Home / Daily Dose / Rising Tides of Economic Hardship COVID-19 is causing more financial hardship for many homeowners than the Great Recession, according to mortgage and servicing experts. The April unemployment rate hit 14.7%, the highest figure since the 1930s, during the depths of the Great Depression. Even after that figure was reported, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in an interview that the figure could get worse before it gets better, and that the actual unemployment rate—factoring in people who have quit looking for work and the underemployed—could be as high as 25%.In addition, more than 3.5 million mortgage borrowers had asked for forbearance as of late April, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The volume of borrowers seeking forbearance or other financial assistance far surpasses the demands of the Great Recession. A recent DS News webinar entitled “Forbearance Agreements: Impact and Best Practices,” sponsored by Treliant, explored all aspects of recently implemented forbearance plans from a mortgage servicer perspective, including processes, meeting regulatory requirements without challenges, and preparing for the upcoming modification wave at the end of the period. With that event as a launching-off point, DS News now brings you an expended look at this topic, featuring insights from companies such as Bayview Loan Servicing, BSI Financial Services, Flagstar Bank, RoundPoint Mortgage Servicing, ServiceMac, and more.“Customers are mostly seeking payment relief, which was available from the start with a forbearance plan,” said David Hughes, SVP of Contact Center for RoundPoint Mortgage Servicing Corporation, one of the nation’s largest, fully integrated nonbank mortgage servicing companies. “Many customers would like to see a deferral program where their mortgage term is extended by the number of months they are unable to pay. The GSEs were already in the process of developing a deferral program when the pandemic hit and are now working to fit the needs of those impacted by COVID-19.”However, Hughes added that the program won’t work quite as some customers have sought, as the forborne payments won’t result in an extension of the remaining term, but rather a non-interest-bearing balance due when the loan pays in full.“This could in the future introduce a hardship to customers intending to pay off their mortgage on an amortized schedule,” Hughes added.COMPLIANCE CONCERNSA record number of borrowers are requesting forbearance or modifications on their mortgages, presenting numerous challenges for the mortgage servicing industry when it comes to compliance, operations, and finances.Servicers need to proactively notify and educate borrowers of any compliance or modification options and offers made, as well as any offers accepted, ongoing communications as incidents evolve, and any temporary, subsequent, and final resolutions— record-keeping that can be cumbersome at the best of times. With the surge in volume, it’s even more critical to have automation in place, said Jane Mason, CEO of Clarifire.While physical letters have been essential documentation for years, the sheer volume of communications means that servicers need to be open to other forms of communication, said John Dunnery, Bayview Loan Servicing’s VP of Government Loan Servicing.“The GSEs and HUD have mentioned other means of communication than by phone or letter—that’s a first,” Dunnery said. “They’re trying to push out there the need to contact customers in the way they normally get contacted, which is not through the phone anymore and not with the letter that normally gets trashed even before it’s opened. So, the opportunity for us to develop other ways of communication and how to leverage that communication in order to get out the message to customers is something new and hopefully something that most services have learned since the 2008 crisis—how to leverage that and implement that in their systems.”Even servicers who have been much more conservative with their communication practices have had to shift to “meet consumers with where they are at in 2020,” using electronic communications when necessary, said Courtney Thompson, SVP, Default Mortgage Servicing, for Flagstar Bank. “There are many layers of risk infrastructure that we have to get through to get some of those [electronic] mechanisms approved and to control it appropriately.”So, while technology helps cast a wide net for initial communications, follow-up call campaigns can provide consumers with more specific help, Thompson said.Technology also helps because the jump in volume means that not all callers can get through in a timely manner. The call volumes, along with the rate of call abandonment (the consumer hanging up, often due to long wait times) has increased significantly in the industry during the pandemic, although ServiceMac said they have not experienced these issues impacting their customers.“We increased staffing and have strong vendor support to ensure our service levels remain above the industry standard of 80% or more of the calls answered in 30 seconds or less and our abandonment rate remains below 2%,” said Sharon Zuniga, SVP, Default Operations, ServiceMac. Another compliance concern is agents who go off script on calls or in a text, Zuniga said.Electronic communications can provide customers with some information so that they do not have to wait on the phone or keep calling back. However, regulators are closely monitoring forbearance and related Information provided through websites and IVR recordings, Zuniga cautioned. “It’s important that you monitor your websites to ensure the accuracy of the content as this is a source of risk concern going forward in our industry,” she added.Dunnery said that Bayview helps ensure compliance by recording each call, then searching for specific keywords. The quality assurance team reviews the calls with the COVID-19-related keywords to ensure consistency, which is the hardest part of the messaging.“Agents normally will stick to a story, but that story can vary, depending on the type of call, the type of borrower on the call, and the questions that are coming. Trying to maintain consistency has been difficult,” Dunnery explained. “We use daily feedback from the quality control calls for our team huddles to ensure that the message is consistent.”Even with the shift to digital communications for many customer interactions and the ongoing importance of phone calls, physical letters are still essential elements of documenting changes in customer payment obligations.“We do a significant amount of quality control on the letters that go out to the customer,” Dunnery said. “At last count, we were up to eight letters that could be mailed to the customer on top of all other letters they would get as they rolled delinquent, part of the normal delinquency servicing.”Dunnery admitted that this can occasionally lead to confusion for customers, as some letters are a result of COVID-19 responses and others are more typical delinquency/forbearance letters.“We are documenting each of the changes we are making to policies and procedures that are necessary to implement the responses that we are putting forward so that we create a paper trail for later,” Dunnery said.Based on what happened during the Great Recession, regulators will likely be examining closely any changes to policies and procedures, Dunnery added.“We want to make sure that the paper trail is adequate and maybe over communicated so that there are no issues in the future.”A BOON FOR SUBSERVICINGWhile the pandemic and subsequent job losses are hitting mortgagees, mortgage holders, and servicers hard, it has meant a booming business for subservicers, said Bob Caruso, President and CEO of ServiceMac. He told DS News that business had grown 10% since the pandemic first hit, with some servicers straining to handle the surge in volume brought by current demand.“We want to make sure that customers who are asking for forbearance or for modification don’t have any service-level issues,” Caruso said. So the interactive voice response (IVR) tree is simplified, asking customers to choose from only two options so that they can quickly advance to pandemic- or non-pandemic-related servicing.Self-service can be helpful, but only to a point, according to Caruso, so SeviceMac directs callers to live agents to help make the payment/ resolution decision that is best for them.“We want to make sure that the customer fully understands the different options,” Caruso explained. “We want to make sure that they know what forbearance looks like.”THE STAFFING TWO-STEPHowever, the business boom, combined with the social distancing measures that most companies are following, provides a challenge for companies looking to hire additional staff, Caruso said.He said that ServiceMac uses LinkedIn and other resources to advertise for openings. In the past, applicants would be interviewed in one of the company’s offices, enabling executives to see nonverbal cues as well as verbal responses to questions. It’s not the same with a video interview, Caruso said. “It’s very different hiring people who you have never physically met.”Some industry companies have approached staffing issues by moving to an “all-hands-on-deck” philosophy for managing the onslaught of communications demanded by the COVID-19 pandemic.In addition to the sheer volume of calls, the call handling time for calls has doubled from about six minutes to nearly 13 minutes as consumers—many who had never been in a forbearance situation before—seek information on payment options, Thompson said.“There was a real cathartic exercise that needed to occur with the consumer on the phone,” she explained.Flagstar redeployed members from its Bankruptcy and Disclosure teams who had contact center training, as well as implementing special training to handle forbearance calls.“It was an exciting and challenging group effort to make sure that we gave consumers as much access to us as humanly possible,” Thompson said.KEEPING IN TOUCH“One of the immediate challenges facing our customers is misinformation,” Hughes told DS News. “Some customers obtain an understanding of possible relief options that don’t exist and are understandably upset with the options that do exist.”Hughes added, “At the outset of the crisis, RoundPoint developed and posted on our COVID-19 landing page, an online tool allowing impacted customers to quickly and easily set up a forbearance plan themselves. The online experience is detailed in explaining how the program works, the options that currently exist to address the forborne payments when the plan term ends, and the reality that other programs may become available in the interim. Our customer service associates have been trained to help our customers understand the same information. Both the online and the on-phone experience ends with an assurance that we will touch base with them regularly throughout the forbearance plan to check in on them and to provide any updates we may have.”ServiceMac’s Zuniga recommended using websites to provide information, particularly considering the volume of communication. However, even the best website information can leave the customer confused because there are several different options, and each borrower’s situation is different.“We still feel one of the best ways is to talk with our customer and educate them on what a forbearance is and what it isn’t,” Zuniga said. “There’s a lot of information out there. Our job isn’t to tell the customer what to do, but to listen to the customer about what they are going through, assisting them, helping them with their questions about the forbearance or the CARES Act and then helping them make what is the best decision for them.”ServiceMac also shifted part of its call monitoring team to focus on forbearance-related calls to adjust scripting in order to better aid borrowers.THE ROAD AHEADThe COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the economy, the American homeowner, and the mortgage servicing industry are likely to be studied and reexamined for several years after the crisis passes.“We’re trying to understand where things will stand post-COVID,” said Allen Price, SVP at BSI Financial Services. “Some borrowers will get their jobs back; others will go back at reduced hours.”Still others will find themselves looking for new jobs, or on extended unemployment. With so many unknowns regarding the pandemic, the economy, and the job market playing out over the next several months, Price said BSI is closely monitoring its portfolio for forbearances, defaults, and delinquencies.Caruso also observed that many financial institutions jettisoned their servicing businesses following the last economic downturn. Will that trend reoccur? Only time will tell.In the meantime, servicers and subservicers need to follow best practices now in compliance, communication, and operations to ensure that they minimize any impact to their businesses until payments and defaults return to more normal levels.Mason speculates that it will take at least a year to stabilize the market. Regulators will carefully review what servicers and subservicers did during the height of the crisis, so it will be critical to have the right documentation for the right deferral plans.Though there are some similarities to the sharp rise in delinquencies during the Great Recession, there are also enough differences that it’s hard to have a handle on how things will look post-pandemic, Price said.Caruso added that, since there are so many unknowns, the GSEs should consider allowing borrowers to have multiple modifications. That would help those who could get jobs back as the economy reopens but could be out of work again if the pandemic gets worse, leading to future shutdowns. June 23, 2020 1,832 Views Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Print This Post Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago The Week Ahead: Nearing the Forbearance Exit 2 days ago Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Phil Britt started covering mortgages and other financial services matters for a suburban Chicago newspaper in the mid-1980s before joining Savings Institutions magazine in 1992. When the publication moved its offices to Washington, D.C., in 1993, he started his own editorial services room and continued to cover mortgages, other financial services subjects, and technology for a variety of websites and publications. Share Save in Daily Dose, Featured, Foreclosure, Journal, Loss Mitigation, Magazine, News, Print Features, Servicing cover story COVID-19 mortgage servicing social distancing 2020-06-23 David Wharton Related Articles Subscribe Tagged with: cover story COVID-19 mortgage servicing social distancing Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago About Author: Phil Britt Sign up for DS News Daily The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago Rising Tides of Economic Hardship Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago Previous: COVID-19’s Impact on Home Values Next: Foreclosures Down for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago
Metro Sport ReporterThursday 24 Oct 2019 10:34 amShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link4.8kShares Bernd Leno has established himself as Arsenal’s No.1 goalkeeper since signing from Bayer Leverkusen in 2017 (Picture: EPA)Bernd Leno came close to joining Manchester City from Bayer Leverkusen in 2017 before Pep Guardiola opted to sign Ederson instead, a new book has revealed.Guardiola was on the lookout for a new shot-stopper in 2017 to replace Claudio Bravo after the Chilean had struggled in his debut campaign in English football while Joe Hart was also deemed surplus to requirements.According to Lu Martin and Pol Ballus’ new book ‘Pep’s City: The making of a superteam’ Guardiola had settled on a two-name shortlist to fill the problem position featuring Leno and Ederson, both of whom suited his tactical philosophy which encourages playing out from the back. Comment Pep Guardiola almost signed Arsenal star Bernd Leno for Manchester City before buying Ederson instead Advertisement Advertisement Ederson has proven to be an inspired purchase for Manchester City (Picture: Getty)Ultimately, City plumped for Ederson, landing the Brazilian international in a £35m deal from Benfica, while Leno had to wait another year to seal a switch from Leverkusen, eventually joining Arsenal last summer for £22.5mAdvertisementAdvertisementADVERTISEMENTDiscussing Leno and Ederson’s merits, City’s sporting director Txiki Begiristain said: ‘They both fitted the bill.‘One was more expensive to buy, the other required a higher salary. I left it up to the coaches to choose.’Guardiola’s decision to sign Ederson in a deal that made him the world’s most expensive goalkeeper ever has certainly been vindicated with the 26-year-old playing a pivotal role in City’s success over the past couple of seasons.More: FootballRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starChelsea defender Fikayo Tomori reveals why he made U-turn over transfer deadline day moveMikel Arteta rates Thomas Partey’s chances of making his Arsenal debut vs Man CityThe Brazil international has missed just one Premier League game from a possible 85 since joining City, was named in the PFA Team of the Year in his debut season and has won five major honours including two Premier League titles.While Ederson made an instant impact on English football upon his arrival, Leno had to bide his time patiently at the start of last season with Unai Emery initially preferring the now-retired Petr Cech between the sticks.However, the Germany international has since established himself as a regular first-team player for the Gunners, making 45 appearances for the club in all competitions.More: Arsenal FCArsenal flop Denis Suarez delivers verdict on Thomas Partey and Lucas Torreira movesThomas Partey debut? Ian Wright picks his Arsenal starting XI vs Manchester CityArsene Wenger explains why Mikel Arteta is ‘lucky’ to be managing Arsenal
The Empire State Building found a way to honor the emergency workers on the frontlines of the pandemic by replacing the building’s signature white lights with red lights and a white and red siren light.
Submitted by The Thurston County FairIf it’s floral design, photography, or other home arts hobbies that inspire you, then we have an open class home arts competition that’s sure to be fun for you and for the whole herd!There are dozens of different categories for home arts enthusiasts, artists and crafters of all ages and abilities. Entries for many of this year’s open class contests are due during the week before the fair opens on Wednesday, July 30:Open Class Home Arts: Monday, July 21 from 3–7 p.m. Let your spectacular sewing, needle art and fiber art do the talking in dozens of home arts contests. Don’t forget about this year’s Quilt Block Contest—pick up your quilt block kit from Gee Gee’s Quilting Inc. in Yelm. Bring in your finished quilt block for a chance to win prizes and to have your quilt block selected to be part of next year’s quilt raffle. Check the 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide for a complete list of categories and requirements. Open Class Floral: Monday, July 28 from 4–8 p.m. From asters to zinnias and everything in between, there are dozens of floral contests for cut flowers, herbs, trees and shrubs, bulbs, container gardens—the list is nearly endless. Check the 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide for a complete list of categories. Open Class Photography: Friday, July 25 from 3–7 p.m. and Saturday, July 26 from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Whether you prefer landscapes or portraits, people or animals, black and white or full color, there’s an open class photography contest that has you framed perfectly. Check the 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide for a complete list of categories and requirements. Open Class Hobbies and Crafts: Saturday, July 26 from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Quality and craftsmanship are alive and well in workshops and craft rooms throughout Thurston County. Enter your woodworking, jewelry, ceramics, dolls, models, and countless other handicrafts in dozens of hobby and craft contests. Check the 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide for a complete list of categories and requirements.All of the information and details you need to compete in open class home arts contests and hundreds of other open class and club contests are included in the 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide. The guide also includes information on entry forms, camping, and this year’s calendar of events from July 30 through August 3. Download the complete 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide at www.ThurstonCountyFair.org/exhibitor_guide.htm.For more information on the 2014 Thurston County Fair Exhibitor’s Guide, contest entry forms or other fair activities, contact the Thurston County Fair Office at (360) 786-5453 or visit www.ThurstonCountyFair.org. “Fun for the Whole Herd at the Thurston County Fair!” July 30 – Aug. 3 Facebook0Tweet0Pin0 Open Class Art: Saturday, July 26 from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. and Sunday, July 27 from 11 a.m.–3 p.m. There’s a contest for every age and almost every medium. Bring your paintings, sketches and drawings, miniatures and sculptures ready for display. Check the 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide for a complete list of categories and requirements.