Business

Blockchain can cut mortgage approval times

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

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Newly appointed president of the Realtors Association of Jamaica (RAJ), Howard Johnson Jr reckons that streamlining mortgage transactions through the block- chain technology system could reduce mortgage approval turnaround time to half the current 90-day waiting period.

Johnson, who was speaking with representatives of JN Bank during a recent visit to the RAJ's head offices in St Andrew, reasoned that the cloud storage provided through the block chain technology could be the solution to getting all the relevant parties in the home-buying process to simultaneously work on documents of the potential home owner, rather than having to transport documents from one agency or department to another.

“Everyone would be able to simply log on to the system. The agents, lawyers, surveyors and mortgagors would be able to connect to the same platform where they would be viewing the same information, so in the event of an error or misspelling, someone would be able to simply log into the system and make the correction with just the click of a button,” he said.

Johnson noted that the association has found that mortgage transactions are being “dragged on” for much longer than the standard 90 to 120 days, but admits that if all the documents, including pre-approvals are in place, there is no reason why a mortgage transaction cannot be closed within 45 to 90 days.

He noted that among the reasons for the long delays in approval is erroneous information by various parties involved in the process.

“I must admit that some of these errors are sent from the realtor to the attorney in terms of the instructions. There is also the issue where what is seen on the document may be translated to mean something else when the attorney reads it. There are also errors in the spelling of names and tax registration numbers,” he informed.

Johnson, a second-term president of the RAJ with more than 20 years' experience in the real estate business, said the RAJ will be working with all parties involved to reduce these errors and cut the approval time.

Head of mortgage sales at JN Bank, Petal James, underscored the commercial bank's commitment to fast turn-around of mortgage applications, noting that the majority of its mortgages are approved in a timely manner.

“We have given a commitment to ensuring that, once all the relevant information is provided, all mortgage applications are approved within 72 hours and we are looking to reduce that even further,” she said, explaining, however, that the process of getting all the documentation together — which may include surveyors' and valuation reports and sale agreements, especially from overseas vendors — can sometimes take weeks.

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