As Marc Andreessen says, “Software is eating the world.” If you want to outpace your competitors, you’d better pay attention.
Mortgage originators can open up a new world of productivity and improved processes with their software systems by embracing an old idea that they’ve probably never heard of before: open developer APIs (application programming interfaces).
Akin to open-source software and crowdsourcing, open developer APIs let software developers around the world give you options for increasing your efficiency and creating more effective processes for your mortgage operations.
The thing is, there are almost no open developer APIs in the mortgage industry.
Open developer API
An open developer API is an application programming interface that any software developer can find on the Internet for a company just by Googling: “developer api site:XYZ.com,” where XYZ.com is the website for the mortgage software company. If you find a Web page devoted to geeky things like developers, REST APIs and developer documentation, you’ve found the place where an open developer API is available.
The other criteria for an open developer API are:
- Any software developer should be able to obtain a test account on the system within one business day, free of charge.
- Once a test account is obtained, the developer should be able to test the API using the “curl” command from the command line on their computer.
- The developer should be able to learn the API and start using it successfully without corresponding with the company.
Closed developer API
A closed developer API is anything else. A mortgage software vendor has a closed developer API if:
- They don’t have a publicly available developer Web page that you can find with a simple search engine query.
- You hear a rumor that they support developer integrations, but no one at their company will return your emails and phone calls asking about it.
- You have to talk to them via email or the phone first, other than simply requesting a developer account.
Let’s talk specifics
Cloud services such as Dropbox, Box, Zillow, MailChimp, Zapier and Floify offer open developer APIs.
Otherwise, I haven’t found any mortgage-related cloud services with an open developer API.
It’s not unusual for mortgage industry software products to have APIs, including loan origination systems. But unless you’re their customer, you have no access to that API. That’s why these systems have closed APIs.
The organizations that use these systems have to build their own integrations, and they never have the time to do that.
Last year I spoke to a national mortgage company who seemed to be continually backlogged with integration work because they had to do all the integration work themselves. By choosing software with closed APIs, they burdened themselves with additional integration work that could have already been completed by independent software vendors.
As a result, that mortgage company was not as agile as they could have been. Then again, they can’t be blamed. They had no choice but to select a loan origination system with a closed developer API because there are no loan origination systems that I’m aware of with an open developer API.
Loan origination systems: closed or open developer APIs?
Go ahead and Google for a loan origination system with an open developer API. I don’t think you’ll find one. I certainly haven’t. They’re all closed systems.
Mortgage industry interoperability is limited by this.
Mortgage CRMs: closed or open developer APIs?
Mortgage-focused customer relationship management systems are very popular among mortgage originators. They not only track sales leads, they perform email marketing functions.
The problem is, I know of no mortgage-focused CRM with an open developer API. This dramatically limits the capabilities of mortgage companies that want to integrate their CRM with their other cloud services, which, in turn, limits the overall agility of those mortgage companies.
What can you do?
As you assemble your team’s software ecosystem, look for cloud services that offer open developer APIs.
When you watch a demo of a mortgage software service, ask about third-party integrations. Ask if anyone would be allowed to develop an integration.
As you reconfigure or build your company’s software ecosystem, remember that no one software company can provide everything you need.
It’s like closing a mortgage loan. Many parties must cooperate to make a successful closing.
It’s the same in the mortgage software world. Many independent software developers want to help you build a system that gives you a process and technological edge over other mortgage brokers and originators. Let them help you.
Build an integration-friendly software ecosystem that gives your mortgage borrowers the most uneventful, predictable and boring mortgage transaction ever.
Dave Sims is founder and CEO of Floify.com, a mortgage borrower portal and dashboard. Sims also founded StartupMortgage.io, which caters to technology geeks seeking a mortgage in Boulder, Colorado.