Jonathan Berkowitz will serve as chief innovation officer for mortgage company loanDepot and its sister home services brand mellohome, executives for both companies told Inman.
Berkowitz is a former colleague of mellohome CEO Chris Heller from the pair’s time at Keller Williams, where Heller led the brokerage and Berkowitz oversaw product and strategy. Berkowitz most recently served as chief product officer at the enterprise software company Aurea. He started at loanDepot a month ago.
“Fintech and real estate has been an interest of mine for years,” Berkowitz told Inman in an interview. “The inevitable convergence of those is super interesting. It’s going to be tumultuous, and it’s going to provide lots of opportunity.”
As chief innovation officer, Berkowitz will oversee product strategy and innovation at both loanDepot and mellohome. Berkowitz’s role will cross teams throughout the companies, focusing on differentiating these two brands from their competition in the mortgage and home services spaces.
Mellohome is a much newer brand, and at that company, Berkowitz will work on deploying products like integrated home search and building the home services ecosystem that Heller and loanDepot CEO Anthony Hsieh have envisioned. At loanDepot, Berkowitz will work on developing data tools and products to inform loanDepot’s lending offerings.
“A big part of my focus is going to be, how do we take substantial existing data assets and capabilities that exist within the fintech platform and weaponize them in order to create super personalized experiences for consumers?” Berkowitz said.
Scaling these products from the mortgage and lending perspective, rather than from the real estate side through mellohome or during Berkowitz’s and Heller’s time together at Keller Williams, is a greater challenge and a better starting point, Berkowitz said. Lenders and fintech companies see trends and cycles in the real estate market earlier than companies purely in the real estate space, he said.
Berkowitz chose to join loanDepot in large part because of his connection to Heller, who took over the mellohome brand at the beginning of this year.
“Chris coming to loanDepot was extremely important to me,” Berkowitz said. “Him making the decision to join Anthony at loanDepot is one of the things that motivated me to join.”
LoanDepot often describes itself as a technology innovator, as opposed to a mortgage company. Hsieh is a technology evangelist who has compared loanDepot’s innovation in lending to Apple’s innovation in developing the iPhone.
“Adding an executive product and market strategist, an innovation leader of Jonathan’s caliber, furthers an on-going strategic initiative to invest in our product team and uniquely positions loanDepot and mellohome to rapidly accelerate through this convergence, expanding and delighting customers for decades to come,” Hsieh said in a statement.