Residential Magazine

Clients Will Remember These Months

Lessons learned from the Great Recession will guide the mortgage industry through the current crisis

By Cory Swain

If you’re human, you’ve felt the stress of the worldwide effort to slow the coronavirus pandemic, such as the stay-at-home measures to reduce pressure on hospitals that also are placing strains on jobs and paychecks. At this point, it’s clear that the U.S. is likely in or headed toward a recession.
What the mortgage industry learned the hard way during the Great Recession is that financial markets are closely connected and because of that, major glitches can create a downward spiral. This time, however, it may be different.
This time, there is light and hope in the housing market. Right now, it is important for homeowners to get the help they need, so it is equally important for mortgage originators to continue to get the support they need from their company.

Top priority

Mortgage professionals across the country are facing a lot of uncertainty at the moment. They aren’t sure if they can lock interest rates. Forbearance is changing the lending landscape, credit scoring is in flux and, just like everything else in the world, there is a lot of unease. A mortgage company needs to be a steady, supportive and resilient force for its producers.
A company can offer that through a strong operations system. As the economy shut down and stay-at-home orders were simultaneously paired with low interest rates, being able to handle the wave of refinances became paramount to business.
Priority one is — and should always be — to make sure your teams are safe and healthy. This means that you need systems in place to be nimble and allow as much of your staff as possible to work from home while still getting the job done, so that operations continue without a blip. Being well-staffed with talented individuals in underwriting, processing and closing helps business keep moving smoothly, even during a global disaster such as the coronavirus outbreak.
You should couple that with a technology stack that allows underwriters to analyze income and credit prior to contract. Loan officers should be able to get their clients through underwriting quickly, creating a recipe for success even in the most difficult times.
Mortgage companies also need to know how to navigate the market with credit scores and underwriting overlays to get government loans sold. On the conventional side, being able to service virtually everything continues to be important, as is a constant flow of information to originators for answering their clients’ questions about this volatile market.
Following this process will lead to increased business on a weekly basis. It’s also important for originators to stay in front of their clients. They can do this with technology, enabling them to maintain the distance needed for good health while providing communication through social media, email and text. These steps will support loan officers during these trying times and they also work well in a normal economy.

Laying groundwork

What originators are doing now could matter a lot in only a few months. Hypothetically, let’s say that in July and August of this year, the threat of COVID-19 subsides and more purchase business begins to trickle in.
This means that even if the U.S. is dealing with a full-blown recession now, it’s important for originators to stay in front of their clients. Loan officers and mortgage brokers need to lay the groundwork today with clients by:
  • Illustrating how the technology they have access to can help to streamline the loan process
  • Highlighting the strength of the financial institution that is backing them
  • Being at the forefront with mortgage education and branding
All of this matters in normal times, but especially now, as you’re preparing for a time when consumers start to emerge on the other side of the pandemic. Are they going to remember you?
The fact is, the mortgage industry and the nation as a whole will come out on the other side. Housing was a beacon of strength before the coronavirus hit our shores and it will be a beacon during the recovery. Inventory is still low, although rates and pricing are combining to make it more affordable than ever to buy a home.
Mortgage companies need to support their originators right now by coaching them on how to succeed, educating them on the changes taking place in the market, and guiding them as society and the economy try to eventually climb out of this crisis. This will ensure success for originators as well as for our economy. Let’s get through this together. See you on the other side.


  • Cory Swain

    Cory Swain is a managing partner of Premier Mortgage Resources LLC, NMLS No. 1169. Swain has been in the mortgage industry for 36 years. He joined PMR in 2015. Since then, PMR has expanded into a large part of the western U.S. PMR now has 31 licensed locations west of the Mississippi River and is staffed by more than 120 loan officers. The company has branches across eight states (Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Minnesota, Hawaii and Missouri). Swain currently resides with his wife and children in their hometown of Boise, Idaho.

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