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Anything Is Possible with a Partnership Built on a Shared Vision

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By Moshe Abudarham

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Last week, we wrote about being called an “innovator” by one of our newest customers, Homepoint. But there’s another side to the story we felt worth sharing: the partnership. More specifically, how the relationship evolved, what it looks like in practice, and a brief look at what the future may hold.

Back in 2018, our CEO Max Simkoff had several conversations with Homepoint CEO, Willie Newman, about the direction of each other’s business and their visions for the future of the mortgage industry as a whole. Interested as Homepoint was in our novel approach and irrepressible spirit, they weren’t ready to work with us at that time, and perhaps we weren’t yet ready to work with them.

Fast forward two years, and Homepoint officially became a States Title customer, in time to take advantage of Instant Closing Disclosure. This innovation provides a complete, error-free CD in under a minute, without the manual labor involved in the ad-nauseum “stare and compare” exercises of the traditional CD process.

Below are some short video clips and transcriptions from a recent conversation between Willie and Max that look at the then, now, and near future of the relationship.

A shared vision for the relationship

Max Simkoff: We had conversations over the last several years about where we were taking both of our businesses and each of our individual visions for the future. And then recently, we were given the opportunity to partner with Homepoint, which we’re incredibly thankful for. Why did you end up deciding to take a risk on us? What helped you move forward there? And was there any impact that the current environment had on that decision or its timeframe?

Willie Newman: So this will sound very unsophisticated, but I think more than anything, kind of getting to know you better and getting to know your organization better, and watching you execute, I’d say a little bit outside maybe the scope, or you know, what would help us, frankly, but just seeing the ability to execute, which I think was very helpful. But always kind of staying true to the vision of ‘we’re really going to change how this is done and and we’re going to change it in a way that not only makes sense, but is very good from a customer experience standpoint.’ Seeing that, I guess, consistency in pursuing the vision, even though it may have taken directions that were a bit different than would be beneficial to us, I think kind of proved to us that it was certainly an opportunity that we were looking forward to taking advantage of, if and when you were aligned with us.

And so the closer that alignment got and the more kind of coverage you had, it started to align more and more with where we were going. I think at the same time, we started to really grow our consumer direct side and really started to grow our activity.

And so all the stress points that we had at, let’s say 100 or 200 loans, then it’s not additive, it’s multiplicative when you start to go to 400, 500, or 600.

So it really was kind of a combination of your evolution, our evolution, and the fact that I truly believe that the way in which you are innovating was the way the industry should go. I think it all kind of came together for us and it’s been fantastic so far.

Max Simkoff: That’s great. I love that you call it consistency of vision. I might invariably call it stubbornness.

Willie Newman: I’ve been accused of that as well. Yes.

An accelerated pilot

Max Simkoff: Your team, who again, it’s been fantastic to work with, initially started with us and a pilot. We had both agreed, let’s start really small and focus on proving out the concept on a defined set of volume across a small handful of states. To the extent that you recall, what were the core success criteria that you and your team are looking to prove through the pilot phase that would tell you that this was a successful enough approach that would make sense to expand on a much broader scale.

Willie Newman: You’re going to do what you say you’re going to do. So I think from how are we going to set up the original process, which was not how either of us wanted to optimize it, but was set up in a way that would be a pilot process so we could get going.

We could understand how each other operates and then we could continue to integrate and make the relationship more fluid from there. So it was kind of like, ‘do what you say you’re going to do.

And to the extent things were bumpy or went sideways – whether it was a transaction or maybe an understanding of how things work – the ability to respond to that quickly… because anyone who goes into those types of relationships and thinks that things are going to go perfectly from day one, is just being naive. So I think it was really that you do what you say you’re going to do and when things went sideways, the ability to respond quickly, work together, and say, ‘OK, here’s how we’re going to work through things,’ gave us the confidence.

A process that formerly took days and even weeks is now taking hours. And by hours, sometimes I mean hour. I mean when it’s happening and that’s 80, 90 percent… so you take something that took a long time… and obviously you’re processing along in parallel, so it’s not like it stops. But by the same token, if things aren’t consistent and coming in a way that you can depend on, then it becomes problematic, especially when you start to scale. Like I said, from days and weeks to hours or hour, I don’t think there’s any more powerful statistic than that.

The next five years

Max Simkoff: What would you say the mortgage experience is going to look like in one year and then in five years? And if you could talk about what this will look like both from the customer’s perspective, as well as from the lender’s perspective, what does the one to five-year time horizon look like in terms of the experience?

Willie Newman: I think, whether it’s one year or five years, I think there’s a continuum where the transaction and process are increasingly digitized. And not being a technologist, my definition of digitize is that not only is it electronic, it’s really driven by data and information as opposed to documents and kind of like repeat questioning of information that should be able to be obtained through other sources. So I think a year from now, that may progress to a certain extent. I frankly believe a lot of it depends on how long this absolute origination boom lasts.

I do believe that some of the innovation, as I mentioned, it’s been taking place especially on the closing side, but not as much from a data standpoint as could be leveraged. So I believe five years from now – and this is where we’re positioning ourselves, Max – is that

Once a customer kind of gets into the mortgage ecosystem, I think the next mortgage that they do will be so simple, straightforward, and data-driven that a lot of the infrastructure that’s been built to process loans and to handle the flows of information associated with physical information, gathering, and collation, I think that all goes away.

And I think in the next five years, once you enter the mortgage ecosystem, so the first transaction may take a bit more time, but I think after that, I think it’s going to be primarily driven by data. It’s going to be a very proactive process from a lender standpoint.

And one of the reasons that we believe the value chain, and specifically being a servicer, is extremely important is because we believe that’s the best place in which you can collect data on an ongoing basis in a very two-way, transparent manner with your customers that you’re servicing in order to facilitate that next transaction the way that really is instant and proactive.

Interested in learning more about how industry newcomers Homepoint and States Title realized they shared the same vision of a data-enabled closing process and enhanced consumer mortgage experience? Download our Homepoint case study to see how the lender partnered with States Title on a successful pilot program to support its fast growth strategy.