As brokers and LOs close out a challenging year and set their sights on 2023, it could be tempting to take a pessimistic view. However, there are actionable steps and strategies they can take to ensure 2023 is as profitable as possible. HousingWire sat down with Mike Fawaz, senior vice president at Rocket Pro TPO, as he discussed how mortgage professionals should approach the upcoming year.
HousingWire: 2022 has proven to be a challenging year for the industry, and as a result, there seem to be two camps of thought: “Hunker down and get through it” or “Find opportunity growth amid chaos.” How do you think mortgage professionals should approach the coming year?
Mike Fawaz: The mortgage and housing industry has always been a cyclical business. It has its ebbs and flows. True professionals have been through many times like we are seeing today. It shouldn’t make them flee for another career – as long as they have solid partnerships and strong lead flow.
The LOs and brokers who are truly passionate, who are great at what they do, will use this time to double down, hone their craft and become even better advisors to their clients. The best time to lean into this business is when others are leaning out.
Challenging times bring out two different kinds of lenders. There are lenders who are well-capitalized and prepared for this market. They will continue investing in new technologies and lending programs. These lenders will perfect their processes and forge new partnerships. They have the ability, and the balance sheet, to do things that will help them now and will truly pay dividends as the market improves.
On the other hand, we see lenders who are selling off their most valuable assets. They are burning through money and relying on their non-cash assets to claim they are profitable. All the while, they are making poor choices for a title now, as opposed to doing the best things for their company in the long term.
Brokers and LOs need to be aware of the choices each lender is making so they have a partner that will continue to be there for them.
HW: For those looking to grow and innovate in this season, where should they start and what are some actionable steps they should take?
MF: It’s not a surprise that growth in this market will come from purchase. Brokers and LOs need to make sure they have solid relationships – with both real estate agents and with lenders who have the technology to help their clients get to the closing table.
If lead flow is low right now, it’s the perfect time to evaluate your lead sources to make sure they are the right fit. Brokers should also take this time to look at all their processes to make sure they are the most efficient. You might be able to get by now, but implementing and internalizing a new CRM or LOS during this part of the economic cycle will be the deciding factor between “good” and “great” when the market improves.
HW: What are some of the key challenges you foresee in 2023, and how do those differ from the challenges of the past few months?
MF: The big story in 2022 was the quick change. Rates rose faster than probably any other six-month period in history. By the time brokers and LOs got used to one change, the market shifted again.
Most industry observers expect 2023 to be much more consistent. That will give brokers a chance to adapt to the current market – whatever it ends up being – rather than constantly reacting to changes.
Brokers will adjust to a new normal where rates are higher than the lows of the last few years. Homebuyers will also adjust to this new reality. There are many buyers who have reached the point in their life where they want to buy their first home – or their current home isn’t a good fit for them anymore – but are waiting because of the uncertainty in the market. My hope is that buyers get off the sidelines and begin shopping for their perfect home once rates are more consistent.
HW: How is Rocket Pro TPO situated to empower brokers to grow in 2023?
MF: One of the biggest things that separates Rocket Pro TPO from other lenders working with brokers is its technology and innovation.
Through our thousands of conversations with brokers across the country, we have learned that Rocket Pro TPO’s Crews program has been a game-changer for them. The crew of highly specialized underwriters, closing specialists and purchase title coordinators provide a boutique feel. It’s like having your own operations team!
Beyond their crew, any broker has the knowledge of a seasoned mortgage pro with Pathfinder by Rocket. Pathfinder is a searchable knowledge base that connects an LO with definitive answers, mortgage guidance and process info that can be accessed anytime, from anywhere and on any device. Brokers can spend less time teaching new team members guidelines and processes and more time to growing your business. Plus, in many instances, you can reduce fallout when you use Pathfinder to get clarity on guidelines and processes.
If, for any reason, there are still questions after visiting Pathfinder, brokers can connect with the SOS Scenario Desk. This team of experienced, partner loan specialists are easily accessible and available to assist with any qualification and documentation questions. They can work through loan scenarios with LOs helping them find the best product to meet their clients’ needs. SOS is truly a lifeline to a loan.
Beyond the process – in my conversations with brokers, I’ve learned that consistency is important to them in this uncertain time. Gimmicks can seem fun, but having reliable, competitive pricing and processes can make a broker’s job easier. Being the well-capitalized lender we are, brokers can rest assured that the consistency they appreciate will remain in 2023.
The biggest thing brokers need to do right now is consider their partnerships. Are the partners they work with truly elevating their business? Rather than relying on restrictive contracts, Rocket Pro TPO will continue proving ourselves and competing for business every day and on every loan.