Kevin Christopher, the regional head of sales for mortgage banking’s midwest sales region at Chase, chats with us about 2016’s lending environment, upcoming regulations and how agents and lenders should work together.
Chicago Agent (CA): Lending standards have been incrementally improving this year. Do you think that pattern will continue for the rest of the year, or will lending loosen more rapidly?
Kevin Christopher (KC): Across the industry, lending standards have expanded conservatively, which is widely due to the continued stabilization of the employment market and improving home values. We’ve seen that expansion through a number of new agency programs, including our Standard Agency 97%, which have lower down payment requirements for those with limited cash, like first-time homebuyers. With better pricing and fewer requirements, our hope is that this product will reach a wider range of customers who might not have qualified in the past.
While there’s certainly more flexibility, credit requirements are more prudent than they were before the crisis, and banks continue to lend responsibly. Our focus remains on getting families a loan that makes long-term economic sense for both the consumer and Chase.
CA: What were your thoughts of the CFPB’s recent statements on its TRID regulations?
KC: The industry is continuing to adapt to changing regulations and policies put in place as a result of the financial crisis, and we’ll continue to look for additional guidance from our regulators to ensure that we are meeting all expectations.
What’s most important is that there is standardization amongst lenders that helps to improve customer protections and the overall customer experience. As an industry, we’ve made significant progress on those fronts.
CA: Finally, if you could advise agents on one thing, what would it be?
KC: Work with a strong lending partner upfront to get your client prequalified before they begin their home search. That will ensure that they are properly qualified for the purchase of their new home and that there are no delays with documentation.
Also, make sure that you set proper expectations with the client on the documentation required, as well as a clear timeline as to when those documents must be turned in. With some of the regulatory changes imposed, the onus is really on the client to provide documents on time to ensure a smooth process and faster closing times.
Kevin Christopher is the regional head of sales for mortgage banking’s midwest sales region at Chase. Christopher has spent the past 25 years in a variety of leadership positions within the mortgage industry. Prior to returning to Chase in 2016, Christopher was senior vice president/head of mortgage sales for BMO Harris Bank, where he was responsible for all U.S. mortgage lending. Christopher is a graduate of the University of Illinois. He and his wife reside in Northbrook with their three children.