MReport October 2021

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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26 | M R EP O RT FEATURE S ince the onset of the pandemic, the mortgage indus- try has experienced dramatic change—plummeting interest rates caused a surge in refinances and, in the summer months of 2021, created a booming purchase market. The overall volume of mortgage applica- tions increased, and with it came an increased need for skilled mortgage talent to process them. As a result, many aspects of the mortgage industry talent landscape look very different today than they did pre-pandemic, largely to candidates' benefit. So, how exactly has the mort- gage-hiring landscape changed over the last few tumultuous years, and what are lenders and financial institutions doing to keep up? How We Got Here T oday, the mortgage-hiring landscape is incredibly competitive, but this is not solely a byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic. The mortgage industry was already in a vulnerable posi- tion even prior to 2020, as many mortgage companies were contin- uously understaffed. Fortunately for some of these companies, they were able to keep pace with their existing staff because, at the time they, had a manageable volume of loans in their pipeline. However, these staffing shortcomings quickly became more apparent when low interest rates created a refinancing rush. Seemingly overnight, pipelines swelled—which would be chal- lenging enough for understaffed companies to manage—but add to the mix remote work man- dates and inconsistent adoption of digital loan processing tools across companies, and you have an unprecedented challenge for mortgage industry talent working from home. What's more, mortgage talent felt added pressure to process large volumes of loans quickly due to the timely nature of these loans. With many companies furloughing or laying-off staff in the early months of the pan- demic, for many homeowners, refinancing their homes wasn't just an opportunistic move to save some extra spending cash—it was a critical way to shave down expenses to keep their families afloat through a financial rough patch. As a result, mortgage talent was stressed and overworked but also keenly aware of how valuable they were to their existing and prospective employers. This created unmatched demand for mortgage industry talent throughout 2020. There were simply not enough candidates to fill the number of open roles. The majority of these open roles were loan processors and underwriters. However, companies were also in search of loan closers and loan officers. Demand has fluctuated and is less intense today than it was during its peak in 2020, but by no means has it returned to pre-pandemic levels. The market is still competitive and likely will be for months to come. In particular, demand for underwriters has ex- perienced a slowdown compared to 2020 but will likely pick back up again soon. For the remainder of the year, demand for new talent will likely be driven by continued growth in new construction. While current purchase demand is limited by tight inventory, construction of new homes will drum up new demand for purchase loans, and thus, more demand for mortgage talent to process these loans. Candidates Are Running the Show F rom the perspective of can- didates, the hiring landscape couldn't be any better. Loan pro- cessors, underwriters, and other talent within the industry know their worth, know the lengths lenders and financial institutions will go to lock down skilled talent, and are taking full advan- tage of the favorable market. For example, many candi- dates are no longer entertain- ing temporary or temp-to-hire roles. Even entry-level candidates know they have no shortage of permanent options available to them. Their LinkedIn inboxes It's a Mortgage Candidate's Market, and We're Just Living in It How has the mortgage-hiring landscape changed over the last few tumultuous years, and what are lenders and financial institutions doing to keep up? By Madeline White

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