A Tale of Two Conferences: ACUMA & MBA Annual

By Tedd Smith, CEO & Co-Founder, FirstClose

Now that the year is winding down and we’ve all had time to decompress from conference season, I’d like to share some observations and takeaways from the two recent large industry events I attended last month—the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Annual Conference in Philadelphia and American Credit Union Mortgage Association (ACUMA)’s Annual Conference in Las Vegas.

Overall, the vibe at both events was definitely different than last year. Throughout the halls you could hear chatter of the industry’s new official unofficial motto” Stay Alive ‘Till 25!”. Last year, conference attendees were cautious but optimistic about the second half of 2023. Today, lenders and industry partners have seemed to accept that there is no quick fix for many of the headwinds that our industry is facing and we need to get creative with new strategies to make the best out of 2024.

During ACUMA, attendees heard from NCUA Chairman Todd Harper on how credit unions are a vital element in our nation’s housing finance ecosystem. He highlighted that outstanding junior liens in the credit union industry grew about 34 percent over the last four quarters. A sign that credit unions are meeting their members’ needs. Attendees also got an inside look from MBA’s Marina Walsh, CMB and lead analyst of MBA’s 2023 Home Equity Lending Study. Her mortgage market outlook discussed areas of opportunities for home equity extraction, a total of $32 trillion in potential extraction.

Two weeks later at MBA Annual, attendees heard from MBA’s Chief Economist, Michael Fratantoni, correctly predicting that the Federal Reserve would pause its tightening campaign (yay!). However, that news couldn’t alter the fact that as the show opened, interest rates were at their highest point in more than 20 years and affordability at its lowest.  However, if the drop in volume and rising rates was the topic in almost every conversation, ways to fill the gap was right behind it with “home equity” being the buzz word on everyone’s minds.

Home equity loans and HELOCs are an obvious replacement for the drop in purchase and refinance volume. Home price appreciation is red hot, and the average U.S. homeowner now has more than $274,000 in equity according to CoreLogic. So, home equity, which for years, had been overshadowed by cash-out refis, is suddenly on every lender’s product roadmap.

At FirstClose, home equity isn’t just an add-on for us – it’s what we do day in and day out. For years, lenders had to cobble together processes to address borrowers’ home equity needs. Drowning in paperwork, begging for a better, more optimized solution…and now that solution is here.

Our home equity lender clients enjoy a platform that seamlessly integrates with their LOS to identify viable applicants faster, accelerate home equity closings, as well as improve the borrower experience, all while mitigating risk. Their stories are the inspiration behind our drive to keep providing best-in-class home equity solutions for automation, transparency and efficiency.

Interested in what your peers are doing? Hear firsthand how our clients use technology to better serve their internal teams and most importantly their borrowers.