Tim Anderson of Evolve Mortgage Services: Wide eMortgage Adoption Remains Elusive

Tim Anderson is EVP, Director of eMortgage Strategy for Evolve Mortgage Services, where he is responsible for overseeing deployment of the company’s end-to-end digital closing platform and developing strategic partner relationships. A digital mortgage pioneer, he has more than 35 years of industry experience and has held executive management positions with Pavaso, DocMagic, Docutech, Black Knight Financial Services, Stewart Title, FreddieMac and HomeSide Lending. He can be reached at tim.anderson@evolvemortgageservices.com.

MBA NEWSLINK:  You previously worked for Evolve until 2010; why did you return?

Tim Anderson

TIM ANDERSON, Evolve Mortgage Solutions:  When I previously worked for Evolve, we had begun the journey toward digital mortgages. But at the time, the industry wasn’t ready to take the steps needed to go paperless and universally adopt eNotes. They just didn’t fully understand the overall benefits and advantages. The industry is now there and ready, and it’s time to finish what I started.

All the components for a digital mortgage now exist. The adoption of eNotes has grown significantly over the past year, and remote online notarizations, or RONs, are now legal in most U.S. states. Evolve is currently the only GSE-approved eNote provider with a full library of SMART Docs® and just added the missing piece by acquiring eNotary Seal, a leading RON provider. With all the pieces now in place, it was a perfect opportunity for me to return to Evolve and help lead the industry’s adoption of digital mortgages.  

NEWSLINK:  What is your new role?

As EVP, Director eMortgage Strategy, my role is to oversee the deployment of our end-to-end digital origination and closing platform for eMortgages and build new strategic partnerships to enhance our offerings. It’s the perfect role for me, as it allows me to leverage my experience in all the different components that comprise a digital closing, including origination, secondary market, servicing and also title. So, I definitely am more well-rounded and versed to effectively advise others on how best to approach and implement than most for the job.

NEWSLINK:  What are your main goals?

ANDERSON: The goal is to fuel mass adoption of Evolve’s platform, which is a pretty big task. There are a lot of options for lenders and title companies seeking to implement digital processes. However, most of these options require adopting more than one platform, which results in a very fragmented process. My job is to convey the value of utilizing a single platform for the entire mortgage process over the multi-platform providers out there today. I truly feel there’s no other solution measures up to what we’ve been able to build, and that we’ve made the switch to digital mortgages as easy as it can be.

NEWSLINK:  How did the pandemic impact adoption?

There’s no doubt the pandemic gave digital processes a major boost. Because of the shelter in requirements, lenders didn’t have much choice but to adopt digital processes if they wanted to get documents legally signed. For example, 2020 was a record year for eClosing and eNote adoption, as the number of eNotes registered on the MERS eRegistry more than tripled.

But even with better adoption of digital documents, obtaining the digital mortgage notarization piece has remained elusive. That’s partly because it has taken time for states to legalize RONs and partly because other closing providers haven’t figured out a way to easily integrate them into their solutions. So, while digital processes and eNote adoption has grown, we still have work to do to better streamline the overall process.

NEWSLINK:  How come adoption in the mortgage industry still isn’t more widespread?

That’s a really good question. Believe me, I would have made some better career choices and been rich and retired by now if I had known then how long this was going to take! There have been technical obstacles, to be sure. For example, while the GSEs have been ready for over a decade, aggregators and investors haven’t been fully prepared to buy eNotes and RON deeds. But mindset has also played a big role. The way mortgages are closed has not changed very much over the past four decades. There are many in loan production who are entrenched in their ways, are fearful of being displaced, and will resist change at any cost.  This is where we still need to do a better job at educating everyone on the real benefits of implementing e.

NEWSLINK:  Are there any other reasons adoption isn’t more widespread?

For the past several years, most mortgage participants have been preoccupied with volume. It’s like what we hear in the title business: “Why change when you’re still making money the old fashion way?” The real estate finance industry continues to thrive thanks to historically low interest rates, and it’s hard to focus on something new when you’re concentrating on meeting the tsunami wave of refinance business.

On the other hand, soaring demand for loans has led to capacity issues that only give lenders and servicers more reason to adopt digital processes. Time to close is quickly becoming a competitive differentiator and you can’t fully deliver that without a paperless electronic document execution platform.  I’m very optimistic that the momentum behind digital mortgages is finally about to reach a tipping point. And frankly, it’s time is well overdue.

(Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect policy of the Mortgage Bankers Association, nor do they connote an MBA endorsement of a specific company, product or service. MBA NewsLink welcomes your submissions. Inquiries can be sent to Mike Sorohan, editor, at msorohan@mba.org; or Michael Tucker, editorial manager, at mtucker@mba.org.)