The February data is in for the TMC members that submit to TMC Benchmark. Traditionally the slowest month for the mortgage industry, this February was certainly not traditional. The participants in TMC Benchmark saw month-over-month increases in closed loan units (+1.1%) and closed loan fundings in $ (+4.1%), very similar to the December to January month-over-month increases we saw.
More notably though, TMC Benchmark participants saw new total applications rise 11.8% month-over-month in February after neatly doubling in January when compared to December. And we obviously all know what happened here in March on the new application side. Lenders are now tasked with trying to close massive pipelines of loans into the headwinds of employment disruption and uneasiness around performing interior appraisals and conducting in-person closings. All while most have moved their workforces entirely remote. We're very curious to see how operational efficiency metrics trend these next three months in TMC Benchmark with staffs now remote.
Getting back to February data, the mix of conventional/government closed loan production was weighted slightly more conventional. Refinance activity ticked up on February closings, going from 36% in December to 38% in January to 41% in February, and we all know that refinance % will continue to rise mightily in March, April, and May.
Operational efficiency improved a bit in February, erasing the slight declines we saw in January. Closed loans per FTE processor in February increased from 8.2 to 8.7 (versus the month prior), closed loans per underwriter rose from 27.7 to 28.3, and closed loans per closer increased from 32.3 to 34.8. The average loan originator closed 4.0 loans in February after closing 3.6 loans on average in January. Loans closed a bit quicker in February, with the average "app to clear to close" time frame falling to 31.65 days (a new TMC Benchmark low) from 38.2 days in the month prior. Lenders scrambled in February to quickly close loans to clear the decks for the new waves of apps making their way into the pipeline.
The average LO comp increased substantially to 99.3 bps on February closed loans from 92.3 bps in January. We also saw our lenders raise their non-third party lender fees, from $1,135 in January to $1,213 in February on conventional loans and from $1,095 to $1,132 on govies.
Average salaries paid to processors ($50,317), underwriters ($81,677), and closers ($52,613) fell slightly in February.
TMC - Chief Operating Officer