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Blog Post
NewsSeptember 1, 2023
Dave Higgins, VP of Business Innovation, Earns 2023 HousingWire Insiders Award
HousingWire—a leading housing industry media publication—today announced its 2023 Insiders Award winners. Dave Higgins, UMortgage’s VP of Business Innovation, was selected as one of the 75 exclusive winners of this award for his excellence in leading a plethora of initiatives and projects that have helped UMortgage grow at scale and enable its team members to succeed in their roles. The HousingWire Insiders Award honors operational leaders in housing who are working behind the scenes to drive their companies and clients forward. According to HousingWire’s press release, “Winners were carefully selected by HousingWire’s selection committee based on their vital and dynamic contributions to their companies and the industry as a whole.” Higgins’ contributions to UMortgage since joining in 2021 have been invaluable to the mortgage platform’s exponential, 300% year-over-year growth. In his role as VP of Business Innovation, Dave is the mastermind behind UMortgage’s approach to any updated process, new initiative, departmental restructure, or ideated solutions to individual and collective pain points. He brings structure, accountability, communication, and user adoption to life all while ensuring the platform maintains its industry-best Net Promoter Score (NPS) and operations turn times. UMortgage sat down with Dave to discuss what it means to win this award and his approach to leadership within the organization. Q: Dave, congratulations on being selected as one of HousingWire’s 2023 Insiders Award winners! What does it mean to be recognized as one of the leading figures of innovation within the housing industry? DH: “It’s an incredible honor! The thing that I really appreciate about this award is that these are the people who don’t get a lot of time to be in the spotlight. I’m glad that this is an opportunity for people who like to be the workhorses of their industry or company to shine and be recognized. Kudos to HousingWire for coming up with an award that really shines a light on those folks who can be easily overlooked in some cases. I love this award for all the hard-working individuals leading these groundbreaking projects throughout our industry. All my fellow nominees and award winners should be proud of the work they do, and it’s incredibly rewarding to see and receive this kind of recognition.” Q: You’ve received this award for working on a lot of the groundbreaking projects at UMortgage that are helping us blaze a trail in the mortgage industry. When reflecting on all the projects you’ve worked on previously, what are some of the things that guide your leadership as new initiatives arise and new projects are started? DH: “The industry evolves incredibly quickly. We have to adjust to things that come by the day and sometimes even by the hour. One of the biggest things that I’ve tried to instill in the teams that I work with is to document everything—that way if you need to refer to anything, you have something concrete right there and available to you. The other thing is to always build in measures of accountability for the individuals leading specific parts of these new projects and processes so we can get a measuring stick for success and ensure that we’re always on the right track. I think there are always opportunities to partner with your business unit in a better way and new methods to get buy-in from the team members and the individuals who are in the trenches. As leaders, we should constantly seek out new methods to engage them and get them excited about what you’re doing, and that’s bringing them into the project and making them part of the decision-making process.” Q: What advice would you give to other leaders or individuals aspiring to innovate in their respective industries? DH: “The biggest advice that I can give is to go outside of your industry to find things that have worked. We can adapt things from manufacturing plants, food service, and really any industry out there. There are very few novel problems in the world. Somebody somewhere else out there has found a way to solve the problem that you have – you just have to find it. Go outside of the industry. Call leaders in other industries and ask them how they would tackle that kind of problem. Nine times out of 10, somebody else has tackled that issue and has a creative solution that you can use.” Dave is the third current UMortgage Executive Leader to earn one of HousingWire’s industry leader awards this year. Gil Arbitsman, CFO, was named one of the publication’s 2023 Finance Leaders while Corie Meredith, VP of Marketing, earned the honor as one of their 2023 Marketing Leaders. UMortgage has carefully curated an award-winning leadership team to champion its vision to create life-changing opportunities through homeownership. Through the guidance of UMortgage’s executive leaders, the platform serves as a trailblazer within the mortgage industry and ensures the success of all its team members and Loan Originators. If you’re interested in learning more about the ways that UMortgage’s leadership team is blazing a trail towards a better mortgage industry, follow this link to hear from some of the platform’s leading minds and top producers.
Blog Post
NewsAugust 18, 2023
Salesforce Partners with UMortgage to Showcase the Imperatives of Technology Investment in Today’s Mortgage Landscape
Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), is committed to partnering with mortgage lenders to drive their technology transformation with modern solutions that are already in practice and serving many of the top mortgage lenders in the country. As part of its efforts to drive the mortgage industry forward through the adoption of these technologies, Salesforce selected UMortgage’s leadership to establish the precedent of utilizing them to their fullest potential. UMortgage was identified to take part in this campaign because of its utilization of Salesforce’s mortgage interface to facilitate better client experiences. Through the use of customized task management systems and automation within Salesforce, UMortgage has been able to offer LOs and their borrowers consistency and certainty throughout the mortgage process. The use of an innovative tech stack has directly correlated to business success with UMortgage achieving 300% year-over-year growth and a near-perfect 95 net promoter score (NPS)—an indicator of a best-in-class client experience. On Wednesday, August 16th, Salesforce hosted a webinar—Imperatives in Today’s Mortgage Landscape—led by Geoff Green, Salesforce Global Head of Mortgage Lending, and Anthony Casa, President & CEO of UMortgage. “In order to compete and succeed in today’s economy and beyond, mortgage lenders have to embrace digital transformation,” stated Green. “Anthony (Casa) and the initiatives set at UMortgage are an excellent example of the ways that Salesforce can be used to simplify the borrower experience, improve operational efficiency to close deals faster, and offer data-driven solutions to common industry pain points.” During the webinar, Casa and Green outlined the increased focus on the value of servicing, how to meet evolving client expectations, the importance of ease-of-use to drive certainty with a custom tech stack, and why technological advancements like AI and automation are taking center stage with most business development initiatives. “It’s important that we share the blueprint for our success with hopes that other mortgage leaders and technology leaders within this industry can use what we’ve done here to plan their own technology transformation strategy,” said Casa. “We ultimately want to make sure that everyone in this industry is doing everything that they can do to best serve consumers, make a positive impact on Loan Originators, and persevere through this challenging market to set our Loan Originators and team members up for success.” To learn more about the technological systems in place on the UMortgage platform, join its leadership team every Thursday at 2pm ET for an overview of the Sales, Marketing, and Business Support technology that has driven growth for so many Loan Originators.
Blog Post
NewsJuly 5, 2023
UMortgage Surpasses $1 Billion in Funded Loans Halfway Through 2023
At the halfway point of 2023, UMortgage is delighted to achieve a massive financial milestone—$1 billion in funded loan volume so far this calendar year. The platform signaled intent to continue to scale after a record-breaking year of growth in 2022, and the investments put in place previously have laid the foundation that enabled UMortgage to surpass its 2022 funded volume just 21 weeks into the new year. Ian Twaddle, a UMortgage loan originator, and his team originated the loan that officially brought UMortgage above $1 billion funded for the year. The Pennsylvania-based LO has been with the platform since October 2022 and has seen their production increase while relationships improve since making the move to UMortgage. “We throw around the phrase ‘all in’ a lot, but Anthony [Casa] has truly gone ‘all in’ over and over—especially with Operations,” said Ian. “At UMortgage, we’re never settling. Rather, we’re constantly improving our Operations processes and standards until they’re the best in the business. That’s what makes it possible for me and the team to do the business we have been doing.” UMortgage was able to accomplish this milestone before the halfway point of the year because of multiple investments into its infrastructure in 2022 with a long-term vision for sustainable success in mind. Prioritizations were made to spur continued exponential growth, starting at the top with its Executive Leadership team, then making their way throughout the organization with revitalizations for recruiting, onboarding, training, and coaching. These tenants laid the groundwork for UMortgage to continue to attract top talent and scale at an increasing rate throughout 2023 and beyond. In the last 12 months, UMortgage has been carefully curating an award-winning Executive Leadership team that ensured alignment across all departments and led short-term projects that paved the path towards making its long-term vision attainable. Gil Arbitsman, CFO and 2023 HousingWire Finance Leader, was brought on board to set financial structures in place that allowed UMortgage to acquire top talent and continue to scale. Kayla Lopez, SVP of Strategy and 2023 HousingWire Rising Star, helped develop internal strategies to help team members acclimate as the platform grew exponentially. And finally, Corie Meredith, VP of Marketing & 2023 HousingWire Marketing Leader, led UMortgage’s marketing strategies to attract new LOs to the platform and enable those LOs to grow & strengthen referral partner relationships. Once the UMortgage’s leadership was aligned, the platform underwent an overhaul of its recruiting, onboarding, training, and coaching strategies to ensure consistent standards were set across the entire organization. This uniform understanding of roles and responsibilities enabled UMortgage to seamlessly scale and welcome new Loan Originators to the platform without disrupting their preexisting pipelines. “We’re thrilled to have hit $1 billion in funded loans so early in the year,” said Rob Pieklo, UMortgage’s VP of Revenue. “We laid the groundwork to make this kind of production growth possible, but it was achieved thanks to the buy-in from everyone across the organization. $1 billion isn’t the final goal, though. We’ll be continuing to fine-tune our processes and develop team members in-house to continue to scale throughout the rest of the year and beyond.” After acquiring Dallas-based NXT Mortgage, Hodgson—the former NXT President & Co-Founder—earned the position as UMortgage’s Vice President of Growth to help identify areas for expansion and strategies to attract top talent in those regions. Most recently, those areas include the Midwest—specifically the Ohio Valley area—and the Southeast. This year, UMortgage has welcomed Ravi Patel’s Ohio Valley Mortgage Group and Patrick Stoy’s MC Mortgage Group, located in Northern Kentucky and Wilmington, North Carolina, respectively. UMortgage’s growth doesn’t end here, however. The platform is currently fine-tuning its Operations processes with a platform-wide initiative called “Operations 1.62”. It is also rolling out a robust coaching platform that connects Loan Originators throughout the organization with experts across the mortgage industry and beyond. UMortgage plans to double its production in the second half of the year; follow this link for a transparent look at the platform’s plans to grow and the ways that it is helping Loan Originators grow their business in any market.
Blog Post
NewsJune 13, 2023
UMortgage & HousingWire Forecast the Future of the Housing Market
There’s been no shortage of speculation regarding the future of real estate and the housing market. Are we in a bubble? If so, is that bubble about to pop? In late May, Anthony Casa, UMortgage President & CEO, was joined by Logan Mohtashami, Lead Analyst at HousingWire, to take a deep dive into the metrics that have shaped the housing market both recently and long term in their Forecasting the Future event. The pair analyzed the effects of low inventory, wildly fluctuating mortgage rates, and appreciating home values and how these three factors might shape the future of the real estate market and the housing industry. Logan used his robust market knowledge to analyze the data prior to the 2008 Housing Crisis and compare it to the events that shaped the current state of real estate. So, if you’re wondering if the housing market is going up in flames, you’re in the right place. Below, we’ll delve into the current state of the housing market, the differences between now and 2008, and what you can expect for the remainder of 2023 and beyond. What’s the Current State of the Housing Market? It’s no secret that the real estate market is in a challenging place. A period of record low rates and rising sales numbers were immediately followed by the biggest sales collapse in one year in 2022. “This is one of the most frustrating dynamics of housing,” said Logan while analyzing housing sales data. “On one side, everyone has a good loan and a very low total housing cost. On the other side, this creates housing inflation that we’ve never seen before.” This period of housing inflation has had a domino effect on demand and inventory. Those who couldn’t buy a home while rates sat at record-low figures have either been priced out by the lofty mortgage rates in this current market or hold apprehension to buy a home in this market. On the other side of the aisle, current homeowners aren’t listing their homes. Keep in mind that people don’t sell their homes to be homeless; a traditional seller is also a traditional buyer. These rate fluctuations have created more apprehension when it comes to individuals listing their homes, which is a negative hit to both supply and demand. In the graph below, you can see housing inventory data for the last 7 years. Although inventory isn't quite at its lowest like it was in 2022, it's still significantly lower than what we see in a more 'normal' market. “I don’t like to say that this is a housing bubble that we’re in right now,” Logan explained. “This was simply too many people chasing too few homes. When that occurs and it’s a supply-driven market, you can see prices accelerate out of control in a very short amount of time.” “Don’t overcomplicate it,” continued Logan. “Lower rates, demand gets better, housing is stabilized; that’s the marketplace we’re in right now. We aren’t seeing a repeat of what happened in 2022, and the purchase application data is backing that up. Since November 9th, we’ve had 18 positive purchase application data weekly prints versus 8 negatives. That’s your housing market story currently.” There are so many factors wedging the housing market between a rock and a hard place. But does that mean that we should anticipate a housing market crash on the horizon? Let’s talk about it. What’s Different Between the 2008 Housing Crisis & Now? If you’ve seen anything about the housing market on the news, you’ve probably seen financial analysts compare the current state of housing to the 2008 Housing Crisis. While there might be the same fear, uncertainty, and doubt surrounding housing right now, 2008 welcomed several regulations to better protect consumers from predatory lending. There have been laws regarding lending practices, credit, foreclosures, and bankruptcy put in place to prevent history from repeating itself. Take a look at the graph below outlining the number of consumers with new foreclosures and bankruptcies in the last 20 years. The difference in data from 2003 to 2011 and 2012 to 2023 is striking. In 2005, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) made multiple changes to the United States Bankruptcy Code – most notably that it became more difficult for consumers to file for bankruptcy. That’s why you’ll see that red line drop-off. Then, in 2010, Congress enacted the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. This law enforced a sweeping reform of the American financial system by “improving accountability and transparency in the financial system, to end ‘too big to fail’, to protect the American taxpayer by ending bailouts, to protect consumers from abusive financial services practices, and for other purposes.” To put it simply, these laws work in tandem to ensure that individuals can only qualify for a mortgage if they’re qualified to borrow the large sums of money needed to buy a home. These regulations protect consumers from the all-too-common predatory lending practices. These laws, combined with the increase in popularity of the 30-year fixed mortgage (rather than an adjustable-rate mortgage), ensure that homeowners are shielded from inflationary costs and rapidly rising rates. “The United States has the best 30-year fixed and is one of the few countries that promote a 30-year fixed product,” said Logan. “That 30-year mortgage keeps that total housing debt cost at the same level while your wages rise. So even though inflation is rising, your total housing cost in a sense would be lower or the same.” So, if you have clients who are worried about getting burned by another housing market crash, you can quote Logan: “We just don’t have the credit system in this country to allow for the events that cumulated into the 2008 Housing Crisis.” What Can We Expect from Housing Moving Forward? Now that we’ve cleared the air, what can we expect to happen to the housing market moving forward? Fixing inventory is a tricky issue. As mentioned before, the average mortgage rate sitting around the 7% range creates an issue of affordability, especially for homeowners paying a low total housing cost thanks to the rate they got in 2020 or 2021. However, rates decreasing will also create greater demand as first-time homebuyers and investors flock back to the housing market. Because the housing market is a supply-driven market, what needs to happen to create the right balance and fix the issue of demand? According to Logan, “Demand needs to stay weak for long enough to allow inventory to increase and for us to see ‘days on market’ grow. Nothing good happens in the housing market when ‘days on market’ are in the teens or less.” It all comes back to stability. Slowing inflation and a weaker labor market will see rates start to drop closer to the 5% range. If they can stay in that range for a prolonged period to shoulder the initial influx of demand, then homes should stay on the market longer and allow inventory to slowly accumulate. At UMortgage, we’re homeownership advocates. This means that our Loan Originators work to educate homebuyers on every facet of the homebuying and homeownership processes to ensure that they’re empowered and confident in the decisions they make. The Forecasting the Future event with HousingWire is one of the many opportunities that UMortgage LOs have to learn about the market and methods to navigate it in its different states directly from industry experts. UMortgage’s LOs are creating life-changing opportunities through homeownership with coaching from the industry’s leading minds, robust lender optionality, competitive rates, an innovative tech stack, and an efficient operations process. Check this out if you want to learn more about the platform’s design to help LOs, borrowers, and real estate agents navigate this changing market.

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