There’s a lot of emotion in buying a home: fear, anxiety, heartbreak, relief. For such a monumental milestone, shouldn’t there be more joy?
For the team at Neat Loans, that’s a given.
“I get excited when I think about our happy customers,” Business Development Specialist Trish Berube said. “I think about them celebrating birthdays in their new home, or building equity for their future, and perhaps their children’s future as well.”
Founded as a way to bring some much-needed simplicity to the mortgage industry, Neat Loans aims to bypass the paperwork — and guesswork — of applying for a mortgage. Through the company’s technology, borrowers are led on a journey that begins with educational tools showing them how much house they can afford, what kind of down payment they should consider and if they meet the criteria for a loan. Then, once they’ve found their dream home, the platform walks borrowers through the information and documentation needed to secure their loan.
“When our clients apply, they’ve already done most of the legwork up front to determine what they qualify for,” Co-Founder and Senior Vice President of Product Tom Furey said. “It’s helpful for them to understand this information before they even start looking at houses, and without needing to run a full credit report.”
Armed with that knowledge, clients can confidently whip through Neat Loan’s mortgage application in about 20 minutes. Other lenders may have borrowers scrambling to print, sign and scan documents, but Neat Loans’ secure system simply asks users to upload their documents and fill out the forms digitally.
As future homeowners increasingly opt for this more modern, streamlined process, Furey said Neat Loans has grown rapidly and shows little chance of slowing down.
“This is the year we become a household name,” Furey said. “We’ve proven that we’re not just a regional lender anymore. Our reputation as an industry leader, especially on the tech side, is going to turn a lot of heads.”
To catch a better glimpse of why the company’s future looks so bright, Built In Colorado connected with Furey, Berube and Home Loan Advisor Magdalena Boone. Together, they outlined what makes Neat Loans unique in the industry, why buyers are choosing a modern mortgage solution and what it’s like working on the ground floor of a red hot real estate market.
What does the mortgage industry typically look like? How is Neat different?
Senior VP of Product and Co-Founder Tom Furey: Prior to Neat launching, I’d say the average turnaround time to get a home loan was between 60 and 75 days. There was a lack of certainty and transparency, and borrowers didn’t know where they stood in the process: Sometimes clients didn’t know whether they qualified for their mortgage until a week before they were supposed to close on their house.
The process was also inefficient from the perspective of documentation changing hands. It’s typical for a lender to re-ask for the same document several times. There was an entire universe of clients who just weren’t happy with their experience.
Home Loan Advisor Magdalena Boone: It’s so rare in the industry, but home loan advisors at Neat actually get to start every day feeling excited because they have the ability to offer a positive and different experience for clients.
Our home loan programs, rates and quick turnaround are important, but so is the overall application experience. As our customers move through what’s ordinarily a stressful process, we alleviate that stress through transparency and personable service provided by our loan officer teams.
It’s so rare in the industry, but home loan advisors at Neat actually get to start every day feeling excited.”
What makes Neat’s technology stand out in the industry?
Furey: Mortgage is not a very tech-focused industry, but Neat Loans is a tech-focused company. The more intelligent your technology is, the better your tools are, and we actually built our own loan origination system.
All of our tech is proprietary from cradle to grave and it’s all on one platform, meaning we don’t plug into other systems. It’s put us in a position to scale rapidly because we have created efficiency for the clients, our loan originators and everyone else on our team. Every transaction goes through faster with less stress, which creates a better quality of life for clients. I have worked at several mortgage companies, so I can say that with certainty. We’ve taken out the unknown factors, so we really don’t get a lot of questions from clients about whether they’re going to close on time, or where they stand in the mortgage process. They know.
We don’t get a lot of questions from clients about whether they’re going to close on time, or where they stand in the mortgage process. They know.”
How is the service at Neat different from other lenders?
Furey: Our loan originators aren’t steering a client toward a particular product that benefits the company or themselves. Instead, our tech gives the client the power to make their own choices about their loans and finances with the education they get throughout the process.
Say there’s a first-time homebuyer who has 5 percent to put down. Traditionally, a loan originator would tell them to take a Federal Housing Administration loan, which only requires 3.5 percent down, convincing them they could use the extra cash to furnish their new home. But what they’re really saying is that their company is going to earn twice as much revenue on that FHA loan. It’s often all about the bottom line of the company, not the client’s best interest.
Business Development Specialist Trish Berube: Most of the time, customers will come to us wanting to put down 20 percent. But because they’re given more tools and choices, at the end of their application, they’ll understand what putting down 20 percent really means for their net worth, and might decide to put down an additional 7 percent to get an even better interest rate.
Tell us a bit more about how Neat empowers customers to educate themselves.
Boone: Simply put, our tech is smart. It provides real-time feedback as you fill out your application, as well as creates a smooth and less stressful experience, which makes it fun for both clients and our home loan advisors. We provide some really cool tools, too, like an instant pre-approval that our clients can fill out themselves to get a custom pre-approval letter 24/7. It’s very fast and gives our clients some insight when they’re getting started in the homebuying process.
Simply put, our tech is smart.”
Furey: At Neat, they’re not just completing an application, hitting “submit” and crossing their fingers. Because of the transparency we provide, they know that if they’ve met their targets, they’re off to a good start. The feedback we provide is the biggest benefit in my eyes. We’re letting clients know information like what the income target is to qualify for the loan they’re applying for and how much they need in assets to meet the requirement. This way, when they complete their 20-minute application, they feel confident that they actually qualify.
Berube: One of the greatest accolades I’ve received was that our tech was radically simplistic. That has always resonated with me because we know how complex and difficult it is to secure a home loan through most normal processes. Allowing customers to make smart financial choices for themselves really set the bar for me in terms of why Neat is so unique.
This tech seems great for first-time homebuyers. What about those with more real estate experience?
Boone: We provide a personal experience for both wealth managers and their clients. We serve as a source of free information and are able to answer many initial questions financial advisors may have, so that they can then help their clients. All parties know what to expect before they even start an application for a mortgage with Neat Loans. I have found that once borrowers start working with us, they love our technology because they’re allowed to educate themselves on the different loan options and structures, and they can do it on their own time.
Furey: What makes us unique, and why wealth management firms love us, is that our tech is built to handle complex financial situations. Most wealth management firms’ clientele have a lot going on with tax returns, investments or multiple pieces of real estate. Neat Loans can handle simple scenarios, but we specialize in complex situations that a borrower may have.
Neat Loans can handle simple scenarios, but we specialize in complex situations that a borrower may have.”
Finally, we couldn’t end this conversation without talking about the real estate market. What does that look like for your team?
Boone: Mortgage companies are busy; we’re part of that action. It’s particularly fun from my perspective because we can help people with what’s usually the largest financial transaction of their lives, and do it in a transparent, less stressful way.
Mortgage companies are busy; we’re part of that action.”
Berube: I read a statistic that said there are around 73 million baby boomers, 26 million of whom are homeowners today. If we compare that to the millennial generation, only about 12 million own a home. There are a lot of people out there who still want to buy their first home, or are in a position to move into their second home.
It’s a great time to be in the industry, just based on the numbers. Pair that with our technology and teamwork, and it makes for an even more exciting time to join Neat Loans.