Is it Really All Coming Together for the Mortgage Industry?

It’s no secret that the mortgage/housing/real estate** industry is comprised of a lot of different parts. A lot. By the time your typical residential mortgage process has come to a closing (and this is not to even speak of post-closing and secondary market stuff), chances are that the transaction has been touched by a real estate professional or two; a loan officer; perhaps a mortgage broker; not one but two underwriters (title and mortgage); probably a home inspector; an appraiser; some lucky soul who handles curative, doc prep and the like; maybe a lawyer or two; a title agent; a notary and/or closing specialist and, quite possibly, a partridge in a pear tree (although the last is only legal in a few states, as we understand it). Each with his/her or its own technology. Each with his/her/its own process. Each with his/her/its own bills to pay.

Needless to say, this somewhat ad hoc existence, forced into being by a happy patchwork of regulation, legislation and litigation, has led to confusion, error, delay, anxiety, unnecessary cost and inaccuracy on more than a few occasions. The pipes are all there, but they don’t always fit together in the best way possible. The result of that, of course, has been the more-than-occasional clash of interests. Think back to the HUD/RESPA reform/bundled services (possibly the “good ole’ days” in comparison to TRID) discussion that preceded the on-again, off-again efforts of HUD somewhere around 2004 – 2005. In this case, ours was most certainly not an industry in lockstep, as the concepts and proposals floated by HUD would have disparate impacts on different segments of the mortgage space.

That hasn’t changed. But something else has.

Three or four years into an era that has seen super-regulators flex their considerable powers (to the detriment of industry participants, at times); main street take on a jaundiced view of our industry and unprecedented market swings make it nearly impossible to forecast six months out; the mortgage industry looks at the world a little differently today. As a result, we have an industry that, more than ever, seems to speak with one voice and see the forest for the trees—at least better than it used to.

Is this temporary? Maybe. Will it go away if external pressure does? Can’t rule it out. But what we can say is that the leaders of our industry have at their disposal some commonality of purpose. It would seem appraisers, agents and brokers all understand that their livelihoods could be at stake if they don’t see the bigger picture. We’ll come back to this thought time to time. But it’s safe to say that the ingredients are there for a collaborative push to improve our industry. The rising swell that is e-mortgage adoption may be a great example of this new collaborative spirit. That’s something. And it’s more than we have in many other industries or our society in general right now.

** We will use occasionally use terms like “housing,” “mortgage” and “real estate” interchangeably to refer to the industry we serve. We’re referring pretty much to any professional segment that helps put consumers or companies into housing or office space, commercial or residential; from appraiser to non-bank mortgage lender; title agent to Realtor.

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