Hugh Frater, Fannie Mae and David Brickman, Freddie Mac
What they do: Interim CEO of Fannie Mae; President of Freddie Mac
What to watch for in 2019: The CEOs of both GSEs announced in mid-2018 their impending departure from their respective posts. Brickman was promoted to president of Freddie Mac in September, and is an internal candidate forsucceeding Donald Layton when he leaves in the second half of 2019. Frater is the interim CEO at Fannie Mae, taking over for Tim Mayopoulos, who stepped down in late October.
The Trump administration has hinted at finally taking steps toward GSE reform, potentially removing Fannie and Freddie from conservatorship. But it appears there won’t be much progress until the new director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency is appointed.
Why it matters: The challenges facing whoever takes over Fannie and Freddie will be very different than what Mayopoulos and Layton inherited in 2012. While both GSEs remain under federal conservatorship, they are in a much stronger financial position. Still, there is considerable uncertainty about their future, and the oversight structure constrains the CEOs from shaping the GSEs’ destinies.
Robert Broeksmit, Mortgage Bankers Association
What he does: President and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association
What to watch for in 2019: “Bob” Broeksmit took over as president and CEO of the MBA in August, succeeding David Stevens. Can he keep the positive momentum of his predecessor going amid significant industry shifts? How will the trade group pivot its lobbying with a divided Congress? Will he ever join Twitter?
Why it matters: The MBA’s political action committee raised a record $2.1 million during the 2016-2018 election cycle, including $1.2 million in 2018 alone. That may prove valuable as the industry is bracing for considerable consolidation amid tight margins and low volume, which may pose challenges for the MBA’s membership, fundraising and lobbying efforts.
Kristy Fercho, Flagstar
What she does: President of mortgage at Flagstar Bank
What to watch for in 2019: Fercho came aboard Flagstar as executive vice president and president of mortgage in 2017. In June, Flagstar bought 52 branches of Wells Fargo in an effort to grow their retail mortgage presence and reduce their reliance on third-party originations. In August, the Fed lifted its regulatory order, freeing it for more activity and corporate functionality.
Why it matters: Origination volume is expected to continue facing difficulties. Seeing how Flagstar will navigate the market and handle its mortgage business will be interesting. Flagstar’s been issuing their own RMBS deals and will have more freedom in 2019.
What they do: CEO of Lennar Financial Services; President of Eagle Home Mortgage; President of North American Title Group
What to watch for in 2019: The lender market is condensing. Will Lennar look to make any more acquisitions to offset its shrinking mortgage margins?
Why it matters: The Lennar Financial Services umbrella provides everything for the homebuying process including title, mortgage and closing services. One-stop shops are becoming the trend as more mortgage companies face problems making profit.
What she does: Head of Mortgage at Zillow
What to watch for in 2019: Lantz plays a critical role in directing strategy and execution. How will she help traverse the mortgage part of the business through the dark housing outlook for 2019?
Why it matters: Zillow Group transformed itself into a digital brand conglomerate of renting, buying, selling, financing, home improvement and data.
Brian Montgomery, FHA
What he does: Commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration
What to watch for in 2019: The FHA is expected to take steps to streamline FHA servicing requirements to align with industry practices. Montgomery has also said the FHA is considering extending the multifamily risk-sharing program.
What’s less certain is whether the FHA will heed industry calls to cut its mortgage insurance premium. Also unclear is how long Montgomery will serve as the acting No. 2 at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Why it matters: The GSEs’ 3% down payment loan programs have created new competition for first-time homebuyers, particularly given the high cost of FHA mortgage insurance. The multifamily risk-sharing program supports affordable housing development and allows state housing finance agencies to underwrite multifamily loans. HUD shares the effort of increasing the affordable housing supply, as well as aiding homelessness, enforcing fair housing laws, and disaster response.
What he does: Board Chairman and CEO of New Residential
What to watch for in 2019: Under Nierenberg’s leadership, New Residential has become one of the most aggressive investors of mortgage-servicing rights. As themarket for MSRs becomes more active, look for the real estate investment trust to make opportunistic plays to build its portfolio — particularly given its recent $433 million stock offering.
Why it matters: Nonbank mortgage servicers must gear up to meet new secondary market requirements and make some tough decisions about whether to buy, sell or hold MSRs as they head into 2019.
What he does: President of Home Mortgage, Citizens Bank
What to watch for in 2019: After acquiring Franklin American Mortgage, Citizens Bank extended its base of customers and loan growth while boosting its earnings.
Why it matters: With the nonbank market share of mortgages rising, Citizens appears poised to make a contrarian play among bank mortgage lenders and expand its loan offerings.
Eric Stoddard, Wells Fargo Funding
What he does: Executive Vice President at Wells Fargo Funding
What to watch for in 2019: Stoddard oversees Wells Fargo’s massive correspondent mortgage channel, the largest aggregator of closed loans originated primarily by independent mortgage banks. Wells Fargo’s recent move to start acquiring electronic notes from its correspondents could be a watershed moment for the electronic mortgage movement.
What’s more, Wells Fargo’s correspondent channel may become an increasingly important aspect of its overall mortgage strategy, given the bank’s plans toseverely reduce its workforce over the next three years.
Why it matters: Small and midsize lenders often cite investor acceptance as one of the biggest impediments to e-mortgage adoption. With the largest correspondent aggregator — not to mention both GSEs — all buying e-notes, that obstacle is becoming increasingly less severe.