Product @ Maxwell: 2020 Product Themes

At Maxwell, our business objective has never changed; we’re committed to eliminating the complexity and inefficiency of the mortgage process and delivering a joyful experience to homebuyers.  That vision is what excites us and drives me personally to reach for my notepad when inspiration strikes at 2:47 a.m.

So entering 2020, the Maxwell Product team took a moment to pause, evaluate the product roadmap, and ensure that our product decisions were aligned to our objectives.  This is something we do regularly, and it’s a healthy way to ensure that the features we deliver add value for both lenders and homebuyers.

As a team, we settled on three key themes of focus for the year — three areas of improvement and innovation with the largest impact based on both the needs of the market and our own current capabilities.  We use these themes to align our product, engineering, marketing, and sales teams with a common talk track, and ultimately to build excitement around the vision for our customers. Our product themes for 2020 are:

#1: Drive productivity

The first half of 2020 has been a rollercoaster for the mortgage industry.  We’ve witnessed historic lows in mortgage rates drive unprecedented demand.  Then, on the turn of a dime, market optimism was replaced by grave uncertainty with the sudden impact of COVID-19.

Then in May, another surge to new historic highs of homebuying demand. 

At Maxwell, new loan applications increased 75% year-over-year in May.

It is in these record times that we witness the need for more automation to drive increased productivity.  Many lending teams are struggling to keep up with the increase in demand, scrambling to hire additional bodies to try to scale their business.

By contrast, the product team at Maxwell is focused on improving our integrations and providing better data insights to help our customers grow with their existing resources.  We’re looking at metrics like the number of tasks manually created by a loan officer to identify areas where we can streamline their daily workflows.

This is not in an effort to eliminate the loan officer.  Quite the contrary, we strive to provide them with more time to build meaningful relationships with their borrowers. Which brings us to our second product theme…

#2: Strengthening relationships

We make mundane purchasing decisions daily, like what deodorant to buy or where to eat.  And generally, we don’t seek advice or support in making these everyday decisions (although a grocery store attendant might tell me differently).  But purchasing a home is not a mundane, everyday decision.  For many, it is a once-in-a-lifetime decision.

Homeownership is on the rise, up from a decade low of 62.9% in Q2 2016 to 65.3% in Q1 2020.  But that still leaves over 1/3 of US households renting. 

As long-time renters become first-time homebuyers, they’re looking for help and guidance throughout what is still an unfortunately complex and highly opaque process.

With this in mind, we set our sights on building and strengthening relationships between borrowers and lenders. 

We’re focused on tools that foster communication, provide valuable insight and clarity, and ultimately build trust.  If we can transform lenders into trusted advisors, the borrower experience moves from one of stress and uncertainty to an experience of joy in fulfilling a life dream.

#3: Extend customization

In 2018, the top 50 lenders accounted for more than 50% of total loan volume.  Small lenders find themselves in a bit of a Catch-22: they need access to technology and resources to grow their business and compete with large lenders, but access to that technology is often only available to large lenders.

Furthermore, the technology that is actually available to small lenders is so generic and cookie-cutter that it strips them of all identity.  They lose both branding and personal connection opportunities.

At Maxwell, we view our platform as an extension of our customer’s business. 

We partner with small and mid-sized lenders to not only close loans but also to grow something special and genuinely unique.  That’s why customization is a critical component of our overall product offering.  We look to enable our customers to match Maxwell to their process and experience.

Themes in action

We use the product themes above to help group features into meaningful categories and releases, and to eliminate work that doesn’t drive value for our customers and their borrowers.

Over the next few blog posts in this series, we’ll look at some of the new features on the Maxwell platform through the lens of these product themes, examining how they drive productivity, strengthen relationships, and extend customization.