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Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or a seasoned one, choosing the perfect place to live isn’t always the most stressful part of the purchasing process. Forget about location, square footage, house styles, or waiting for the seller to accept the offer; too often, the real nail-biter is getting the mortgage.
New buyers with pre-approval letters often get a big dent in their dreams when it becomes clear those documents don’t guarantee funding. Then there’s closing. Last minute glitches happen all the time, leaving all parties in a deal unsettled and unhappy when the money doesn’t arrive as planned.
It’s stressful behind the scenes, too.
A typical loan closing package takes up about 450 pieces of paper. Between pushing those pages and getting answers to the many, many questions that arise during the process, loan administrators do a lot of time-consuming, repetitive tasks. In the transactional world of lending, employee churn is common, as is dissatisfaction, and the general attitude around retention can be painfully cavalier. Mortgage lending is a lucrative business, so when a chair empties, there’s always another body ready to fill it.
Is the anxiety and exasperation over home financing necessary? For buyers? For mortgage company employees? NMB believes it’s not — and they’re proving that with every loan they give. Not only are they the fastest growing mortgage lender in the nation, their employees consistently rate them as a Great Place to Work. The industry employee satisfaction rate hovers around 59%. At NMB, it’s 97%.
NMB was built to be different.
A better way to mortgage — and not just for borrowers
NMB’s Founder, Richard Steinberg, sought to build a company where everyone involved in the mortgage process including the sales staff, operation staff, referral partners, realtors and the borrowers would all be aligned with the same end goal.
A 20-year industry veteran with leadership responsibilities at some of the largest mortgage companies in the world, Steinberg realized the adversarial nature of the business was limiting. “It was sales against operations, it was borrower against sales,” he told BOSS. “At the end of the day, everyone wanted the same end result, which is to do high quality loans, but made it very adversarial with each other.”
NMB is built on the premise of everyone working together with the common goal of giving people quality loans with great service. Job candidates are judged based on cultural fit as much as their skills and experience. “The mortgage business is very simple — people are difficult,” he said. “We wanted team members who understood how important it was to somebody buying their first home to get an email back immediately, get a phone call returned, and to make closing deadlines. Service was the key.”
In tandem with creating a collaborative and welcoming culture, NMB introduced technology to improve both the borrower experience as well as that of their internal stakeholders. Investments in robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning resulted in an all-around faster, more seamless mortgage process. Rather than implementing technology to replace the human element, their technology is designed to create more purposeful interaction amongst employees, referral partners, and borrowers.
“Technology gives us an opportunity to have more purposeful conversation and relationship building internally, so we all know that we’re working towards the greater good of the company together,” said NMB president Jodi Hall.
Technology was key to shifting 100% of NMB’s staff to remote working environments. Hall credited Open Systems of Cleveland for expediting the delivery and setup of the equipment needed to make the quickfire transition. “The time and stress saved allowed us to do what we do best; provide a straightforward, streamlined mortgage experience for our clients and referral partners,” she said.
While 2020’s historically low mortgage rates were a huge boon for lenders, charity was the engine for NMB’s newest business line. When the pandemic hit, NMB provided sanitizer and PPE to local healthcare organizations, and, recognizing the needs of first responders and frontline workers, created a mortgage program especially for them. The Heroes platform offers loans with no “junk fees,” or additional costs for processing applications, underwriting, rate locking, and loan processing often buried in traditional lending agreements.
In just over a year, NMB provided over 500 loans to essential workers. “It was the biggest year ever in mortgages, but the specific response to the Heroes platform was greater than we had anticipated,” noted Hall. “The response to the Heroes program was greater than we had anticipated. Seeing our core value of ‘People Matter’ resonating with the community in such a powerful way was incredible.”
NMB endeavors to set a new standard in employee engagement and retention not just for the mortgage industry, but for every sector. The lessons learned in engaging remote workers augmented their existing people-first approach. “We’re focused on continuing that engagement and retaining talent,” Hall explained. “It’s very difficult and costly to constantly bring in new people, get them up to speed on our core values and how we do business, but we prefer to retain the teams that we have.”
Retention isn’t just for employees. When it comes to client retention, a new partnership with TotalExpert, providers of an industry-leading CRM platform, will commence in September. The customized solution connects everyone involved in the mortgage process throughout its life cycle. The buyer, co-borrower, seller’s agent, settlement agent, and the buyer’s agent are all included and informed about the progress of the loan.
Rosie Robot to the rescue
As part of NMB’s quest to create the best mortgage process in the industry, they are building programs and platforms designed to increase the homebuyer’s ability to win bids in a low inventory market. In a huge departure from industry trends, they have instituted a fully underwritten pre-approval process where borrowers are able to get all their credit, income, and asset documents underwritten by NMB. Instead of a pre-approval letter that guarantees nothing, the borrower is given a certificate so they can shop with confidence, certain they can afford the property.
The company’s newest effort is making employee interactions more deliberate and effective. Developed for NMB as part of their automation efforts, Rosie Robot is a humanized virtual assistant the employees see as a vital part of the team. She even has her own e-mail address.
“Our vision with Rosie is to have her give us the bandwidth to focus on more purposeful interactions with each other and to provide our team members the ability to cross-train and grow within the organization,” Hall said. “Rosie is a complement to their day-to-day work, and that’s how she’s seen.”
At present, the company is in the process of rolling out “Ask Rosie,” which is powered by the Capacity AI-based support automation program. “If any of our people have loan program questions or questions about who to go to get access for something, they’ll be able to type an instant message and Rosie will answer their question,” Hall said. By taking on routine, repetitive tasks, Rosie gives employees room to learn new things and grow their careers with NMB.
Their borrower-facing app, NMBnow, enables them to enter loan applications and other documentation. Powered by Blend, NMBnow also answers borrowers’ questions, and builds a needs list based on an applicant’s answers to prompts. Once the documentation noted on the list is uploaded, the sales process kicks into gear.
When NMB asked “how can we make the appraisal process easier and more cost effective” Reggora answered with their appraisal technology, which makes ordering, scheduling, and paying for appraisals a breeze. Gone are repeated calls to investigate an appraisal’s status. Loan officers can see the status of all of their appraisals and the anticipated date for the next step in the process, right at their fingertips. “We don’t have to be sitting behind computers 24/7 to be able to update referral partners and clients on what’s happening with their loan,” Hall said.
A key part of building relationships with referral partners is offering continuing education for realtors. Hall added, “Providing our partners with resources beyond the home loan process gives us an opportunity to be an asset to them and to play a key role in growing our business together. We continually educate and challenge each other to push to new heights.”
On the regulatory side, the ActiveComply social media monitoring tool keeps an eye on all of NMB’s social media sites and their sales and loan officers’ social media sites and provides feedback to ensure compliance. As part of their mission to be seen as a trusted advisor to their clients and referral partners, NMB supports their loan officers with the training and tools that befit the role, just as they do with all their employees.
Next-gen technology is a compelling part of the NMB story, but no amount of tech can elevate a firm that’s not able to execute its mission. “We do what other companies say they’ll do,” Hall said. As NMB works to grow its national footprint, they want their employees to feel as though they work for a small boutique firm. There are no silos between departments; the founder’s vision of everyone working towards the same goal is shared by everyone.
“Richard and I do a meet and greet with every single employee that joins the company, so we get an opportunity to tell them firsthand what our vision is and that’s living our core values,” Hall said. “This core value explains who we are: NMB will be as passionate about who we are today but we’re more passionate about who we will become together. That really is going to be lived out in both our culture and our technology.”
NMB was founded with the belief that achieving the American Dream of homeownership should be a straightforward and stress-free process.
We strongly believe that the best way to service our clients is not only to educate them on their home financing options but to also provide the best possible service, advice, as well as market and product knowledge.
Whether you’re buying your first home, an investment property, or refinancing your current mortgage, we would love the opportunity to serve you and earn your trust.
“NMBnow” “Americasa” and “Americasa Home Loans” are registered DBAs of NMB, Inc 68 S Service Rd Suite 400, Melville, NY 11747 (“NMB”). “Americasa” is not a DBA approved in New York but “Americasa Home Loans” is. NYS Department of Financial Services #LMB 109502 HUD Approved Title II Supervised Lender #3113200005.
NMB is not acting on behalf of or at the direction of HUD/FHA or the Federal Government. The BuyNow program and certificates issued though it are not a substitute for formal underwriting of the loan for which all such conditions shall apply. All loans are subject to Credit and Appraisal Approval.
Program, Rates, Terms, and Conditions are subject to change without notice. This is not a commitment to lend. NMB is in no way affiliated with “Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.”
NMB is Registered with the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System NMLS #819382 DBA NMB HOME LOANS INC. in AL, AZ, FL, GA, IL, IA, KS, LA, MN, MT, OK, PA, SC, SD and TX.
DBA NMB Home Loans in MA. New Jersey Residential Mortgage Lender License #819382; All loans are subject to Credit and Appraisal Approval. Program, Rates, Terms, and Conditions are subject to change without notice.
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