Sunday, October 30, 2005

MONDAY MISHMOSH Mortgage Coach improves support site

Unrelated items from Mortgage Coach to lead management to offshore processing.

I’ve been going over the vendors for the WRMBA conference in Las Vegas in a couple of weeks. I found another lead management company that seems to have the right notion… it’s about the reporting capabilities. Check out Junture.

In one of my previous posts I mentioned about processing going offshore. Here is the company that seems to have started it, EOPS. The ability to process 24x7 has some interesting implications. However, I know that even with the best process in place, communication is vital. I’d be interested to hear if anyone’s ever used these guys.

Finally, there is a “new” look and feel for the MortgageCoach knowledgebase portion of the website. It really makes finding info a whole lot easier.

Friday, October 28, 2005

FRIDAY FREEBIE The best free mortgage magazine

Another Friday, another freebie… this one is both online and in print

Sign up for the Scotsman Guide. It’s free. It is an amazing resource to research programs, and there are terrific articles. Check out the online edition of the October issue.

If you need a laugh, read this.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

MISHMOSH: News to use

Blink and the world changes.

Ellie May announced a processing network to help brokers lower processing costs and simplify outsourcing. I’ll look forward to seeing how this actually unfolds. When I was a broker this was a constant struggle… getting the file to the processing company, that is. The release says the following: “Originators will simply select E-OPS from the "Services" tab within Encompass, and with two mouse clicks will be able to submit files for processing.”

Technology is meant to be user friendly, but a lot of times it ends up being just the opposite. Read this great short article about making things easier for the LO with and through good technology.

If you like to “build your own”, there is an interesting article in this month’s Mortgage Originator magazine about doing just that. I’ll warn you, though, that building and maintaining a web site can be fun, but the time involved is not something I can see a lot of payback from. Especially with so many great LO website companies to choose from.

To follow on to Wednesday’s post… GREAT REVIEW OF WORKCENTER is online. I really can’t wait for the next release of this product.

Finally, if you live in an area with unique homes that would look great as a portrait, this may be the ideal closing gift for your clients.

WORKCENTER WEDNESDAY: vForms Workcenter - Awesome ideas, just not ready for prime time

I’m really excited by what WorkCenter WILL BECOME (hopefully)

I’ve started to look at alternatives to ACT! in order to manage my CRM activities. There a couple of online CRM’s that I’m excited about such as BnTouch which has great marketing automation and possibly Entellium. But, I with my faster paced activities of late I’ve been gravitating back to desktop software (ACT! and the LoanToolbox template).

I’d heard about WorkCenter from vForms and thought I’d give it a try. On the WorkCenter website they bill it as having Goldmine (ie-automation) functionality. The website was sketchy on product info so I downloaded and installed the software. While I’m short on time to do a review, let me say my first impression was favorable. It has a nice interface, lot’s of right-click options, powerful grouping ability and most of all, it is very focused on how a Loan Officer works. However, as I dug into the software, I realized a lot of functionality is not included in the current version (ie- triggers for campaigns which, from what I can tell will be called Events, wizards, etc.) that I had expected/hoped would be there. Here is what the website says:

This latest product by vForms makes contact communications and connectivity automatic, reliable and even invisible. It is astonishingly advanced, yet intuitive and simple to use. WorkCenter is designed to emulate the look and feel of MS Outlook for familiarity, the advanced features of Goldmine, and the scalability of ACT!, but is decidedly more powerful and robust than its predecessors.

That all said, I am going to keep a very focused eye on this product as I think the forthcoming features (ie-Events, Wizards, WebForms) will make this a compelling product worth considering.

Monday, October 24, 2005

MONDAY MISHMOSH: Focus on Mortgage Coach

Many people gripe about Mortgage Coach’s short comings (me included). However, the value isn’t just in the software. Always keep that in mind. There is a lot of investment into helping the LO rise above the crowd and there is a lot of support from the Top minds in the Mortgage Business.

HAVE YOU UPGRADED? If you own mortgage Coach, you need to make sure you’ve upgraded to 6.2. Backup before you do anything and then download the update. Support is just a click away on the website (see the live support tab in the upper right of the web pages at http://www.mortgagecoach.com/.)

DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING? The training videos are important. It is easy to just dig into the software and miss some of the critical features and/or best practices. However, I’d recommend you clue into the training page as a review.

DO YOU HAVE A MORTGAGE COACH STRATEGY? Would you like a Plan and the Tools to find untapped Niche’s utilizing the Mortgage Coach. If you haven’t taken Ron Quintero’s mortgage coach training then I’d recommend you do so. For $295 you get access to the most cutting edge strategies and some exclusive tools that will help you implement a cohesive strategy. Make sure you are willing to do some work as Ron requires extensive homework to ensure you treat your investment seriously.

ARE YOU ON TOP OF IT? Make sure to visit the home screen of the Mortgage Coach Software and look under “Announcements” where you’ll find some great info, including a support tip of the week.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

TUESDAY'S TIP: Get to the real Point


While I no longer use Calyx Software’s Point, over 50% of the Mortgage Brokers in the US do.

Calyx’s Point is an Ok product. While, like most software, it is far more difficult to use than it need be, it continues to improve and become more useful. If Calyx changed the interface too much, it’d upset the apple cart since most LO’s are used to it the way it is.

So, to the real Point. I’d recommend you look through the list of topics on Calyx’s support site. There are some real good tips. For instance, you can and should password protect files that you email. Can you imagine someone getting a hold of your client’s data? LIABILITY ++++.

If you keep your files up to date, then you should have no problem using the Report functionality to search for loan data to help you identify prospects.

Also… are you still thinking you can only have one Pont File open at a time? I remember how I hated this program until I discovered that you can have more than one file open at a time.

Scroll through the FAQ’s. You may find an answer to something that has been bugging you for a long time.

Monday, October 17, 2005

MONDAY MISHMOSH: Frantastical update

I’m waaayyy behind. Give me a break please ;-) Life has been happening at a rapid pace.

You’ll start hearing more and more about Windows Vista. Ignore it. You are a loan officer not a techie. I’m really the only one who has total permission to be confused as to which one I really am. Anyways, the Xbox 360 is more fun.

One tech site you should visit frequently, though, is Walter Mossberg’s Personal Technology page. The man is the greatest when it comes to reviewing and writing for the everyday person on technology.

If you ever want some basic info about eMarketing, visit Chip Cummings website. He has some great quality freebie info about auto responders and web search engines.

Finally, if you are concerned about making 2006 a successful year, I’d strongly recommend attending Business Plan 2006. Though technology is noticeably absent from the business planning curriculum (LoanToolbox has a lot of technology already available), I really think that this will become the premier event and will eventually encompass technology leverage in the future. I’ve never seen Tim Braheem or Greg Frost, the conference leaders, do anything less than 1st class implementation.

Monday, October 10, 2005

TUESDAY'S (monster) TIP: How to Manage your RateWatch in Mortgage Coach

Managing your client info in Mortgage Coach is not much fun, but here is a strategy to try to make it funnerrer.

 

I personally am a huuuge RateWatch Report fan.  RateWatch is, in my opinion, the “hidden secret” in Mortgage Coach.  It makes the phone ring (to quote Ron Quintero).  It is now being promoted as part of the entire Mortgage Planner’s Compass. Need I say more?

 

PROBLEM: The problem with the RateWatch module, and all of Mortgage Coach for that matter, is that there is very little control over selecting loans based on certain criteria.  As your database grows and if you want to send the RateWatch to different types of clients who have different types of loans (ie-Rental Properties, 2nd homes, Super Jumbo, HELOCS, fixed 2nds, PrePayment Penalties, etc.) then it becomes a significant hassle.  And, if you do any sort of incremental marketing including the RateWatch Report (ie-I send it to about 10-25 new people each week), or different clients want the report emailed to them, it becomes a true headache.  The problem is rooted in the fact that Mortgage Coach only allows you to specify Conventional and Jumbo loan categories base on loan amount.  Selecting loans with any other criteria is impossible.  That doesn’t take into account major differences in investment properties or 2-4 unit properties that have different loan limits.

 

As the Mortgage Planner promotes RateWatch as a benefit of being a client, then the Mortgage Planner will have do deal with the above issues and the amount of management time to execute this benefit until the issues are resolved by the Mortgage Coach software.  My hope for my fellow and less technical LO’s is that this is high on the priority list for the technical team at WOW (this is harder than I thought) Tools (sorry Dave and crew… I couldn’t help but poke some fun).  But, alas, I have come up with a strategy that seems to work, for now.  This approach is more work than it should be for a software database program in 2005, but, it is the best solution that I’ve found. 

 

SOLUTION: Creating multiple databases to segment your loans.  Yes, you can have multiple Mortgage Coach Databases.  This isn’t a hidden feature (see “How to Create a New Database” below), but, there is very little information about best practices on the Mortgage Coach website.

 

 

CAUTION, CAUTION, CAUTION.

Unless you feel very comfortable with the subject material that follows and unless you feel very comfortable managing files in your system, I’d recommend you call the folks at Mortgage Coach before you attempt anything I’m suggesting.  I’m writing this very late at night and I don’t get paid for doing this… so, I can’t guarantee you won’t muck up something unless you possess super human technical prowess, in which case, you will not be so inclined to do anything without first backing up.  End lecture.

 

 

FOLDER SETUP

I’ll try to walk you through how I have my folders setup:

C:\Program Files\MtgCoach

…\MtgCoach\PastClientsEmail (some clients specify receiving the report via Email instead of snail mail.  I still give them quarterly printed mailings)

…\MtgCoach\PastClientsMail

…\MtgCoach\Prepays    (NOTE – I do this because w/out the cost of the prepay factored in, this is like putting a bone in front of a hungry dog who is muzzled)

…\MtgCoach\InvestmentLoans

…\MtgCoach\2nds_N_HELOCS

…\MtgCoach\SuperJumbo  (NOTE – Mortgage Coach has problems with big numbers under the RateWatch program.  I keep this database in hopes of a fix someday)

…\MtgCoach\Professionals (NOTE – If you use RateWatch to market to CPA’s, Realtors, etc., you may want to think about segmenting further)

 

 

Ok, that’s my basic folder structure.  However, you may see life much simpler.  Here is one approach that might be useful if you see your clients in Silver, Gold and Platinum Levels.  Meaning, you may send out RateWatch to your Silver folks 2x/year, Gold folks 4x/year, and Plantinum, every month.:

 

C:\Program Files\MtgCoach

…\MtgCoach\SilverClientsEmail

…\MtgCoach\SilverClientsMail

…\MtgCoach\GoldClientsEmail

…\MtgCoach\GoldClientsMail

…\MtgCoach\PlatinumClientsEmail

…\MtgCoach\PlatinumClientsMail

 

Here are the mechanics…

 

HOW TO SELECT A DATABASE IN MORTGAGE COACH

1.       From Mortgage Coach, click on TOOLS icon found on the lower left side

2.       Click on “Link To Database.”

3.       Browse to the network drive or folder where the database is located.

4.       Click on MCData.mdb and press OPEN.

5.       The “Current Link Path” should now be the location of the database

 

 

HOW TO CREATE A NEW DATABASE (From the support section of the Mortgage Coach website)

If you would like to keep your databases separate you can follow the instructions below. Mortgage Coach will allow for you to have a different database for your clients and switch back and fourth between them.

1.        Double click on My Computer.

2.        Double click on the C:

3.        Double click on Program Files.

4.        Double click on MtgCoach.

5.        Go up to file and click on new.

6.        Select new folder.

7.         Rename that folder. (Name it a name that is specific to your database example “2004

           clients”).

You will need to have a blank database to paste into that folder you just created. Follow the steps below.

1.        Email over a blank database (mcdata.mdb)

2.        Save the Mcdata.mdb file into the folder that was created.

3.        Close that folder.

4.        Open up The Mortgage Coach.

5.        Click on the tools button in the bottom left hand corner.

6.        Click on the link to database button.

7.        Locate the Mcdata.mdb file located in your new folder that was created.

8.        Double click on the Mcdata.mdb file.

9.        You will now be using a blank database.

 

* If you want to export correctly you will need to copy over some files from the mtgcoach folder that will allow for proper exporting. Follow the steps below for the files that you need to copy over.

1.        Double click on My Computer.

2.        Double click on the C:

3.        Double click on Program Files.

4.        Double click on MtgCoach.

5.        Hold down ctrl and click on each one of these files individually:

o        ExportXML.exe

o        ImportCSVFiles.exe

o        Dat2Fnm.exe

o        FannieMae1003.exe

o        mcimport.exe

o        MCIMPORT.TXT

6.        Right click on one of the files.

7.        Select copy.

8.        Go into the new folder that was created.

9.        Right click in the empty area and select paste.

10.     These files will now be copied over allowing for proper export

 

 

 

MONDAY MISHMOSH: Links for your clients, Freud and Fraud, and your worst nightmare.

It’s always a grab bag on Matt’s Monday Mishmosh

With energy prices on the rise, energy remains a hot topic. A 10% savings in energy these days no long is small change. Your clients might appreciate a few links that offer them guidance on evaluating and managing energy costs.

I’ve always yawned at Fraud discussions. Freud would agree it is not the “sexiest” topic on the face of planet earth. But, as I hear “water cooler” talk about Stated Income loans and other practices, I realize that some of my associates and friends are potential “perps.” And with technology improving in the way loan fraud is detected, it is important for the small office and individual LO to be aware. Mortgage Technology’s website highlights BasePoint, a fraud analytics provider. And a few articles about those sent to jail may seem extreme, but, the noose is getting tighter.

Would it scare you if your clients could shop you, not just by calling other lenders and getting internet quotes for rates, but could also do so in terms of Overall Cost (Total Cost to you Mortgage Coach Users). One broker is attempting to make it easier for consumers to self-manage these comparisons. Technology has a way of creating crisis and resulting in innovation, no?

Finally, a new job site for those of you looking to make a career shift.

Friday, October 07, 2005

FRIDAY FREEBIE: Index Analyzer


Pour yourself a cup of COFI and then COSI on up to my blog while I LIBOR over finding something free that is ready for PRIME time.

You don’t have own Mortgage Coach to benefit from the tools developed by Dave Savage and company. The Index Analyzer is a free tool available on the company’s website and can be used free of charge. To get to it on the website, go to the sales tools page and on the right side, towards the bottom of the items in that column is a link to the analyzer.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

TAKING HOME WORK - I'm now a Flash Drive fan!

Moving files between PC’s doesn’t have to be a hassle… especially with a $25 flash drive

The other day I needed to move files between two computers. I did what anyone who has enough tech knowledge to be dangerous… I used a cross over cable (Ethernet cable that works between two computers without a hub in between) to setup the transfer. I then needed the two computers to join the same workgroup. This is where I had problems. In XP, if a computer is joined to a domain, the domain is part of the user profile. If you change the domain ID to workgroup in the system settings, well, you are in for a huge surprise. Unless you are the administrator, you are locked out.

So… since I don’t have any other cabling that will work in this situation, and after sending in my laptop to IT to have it unlocked, I went out and bought a 512mb USB Lexar JumpDrive ($25 after rebates). A USB flash drive attaches to your USB port and instantly becomes available as another disk drive. You can read, write and delete. And because there are no moving parts, the transfers are verrrry fast.

Since I can’t network my work computer at home due to the domain/workgroup issue, the JumpDrive is the perfect way to quickly transfer the data to my home PC for printing or vice versa. Drives come in secure models and in capacities all the way up to 2GB.

LO TECH SOLUTION: Free Lint Remover

Innovation comes in all shapes, sizes and not all of it is technology driven.

Since I'm transitioning, I don't have a lot of time for reading and keeping up. But, in the spirit of this forum I'll offer a LOTech Solution.

So I'm in a manager's office. He's dressed in a nice black shirt and casual slacks. He's sitting down with me, multi-tasking as we talk. All of a sudden he takes out a FedEx Envelope sleeve (those plastic windows that you put the shipping invoice into). Without pausing or hesitating, he peels back the back side and rather than sticking a shipping label inside, inserts his hand. He proceeds to "de-lint" himself. I start laughing, he laugh's with me and I realize that this is a brilliant solution to a common problem.

Ingenious? Maybe not. Resourceful? Absolutely! Time to carry some of those sleeves in your car. Free? Shhhh - don't tell FedEx ;-)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

TUESDAY'S TOY: Clear Up your Screen

After recently switching companies (one of the reason’s my posts have been slowing down), my new laptop’s screen seemed fuzzy compared to the previous one, this tool helped fix it.

Microsoft has a series of free add-ons for Windows XP called “Power Toys.” These utilities vary in usability, and most aren’t really going to help you as a loan officer. However, I really needed to sharpen up the display on my screen with my new laptop and the ClearType Tuner did the trick. It lets you use ClearType technology to make it easier to read text on your screen, and installs in the Control Panel for easy access. Give yourself 2-5 minutes to download (over high speed), install, and “see clearly.”