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Steve Murray on new brokerage models, CFPB crackdowns

Today’s HousingWire Daily features a discussion on the emergence of a new brokerage model and the validity behind the concerns against institutional investors.

Mortgage

Homepoint restructures operations, lays off workers

Lender says reorg will create fewer touch points and greater efficiencies for broker partners

Homepoint, the No. 3 wholesale lender in America, has reorganized its operations and sales personnel in a restructuring that will lead to the loss of potentially hundreds of jobs.

On Monday, the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based lender said its new regionalized staffing model, dubbed “Homepoint Amplify,” has been rolled out to broker partners across the country and will create fewer touch points and greater efficiencies.

Homepoint will form regional support teams across six regions – Central, Northeast, Northwest, South, Southeast and Southwest – each with designated teams of loan coordinators, underwriters, closers and loan funders. They’ll be paired with account executives that already work with mortgage brokers in those respective areas.

A spokesperson for Homepoint said the change in operational structure would result in an elimination of “less than 10%” of its workforce, which sources said is currently believed to be around 4,000 workers. Many of the workers were “temporary associates hired last year to help us meet the increased demand during the refinance boom,” a spokesperson told HousingWire.

The company declined to specify how many jobs were eliminated.


How the mortgage industry can overcome hiring challenges

HW+ Managing Editor Brena Nath recently spoke with Agility 360 COO Raj Sharma about the current talent recruitment and retention challenges in the mortgage industry.

Presented by: Agility 360

The new model is actually a return to the lender’s original growth strategy, Phil Shoemaker, head of originations, told HousingWire in an interview Monday.

“In 2020 we focused on just how quickly we could build capacity,” he said. “That’s why Homepoint was the fastest-growing wholesale lender. We’re proud of that, we think we took full advantage of the market, but now that we’re shifting back into a purchase market we’re getting back to our roots.”

Homepoint, which rolled out a new tech platform in December, says the new structure will benefit brokers in giving them direct lines of communication to small teams that have the ability to make decisions quickly. In other words, they’re chopping down some of the bureaucracy.

“It becomes very efficient to communicate and it allows you to be super nimble because those brokers are dealing with someone that’s very experienced and empowered to make decisions on the spot,” Shoemaker said, noting that relationships in a purchase market are critical.

Homepoint’s model seems to differ from that of many of its competitors, who have increasingly opted to segment tasks to a greater number of workers. While that approach can result in overall speedier closing times, it can frustrate loan originators who can’t get changes approved quickly or reach the appropriate person immediately.

“I still believe very strongly that this business is becoming more and more commoditized,” said Shoemaker. “And so you have to be efficient so that you can provide a competitive price, but you don’t want it to be all about price. You want to build relationships with your partners and that’s what
provides sustainability.”

Homepoint was one of the fastest-growing lenders in America last year. It originated roughly $62 billion in mortgages in 2020. It’s also made a series of high-profile hirings. Home Point Capital, its parent company, lured Fannie Mae’s single family chief Andrew Bon Salle and several others from the government sponsored entity.

But it’s had a somewhat rocky few months since its public debut in January. The lender’s margins have been tightening as the refi market dries up and its competitors in wholesale drop their prices to maintain volume.

Last week, Michigan law firm Pomerantz filed a class-action-seeking lawsuit that claimed Home Point Capital’s offering documents in the IPO were “negligently prepared” and contained untrue and/or misleading statements. The law firm said Home Point Capital failed to disclose that the expansion of its broker partner network would increase expenses dramatically.

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