With the housing market heating up rapidly and inventory extremely low, every home is a battle-ground for buyers. Home sellers are getting offers on the first day that a for-sale sign goes up, so speed is of the essence in a market like this.
A mortgage company has to be flexible and fast to keep up with this type of market. Being able to turn a loan around quickly and get it funded is imperative in these times. With so many employees working remotely, this makes for organizational chaos in companies that don’t have clear chains of command and hierarchies. This is a time when a mortgage company will sink or swim.
Speed and efficiency are hallmarks going forward. It’s simply not acceptable to ask borrowers to repeatedly submit the same paperwork, or to slow down the process when everyone wants to buy a house and there are only so many available for purchase. This short market for homes makes every loan vital.
Homebuyers will flock to the mortgage companies that get loans done quickly. Real estate agents will recommend originators who get their clients into homes faster. Borrowers will give mortgage companies repeat business if their loans are handled quickly and efficiently, and they don’t lose out on their homes. That’s how mortgage companies are going to move forward: Fastest close wins.
Issues arise when employees start to transition back to the office. They may take time to adjust and productivity could suffer from a return to the office. Many workers actually seem to have become more productive at home without the daily commute to wear them down or the distractions of other workers. Should mortgage companies demand that their remote workers return?
An originator may be used to working on their own, making this a seamless transition for them. A processor, however, may need the extra push of having their boss in the room or down the hall to get things done.
Many employees also are pushing their work hours later. Will remote workers become accustomed to working on their own time and be unable to find their rhythm again? Mortgages are a fast-moving business and there isn’t a lot of time for employees to find their feet if you shove them back into the office.
Even if there is a large office lease being paid for, that should be weighed against the productivity increase of at-home workers. Training new employees in a remote-office setting should be considered. If there are not protocols set ahead of time, how will mortgage companies handle getting their new employees trained and get their equipment to them?
Videos and Zoom calls can only do so much. Sometimes you need to be in the room with someone to really see how they will function as your employee and for them to learn your processes. Training them remotely may not be feasible, so is it worth the risk to bring them back into your office and get them acclimated? There are real advantages to hands-on training, especially for veterans of other offices who may have been trained improperly at their former jobs or bring bad habits into your office.
Equipment is another consideration. Many companies may not be comfortable handing thousands of dollars in computers, printers and monitors to a new hire that they haven’t met.
What about child care? If kids are in the house, will they distract your at-home employees? Kids have been taking online classes and may continue that into this fall. Your remote employees may need to be teachers as well as employees and parents, and this may reduce your company’s productivity in the coming months. This is a pivotal time to be training and outfitting new employees because of a mass of new homebuyers entering the market.
The usual suspects are buying homes, but there also is an influx of city dwellers into rural areas. These borrowers are moving out of rental homes, where they are trapped with other people, to more open areas where they can stretch out. Additionally, at-home employees are moving farther out when they realize they can get more house for their money. All in all, it’s going to be a lot of work to get mortgages for every borrower this summer.
There may be more calls this year than usual for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan programs if more people move to outlying areas. With high-speed internet allowing for more communities to connect, there is less of a need to keep people cooped up in offices and more freedom for them to live in outlying areas. Being a provider of USDA and FHA programs will put a mortgage company ahead of the game.
Although this is purely speculative right now, there could be a major shift in how people buy homes. A seismic change like that could cause USDA rules to be rewritten if too many suburbs qualify. It also could become the norm for people leaving the city to look for these loans because of their obvious advantages.
First-time homebuyers also are going to make up a huge portion of this market. Experienced mortgage companies will have a sizable advantage with these buyers as they are used to how much help they need with their applications.
Having a clear application process with a mobile app that can be used to apply and upload documents is a must. Getting new applicants through your process quickly and properly, with all of the right paperwork turned in, is a process that can bog down even experienced homebuyers.
Having experience and technology will be vital going forward. First-time homebuyers will be grateful for the assistance in making the biggest purchase of their lives, while those refinancing or buying their next home will love the speedier, simpler service.
● ● ●
In this housing market, every advantage must be considered. Whether it’s building an app, hiring more employees or allowing the ones you have to work from the place they are the most comfortable, mortgage companies need to make sure they give themselves every possible leg up on the competition. ●