The U.S. economy and housing market has been anything but predictable the last few years.
The only constant in the mortgage marketplace has been a lot of change — and that change is happening fast. As a result, there’s been an ever-increasing demand that those of us who service home mortgages remain both nimble and committed to the homeowner experience, today and as 2023 continues to play out.
Prognosticators aren’t quite sure what to make of the housing market going forward. There are those expecting interest rates to fall throughout the year, reigniting housing demand. Others would tell you that a drop in interest rates, if accompanied by a recession, won’t change demand very much. There are surely trends we would love to see continue, especially lower delinquencies and foreclosures than what we saw pre-pandemic.
We might also expect that home equity lines of credit will remain a popular instrument for things like funding a college education for those with mortgages well below current borrowing rates.
Any or all of these potential changes will determine the business path forward for not only banks, credit unions and other lenders, but the mortgage servicing business as well.
Cenlar is prepared for the volatility of this environment, committed to adapting in a way that puts the homeowner first. This year, we want to continue to grow our position as the mortgage servicing leader. To do that, we continue to lean in to delivering quality services.
In late 2022, for example, we passed a significant milestone, with more than a million customers receiving paperless billing. You don’t get to that milestone, nor the goals we’ve set for 2023, without significant ongoing investment in both technologies and people — talented employees trained and ready to apply the most sophisticated tools in the mortgage servicing business on behalf of the homeowner.
We’ve made it much easier for the homeowner to resolve servicing issues online through investments in artificial intelligence and more intuitive options like our chat function.
As an example, we expect that in 2023 homeowners will benefit from a fully automated mortgage insurance process with the ability to recognize when insurance is no longer needed, notify homeowners and cancel unnecessary policies.
Yes, our commitment to technology means fewer mistakes and fewer occasions when a homeowner needs to talk to us, bringing whole new levels of efficiency for us. More important though, it means that when a homeowner needs to talk to us, we have a team with the right kind of expertise readily available. This is especially true in those times when homeowners face difficulties meeting home mortgage obligations.
A mortgage foreclosure benefits absolutely no one. Our ability to work with homeowners — by thinking like homeowners and caring for them — has brought about a multi-level review process specifically geared toward avoiding foreclosure for homeowners who are able to take advantage of workout options.
So, change may be a constant in this volatile market, but it’s nothing new for Cenlar. Throughout our history, we’ve embraced change and transformation, empowered by one goal: to continually improve in order to provide our clients and their homeowners the best experience possible.