By SingleSource | December 16, 2020
One of the most frequently asked questions we have heard from our customers and practically everyone in the industry over the last few months is – how will we best prepare for the inevitable mortgage servicing spike in 2021? As we all know, many servicing activities essentially came to a stop in March 2020. Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, potential foreclosures, associated property preservation, and property disposition have backed up and could create a chaotic situation when the foreclosure moratoriums end, and the evictions begin. So here comes the million-dollar question – how are we preparing?
Given the uncertainty surrounding the situation, including no known time frame of when the foreclosure moratorium extensions will end, any plan must be both flexible and dynamic in order to quickly adapt. Before we dive in, it is important to discuss the potential paths this could take.
What we expect to see in servicing:
Foreclosure moratoriums are scheduled to run through January, however, with the new federal administration coming in Washington, we expect another extension, most likely through at least the end of the first quarter. During the last recession, almost 12 years ago, the biggest aid came in the form of alternative government programs to help homeowners with loan modifications, in order to keep people in their homes. We certainly expect a similar situation to take place, to slow the volumes of evictions once the moratorium ends. Yes, there will be an increase in foreclosures however it will likely be a gradual increase – we don’t expect this to happen all at once due to the size of the backlog. Although we expect the evictions to peak later in 2021, we are preparing for the potential of an earlier impact.
So how do we prepare?
As with any fluctuation in capacity, there are many ways to handle the situation. Some companies might wait to create a plan until they know when the extensions will end, others may have already created a plan and are hoping for the best. Regardless, one of the most important factors is being able to staff for the worst-case scenario. At SingleSource, we have been fortunate enough to provide services across all phases of the lending and servicing processes, from Valuations, Title and Settlement, Field Services and Property Preservation, REO Asset Management and Loss Mitigation. So, while many servicing activities have been at a halt, we have been able to focus on the other parts of our business that are currently thriving, like providing title and closing services for refinance and origination booms with the seemingly never ending all time low interest rates – keeping us in a financially stable position and ready for 2021. This unique advantage truly positions us a single source for all our customers’ needs.
Cross-training and experienced staff
Throughout the years, we have cross-trained our staff across multiple facets of our business, so that we are able to keep them employed, even when their particular area of expertise may experience low volume – we call this our SingleSource Flexible Capacity Model. Rather than resorting to mass hiring or layoffs as the housing market changes, we are able to redeploy employees to different roles in areas of need. Not only does this allow them to experience a different part of the company and continue their education, but it also breeds a vast depth of knowledge for our staff, making them even more valuable to our customers and vendor partners and any questions they may receive. Our Associates that support servicing clients have an average of over 10 years of experience in the industry.
Technology and Enhancements
Technology is another key component in our preparation, and it should be a part of yours as well. If we have learned anything from 2020 it is to expect the unexpected – and be able to adapt to every possible new situation. In fact, that very statement has helped us build our strategic goals for 2021. In order to adapt quickly to new situations and fluctuating volumes in the near future, we turn to our dear friend technology to help us out. Forecasting, reporting, outsourcing, improving, and automating are a few of the processes that have helped us and will continue to help us moving forward. Our commitment to technology is always growing, as we search for new and innovative ways to solve everyday problems. We have focused on refining mobile technology to help better manage our vendors, increase communication, and optimize the clarity of defining the work our partners deliver to us. A few other examples of the innovative use of technology that we have implemented are the incorporation of weather data into our workflow, a map visual software integrated with our property management system to enable superior vendor management, and the use of aerial photos to supplement our understanding of a property’s condition. In addition, we have always been diligent in staying up to speed on state statues, as well as federal mandates, which will be a key component moving into 2021. In the end, we are trying to benefit all of our vendors to help them run their businesses more efficiently, in turn improving our services to our customers.
SingleSource Vendor Experience
Last but certainly not least, we have spent this year increasing our focus on our vendors’ experience with us. Here at SingleSource we believe in the value of our vendors as vital collaborators to our business, and only through this collaboration are we able to continually raise our standards. This year we invested in a project called SingleSource Vendor Experience and are excited to continue this initiative through next year and beyond. The initiative has allowed us to examine how we can improve and foster meaningful relationships with our vendors on every level. This year we have made several enhancements for our vendors based on their feedback, including increasing our payment frequency to our entire vendor panel. Our goal is to give our vendors a seamless process and constantly improve their experience with us. By strengthening our relationships with our vendor partners, we believe we will have a strong foundation when servicing volumes begin to rise.
Although 2021 holds many questions and uncertainty, we are confident we are ready for whatever situation may arise. We survived the 2008 recession with flying colors and are prepared to do the same in 2021, with and for our customers.