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Servicers Pivot to Keep Borrowers at the Forefront

The latest in the DSNews Webinar Series, “How to Master Your Top 5 Mortgage Servicing Priorities This Summer,” sponsored by Sagent, focused on the role fintech plays in the mortgage servicing sector.

Moderated by David Vida, EVP, Enterprise Sales Leader for Computershare Loan Services, panelists for the webinar sharing their insight included Dan Sogorka, President and CEO of Sagent Lending Technologies, and Jeff Johnson, COO, Computershare Loan Services.

As EVP, Enterprise Sales Leader for Computershare Loan Services, Vida is responsible for leading Computershare’s growth across all its business lines. Vida has been with the company for more than three years, and previously led client management and business development for the servicing division. Vida brings 30+ of mortgage banking, technology, leadership, and financial management experience. Before joining CLS, he served as President of LenderLive Network, LLC. Additionally, he founded Acqura Loan Services, and has held senior executive positions at H&R Block/Option One Mortgage, Master Financial, and City Mortgage Services.

Sogorka, President and CEO of Sagent, was CEO of Cloudvirga, a POS that brought a bank-on-your-phone experience to the mortgage origination space. With Sagent, he is responsible for leading the firm’s consumer-first servicing modernization vision. Prior to his time with Cloudvirga, Sogorka led a $1B division of Black Knight. He has 20+ years of experience leading mortgage technology companies.

As COO of Computershare Loan Services, Johnson oversees the day-to-day operations of the business. Johnson served as President of Specialized Loan Servicing (SLS) for five years, and prior to joining SLS, he served as the President of Seterus Loan Services, a specialty loan servicing company. In addition, Johnson has gained extensive operational experience in the mortgage industry through executive assignments with both JPM Chase and Wells Fargo.

After a brief intro to the speakers, the webinar outlined five areas currently of concern for the servicing sector:

  • Best practices for late-stage CARES compliance and borrower care;
  • How to modernize your servicing tech stack and optimize your teams while also dealing with rapidly changing markets, regs, and consumer expectations;
  • What is your non-performing playbook as the clock ticks down on long-term forbearances;
  • How to raise retention rates on performing loans, especially keeping customers as they buy new homes in this hot housing market; and
  • What should a complete and modern performing, non-performing, and consumer platform look like by this time next year?

The number of forbearances nationwide continue to drop weekly, as the latest estimates from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) finds that approximately 1.74 million U.S. homeowners are currently in forbearance plans. The servicing industry has worked in conjunction with regulators to keep Americans in their homes as they navigate these new times in the pandemic era. The industry has constantly adapted and pivoted when necessary, adjusting to regulations when passed. Part of that process is sharing this info with consumers and keeping them abreast of their options.

“Approximately 82% of the remaining forbearances, around 915,000, have been extended beyond 12 months,” said Sogorka. “This is a little concerning, as folks have lost their ‘muscle memory’ in terms of making this payment.”

Getting consumers back on track and exiting their plans has become a primary concern of servicers. And while some have taken advantage of the forbearance option, many have requested a forbearance plan, yet maintained regular mortgage payments throughout.

“In our book of business, one of the things that has impressed me is that the largest percentage of people who have exited forbearance plans up to this point have maintained a current status through the forbearance and then have exited as current,” noted Johnson. “That’s a phenomenal thing to occur compared to how we thought this thing was going to play out.”

While many have remained current on their payments, a percentage have not made payments in over a year which is cause for alarm amongst servicers.

“If you haven’t made a payment in over a year, your mortgage likely is not the only thing impacting your life,” said Johnson. “This is a population that we are concerned about and are being very intense as far as making sure we are creating multiple avenues to engage with these consumers and making them understand the options presented to them. This group of people may be a difficult group to help land because it’s been so long since they made a mortgage payment.”

This is where understanding consumer needs and utilizing technology comes into play. Understanding consumer needs starts with servicers being able to understand and offer government-mandated options to the homebuyers of America. The panel cited 10 major policy changes impacting their customers in the first six months of June alone.

“How do we enable clean loss mitigation and loan modification tools to make things simple for the consumer so that they can minimize the amount of times they have to call in to a call center,” said Sogorka. “Coming out of this, your quality mortgage servicers have become more nimble and that’s going to stay. That is one of the positive outcomes of this ‘COVID economy,’ that ability to engage with the customers.”

Overall, the industry has evolved together to support customers, and despite the negatives brought about by the pandemic, the technology and tools that have emerged will only support servicers and consumers moving forward.

“Now, the heavy lifting that will occur will require all to be very dialed into their foreclosure checklist,” said Johnson. “You are going to have to be dialed in on your documentation and have to easily demonstrate to regulators that you have been thoughtful in every activity you have taken prior to advancing to the foreclosure process.”

About Author: Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck has 20-plus years’ experience covering the mortgage industry, he most recently served as Editor-in-Chief for The Mortgage Press and National Mortgage Professional Magazine. Peck graduated from the New York Institute of Technology where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts/Media. After graduating, he began his professional career with Videography Magazine before landing in the mortgage space. Peck has edited three published books and has served as Copy Editor for Entrepreneur.com.
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