Oct 23, 2018
Getting a mortgage is a process mostly untouched by the advent of new technology, such as artificial intelligence. If you want a mortgage, you still have to ring up the lender or broker, book an appointment, talk to them about your income and expenses, to convince them that you can pay them back. It is a labour-intensive process and one that has not changed for many decades.
But with the march of technology comes new opportunities. The online mortgage broker marketplace is currently undergoing a transformation where robots are advising clients, and almost instant mortgages are becoming a reality for many people.
AI For Online Mortgage Brokers
At present, several companies are vying for business in the online mortgage market, promising easier and cheaper services than their traditional rivals. Habito, for instance, is currently experimenting with a smart kind of “decision tree” software built into its online chat messenger. Although the chatbot will never pass the Turing test, it is still useful for finding out what customer want and working out whether they are eligible for a particular kind of mortgage.
A typical session with a customer takes around 10 minutes. During that time, Habito believes that its chatbot can glean enough information about a person to tell them what mortgages they can afford, and which are the best mortgages for them. Rather than visiting a generic price comparison site, the company argues that its technology provides people with the best mortgage advice for their particular circumstances.
The reason for this comes down to the ability of its chatbot to use common sense when interpreting what customers tell it. For instance, if a customer says that they want a “forever home,” then the chatbot will not recommend short-term mortgage products.
Improvements In The Application And Quote Process
New AI-based mortgage services, such as those provided by Habito, Hoocht, and others aim to make the process of applying for a mortgage application a lot easier than it is at present.
Rich Wynn, the founder of brokerage MortgageCube, says that the level of service that people expect has changed dramatically. Once upon a time, there would have been no issues requiring people to sit in an office for an hour to have a conversation about a mortgage. But in the instant smartphone world where things happen straight away, this seems old-fashioned.
The basic idea of AI-assisted online mortgage brokers is to eliminate all of the repetition and drudgery from the mortgage application process. Many companies are using a two-step setup where first, chatbots glean all the relevant information from potential customers about their circumstances and then pass them over to human advisors. These advisors then complete the process.
Take Dynamo Mortgages, for instance. The company claims that it can now complete mortgage applications in under 15 minutes, far less than the time it currently takes to get advice.
According to Dave Beard of financial comparison website Lending Expert, the way people transact is changing. They want it to be mobile and easy. They don’t want to sit in an office for an hour, only to be told they can’t have the mortgage product they want. That’s how AI will help borrowers in the future.
There are, however, sceptics. Jason Taylor from second charge mortgage brokers Feasible.co.uk near Manchester says that it is not possible to provide comprehensive mortgage advice in under fifteen minutes. Customers, he says, might be getting some advice, such as the cheapest mortgage for them under the circumstances, but this, he says, may not necessarily be the best.
The companies at the forefront of the online mortgage revolution take a different view of the customer service they offer. Trussle, for instance, says that it is training its machine learning algorithms every day to provide better advice to customers using its online broker platform. They argue that the process doesn’t need to be drawn out, especially when the chatbots get relevant information quickly. Although individual customers may only provide short snippets of information, the AI itself draws on a vast trove of data, helping it to make better decisions.
Currently, same-day or instant mortgage approvals online are not common. But proponents of online brokerages say that their services actually increase the chances of getting a mortgage approved. Customers are better matched to mortgages using their services after just a few simple steps.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the new AI platforms is that they help get around some of the difficulties that arise from the fact that lenders all have different application processes. By interacting with a chatbot, borrowers use simple conversational tools, and the robot does the rest in the background. Although it is somewhat rough at the moment, the hope is that these new technologies will take some of the mystery out of the process for customers, improving customer experience.