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July 10, 2019

Mortgage tech firm Blend nears 'unicorn' status after latest round of fundraising

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Simplifying the mortgage loan application process for the average consumer has been one of the biggest motivations driving change in an industry known for complications and delays.

The fintech space is likely about to see big growth from one of its fast-growing players in Blend.

The San Francisco-based company digitizes paper processes for more than 150 banks, most notably Wells Fargo and US Bank. In the seven years since it was founded, it has also expanded into home equity, opening deposit accounts and homeowners' insurance. They're even exploring the possibility of auto loans as their growth continues.

Blend recently revealed that it has raised another $130 million in Series E funding, according to Fortune . That puts the company near the $1 billion unicorn valuation. Last year, they handled about $230 billion worth of mortgage applications.

How game-changing is Blend's software? Co-founder Erin Collard told Quartz earlier this year that the company has already cut two weeks off the typical two-month period to get a home loan. They hope to bring the process down to a couple of weeks.

In the past, we've seen app-enabled tax services such as TurboTax and H&R Block transform how the average consumer handles an important task.

While there may be some concern about jumping into mortgages without fully understanding the terms, apps like Blend and Rocket ultimately provide the borrower with greater transparency. It's a more accessible way to reconcile their finances as they look to get a loan. The software doesn't eliminate customer service. It makes it easier to ask the right questions.

Days before the Series E announcement, Blend integrated with Nebraska-based Mortech to enable lenders to provide real-time mortgage offers with an online mortgage platform. Banks using Blend now have access to all-in-one pricing, rate notification, prospect management tools, custom rate sheets, loan product eligibility, and guideline services, according to DSNews.

The emergence of Blend is hard to overstate, even in Collard's terms. While mortgage consumers still show a clear preference for working face-to-face at a branch when taking out a loan, the real-time information and guided service Blend offers can alter that perception.

“I don’t think people realize how revolutionary it’s going to be,” Collard told Quartz.

The company's growth and investor confidence strongly point to a digital future for the mortgage loan application process.

About Greg Englesbe

Gregory Englesbe is an Investment Banker and business leader living in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. An experienced mortgage banking professional, Greg has secured more than $500 billion in sales throughout his 30 years in the residential mortgage business.