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Lument: Home-Grown Tools to Ensure Both Security and Speed

Multifamily owners and investors are always seeking reliable loan solutions. So smart capital—delivered with speed, flexibility, and certainty of execution—will increasingly become what they expect and hold as a gold standard from their lenders. And this is true for the entire life cycle of the borrowing experience—from application, through closing and servicing.

With online transacting now at the forefront of the roughly $2 trillion multifamily loan market, data security and user privacy are becoming even more vital to borrowers and lenders alike.

Lument’s LeapOnline and LeapOnline Servicing platforms were built in-house to streamline tasks for borrowers and to offer simple and secure solutions. Our business partners who oversee a servicing portfolio of over $50 billion and our technology experts worked collaboratively to create these platforms to help protect borrowers and simplify portions of the loan lifecycle.

LeapOnline sits at the front end of the borrowing experience to solve for the outdated sharing of paper documents required during the due diligence and underwriting processes as well as provide additional transaction transparency. LeapOnline Servicing exists as an always-available portal where borrowers can easily view their loan and any required updates.

Each combines ease of use with the security multifamily owners need to stave off the security threats that increasingly come with essential digital transactions and information sharing.

Deputy Chief Production Officer Ian Monk, Head of Loan Servicing and Asset Management Barry Fuller, Real Estate Technology Managing Director Rob Lowther, FHA Lending Chief Operating Officer Brian Meilton, and Real Estate Technology Product Manager Amy Stanfield sat down to discuss the benefits of using these innovative tools.

What led to the creation of LeapOnline as a secure digital hub for multifamily borrowers?

Brian Meilton: LeapOnline was developed after getting significant feedback from a cross-section of borrower clients to solve for issues that they’ve had in past transactions. A lot of those issues surround antiquated paper checklists and due diligence items and the need to address the nuances that come with every deal in a secure and simplified manner. This provides a safer way for borrowers to share sensitive documentation and personal information with their lenders.

What are the key features that borrowers currently find most useful?

Ian Monk: Since each loan is unique, LeapOnline allows for customized checklists that are easy to access. A refinance checklist through FHA is a lot different than a refinance checklist through one of the agency products or an FHA construction loan, for example. LeapOnline is designed as a tool to keep everyone involved in a transaction on the same page. There is always a 24-hour view of what we have and what is needed to finalize a deal. Our platform gives borrowers a way to quickly correspond with Lument’s originators about essential items and it allows users to e-sign application engagement letters and commitment letters and submit funds directly to Lument without having to go to a bank to wire money.

How has LeapOnline evolved since the platform launched?

Rob Lowther: We launched LeapOnline in late 2018 initially to support our agency lending activity. Over the past several years we have expanded it to support all our lending business lines. We’ve also made refinements to how we handle and store borrower documents. Our FHA borrowers have individual fees they need to manage, so we’ve made some improvements to provide borrowers with more information about the exact details of their deals. We’ve also optimized our documentation and submission process to make it more user-friendly and intelligent on the back end. This saves our analysts time and allows them to help borrowers with additional property or loan information they may need.

Can you tell us more about the level of customization that LeapOnline offers borrowers?

Ian Monk: As we work with larger borrowers, we can grant multiple people with different roles secure access to each checklist. A principal who owns a large portion of a business may only need to certify four or five things and we can show them just that section. If a group of principals need to upload tax returns or other sensitive documents, others can’t see it unless they are also given access. That kind of individualization and security has been very well received by our users.

Brian Meilton: Also, if someone is out of town on the borrower’s end and someone else needs to step in, we don’t have this dead period where nothing happens. That person can jump in and say we need to send these four items and I know where to find them. Everyone knows time is a precious commodity and a single additional day can kill a deal, especially given the fluctuations in the market. Every day matters.

How does the LeapOnline borrower interface work?

Brian Meilton: Our internal systems make it very clear as to what documents we have and what we still need with every deal. When borrowers send us important files, they may have their own naming conventions. With LeapOnline, when borrowers upload each required document, it is automatically tagged and stored properly so that we don’t lose time going back and forth. There are also prompts to send notes and follow-up emails when needed. That was another important impetus for our tech teams at Lument—to address and avoid communication traps when there are a lot of moving parts and multiple people involved in a deal. The interface gives borrowers 24/7 online access to their transactions to check on progress and see what is outstanding. Through the interface, borrowers can also obtain copies of their final third-party reports after closing.

Rob Lowther: We also have various messaging tools that our borrowers, originations, and support teams can use for quick correspondence. But our take all along is that these tools should never be a substitute for communicating with a client directly because we don’t want to lose that personal touch with borrowers. Client communication remains a constant option.

How does LeapOnline Servicing come into play deeper in the lifecycle of a loan?

Amy Stanfield: The LeapOnline Servicing tool gives borrowers more autonomy, including the ability to go into our system to see what information they need to update. There are links throughout the online portal that allow borrowers to contact client services any time they have questions or an issue. We’re able to send borrowers updates on interest rates and other communications individually and en masse. We can also send out notifications to all our borrowers anytime there are important updates to our system.

What has the feedback from borrowers been and what are some of the goals for LeapOnline Servicing?

Barry Fuller: The goal, for me at least, is to reduce the reliance on email back and forth. With all the corruption that can happen with hackers coming in through email, the hope is that we can create a portal that allows borrowers to submit information to us in a safer way. We can now receive it directly in the system rather than through somebody’s email or through a global email inbox that somebody must manage. When information comes through the online portal, we have the ability to track, distribute it, and attach a service-level agreement to it, so we know it has to be processed in a certain amount of time.

What kind of data is collected from each transaction and is that data anonymized?

Rob Lowther: With LeapOnline and LeapOnline Servicing it is really about document collection and ancillary questions to help complete the process. There is a little data that we collect that’s required to figure out what documents we’ll need. It could be a question like, “Are you going to have vehicles stored on the property?” because we may need to ask questions about liability insurance associated with that. This is all in support of making the loan.

When we do the underwriting and servicing on a loan, including financial evaluations and property appraisals, we collect more detailed data. That data is then anonymized and used in other Lument platforms to provide borrowers with key market insights and other valuable information like comps and average rents.

Looking ahead, what are the growth plans for both platforms?

Rob Lowther: We have metrics that we keep on the overall usage of LeapOnline. We do an upfront, mid-loan, and closing analysis with every deal and run regular reports on those metrics. We anonymize and use that information to help promote the benefits of the platform. The originators at Lument who have the most success with LeapOnline usually have a kick-off call with the borrower to explain the simple steps involved, like setting up an account and creating a user password.

Amy Stanfield: We also have quite a few projects in the works with the LeapOnline Servicing tool. The goal is to provide borrowers with all of the right tools to tackle important items at their own pace. For example, borrowers can go into the system and run an amortization schedule without needing to reach out to the servicing team. We plan to provide tailored calculators, checklists, and other tools to help borrowers keep track of their loan maturity dates and commercial real estate loan servicing payments. These features are all being built from the ground up at Lument with the borrower experience in mind.