COVID-19 Update

Many states are under a stay at home order. Mortgage Bankers play an essential role in the economy and are not included in these orders. Empire supports this decision and all efforts to keep our customers, employees, and communities safe.

At Empire, we anticipated this would become necessary and have prepared accordingly. We remain open, and we continue to offer mortgage banking services in all our markets. The vast majority of our workforce is already working remotely, and our operations are running smoothly.

Empire of America has strong capital and strong liquidity and is well-positioned to weather this unprecedented challenge and to help our customers do the same.

We appreciate your business and are committed to assisting you through any disruptions that may arise relating to COVID-19.

All Rate Locks Available as of May 1st, 2020

Effective May 1st, 2020 you may rate lock at any point, the rate locking window is temporarily restricted to Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Bank Holidays.

This is a retraction of prior restrictions only allowing rate locks on formally approved loans (for refinances). We are happy to once again offer refinance locking once you are pre-approved. Purchase transactions remain able to lock at any time.

Cash-Out for Agency

Effective for new conforming and non-conforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Agency rate locks as of Friday, May 1, 2020, the existing Cash-Out Refi adjustment will be increased from 0.125% to 5.000%. This will temporarily sharply increase this pricing across the board.

Policy on Forbearance

Due to the ongoing risks resulting from COVID-19, effective immediately Empire of America will not lend in any Mortgage Loan transaction where the Borrower has either requested forbearance or is currently in a forbearance plan.

Temporary Suspension of Products

During this unprecedented time, Empire of America continues to respond to the challenge of COVID-19.

With over 35 years of experience in mortgage banking, we have navigated through very challenging market climates to serve the needs of our partners. Through careful consideration of the continuously evolving environment, we believe it is prudent to focus resources on our core products.

As a result, Empire will be temporarily suspending the following products. We will honor loans

which have already been submitted to underwriting and are locked on or before Friday, April 17,

2020. Lock extensions and re-locks will not be permitted after April 17, 2020, and no new submissions to underwriting will be accepted.

  • All Jumbo Loan Products – loan sizes above $765,601 and up (could be a lower limit depending on your county).

Product Overlay Updates due to COVID-19

As market conditions evolve due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, Empire evaluates our guidelines using sound risk management principles and makes adjustments to continue serving the needs of our partners.

Appraisal Updates

We are still conducting appraisals, as needed (if you did not receive an appraisal waiver on your transaction – which they are allowing for more due to the pandemic), if both the appraiser and homeowner/tenant agree to allow for inspection. With the proper precautions we have seen this work well.

Alternatively, on rate/term refinance & purchase transactions, desktop (exterior) appraisals are allowed if an interior inspection is not possible.  This is allowed on a case by case basis, please discuss with your Empire consultant should you want to exercise this option.

Verification of Employment

Please bear with our processing team as we must verify employment within a short window of time before we close your loan. We appreciate your cooperation and assistance if the team reaches out with any issues.

Extended Processing Times

Most loans are taking longer than our normal turn time to close of about two weeks. If you have any concerns on closing before a particular time, please let us know. We will make sure to close your loan within your agreed upon rate lock period, and any extensions required due to our turn times will be at no cost to you. You will receive updates as the loan moves along, we appreciate your patience.

*Note – purchase transactions with at least 20% down are still running very quickly, closing at two weeks or less.