Mortgage volume spikes: Quicken Loans & UWM break single-day records, Caliber hires and lenders prepare for 2020 surge

Here’s the chain of events in a nutshell: Coronavirus, rate drop, refi boom, record breaking volume. According to an article on, “Lenders are zipping through applications so fast that some expect to blow past origination records they set just last year.” That’s right, folks. Fasten your seatbelts (again), it’s going to be a wild ride.  

Quicken Loans & UWM: Record breaking days

The article states that Quicken Loans had its busiest day in its 35-year history on Monday, according to the company’s CEO Jay Farner. Detroit-area neighbor and nemesis UWM (United Wholesale Mortgage) also hit a single-day record, as it approved $2.5 billion of preliminary loans, according to Alex Elezaj, the company’s chief strategy officer.

Handling the surge: human resources

Seems that lenders are anticipating a very busy 2020. So what are they doing now to maximize their opportunities? Well, Michigan-based Gold Star Mortgage Financial is offering signing bonuses while touting opportunities for big bucks. An executive named Eric Mitchell is quoted as saying: “If you’re not making $1 million this year as a loan officer, you’re grossly incompetent. I tell them, ‘We’re not working 40 hours a week, kiss your families goodbye’.” Hmmm.

Quicken expects to hire a few hundred new employees each month in 2020. UWM plans to hire another 2,000 people in 2020. This is after doubling in size to roughly 5,400 employees last year, says Elezaj.

Down in Texas where everything (mortgage) is (apparently getting even) bigger, Caliber Home Loans Inc., nearly doubled its call center staff over the past six months, says the company’s CEO Sanjiv Das. It also anticipates hiring at least 25% more loan officers and back-office workers in the coming months to handle demand.

And as we covered earlier this week, JPMorgan Chase & Co. is responding by transferring home-equity staff to mortgages to keep up with demand, according to an internal memo seen by Bloomberg.

Ellie Mae: Millennials rush to take advantage of low rate refis

Favorable mortgage rates motivated millennials to refinance their home loans in January, according to the Ellie Mae Millennial Tracker. The trend is expected to continue in the coming months. The average interest rate on all 30-year loans closed by millennials in January dropped to 3.94%, from 3.95% in December reversing the declines seen during the previous two months when average rates increased.  

In January, 31% of loans closed by millennials were refinancing, up from 27% in December. Conventional loans represented 71% of total loans closed, refinance share increased from 33% to 38% month-over-month as average rates for this loan type dipped slightly. 

Furthermore, while the purchasing power of millennials increased while inventory still is tight across the country, millennials are expected to continue to search for housing outside of major metropolitan areas where more inventory options are available.

To accommodate behavioral differences starting in 2020 Ellie Mae’s Millennial Tracker will divide millennials into two age groups: Borrowers between 30 and 40 years old and between 21 and 29 years old.

Funding of women-founded startups is up (but up, slowly)

Globally, in 2019 the number of female-founded startups that raised venture capital increased more than 500% from 2010. But not all data is inspiring. Last year instead of increasing the number of new female venture capitalists slowed down. 

Women entrepreneurs did not break any records in funding either. Only 21% of all funded startups in 2019 had at least one female founder. 

Year-over-year the number of market exits from mixed-gender founding teams increased to 7% more in 2019, compared to a 4% decrease for all-male founding teams. 

While it is not clear how many of these startups were operating in the mortgage lending space – the overall trend is clear. The report indicates yes, there is progress, but it is still very slow.

Other data in the report show only 16% of all venture investment dollars invested in 2019 went to startups with at least one female founder, down from 18% in 2018 and just 13% during the first two months of 2020.

The conclusion: Venture capital is still very much a boys’ club.

Women’s free labor is valued at nearly $11T (yes, that’s trillion)

Most people on this planet take women’s home care labor for granted. It is a global trend difficult to quantify. Here are some facts. Women’s unpaid labor is worth $10,900,000,000,000. That number reported by the New York Times is impressive, as are women’s sacrifices.

If American women earned the minimum wage for the unpaid work they do around the house or caring for relatives, they would have made $1.5 trillion in 2019 alone. Globally, women would have earned $10.9 trillion.

For comparison, the $10.9 trillion that women didn’t earn would be equal to all the money made in 2018 by the 50 biggest companies in the world. 

By country or state, the numbers tend to increase or decrease proportionally to their size. This is why, women who live and work in the world’s most populous countries such as China, India, or the US contribute more to society in absolute numbers.  

The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development defines unpaid labor as: “Time spent doing routine housework, shopping for necessary household goods, childcare, tending to the elderly and other household or non-household members, and other unpaid activities related to household maintenance.” To this day, it remains largely invisible to economists.

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