Lone Wolf invites lenders onto its broker-agent platform

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Lone Wolf Technologies is opening the door to mortgage lenders to integrate with its transaction management solution for real estate brokerages and agents, with tech-based mortgage lender Better the first to take advantage of the opportunity to generate prequalification letters for homebuyers.

Integration into Lone Wolf’s transaction management solution, Transactions, allows Better to market purchase mortgages to homebuyers served by more than 700,000 real estate agents who use the tool.

Vishal Garg

“Agents play a crucial role in the home purchase process, and in the current interest rate environment, we expect mortgage volume to be predominantly purchase transactions for the foreseeable future,” Better founder and CEO Vishal Garg said in a statement Tuesday. “Lone Wolf has paved the way for innovation in real estate software, and combining forces allows us to provide agents with game-changing technology to close more home purchase transactions than ever before.”

More than 30 technology companies are already integrated with Transactions, offering services including rental screening, earnest money deposit, commission advances, disclosures, home warranty, home insurance and moving services through the Lone Wolf Marketplace.

Better will be the first mortgage lender to have the same opportunity, with Loan Wolf planning to onboard additional mortgage partners over the next several months.

Jimmy Kelly

“Adding this integration to Transactions will bring our customers even more value in their trusted transaction management solution,” Lone Wolf CEO Jimmy Kelly said, in a statement. “When agents and brokers have everything they need for their client experience in one place, they can quickly capitalize on opportunities, cross every T, and dot every I along the way.”

Now that it’s launched mortgage prequalification by integrating with Better, Lone Wolf will work “directly with real estate brokerages and organizations across the country to bring their preferred partners into the solution as well,” Kelly said.

Partnering with multiple mortgage lenders will allow real estate agents who use Lone Wolf Transactions (both the zipForm and TransactionDesk editions) to initiate requests for prequalification letters on behalf of their homebuyer clients. After a homebuyer receives their lender options from their agent and chooses a mortgage provider, they’ll be handed off to the lender, who will begin direct communications with the buyer to process their prequalification letter.

Better growing B2B channel

Better is no stranger to business-to-business (B2B) partnerships, relying on its ties to companies like Ally Bank and American Express for nearly half of its loan originations. Better has had a strategic partnership with Ally Bank since 2019 in which Better sells, processes, underwrites and closes the bank’s digital mortgages, while Ally markets, advertises, prices and funds the loans.

Advertising relationships with partners like American Express bring borrowers to Better by offering them incentives and discounts to consumers. American Express card members are offered a $2,000 statement credit if they take out a conforming mortgage with Better, or $6,000 if they take out a jumbo loan exceeding the conforming loan limit.

Because Lone Wolf’s transaction management solution is used by more than 1,000 multiple listing services and Realtor associations in the U.S., Better expects the integration to generate even more B2B business.

“I would say that Lone Wolf’s platform has the ability to potentially drive more volume to us than many of our other partners,” Garg told Inman. “We’re as excited about it as we were excited about Ally or American Express.”

While many real estate agents are affiliated with brokerages that have a preferred mortgage lender, Garg told Inman that he’s confident that in many situations, Better can outperform them.

“I think this is an opportunity for us to step up whenever those preferred lenders drop the ball or whenever the agent is unhappy with their preferred lender relationship,” Garg said.

“Increasingly agents are using the technology platforms that they have access to, and they trust those technology platforms much more than they necessarily trust some relationship that their brokerage firm might have with some other partner,” Garg said. “So if they’re using Lone Wolf for the rest of their real estate stack, it becomes so easy for them to use that also for their customer’s mortgage and the financing of the transaction.”

In reporting third-quarter earnings, Better Home & Finance Holding Company — the parent company of Better Mortgage, Better Real Estate, Better Cover, Better Settlement Services, Better Attorney Match and Better Inspect — said its B2B channel accounted for 44 percent of 2023 mortgage loan production, up from 39 percent at the same point in 2022.

Last month, Better announced another initiative to grow B2B mortgage loan production, a collaboration with Infosys to launch a white-labeled “mortgage-as-a-service” platform for lenders. Garg said Better’s Lone Wolf integration has been in the works for some time and is not related to the Infosys initiative.

Garg said integration with Lone Wolf was made possible by Better’s “Tinman” technology platform, which Better partnered with Palantir to launch last year. Tinman allows customers to see their rate options in seconds, get preapproved in minutes and then choose other services like title insurance, lock rates and get to the closing table in as little as three weeks.

“What we have created is a seamless solution from Lone Wolf’s transaction management system into the Better loan application that is seamless for the consumer and super easy for the Realtor to use,” Garg said. “That required a lot of the APIs [application programming interfaces] that we’ve generated to be able to build our partnerships and to be able to take data in and out of our system, and that’s what enables this to be so seamless.”

Integration with Better “gives agents and brokers a unique advantage in a competitive market,” Lone Wolf said in a press release, by empowering agents to provide their clients with a connected prequalification and loan origination process “that can significantly speed up closing times and improve overall experiences.”

Asked about the importance of the B2B channel to Better’s future growth, and what other partnerships are in the works, Garg promised that the company is “just getting started. I think you’re gonna see some amazing stuff coming out of us over the next couple of months.”

Rising mortgage rates have crushed the mortgage refinancing business that drove Better’s initial success, forcing the company to downsize from a peak of 10,500 full-time workers in Q4 2021 to just 760 as of Sept. 30. Better posted a $340 million Q3 net loss, and expects to remain in the red for the final three months of the year.

But with $565 million in proceeds from an August SPAC merger, Better executives are confident that the slimmed-down company can navigate what’s expected to be a challenging market — and that B2B partnerships will help it accomplish that goal.

“I think it’s crystal clear that those who are most sophisticated in the industry appreciate the value of Better’s platform the most,” Garg said. “So while it’s going to take time for consumers to join and be part of Better platform, our growth in the next year to two years is going to be propelled by more and more of these B2B relationships, where we can partner with other companies that have access to customers, and be a financing partner for those companies for their customer base.”

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