Lower takes a fresh approach to home finance

Even though they’ve only been in business for one complete month, the team at mortgage lender and refinancer Lower has their sights set much higher, CEO Dan Snyder said.

Mr. Snyder brings more than a decade’s worth of experience in the home financing sector to Lower. Do the math and, yes, he started just before the recession. That was the beginning of a decade-long education that began at Wells Fargo and continued at Homeside Financial, a national mortgage bank he co-founded five years ago.

“For the next step in the journey I was interested in how I could build a technology company with my mortgage banking experience that could serve customers better in their home buying process,” Mr. Snyder said.

From his experience at Homeside Financial Mr. Snyder learned how many home buyers valued working with local providers who had extensive knowledge of local markets. By the end of its fifth year Homeside Financial had expanded to 32 locations across the country.

Dan Snyder

But he also saw other consumer groups who wanted expert advice but did not necessarily need to meet in person with bank staff to receive it, those more comfortable with the latest technology.

“Lower was designed mobile first from the ground up,” Mr. Snyder said. “The customer interacts with us on the site and gets the rates for that day and the competitors’ rates.

“The consumer wants sound advice from a sound company, but they don’t want to be hassled with a real arduous process. Don’t make them come in, don’t make them send documents through the mail.”

But there does come a point when the human element needs to be deployed at key steps and Lower has thought of that, Mr. Snyder said.

As the customer navigates the application process they can connect with a loan concierge who can answer questions and help determine what pure technology cannot – where they are at in their life and where they want to head.

“We aren’t selling water or gum, this isn’t supermarket self-service,” Mr. Snyder said. “This is a large debt, and we want to make sure that’s a right decision.”

Because if there’s anything 2008 taught us, it is that plenty of people made the wrong decision and were cajoled by lenders along the way. Those are mistakes Mr Snyder doesn’t want to see happen at Lower. That is where artificial intelligence comes in, with Mr. Snyder calling it a differentiator for Lower.

“It allows Lower to become a credible source of guidance on buying or refinancing your home,” Mr. Snyder said.

There is plenty of technology that takes consumer information and suggests products that are the best given your situation but few that will actually say whether or not you should be considering a loan in the first place. Lower’s AI is designed to combine the number crunching with the human element.

“Let’s build an AI that will connect into the product engine, connect into historical mortgage data and connect to the core logic of years or experience, to help our loan advisors decide if the customer should do the loan or not based on the life cycle,” Mr.Snyder said. “Many people are approved to buy a house. Our goal is to make sure it’s the right move.”

Where does the applicant work? How long have they been there? How many kids? How old? How much disposable income? These are some of the questions Lower factors into their process, which gets smarter as it consumes more data. The goal is to be a trusted provider and have fewer defaults, Mr. Snyder said.

“We want to write good loans,” Mr. Snyder said “I personally have a lot at stake in this.”

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