Since the introduction of the first iPad in 2010 — and the tablet craze that's ensued ever since — the idea that loan officers and brokers could one day have the ability to take mortgage applications with mobile technology has been a concept that's held much promise. But it's also mired in a belief that widespread use of tablets is a distant evolution for an industry that's notoriously slow at adopting new innovations.
Now, on the heels of the much-anticipated release of Apple's third-generated iPad, an Austin, Texas-based mortgage technology upstart believes the impending launch of its iPad application will be the catalyst for tablet adoption by loan originators.
The MobileLO iPad app is a point of sale application that allows loan officers and brokers to enter the data fields of a Uniform Residential Loan Application (Form 1003), generate a Good Faith Estimate and other federal and state-specific disclosure documents, pull the applicant's credit report and collect electronic signatures.
The app's developer, On The Go Technology, submitted the app for approval and expects it to hit the Apple App Store next week, according to the company's owner, Andrew WeissMalik. With the free app download and registration, users can generate the Form 1003 and export the information in a Fannie Mae 3.2 data file.
"We want market share. It's not about squeezing every dime we can out of every originator out there," WeissMalik said. "We want the app of the future and right now, we're giving it away."
On The Go Technology will also offer a $29.95 per month subscription for premium services, which includes the disclosures, e-signature capability and integration with 50 different credit reporting vendors. The compliance checks and disclosure docs are provided through a partnership with Draper, Utah-based vendor International Document Services. The monthly subscription includes unlimited disclosure sets and credit pulls, but the user is still responsible for paying for the credit report.
In a demonstration of MobileLO, WeissMalik showed Mortgage Technology how the app works. The 10 sections of the 1003 are broken down into individual tabs, including loan type, borrower information, employment and income and expenses. To avoid having to scroll up and down through a particular section, boxes that require additional information (like address fields) expand and collapse at the push of a button. The GFE is split into two tabs, one for the loan summary and important dates, another for the fee sheet. There is also a quick application function to gather the basic data needed to pull a borrower's credit and follow up later.
Borrowers use their finger to e-sign the disclosures and acknowledgements. Once the signature is captured and saved, it is embedded into the documents.
"You are actually taking an application on the device, you're pulling credit right then and there and then you can thumb through it with your finger," WeissMalik said. "It's the neatest feeling to be doing mortgage on a tablet."
WeissMalik, the chief operating officer of Austin-based wholesale lender 360 Mortgage Group, started On The Go Technology as a separate venture last year after a friend's experience with another mortgage lender.
As WeissMalik explains it, the friend responded to an advertisement from the lender that offered competitive refinance mortgage rates. The friend wanted WeissMalik to compare his rate quote with other options.
"I told him to send me the Good Faith Estimate and I'd see if he was getting a good deal," WeissMalik said. "When he sent it over to me, it was yellow, handwritten carbon paper."
Surprised, WeissMalik asked his friend how the application process was handled. The friend explained that the loan officer came to his house with a clipboard and a mortgage application on carbon paper. The application, including the GFE, was handwritten. When it was complete, the loan officer gave him the carbon copy.
"After he told me that, I thought there has got to be a better solution," WeissMalik said. "The fact that in 2011 that's still going on is just insane to me. That entire model gets replaced with an iPad."
For the myriad loan origination systems that are accessed through Web browsers, tablet accessibility is built in. LOS vendors like Avista Solutions and ISGN have begun marketing that capability and others, like Mortgage Builder, offer modules for loan production staff to access the LOS remotely with a mobile-optimized browser interface.
In other instances, mobile apps have been developed for consumers to compare rate quotes and check the status of pending loans, like the apps recently launched by Zillow, Quicken Loans and Insight Lending Solutions.
But developing a POS mobile app is a more appealing prospect for tablet users, WeissMalik said.
"There's nothing sexy about a Web page. Using an iPad is fun. It's cool, unique and innovative," he said. "Using a Web page is like browsing the Web with a mouse and keyboard, but with your finger. There's nothing special or neat about it."
Another advantage to the app is that it's LOS agnostic and is not intended to serve as a lender's back-end LOS to process and underwrite files. The Fannie 3.2 file format is the de facto industry standard for electronic 1003 forms and can be imported into virtually any LOS or other lender technology. Even with desktop POS applications, loan officers export a Fannie 3.2 file that is later imported into the LOS back the back office staff.
"The idea behind it is that it's a point of sale system," WeissMalik said. "Regardless of if I'm a broker or banker, I take this point of sale application and I import it into my processing system."
WeissMalik said the app could eventually replace the POS systems originators currently use on desktop computers and laptops and exclusively work on tablets. He added that plans for future versions of the app will enable pipeline synchronization between the app and the lender's LOS, creating a seamless integration between MobileLO and the LOS and eliminating the need to export the Fannie 3.2 file.
Of course, with many LOS providers also providing POS software, it remains to be seen whether those vendors will partner with On The Go Technology to build integrations with the app, since it has the potential to replace their offering.
"It's a lofty goal because there's a lot out there to support, but we have the right programming talent to do it," WeissMalik said.
Developing the POS as a dedicated app as opposed to creating a mobile-optimized website enables users to collect borrower information without needing a connection to the Internet or a wireless data service.
Offline functionality is important because many users are buying tablets without 3G or 4G support and for security purposes, many companies do not allow their employees to use enterprise applications over cellular data connections. "We didn't want the Internet to be a barrier to use our application," WeissMalik said.
WeissMalik said that security was a major concern for On The Go Technology and the credit reporting vendors who integrate with the app.
"I was surprised how incredibly focused they were on security," he said. "It was reassuring because it means our security model is getting tested time and time again with every one of these vendors."
The app uses encrypted connections to transfer data and its security certificate is embedded on the device, preventing hackers from impersonating a connection. Borrower data stored on the iPad is also encrypted. In addition, the disclosure and credit documents are not saved on the device.
"All those documents only exist for the duration of the session, meaning as soon as you click away from those documents, they're removed from the device," WeissMalik said. "If someone hacked into the device, they couldn't browse through the Internet cache and try to find the Adobe document of the credit report."
Lastly, WeissMalik will recommend users enable password protection on their iPads.
"If you're worried about someone stealing your iPad and having access to your data, my answer is very simple; Apple provides it, built into the framework, you can enable password protection on the device," he said. "No one can get in without that password."
On The Go Technology also offers enterprise versions of the app, which will be custom, private-labeled versions of the app for lenders to deploy across their organizations. In addition, future versions will include product and pricing engine integration.