US Mortgage Lender aided by “Israeli Intelligence"

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Approved Funding, a direct mortgage lender, hires individual in Israel to underwrite its mortgage loans.

When Daniel Altmark, a Staten Island native, decided to relocate his residence to Israel, little did he know that his decision affected more than just the immediate members of his family. At the time, Altmark was lead underwriter at Approved Funding, a direct mortgage lender, who had relied on him for streamlined approvals on their borrowers. An underwriter is the person responsible to determine and sign off on the credit worthiness of applicants who apply for mortgage loans. “We were very happy for Daniel on his decision to move to Israel”, recalls Shmuel Shayowitz, Senior Vice President of Approved Funding, “but we were quite concerned about our existing loans and new clients”. The company began to scramble for possible solutions, but the current scenario was without doubt their preference.

With such in-house underwriting capabilities, Approved Funding found a niche as a direct lender that was not quite the norm in the oversaturated mortgage industry. Most mortgage brokers and small bankers do not have underwriters and are forced to outsource this task through various costly and time consuming channels. Through in-house underwriting Approved Funding is able to make their own credit decisions and rely on common sense conclusions when reviewing applications submitted to them for review. “During the refinance boom of 2003, it took most banks more than four weeks to underwrite a loan, and we were able to do it in a matter of hours which gave us a significant edge”, says Uri Dreifus, Approved Funding Vice President of Sales. Altmark, who was promoted from his previous loan office position within the company was trained and educated “on the job”. He was able to utilize information and knowledge learned at Approved Funding, to help make judgment calls that other underwriters just would not be able to make. This ability helped increase the company’s over all approval rating on its loans to over 90%.

Altmark’s decision to make Aliyah, to relocate his entire household to Israel after the summer of 2004, was absolute and both he and Approved Funding were forced to make life changing decisions. After much research and investigation, the company and Altmark concluded that with some slight modifications and technological enhancements it would be possible to have Altmark continue underwriting for the company despite being located in Israel. It is not that uncommon for residents of Israel to commute back to the states for their job. Some companies are able to create an international branch within Israel to complete the work through computers and email, but never before had these functions been attempted for the mortgage business. “To my knowledge, this was the first of its kind in our industry for such a core member of the mortgage process”, says Shayowitz. Approved Funding contracted with Independent Computer Maintenance, of Clifton, New Jersey to reconfigure their network and set up remote access for Altmark. This would allow him the ability to seamlessly connect to the New Jersey operations center and function entirely from Israel without missing any components of being offsite. Altmark’s move to Israel came in late August and since its start, the process has been quite simple. Mortgage applications and supporting documentation are scanned through a high power scanner at the New Jersey operations center of Approved Funding and are posted to the network for accessibility by Altmark. An email is then sent to Altmark informing him of the new application and often a brief overview of the file. Loans are usually reviewed and approved within hours of their receipt. To everyone’s surprise, the overall turnaround time for loan approvals has decreased as a result of this system. Without the distractions of being in the office, Altmark is able to focus all of his attention and time on dealing with the files in front of him. The company has plans on converting some of the other experienced processors in their other offices to become underwriters as well while maintaining Altmarks role as Senior underwriter. To date, all of Approved Funding offices in Passaic, NJ, Brooklyn, NY, Hollywood, FL, Lawrence, NY and Teaneck, NJ utilize Altmark’s underwriting capabilities through this international relationship. This long distance relationship has turned into a win-win for the company, Daniel Altmark, and the clients of Approved Funding.

Approved Funding is a direct mortgage banker licensed in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Florida and originates loans through its retail offices and its network of in-house mortgage consultants.

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Shmuel Shayowitz
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