Here we go again… After a period of moderation, lumber prices have nearly tripled in the past four months, adding nearly $19,000 on to the price of a stick-built house. It’s one thing for politicians to cry out for more affordable housing, it is another to actually see it happen. And lenders and real estate agents know that lumber is just part of the equation, and I receive plenty of emails regarding the cost of land, labor, permits, appliances… And now with interest rates having ratcheted higher, affordability becomes even more of a problem. Not only that, but often Mother Nature takes swaths of them away through natural disasters. For example, in the last few weeks we were reminded that Colorado wildfire risk isn’t limited to forests and mountains. The Boulder County fires just proved what research has shown, and nearly 3 million Coloradans live in fire prone areas. Is there some good news out there? Yes, there is, and let’s delve in.
In 3-5 sentences, describe your company (when was it founded and why, what it does, where, recent growth and plans for near-term future growth).
At Homespire Mortgage we live for those high-five moments when we’ve helped our homebuyers responsibly and affordably finance their dream of homeownership. Fusing innovative mortgage and marketing technology with the power of the human spirit, we’ve created a mortgage experience that borrowers trust, Realtors® recommend, and employees take pride in. Homespire proudly operates across 42 states and with $3 billion in sales in 2021, 14 new branches, 2 additional regions, plus a host of top-tier talent from across the country, we’re just getting started!
Tell us about what type of volunteer work employees are encouraged to engage in, or charities your company supports, and why.
One home, one neighborhood, one community at a time. Homespire’s “Inspired to Impact” company-wide initiative creates meaningful change in the neighborhoods where we live and work. Every employee receives one full day of “Impact Hours”: paid volunteer time to support the causes they’re most passionate about. Additionally, Homespire provides charitable contributions and support to several important causes and organizations throughout the year. In 2021, this included collecting over 7,500 pounds of food through the Homespire CAN food drive and becoming a Mission Partner with Homes For Our Troops to help build and donate specially-adapted custom homes for severely injured post-9/11 Veterans. Other charitable contributions have included: MBA Opens Doors Foundation, Feeding America, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Children’s National Hospital, Our Minds Matter, The Children’s Inn at NIH, The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and the Maryland Food Bank.
Tell us how your company maintains its culture in a work-from-home environment.
Creating a seriously fun company culture goes well beyond virtual happy hours on Zoom! At a time when most companies and employees feel distant and detached, we’ve drawn closer together with culture-building initiatives that boost employee engagement and moral. Homespire employees celebrate each other by giving and receiving ‘High5s’ – a virtual currency that is redeemable for Homespire merchandise and gift cards. Employees also receive birthday e-gift cards, anniversary e-gift cards, team purple apparel and other special deliveries at their doorstep year around. Our ‘Purple Nation’ company-wide meetings are jam packed with laughter and entertainment. From hot wings challenges to blindfold challenges our President and Chief Operations Officers share company news and keep us at the edge of our seats! It’s must-see TV! And there’s so much more: bonus dinners, Grubhub credits, monthly prizes, and giveaways for employees…. We don’t miss an opportunity to let our employees know just how much they are valued and appreciated.
Things you are most proud of that don’t have to do with sales.
Our winning culture at Homespire! It’s not bragging if you can back it up! In the past 4 years alone, we’ve brought home a few awesome workplace awards that say everything about who we are. Winner of the “Best Mortgage Companies to Work for” by National Mortgage News in 2019, 2020 and 2021 and Top Workplaces in the USA 2021 we’ve created a culture at Homespire Mortgage that’s far from corporate. We’re family, and our achievements are a testament to our greatest strength of all, our people. We stick together and take care of one another and we work across boundaries to help our company win. That’s the Homespire way!
(For more information on having the charitable, employee improvement-centric side of your firm featured, contact Chrisman LLC’s Anjelica Nixt.)
2022 and beyond: age matters
In sports, a lot of success is built on doing the basics incredibly well… but they’re still the basics: running, blocking, tackling, seeing the ball, knowing your opponent, being consistent. In lending it is the same thing, and whether it is 1995, 2015, or 2022, as this write up reminds us on a yearly basis, minding the basics could mean the difference between success and failure.
Certainly part of future success is laying the groundwork through hiring. I was speaking with a fellow, under the age of 30, in a junior management role at a residential lender. I asked him about attending his state or a national conference. He quickly replied, “Why the heck would I want to stand around with a bunch of 45-65-year-old white guys for a couple days?” There are plenty of reasons, which I mentioned to him… I am merely repeating what he told me. I suggest, however, that he’s not alone in thinking that, and I think conference organizers are taking note as well as personnel departments at lenders and vendors.
From Fannie Mae, Justin H writes, “I don’t think the issue is as clear cut as ‘Why would I hang around a bunch of old white guys for a few days?’. From my own perspective [as a 20-something year old Asian] and from talking with many others my age in the industry, I’d say it’s really an issue of the old boys club. It feels extremely difficult to break into because we find it hard to relate to much older folks. They’re leaders of their industry and they’ve known each other for years if not decades. Us new guys are just that, the new guys. It’s like going to a party where you don’t know anyone. It’s not as fun if everyone is chatting amongst themselves since they already know each other and you’re off to the side wondering who to talk to. It also doesn’t help that everywhere we turn our age is immediately brought up. ‘Oh! You remind me of my son in college!’ LOL.
“The issue of race doesn’t play in too much as I haven’t seen any evidence of widespread bias/racism. It’s more that it gets really tiring when we look around and notice that everyone in a position of power rarely looks like us. After a while, it becomes demoralizing.” Thank you, Justin!
Lenders aren’t the only ones engaging in M&A, rolling out new products, and helping consumers. Wreaking havoc with spellcheck software aside, third party vendors are continually out there trying to make the loan process faster, cheaper, and more compliant. Let’s play some catch up after the holidays and take a random sample of recent vendor news.
OptifiNow announced its new custom integration with LoanScorecard for Non-QM Wholesale Lenders. Oaktree Funding, a wholesale mortgage lender in Upland, California, is the first client to use the integration. Oaktree selected OptifiNow and LoanScorecard to build a custom process that allows call center sales agents to rapidly respond to inbound phone calls with loan scenario quotes. OptifiNow integrated its Support on Demand customer service module with LoanScorecard’s automated loan decision engine, making it easy for users to quickly enter a scenario and receive a product and pricing decision in the CRM. Product and pricing are emailed to the mortgage broker while speaking with the sales agent on the phone.
Mortgage Coach has formally integrated with ICE Mortgage Technology™, becoming the debut “borrower conversion” solution available through the ICE Mortgage Technology Marketplace. Mortgage Coach has leveraged Encompass® Developer Connect™ APIs (application programming interfaces) so lenders can deliver information-rich Total Cost Analysis (TCA) loan comparison data to borrowers automatically and easily. Lenders can instantly generate Mortgage Coach’s interactive home loan comparison presentations for every loan record managed in Encompass via a secure, single sign-on user experience.
Maxwell, the fintech mortgage solutions platform for small to midsize lenders, launched Processor Edge, new technology that will boost processors capacity and efficiency and help lenders offset rising loan costs and margin compression. Unlike other basic technologies, Processor Edge is an integrated workflow and full application custom-designed for Processors, who sit at the heart of the fulfillment process. Founded in 2015, Maxwell wants to modernize the mortgage industry to make it faster and cheaper for lenders and their borrowers. Co-Founder and CEO John Paasonen believes inefficiencies are holding the mortgage industry back at a time when lenders need speed, accuracy, and capacity more than ever.
Sales Boomerang added “Previous Alerts” to facilitate better-informed conversations between mortgage advisors and prospects. This new feature that lets lenders view a history of Sales Boomerang alerts that have previously triggered for each contact in their monitored database and alerts loan originators when a borrower or prospect is ready for a loan. With numerous customer relationship management (CRM) integrations, most mortgage advisors will also be able to access any notes taken regarding borrower outreach at the time of previous alerts, as each Sales Boomerang alert is an opportunity to reach out and prevent the borrower from continuing to shop for a mortgage.
OpenClose® announced the launch of its native mobile app platform, Mobile Assist™, adding features and functionality to make originators more successful with a real-time omnichannel device platform that helps originators deliver superior service and guidance to their borrowers and referral partners in a secure, seamless, and collaborative experience. OpenClose’s Mobile Assist allows originators to generate product and pricing scenarios, run AUS, lock loans, view conditions, receive real-time notifications, communicate easily, and have greater visibility into all aspects of the loan manufacturing process.
When it comes to D.C. and its impact on housing and housing finance, there’s a lot of players involved. SitusAMC’s free Interactive Map provides a comprehensive deep dive into the 17 key D.C. housing influencers you need to know about agencies, policy makers, executive branch administrators and oversight organizations. In SitusAMC’s map you learn about their leadership, purpose, focus, concerns, allies and how they influence the housing and housing finance agenda.
And the SitusAMC third-quarter 2021 edition of SitusAMC’s ValTrends Report, “A Tale of Two Segments” provides an in-depth analysis and forecasts, the 28-page report offers SitusAMC’s proprietary insights into the economy, financial markets, capital markets, and commercial property types to support better real estate decision making. Download your free copy.
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HomeBinder announced a new integration with Thumbtack, expanding more than 23,000 recommended home service professionals already listed in HomeBinder. Before gifting it to a client, home inspectors, mortgage lenders and Realtors can populate the ‘Home Service Provider’ tab with a personalized list of recommended home service professionals. Once a homeowner is ready to start a project, Thumbtack matches them to skilled local professionals with the right expertise, availability and pricing. Together, homeowners on HomeBinder can instantly book top-rated professionals on Thumbtack from television mounters to house cleaners and local movers. The Thumbtack integration is available in the United States to all HomeBinder customers. Find out more information regarding enabling the integration.
Land Home Financial Services, Inc. entered into a ten-year partnership with Sagent, a fintech company modernizing mortgage and consumer loan servicing. Land Home will power its entire servicing consumer and enterprise experience across performing and non-performing loans using Sagent’s consumer-first, enterprise-grade servicing platforms including LoanServ (system of record), Tempo (loss mitigation and default management), and CARE (consumer experience). This technology trio empowers Land Home to offer a bank-on-your-phone experience to consumers so they can manage their entire homeownership lifecycle anytime, from any device.
Transitioning into the digital age of mortgage loan origination can be challenging. When your motto is “relationships matter,” how do you preserve this core value while embracing new technologies? Diamond Residential Mortgage forged a way with a digital channel built my Matt Eskew, that optimized the borrowers’ experience from their first click too post-close
offered to the DRMC branches. Marketing niche programs and focusing on solutions-based digital marketing, DRMC uses targeted digital marketing methods to reach users looking for specific products and/or solutions and connect them directly to a local, fully licensed loan officer.
Employment and income information can make or break someone’s ability to buy a home, a car or get a credit card. Largely caused by legacy verification providers, such as Equifax, operating as closed databases, consumers are unable to see their own details leaving them in the dark when applying for a loan until now. To improve the consumer verification experience, an industry coalition of high-profile start-ups are forming “The Payroll Network,” that will empower millions of consumers with full control over their professional data. Founding members include Truework, a one-stop income verification platform, as well as two major payroll service providers. By bringing together popular payroll platforms, this new network will allow payroll providers to extend data consent controls to the millions of employees within their ecosystems, shedding light on a “black box” process giving consumers more insight into how their income data is used.
ICE Mortgage TechnologyTM announced that MERSCORP Holdings is expanding its capabilities to now include industry-wide, secure storage of Remote Online Notarization (RON) videos for lenders, investors, and servicers. The MERS RON video storage solution will provide a secure way to store, provide access to, and retrieve copies of RON video recordings for notaries, RON platform providers, and authorized parties during post-closing review, loan purchase as well as downstream events such as foreclosure. More information is available in the ICE Mortgage Technology announcement.
If you can’t think of a word, say, “I forgot the English word for it.” That way people will think you’re bilingual instead of an idiot.
Visit www.robchrisman.com for more information on our industry partners, access archived commentaries, or to subscribe to the Daily Mortgage News and Commentary. If you’re interested, visit my periodic blog at the STRATMOR Group web site. The current blog is, “The Personal Touch” about MLO compensation and motivation. The Commentary’s podcast is live and at any place you obtain your podcasts (like Apple or Spotify).
(Market data provided in partnership with MBS Live. For free job postings and to view candidate resumes visit LenderNews. This newsletter is for sophisticated mortgage professionals only. There are no paid endorsements by me. For up-to-date mortgage news visit Mortgage News Daily. For archived commentaries, or to subscribe, go to www.robchrisman.com. Copyright 2022 Chrisman LLC. All rights reserved. Occasional paid job & product listings do appear. This report or any portion hereof may not be reprinted, sold, or redistributed without the written consent of Rob Chrisman.)