Case Study

Sierra Pacific Mortgage

Loan Volume Increased 200%

Admin Productivity Increased 102%

Cierra Pacific Mortgage Logo

We’ve been able to grow our loan programs while maintaining and enriching our core team members.

Michael Brooks, National Renovation Manager, Sierra Pacific Mortgage
Land Gorilla Confident Construction Finance

We have found that being able to offer stakeholders access with such high visibility to the loan is amazing.

Michael Brooks, National Renovation Manager, Sierra Pacific Mortgage

Product Offering:

  • Renovation Loans: FNMA Homestyle, FHA 203K Standard, VA Renovation, FHA 203K Limited

Goals:

  • Manage at Scale
  • Implement a Digital Solution
  • Build the Renovation Program
  • Increase Loan Volume
  • Maintain SLAs

Solution:

  • Construction Loan ManagerTM Software

Results:

  • 102% Admin Productivity Growth
  • Visibility For Stakeholders
  • Program Growth
  • Continued Delivery of SLAs
  • 200% Increase in Loan Volume
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About

Sierra Pacific Mortgage is a privately held company that provides quality mortgage lending services throughout the United States. Licensed in 49 states, their high company production levels and access to sophisticated capital markets enable them to deliver competitively priced products to brokers, retail originators and consumers through retail and wholesale business channels.

Sierra Pacific Mortgage was built on a foundation of quality lending practices, unparalleled service, unquestionable integrity, and deep industry knowledge.
Recently awarded as a Top Mortgage Employer for 2020 by National Mortgage Professional Magazine, Sierra Pacific leans on its motto, “Promises Made, Promises Kept.”

Visit Sierra Pacific at:
https://www.sierrapacificmortgage.com/

The Challenge

We determined that an Excel platform could not maintain service levels, and that was unacceptable

Michael Brooks, National Renovation Manager, Sierra Pacific Mortgage

Sierra Pacific had made the decision to begin a renovation loan program and recruited Michael Brooks to take on the job. Tasked with building a new program, Brooks followed best practices and successfully built a team, outlined guidelines, had cross-functional meetings with senior leadership in all departments, and created a strong framework for renovation.

Sierra Pacific launched their renovation loan program in January of 2018, starting with FHA 203K, and other programs would follow. With a focus on training, Sierra Pacific invested in training Loan Originators on the complexities of the renovation loan and how to sell it. The team took well to the training and began successfully originating renovation loans. Sierra Pacific was pleased with the initial influx of renovation loans. Those loans were managed by Michael Brooks, National Renovation Manager, and a team of two, including Daniel Green, Disbursement Specialist, who were both interviewed for this case study. Brooks and Green developed a draw disbursement system through Excel.

At the time, Excel suited their needs as they had time to be very hands-on with each loan. Renovation loans were being originated at a rate that was manageable to Brook’s small team, and began to see an uptick in 203k loans the last quarter of 2018. In 2019 they launched Fannie Mae Homestyle, repeated the training with the LOs, and the Sierra Pacific Renovation Program really took off.

They chose to switch the tools they were using and said goodbye to Excel and hello to technology

“That uptick from the last quarter of 2018 and then through launching Fannie Mae Homestyle in early 2019, we went from maybe 25 to 30 loans post-close, to 50-70 loans post-close,” says Brooks. “Daniel (Green) was handling this all on his own through Excel, and we soon realized we reached a threshold where this wasn’t efficient any more. Managing that many loans on Excel was futile. We determined that an Excel platform could not maintain service levels, and that was unacceptable.” They had a goal to increase their service levels while decreasing labor costs.

They considered hiring a big team of Disbursement Specialists, but with a fully ramped specialist handling 20-30 loans, this wasn’t a sustainable option to reach their goals. Instead, they chose to switch the tools there were using and said goodbye to Excel and hello to technology.

Having worked in the renovation and construction loan industry for 18 years, Brooks had heard of Land Gorilla and had seen a presentation or two at trade shows. He knew Land Gorilla by reputation and from other lenders. It was an easy choice to reach out to Land Gorilla and start the evaluation process.

The Solution

All stakeholders were present during evaluation. “When we had the initial meetings and the initial demonstrations (with Land Gorilla), we were just wowed,” says Brooks. “The entire team was there and I looked around the room and I saw people’s faces lighting up thinking, ‘Wow this is really going to help us scale our business.’ ”

The Sierra Pacific team was watching a demonstration of the Land Gorilla Construction Loan Manager which digitizes the construction and renovation loan management process with security and efficiency. “When we saw the ease and mobility and the functionality of Land Gorilla, we kept getting these ‘wow’ and ‘aha’ moments at the same time. Phenomenal,” says Brooks.

“Yes, we looked at other solutions. But none were sufficient, and definitely not as thorough, organized, and deep. The Construction Loan Manager really gets into the weeds of managing a renovation loan. There is really no stone unturned,” says Brooks. This granularity in the software got the Sierra Pacifc team excited and they were ready to dive into the software themselves.

And then on the post-close side, we loved being able to see everything organized and easily tell how often draws were coming in. Having everything in one place was a tremendous help

Daniel Green, Disbursement Specialist, Sierra Pacific Mortgageo.

Part of the Construction Loan Manager includes a contractor and borrower portal, which gives external stakeholders appropriate access to the loan file, typically used post-close. (Read more about this below.) But, Sierra Pacific thought outside the box and used the contractor and borrower portal in a new way, pre-close, that further streamlined their business model. On the Construction Loan Manager they were able to get an advantage of supporting their program pre-close by encouraging contractors to log in to digitally accomplish tasks such as uploading or filling out bids and e-signing documents. “Being able to communicate with those contractors beforehand helped us out,” says Green. “Having everything in one place for contractors to be able to provide us with everything that we need was a huge feature.”

“And then on the post-close side, we loved being able to see everything organized and easily tell how often draws were coming in. Having everything in one place was a tremendous help,” says Green

One aspect Sierra Pacific is enjoying is the time savings of inspections with Land Gorilla. Says Brooks, “The one thing that blew me away is the inspections turn around time. Previously inspections would take four or five, maybe six days from ordering an inspection until when it finally gets scheduled. But with Land Gorilla we get a response quickly and it’s scheduled and completed within a couple of days. It is huge to be able to pay our contractors on time. So right there, with Land Gorilla, we had a significant time savings and can maintain timeframes and those SLAs and sometimes even quicker than what was anticipated.”

Land Gorilla offered Remote Inspections very quickly and we think it’s wonderful

Michael Brooks, National Renovation Manager, Sierra Pacific Mortgage

And once those inspections are accomplished, Sierra Pacific enjoyed the ease at which subsequent disbursements are made through the platform. “All stakeholders have the ability to log in, review the progress, track each stage, and know where their project stands and how it’s moving forward. This is a huge value-add and a great feature with high functionality,” says Brooks “Contractors have commented very positively about this feature, and we like to be able to also see which draws are in process, when a project is expected to be completed, and it helps everyone to stay on schedule,” added Green.

At the on-set of social distancing, Land Gorilla introduced a new product called Remote Inspections, which Sierra Pacific utilizes. Through this program they can still get inspections done professionally in a safe and healthy way for all involved. “Land Gorilla offered Remote Inspections very quickly and we think it’s wonderful they were able to keep up with the current environment and offer a product that is head and shoulders above the competition,” says Brooks.

Remote Inspections makes it easier on the home-owner, as does the contractor and borrower portal. “We have found that being able to offer stakeholders access with such high visibility to the loan is amazing. They can answer questions such as ‘Where does my project stand? How many draws are left? What has been recently paid? Land Gorilla solves the problem of being inundated with a lot of phone calls from folks needing answers. Instead, to answer these questions all they have to do is log-in to the system. This type of functionality in the Construction Loan Manager is a great asset. Not a lot of companies have the ability to do that,” commented Brooks.

The ability to track disbursements in real time benefits all parties and assists in understanding next steps.

Michael Brooks, National Renovation Manager, Sierra Pacific Mortgage

Not only can Sierra Pacific and their stakeholders view and access the loan, but the renovation team can monitor the entire pipeline in reports generated by Land Gorilla. “At the end of the day, these are a tremendous help. We like to know amounts and what’s being disbursed out. With the pipeline reports we know exactly where we are,” says Green.

Brooks commented, “Right, getting a view of each file that shows us each stage is great. The ability to track disbursements in real time benefits all parties and assists in understanding next steps. Having this capability allows Sierra Pacific to give our clients a better experience. It comes back to those SLAs. We want to keep our service levels up, and the pipeline report helps to manage that for us so we know exactly where we stand. And that’s just one of the differences between a digital solution and Excel: It’s not easy in Excel to set up alerts, and Excel definitely doesn’t alert you when an inspection or draw request has come in. The Construction Loan Manager is much easier to use with higher functionality.”

The Construction Loan Manager is much easier to use with higher functionality.

Michael Brooks, National Renovation Manager, Sierra Pacific Mortgage

Visibility is a strength of the Construction Loan Manager, and it is even more important now than ever before. With Sierra Pacific doing a lot of work from home, being able to login and see the exact same thing across the team has been key to their success. They can rely on the Construction Loan Manager to bring forward potential issues so the team can mitigate in a timely manner.

Renovation loans are complex, and there are many different aspects to consider when looking for a system to help manage them. Something frequently overlooked is maintaining current contractor profiles and information. “The Construction Loan Manager keeps track of and notifies us when a contractor’s licence or insurance expires. Seeing that come down the line helps us to take preventative steps and be able to carry on with the project without a break,” says Green. “The Construction Loan Manager also has an effective method of staying in contact with our contractors, and we can always be in communication to verify things are still going on schedule, or maybe they need an extension, or just to pick up the pace on things. Without the Construction Loan Manager we didn’t have this insight or ability to communicate on these points as easily.”

Sierra Pacific keeps their promises, and it’s easier to do so and keep contract timelines with a digital solution like Land Gorilla’s Construction Loan Manager.

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The Results

Sierra Pacific reached their goals of building a robust renovation loan program. They grew their program from offering just FHA 203K (standard and limited) to offering Fannie Mae Homestyle and VA Renovation, as well. Esteemed as a huge success by all parties involved, their renovation loans are booming.

Sierra Pacific was able to grow their loan programs while maintaining and enriching their core administration team members, all of who use the Construction Loan Manager. Each loan admin went from managing an average of 66 loans on spreadsheets to 133 loans with the Construction Loan Manager, an increase in capacity per admin of 102%.

Before Land Gorilla, title updates used to take weeks to get back. In some instances it would take even a month. But with Land Gorilla’s integration with AFX, Sierra Pacific consistently receives title updates in less than 48 hours, and at a significant cost savings.

Title updates are received in less than 48 hours, and at a significant cost savings.

With more loans to manage, but with the right tool in place, Sierra Pacific is able to continually deliver on their service level agreements, even though they have significantly increased their monthly loan volume by 200%.

As a digital solution, Land Gorilla speeds up the process that could rely heavily on physical papers and wet signatures. With the Construction Loan Manager, the proper forms can be delivered and signed electronically. “If it takes us about 60 days to close on a typical renovation loan, the Construction Loan Manager features can cut that time in half. That’s an incredible time savings with the Construction Loan Manager,” says Brooks. “Renovation loans are difficult. When you look at it in mortgage terms, one renovation loan is like originating, underwriting, and closing three standard loans, just because of the complexity and time involved. Having Land Gorilla to be able to help cut that time in half is phenomenal.”

Learn how Land Gorilla can guide you through a better construction and renovation lending experience

Land Gorilla Construction Loan Management Software
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