While real estate has been the sector that has most benefited from fintech, some areas within real estate have gained more than others.
One that until recently had received little attention was the mortgage application process, but Roostify is changing that, cofounder and CEO Rajesh Bhat said. The average home loan takes more than 40 days to close and can cost banks as much as $8,000 because most of the process is offline, leading to multiple phone calls, meetings, faxes and letters.
Mr. Bhat said Roostify’s origins lie in the founders’ own home buying experiences. One fired three agents in one year and tried to do it on his own but wasn’t allowed to. Another refinanced a property three times and described each foray as “eventful in its own right.”
“There is a dissymmetry for the home buyer,” Mr. Bhat said. “Money is flying around but the experience for the customer is opaque. I found it offensive that I was at a disadvantage.”
The founders spent one year looking at the space and trying to figure out why a solution did not exist. They learned about the automation of real estate transactions and of the agent’s role in the ecosystem. In January of 2014 they took their enterprise solution for mortgage origination to the mortgage side and met with consumer loan officers and other representatives in credit unions and smaller banks. Over time Roostify signed up larger institutions and now has three of the top five independent banks and four of the top 20 mortgage lenders. Wells Fargo and USAA have signed on and JPMorgan Chase announced in March they will be using Roostify to “please paper weary customers”.
The move up to larger banks took plenty of work to achieve, Mr. Bhat said. Roostify had to add to their security architecture. Those bigger banks also have more stringent regulatory compliance requirements which meant Roostify had to prove they could manage the more sophisticated risk, compliance and client services needs of bigger banks.
“We had to take the solution and make it relevant for large banks,” Mr. Bhat said. “There was an education element.”
The growing consumer desire for an authentic mobile experience comes with challenges but it is a necessity in today’s environment, Mr. Bhat said.
“As a consumer I want options – I want to choose how I engage. Our objective is to support every use case we might see.”
Many consumers may be willing to lower their privacy if it increases convenience, especially if they can self-select the service providers they are willing to share their information with, he added.
Process automation is best when it’s consumer driven and completed early in the system development process, Mr. Bhat said. Automation is also helped by obtaining consumer or partner consent for access to personal data which is used to verify employment and identity. Should that information be obtained, it can accelerate the application and approval process through more automation.
A crucial factor to Roostify’s success is the relationships with its partners across consumer finance, real estate and mortgage processes, Mr. Bhat said. True digital transformation and, ultimately, customer satisfaction relies on seamless integrations with them.
“For the consumer, every single transaction from mortgage conveyance, title inspection and appraisals all incur fees,” Mr. Bhat noted. “The consumer pays them but they don’t have influence over whom they select. By directing the constituents onto the same platform, it creates more transparency and power to control the service.”