Having the right software could be the key to leveling the mortgage industry playing field — particularly in volatile times like those being felt today. California‑based Polly aims to not only level the field but democratize the landscape with tailor‑made software for its clients.
Adam Carmel, Founder and CEO of Polly, took time to chat with Mortgage Professional America (MPA). He started with a synopsis of the current conditions, and he didn't sugar‑coat it.
"Certainly, the industry is extremely challenged right now," he said. "I've heard some people describe this as the mother of all storms. The rubber band went really far one way in 2020 and then snapped but it's been even further the other way. There's been this Newton's third law in action over the last couple of years going on right now. It's all everyone talks about."
To some, he added, it's nothing short of an existential crisis: "There is, in some instances, a general feeling of survival," Carmel said. "In other instances, there is a view of optimism they are going to be the ones to survive but that also presumes others are going out of business. No‑one's rooting for someone else's failure, but, in that second instance, they're assuming it occurs and that's how they're going to pick up a lot of share. The layoffs are abundant, deeper than what's reported and more pronounced in terms of their breadth across the industry. There's just way less production; there's barely any loans that are eligible for a refinance anymore. I think it's down to less than 1%. Purchase activity has effectively screeched to a halt; it's very low relative to the way it was."
Yet for all the challenges, he sees opportunities for those who persevere: "All of that is to say that as much as there's concern, people have been through this so many times now. The industry is so cyclical, and the cycles have become tighter and more pronounced really in the last 15 years or so. And the industry is just filled with operators who are resilient and able to manage through this and did very, very well over the last couple of years or so and have been able to retain of lot of servicing and are in a strong cash position. They're in a good spot."
Amid this ever‑desolate landscape, Carmel suggested Polly comes in with something of a helping hand to guide the industry along uncharted territory. In doing this, he said, the company governs itself with threes C's in being: collaborative, consultative, and communicative.
"We just want to be there for the industry, be as helpful as we possibly can, share what we're doing here — what others are saying or feeling or experiencing because sometimes it feels lonely, and it's good for them to know they're not the only ones experiencing this. A lot of companies are using this as an opportunity to rethink and rearchitect their overall platform. They're looking at everything and trying to figure out how they can drive down their costs, utilize the most cutting‑edge software to improve their margin, revenue per loan, or to help drive down their cost structure or keep their cost structure as is but when the refinancing wave comes again be massively scalable relative to historic performance. We've been pleasantly surprised by the outreach and partnership with the industry."
For Polly, the uncertainty has yielded an advantage.
"Software is one of the few things in the world that's disinflationary," Carmel said. "If a company in any industry utilizes the modern and sophisticated technology and available software solutions in their respective communities, it's one of the very few things — maybe the only thing in the present day — that helps to drive down their costs. For us at Polly, we just view ourselves as a partner. We're very fortunate that we are in this capital markets ecosystem that has had zero innovation in the last several decades. There's been some new entrants here and there over the last couple decades, but no‑one in the industry would say they've really innovated or changed the paradigm in order to drive down costs, increase margins or just deliver something that is 10 times better than anything else out there which is the bar — it has to be because there is a replacement cost. We make it super simple. We have available tools and technology, and our customer success team does it in four to six weeks."
The end result is something of a halo effect, Carmel said.
"To the effect of we listen, we learn, and then we execute on what we're told they want from us," he said. "And it just keeps on getting better and faster and cheaper. As a result, existing customers and prospective customers are seeing their costs go down or their margins per loan go up because they're able to do things they never thought was available historically in this industry."