Rocket returns to top of servicer satisfaction study

Rocket Mortgage regained the top spot in terms of consumer satisfaction with their mortgage servicer, scoring higher than it did in 2022 at a time when general consumer contentment slipped year-over-year, J.D. Power found.

The Detroit-based lender scored 686 in this year’s U.S. Mortgage Servicer Satisfaction Study, up from 672 for the 2022 rankings. The industry average, however, slipped to 601 from 607, which was attributed to the combination of a decline in consumer financial health, an increase in servicing rights transfers and a rise in reported problems with borrower accounts, said Craig Martin, J.D. Power’s executive managing director and global head of wealth and lending intelligence.

As seen in past surveys, “people who are financially unhealthy are less satisfied than those who are financially healthy, that’s kind of our starting point,” said Martin. The share of mortgage customers J.D. Power identified as fiscally unhealthy is 54%, up from 48% one year ago. This group’s overall satisfaction with their servicer is 107 points lower than their counterparts in better shape.

But it’s not the specific problem the borrower has that is the issue, it is how the servicer speaks to and handles that. And every mortgage servicer is going to have clients who have financial problems.

Some of the servicers at the bottom of the listings, the lowest scoring three being Shellpoint Mortgage Servicing, Select Portfolio Services and PHH, have been known for working with borrowers who have lower credit scores.

Subservicers also tended not to do well in the eyes of customers. However, Martin pointed out that the consumers identified the entity that was on the bill, which could be a white-label relationship. It also means that Caliber, NewRez and Shellpoint, all of which are Rithm units, appear separately on the listings.

All of those factors point to making sure as a servicer you are building the relationship with the borrower, rather than just seeing the communication as merely transactional.

“If they just think of you as kind of the guy who’s taking the payments, they don’t trust you as much,” Martin said. “They’re not going to pay attention to what you say and what you communicate, and that creates problems long-term.”

Rocket has long been a high performer in this survey (as well as in J.D. Power’s originator study) and it’s scored for the most part above-average in most, if not all, key metrics.

The company effectively communicates with its clients in ways that are clear and easy to understand, the report found. For the well-being portion, the introduction of Rocket Money might give them a leg up in that as well, Martin said. Although others might be coming aboard in this as well.

“Most of the non-banks are mortgage-centric and focus on that, but now we’re seeing them get more involved in kind of broader financial health and decisions,” Martin said.

The one area where servicers do have control is transfers and onboarding of MSRs and that is one area that historically has been a problem spot.

Survey participants only graded the servicer they were sending payments to at the time they were queried, and not judging the entity that sold the rights.

Just under 40% of respondents ended up at a servicer they did not choose to do business with because of a transfer and satisfaction scores in those situations were 119 points lower, primarily because they did not do a good job, said Martin, who added he can personally relate to those borrowers’ pain.

Rocket was 18 points higher than this year’s No. 2, Guild Mortgage, which scored 668; Chase was third at 665. Last year’s highest ranked servicer, New American Funding was tied for sixth, at 650, down from 695 in the 2022 survey.

Navy Federal Credit Union scored the best among survey respondents, at 763; however, because it is a membership organization and does not serve the general public, it is not included in the rankings.

Servicers need to focus on creating a solid relationship with the borrower because this is what has a real impact on their profitability, Martin said.

“It’s a lot of uncertainty right now [in the mortgage business] and the critical thing is building trust with clients,” he explained. “If you can do that effectively no matter what kind of model you have, that will help you improve the bottom line because it’s going to avoid problems, it’s going to avoid confusion, it’s going to avoid unnecessary calls.”


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