What’s Inside This Guide
- What You Need to Know About COVID-19
- COVID-19 Resources for Your Business
- How Your Business May be Impacted
- 5 Ways to Invest in Your Business Right Now
- Transitioning Your Team Back to the Office
- Resources & Tips to Help Your Clients
What You Need to Know About COVID-19
With recent changes in government regulations, lending variances, federal and state economic slowdowns, and stricter borrower requirements, navigating these developments can leave mortgage professionals overwhelmed and frustrated. Understanding what’s important right now — for your business, employees, clients and referral partners — is increasingly more important as we adjust to the new business climate.
In order to best serve your clients, both in the short and long-term, staying informed and knowledgeable of industry changes and how they will affect the market and, in turn, your business is the most beneficial tool to equip yourself with. Outlined in this guide are the questions you should ask and the suggested solutions and resources to support your business.
What are the government and agency policies that are affecting homebuyers?
Nothing is more top of mind right now than forbearance. While it was once a standardized loss mitigation tool with similar repercussions under all servicers, the current economic stress caused by COVID-19 and the subsequent CARES Act rollout has caused an influx of forbearance requests. The Association of Independent Mortgage Experts (AIME) has compiled an overview of forbearance information with details of available repayment methods for homeowners in need.
Ninety percent of all U.S. mortgages are federally insured through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae. How are these three agencies navigating the new forbearance policies?
Ginnie Mae (GNMA) backs all FHA, VA, and USDA mortgages. In early April and as a response to the CARES Act, Ginnie Mae implemented a Pass-Through Assistance Program (PTAP) to assist servicers with loans in forbearance and guarantee that the MBS holders will continue to receive timely payments.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued forbearance guidelines for borrowers with an FHA loan. This includes the COVID-19 National Emergency Partial Claim as an option for FHA borrowers at the end of a forbearance period.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has implemented policies to assist servicers with liquidity and provided guidelines for servicers to follow when providing repayment options to borrowers. The agency has also partnered with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to form the Borrower Protection Program to ensure accurate and fair credit reporting for borrowers who go into a forbearance plan.
COVID-19 Business Resources
The federal and state governments have provided extensive resources for small businesses to leverage during the economic downturn. Below are the largest federal programs to assist small businesses, but be sure to look into the programs that your state and local governments are offering as well.
Small Business Administration Loans
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has two loan programs for business owners, the Economic Impact Disaster Loans (EIDL) and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
Tax Relief Options
The CARES Act also provided numerous tax relief options including up to $5,000 payroll tax credits per employee. You should discuss these with your CPA or payroll provider to see if any are a fit for your business.
The CARES Act has multiple provisions for consumers to access capital including early withdrawals from a 401K without the early withdrawal penalty.
AIME is keeping track of the major government changes related to GSE policies and legislation that will affect the housing industry and borrowers. Stay updated on what is happening and how it boils down to the consumers to better serve your clients.
Additional resources to follow for market updates and easily digestible industry information:
- MBS Highway
- Receive daily information on the secondary market and changes that will affect it.
- Mortgage Currency
- This is an industry newsletter exclusive to paid subscribers, however the information is explained in digestible terms and keeps track of rule changes and important industry regulatory changes
- Inside Mortgage Finance
- Offers a free newsletter that has top line MBS news and a paid newsletter that goes deeper into the secondary market.
How Your Business May be Impacted
The mortgage industry saw unprecedented interest rate drops in the early months of 2020 leading to a refinance boom. It was also followed by an unprecedented flatline in the secondary market as rates dropped again and lenders were faced with margin calls and hedge costs which caused rates to rise.
The excitement in Q1 was followed by an even more volatile Q2 as the housing industry ground to a halt and had to quickly establish contactless protocols for homebuyers and closings. Here are some resources that will help you navigate the new climate for your business operations.
Lender and Mortgage Market Changes
In a market that is experiencing more reactionary volatility than normal, it is crucial to partner with lenders that are leading by example. It is also important to stay connected to the broker community. Here are ways to stay connected:
- Join the Brokers Are Better Facebook Group to pose loan scenario questions and get fast feedback from fellow independent brokers.
- Tune into the AIME Weekly Sales Meeting for timely lender updates and insights on loan products
- Email email@example.com to get connected to any of AIME’s lender partners.
Furloughed/Laid Off Employees
People are facing unprecedented job losses and the market is flooded with talent. Now is the time to recruit that loan originator assistant (LOA) you have needed but haven’t invested the time to hire and train.
- AIME members have shared their staff training materials and even recorded training materials for hiring internal processors and LOAs, all in the Brokers Are Better Facebook group in the documents section.
- Hear from AIME member Jackie Dunlap who discusses with Katie Sweeney the steps to effectively train processors and keep expanding your business during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Don’t know where to start? Reach out and we can help guide you to the right resource. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
5 Ways to Invest in Your Business Right Now
With many things changing in the industry right now, there is no better time than the present to sharpen your skills, enhance your business model and increase efficiency. Here are a couple ways you can maximize and equip your business with new tools to build efficiencies.
- Update Your Website
If your website could use a refresher, is missing key compliance elements or doesn’t offer sufficient calls-to-action to convert visitors to leads, leadPops can provide website design to maximize lead generation and ROI. This service can also support additional marketing services like Facebook ads, Google ads, retargeting campaigns and more.
- Update or Institute a CRM
A customer relationship management platform keeps you in front of your customers. If you’re in need of a CRM, check out LionDesk which is widely known for its ease of use and its innovative features including video emailing, texting and an AI-lead nurturing system.
- Enhance Your Online Reputation
Are you effectively receiving reviews from your clients through Google My Business and your Facebook Business Page? Oggvo helps brokers by creating a simple review funnel that is designed to help you manage your online reviews by automating, guiding, and reminding your clients to leave online reviews.
- Continuing Education
It’s never too soon to maintain your continued education (CE) for yourself and your team. Knowledge Coop is an entertaining and engaging CE platform to help you meet your annual CE requirements. Sign up for a free account today and pay as you go for only the credits that you need.
- Optimize Digital Tools
Leverage tools like BombBomb, Zoom and FaceTime to have face-to-face interactions. As social distancing continues having remote video conversations with-out the shield of a facemask will set you apart from the faceless caller offering a refinance opportunity.
Transitioning Your Team Back to the Office
We all faced the challenge of transitioning from our offices to our homes but what will it be like in reverse? Your city or county might be opening back up but it is important to keep in mind that many other factors may still limit offices from resuming normal function.
Here are a few best practices that can guide your transition back to the office:
- Manage Expectations (and Reservations)
People may be uncomfortable and have reservations about traveling to or working in your office. If you have a client, referral partner or employee that is not comfortable in the new environment, be as compassionate as possible and make accommodations where you are able to. Providing face masks, gloves and sanitizer is a simple way to ease concerns.
- Consider Staggering Support Staff
Many businesses are seeing the benefits of their teams working from home, so you may want to continue this or provide flexible options for your team. When bringing back employees to your office, be mindful of the limited capacity numbers that may be in place for your state or county. If you have a large staff, you may want to stagger teams to work from the office on alternating days to limit the number of people in the office at one time.
- Review Transportation Options
Does your team travel into work using public transportation? Are there enough parking spots available if your team and partners wish to drive individually? Consider the parking options in your area and communicate these options to your team prior to re-opening your office for normal business.
- Provide Clear Communication
It is crucial to provide clear communication when re-opening your office for business – to your employees and clients. For employees, make sure you’re providing the new expectations for workdays/hours, new health procedures and any additional building requirements (if you’re in a shared office space). For clients, send a timely email to announce your in-person availability and let them know if you’re also still supporting virtually for those who may prefer to socially distance themselves.
Health & Safety Tips from the CDC
It is likely each state will release its own unique guidelines prior to allowing non-essential businesses to re-open. Be sure to check with your state and local governing body to review the necessary precautions your business should take and insight for when your business can re-open in accordance with state and county requirements.
- OSHA guidelines for employers
- Workplace decision tool
- Cleaning and disinfection guidelines
- Small business owner preparedness guide
- Resources from the Center for Disease Control
Partial Work From Home or Continuing Remote Work
Depending on your local area’s regulation it is unlikely that summer camps and normal childcare will be fully functioning. Be flexible with your team and their ability to resume business as usual as there may still be large hurdles to contend with.
You may want to consider partial work from home schedules for some members of your team to help them maintain their childcare or family needs. Some businesses have moved to an optional or partial work from home plan if they’ve seen minimal disruption to their day-to-day with virtual operation.
Resources & Tips to Help Your Clients
Mortgage professionals are uniquely positioned to offer guidance during this pandemic and throughout the post-pandemic recovery as many homeowners or homebuyers are now concerned about home values and the best mortgage loan options for future purchases.
Inform & Educate
- Provide your clients with the information they need to navigate any financial hardships and plan for their futures.
- AIME discussed the top ways to Maintain Your Credit Health In Uncertain Times with credit expert Sam Parker.
- A client and referral partner retention tool like Homebot delivers monthly insights on home values and refinance options so past clients aren’t at the mercy of a google search.
- Buying a home for the first time is daunting but Digs has made it a little easier. The mobile app is user friendly and has goal-focused tracking that keeps the client connected and motivated.
- Another personal financial management tool, FinLocker offers clients a one-stop platform to upload financial data and streamline the mortgage process.
Support Your Community
In an industry that is still strong and forecasted to remain strong, independent mortgage brokers can all do their parts by giving back. Show support to your local community where you can and reach out to referral partners if you haven’t spoken to them recently to see how you can help.
Support Real Estate Partners Virtually
As real estate agents are marketing virtual home tours, this is the time to leverage your digital tools and market a contactless mortgage process that is still personable and in the client’s best interest.
Client and referral partner communication during difficult periods in the market can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be! Here are two sample email templates to get you started.
- To former clients:
I hope you and your family are faring well in this pandemic and that you are all safe and in good health. With so much in the news about mortgages and forbearance, I wanted to check-in to see if you have any questions.
If you have any questions regarding your home mortgage or refinancing options, please don’t hesitate to respond to this email or give me a call at [PHONE NUMBER].
[YOUR NAME, NMLS#, CONTACT INFO, BROKERAGE INFO]
- To leads/prospective clients:
As you navigate through the new reality of virtual home buying and social distancing, I wanted to reach out to let you know that [BROKERAGE NAME] is working to make the process as easy and remote as possible. If you have any questions about your options or how any financial changes may affect your qualification for purchasing a home, I’m happy to hop on a call to discuss.
My goal is to assist you so you can make the best decision for you and your family. Please don’t hesitate to reach out anytime.
[YOUR NAME, NMLS#, CONTACT INFO, BROKERAGE INFO]
- To referral partners:
I hope you and your family are faring well in this pandemic and that you are all safe and in good health. As our state starts to implement strategies for reopening businesses I wanted to assure you that [BROKERAGE NAME] is operating using remote closing tools for contactless closings. Our lending partners are continuing to close loans on or ahead of schedule to keep your clients competitive with their offers.
If there is anything I can do to help you now or in the future please don’t hesitate to reach out anytime.
[YOUR NAME, NMLS#, CONTACT INFO, BROKERAGE INFO]