MReport May 2021

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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M R EP O RT | 37 O R I G I NAT I O N S E R V I C I N G DATA G O V E R N M E N T S E C O N DA R Y M A R K E T THE LATEST ORIGINATION Independent Mortgage Banks Bask in Housing Boom All-time low rates drove the housing market to new highs in 2020, as independent mortgage banks saw record profits of $4,200-plus per loan. T he Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) has reported that indepen- dent mortgage banks (IMBs) and mortgage subsidiar- ies of chartered banks made an average profit of $4,202 on each loan originated in 2020, a $1,470 increase per loan over 2019's totals. "The year 2020 was a banner year for the mortgage industry, despite the COVID-19 global health crisis essentially shutting down the U.S. economy in March and forcing personnel into remote work environments," said Marina Walsh, MBA's Vice President of Industry Analysis. "A surge in housing and mortgage demand, record-low mortgage rates, and widening credit spreads translated into soaring net production profits that reached their highest levels since the inception of MBA's an- nual report in 2008." The Annual Mortgage Bankers Performance Report found that the average production volume was $4.5 billion (16,198 loans) per company in 2020, up from $2.7 billion (10,411 loans) per company in 2019. On a repeater company basis, average production volume was $4.4 billion (15,669 loans) in 2020, up from $2.5 billion (9,430 loans) in 2019. For the mortgage industry as whole, MBA estimates production volume at $3.83 tril- lion in 2020—the highest annual volume ever reported—up from $2.25 trillion in 2019. Profits on the production side compensated for the servicing losses. Including both production and servicing operations, 99% of the firms posted overall pre-tax net financial profits in 2020, com- pared to 92% of firms in 2019 and only 69% of firms in 2018. "In early 2021, we are already seeing declines in pipeline volume—particularly refinance volume—as mortgage rates have risen in the first quarter," Walsh said. "Also, secondary market- ing income has dropped from last year's highs, as credit spreads have tightened. Mortgage com- panies that can adjust quickly to changing market conditions and are able to harness still robust purchase demand are best poised for a successful 2021." Walsh noted that the driver of production profitability in 2020 was production revenue, led by strong secondary marketing gains. Historically, production expenses drop when volume increases, but per-loan production expenses rose in 2020, as companies of- fered signing bonuses, incentives, overtime, and other compensation to address capacity constraints and meet mortgage demand. Furthermore, rising loan balances meant large sales commissions, often earned based on a percent- age of the loan amount.

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