Last year was a rough one for homeowners hit by a slew of natural disasters including hurricanes, flooding, and even wildfires.
Now, months later, the mortgage market is recovering surprisingly well, according to a panel of experts from government agencies at the Mortgage Bankers Association Secondary conference Tuesday.
The Government Lending panel discussed several updates from the agencies, which included the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Ginnie Mae, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Federal Housing Administration.
Panelists agreed more change is needed within the organizations, including updates to their disaster relief efforts, which they are already rolling out in preparation for 2018’s hurricane season.
Panelists explained they are surprised at the continued low level of delinquencies and said they expected the devastation to be much higher in disaster areas.
“We thought, starting with Harvey, we would have a lot of impact because there are a lot of veterans in Texas, but we didn’t see much there,” said Jeffrey London, VA director of loan guaranty service. He explained the VA has also seen limited effects to delinquencies and foreclosures in Florida and Puerto Rico.
And other experts agreed, saying they expected the storms’ effects on the market to be much higher than it has been.
“We were prepared for worse than we got, so that was encouraging,” said Michael Drayne, Ginnie Mae senior vice president of issuer and portfolio management.
In fact, the agencies were even able to look at the positive side, saying the agencies were able to learn to better coordinate between themselves to help affected homeowners, making them better prepared for when the next round of disasters hit.
Drayne explained that at Ginnie Mae, they were able to learn a lot about data and pinpointing a storm’s effect area, enabling the company to react quicker next time.
So what exactly do these lenders plan on doing to improve their systems for the next round of storms?
The panelists explained government agencies are in a better place now than it was last year, and have been working to update their handbooks with more guidance and options for relief procedures.
London explained communication among the agencies is key to facing the upcoming hurricane season. “As much as we can be aligned, we need to be aligned,” he said.
Other experts agreed it is important to align with the other agencies, even saying it’s important to remain flexible with their policies in disaster situations.
“In the face of such huge disasters we need to be very flexible when it comes to our modifications and our response,” said Elissa Saunders, FHA director of program development of the office of single-family housing.