Being Tech Savvy

If there is one topic I have written the most about in all my years of producing this weekly newsletter, it has to be on how technology has impacted the way consumers obtain a mortgage. This week we will focus on the documentation, skills and hardware you will need to effectively navigate the mortgage process.

Yes, even documentation has gone high tech! Consumers should be thankful of the advances made that allow you to submit reams of documents electronically. It wasn’t that long ago that documents such as tax returns, trusts, and bank statements were all in paper form. Having to physically deliver or mail hundreds of pages is now a thing of the past. If you have not converted your important documents to a digital format, do so regardless of the need to get a mortgage. My tax person still wants to send me paper copies of my tax returns every year. I finally had to say STOP! Your tax preparer and the attorney that drafted your trust (if you have one) can easily sent you via a secure email, copies of your taxes and trust. I keep all my important documents in a digital format, and backed up “in the cloud”.

Having items backed up in the cloud not only protects me from a computer crash at home, or a fire, or theft, but it allows me to access my important documents anywhere in the world. Set up a cloud based backup of your documentation today. Get into the habit of collecting or transferring your important items into a digital format.

If you have not set up electronic statements for your bank accounts, do so today. Once that feature is enabled from your bank, you’ll have access to your statements in a digital format. Learn how to download your statements to your computer.

When it comes time for your Loan Originator to request that mile long list of items needed for your loan, you will be able to deliver those items easily without and frustration.

Skills for the Electronic Age:
If you are a Millennial, don’t think you automatically have what it takes to get the job done. In today’s world, there’s more smart phones out there than computers. We’ll get into hardware in the next section. But if you aren’t too swift on a Personal Computer or a Mac, this section is for you.

During the course of your loan application, you will receive email that needs to be acknowledged. Those emails will contain links to documents you will need to review and approve. You will also receive documents that will require an electronic signature.

The skills required to successfully accomplish the above are:
Being able to monitor your email account frequently for requests from your lender.
Reply in a timely manner to those emails with the ability to attached electronic documents.
Being comfortable and trusting to open links in emails to secure websites, from trusted sources.
And last, being comfortable with signing documents electronically.

While trust isn’t really a skill set, having trust in the security of encrypted electronic communication and secure websites is a must. If you don’t feel comfortable putting your social security number into a secure online loan application, or uploading tax returns to your lender’s secure server, you’re really not a part of the digital age. You may as well be back to the “good ‘ole days” of paper everything.

The last skill I do want to mention is the ability to scan a document, such as a pay stub, to email to your lender. While everyone these days seem to have a smart phone, pictures of documents most times doesn’t cut it. If you have to send more than a couple of pages, and you don’t have a scanner at home, spend a couple of bucks at the local Kinko’s and have someone there scan them for you. If you are in a purchase transaction, ask your Escrow Officer if they can scan a couple items for you to send to the lender. If none of that is available, there are programs you can download onto your smart phone that will convert pictures to the universal file format everyone uses, Adobe Acrobat.

I will start off by saying you will almost certainly NOT be able to do everything you need to do during your transaction with only using a smart phone or IPad. Your personal device will be excellent to check for emails from your lender. But using your personal device to retrieve documents from the cloud to send us, is very difficult. Even using those devices to e-sign documents is difficult. I have good eyesight, but scrolling through miniature pages, especially ones containing loan figures and costs, is not a good recipe for success.

I strongly suggest using a Personal Computer or Mac. Frankly, anything with a larger screen and can access your email and stored electronic documents is what you will need. Using the bigger screen will allow you to read in ease some very confusing and complex documents.

While we in the lending industry have tried to make electronic document handling easier, it some ways it has become more confusing. I have personally taken to using professional remote screen sharing software with my clients. The same software the big guys use when you call tech support and they want to see your computer screen. Unfortunately too many people only have a basic knowledge of the software they have on their computers. I am able to remote in, and walk my clients through the tasks they are having problems accomplishing.

My final advice to you is simple:

Get your documents converted and stored in a digital format.

Get familiar with accessing your email and electronic documents – on both your smart phone and your home computer.

Make sure you have at a minimum, a computer to use – much more important than a smart phone.

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