A closer look at HousingWire’s February magazine

Today’s HousingWire Daily focuses on the newly released HousingWire February magazine issue. In this episode, HW+ Managing Editor Brena Nath discusses what readers will find in this issue, which focuses on the unique challenges servicers face in 2021.

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Listen to the full episode here and make sure to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Below is the transcription of the interview with Nath, lightly edited for length and clarity:

Alcynna Lloyd: Hey, guys, welcome back to “Monday Morning Cup of Coffee.” My name is Alcynna Lloyd. I’m HousingWire’s Digital Media Manager. And today I’m joined by HousingWire’s HW+ Managing Editor and Magazine Editor Brena Nath. Hey, Brena.

Brena Nath: Happy Monday.

Alcynna Lloyd: Yay. It’s a good Monday. Listeners, thank you for joining us on Facebook Live. And if you’re new, this show’s a segment of “HousingWire’s Daily” podcast, which examines the most compelling mortgage, real estate, and fintech articles reported from the HousingWire newsroom. Today we’ll be discussing some of the most interesting news stories that came across our news desk in the month of January, as well as this month’s “HousingWire Magazine.” Brena, what are some of your favorite news stories from January? I know there were a lot.

Brena Nath: There were so many! I think I’ve seen the month go by in a blink this morning, I couldn’t believe that it was already February, especially with the amount of news that came out. Not only did we have the inauguration, we had a lot of top trends and news stories that we rounded out 2020 with that really carried into 2021. Two of those top buzzwords that I think everyone has been talking about that they’re still talking about are IPOs and servicing.

So I wanted to touch a little bit on servicing. We’ll be diving more into that later, as Alcynna mentioned, when it comes to the magazine. But we always talk about servicing in February. It’s when the MBA’s annual servicing conference usually happens. And even rounding out the end of January, before the magazine even launched, a lot of articles were…a big one that came out was the CFPB doubles down on mortgage servicing enforcement.

As everyone knows, we have a new CFPB acting director and he immediately went on record sending out an email to all of his employees, talking about how right now what they immediately want to do is focus on their supervision and enforcement tools on overseeing the companies responsible for COVID relief. So that was something we talked a lot about at the end of the year.

And now you have this direct statement from the new acting director saying, “Hey, servicers,” they need to give…they previously gave consumers incomplete and inaccurate information about the CARES Act, forbearances. They failed to process forbearance requests and collect and assess late fees despite having approved forbearances. So that’s something the CFPB is directly looking at.

And then if you want to go over to some other data that just recently came out from the MBA, who has also been tracking along with Black Knight, they said that we routed out 2020 with nearly 3.4 million loans in delinquencies. So those are some big numbers that I don’t think is going to change anytime soon.

We have a lot of topics about how servicers are ramping up staff, they’re getting ready to have procedures on how do we help loss mitigation, all the way to the point of rounding out now January, which was like a whole year in and of itself with the CFPB saying, “Okay, we are directly watching everything that’s happening and making sure that these borrowers get the relief that they deserve.” So that was a really big, I’d say, thing that summed up January, which really is 2020 extended, you could say.

Outside of that, though, I wanted to touch on and I’ve been excited about what’s kind of happening this year. But for those who do know, obviously, I just said it’s the first day of February, if they could believe it. And it’s also the first day of Black History Month. So I wanted to take a moment. I know Alcynna is interviewing me, but take a moment and just share also, she’s been hard at work working on a new podcast segment that we’re launching. And can you touch a little bit about like, what that is, I think that’s something our listeners really should hear and know about, especially as it’s coming through the February?

Alcynna Lloyd: Of course. First of all, I’d like to say Happy Black History Month. I’m very excited for this month, and I’m very excited to get this podcast off the ground. To let you know more about the podcast, it’s called “Honest Conversations.” This podcast will examine minority homeownership in America and how we got to be where we are today.

Right now more than ever, the housing industry has been having honest conversations about how race impacts the home buying process. In light of this discussion, HousingWire will be launching a new mini podcast series that examines the state of minority homeownership.

So each Tuesday, please join us…each Wednesday, sorry, please join us as we bring guests, educators, researchers, people that are in the industry right now, lenders, executives, that are going to join us to provide us with a greater perspective on how race and housing and wealth intersect, and what experts around the world and around the country are doing to close the gap.

So I’m very interested to get this off the ground because I know it’s an important topic that everybody’s talking about right now. So definitely want to touch on that.

Brena Nath: And you been working really…some of the guests had… I had the privilege of being able to see some of the lineup that she has in store for this podcast. It’s eight different episodes along with maybe some bonuses highlighted in there. And I mean, there’s so much there to talk about.

And it’s exciting to see the different people that, you know, not only have great input to share, but there’s a lot of data and research that you’re able to pack into this podcast that I think a lot of people would be able to just take a look back and see where we came from, and also see like, “Okay, what are the challenges that we need to address now in order to move forward?”

Alcynna Lloyd: Definitely. And that was something I definitely want to make sure of, this wasn’t a podcast that was based on opinion. There’s a lot of research that went into it. Like even with the Urban Institute, which we’ll be featuring, we talked about kind of the history of American suburbs, the housing market itself, and then we even talked to you executive lenders that have created diversity and inclusion officers within their businesses. So it takes it to the steps of education, what’s happening now in the research. So, very excited.

All right. So as we talk about that, I know we just got out of our huddle this morning, and we discussed that podcast as well, but we had a lot of other things to discuss. Can you share with our listeners some of the topics that we’re personally keeping an eye on this week?

Brena Nath: Yeah. We definitely talked about the podcast this morning. Even though we only have, what, four weeks in February of 2021, there’s gonna be a lot of things packed into this month. Something we maybe haven’t touched on “Monday Morning Cup of Coffee” yet, but I know is all over our newsroom this morning, was the Super Bowl. For those who…I think it’s a big number of people who are following the Super Bowl closely. But mortgages have been closely connected to the Super Bowl throughout the years.

Quicken Loans, I remember distinctly watching their Super Bowl ad years ago now, between I think 2016, 2017. Was that the year that they launched Super Bowl ad? And that number might be wrong. But the heart of that ad is what’s most important. That was really when they first launched this, you know, you can get digital mortgage on your phone. That was the first time everyone’s hyper focused on a Super Bowl.

And it’s the first time I started getting friends asking me about, “What’s going on in the mortgage industry? What is this digital thing that they’re talking about? What do you mean?” They were just on their phone and they just push a button. And so for one mini moment, I think people really started to see the technology that really came into the mortgage industry.

And so now, I mean, that’s all we talk about, we talk about the complete digital end-to-end mortgage solution. Now we’re talking about digital closings, we’re talking about RON, and all that has semi kind of been bookmarked in the Super Bowl history. And so that’s something we’re gonna be watching. I know last year, I was a big fan, I watched very clearly because Quicken Loans had Jason Momoa in their Super Bowl. I think that ad was a huge hit. Do you remember it?

Alcynna Lloyd: I do remember it. I do. I showed my dad.

Brena Nath: It was such a creative, funny ad. So I know…personally, unfortunately, I’m not a big sports person. But I always loved the Super Bowl, like everyone else. So I’m excited just to kind of see, you know, outside of information. I mean, the mortgage industry is definitely going to be throughout it all. There’s also just the humor and the jokes, will be nice to…something to send around and laugh about, and the memes that might come out of it.

Alcynna Lloyd: Definitely. I imagine even for that commercial show, so many people learned more about the home-buying process just through that commercial itself. So hoping to see more of that this year. And, Brena, as we wrap today, I want to wrap on the magazine as well, too.

We talked about this at the beginning a little, but I kind of want to dive a little deeper on focusing on servicing. What can our readers and listeners expect from this month’s issue? I mean, in January, we had a lot of topics ranging from compliance concerns, forbearance, forecasts, non-QM lending making the comeback, and like you mentioned earlier, CARES Act concerns and more. Will this month’s magazine discuss these topics in detail?

Brena Nath: Yeah, definitely. First of all, I wanted to say, this magazine was the last magazine by Kelsey Ramirez as the magazine editor. She — I just wanted to give her credit for such an amazing and timely issue. Issue as far as like a magazine issue, not issue as the problem. But this magazine always comes out in February because of the MBA’s mortgage servicing conference (which this year is wrapped up in a larger event in April). It’s something that we often bring there. We show people, it’s kind of the talk of the town. And this year with COVID, and the forbearance plans going through, servicing has been a conversation a lot. It extends way beyond just February and the conference.

So first, credit to her for putting together this issue on something that’s so important right now. Then also just to touch on, she was actually the person who wrote the main feature story in the February issue on servicing. Be sure, it’ll be on the website today, the feature itself. Also if you’re a HW+ member, you can have access to the full digital issue as well, which not only goes into servicing. We have a whole segment on working remotely, which we know a lot of us have done — you and I are remote right now — talking about the importance of internet and the importance of are people moving to tiny towns, where is the migration going, a lot of those top trends. So working remote and servicing.

Wanted to touch on real fast, like the quote she’s had in it, and she interviewed Chris Zimmerman, who was Wolters Kluwer compliance solutions senior technology product manager. And in it she asked him like, are servicers ready for 2021? I know I just read this report from the CFPB doubling down on their efforts. But to Zimmerman, he talks about, yes, servicers are ready because the industry has been applying lessons learned since the housing crisis.

This is not the same crisis that we went through over 10 years ago, during the Great Recession. Servicers are significantly more prepared. And a huge part behind that is not just the lessons but the technology they have access to now.

And even for those, we were talking about MBA in servicing right now, but at MBA Annual, FHFA Director Mark Calabria even spoke and took the opportunity to recognize the efforts that servicers were making at the time, and the help that they’ve given borrowers in forbearance, even thanking them for their those efforts. So that one just speaks to how the conversation dates all the way back to, I mean, the annual conference, having Mark Calabria speak to them to today where we do notice those extra efforts from the CFPB taking the time to say, “Okay, servicers are still in the spotlight.”

So, I know I don’t want this word to kind of get, “Oh, there’s still so many people in forbearance or people in delinquency.” So it’s a topic that we’re still addressing every single day, along with a lot of the other things, like working remote or IPOs, stuff like that. So there’s not a slowdown in trends and buzz SEO words in the industry right now.

Alcynna Lloyd: So for our listeners, or readers, anybody that’s new to our magazine service, can you let us know more about how they can go ahead and get that magazine? It’s a part of our premium membership. But how they get a copy today if they wanted one?

Brena Nath: If you would like access to the magazine, you can reach out to me at [email protected]. We’d love to get you set up with an HW+ subscription. We’ll even reach out to you guys with a discount code. That way you not only get access to the magazine, but we have a huge HousingWire Spring Summit coming up, our HW+ members get full access to all of our events.

They also get access to full subscriptions of our podcast. So that’s an exciting thing, just in case you want to start reading through and following along with a lot of the great guests and people that we were interviewing throughout the week for podcasts. And so if you want the issue, you’ll get…there’s 10 issues of our “HousingWire Magazine” along with a digital issue online that you can read. So be sure to check it out. There’s a lot of great content that is included in here.

Alcynna Lloyd: All right. Thanks, Brena, for letting everybody know about that. So listeners, thank you for tuning in to another live recording of “Monday Morning Cup of Coffee.” I hope you have a great week and we’ll see you back here next Monday. Until then, check out “HousingWire Daily,” you don’t want to miss out on all the amazing interviews that we do have planned for this week. Thank you.

Brena Nath: Thanks, Alcynna.

Alcynna Lloyd: Thank you, Brena.

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