Strong Partnerships Help Ohio Housing Finance Agency Bring Homeownership to Nearly 10,000 Residents

MIAMI, FL – February 25, 2007

Finally realizing the dream of homeownership provides many families with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that can very well expand over a lifetime. For some, it is the result of years in the making. For others, it is a mere stepping stone toward financial empowerment. But whatever it may represent for the individual homebuyer, it takes catalysts behind the scene to make affordable homeownership a reality for many residents, especially during tough economic times.

Just last year, the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) helped nearly 10,000 Ohioans realize their dream by issuing $1.3 billion in home loans, the second largest issuance among HFAs in the country. Several factors contributed to the agency’s record year, including a strong management team, clear strategic focus and strong public-private partnerships.

One of these partnerships is with Emphasys Software. As its business partner for more than 22 years, Emphasys Software has assisted OHFA in automating, streamlining and thus enhancing many of its operational processes. As a result, the A1 bond-rated housing finance agency is able to maintain focus on its core mission of helping its residents realize an affordable place to call home.

“Through our partnership with Emphasys and its AOD product line, Ohio has become a national leader among housing finance agencies,” Chief Technology Officer Donna Cramblit explained. “Since 1983, Emphasys has provided to OHFA excellent software and support solutions that makes available the necessary tools for its customers.”

One of these software solutions is Lender OnLine. Lender OnLine is a web-based system that not only helped to strengthen the agency’s partnerships in the lending community but also helped to expand its accessibility to thousands of residents over the years. The module automates the home loan process and provides instant information on the progress of loan submissions. “We no longer have to communicate with our partners through slower means like faxes and mail,” Cramblit said. “The system sped up the process and reduced the processing time from one week to approximately one business day.” To further assist our lenders, OHFA will be implementing e-MortgageDocs another Emphasys product which will give lenders the ability to upload completed loan packages of Ohio homebuyers and obtain immediate information on the status of the pending loan.

Cramblit also explained that Lender OnLine helped to increase the agency’s accuracy rate, eliminate some loan forms by populating compliance forms, and decreased the volume of incoming calls from its partnering lenders by more than 80%.

The word has spread among the lending community about the convenience and ease of the loan process through Lender OnLine. Thus, participation significantly grew among lenders over the years and more families were able to access the program and purchase homes they could actually afford.

“We started out with about 50 lenders before we moved to Lender Online almost seven years ago,” said Homeownership Coordinator Cleo Evans, “and last year 184 lenders participated in our program.”

According to Evans, the lenders were absolutely ecstatic. They no longer had to rely on the staff to provide them with information. They were able to upload documents and find out the information they needed 24 hours a day. They can even find out the remaining availability of funds in a particular bond series — the system updates it hourly. Plus, they find the system easy to use.

“It is relatively easy,” Cramblit explained. “It is a wonderful system; if you can read you can use it.”

But with ease came increasing demand. So to satisfy growing interest in its programs, OHFA recently began scheduling webinars to train new participants and provide a refresher course for anyone needing additional help.

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