DS News

DS News December 2020

DSNews delivers stories, ideas, links, companies, people, events, and videos impacting the mortgage default servicing industry.

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Page 49 of 100

48 customers, and the mortgage servicing rights (MSR) owners." Caruso and several other high- level executives say their companies had implemented, or at least were on track, for a more-digitized enterprise. When COVID-19 arrived, it forced them to swiftly transform large in-office staff to remote workforces and fast-track new rules and technologies. "e pandemic impacted my team and me dramatically," Caruso said. "I had been hearing about the virus and the warnings, but I didn't think it would get serious enough to close significant parts of the country and major sectors of the economy." He says he initially was nervous about closing the office and shifting employees to work from home; however, the result exceeded his expectations. "Our technology, being new and cloud- based, has worked exceptionally well, and our employees have been outstanding. We have been able to excel as a company in every facet of our work. Our focus quickly shifted to hiring and training new employees to support our rapid growth and still maintain the same culture that has helped with our success." Courtney ompson, SVP Default Mortgage at Flagstar, says her bank had decided to push all available roles to remote work before the declaration of the national emergency. at move proved pivotal as the country commenced to close. Prior to Friday, March 13 ("Go figure," ompson quipped), Flagstar had undergone a full-scale initiative "to bring default servicing to our homes," she said. In other words, Flagstar went remote in advance of the forbearance wave that hit in the following weeks. "Default is a human business," she said. She says she felt fortunate that "our humans on the inside of our operation were home safe and positioned to help our humans on the outside, our consumers." Tim Rood, Head of Industry Relations at SitusAMC, says he had to "lean into data and analytics-driven processes like never before." "Five-year strategic plans were collapsed into rapid development plans across entire enterprises to deal with a confluence of market events—record-low interest rates driving record-high loan production, social distancing impacting loan origination, processing, closing, and the need to have whole companies working remotely." ose at the helm of major servicing businesses compared the pandemic's effects to those of other environmental calamities. "When the forbearance wave hit in mid-March," ompson said, "it can only be likened to a large-scale-natural disaster in every state, county, city across the country." Michael Keaton, Chief Servicing Officer at Shellpoint Mortgage Servicing, echoed that. "e challenges related to COVID-19 are similar to those servicers faced with floods, hurricanes, fires, and the like. However, the key difference is instead of a regional event impacting a segment of your loan population, COVID-19 impacted homeowners all over the country." ompson says her role shifted, immediately, "to the trenches, to ensure that we could keep up with the consumers, the quickly issued changes in the law, the need to recruit and train a new workforce, and beginning, early, to plan for what was to come." SHIFTS IN BORROWING BEHAVIOR While the country collectively dealt with rising turmoil, pundits saw some striking trends. "First, people were expecting the market to crater," said Ralph Defranco, Chief Economist at Arch MI, "And it did, sort of, at first it did, and everyone was watching the news every day, but now, it's come back stronger than ever." He believes there are two major contributing factors, including record-low interest rates, thanks to the Federal Reserve, he says. e other is the fact that the home has never been more critical than it is now. "People have recognized the need for more space, more comfort, and they're out there looking for a different housing situation." CEO Terry Smith of Rushmore Loan "Default is a human business. Our humans on the inside of our operation were home safe and positioned to help our humans on the outside, our consumers." —Courtney Thompson, SVP, Default Mortgage Servicing, Flagstar Bank Cover Story By: Christina Hughes Babb

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