Black Knight released new automation consumers can use to explore options if they experience hardships that cause them to start falling behind on their payments.
The new borrower-facing technology has both a call management function for consumers who want to work with customer support representatives or they could choose to explore their options online independently.
The new product “lets those customers see what options they have right from the get-go,” said Sandra Madigan, chief digital officer, Black Knight, in an interview.
“To the extent that you can’t call a borrower at 8 o’clock at night, or they have set their preferences for email-only communication or text only, all that works together seamlessly to give that borrower the ability to self-manage and figure out what the best option is,” she said.
The move coincides with a slight pickup of short-term borrower hardships.That pickup has been seen primarily in the Federal Housing Administration-insured market serving lower-income households with relatively thin buffers against financial hardship, but has not been seen as prominently in loans guaranteed by the Department of Veteran Affairs or purchased by government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
“We’re not seeing anything in the GSE portfolios yet, but there has been an uptick in the FHA portfolio,” said Doug Duncan, Fannie’s chief economist. “VA also not yet.”
At the same time, cash-strapped mortgage companies have been looking for more efficient and compliant ways to handle early borrower distress.
Call center work tracked by the Mortgage Bankers Association inched up in the group’s latest Loan Monitoring Survey, suggesting related automation more of a priority to the extent to which companies will or can spend on it.
As a percentage of servicing portfolio volume, call activity rose to 25.1% in December from 24.6% the previous month, with the average speed to answer increasing to 1.3 from 1.2 minutes. Call abandonment rates also inched up, increasing to 3% from 2.8% as handle times lengthened to 8.2 minutes from 8.1. Call handle times were last this high in June of last year.
Black Knight’s core industry-facing servicing system has an exceptionally broad user base, and Intercontinental Exchange, a provider of origination automation that also has widespread industry use, plans to acquire it.
The development of the latest servicing technology is in line with Black Knight and ICE’s plan to focus on customer experience across both sides of the mortgage process.
The new collections product integrates both with Black Knight’s core Mortgage Servicing Platform (MSP) system, its Servicing Digital automation for consumers and its loss mitigation system.
Black Knight recently released a set of application programming interfaces aimed at making external technology integrations more efficient, starting with APIs for Servicing Digital.
Those APIs are being extended more broadly throughout Black Knight’s technology ecosystem in areas that will eventually include collections.