Don’t Risk Losing Your Quality Loan Officers

As the summer months hit, along with midyear bonuses, it is not uncommon for loan officers to consider a move to the competition.  Even if they are not actively looking, recruiters are looking for them.  Mortgage executives that participated in the Mortgage Collaborative’s recently released biannual survey, The Pulse of the Mortgage Industry, listed staff retention at the top of the list of most critical issues for mortgage lenders.  As you can imagine, if staff retention is that urgent, then your competition is looking to hire as well. It becomes extremely important that your overall business strategy include a perspective that proactively supports the needs and expectations of your loan officers.  This is not a consideration to be put off until yearend, when it may actually be too late to keep your winning team intact. 

Do not let any lull in your application volume or business planning compel qualified loan officers to look elsewhere for employment. The mortgage industry has been running on overdrive, hitting a 15-year high in 2020 with $4.3 trillion in mortgage originations.  The Mortgage Bankers Association predicts a 14 percent drop in this year’s total origination volume, bringing us down around $3.28 trillion.  Although refinance activity is expected to drop, purchase volume is projected to break a new record at $1.67 trillion!  With purchase originations on the rise, your team of loan officers becomes even more valuable as their ability to cultivate and retain relationships is what will lead many of these purchase borrowers to your institution.  

Whether focused on relationships, referrals, and/or technology, winning loan officers leverage success tactics that draw from these areas because this is how they excel for the long term. With half of the year behind us, many mortgage operations are busy tweaking processes and systems to accommodate forthcoming third and fourth quarter production.  However, the CRM, which is certainly a mainstay in this effort, is rarely developed or evolved with the loan officer as a primary consideration.  This can create misalignment in ensuring consistency in utilization and more importantly lead to a gap in relationship and referral data. Loan officers are persistent and astute so will find ways to tap the CRM, but even with automated emails and communication, many rely on individually sent emails, text messaging and phone calls, which although more personalized, are not nearly as traceable. So how can management ensure alignment and transparency in terms of relationships, referrals and technology?

Envision an innovative technology platform that can be branded to your valued loan officers, and simultaneously offer a meaningful approach that fosters relationships and expands referral business…. without spending additional time in pursuit of this effort.  Complimentary to CRM platforms, which market a database by producing a myriad of semi-generic automated communications, is HomeBinder.  Delivering a unique centralized home management platform, HomeBinder provides property-specific communication, actionable maintenance, and document storage that is readily accessible through a private-label, mobile-friendly portal.

How does this promote loan officer retention?  HomeBinder uses sophisticated automation to systematize and assimilate valued relationships with the professionals that regularly interact with homebuyers.  This methodology builds an ever-expanding referral network that supports the homeowner throughout the life of the property, creating a genuine “Client for Life”.  Gifted to the homeowner by the loan officer, for as little as $7 per loan, the branded loan officer forever remains top of mind. No more ongoing communication, follow-ups or tickler systems, the homeowner is regularly reminded of the relationship with their valued loan officer as they are prompted to complete maintenance, presented with educational information, or access key household documents, all through the HomeBinder platform.   

This is a genuine business differentiator that allows loan officers to focus on developing new relationships and supporting applicants through closing, while existing homebuyers flourish into repeat business and inherently produce more referrals.  To find out more about the HomeBinder revolutionary approach to homeowner engagement and the “Client for Life” opportunity, visit us at www.homebinder.com, or contact us directly at 800.377.6915.  HomeBinder Expected by Homeowners Driven by Lenders

Do You Have a Plan to Engage Borrowers Post Forbearance?

As we all watch mortgage forbearance numbers tumble, are we missing an opportunity?  The forbearance peak in May of 2020 represented well over four million mortgages, so approximately the same number of homeowners.  Here we are a full year later and we are at half of the forbearance volume, with BlackKnight reporting 2.2 million in forbearance, representing 4.2 percent of homeowners.  Approximately 2.5 percent of these homeowners have mortgages with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, 7.4 percent have Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or Veterans Administration (VA) mortgages, and 4.8 percent represent portfolio or private-label securities (PLS). 

You have to ask yourself where are those two plus million homeowners and how are they doing now?  According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Mike Fratantoni, senior vice president and chief economist, those making payments, approximately 25.3 percent, are performing at near pre-COVID rates.  As a mortgage servicer do you know who these homeowners are? This population called and queried their servicers non-stop starting in March of 2020.  They were struggling to determine “what next” when they didn’t have confidence in their capacity to make mortgage payments and keep their home safe.  For many homeowners, this was the beginning of a meaningful relationship with their servicer, and more than five hundred thousand are now performing with more to follow.  This is an opportunity ripe with potential!  

There are of course many more homeowners in forbearance, who will not be in a performing status for quite some time.  “More than 47 percent of borrowers in forbearance extensions are past the 12-month (delinquency) mark as of the end of April,” according to Fratantoni. Forbearance and payment deferral options, as well as foreclosure moratoriums will dissipate, leaving these homebuyers in your default servicing queue.  Servicers have however become extremely proficient in managing distressed borrowers, whether due to pandemic impact, natural disaster, or economic influence.  As these homeowners modify and come current, they will join the performing loan group.

These are opportunities ripe with potential!  Running a query on which homeowners have recovered from a nonpayment or delinquent status for three or more months, and then connecting with them in a meaningful way is how you build a “Client for Life”. It is also a method for instilling consistent payment habits going forward, minimizing complaint scenarios, and building rapport and referrals.  HomeBinder represents a simple process for executing meaningful engagement with these homeowners, and:

  • Is easily implemented and offered to homeowners. 
  • Provides a tech-savvy, forward-thinking benefit.
  • Legitimately helps your clients become better homeowners.
  • Exemplifies their importance to you as a client…. for life.

HomeBinder is a value-add for the servicer.  It creates a constant self-serve touch point for your portfolio of homeowners, while it educates and encourages the homeowner to maintain the collateral.  A digital platform that replaces old school file folders, notebook binders and even shoe boxes that homeowners have historically used to store the essential documents tied to their home. Homebinder replaces this antiquated approach to home management and much more – It is a gift that says “thank you” for your business and forges a sophisticated relationship between the servicer and homeowner.  Bringing together a collaboration of home service professionals, HomeBinder builds valued relationships amongst the parties that interact with homebuyers, from servicers to insurance providers.  This partnership is leveraged to promote personalized customer engagement at minimal cost to the servicer.  At the same time the servicer is able to offer homeowners a valuable automated support platform that extends throughout the homeownership lifecycle, not solely the life of the loan. 

As forbearance numbers continue to drop, make sure you have not overlooked a key segment of your portfolio.  Connect with us today to find out more about this revolutionary approach to homeowner engagement and retention. Visit us at www.homebinder.com, or contact us directly at 800.377.6915. 

HomeBinder ● Expected by Homeowners ● Driven by Lenders

How Do You Leverage the CFPB to Retain Homebuyers?

First-time buyers currently represent nearly a third of the homeownership market. As the market is evolving, so are borrower expectations, necessitating a fresh look at consumer engagement and the resources that are available to help meet current needs.

No one can argue that today’s homebuyer market is shifting.  Limited housing inventory, record low interest rates, and the pandemic impact on forbearance, foreclosure and bankruptcy, have all contributed to a change in servicer portfolio composition. Spurred on by super low interest rates, many borrowers have refinanced to a different servicer, or have a new servicer due to a home purchase. First-time buyers currently represent nearly a third of the homeownership market and will be interacting with a mortgage servicer for the very first time. Additionally, the overall face of homebuyers is changing as a rising percentage of millennial buyers have entered the homebuying market and now comprise a greater segment of homeownership, closing in on Gen Xers.  

As the market is evolving, so are borrower expectations, necessitating a fresh look at consumer engagement and the resources that are available to help meet current needs.  In this environment, do not overlook how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) can contribute to the endeavor.  This is an opportune moment to gain a better understanding of what the CFPB communicates to homebuyers, as well as identify how using this educational guidance can help improve lender credibility within respective borrower communities.

Mortgage servicers, striving to embrace new and changing borrower profiles, can access extensive content, corresponding industry weblinks, and basic mortgage tools that are available on the CFPB website. This information can be incorporated directly or indirectly into borrower communications, added to borrower and servicer educational materials, integrated into servicing scripts, or made a part of borrower self-serve mechanisms. Concerned about directing your borrowers to the same site that houses the infamous CFPB complaint portal? Consider that it is better to have homeowners understand the role of the CFPB through a collaborative and educational lens, as opposed to having them reach out under duress.  

The Mortgages section of the CFPB website offers answers to a myriad of questions, from what is an escrow account, to what if I can’t pay my mortgage.  At a high level, the core areas designed to assist homeowners include:

  • Basics of a mortgage
  • Key mortgage terms
  • Common issues for borrowers
  • Understanding borrower interests
  • How-to guides

A variety of resources are available under these categories, many of which are extremely helpful for difficult to explain scenarios, such as forced-placed insurance, handling property damage, reverse mortgages, monthly payment calculations, removing private mortgage insurance, and not to be overlooked… pandemic relief options.  These topics correlate to inquiries that would normally come into a servicing call center, so servicers can actually save time and money when they leverage CFPB web content and resources.  

Considering a more open and direct link to the CFPB may necessitate a bit of a paradigm shift in your organizational approach to borrower engagement. However, as the mortgage industry grapples with the next phase of the pandemic, amidst a wave of technological innovation and an evolving homeowner profile, ensuring borrower retention is becoming even more difficult. 

At HomeBinder, we believe retaining client relationships under these circumstances is best realized by putting the homeowner in the driver’s seat.  This is not the customer-centric proposition of the past decade, but a genuine, proven “Client for Life” methodology that we have incorporated into our centralized management platform. HomeBinder creates valued relationships with the professionals that interact with homebuyers, from realtors to lenders to home inspectors to insurance providers.  We leverage this collaboration and education to deliver homeowners a valuable support system that extends throughout the homeownership lifecycle, not solely the life of the loan. 

Sound different? It is…. Connect with us today to find out more about this revolutionary approach to homeowner engagement and retention. Visit us at www.homebinder.com, or contact us directly at 800.377.6915.  HomeBinder ● Expected by Homeowners ● Driven by Lenders

Top 5 Predictions for Centralized Homeownership in 2021

As we exit 2020 (likely eagerly for most) and think about the coming year, we at HomeBinder are thinking about the ways that homeownership is evolving in centralized ways for both the benefit of the homeowner and the businesses that serve them.

The core theme of HomeBinder is CENTRALIZE as displayed front and center on our website.  Our belief is that centralizing home information, actions, and people brings improved ability for homeowners to manage (and ultimately sell) their home.  Further, it brings a greater connection between the homeowner and the businesses that support their ownership.

We are not alone in this effort.  Many tech enabled businesses are also rowing in this direction.  The reasons are twofold.  First, we have a generation of homebuyers and owners that expect things to be much simpler than they are today to get things done whether it is finding a plumber, getting insurance, refinancing a loan or replacing a product (e.g. air or water filter) in their home.  Centralizing information supports these efforts.  Second, the advancement of technology and connectivity (mobile tech, AI, payment systems, API availability, image processing) are allowing that to happen in ways that previously would have taken people an extensive amount of time.

Here are five ways in which we’ll see more of this centralization take place in 2021:

  1. Increased Home Device Adoption – Devices for the home (Google Home, Amazon Echo, Facebook Portal, Apple HomePod) have already been adopted by millions of homeowners and today people are getting devices bundled in with other items they may be purchasing for their home such as security systems.  Although there are concerns of data privacy, most homeowners are accepting the tradeoff of their concerns for the convenience of having something that is more and more connected to the lights, heating system, information, and shopping for their home.
  2. Home Insurance Evolution – There are a number of companies such as Young Alfred and Branch that are transforming the way people find and purchase home insurance by using cutting edge user experiences, selling direct, bundling, and data feeds.  A myriad of home IoT devices that are promoted by insurance carriers such as water shut-off devices bring unified protection.  And finally, conversations are happening about how the telematics for the car (Progressive Snapshot, Drive Safe and Save) can be brought in a similar way to the pricing of insurance policies for the home (though don’t expect this anytime in the next several years).
  3. Faster Home Loan Borrowing Experiences – The dominant player in the mortgage space, Quicken has elevated the bar in the last couple of years with RocketMortgage.  They have been able to put an extraordinary amount of technology into the loan application process making it seamless and ‘magical’ for the consumer.  The broader market is turning to companies like SimpleNexus and Blend to bring cutting edge mobile tech to the mortgage processing process.  This is achieved by centralizing loan data and documents in a way that benefits both the borrower and the loan officer creating less work and a faster close time.
  4. Home Management – There are more and more tools and services available to help manage a home.  In 2020 Setter was acquired by Thumbtack and companies such as Super or House Happy continue to advance the outsourcing of home management and centralizing information into a platform to help make ownership a bit easier.  HomeBinder is in this category as well, as we see the need for a common place for all home information, regardless of origin to get recorded for current and future use.  Bringing all aspects of ownership under a single hood gives value and peace of mind to homeowners and imprinting of businesses to homes and specific projects and maintenance that they may be associated.
  5. Improvements in Home Valuation Tools – Ever since Zillow launched its Zestimate® tool in 2006, it remains one of the more publicly known Automated Valuation Models (AVMs).  Despite national accuracy hovering around 8% (that’s off by $40K on $500K house) it continues to draw the attention of homeowners, sellers and buyers alike.  What is missing here is both more data and better “in-home” data as often comparable (“comp”) data tells only a piece of the value of a home.  Merging datasets are beginning to come together to better inform buyers, lenders, insurers, retailers, and marketers. 

We’ve seen a lot of these trends happen in other markets where information comes together to benefit consumers and businesses alike.  Automotive, healthcare, financial products, and commodities.  The residential housing market is definitely behind, but in terms of size is as formidable as all of the above given the sum total of residential housing in the US is north of $34 trillion dollars and so a lot is at stake.  Of course, it won’t all happen in 2021 as it is a big ship to turn, but the foundational elements are there to chart a course where all of homeownership is at your fingertips in a centralized way.

Thank you and Happy New Year!

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Jack Huntress
CEO and Founder, HomeBinder

The Pending Retention Challenge for Lenders

Lenders, here is a stat that I ran across that is so scary it’s hard to believe:

“In the midst of record-breaking refinance volume, retention woes persist for mortgage servicers, with the report showing just 18% of all refinancing borrowers being retained post-refinance…” – Black Knight’s July 2020 Mortgage Monitor

Read differently, 82% of homeowners will choose a new person to run their next financing. Wow.

At HomeBinder, we feel the best way to stay connected post-close is a centralized home management platform like HomeBinder. Lenders can give HomeBinder as a gift to clients, which allows them to stay connected when they go for their next financing. With our integrations and new Encompass partnerships, it’s easier than ever to create binders.

If interested in learning more book a demo with us.

Looking forward to connecting with you,

Alec

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