Keeping Business Flowing

Article excerpt

Mortgage bankers today are looking increasingly to wholesale and correspondent lending to boost origination volume in the softening market. Strong salespeople, in particular, are being recruited and hired by lenders to keep new business coming in the door. Lenders with talented producers on staff are fighting to keep them as other lenders make overtures to win them away. Loan-officer and account-executive recruitment and retention are very hot topics, needless to say.

The latest economic outlook from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) calls for origination volume to hit $2.46 trillion this year. That would make it the fifth-largest year ever for home-loan originations. Those 2006 numbers would make most lenders quite pleased if they weren't coming on the heels of 2005--the second-highest year for originations. The decline represents a 19 percent drop in loan volume. And MBA's forecast calls for another 14 percent drop in overall volume in 2007. So everyone is feeling a bit of the pinch, with more to come.

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But lenders put a lot of faith in their origination staff and broker networks to find whatever refinance or purchase volume is still out there. Some of that volume is coming from borrowers with adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loans looking to refinance into fixed-rate product. Fixed rates are surprisingly benign today. MBA's most recent forecast calls for fixed mortgage rates to "remain at about today's 6.3 [percent] to 6.4 percent through the rest of this year," according to a press release issued in late October. …