Today’s accelerating technology transformation is altering how the commercial real estate industry executes transactions and manages assets.

“The amount of information that a multifamily borrower needs to submit and disclose has become more demanding over time,” says William (Bill) Hyman, a Lument senior managing director who oversees the firm’s strategic business technology transformation and conventional loan production. “That has made due diligence more complex and data-intensive, and we wanted to create a more secure and expedient way to tackle that process.”

Seeing this need, Lument responded by creating a suite of proprietary technology tools.

Across the industry, the advent of online, friendlier multifamily loan application and servicing processes has not only eliminated the transfer of sensitive information through email by moving the processes to secure portals, but it has also streamlined common paper-based, time-consuming, and burdensome tasks. That has translated into much speedier decisions about loans and responses to questions and requests.

LeapOnline Beginnings

Lument is a commercial real estate finance solutions provider based in New York that specializes in Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Federal Housing Administration, and balance sheet lending. The company’s digital transformation began in 2017. At the time, the company saw the opportunity to leverage technology better to change how its clients conducted business. But a multifamily-oriented application process that was fast, online and completely borrower-focused had yet to emerge, Hyman explains.

“We interviewed about two dozen of our borrower clients about the kinds of tools they were looking for, and they all said, ‘We would be very interested in anything you can do to save us time,’” Hyman says. “We took that message to heart. Time is our clients’ most important asset — they don’t want to spend it on a monotonous, repetitive application process when they could be looking at the next investment opportunity.”

As a result of those conversations, the company built LeapOnline in 2018 to initially support its agency business and then eventually rolled it out across all of its lending business lines. LeapOnline presents borrowers with a series of questions, similar to the wizards or setup assistants that have become so popular with online tax programs. LeapOnline creates the forms needed based on the answers, Hyman points out. The tool’s portal also gives borrowers a checklist to guide them through the process, keeps them apprised of the application’s progress, and provides them access to their information any time of day. Applicants can message Lument’s lending staff with questions through the portal, too.

On the receiving end, Lument loan representatives and underwriters receive the information through the portal, which has simplified due diligence, Hyman says. No longer are people digging through paper files searching for answers in certain documents when questions arise.

“We’re transforming the experience from filling out a bunch of forms, which can be tedious, to a more customized process of gathering information,” he states. “That gives our team the ability to review the information online and make a decision on whether to lend in about half the amount of time it used to take.”

Adding Tech Solutions

Lument subsequently introduced its LeapOnline Servicing solution about 18 months ago, Hyman says. The tool essentially allows borrowers to retrieve loan and escrow balances, make payments, and calculate pay-off amounts, among other tasks. Additional enhancements to the tool’s capabilities are in the works.

Borrowers who have made capital improvements or repairs can also use the portal to request reimbursement from their reserve accounts and upload the relevant documentation, eliminating another traditionally paper-based practice. Additionally, Lument is working on a “wellness dashboard” that will inform borrowers when property inspections are scheduled and when their rent roll, operating statistics, and other performance reports are due, he adds.

Beyond the LeapOnline solutions, Lument is using artificial intelligence to quickly assess risk and provide prospective borrowers with quotes by crunching the performance data of buildings within a submarket, Hyman notes.

The company is also adding an asset management system that will integrate with Fannie Mae’s capabilities to streamline asset management reporting requirements, which should produce savings of considerable time and effort for borrowers, he says.

“What we want to do is create efficiency and time savings for our clients and for ourselves,” Hyman continues. “There is no reason that multifamily property owners around the country should have to manually send in rent rolls and operating statements several times a year when they could do it electronically.”

Authored by Joe Gose, this content originally appeared on France Media.