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BY PHIL HALL

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CALIBER HOME LOANS

JANUARY 2016 n National Mortgage Professional Magazine n

NationalMortgageProfessional.com

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After several years in business as two separate entities, Caliber Funding and Vericrest Financial, Caliber Home Loans premiered in 2013. Many top executives, including Chairman and CEO Joe Anderson, were successful mortgage loan officers earlier in their careers. This enabled them to oversee the creation of a lender with a genuine understanding of today's homeowners, including their priorities and concerns. National Mortgage Professional Magazine spoke with John Bianchi, executive vice president of national retail lending, and Phil Shoemaker, executive vice president of wholesale lending, at Irving, Texasbased Caliber Home Loans on the company’s approach to today’s mortgage market. What makes Caliber different from its retail competitors? John Bianchi: A lot of people ask us that question. For us, it is our passion for what we do: assisting with keeping people in their homes and purchasing new homes. We retain the majority of our servicing, so our customers know who they work with through the life of their loan. I run the retail and consumer direct side of Caliber Home Loans, and I know how important it is to have a CEO like Joe Anderson, with experience from the ground up. Joe was a processor, a loan officer and an underwriter, and having someone at the helm who worked at every position makes the difference. It is surprising how many companies do not have that at the top. I was an originator as well, and I worked my way up through the last 25 years. When it comes to talking to loan officers, it is easier for me to relate to them because I’ve done what they are currently doing in the trenches. What makes Caliber different from its wholesale competitors? Phil Shoemaker: Culture is the key ingredient for any successful mortgage bank. It takes years to develop a great culture and only seconds to lose it with one bad decision. A great corporate culture is one where the leadership is humble, values their employees, and is focused on build-

ing an ethical, financially secure company. I believe Caliber’s culture is second to none. It’s the foundation of our longevity, and we work very hard to protect it. What does the company look for in potential employees? Bianchi: Like other companies, we are looking for the top producers. But at the end of the day, we’re looking for a cultural fit. It doesn’t matter how much production is done if there is no cultural fit—it just won’t work. I think about one of the big challenges in making a cultural fit: Despite all of the changes in Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, I have noticed that some loan officers care about this changing environment and how it affects them and their business practices, while others do not care as much. I get concerned when a loan officer I’ve interviewed asks, “Have you figured out how to get around these regulations?” I try to focus on finding the loan officer who cares about the customer, is a team player and cares about staying compliant. What is your forecast for the industry now that interest rates have finally begun to rise? Shoemaker: There will be substantial consolidation in the industry. The few companies like Caliber that have built service delivery models around purchase business, and are financially secure because of their balanced approach to originations and retaining servicing, will be the beneficiaries of the consolidation. We expect non-agency products to become a material part of the market. This is why we have worked the last two years to build our own proprietary suite of non-agency products. There is a large, untapped market of creditworthy borrowers who are able to demonstrate the ability to repay, but are underserved by the current agency and prime jumbo products available today. Caliber’s Portfolio Lending Product line gives us the ability to assist those underserved consumers and place them on the path of sustainable and responsible homeownership.

“Caliber is here for one reason: The customer, whether we are assisting with a refinance, helping a customer with a credit event to obtain a new home or a customer purchasing their first home, the customer comes first.” —John Bianchi, EVP of National Retail Lending, Caliber Home Loans There has been data from around the country suggesting that affordable housing is becoming more elusive to locate. In your opinion, what can be done to ensure greater housing affordability? Bianchi: There are numerous products across the industry designed to ensure affordable housing is available, including bonds and downpayment assistance programs. Caliber has developed programs to assist those who have experienced a credit event to once again enjoy homeownership. We need to educate the real estate community about these products. Personally, I would like to see the independent mortgage bankers take a similar approach to those of the banks who have Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) initiatives to assist low- to moderate-income families with affordable housing. There has been a great deal of talk over the past year on Millennials–or, to be more specific, the lack of them as homebuyers. What can be done to bring these younger people into homeownership? Bianchi: According to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 42 percent of Millennials want to purchase a home in the next five years and 65 percent agree that owning a home is the American dream. Millennials prefer to buy homes before they get married, which is different from earlier generations. I think the Millennials–at least from the research that I’ve done–will be the largest homebuying population this year. What is holding a lot of them back is student loan debt, and they are incubating a

little longer in their families’ homes. But that could also be part of their saving strategy, which will help them prepare their finances to buy homes. How has TRID impacted Caliber’s operations? Shoemaker: I am extremely proud of Caliber’s TRID implementation and all of those who sacrificed nights and weekends with their families to get us through it. It was an incredible amount of work and I believe our implementation is spot-on. Initially, we saw a slight increase in our application to close turn time, but our sales and operations teams communicated and we quickly made adjustments to correct. We did not assume we knew what was best for our broker partners–instead, we listened to them before building a flexible process that empowers them to provide a better experience for their customers. This was only possible because of our culture and the fact that we own our technology. Many of our competitors continue to struggle with their technology vendors, while Caliber quickly enhanced our platform when changes were required. As a result, Caliber is one of the few wholesale lenders that saw a material increase in market share from the third quarter to the fourth quarter. I expect this trend to continue through the first half of 2016. What are some of Caliber’s current marketing strategies? Bianchi: Caliber’s primary marketing strategies revolves around our distributed sales force. As a national lender, we have

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National Mortgage Professional Magazine January 2016  

National Mortgage Professional Magazine January 2016  

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