How lenders can improve property tax estimation processes to bolster borrower satisfaction

For the past few years, low mortgage rates have fueled a housing market so hot that even a pandemic couldn’t derail purchase originations. Record-breaking lending volumes led many lenders to tighten up their processes across every stage of the mortgage cycle.

Plaza Home Mortgage was no exception, as it sought to improve its property tax estimation process. This case study explores how the correspondent lender was able to reduce its property tax estimation time by upwards of 90% per loan by implementing CoreLogic’s Property Tax Estimator (PTE). The tool offers a comprehensive response to tax amounts for properties within the United States. By integrating PTE, Plaza has, in turn, accomplished two vital goals: Faster turn times and happier clients. 

Prior to implementing PTE, Plaza Home Mortgage had to collect property information manually. There was no uniform or timely way to do this, which meant that on some occasions Plaza associates would have to scour government tax bill websites. The sites would often vary from state to state, and in many instances, Plaza found that this manual process took about 10 to 20 minutes per loan. 

The lender was not alone on this timing. In 2018, CoreLogic conducted a controlled random experiment simulating the estimation process and found that “Well-trained researchers required at least 20 minutes, but less than 45 minutes, for existing property loans.”

To avoid any servicing issues later on, it was essential that Plaza had accurate tax information prior to buying loans. If Plaza purchased loans within a few days of property tax payment due dates, it had to hold its correspondent lenders responsible for making the payments. And with inconsistent state websites as its property information go-to, Plaza was often forced to take a conservative approach when buying loans. This caution, coupled with the extensive manual process to research property information, created a recipe for frustrated clients. 

In response to these pain points, Plaza implemented CoreLogic’sProperty Tax Estimator solution in 2018. It was a logical move for the lender, as it already had a relationship with CoreLogic and it naturally evolved to expand to PTE. 

And while Plaza didn’t have to go hunting for a new vendor, it still had specific requirements for its desired solution. Specifically, Plaza needed a tool that offered streamlined and easy access to data as well as true data accuracy and quality.

“What we needed was a tool that was going to work,” Plaza EVP of operations Ed VanDuren said. “We needed information at our fingertips quickly and had to be able to depend on it.”

With client satisfaction as a key performance indicator, Plaza has found success with PTE.

“I don’t know that I’ve heard any complaints since we’ve implemented this, and I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone challenge a condition,” he added. “Looking back, I wish we actually found CoreLogic’s tool sooner because it would have saved us all a lot of heartache.”

Saving time at any part of the lending process has long been the goal of every company in the mortgage industry.  Plaza’s implementation of CoreLogic’s PTE was fast and effective and has proven its worth time and again since 2018. To learn more about the implementation process and the results it yielded, download the case study here.

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