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Five Star Government Forum Brings Together Mortgage Industry, Government

NMSA's Patrick Coon hosts the GSE Update, featuring speakers from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Last week, President Biden announced the official end of the national emergency originally declared due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. This cleared the path for the winding down of many of the programs and policies that were put in place to deal with that crisis, and the lapsing of the national emergency now meant countless industries, from healthcare to our own mortgage industry, needed to huddle to determine the implications and impact of this change. In a fortuitous bit of timing, the very next day, a gathering of mortgage servicing executives and government officials gathered at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. for the thirteenth annual Government Forum – a long-running industry gathering designed to promote collaborative discussions on topics just like this one.

The 2023 Government Forum opened with a keynote presentation from Assistant Secretary for the Office of Housing and the Federal Housing Commissioner, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Julia Gordon, as she discussed FHA’s challenges and priorities for 2023. Also thereafter joining Five Star Chairman Emeritus Ed Delgado for a brief side-by-side Q&A session, Commissioner Gordon delved into topics including FHA’s recent milestone of helping approximately 2 million homeowners with FHA mortgages stay in their homes via forbearances, the reduction of annual mortgage insurance premiums for FHA mortgages, and FHA’s ongoing work to improve its technological infrastructure. (For an in-depth discussion with Commissioner Gordon, check out our cover profile in the debut April 2023 issue of MortgagePoint magazine.)

Following Commissioner Gordon’s keynote, the programming moved into a lineup of panels including topics such as The State of the Housing Market, a Government Policy & Housing Update, a GSE update, The Art of Government Loan Servicing, and a sprawling Economic Update featuring economists from Auction.com, CoreLogic, Fannie Mae, First American Financial Corporation, LendingTree, and Redfin.

Auction.com President Ali Haralson presents a charitable donation to Operation Homefront's Margi Kirst.

Other companies participating on the panels included Carrington Mortgage Services, Chase Home Lending, Churchill Mortgage, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Freddie Mac, Freedom Mortgage, Ginnie Mae, Ocwen Financial, Servbank, and U.S. Bank.

During lunch, Five Star and Auction.com collaborated for a special presentation recognizing Operation Homefront's housing programs that provide housing assistance to honorable veterans. During this segment, Auction.com President Ali Haralson presented Operation Homefront Chief Revenue Officer Margi Kirst with a check for $50,000.

When asked by MortgagePoint, Jake Williamson, SVP, Single-Family, Head of Collateral Risk Management for Fannie Mae, spotlighted some of the top takeaways he found most interesting from the day. “There was a lot of support for making the payment deferral option a permanent tool in the loss mitigation toolkit to help homeowners. Given the GSEs’ announcement in March on this option, this was a timely confirmation that this will help more homeowners stay in their homes.” Williamson also noted the industry’s focus on continuing affordability concerns that are hampering many homebuyers, as well as spotlighting how strong alignment between the GSEs and the agencies is aiding servicers in “scaling solutions and technologies more efficiently and effectively.”

State of the Housing Market panel featuring speakers from Chase Home Lending, Churchill Mortgage, Freedom Mortgage, and Ginnie Mae.

"Everyone has a unique view on the challenges we are facing in the current market environment, said John Vella, Chief Revenue Officer for Selene Finance. "The industry is working closer together than ever to provide universal solutions to help borrowers who face uncertain circumstances. Industry leaders are heavily investing in innovation that will provide operational efficiencies, improved borrower interaction, and streamlined workflow." Vella added that events such as the Government Forum "provide an open forum to discuss and identify best practices and the mortgage environment" and to "foster ideas and reinforce decision-making."

"We are in the midst of a truly unique market," said Patrick Coon, Servicing Executive and NMSA Executive Council member. "Rate sensitivity is limiting originations and there is no meaningful delinquency on the servicing side. Furthermore, we have no immediate expectation of a rate drop, while we do have the government soon to step in with other loss mitigation and deferral options targeted to keep delinquency as low as possible."

Two of the Forum’s economist speakers spotlighted the benefits of gaining insights into how the various entities making up the mortgage industry are weathering current challenges, as well as the networking and discussion opportunities afforded by the Forum.

Jacob Channel, Senior Economist for LendingTree, told MortgagePoint that he appreciated how the gathering reinforced that “even in the face all the difficulties facing today’s mortgage industry, its leaders all seem to have a good head on their shoulders. Everyone is realistic about what they can accomplish and how they’ll best be able to help today’s buyers, and while they recognize that not everything will be sunshine and rainbows, they also recognize that there’s no sense in panicking or acting like the sky is falling.”

“It was really helpful to understand some specific initiatives from FHFA and HUD on avoiding increases in foreclosures,” said Taylor Marr, Deputy Chief Economist for Redfin. “It is important to network and connect in person with similar leaders working on housing issues across the industry and government.”

Daren Blomquist of Auction moderates the Economic Update.

Many of the Government Forum attendees will next assemble at Five Star’s Legal League 100 Spring Servicer Summit, happening May 1-2 at The Westin Dallas Stonebriar Golf Resort & Spa. Open to all Legal League members, associate members, mortgage servicing professionals, and government representatives, the semi-annual Servicer Summits bring together financial services law firms to discuss default policies, procedures, and emerging issues with leading mortgage servicing executives. To register for the Summit, click here.

The Government Forum was sponsored by Host sponsor Auction.com; Co-Hosts Brookstone Management and Safeguard Properties; Corporate Sponsors Guardian Asset Management and Selene; and Supporting Sponsors National General Lender Services and SitusAMC.



About Author: David Wharton

David Wharton, Editor-in-Chief at the Five Star Institute, is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington, where he received his B.A. in English and minored in Journalism. Wharton has nearly 20 years' experience in journalism and previously worked at Thomson Reuters, a multinational mass media and information firm, as Associate Content Editor, focusing on producing media content related to tax and accounting principles and government rules and regulations for accounting professionals. Wharton has an extensive and diversified portfolio of freelance material, with published contributions in both online and print media publications. He can be reached at [email protected].

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