With historically low rates driving Connecticut’s mortgage activity in the first half of the year to its highest levels since 2013, new lenders had opportunities to grab a share of the market.
For Michigan-based wholesale lender Home Point Financial Corp., entering the Connecticut market has meant giving independent brokers an option not just for lending but for servicing their customers as well.
“From a consumer perspective and also a mortgage broker perspective, they love the fact that we service our own transactions,” said Lisa Patterson, Home Point’s chief originations officer. “Because what we’re able to do by retaining the servicing is develop a deeper relationship with the consumers and actually provide them products and resources and provide them with some real value in managing their home as an asset.”
Home Point is among the lenders featured in The Commercial Record’s Fast 50. Compiled from data collected by The Warren Group, publisher of The Commercial Record, the list reveals the 50 fastest-growing lenders in Connecticut for the first six months of the year, compared to the same time period a year ago.
Historically low interest rates have driven mortgage activity across the U.S. to record levels. Data firm Black Knight recently reported that almost $1.1 trillion in mortgages had been originated nationwide during the second quarter, the most in the 20 years the firm had tracked the data.
Connecticut saw 47,000 residential mortgages worth $14.7 billion originated between January and June of 2020, compared to 30,500 loans worth $8.4 billion for the same period in 2019. Lenders processed about 13,500 purchase loans for $4 billion and more than 33,500 refinances for $10.7 billion during the first six months of 2020. The same period last year saw about 17,000 purchase loans for $4.7 billion and 13,600 refinances for $3.7 billion.
Founded in Ann Arbor, Michigan, five year ago, Home Point originated nearly 800 loans in Connecticut during the first six months of 2020, a 1,220 percent increase over the same period in 2019, when it made 60 loans. With $220.6 million in mortgages, Home Point saw its Connecticut volume increase by 1,629 percent.
Connecting with more of the state’s independent mortgage brokers was a key initiative over the past year for Home Point, which now lends in all 50 states.
Home Point’s “customer for life” approach – acting as both a lender and a mortgage servicer on almost all loans – has offered one selling point for forming partnerships with brokers, Patterson said. In addition to collecting mortgage payments and making customers’ tax and insurance payments, Patterson said, the company also offers products and services, including a competitive price on homeowners insurance, a home equity product and resources for managing a home.
“Your home is likely one of the largest assets that you have as an individual, and for us to be able to provide access to resources or products to help you manage that asset more thoroughly is a differentiator from a servicing perspective,” Patterson said. “From the mortgage broker’s perspective, they also want to be in that ecosystem with us because they also have a relationship with that consumer that they want to maintain.”
Another strategy to attract brokers has been putting an industry expert in the region as a resource. Home Point last year brought on Bryan Dionne as an account executive for the Connecticut area.
“The local expertise is helping the mortgage brokers be more successful in their own business, to help them grow and expand their own business,” Patterson said. “They are more successful because they’re doing business with us.”
Home Point has partnered with 57 Connecticut mortgage brokers and plans to expand in the state and nationwide. Even through the pandemic, the wholesale lender has also increased its own operations staff, adding 1,000 associates this year with plans to hire a couple hundred more by the end of December.
The company’s approach to business – known as its “we care” philosophy – has been another selling point for brokers, Patterson said.
“How we treat our [brokers], how we treat the consumers, how we treat our associates – it’s really about that philosophy and helping people to do business and getting homeowners in a home,” she said.