An Employee’s Perspective: Then vs. Now

Reflecting back on technology sometimes shows our age more clearly than wrinkles themselves. To hear someone talk about tech from back in the day gives you more insight into their age than if you had a copy of their actual birth certificate (think Atari video game systems, televisions without remotes and rotary dial phones).

As we celebrate the 25th year of Rob and Dave’s partnership in the mortgage business, let’s take a moment to reflect (and laugh) about how the changes in technology have impacted the mortgage industry.

Michigan Mortgage is currently a leader in cutting-edge technology in the mortgage industry.

One of our biggest strengths, especially with the pandemic we’re still surviving, is our mobility, both for clients and staff. When COVID hit, we didn’t miss a beat with getting our employees the tech to work remotely and changing to virtual appointments with clients and our teams via Zoom.

Our app, Pro Snap, has helped keep us connected with realtors wanting to run proposed housing payments, and clients being able to electronically sign application forms, and upload documents from their phones.

However, such conveniences have not always existed for us. I’ve been working for Rob and Dave for 19 years. When I started, our office was downtown Muskegon in the Noble Building. The tech set up we had there was already a vast improvement from the first few years Rob and Dave worked together, at which time they each had a home phone, a computer, and a fax machine in their basement home offices.

We each had a desktop computer, since back then laptops were a luxury item, and we worked with single monitors (which I shudder to think about). The monitors also took up more space on our desks than was reasonable — no flat screens back then!

The phone system…well, I don’t believe we can call three cordless handsets on one desk a phone ‘system’. To transfer calls to each other literally meant walking the phone down the hallway. There were no voicemails either. Messages were relayed via pink message pads, or after hours via a call-in pager number.

We thought we were so cool when we upgraded to Nextel cell phones. Ignore that they were each the size of a brick. And the constant two-way chirping did get old after a while.

Our many repeat clients have probably noticed improvements in our technology over the years as well. The biggest difference has been going paperless. Instead of having literally hundreds of pages to print for the clients to sign at application and closing, we’ve converted to almost all electronic signatures.

We’ve probably saved more than just a few trees by going paperless. We used to make physical copies of all signed documents, plus all of the borrower documents, appraisals, title commitments, etc. We then had to retain those records for years after closing, so we had a whole room that used to house just our closed files, that we later were able to convert into two office spaces.

Going paperless didn’t affect just us either — the entire industry shifted how we delivered documents to one another. When I started, we had an appraisal company we worked with regularly who had a staff member whose main job it was to drive his motorcycle around West Michigan and deliver physical copies of appraisal reports. Title companies would do the same-drop off copies of commitments to our office. And submitting files to underwriting back then meant we had to either overnight or fax 100+ page loan packages in for review.

All in all, the advances in technology these past two decades has translated to cost savings and more importantly, time savings. Instead of making copies, handwriting loan applications, and juggling up to five physical phones on one desk, we’re now able to focus more attention and service to our clients and realtors.

— Sarah Beahan, Loan Processor

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