any positive / timely technology examples? Put it in the comments and I will do my best to address it.