The new Insurance Act 2021 (Act 1061) has been enacted in Ghana.
It replaces the previous Insurance Act of 2006, Act 724 to bring the regulation of the insurance industry into conformity with international framework and supervisory standards and to increase its competitiveness on the international market.
‘The [National Insurance] Commission shall… have regard to the need to ensure that the regulation and supervision of insurance products and insurance services that support financial inclusion are proportionate to the nature, scale, complexity and diversity of the insurance business.’ –Insurance Act, 2021, p. 13
The new Act, which is part of the initiatives of the National Insurance Commission (NIC) to grow the insurance industry, aims at strengthening corporate governance, deepening the insurance penetration and increasing access to insurance for the population.
Particularly mentioned are farmers, those in the informal sector, and those with low incomes. The informal sector in Ghana is substantial. Recent data revealed that 90% of the employed population works informally, and even more in rural areas. Insurance penetration is low, currently reported as 1% of premium income to GDP.
The Act mandates the following types of insurance:
public liability insurance for certain places (including offices, shops, factories), insuring against negligence and destruction of life and property
profession indemnity insurance, required for a list of specific occupations (including accountants, bankers, lawyers, doctors, engineers, laboratory scientists, insurance brokers, and teachers)
‘The new Act will help to fill the gaps in the previous Act, enable both the industry and the NIC to comply with international standards and best practices, and promote innovation and inclusivity’, said Michael Kofi Andoh, Deputy Commissioner of Insurance at the National Insurance Commission.
The new Act will help to fill the gaps in the previous Act, enable both the industry and the NIC to comply with international standards and best practices, and promote innovation and inclusivity.
– Michael Kofi Andoh, Deputy Commissioner of Insurance, National Insurance Commission
New innovative insurance licenses
The Act has also added a new category of licence known as the innovative insurance licence for innovative insurers or reinsurers, as well as intermediaries. These new licences will be granted for a period not exceeding two years but may be extended. The intention is to develop a regulatory sandbox system to help encourage and promote innovation.
The criteria for granting an innovative licence are that ‘the applicant is capable of using a new or different technological or innovative measure to carry on the proposed innovative insurance business or to provide products or services’, that customers will be sufficiently protected, and that the issuance of the licence does not ‘materially impact the ability of the Commission to supervise the licensee’. The Minister may choose to enact, by legislative instrument, additional regulations regarding applications, qualifications, and regulation of holders of licences.
The NIC is expected to issue further directives and guidelines to direct the implementation of the law. This is the latest development in the Ghanaian insurance market, after being one of the pioneering countries to introduce mobile insurance regulations in 2017.
Inclusive insurance developments in the region
Elsewhere in the Sub-Saharan African region, we have seen some interesting inclusive insurance developments – Lesotho is at an advanced stage of developing microinsurance regulations, and South Africa, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe also regulate microinsurance. Mozambique also has a pilot project for Index-based Insurance. To learn more about the latest in inclusive insurance regulations in Sub-Saharan Africa and worldwide, see our Inclusive Insurance Regulations Map and subscribe to our mailing list.
Franklin Street, a full-service commercial real estate and insurance services firm headquartered in Tampa, Florida, has appointed Rob Allen as president of its Insurance Services division.
Allen is a 30-year veteran of the insurance industry. After completing a degree in risk management, he started his career as an insurance broker in South Florida in 1988, with a company that was later acquired by Marsh. He then spent 25-years with Willis, progressing up the leadership ladder until he was named president and CEO of Willis Towers Watson’s Atlanta division in 2015, where he turned a shrinking organization into a leading growth office in just three years.
In 2019, Allen joined USI, where he served as a practice leader in the brokerage’s property and casualty division, focused on growing complex accounts, coaching brokers and recruiting top talent.
Now, as president of Franklin Street’s Insurance Services division, Allen will oversee a national team that provides the full spectrum of commercial insurance service offerings for commercial real estate owners, developers and managers, including program design, market placement, portfolio administration, lender compliance, risk management and claims advocacy.
What attracted Allen to Franklin Street was the firm’s “deep specialization” in the real estate space. The firm was founded in 2006 during one of the toughest real estate climates, and has since grown to include seven business divisions: Investment Sales, Tennant and Landlord Representation, Capital Advisory, Insurance, Property Management, and Project Management.
“Franklin Street was conceived initially as a very diverse real estate ecosystem, and there’s a great deal of collaboration across the various divisions of the organization,” said Allen. “What attracted me to Franklin Street was an opportunity to get very specialized at a time when I think that’s the trend in the insurance broker space in general.
“When the markets are difficult and in the age of digitalization, it’s more and more important to be a specialist in our business. Being a generalist is really something of the past, and, in Franklin Street, we have a very specialized insurance team in a large, diversified organization.”
Franklin Street experienced a record year in 2021, achieving nearly 50% organic revenue growth and $1.5 billion in total transaction volume. The Insurance Services division – one of the firm’s largest divisions – grew by over 25% last year, achieving record revenue, earnings, new business wins and renewals.
Allen’s core focus in his new role will be to leverage Franklin Street’s collaborative platform to lead the insurance team into “new territory and historic growth”.
“Franklin Street Insurance Services does a tremendous amount of business in the residential multifamily real estate space. We are hyper-focused right now in that particular section of real estate,” he said. “But the resources and expertise that we’ve built in that space are relevant to other subsectors within real estate, such as hotels and hospitality. What I’d like to do is grow our business beyond residential multifamily and expand into other parts of the real estate sector.
“Historically, Franklin Street has done a very good job of identifying and hiring young talent, and then teaming that talent up with more experienced professionals within the organization. It’s a great model and it’s a model that I intend to continue to replicate. I want to continue to feed what we’ve been doing in the residential multifamily space, but I’d also like to build some similar teams in other sectors of real estate, such as hotel and hospitality.”
Delivering solutions for commercial real estate clients, like those in the hotel and hospitality sector, will not come without challenges – especially if those clients were heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and are now navigating a complex recovery.
“The hotel and hospitality sectors were hit hard by COVID-19, and they’re now looking to strike the right balance of efficiency in risk transfer, while also getting adequate protection for themselves,” Allen told Insurance Business. “As a specialist broker in the real estate space, we’ve got some ideas that they may not have seen before, and that’s one of the reasons why I want to invest heavily in that space internally and try to grow our business there.
“One of the things that really attracted me to Franklin Street was the unique offerings that we’ve developed for our clients, which I’ve never seen before at any of the major brokers I’ve worked with. For example, one of the major challenges that commercial real estate clients have is lender compliance, and often the insurance terms they’re insuring to are dictated not by what’s prudent or efficient, but by what lenders require. We’ve actually developed a team in-house that specializes in assuring lender compliance, but also in negotiating with lenders and getting better terms.
“To me, the ability to be innovative, and create new offerings and new resources – like our lender compliance solution – is a true differentiator, and I think that comes from being hyper-focused in the real estate space.”
Beyond developing new insurance solutions for commercial real estate clients, Allen will be focused on two priorities in the early stages of his Franklin Street career. The first is searching for new capacity, or finding ways to create capacity in what is quite a hard and restricted property insurance marketplace.
“My other priority is to identify and attract talent,” he added. “At Franklin Street, we’ve got a really interesting story to tell, which a lot of people have never heard. I want to get our story out there in front of my insurance broker colleagues who are in the real estate space, and help them to understand that we’re a great place to be.”
Fannie Mae’s national housing survey from last year found that consumers believe that housing in their area is becoming less affordable and more difficult to find, contributing to their lack of enthusiasm to move.
According to the survey conducted in the third quarter of 2021, 69% of participants share these sentiments. This marks a 20-plus percentage increase in consumer perception compared to five years ago, when only 45% of participants felt this way.
A blog by two Fannie Mae researchers — Rachel Zimmerman, market research advisor, and Kim Betancourt, senior director of economics and multifamily research — published this week said that consumer perception around housing affordability is in part contributing to inventory constraints.
The authors argue that homeowners may feel that their current housing costs are affordable in an otherwise unaffordable area, dissuading them from looking at other properties.
“While this can be true for either homeowners or renters, in our view homeowners probably feel this pressure a bit more acutely, since a stable, affordable mortgage payment would likely disincentivize many from selling and having to go through the purchase process again,” the researchers said in the blog post.
By some accounts, housing inventory in America hit an all-time low in December 2021. The lack of inventory has been a pressing problem for a number of years, in part exacerbated by building delays caused by supply-chain pressures and building materials
The survey found that a whooping 92% of mortgage holders think that their current home was “somewhat affordable.” This sentiment might be a driver for disincentivizing people from listing their homes, Fannie Mae’s researchers said.
This perception has likely “constrained the supply of homes for sale and made it even more difficult for potential first-time homebuyers to take advantage of low mortgage rates and escape record-high rent increases,” the blog said.
Mortgage rates have sky-rocketed in the last couple of months, with Freddie Mac’s most recent survey showing that mortgage rates crossed the 5% threshold. The notable rise may further discourage homeowners from listing their properties, or looking for other housing alternatives.
Mark Palim, deputy chief economist at Fannie Mae, said that rising rates will “undoubtedly have an impact on listings.”
“We know from the past that that when mortgage rates move up significantly, rapidly in a short period, that home sales slow,” Palim said. “So you know, people who have a 3% mortgage or a 3.5% rate mortgage. They’ve got to take that into account, right? They’re not going to want to give that mortgage up easily.”
The 2021 survey found that consumers who did express the desire to move were driven by work/personal lifestyle, rent prices going up, and wanting more outdoor space.
Per Fannie Mae’s data, rent prices increased by 10% in 2021 alone and prices are expected to increase by 4% to 5% in 2022. This is pushing renters to consider buying a house, the blog said. And many renters are eyeing rural areas as an oasis for affordable housing options.
The researchers conclude that the insights from the survey suggest that the availability of homes or rental properties in slightly less dense areas “would likely be welcome relief for many households,” the blog reads.
“But with single-family housing prices expected to increase by 7.6% in 2022, as measured by the FHFA Purchase-Only Index, after rising an astonishing 17.6% in 2021, both current and potential homeowners may continue to have difficulty purchasing a home,” the researchers wrote.
One of the most important questions that most people get to contend with is which mortgage providers in Ghana to choose from and how to acquire a mortgage or a home loan in Ghana. For most people, the dream of acquiring their own home is one of the early responsibilities they are faced with as they begin their adult life. While this dream may come easy for some, the reality is that for the large majority of people, this is not always the case, particularly when you look at the levels of income in Ghana. The capital outlay required to buy or acquire your own home is no chicken change. For some, this may be a lifetime of savings assuming you would want to consider financing the home acquisition personally. However, there is good news, acquiring a mortgage or home loan in Ghana is one of the ways you can consider financing your dream home acquisition, without having to break your back.
We would look at what a mortgage is and then proceed to provide you with a selection of some of the Top 6 mortgage providers in Ghana. We would also provide details on some of the different types of mortgages. Hopefully, by the time you are through with this article, you would have an idea as to some of the best mortgage providers in Ghana
What is a mortgage?
Mortgage is a loan that an individual receives from a bank or a mortgage lender that enables the individual to buy a home or a property. Note that, this being a loan means that the individual is expected to pay back the loan amount over an agreed period of time. Both individuals and corporations can take a mortgage to make a real estate purchase. The value of the property is held as secured collateral by the lenders or mortgage bank until you have paid off the mortgage amount plus any accrued interest. In Ghana, there are a number of banks or mortgage lenders that give out home loans or mortgages.
General requirements to acquire a home loan or mortgage in Ghana
The specific requirements for acquiring a mortgage from mortgage providers in Ghana would differ from one mortgage bank or lender to another. However, to be eligible for a home loan or mortgage in Ghana, generally, you may need to submit:
A completed and signed mortgage application form from your preferred bank and pay an amount of processing fee that will be dictated by the bank.
A form of identification such as a passport, driver’s license or national ID. Most banks may require that you bring along a passport size photograph, a personal reference form and proof of attorney.
You may also need to verify your income and employment from your employers. You may need to provide your last three salary slips that show all necessary deductions.
Copies of your individual income tax returns or audited accounts for the last 3 years if you are self-employed. As well as your business profile and your last 6 months bank statements if you are not a client of the bank. The bank may also need a credit report from a recognized credit bureau.
Some additional requirements entail submitting an offer letter from the Real Estate Developer, making a down payment of the total cost, title documents to the property, copies of the site plans, and approved building plans.
Now that we have met the general requirements of applying for a mortgage, the next dilemma would be to answer the question as to which mortgage providers in Ghana are best to acquire a mortgage or a home loan from.
Top 6 mortgage banks or mortgage providers in Ghana:
1. Stanbic Bank
Stanbic bank is one of the largest commercial banks in Ghana. The facility fee is 2% with loan repayments being between 5 to 20 years to repay. In addition, there is no limit to the amount you wish to acquire. Acquiring a home loan may depend on your income as well. Stanbic bank gives you the flexibility of repaying the loan at a pace you may be comfortable with. Stanbic Bank also has 6 different mortgage products to choose from, namely:
Home Purchase – This is primarily meant for the immediate purchase of completed homes.
Developer Construction – This is perfect for individuals who are yet to complete their homes from Stanbic Banks’ preferred developers.
Equity release – With the equity release you can take a loan and use the cash released for a variety of personal needs, including the purchase of another home or prime land, business expansion or funding education.
Employer Group Mortgage Scheme – Developer-based home construction on your land bought under organization block lands schemes.
Home Improvement – This plan allows you to renovate, remodel or expand your current home.
Refinancing – The refinancing mortgage is in 3 forms:
Internal refinancing – The internal refinancing allows you to arrange new financing terms such as the term of your existing Stanbic Home Loan, currency and amount.
External Refinancing – Financing is provided to help take over existing home loans from other banks.
Cash Refinancing – This process gives you access to extra money if the value of your property has appreciated over the years.
Stanbic Bank can be contacted on +233 302 815 789 / 080 010 009
Absa promises to give you a more convenient, easier and faster means of receiving a mortgage. Absa helps you to own a home, borrow against a home you own, even give your current abode an upgrade or help you take over your home loan from another financial institution. They offer up to 90% finance for home purchase and up to 70% for equity release and home improvement. With Absa, your property should be located within Accra, Kumasi and its environs.
When applying for a home loan in Ghana at Absa, you may need to bring along, but not limited to, the following items:
Your current payslip and a form of identification.
An offer of sale from a vendor
Land title certificate
Deed of assignment
Consent to a mortgage for leasehold (if applicable)
Sale and purchase agreement
For more information, do contact Absa via email at service.excellence.GH@absa.africa or 0800 222333 (Toll Free) / +233 (30) 2429150 (charges apply)
3. Cal Bank
Aside from their other functionalities as a bank, Cal Bank also seeks to assist clients to gain access to mortgage loans to purchase a home of their choice. The Cal Bank Mortgage has been designed to meet your present home loan needs. You are to be between the ages of 21 to 55 to be eligible for a mortgage from Cal Bank. It is required that you fill the Mortgage form from Cal Bank and follow the procedures detailed out. Some requirements to acquire a mortgage in Ghana from Cal Bank are :
A completed and signed mortgage application from Cal Bank.
An offer letter from the Real Estate Developer
A form of identification
Disbursement Conditions ( Pre and Post)
Security: personal guarantee of the applicant.
You can contact Cal Bank on +233 800 500 500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
4. Republic Bank
Republic bank aims to support both companies and individuals to acquire residential property for investment or private purposes. The maximum amount of loan a person can take depends on the client’s credit profile. You will need to make a down payment of 20% and the maximum term is 20 years. There is also a processing fee, which is 1.5% of the proposed loan if you are Ghanaian and USD250 /GBP150 if you are a non-resident Ghanaian.
The requirements needed to acquire a home loan in Ghana at Republic Bank are as follows but not limited to:
A completed Republic Bank Mortgage form
A form of identification ( passport, national ID), a passport picture, a personal reference form power of attorney.
NB: Republic Bank may also ask for proof of relationship if it is a joint application.
Republic Bank has about 6 mortgage packages for individuals and companies. They are as follows:
Home purchase mortgage: This form of mortgage is designed for individuals or companies to purchase a property for personal use or investment purposes. The minimum down payment one can make is 20%. The maximum mortgage tenure is 20 years for resident Ghanaians and 15 years for non-resident Ghanaians. The processing fee for resident Ghanaians is 1.5% of the proposed loan and USD 250 for non-resident Ghanaians. Non-resident Ghanaians may also need to pay for the facility fee which is 1% of the proposed loan. The preparation towards registration of legal documents, which includes the legal fee, is 1% of the property price for stamp duty on the title, 0.5% of the loan amount for stamp duty on mortgage deed and GH¢1,500.00 towards registration on the title for both resident and non-resident Ghanaians.
Home equity mortgage: The home equity mortgage enables applicants who own homes or may have already invested in residential properties to take out or release the equity in those properties to build another property or renovate a property. This product is suitable for existing homeowners and companies with properties. Republic bank states that the mortgage loans shall not exceed a maximum of 80% of the forced sale value (FSV) of the property. The maximum term for the facility is 15 years for both cedi and foreign currency loans. The title to the property should not have any controversies surrounding it. The title must also be duly registered. With the legal fee, Republic Bank requires 0.5% of the loan amount for stamp duty on Mortgage Deed and GHC600 towards registration on the title (if the document is already registered, if not GHC1,500.00 toward registration on the title). This applies to both resident and non-resident Ghanaians.
Buy, Build and Own a Home: This type of mortgage package is designed for low-income individuals who can only own their own home by acquiring land and developing it over time.
This mortgage product entails two main features. The “Buy” land portion and the “Build and Own” portion. Beneficiaries will contribute 10% of the cost of the land. The maximum amount for the “Buy” portion of the loan is USD15, 000 or the cedi equivalent.
After 50% payment has been made on the initial loan, the customer qualifies for the “Build and Own” portion of the product. The customer selects one out of six designs from the Bank to construct a house. The selection of the house is done at the time of the initial loan application for the “Buy” land portion. The maximum loan amount for the “Build and Own” (Construction) is USD35, 000 or the cedi equivalent.
The maximum term for each portion of the facility is 10 years which totals up to 20 years. The land must be registered appropriately and the title must be clear and undisputed. All permits such as development permits, building permits and approved building plans are necessary requirements.
Home Completion Mortgage: The Republic Bank Home Completion Mortgage aids individuals to complete the construction of their houses. The amount required from Republic Bank to complete the house must fall within the maximum loan. More than 50% of the total cost of construction of the property can not be requested for a loan, and the property must have reached at least the lintel level. The maximum term for this facility is 15 years for both cedi and foreign currency loans. All necessary building plans and permits, alongside appropriately registered title to the property, must be submitted to the bank. The loan will be disbursed in stages. Republic Bank will inspect the property after each stage of disbursement to ensure that the funds are being utilized properly.
Public sector home scheme: In the 2007 budget, the Government of Ghana mandated Republic Bank to provide an affordable homeownership scheme for public sector employees. All applications for the affordable homeownership scheme will be evaluated in accordance with Republic Bank’s eligibility and credit criteria.
The following qualify under the scheme:
All current public sector employees who have been in public sector employment for a minimum of 5 years.
The applicant must not have reached the general mandatory retiring age of 60 or 65 in the case of judges of the High Court and 70 years for judges in the Appeals and Supreme Courts.
For applicants who have 5 years or less to retire, Republic Bank will lend to such applicants provided GOG agrees to pay the outstanding loan amount due, out of the borrowers’ total lump sum entitlements when the borrower is about to go on pension or when the loan matures whichever comes earlier.
Joint applications will be accepted in the form of husband and wife or parent and child.
Upon the beneficiaries’ resignation or cessation of employment with GOG the interest rate on the mortgage loan shall be revised in accordance with the prevailing Republic Bank market rates.
Home improvement mortgage: The Republic Bank Home Improvement Mortgage is designed to assist individuals to renovate their homes or undertake extension works on their existing houses. The loan can also be used to acquire fixtures of chattels for the home. The target group for this product is existing homeowners and companies with properties. The maximum term for this facility is 15 years for both the cedi loan and foreign currency loan. The applicant is to provide a clear and undisputed title to the property, which must be duly registered.
Republic bank can be contacted on +233 302 429 555 / +233 302 258 106 / +233 302 242 093
5. First National Bank
First National Bank, now merged with Ghana Home Loans, provides its services in different forms when it comes to mortgages in Ghana. The home purchase mortgage includes the following:
Types of mortgages at First National Bank:
Home Construction Mortgage is given to individuals who need a loan to build their homes.
The land purchase mortgage from First National Bank helps you own a land.
The Home Owners Mortgage is also available for homeowners who wish to borrow for a longer period of time and use their home as collateral.
The Save-to-Own is perfect for young individuals who may now be starting out or self-employed individuals who may not have a steady flow of income but wish to own a home.
First National Bank offers various packages under the home purchase mortgage and they are as follows:
First-time buyer – If you are a first-time buyer, First National Bank offers this service exclusively to individuals who have never purchased a home before.
Buy-to-let – Interested in buying another property to rent? Allow First National Bank to help you with the process. They offer buy to let services where you can buy another property for the purpose of investment and rent it out to tenants.
100% Purchase – This is similar to the first-time buyer package. If you are a Ghanaian and wish to purchase your first home, you can apply for a 100% loan from First National Bank to purchase the property if you cannot raise the minimum deposit.
Home Purchase Loan – The Home Purchase Loan enables homeowners to purchase an additional home.
NB: Mortgage rates for these banks differ from bank to bank.
You can contact First National Bank on 024 243 5052 / 024 243 5057
6. Ecobank Ghana
Ecobank has a mortgage calculator available on its website to help you know how much you can pay periodically. Acquiring a mortgage in Ghana from Ecobank is quite simple. You can walk into their office at any of their local branches and request a mortgage form. You will be guided through the process and the necessary documents to submit. Also, the Devtraco Group and Ecobank Ghana have signed a mortgage financing agreement under which Ecobank will provide exclusive financing arrangements to would-be homeowners desirous of patronizing luxury and middle-income homes from Devtraco Plus and Devtraco Limited.
Clearly, the option of securing or acquiring a mortgage in Ghana to support the acquisition of a home is a very viable alternative when weighed against the burden of self-financing. It is for this reason that knowing what is required for acquiring a mortgage in Ghana is extremely important. Even more critical is knowing where you can find the best mortgage providers here in Ghana.
Whatever your Devtraco Plus home choice, these banks will stand by you to assist your purchase. Check out our amazing home offers and give your mortgage provider a call.
The growing Ghanaian population has continued to widen the housing deficit which is estimated at 2 million housing units. The Government of Ghana has intervened in the housing situation in the country to provide affordable housing especially for public sector workers.
The Government through the 2018 Budget and Economic Policy has approved the establishment of a National Housing and Mortgage Finance Scheme to provide extensive construction of residential housing across the country to promote social equity and stimulate the economy. In this regard, the Ministry of Finance has designed a Scheme and set up the National Housing and Mortgage Finance Fund to address the two (2) main constraints to home ownership by Ghanaians — access to mortgages to buy homes by low to middle income earners and high cost of financing for the construction of residential homes; and to ensure sustainability in the opportunity to own homes by large segment of Ghanaians.
Through the Scheme, Government will facilitate cheaper local currency mortgage loans to workers and construction finance to real estate developers and encourage the building of communities across the country. The scheme will also allow low income public workers to rent property at affordable rates from Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) under the Rent to Own Scheme. Currently, Government through National Housing and Mortgage Fund (NHMF) has partnered three Banks – Stanbic, Republic and GCB Bank Limited to deliver cedi mortgages at affordable interest rates to Public Sector workers and construction finance to local developers.
The Government has also partnered GCB Securities to establish the first Affordable Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) to purchase properties and rent them at affordable rates to public sector workers for a period of 15 to 20 years after which they pay a residual value to own it. REIT has identified properties at TDC Community 22 Affordable Housing Enclave for the pilot phase.
In line with the housing project, NHMF has designed a survey to capture data to understand the housing needs and preferences of public sector workers. The survey will allow the fund to understand housing preferences in terms of property locations, house types, etc. to better serve the housing needs of public sector workers.
We will appreciate if you can complete the survey below to allow us to capture necessary data to serve your housing needs.
Last year, mortgage originators had the best of everything — low interest rates that attracted plenty of refinancings and increasing purchase demand at the same time.
But as easy as it was for Top Producers to bring in customers last year, in 2022 they will have to work much harder to keep their origination numbers up while they shift their business models primarily by adding to, or adjusting, their product menus.
The leading originators that National Mortgage News spoke with already have implemented changes to their business plans to maintain their success.
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Some Top Producers, in order to deal with the large inflow of loan applications last year, had created separate workflows to increase efficiency. It was the third period in Thuan Nguyen’s 16-year career in the mortgage business in which interest rates fell to a new low point.
“I learned from my previous experience that when rates dropped, I could not scale. I could not handle more business,” said Nguyen, the president of Loan Factory in San Jose, California who was the No. 1 originator in this year’s survey with $2.47 billion in loan volume in 2021. He took the lessons learned from the previous two times when rates bottomed out when he, along with other originators, found themselves dealing with capacity issues. In addition to putting new systems into practice, he staffed up to handle the additional business (Including Nguyen, Loan Factory has eight producers in the top 400).
“I myself, [and] we [at Loan Factory] prepared so that we can continue to take more business and we can close locally and keep the customer happy,” Nguyen said.
Last year was about execution, added Michael Borodinsky, a producing branch manager at Caliber Home Loans’ Edison, New Jersey office.
“That was the critical issue,” he said. “For example, we used a system to prioritize refinance transactions versus purchase transactions.”
But Borodinsky wasn’t ignoring the other side of the origination equation, declaring, “we never, ever took our foot off the gas or our focus away from purchase.” He produced $346.9 million in 2021. Still, the anxiety during last year was about managing the volume coming in. This year is a different story in terms of back office capacity.
“The loan officers are going to have to go to work this year in a way that they haven’t seen probably since 2018,” he said.
Reginald Maddox, a vice president and regional manager at McLean Mortgage in Fairfax, Virginia, was already doing fewer refis, and thus total volume, in 2021 than the previous year. But, his production remained elevated at $422.3 million, thanks to a lot of hard work and long hours.
“So when I talk to loan officers who come to me and say, ‘what can I do to better my game?’ one thing I tell them is be honest to a fault,” Maddox explained. “Tell everyone the truth. Don’t fiddle around because you’re going to waste your time only to lose the client anyway.”
Key to keeping clients is having a product set to offer in any environment. Melissa Cohn, a vice president at William Raveis Mortgage in the Shelton, Connecticut office, educates her clients about adjustable rate mortgages. It’s a product that, between its post-crisis reputation and the record-low interest rates, has gotten little market share in more than a decade.
While she sold plenty of fixed-rate mortgages during the recent boom, not every borrower qualifies for one. Cohn’s volume last year was $276.1 million.
“Do they need an adjustable because of their debt-to- income? Do they need an adjustable with a bank that’s more forgiving on credit scores?” said Cohn, a 40-year veteran of the mortgage field who’s been a leading originator for many years. “Everyone needs to look at what the best rate and product is for themselves, for their circumstances.”
Today’s ARMs are not the negative amortization sort that has been cited as a cause of the housing crisis and borrowers need to be educated on that, Cohn said, adding that loan officers need to learn something as well. “A lot of originators today have to understand that we can’t put our best rate forward anymore,” Cohn said. “I’ve known this for years that you can’t sell rate, you have to sell approval.”
It’s all about understanding the borrower and understanding the type of property they want to purchase, she continued. That is key for thriving at a time when potential home buyers are well aware of headlines about rising interest rates and a scarcity of homes for sale. Rate movements may be the lesser of the problems for loan officers when compared with the inventory shortage. Consumers were buying homes at times when rates were 15%, let alone being active in the market when they were 6%, Cohn said.
“I haven’t had a single client come to me saying ‘rates have gone up so I’m not going to buy anymore,’” Cohn said. “I’m lucky that the bulk of my clients can afford to purchase and that they purchase for lifestyle and life decisions as opposed to taking advantage of a specific rate.”
Borodinsky is also seeing more demand for ARM loans as rates rise. Additionally, he is doing more non-QM, both using a proprietary product Caliber offers, or through brokering it out.
Adding new products is essential in order to be competitive in 2022. “So what I look at is my ability to fulfill on the entire spectrum, because last year, I didn’t have to worry about that,” Borodinsky said. “Now, you have to be able to fulfill on everything because if you want to keep your numbers solid and keep your pipelines full, you have got to be an expert in everything.”
The inventory shortage is a bigger problem. Consumers searching for a home or making bids are coming in for pre-approvals. After going through the process and getting a letter, they end up being outbid for the property, Borodinsky said.
“Then we wind up doing it again, and then they get outbid, and this could go on for five, six, seven times,” Borodinsky said. “And that’s the problem, we could modify the letter, a price change, the loan amount changed, and we’re constantly doing this work.”
Some consumers are going through this process for up to a year and it can be frustrating for them. “That’s what’s scaring some of the buyers. It’s what’s scaring the market,” Borodinsky said. “What’s scaring me is that at some point, I’m not saying that this is a bubble about to burst but there’s going to be some correction, whether it’s a slowdown of appreciation, a leveling off of appreciation or whatever.”
But opportunity abounds for loan officers at those open houses, where 50 people attend and 30 people submit bids.
“Connect with those people because even somebody is going to get the house and win the bid,” Borodinsky said. “And then 29 other people aren’t but they’re going to go bid somewhere else,” so the loan officer makes new connections as well.
Maddox, who is a producing manager, is hearing from his branches that the shortage is what is most affecting their business. “Every single one said, up to my ears in business, but I’m losing every contract because there’s no inventory,” he declared.
It’s the quality of the consumer that drove the purchase market last year and will do so in 2022, Maddox explained.
“We have quite simply the most educated, highest paid, best credit generation in history,” he said, pointing not just to the millennials, but the Gen Zers as well who are starting their home search journey. “I think we just have way more qualified buyers than we’ve ever had before.”
Maddox only uses referral marketing to bring in business. “From an advertising standpoint, my marketing is, I meet with Realtors and let them know why I’m the best and why they should work with me. It’s as simple as that.”
When he talks with the loan officers at his company, he notes he works alone and it doesn’t take an army of originators to do that level of volume.
For Nguyen, whose business last year was heavily dependent on refis, making up nearly 85% of his production, the shift he already made is to do less rate sensitive products like cash-out loans and non-qualified mortgages. Unlike Maddox, Nguyen uses various forms of social media to reach potential borrowers, and he already has adjusted his messages.
“Most of my clients are in California and they have a lot of equity in the house and they want it, so they’re doing cash-outs,” Nguyen said. Originators need to make that shift in focus and messaging to have a viable business in this new environment, he continued.
“I think this year for our industry it’s going to be a very difficult time for most people,” Nguyen said. But he compared it to the mortgage business after the Great Recession, declaring that “if you can survive then you will have a good future.”
Meanwhile, loan officers must have a sense of empathy to clients and Realtors to be successful. That’s a key point in Maddox’s coaching.
“It’s very easy for us to get caught up in what we want and what we’re doing,” Maddox said. But it’s just as easy to forget that this is the only transaction that the real estate agent has right now.
“And that’s how they’re going to put food on their table and that’s why they’re so annoying and stuff like that,” Maddox continued. “And then with buyers, this is their biggest purchase of their lives or close to it. I think it’s easy for loan officers to forget that.”
That is why providing service is important, even on a 24/7 basis, Borodinsky noted.
“Service execution in this market is more prevalent and more relevant and more urgent than ever because if I don’t get back to somebody reaching out to me, or any one of my colleagues or my team members, if we don’t get back to people immediately, whether it’s picking up on the first ring or calling back on that missed call, we’re going to lose that lead,” he said.
With the ease of connections these days, consumers are “reaching out by email, they’re reaching out by phone and they’re calling lenders, this lender, that lender and whoever picks up is going to get first crack at that deal.”