Coronavirus can't put the brakes on Homespire's recruitment spree

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Instead of contracting, several mortgage lenders are hiring to deal with an influx of business during the coronavirus pandemic.

With its competitors Better.com and Fifth Third Bank staffing up, Homespire Mortgage, too, has been looking to add to its headcount.

The Gaithersburg, Md.-based company added branches in Atlanta, Shreveport, La., Baton Rouge, La., and Westborough, Mass. Those new offices were in the works before the whole country "went bananas," said Todd Sheinin, chief operating officer.

But its regional managers are still out there recruiting and a few more branch additions are in the discussion stages.

Until recently, many loan officers were too busy to be receptive to recruiting pitches, he noted.

"A lot of those candidates are starting to get back in touch now because they don't really like what's happening at the company they're at," Sheinin said. “It's not that Homespire's doing anything different than the other companies.”

There have been a few adjustments to Homespire's recruiting and onboarding procedure amid the pandemic, but the company always had relied on video conferencing as part of the process.

"We do virtual marketing presentations on a regular basis, so all of that is still consistent," Sheinin said. "But we're not doing the site visits right now, obviously. What we are setting up instead is what we are calling virtual site visits, where we are having Zoom webinar calls so that candidates can speak directly to different department heads, underwriting manager, processing manager, myself, the secondary team, closing manager. We're using that quite heavily.”

Even onboarding is being partially done through videoconferencing. The training team is doing weekly sessions for anybody at Homespire that is interested, not just new recruits.

One of the reasons Homespire is looking to add staff is because business remains strong, Sheinin said. Its application mix normally runs 80% to 85% purchase, but now it is leaning 50-50. The company, which can sell directly to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, does not service, although it is working on adding that capability.

"It's amazing to me that people are still buying homes in this market right now. There's people buying with virtual tours of properties,” he said.

"And there's still tremendous refi opportunity because rates are still historically phenomenal, relative to where they were a month ago, maybe not as low as much but over the historical trend," he said.

But Sheinin said the firm hasn't been immune to upheaval in the market.

"We're all having to limit the programs and the products that we're offering," he said. "Many of the nuanced products, those are the first to go — anything with the least little bit of risk on it."

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