Maximizing the Slow Season

Written By: Frankie Lacy, Op-Ed Writer

Typically the mortgage industry slows down after we move out of the holiday season and into the first few months of the year. Business may not start to pick up until mid-spring or early summer. We can utilize this time to clean house and sharpen our skills in preparation for the next busy season.

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Organize Your Resources:
Take this time to sort through memos, guidelines, and other documents to determine if they are still relevant. Discard old training materials and find updated versions online or through your company’s training resources. Go out to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA, and RHD websites to pull updated guidelines and lender or mortgagee letters. Print updated FICA and Medicare deduction tables and postal worker pay period schedules. If your company distributes policy or procedural memos, organize these in a binder or folder in chronological order. Find a place for your file folders and resource materials so they are easily accessible.

Update Your Process Flow:
If you use checklists to perform underwriting or processing duties, go through the checklists to determine if anything needs to be added or removed from your process flow. Add in any new responsibilities that have come out of CFPB compliance implementation. If in the process of using the form you’ve noticed that the layout is clunky, move some things around to help you become more efficient. The flow of the checklist should follow the flow of how you typically review a file.

If you regularly calculate rental or self-employment income, think about creating some Excel spreadsheets that will perform the mathematical functions for you. This can cut down on errors and create a more professional format of showing your work for delivery to the investor. Create a list of conditions you find yourself typing regularly into your loan origination system. Having an edited list of conditions in a Word document will reduce spelling and grammatical errors. If there are any new conditions that need to be added throughout the year, you can easily update your list.

Learn Something New:
Take this time to ask questions of more senior staff members on your team to deepen your knowledge of your job function. If there is an area where you lack confidence due to limited knowledge, look for online trainings offered by your organization or seek approval to take external trainings. Take the time to print disclosure documents in old files and read them carefully until you have a better understanding of what information is contained in each disclosure. Volunteer to help another department to see if you have an interest in their job duties.

Scrub Your Pipeline:
Performing a pipeline scrub is essential for compliance with HMDA and Regulation B guidelines. It is also a great way to get a fresh start before the busy season begins. Contact loan officers and borrowers to determine if the loan is still active. If it is no longer active, follow your company’s loan decision procedures to get the application closed out. Take the time to re-examine your pipeline management process. You can set up reminders on an Outlook or Google calendar to prompt you to perform the pipeline scrub on a monthly or quarterly basis.

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Some other basic maintenance items you can perform are:
•Update your contacts in your email by adding the addresses of vendors or individuals you email on a regular basis.
•Add frequently visited websites to the favorites list in your web browser.
•Ensure that internet account usernames and passwords are updated and active. If any passwords to third party vendor websites (such as mortgage insurance companies)have lapsed, get the accounts reactivated.
•If you currently have passwords stored on paper, create a password protected Word or Excel document with a list of all your accounts and passwords for internet security.

About The Author

Frankie Lacy - As an op-ed writer, Ms. Frankie Lacy is a 15+ year mortgage industry veteran with extensive conventional mortgage underwriting experience. Topics of Frankie's expertise include: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, USDA Rural Housing, underwriting to investor overlays, self-employed borrowers, personal and business tax return analysis, rental income, condos/co-ops/PUDs, and more. Frankie is a Davenport University graduate with a degree in Business Administration.

Opinion-Editorial (Op-Ed) Disclaimer For NAMU® Library Articles: The views and opinions expressed in the NAMU® Library articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect any official NAMU® policy or position. Examples of analysis performed within this article are only examples. They should not be utilized in real-world application as they are based only on very limited and dated open source information. Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of NAMU®. Nothing contained in this articles should be considered legal advice.