Residential Briefs

First American Acquires Title Security Agency LLC

First American Financial Corp., Santa Ana, Calif., acquired Title Security Agency LLC, a brand within the Arizona real estate community. First American had been a minority owner for five years.

Title Security Agency, LLC, which specializes in title and escrow services for residential and commercial transactions and has 17 offices in Arizona, will become part of the direct operations of First American’s largest subsidiary, First American Title Insurance Co.

Title Security Agency President Vivian Boggie, Chief Operating Officer Bruce Jacobs and Senior Vice President Mary Ann Christensen will remain with the company and manage the day-to-day operations.

Pavaso Supports Remote Online Notarization in Florida, Idaho, Michigan

Pavaso, Plano, Texas, said it will support remote online notarization in Florida, Idaho and Michigan effective January 1, the date state legislation authorizes the practice. 

State commissioned remote electronic notaries can select the Pavaso platform to complete RON eClosings, which gives home buyers and sellers the option to close real estate transactions remotely, from almost anywhere in the world. Pavaso connects all permissible parties in a secure digital environment that simplifies the user experience, promotes collaboration and streamlines the closing process. Its security measures incorporate industry best practices, including multi-factor authentication and the automated, secure capture and validation of government-issued photo IDs.

FHFA House Price Index Up 0.2%in October; Up 5% from Year

The Federal Housing Finance Agency said U.S. house prices rose in October, up 0.2 percent from the previous month, according to its House Price Index.  House prices rose 5 percent from October 2018.  The previously reported 0.6 percent increase for September 2019 was revised upward to 0.7 percent.

For the nine census divisions, seasonally adjusted monthly house price changes from September 2019 to October 2019 ranged from -0.5 percent in the East North Central division to +0.7 percent in the West South Central and East South Central divisions. The 12-month changes were all positive, ranging from +3.5 percent in the New England division to +6.7 percent in the Mountain division.

CBC Mortgage Agency Releases National Down Payment Assistance Study

CBC Mortgage Agency, Cedar City, Utah, released a national down payment assistance study that documents DPA’s role as a bridge to sustainable homeownership.

The study, conducted nationwide over the summer of 2019, measured the impacts of DPA through the personal experiences of lenders and borrowers. Among other findings, the study revealed that more than nine out of 10 homebuyers surveyed would not have been able to purchase a home without down payment help. It also found that more than half of buyers surveyed are racial or ethnic minorities, and that more than one-third of all borrowers who received DPA are the first in their family to buy a home.

“We conducted this study to illuminate the importance of DPA to lenders and borrowers across the country, and the findings are compelling,” said CBCMA President Richard Ferguson. “It’s clear that without DPA, millions of Americans would be shut out of the homebuying market. With it, creditworthy buyers and their families can reap the many benefits of homeownership, which creates healthier communities and other positive outcomes for our nation.”

The study queried 735 lenders and more than 1,100 borrowers, asking a series of questions about the importance of DPA, as well as their overall homebuying experience. The study can be accessed at

Top of Mind Expands Compliance Platforms for CCPA

Top of Mind Networks, Atlanta, announced its Surefire CRM is ready to help mortgage lenders meet their obligations under the California Consumer Privacy Act.

Top of Mind’s CCPA Guide gives Surefire customers an overview of the law and outlines internal and external processes mortgage lenders should review to ensure they are CCPA compliant. The guide also tells Surefire customers what to do if they receive a CCPA request from a consumer.

Vendorly Broadens Vendor Management Methodology to Incorporate Third-Party Originators

Vendorly, Luxembourg, launched a third-party originator oversight program for mortgage lenders to streamline the broker vetting process and create a central repository for due diligence documentation.

The program further enhances the Vendorly third party risk management methodology and complements mortgage lenders’ existing vendor management programs.

Freddie Mac Forecast: Optimism Heading into 2020

Freddie Mac, McLean, Va., said the housing market should continue to stand firm as home sales increase from 6.0 million in 2019 to 6.2 million in 2020 and, to 6.3 million in 2021.

“A more accommodative monetary policy stance and robust labor market helped the U.S. housing market regain its footing in 2019,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “Improved sentiment, lower financial market volatility and trade headwinds are setting up a favorable economic environment for continued real estate market growth in 2020.”

Freddie Mac estimated the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate to be 3.8 percent in 2020 and 2021.

NotaryCam Approved to Provide eNotary, RON Services for Michigan Notaries

NotaryCam, Newport Beach, Calif., has been approved by the Michigan Department of State to provide both eNotary and remote online notarization services to the more than 113,000 notaries public registered in the state.

As an approved vendor, NotaryCam had to meet certain state requirements, including providing a demonstration of their notarial platforms to department staff that covered specific security features like tamper-evident documents and an audit trail. To date, 13 states, including Michigan, have enacted RON laws, and another nine states are set to do so in 2020.

Fitch Ratings: Rising Rents Will Support U.S. Home Prices

Rents are rising more quickly than they have in recent years, which indicates upward momentum for U.S. home prices over time, according to Fitch Ratings in its latest quarterly sustainable home price report.

National home prices are currently 1.3% overvalued on a population-weighted average basis according to Fitch’s calculations. However, national median gross rents hit a historical high of $1,058 last year. Additionally, the consumer price index for rent of primary residences has been climbing nearly 4% a year for the last two years.

Fitch also said mortgage performance in the U.S. and Canada will continue to be stable in 2020, supported by strong employment, projected income growth and low interest rates. Slowing economic growth in the U.S. and high household debt in Canada could create a drag on home price growth but are not expected to materially affect residential mortgage-backed securities metrics.

Redfin Improves Accuracy of Estimate, Expands to Additional 11 Million Properties

Redfin, Seattle, said it improved the accuracy of its Redfin Estimate and expanded coverage to five new metro areas and several additional property types, including land and multi-family properties.

The Redfin Estimate is a calculation of a home’s worth, built on Redfin’s propriety machine learning algorithm that uses billions of data points about properties across the country. Redfin improved the accuracy of its estimate for off-market homes by 70 basis points, as the median error improved from 6.3% to 5.6%. An error rate of 5.6% means that half of all Redfin Estimates fall within 5.6% of the home’s eventual sale price. For a typical $300,000 home, the updated Redfin Estimate is now $2,100 closer to the market value and will be within $16,800 of the final sale price half of the time.

CoreLogic Approved for Fannie Mae’s DU Validation Service

CoreLogic, Irvine, Calif., integrated its Verification of Employment and Income platforms with Fannie Mae’s Desktop Underwriter validation service.

Through this integration, mortgage lenders can now receive both automated and manual borrower employment and income verifications from CoreLogic as part of the DU validation service so they can get Day 1 Certainty from Fannie Mae, providing lenders with automated access and rapid representations and warranties relief for validated loan components.

Quicken Loans, Nexsys Technologies Perform Michigan Remote Online Mortgage Closing

Quicken Loans, Detroit, and Nexsys Technologies said they completed the first mortgage process in Michigan using Remote Online Notarization, a refinance transaction for a metro Detroit homeowner.

Amrock Inc., a national provider of title insurance, property valuations and settlement services, was the title and closing agent for the mortgage. The notary who completed the closing was Amrock’s Julie Felts, the first electronic/remote notary to be approved and registered by the State of Michigan.

FHFA Issues 2018 Report to Congress on Guarantee Fees

The Federal Housing Finance Agency released its annual report on single-family guarantee fees charged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

For all loan products combined, the average single-family guarantee fee in 2018 increased 2 basis points to 55 basis points. The upfront portion of the guarantee fee, which is based on the credit risk attributes (e.g., loan purpose, loan-to-value ratio, and credit score), was unchanged at 15 basis points. The ongoing portion of the guarantee fee, which is based on the product type (fixed-rate or adjustable-rate, and loan term), increased 2 basis points to 40 basis points. The average guarantee fee in 2018 on 30-year fixed-rate loans was unchanged at 56 basis points, while the fee on 15-year fixed-rate loans increased by 1 basis point to 37 basis points. The fee on adjustable-rate mortgage loans fell 4 basis points to 54 basis points.

FHFA said higher interest rates accompanied by increasing house prices in 2018 led to a smaller share of both rate-term refinances and 15-year loans acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The larger share of purchase loans and a growing focus on pilot programs for first-time homebuyers and affordable housing led to a slight increase in the share of loans with higher loan-to-value ratios and lower credit scores.

The report can be accessed at

BlackFin Group Launches Progressive Training Program

BlackFin Group, Irvine, Calif., launched a new high-tech, high-touch training program.

The one-day training programs are designed to fill a widening gap recognized in businesses worldwide; training courses that are focused on the development of soft skills and the harmonizing of multi-generational work forces to increase a firm’s overall productivity and effectiveness.

Exceleras Adds REO Acquisition Screen to Aid Investors

Exceleras, Glencoe, Ill., added a new Pre-REO screen to DispoSolutions to aid investors and services in making better presale decisions as part of the company’s regularly scheduled software update.

The Pre-REO screen offers data through three components, general property information, offer information and closing information. The screen makes it easier for investors to perform due diligence on transactions. Investors seeking to buy a portfolio of properties can load bulk data into DispoSolutions and receive screens for each property. If they decide to make an offer, they can track it through to close.

LBA Ware Launches CompenSafe University

LBA Ware, Macon, Ga., launched CompenSafe University, a two-day training program designed to help lenders derive additional value from their investment in CompenSafe.

Day one covers the essentials of CompenSafe configuration and administration. Day two addresses advanced CompenSafe administration topics such as compensation rules for terminated employees, manual adjustments, recoverable and non-recoverable draws and minimum guarantees.