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STRATMOR Group: What AI Can and Cannot Do for the Mortgage Industry

In its latest report, STRATMOR experts discuss artificial intelligence and its future in the mortgage business.

 

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo., – June 28, 2023 – With artificial intelligence (AI) rocketing into use in many industries this year, many are questioning what AI can and cannot do for the mortgage industry. For answers, STRATMOR Group turned to its expert advisors and asked them to respond to questions about AI and its future in the mortgage industry. For the AI perspective, STRATMOR went to ChatGPT, the poster child for AI, and asked it the same questions. What emerges may be a best-case scenario for how we share the future with these powerful new technologies in the article, “The Rise of AI: STRATMOR Experts and ChatGPT on Artificial Intelligence in the Mortgage Industry,” featured in the June Insights Report. 

“We talk about ‘automation’ and ‘AI’ as the same thing, which it is not,” says STRATMOR Principal Jennifer Fortier. “’Automation’ means taking the human out of routine repetitive tasks and ‘AI’ means simulating human thinking. So, when we talk about AI features, my mind goes to ‘what human-like thinking is it doing?’”

While there are some who may think AI is ready to start underwriting mortgage loans, it’s unlikely any industry compliance officer will authorize the flipping of that switch, or at least not yet, according to STRATMOR.

“We still need a human to do the thinking when the system cannot accommodate situations that are not a clean pass or fail,” says Fortier. “So, today, the most practical use of AI in the mortgage process is figuring out what the data is, which is a considerable benefit for efficiency, accuracy and transaction speed.”

According to Fortier, AI can help in document and data point recognition — finding data and figuring out what it is. “Once data is identified, the system can then run a series of automated comparison checks or rules,” says Fortier. “When the rules fail, there is an exception task routed to a human user.”

And that’s where lenders are already investing in AI-powered technologies. According to data from STRATMOR’s 2022 Technology Insight® Study, 22 percent of responding lenders are already using AI. This makes sense, according to STRATMOR Senior Partner Garth Graham, who says AI holds great promise for the industry.

“One of the biggest issues in mortgage banking is that the consumer shows up with a bunch of data and nobody believes them. There is no trust in the process,” Graham says. “We spend a ton of time and money trying to convert proof that’s typically provided in the form of images into data we can use, then hand that all off to the next person, who does not trust the data either. Ultimately, the lender packages up the loan to sell to an investor who doesn’t trust any of the data in the file, and the process starts all over again.”

Graham believes that if the industry had AI that could confirm for all parties that the data was correct, that could be changed. “To me, the major opportunity AI offers is removing all the checking, and the checking of checkers that has created an environment where the cost to originate is over $10,000,” he says.

But to get there, the industry will have to overcome some hurdles. ChatGPT lists five areas, including data quality, regulatory compliance and model bias and fairness as issues. STRATMOR’s advisors pointed out additional mortgage-focused concerns.

“The challenges I see for implementing AI in the mortgage industry are twofold,” says STRATMOR Principal Jennifer Smith. “One, having leadership who not only understand what AI can and cannot do, but who have reasonable expectations of the results it will yield, and two, having someone in the lender’s shop who understands the AI being implemented and will monitor and manage it going forward.”

Challenges aside, there is promise in AI to make it easier for lenders to focus on conversion rates as it takes over sifting through the reams of data to determine which borrowers are most likely to close, continues to improve the automated underwriting process and helps all parties in the loan process build trust.

“In light of the state of AI in the mortgage industry today, lenders would do well to make sure they educate themselves to understand AI and its capabilities so they can have informed conversations with vendors who have chosen to implement AI in their technology,” says Principal Kris van Beever. “In that way lenders can make better decisions on when and where to exploit this new technology for their benefit.” 

For more on AI in the mortgage industry, according to STRATMOR experts and ChatGPT, read the June Insights Report.

A second Insights Report article from Customer Experience Director Mike Seminari entitled “Mortgage Originators' Guide to Success in the Age of AI,” envisions an AI-powered loan officer. Seminari says the value the LO of the future will be centered around soft skills like creating rapport and building trust, not gathering borrower information, quoting a rate or even conveying periodic progress updates. In his article, Seminari outlines what originators can do to adapt and reinvent themselves by harnessing, not competing with, AI, and he shares three steps originators can take now to AI-proof their careers. Find the entire article in this month’s Insights Report.

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