HW+ Member Spotlight: Chris Mozilo of Newrez

Mozilo discusses the lessons he's learned in the industry and what 2023 could hold for housing


This week’s HW+ member spotlight features Chris Mozilo, divisional vice president, West Division at Newrez Wholesale. Below, Mozilo answers questions about the housing industry:

HW Media: What is your current, favorite HW+ article and why?

Chris Mozilo:  I enjoy anything written by Logan Mohtashami. His use of clear explanations combined with charts makes this crazy market comfortably understandable. I also love his “basketball coach” enthusiasm on the podcast.

HW Media: What’s your favorite benefit from your HW+ membership and/or why are you enjoying the HW+ community?

Chris Mozilo: The amount of data and information I receive with my membership is invaluable.  Especially in uncertain times and market volatility, having the knowledge that I get from HW+ helps me communicate effectively with my team and my clients.

HW Media: What has been your biggest learning opportunity in your career?

Chris Mozilo:  While I’ve spent most of my 30-year career working at large firms, the most I ever learned in the mortgage business was the five years I worked at a small independent mortgage banker. At a large company there are various departments that support the organization, and most employees are specialized. At a small mortgage banker, leadership has to know all aspects of lending.  

In those years I originated, underwrote, processed and closed.  I also started compliance and quality control programs from scratch as we sought approval from the GSEs. Those five years were my Ph.D. in mortgage banking.  Smaller independent mortgage bankers with limited resources are some of our country’s most impressive small businesses.

HW Media: If you could have picked another career, what would it be?

Chris Mozilo: If I didn’t go into mortgage lending, I would have likely become an architect.  I went to college initially as an architecture major before switching to finance.  I always enjoyed beautiful and simple designs.  Specifically mid-century modern designs with clean lines that serve a simple function have been a favorite of mine well before they became popular again in recent years.

One of the basic principles of architecture is that form follows function.  The design of a room or building must be based the function of the space.  The same principle is critical to the design of organizations. 

When designing an organization, the structure (employees, software, hardware, etc.) must serve only to support the functions of the business.  Too often I see the reverse, and it results in a dysfunctional and inefficient business.

HW Media: What do you think the big themes for the housing market will be in 2023?

Chris Mozilo: Let me start by saying that no one really knows what exactly will happen in 2023 regarding housing. The big theme for 2023 will be a result of the big theme of 2022.  2022 was a year that most people in housing and lending would like to forget, but we shouldn’t because everything that comes next is a result of what has already happened.

Production dropped sharply after a lifetime record volume. Lenders shrank capacity as quickly as they could. Tough decisions had to be made. Some didn’t shrink fast enough and paid the price. 2023 is a reset for housing and for lenders. 

As lenders, we should now be set up to be successful in a much smaller market. We will look for opportunities to grow as the housing market and interest rates allow. While 2022 was a year for many to be in a defensive posture, 2023 will be about getting back on offense and being opportunistic.

HW Media: What’s 2-3 trends that you’re closely following?

Chris Mozilo: Recently, artificial intelligence has moved to the forefront of people’s minds. With access to OpenAI, non-techies like myself have been able to play around with this pioneering technology. 

How will AI be used in mortgage lending and which companies will be first to incorporate it into their business? I don’t know that answer, but a lot of leaders are beginning to think about it.

The possibilities are endless, but some uses are more obvious to recognize. Customer interaction and guideline searches can be automated with systems like OpenAI’s ChatGPT.  AI could also be used to find prospects and underwrite loans. There’s so much potential that this technology holds for the planet, and mortgage lending is just one small part of it.

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To view past issues of our HW+ exclusive HousingWire Magazine, go here

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