Rocket Mortgage starts wide-scale COVID-19 effort for critical hospital supplies in Detroit

Rocket Mortgage and the Rock Family of Companies has partnered with private and public organizations to source and scale the manufacturing of critical supplies Detroit’s hospital systems need to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The goal is to establish wide-scale partnerships that leverage staff and physical resources to help local hospitals and critical government workers, according to a company announcement.

Manufacturing – The Quicken Loans Community Fund will purchase a mask production line-machine that aims to produce more than 500,000 masks per week. The Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center will train and operate the production of masks and other personal protection equipment (PPE) in a facility provided by Carhartt.

Supply Procurement – Rocket Mortgage is immediately sourcing 100,000 N95 masks to local hospitals. Xenith, a football helmet and equipment company is leveraging existing international supplier relationships to source face shields.

Rocket Mortgage is collaborating with aircraft firms to expedite the sourcing and delivery of PPE, ventilators and dialysis machines. The Quicken Loans procurement team is vetting suppliers to ensure product quality and fair pricing.

“As Detroit’s largest employer, we recognize our critical role in serving the members of our community,” said Jay Farner, CEO of Rocket Mortgage and Quicken Loans. “This is a time for the public and private sectors to come together for a common goal, and we encourage the entire business community to use everything at their disposal to support our essential frontline workers.”

The Quicken Loans Community Fund and Gilbert Family Foundation previously announced a $1.2 million donation to address the impact of COVID_19 in Detroit. Staff donated more than $500,000 through a Quicken Loans Community Fund dollar-for-dollar matching campaign to assist local nonprofits.

Bedrock, the Rock Family of Companies’ real estate arm offered up to three months of rent forgiveness for restaurants and small business tenants “so that they may continue to meet payroll commitments and pay their bills.”

Furthermore, the company donated call center operations and team members for appointment scheduling for the drive-up COVID-19 testing site at the Michigan State Fairgrounds, and supported the development of the scheduling technology.

“The Rocket Mortgage and Rock Family of Companies, continues to step up to the plate as a partner for the city and its residents,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “The city is grateful!”

Customers Bank deploys OakNorth tech, increases PPP processing goal to $500MM

After closing more than $200 million in federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for small and medium sized businesses in one month, Customers Bank teamed up with unicorn OakNorth to scale processing capacity and expand their goal to $500 million.

The $11.5 billion asset, Wyomissing, Pa. based subsidiary of Customers Bancorp, Inc. pledged in mid-March to leverage $200 million in PPP capital support for small businesses. A goal it achieved during the first week of April, according to a company release. These PPP loans make up the lion’s share of the bank’s disaster lending to date.

In just one week, the bank’s SBA Government Guaranteed Lending and Small Business teams accepted 500 applications and processed 300 requests for submission to the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Soaring demand for PPP loans, the hallmark of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed into law on March 27 to help Americans and their employers weather the COVID-19 pandemic, has created capacity issues for many banks.

Demand also created an immediate need “to apply technology to open bottlenecks,” said Customers Bank Chief Operating Officer, Sam Sidhu, which led to a partnership with British fintech OakNorth. The advanced software strategies and algorithms provided by OakNorth “create a smooth online application process that uses big data to help us speed underwriting while reducing risk,” he explained.

Founded in 2015 to address small business debt financing challenges, OakNorth ensured the integrated online application system was up and running within 72 hours.

The OakNorth solution supports PPP lending from application “throughout the entire forgiveness journey. The PPP provides financial assistance of up to $10 million, but includes forgiveness options businesses continue to pay employees during the crisis, or re-hire them by June 30, 2020.

PPP is very attractive and broadly inclusive, Sidhu said. The most important eligibility criterion is that the applicant has fewer than 500 employees. Businesses can apply for up to 250% of their average monthly payroll amount, to pay salaries, health benefits, rent, utilities, and interest on a mortgage or qualifying debt.

According to SBA and US Treasury guidance, no collateral or personal guarantees are required, and no loan payments for six months; Funds used to meet payroll and buy benefits are likely to be entirely forgiven, but forgiveness on funds used for rent, utility or debt may cap at 25%.

Redfin: Homebuying demand strong despite job losses, COVID-19 spread

Compared to the prior year, Redfin reported a 26% decline in homebuying demand during the first week of April. While significant, it was lower than the 33% decline reported during the last seven days of March, showing resilience in the face of one of the deadliest COVID-19 weeks so far and millions of new unemployment claims.

Data as of April 8, 2020 (April 1-7), indicate “somehow the stability in homebuying demand Redfin saw last week has extended into this week,” according to Redfin’s how COVID-19 is affecting housing report. In January and February Redfin’s homebuying demand was up 27% compared to the prior year.

“The resilience in homebuying demand may be driven by the recent rally in the stock market which gained 20% since it bottomed out on March 23, by low mortgage rates which are now back below 3.5%, or by the simple lure of getting a deal,” said Redfin lead economist Taylor Marr. “Since sellers have pulled out of the market as much as buyers, home values are holding steady,” but it is too soon to say this is the bottom for the housing market.

Redfin measures homebuying demand based on the annual growth rate in customers going on their first tour with a Redfin agent. The company credited “the majority of the improvement from last week” to routing a larger share of customer inquiries from to its own agents.

Most sellers nationwide are pulling back, driving new listings down 44% from the prior year for the seven days ending April 3, compared to the 33% decline Redfin reported last week, “and there’s no indication this trend will reverse anytime soon,” the report notes. “The big question is whether sellers will be able to wait until stay-at-home orders are lifted.”

As to financing, the report states, while interest rates for a 30-year mortgage dropped back to 3.4% as of April 6, most lenders have stopped making jumbo loans for high-priced homes, “citing an increased risk of default.” Many large banks, including Wells Fargo still make jumbo loans, but now require 20% down-payments “and have instituted a number of other restrictions.”

At the other end of the market, many lenders have also stopped originating Federal Housing Administration, which often are favored by first-time home-buyers, because they let buyers put as little as 3.5% down and are more lenient for borrowers with lower credit scores, according to Redfin. Lenders and government regulators alike “worry that an increasing percentage” of these buyers may not be able to make their monthly payments during this pandemic.

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