2020 was a year none of us in the mortgage industry will soon forget. It brought with it the worst of times and the best of times all rolled up in to one remarkable year. In this NFM TV exclusive, NFM Founder & CEO David Silverman takes us through the wildest ride of his life and shares the lessons learned as he looks ahead to the future of the business.

Full Transcript is Below:

– So, it’s become a bit of a tradition at NFM TV for us to take a look back at our predictions for the year ahead and a look back at the year behind us. I’m Greg Sher from NFM TV. We’re going to do it again with CEO and Founder David Silverman. We’re going to start off, Dave, by taking a look at your predictions for 2020. Let’s take a look.

– I do think we have tremendous tailwinds going into 2020. It’s an election year. I see the bond staying in this bandwidth between, you know, 150 and 215, somewhere in there, which means, you know, that whatever movement there is in the rates, it shouldn’t be dramatically enough to affect anybody’s business going south.

– I look forward to next year, 2021, doing a review, and we’ll see where it takes us.

– Well, one last thing, let’s leave them with we’ll will be top 20 in 2020.

– That’s the goal, right, 20 in ’20?

– 20 in ’20.

– 20 in ’20 for NFM. So, 20 in ’20, we just heard it, Dave, top 20 lender in 2020. Certainly, NFM is marching very quickly towards a top 20 lender, but you didn’t get there the way you thought you’d get there, I guess.

– The rising tide lifted all boats, but it doesn’t deter me from what I felt about NFM and where we’re headed as far as, you know, being a top 20 mortgage lender, and it doesn’t, I’m not really just talking about from a buying perspective, I think that we’re talking about systems and culture and reputation, and all those things. So, in that regard, I think we absolutely met our goal.

– Before we get into what the future holds, I want to talk about, I want to kind of take you back in time as the Founder and CEO of NFM, a company that employs close to a thousand people, what it was like when the margin calls were coming at you rapid fire, when the entire industry was on the ropes. Some sleepless nights, I would imagine.

– It was so crazy how close many companies, just like NFM, were to having a real, real serious problem if we went another day or two with margin calls because everything kind of happened at once. You had the margin calls, so you had the MBS going wildly in the wrong direction, you had the Fed overbuying. You had loans with next to zero on the Ginnie side and on the Fannie side because of a forbearance, you know, not having clarity on how these things were getting handled from a payment perspective. I feel like the MBA did as good a job or better than any industry advocate to help our industry, you know, get on track and get the government to make the right decisions quickly, to save it, really.

– What’d you learn from the experience?

– People. I mean, you know, you never can underestimate the power of quality culture and what people can do when they get together on, you know, a single-minded goal. And, you know, in this case, obviously the water’s rushing through into the boat, and you see who’s really on your team, you see the quality of the people when you’re up against it like that, and for NFM’s case, our people really stepped up.

– Well, NFM ended up closing in the neighborhood of $8 billion in 2020, and so, you’ve got this huge volume number and sort of this reset that we all know was coming, with interest rates eventually going up. What do you see for next year? What do you see for 2021?

– Yeah, so I think every company out there, when they were making their predictions about, or preparing for what their volumes would be in 2020, they never saw the numbers that actually ended up being produced, right? So, you know, we thought we would do five and a half billion, we ended up doing eight, and going forward in 2021, maybe it should be a little easier to predict because it looks like, based on, you know, all the information that we’ve been given, that the Fed funds rate is going to stay flat, and with that in mind, we’ll probably have a very robust purchase market. I would think it would actually be up from this year, which is crazy to think. And then, from a refinance perspective, hard to predict exactly how many people still need to refinance, but, you know, I think it’s a lot. So, I would say that it’s going to be a very robust refinance market next year, so I think the numbers are going to be up from 2020.

– Technology has been a big focus of yours, and really, every company in the industry. That’s not a stretch. How far do you think you came in 2020, and how much farther do you have to go?

– Well, I think we came a very long way. I think that we surprised our own people, I think we surprised a lot of people in the industry, the kind of technology that NFM has and the stuff we’re working on presently. It just builds upon that. So, I think we’re right where we need to be, but we’re not taking our eye off the ball, there’s a lot to do.

– As the business changes, one thing we’ve learned is that you can not just survive, but really flourish in a remote environment. As the owner of NFM, what kind of thoughts do you have going in your head on what the future might look like with the workforce?

– That was one of the most surprising things about 2020, particularly for the mortgage industry. We were so prepared to work remotely, and now seeing that when we surveyed our employees, many of them would prefer to work remotely, and we have no problem with it, totally fine with it. So, that kinda tells me that we’re not alone in that perspective from an industry standpoint, but I think the employees that work remotely, they’re saving all of that travel time, so they’re much more efficient, and a lot of them much happier because they can go to the doctor’s appointment when they want to go, they can go take their kids to soccer practice. They’re much more flexible and happier, so I think that that’s the future, for sure.

– Well, we can all breathe in and exhale. We got through 2020. David Silverman, thanks for your leadership, thanks for everything you’ve done for NFM in this industry, really appreciate your time, and it’s always a pleasure to have you here on NFM TV.

– Thanks, Greg, Happy Holidays.

– All right, we’ll talk to you again soon.