Clint Salisbury: Great Adaptations–How Mortgage Lenders Conducted Essential Work in 2020

Clint Salisbury is Regional Manager with IDS, Salt Lake City, Utah. Since joining IDS in 2008, he has served as In-house Counsel and Director of Implementation Services..

Clint Salisbury

One thing for certain about 2020 is that the pandemic put our nation’s systems under stress, and a system under stress creates opportunity to learn about what works well, what does not and how to improve it.  Our industry’s system of enabling mortgage production services to sustainably and compliantly meet consumer needs was notably tested by unprecedented rate-driven demand. 

Certainly, it was a profitable environment, given that we are a pay-for-performance industry for which high volume pays well, just as sluggish markets do not.  As with other business models – mortgage lending demand has its ups and downs.

There was more to 2020 for lenders, however, than profit.  What was actually going on was a new model being put to the test. 

A lot changed in the dozen years since mortgage lenders last experienced catastrophic grade stress and our systems have progressed significantly toward digitization and modernization since 2008. Many of those changes equipped lenders to adapt responsively as historic transaction volume converged with physical distancing to create the most demanding operational environment ever experienced by our industry.

As we assess the outcomes of an otherwise awful year, 2020 presents a point of pride that our industry’s systems and our people helped millions of U.S. homeowners improve their financial terms for what often is their most valuable asset. At a time when a place to call home became even more critical to our safety and well-being, 2020 could come to be known as a time of Great Adaptations. 

It is completely appropriate to point out that mortgage lenders stepped up and behaved like essential workers – working from their offices as needed to ensure a compliant loan transaction. We know of examples across the country where lenders, appraisers, title agents and closing attorneys, and yes, rubber-hits-the-road vendors such as doc prep providers, did literally whatever it took to help people take advantage of beneficial home financing.

Thanks to lender investments in modernized infrastructure, it was possible to eliminate nearly every physical touchpoint between borrowers and their lenders.  However, our industry’s consumer-service model succeeded against staggering odds because of its investment in human resources and team building. By equipping them with efficient digital tools, mortgage lenders empowered their most valuable asset – their operations staff – to deliver timely, compliant transactions in keeping with their business objectives.

The Monday morning quarterbacking of 2020 has really just begun both for our industry and our country, but it is clear that the 2020 housing market stands in clear contrast to the 2008 housing market, when people were losing their homes because of bad loans. Now people are buying homes and refinancing to relocate arguably to more favorable areas or continue to build their wealth by staying in place, taking advantage of great rates.

As an industry we have a greater appreciation for the benefits of a modernized, digital workflow to underpin and fuel the efficiency of our expert workforce.  Now is the time to accelerate our progress toward even more responsive adaptations such as the full eClose, which easily lies within reach.

(Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect policy of the Mortgage Bankers Association, nor do they connote an MBA endorsement of a specific company, product or service. MBA NewsLink welcomes your submissions. Inquiries can be sent to Mike Sorohan, editor, at; or Michael Tucker, editorial manager, at