How to keep up with ever-changing non-QM underwriting guidelines

"Listen, if you don't like change, this business is not for you"

How to keep up with ever-changing non-QM underwriting guidelines

Keeping abreast of the constantly evolving regulations in the non-QM landscape can overwhelm even the most seasoned brokers.

That's why MPA invited a panel of non-QM experts – Will Fisher (EVP of non-conforming at LoanStream Mortgage), Eric Morgenson (VP of business development at Angel Oak Mortgage Solutions), and Steve Cutter (senior VP at Acra Lending) – who offered practical tips on how to keep up with all the changes in lending standards.

"I think since we came back from the pause and COVID, everybody started out with really tight guidelines and high rates," Cutter said. "But the guidelines stretched, and they kept stretching, stretching until recently where we've seen some tightening of those guidelines. We have not changed any of our guidelines as of yet. But we do have and have had conversations about putting some guardrails around some of them.

"You know, as we talked about, we've seen the best market in home prices ever in the last two years. And fortunately or unfortunately, all good things come to an end. And is it going to be a decline in prices? Is it going to flatten? I think that all remains to be seen. I think a lot of that has to do with the Fed and how they react. But in the end, higher rates will equal lower affordability."

Read more: Keeping eyes on the prize: Non-QM and the gig economy

Morgenson commented: "Listen, if you don't like change, this business is not for you because it's always going to change. You know what's changing there is we are now in a complete purchase and cash out the market. That's the big change. No longer rate in term refis, no tangible net benefit anymore. There, put that up on a shelf for another 10 years. That'll roll around.

"But now it is purchased in cash out. Now, look at this home appreciation run we've just been on. There's an extra ton of like $4.5 trillion in equity out there. Here's what I think these brokers should look out for: people tapping into their equity before COVID and you look at a non-prime program. But right now, there are zero appetites on the secondary market, with investors with any type of impaired credit watch that will change. So, folks, this business is always changing, and that's a good thing."

Fisher encouraged brokers to "get close" to account executives and the companies they're working with. "Stick with the companies that are tried and true and in the non-QM space," he said. "There are a lot of folks trying to come into the space right now that are mostly prime agency lenders, and they want a piece of this. The landscape is going to change. But if you're with a good partner or a good account executive and a good team behind you, you're going to do just fine in this market."

Watch the panel discussion here: What's the outlook for non-QM in 2022?