Managing Operational and Credit Risk in Mortgage Servicing Portfolios During the COVID-19 Crisis

Tomorrow (April 1st) is the due date of the first significant wave of mortgage payments since the Coronavirus began disrupting the economy. The operational impact of COVID-19 on mortgage bankers—and servicers in particular—has been swift and dramatic. It will not soon subside. Its financial impact remains on the horizon but is likely to be felt over a more extended period. 

Whereas borrower inquiries related to the Coronavirus accounted for zero percent of servicer call volume as recently as March 16th, within a week they have spiked to more than 25 percent of inquiries at one servicer. Another servicer reported receiving over 20,000 calls relating to forbearance relief during the same period. 

We are officially in a new world. The next several months appear to hold chaos, disruption, and potentially devastating losses for mortgage servicersWhen delinquencies associated with April 1st payments start to hit, the financial impact—felt primarily through P&I, T&I, and corporate advances, additional collection and compliance costs, and the loss of servicing fee income simply because fewer payments are being madehas the potential to linger considerably longer than the liquidity and funding crisis currently rocking financial markets.    

Having a roadmap for navigating impending financial, credit, and operational dilemmas has never been more important.   

Market dislocations created by the speed and seriousness of COVID-19 are constraining (and will continue to constrain) servicers’ tools for responding to and resolving a forthcoming tsunami of delinquencies, foreclosures and REOs. The ability of servicers to manage through this will be further complicated by external factors that will dictate when and how servicers will be able to manage their businesses. These are likely to include various forms of government intervention, such as payment holidays, mandatory forbearance, foreclosure moratoriumsand modification programs. While protecting borrowers, these programs will also add layers of complexity into servicer compliance operations. 

In addition to introducing new sets of moral hazard issues for the servicing of mortgages, increases in delinquencies and illiquidity of trading markets will seize the trading markets for servicing portfolios, limiting mortgage bankers’ access to cash. Investors, guarantors, and insurers will increase their oversight into servicer operations to minimize their losses 

One Solution 

RiskSpan has been working with its mortgage banking clients to construct a modeling framework for assessingquantifying, and managing COVID-19 risk to servicing operations and income statements. The framework covers the full lifecycle of a servicing asset and is designed to forecast each of the following under several defined stress scenarios: 

  • Principal and interest advances
  • Escrow (T&I) advances 
  • Corporate advances to cover foreclosure, liquidations and REO expenditures 
  • Financing and capital implications of delinquent and defaulted loans 
  • Repurchases, denials, and rescissions  
  • Compensatory fees and curtailments 

In addition to projecting these financial costs, the modeling framework forecasts the incremental operational costs associated with servicing a portfolio with increasing shares of delinquencies, defaults, bankruptcies, liquidations, and REOsincluding all the incremental personnel, compliance and other costs associated with servicing a portfolio that was prime at acquisition but is suddenly beginning to take on subprime characteristics.  

Contact us to talk about how RiskSpan’s operational risk assessment tool can be customized to your servicing portfolio.