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Improving the Borrower/Broker Experience with DREAMS

9/30/2019 by Drew Bowker

There are some things the introduction of technology to commercial real estate lending will take a long time to, if ever, change: Third party report processing times, borrower defaults, irresponsible lenders, etc. No matter how technologically equipped a commercial real estate lender may be, there are certain processes/procedures that they cannot control.

The one aspect that every single commercial real estate lender can control is the borrower/broker experience. The borrower/broker experience refers to the level of satisfaction, and ultimately happiness, of the borrower/broker after they’ve gone through the process of submitting a loan request to funding the loan. The difference in outcomes from a good experience and a bad experience is pretty straightforward: borrowers who had a good experience will come back and provide referrals while borrowers who had a poor experience will take their business elsewhere and tell their friends to do the same. There are far fewer players in commercial real estate lending than in residential lending, so every borrower/broker contact that you have is incredibly valuable – do not take them for granted.

How is District improving the borrower/broker experience?

As one of the newer commercial real estate lenders, we know we need to invest in our borrower/broker relationships to build our business in this hyper-competitive space. The most efficient and scalable way is through technology: our DREAMS Portal. DREAMS, or District Real Estate Automated Mortgage System, is our borrower/broker facing portal that provides an easy to use, slick user interface while also improving transparency into our internal loan process for borrower peace of mind. Our goal is to streamline the process from submission through closing within the DREAMS Portal.


After creating an account, the borrower/broker is taken to their loan dashboard. Here, they are given a brief snapshot of all their loan submissions, the current status of each, and what tasks are required to move the loan forward. All new loan submissions will be submitted from this dashboard as well.

Submitting a loan

From their loan dashboard, the borrower/broker can easily submit new loans for consideration for funding. After selecting “Start a Loan” the borrower/broker is brought to the small form loan application.

After submitting these 5 fields, DREAMS will automatically tell the borrower/broker if the loan is “Pre-Qualified” or “Rejected”. Rejected loans are always accompanied by the reason for rejection. This allows the borrower/broker to alter their submission if they made a mistake or want to explore other loan structures. Additionally, the feedback allows the borrower/broker to collect good data for future loan requests.

If the loan is “Pre-Qualified”, District’s loan officers are immediately notified and the borrower/broker is invited to fill out the long form loan app. The long form loan app will ask for more detailed, project specific information and serves as the springboard for District issuing a term sheet, or declining to move forward. While progressing through the long form loan app, the borrower/broker is apprised of their completion progress and next steps at all times through the section check marks.

*District Tip: The use of portal provides a single source of truth for actions/requirements for both parties. Easily track which documents are needed and who is responsible. Ditch the email back and forth!

E-signing the Term Sheet

Once the borrower/broker has completed the long form long app and uploaded the required documents, We are able to determine if they want to issue a term sheet. Once we submit a term sheet, the borrower is notified that the term sheet is available in DREAMS and can be viewed and signed directly in the Portal. All the borrower/broker needs to do is type their name into the text box and click “E-Sign”!

So what’s different?

Aside from an incredibly easy to use loan submission process, DREAMS is rooted in our desire to increase the transparency between the lender and the borrower/broker, while providing a single point of truth and actionable tasks for the borrower/broker, that does not currently exist in commercial real estate lending. For example: think back to the last time you applied for a job. You submitted an application and waited. After a couple weeks of silence, you reach out to the recruiter for an update, and they may or may not respond with information. Out of the blue, they let you know you’ve made it to the next round of interviews, but you only have the next two days to come to the office otherwise you’ll miss out on the opportunity. You scramble to prepare, make the time, but ultimately make it work and get the job. While you’re happy you got the job, the process was a mess and caused more work/stress than necessary. Imagine if you had visibility into the evaluation process, knew what dates to expect what, and didn’t have to depend on information from a recruiter for peace of mind?

District does exactly that for the loan process. As a borrower/broker submitting a loan through our portal, you will have complete transparency into where we are in the loan life cycle. Critical dates and tasks will be displayed and updated on the Status tab as our team progresses through the process.The borrower/broker will also be notified via email of all status changes, with an accompanying link to any potential required tasks. Document uploads and other actions required by the borrower/broker will be easily identifiable upon loan submission with the required drop-dead submission dates. This gives the borrower/broker complete control and ownership over their responsibilities. Each party is able to hold the other accountable and work together to move the loan forward as quickly and efficiently as possible.

While DREAMS doesn’t make the loan process instantaneous, our focus on transparency and accountability not only improves the borrower/broker experience, but reduces friction and human-caused delays. District is a lender you can trust and hold accountable, while delivering an excellent borrower/broker experience that you cannot find elsewhere in the commercial real estate lending community.

District is a balance sheet lender re-engineering the commercial real estate mortgage process. By developing innovative technology, District is able to increase the speed and accuracy of deploying capital while increasing transparency into the lending process. As a national firm, we specialize in short- to mid-term bridge debt on all product types with competitive rates and leverage.

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