Mortgage brokers are facing a vastly different landscape than this time last year. In 2020, the refinance boom caused lenders and brokers to go on hiring sprees, and loan originators were putting in substantial hours. Now, as refinance volume slows and we get deeper into homebuying season, purchase originations are dominating brokers’ time, resources and energy.
A recent Mortgage Bankers Association forecast predicted that purchase originations in 2021 will grow 16.4% to a new record of $1.67 trillion. Even with the refi boom cooling, brokers are staying busy.
For many mortgage professionals, this transition from refinance to a high volume of purchase originations has revealed pain points and put a magnifying glass on areas in need of greater efficiency. Purchase originations require enhanced communication with clients and typically take longer to reach the finish line. To remain competitive and create a better experience in this purchase environment, brokers need one thing above all: Speed. And there’s one lending partner that has the solutions and resources to give LOs just that.
Speed in Underwriting
As other lenders are having to reevaluate and scale down after last year’s hiring surges, Rocket Pro TPO continues to grow its teams in key areas that benefit its partners.
“The size and scale of our team allows us to give the broker community what they want, which is speed,” said Austin Niemiec, Executive Vice President at Rocket Pro TPO. “We’ve been growing our team to support our partners and that is paying off for brokers during this wild purchase market.”
An integral team that Rocket Pro TPO continues to grow is its dedicated underwriting team. According to Niemiec, this team has doubled over the past 12 months and the goal is to double it again in the next year. But the size of the team isn’t the only factor that sets it apart. Rocket Pro TPO’s underwriting team is also highly specialized, which is especially important with the nuanced process involved with purchase loans. Equipped with size and skill, the lender is able to underwrite loans in 24 hours or less and review and clear documents in one day.
“That’s why we set an all-time record for purchase volume at Rocket Pro TPO in the first quarter, and it wasn’t even close,” Niemiec said.
Fast, fee-guaranteed appraisals
Continuing in the theme of closing loans faster, Rocket Pro TPO has also recently launched an appraisal fee guarantee for its broker partners. From the onset of the purchase market’s acceleration, the appraisal process presented multiple frustrations for brokers. The high demand created a shortage of appraisers, sometimes resulting in fee fluctuations. To stay in tune with brokers’ needs, Rocket Pro TPO’s team regularly meets with owners and LOs across the country. In recent months, appraisal cost issues were a common refrain.
“Sometimes brokers will send out a loan estimate with one quote for the appraisal and a week later, the appraiser comes back and it’s double the cost,” Niemiec said. “It can be a frustrating experience for the broker and for the client.”
To combat this, Rocket Pro TPO set up its appraisal fee guarantee. In short, the lender quotes a flat fee to brokers upfront, and outside of rush jobs, it is guaranteed to stay the same. Rocket Pro TPO is able to make this a reality thanks to its strong partnerships with appraisal management companies nationwide.
“What we quote upfront stays the same throughout the entire process, no surprises,” Niemiec said. “It’s been great. It gives our brokers certainty, and it provides a great experience.”
The guarantee also eliminates unnecessary back-and-forth communication, helping brokers get to closing faster – something critical in this intense market.
Unique and fast jumbo offering
Also fueled by the fast-paced purchase market is brokers’ need for new loan offerings that keep them competitive. Given that low housing supply and increasing lumber prices continue to drive up prices, it only makes sense that brokers developed a heightened interest in jumbo mortgages. Rocket Pro TPO was quick to make this offering available to its brokers, launching Jumbo Smart in early March.
The new QM jumbo product is open to loan amounts up to $2.5 million, the LTV cap is 89.99%, DTI limit is 45% and eligible FICOs can be as low as 680. Jumbo Smart aligns with Fannie Mae guidelines and can be run through Desktop Underwriter. This streamlines the lending process by opening the door to faster approvals, easier applications and only one appraisal.
“We were the first major partner in the broker channel to roll out a new jumbo product,” Niemiec said. “It’s an incredible offering for this purchase environment, and only one appraisal is needed on the jumbo product, which is unique. It gives brokers speed, which is so critical, and allows them to really stand out for their homebuying clients.”
Keeping it competitive beyond pace
While speed is invaluable in today’s market, that’s not all Rocket Pro TPO has up its sleeve. The wholesale lender recently launched new mortgage insurance enhancements that allow brokers to offer competitive rates to their borrowers.
“We have the most competitive mortgage insurance in the country thanks to our size,” Niemiec said. “We use our experience and scale to get better prices, then pass along those benefits to brokers across the country.”
These competitive MI rates give borrowers the opportunity to shave anywhere from $50 to $100 off their monthly payment, which can help tip the scales toward working with a particular broker.
Rocket Pro TPO also launched a broker freedom credit, to celebrate what it believes to be LOs’ superpower: The freedom to choose what lender they do business with. This credit provides Rocket Pro TPO partners the opportunity to take 50 basis points off the loans of their choosing, regardless of the loan’s complexity.
“Brokers have loved it because the purchase market is so incredibly competitive,” Niemiec said. “They need speed, they need certainty and they also need great price. The broker freedom gives that incredible pricing no matter the type of loan, whether it’s refi or purchase.”
Rocket Pro TPO’s goal is to help grow its partners’ businesses. By rolling out new products that give them an edge over their competitors, the lender is doing just that. But it won’t end here.
When you couple technology, speed, consistent product and price and you put it all together, we’re the most balanced partner in the broker community,” Niemiec said. “And we’re just getting started.”