Prior to being introduced as Home Point Financial’s new president of servicing on August 18, Perry Hilzendeger was a fixture at Wells Fargo for 30 years. The move from the country’s number one overall lender to one of the rising stars of the wholesale space may seem like an odd move for some, but not for anyone aware of wholesale’s considerable upside, fuelled as it is by an increasing popularity among consumers.
“I guess the thought process was to return to an area where growth and customer care and customer satisfaction were really primary,” Hilzendeger says, adding that much of the innovation in the industry is being driven by non-bank participants. He says his move to wholesale lending will allow his career and Home Point’s next phase of evolution to progress “in the direction the consumer’s taking us.”
Hilzendeger is just one of many American mortgage professionals to make the transition from retail to wholesale lending. He says that many of the loan officers who have made the switch are benefiting from an increase in the number of lenders they can send deals to. With so many channels open to them, they have the freedom to choose what’s best for their clients based on each lender’s pricing, service and capacity.
“In some cases, [LOs] may give up familiarity of brand name that comes with some of the larger scale operations,” he says. “But as our consumers become more and more educated and familiar and comfortable in this space of home financing, I think that we are seeing an easiness in the customer working with someone who may not be a household name.”
Obviously, it’s not only loan officers who are making the change. Hilzendeger explains how he and other executives have watched as larger banks have reduced their exposure to the mortgage market over the years. That isn’t the trend he’s seeing in wholesale.
“The opportunity to join an organization in the growth mode that Home Point is in is exciting. It’s different than what we may be experiencing in some of the other facets of the business today,” he says.
But Hilzendeger doesn’t see a full-scale exodus hitting the retail sector. Instead, he sees the space, which was for years a jack-of-all-trades willing to service anyone, narrowing its focus, servicing a more select clientele, and innovating based on those clients’ needs.
“I think the retail space will come out of this just fine,” he says. “I think they will look different. They will have a different focus and emphasis on client base.”
The looming post-forbearance environment
Hilzendeger was particularly interested in going to work for a company that retains its servicing relationships, a strategy he feels helps create long-term, mutually beneficial relationships between Home Point, its clients, and its correspondent lending partners. As the new head of servicing, he hopes to grow the company’s servicing operations in-line with its off-the-charts origination growth. Part of that strategy involves preparing for an imminent post-forbearance scenario that could put Home Point’s servicing operations to the test.
Even though the company is seeing a slowdown in forbearance requests, Hilzendeger says Home Point is scaling its servicing operations, growing capacity and providing self-help programming for those borrowers comfortable enough to steer their own ships. Home Point is currently reaching out to clients prior to the end of their forbearance programs and determining what their best next steps look like.
He’s confident that Home Point and its customers will be ready for the post-forbearance phase of the COVID-19 nightmare.
“What we’re finding, in many cases, is that customers took the forbearance programming as a form of insurance,” he says.