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Former FHFA head Mark Calabria to join Evolve Mortgage Services board

The appointment is Calabria's first major move in the mortgage industry since departing FHFA

Mortgage services provider Evolve Mortgage Services announced Monday it has added Mark Calabria, the former director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), to its advisory board.

Calabria is to serve a one-year term, which began July 1, according to an emailed news release from the Frisco, Texas-based company. The board primarily is focused on promoting the company, expanding its network, reaching new audiences and guiding the organization’s leadership on specific matters, an Evolve representative said in the email.

Former federal officials with experience in mortgage finance frequently find so-called “soft landings” in the sector after leaving government. The appointment is Calabria’s first major move in the mortgage industry since President Joe Biden swiftly and unceremoniously removed the Trump appointee, more than a year ago, after a Supreme Court ruling determined it would be unconstitutional not to grant a sitting president the authority to remove appointees “who come ‘from a competing political party who is dead set against [the President’s] agenda,'” according to the opinion.

Calabria, described in the news release from an Evolve representative as an “elite industry legend and luminary,” frequently drew the ire of the mortgage industry for policies many viewed as disruptive.

Among those controversial policies was a 50 basis point fee on most refinanced mortgages, implemented by Calabria in 2020, which the FHFA said would help the agency cope with the pandemic. At the time, however, both government-sponsored enterprises were doing a brisk business, benefitting from a hot mortgage market, spurred on by low mortgage rates. Calabria’s replacement at the FHFA, Sandra Thompson, did away with the fee soon after Biden appointed her as head of the agency.

It’s unclear on which specific topics Calabria is expected to advise. The company bills itself as an efficiency booster for mortgage lenders, servicers and investors, by providing “seamless component or end-to-end loan services,” and “custom strategies for each client.” Evolve has expertise in origination and post-closing services, servicing acquisition due diligence, forensic compliance reviews and agency deliveries, according to its news release.

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Calabria currently serves as a senior advisor at the Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based libertarian think tank. Before President Donald Trump appointed him FHFA director, Calabria had served as the chief economist to the vice president.

Per the statement from Evolve representatives, Calabria said he was “looking forward to collaborating … to help pioneer new emerging digital trends and create innovative technology solutions that provide not only the tools, data and document quality, but all the controls and compliance requirements needed from mortgage origination to the secondary marketing delivery process.”

The former FHFA director also said Evolve founder and CEO Paul Anselmo and his team would “bring much needed change to the mortgage market.”

Anselmo said those changes include eRegistry, eSign and RON developments into the secondary market. In response to current, ongoing “market challenges,” Anselmo also said Evolve will offer a new repurchase service, modeled after an existing company offering, to rebut attempts to force lenders to buy back loans with defects.

Anselmo additionally praised Calabria for his “business acumen, caliber of achievements and invaluable expertise.”

“The vast array of talent and knowledge Calabria brings will help accelerate our growth and expand our digital footprint as we continue to evolve our solutions to change the way loans are bought and sold in the marketplace,” Anselmo said.

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