- Developed by employees of Underwood Mortgage Group, Loanopoly is a new online home loan tracking tool inspired by the familiar Monopoly game board.
- The developers expect the service to improve communication between the various closing table parties, which is often a pain point for real estate agents.
- The tool will get a soft launch before the end of February and will be tested on users in Orange County, California, before it expands nationally later this year.
If homebuyers seek better insight into the status of their mortgage transaction and want to eliminate the hassle of waiting to hear from their real estate agent, loan officer and various settlement service providers, they needn’t roll the dice. Soon, they’ll be able to use Loanopoly, a new online home loan tracking tool inspired by the familiar Monopoly game board.
Developed by employees of Underwood Mortgage Group, a boutique mortgage lender based in Yorba Linda, California, Loanopoly will allow buyers to upload their loan documents, store them safely and securely, and share them with their loan officer, lender, real estate agent and other settlement service providers.
Although Loanopoly was the brainchild of Underwood Mortgage loan officers, it will not be affiliated with the lender. Cornelius said the tool will get a soft launch before the end of February and will be tested on users in Orange County, California, before it expands nationally later this year.
Loanopoly will track the loan’s progress in real time and keep everyone involved in the transaction up to date on the loan’s status and apprised of any action that may be needed.
“We hope to help issue the real estate industry out of the dark ages,” said Mike Cornelius, a senior mortgage consultant at Underwood Mortgage and one of Loanopoly’s creators. “This industry has been the most resistant to technology and the opportunity to take advantage of what I’ll jokingly call the Interwebs. Five or six years ago, people were still using combination lock boxes. The industry is still very manual.”
Solving a major real estate agent pain point
It’s taken Cornelius and Rick Underwood, Underwood Mortgage’s owner, four years to collaborate with Brent Slezak, a former technical architect for Disney, on the development of the online tool — and their timing couldn’t be better.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Know Before You Owe rule has transformed the natural order of the mortgage transaction. It’s created the opportunity to bring greater transparency to the process and alert closing-table parties to any of the problems or errors that have plagued many mortgage loans closed since the regulation took effect in October.
“Loanopoly pulls back the curtain so everyone can see what is going on,” Underwood said. “Everything in the system is time and date-stamped. Everyone can see at any time who is responsible for what task and where they are in the process.
“Sometimes in mortgage transactions, it gets to the point where the lender realizes the borrower has still not sent in their W-2, and it gets to the point that an agent says, ‘Why didn’t you tell me sooner? I would have asked for the documents.’ With this, everyone can see what may be needed and communicate with each other about it in one place.”
And communication with the various closing table parties is often a pain point for real estate agents, Cornelius said.
“One of the biggest frustration for the agents we work with at Underwood mortgage is they don’t have time to answer questions all day from both the customer and the loan officer about the progress of a loan while they are out showing homes,” he said. “A quick phone call to check on the status of a loan is never just that — it’s a 20-minute conversation where the client also wants to know about whether their couch will clash with the carpet and if the flooring needs to be changed, or asks questions about the pond in the backyard.
“Loanopoly gives everyone a single point of connection and allows them to communicate and track the progress of a loan without having to call each other five times a day.”
How to play the game
When borrowers create an account and sign into Loanopoly, they are greeted with a list of helpful suggestions to begin the homebuying process and a blank game board. The borrower can then invite a lender, real estate agent, title agent and others to “get in the game,” or select a provider from a pre-populated list.
The tool is free for all to use, but professionals who want to be on that pre-populated list advertise on Loanopoly for the privilege. Cornelius said the company will be vetting those advertisers, “and we won’t be endorsing anybody.”
From there, the lender controls the board — because thanks to Know Before You Owe, it pretty much rules the roost. Lenders check boxes for items they have received and send reminders for things they still need.
Once borrowers are prequalified, they move into preapproval. As the loan progresses, the different squares on the board go from white to different colors to signify that a step is complete.
After the loan closes, Loanopoly stores borrowers’ documents, then helps them move into their new home with information about how to turn on their utilities and contact movers and contractors if needed.
“We’re using it on our customers to make sure it works the way it’s supposed to as I speak,” he said. “They enjoy the process because it keeps everything simple.”
Loanopoly is designed to work on any device. It can be used on both purchase and refinance transactions.