A pandemic, historically low interest rates, and the completion of our full eClosing solution all made for an interesting year – and culminated with our highest annual loan volume to date.
We recently were named on Scotsman Guide’s “Top Mortgage Lenders” list for our loan volume in 2020. This marks the fifth consecutive year that we have been included on this prestigious list – but, unlike previous years, 2020 was an anomaly. Despite every trial that we faced, our team was able to overcome the difficulties and pull off a record year.
To celebrate our 2020 loan volume achievements, we decided to take an inside look at what made 2020 both challenging and inspiring. And who better to ask than our own sales team? As the first point of contact for our customers and business partners, our loan originators saw firsthand how homebuyers and homeowners were impacted in 2020.
What was unique about the mortgage origination business in 2020?
Two words: refinance boom. Although we are primarily a purchase-focused lender (this allows us to remain successful even when interest rates fluctuate up and down), we saw a huge surplus of refinance business in 2020. Many homeowners took advantage of the historically low rates and refinanced their mortgages. So, while our purchase business remained steady, our refinance transactions multiplied dramatically in 2020.
“In my nearly two decades in the business, 2020 was unlike any other year. Having a strong database that we have nurtured year after year really paid off. Keeping our Realtor partners front and center – even when there were so many refinance opportunities available – solidified us as the local purchase-first lender, regardless of the market we were in.”
– Jasmine Krnjetin, Mortgage Banker, Atlanta, GA
“The refinance boom was a great way to stand out from a mortgage advisory role. We were able to change lives with the debt consolidation mortgages.”
– Patrick Srichaiyan, Senior Mortgage Advisor, Winter Park, FL
“I’ve always kept close contact with all our past clients. I call them every year on their anniversary, send birthday texts, and send fridge calendars each year. Cultivating those relationships really paid off when rates dropped; we were top of mind, and they called Waterstone first when looking to refinance. This allowed us to have our best year ever.”
– Ryan Gilliam, Senior Mortgage Banker, Gilbert, AZ
How did our full eClosing solution play an important role in 2020?
While we had already implanted our hybrid closing solution and were already moving toward a full eClosing process prior to the pandemic, our new technology became even more crucial in 2020. With social distancing and a need for virtual/remote options, our full eClosing solution was a hit with our customers – and will continue to be a convenient, efficient option for homebuyers.
“Our eClosing with Remote Online Notary (RON) is phenomenal. With the pandemic, it was critical to have RON/hybrid closing, because of the potential exposure of the virus while traveling or sitting in a room with others. This is 100% the way of the future, and we are excited to do a full eMortgage.
“We used Snapdocs all year, and it greatly improved the closing process; less in-person signing during the pandemic was critical.
– Mike Smalley, Regional Vice President – SE, Florida Region
“Our full eClosing solution is wonderful… it clears up a lot of last-minute questions to ensure a smooth closing – not to mention… what a huge time saver!!!”
– Sara Cipriano, Loan Originator, Hermitage, PA
“We closed our first electronic closing in October 2020. A client’s dad was in the ICU and he was in Oklahoma with him. The client was so thankful that he was able to stay with his dad and still close on his home.”
– Cathy Kohlbeck, Loan Originator, Green Bay, WI
What role did we play in helping our customers reach their homeownership goals?
More than 19,000 families and individuals financed their home purchases or refinance their mortgages through us in 2020. It was a life-changing year for most people, and having the security of their own home – and the financial peace of knowing they had equity in a home – was uplifting for many of our customers. As some Americans struggled with unforeseen financial changes and job losses, our services took on a whole new meaning.
“We had a buyer who decided to retire the week before our closing, and her retirement and social security weren’t going to start for a couple months after our close date. So, we did an asset depletion loan and still were able to get it done on time.”
– Nathan Jensen, Loan Originator, Gilbert, AZ
“We saved a client $250 a month by refinancing their prior mortgage. Our client was practically in tears from their savings. Their response was, ‘We just had a baby, and saving $250 per month is life changing!’”
– Matthew Mews, Loan Originator, Pewaukee, WI
“I had a customer who originally purchased a home about five years back. The husband was furloughed, and they racked up a ton of debt from a combination of the furlough and needing to survive with a new child. I was able to help them refinance their mortgage, understand how to pay off most of their consumer debt, lower their rate, and eliminate PMI. The total monthly debt savings? $2,600 monthly.”
How did we support our own sales team throughout 2020?
Keeping up with record loan volume was no easy task – especially with a mostly remote workforce. But we knew our customers were counting on us, and our team pulled through and worked diligently to close our loans on time.
“Waterstone Mortgage was instrumental in the success my team experienced in 2020. The WMC team worked tirelessly to support the unprecedented volume coming in. The underwriters, processors, closers, and customer support team were all working overtime, weekends, early in the morning, and late at night – doing whatever it took to still close just about every single loan on time and without drama.”
“WATERSTONE MORTGAGE WAS AWESOME! They really knew how to keep the morale up in what was such a challenging time. What’s nice about WMC is that they actually care. The fact that I can pick up the phone and call ANYONE in the company… that speaks volumes.”
“With historic rates and a massive influx of volume, 2020 brought major challenges to the mortgage industry. Despite the unprecedented circumstances, I continue to be amazed by my team at Waterstone Mortgage – both local and corporate. To fulfill closing such a large quantity of loans, my colleagues worked long nights, early mornings, and even weekends –demonstrating the massive commitment and passion that Waterstone delivers. It is because of my teams’ support that I feel the joy of helping a family receive the gift of homeownership or financial betterment through refinance.”
– Molly Nadeau-Peterson, Branch Manager, Elk River, MN
What’s next for us?
More home loans, of course! If you’re thinking about purchasing a home or refinancing your mortgage, find a Waterstone Mortgage loan originator to make your experience easy-peasy. If you’re looking for a new place to call your “professional home,” check out our career opportunities.