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Those who mystery shop your originators are carefully selected due to the complexity of the mortgage process.  The profiles need to be carefully constructed in order for the data to be of use to the regulatory bodies.  This article is PART TWO of this series.  The “Introduction” and “Part One” can be found on our blog.

Typically, those who are shopping your originators are from the industry and have been carefully coached and scripted to test for certain responses.  After the interaction with your originator, they must immediately fill out the test survey form so that data is not lost to time.

Remember, the goal is to present like situations to an originator and report back the behavior of the originator to each tester.  The borrower characteristics that I outline below, may vary depending on what is being tested.  These are simply examples of what is most predominant.

Borrower Characteristics Are Developed

  • Measuring Disparate Treatment is not as easy as it sounds. After all, we know that certain personality types interact better with other personality types. So, when you have two separate test candidates, this issue can factor into the interaction that the tester receives.  Personality type is rarely considered, but in my humble opinion should be in order to present “like” candidates.
  • Mock Borrowers are given similar financial profiles. However, the minority profile is usually slightly better with regard to credit score, income, length of employment and assets.
  • Employers, occupation, present address, personal family information, knowledge of the area, and credit profiles are all designed to emulate the local area.
  • Financial profiles are designed around either median income, or a percent above or below median income.
  • Testers may be given communication mechanisms that are common to borrowers applying in today’s world. For instance, they may have an email, phone number with voice mail, social profile or a number to text message to. These are all monitored for responsiveness by those who are conducting the test.  This is important to remember because Disparate Treatment can and does occur when originators are not consistent in their follow up with clients.
  • Testers are given strict instructions as to how they are to contact the originator. For instance, they will each contact an originator through the same channel. If one initiates the conversation through social media, the other will do the same.  They are also instructed about how to respond when asked how they were referred to that originator.
  • Each of the testers will generally be prompted to make an appointment with the lender. Although with digital mortgages this methodology is beginning to change.
  • When the tester meets with the originator, they will be coached to ask the similar types of questions. An example of this may be that the testing pair (two separate borrowers) to independently set up an appointment with the originator to inquire how much home they can afford. Or, the testing pair may come in with a price range and loan amount in mind, and be instructed to find out what loan options are available.
  • Depending on what is being tested for, the mock borrowers are generally novice or first time home buyers.
  • The testers are selected to be clearly identified as a minority or non-minority client. Those who visually appear white, black or Latino are important to the results of the test.
  • The testers need to be able to communicate in a like pattern. Having one mock borrower who is highly proficient in the English language paired with another mock borrower who has trouble communicating in English would not be a like pattern.
  • The questions that are being asked are fairly scripted, but don’t be fooled by that! The testers generally know enough about our business to pull off a casual conversation to get the scripted results!

Tester Instructions

As is important in all scientific testing, the environment needs to be exact or similar to properly measure the results.  Therefore, instructions may be given that constrict the tester.

Here are some common instructions that the tester may not do:

  • Negotiate for a better rate/cost.
  • Give you “deep information” like a social security number, or birthdate.
  • Authorize a credit pull.
  • Pay for any services.
  • State any preference for loan options
  • Indicate that they are working with a real estate agent

It is important to remember that each test and methodology is set up to test the concern of the regulator or company doing the testing.  While this article may address common denominators in the Mystery Shopping world, careful training of your origination staff will lessen the “gotcha” when you are tested.  The most important take away is that consistency in your originator’s approach is key to your success in a testing environment.  Generally, that is only accomplished with strong training on Mystery Shopping methodologies!

Worried about your originators passing the Mystery Shopper Test? Contact me for my comprehensive training program on “Passing the Mystery Shopping Test-What Every Originator Needs to Know”.  It makes a great conference training session!

Stay Tuned for the final article in this series “Part Three” where I discuss the Protocols and Results!

Tammy Butler, Master CMB

Author Tammy Butler, Master CMB

More posts by Tammy Butler, Master CMB

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