Blogs and websites have been on fire since the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was signed into law on July 21, 2010. Though many mortgage lenders and mortgage loan originators (MLO) are still unclear as to the total impact of this new law on their income, there are a few elements of the law that are known and will affect every mortgage loan originator. The compensation provisions of the law go into effect on April 1, 2011 and set up new provisions for all MLOs. Although the industry experienced new disclosure requirements with the new Good Faith Estimate (effective 1/1/2010), and the inclusion of yield spread premium (YSP) into the Origination Charges, followed by a credit of the YSP to the borrower, established the new way of disclosing these fees, the MLO still financially benefited from YSP. That compensation process will come to an end. Also, the ability to price a loan differently due to loan size or complexity will not be a pricing option effective April 1st. All loan origination compensation must be computed on the loan amount and cannot be adjusted for a difficulty factor. Additionally, origination compensation must be paid by either the borrower or the lending source, not both.
Though these changes will affect pricing policies for many mortgage companies and MLOs alike, they are not the end of our industry, but rather a signal for the need to alter operations. The mortgage industry over the past several decades had become bloated with under-trained individuals earning incomes that rivaled physicians and attorneys. Unharnessed revenue structures allowed unskilled MLOs, untrained processors and managers to maintain high incomes without sufficient industry knowledge, all at the consumer’s expense. Mortgage lenders could afford to maintain an unskilled workforce as per loan profit margins negated a need for sufficiently trained employees. Mortgage lenders of all sizes will now need to evaluate the cost of loan originations. A need to streamline origination and processing functions will become critical. Each dollar saved in the process becomes an additional dollar of profit and a potential compensation dollar. The need for a MLO to understand everything about the origination/processing procedures and to efficiently compile a closable loan file from the point of origination will be essential, if the MLO wishes to maintain a reasonable earnings per hour spent compensation. Effective training programs for all MLOs and processors will become an equally essential part of every successful mortgage lender’s operations. The once neglected training area will be at the forefront of every profitable mortgage lender’s staffing protocol. The days of unskilled, under-educated production and ops staff are gone. The ability for mortgage companies to retain employees who are sufficiently trained, will become increasing more difficult. As per-loan revenues fall, additional profits will only be achieved through greater efficiency and higher skill set of their workforce.
Though the Dodd-Frank Bill set out to achieve consumer protection through the establishment of compensation limits, the new law will also reach well into the operations of every mortgage lender. Along the way the law might possibly not only change the operations of the lender, but may also ignite changes that will improve our industry forever.