The short answer to the question: Are mortgage loan officers an essential service, in most states, is no. However, state and local governments clearly understand the importance of allowing MLOs to remain active.
While loan originators aren’t being named as essential service workers, companies are going to great lengths to allow them to work remotely.
On a call with HousingWire, Quicken Loans Mortgage Banker Steve Diamond said that within just one day, the company told its 18,000 Detroit-based employees they would be working remotely, assigned them a time to pick up their supplies and, at the appointed time, loaded up employees’ cars with extra monitors and other supplies they would need for a home office.
“I thought it was going to take hours, but it didn’t. I pulled right up and they put everything in my car,” Diamond said. “Now I have everything at home that I had at the office.”
But Quicken isn’t the only company exercising its remote capabilities. Other companies are also sending employees remote including Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, United Wholesale Mortgage, Guaranteed Rate, Caliber Home Loans, Flagstar Bank, Fairway Mortgage, Radian, Black Knight and many others.
Some of the greatest potential obstacles to a smoothly functioning loan process while originators are remote are the strict laws surrounding remote online notarization. eClosings are still rare, which is mostly due to state restrictions surrounding eNotaries. However, that is slowly beginning to change. And coronavirus has brought even more focus to the issue.
The Mortgage Bankers Association and the American Land Title Association collaborated to prepare model legislation that would provide the framework for any state to adopt a remote online notarization process.
There’s also now a bipartisan movement in Congress, a bill introduced by Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND), that would allow remote online notarizations nationwide.
It is also worth noting that according to the National Notary Association, notaries do provide an essential service.
Most states are also taking steps to ensure loan officers are licensed to operate from home. Take California’s stay-at-home order, for example:
“The Department will not take enforcement action against licensees for operating unlicensed branches to the extent that, during the state of emergency, employees conduct activities from home that normally would require a branch license, provided that appropriate measures are taken to protect consumers and their data,” the Department of Business Oversight stated.
For more information on your state, click here to see a list of resources compiled by the MBA.
Loan officers are not considered essential service workers who can remain working at an office, but it is clear authorities recognize they are essential to the U.S. economy, as evidenced by the unprecedented measures being taken to ensure they can continue working through the quarantine.