Industry Briefs Dec. 21, 2020

New American Funding Launches Mentorship Program

New American Funding, Tustin, Calif., launched a mentorship program to help team members develop professionally. New American Funding’s “360 Mentorship Program” matches an internal leader with another employee who is pursuing career advancement.

The program allows the mentor to share their knowledge and help the mentee develop the skills needed to pursue their career goals.

LBA Ware Joins ACUMA

LBA Ware, Macon, Ga., joined the American Credit Union Mortgage Association as an affiliate member.

Through the membership, LBA Ware aims to strengthen credit unions’ competitiveness and performance by equipping them with services that simplify the mortgage compensation process and help teams use their data to drive new levels of performance.

Adwerx Partners with ERA Matt Fischer Realtor, Century 21 Carioti, Lend Smart Mortgage LLC

Adwerx announced the latest brokerage firm to join the Adwerx Enterprise Automated Advertising Platform: ERA Matt Fischer Realtor; Century 21 Carioti; and Lend Smart Mortgage LLC.

Adwerx’s Platform makes it easy for both the brokerages and their agents to advertise online by creating ads that are targeted to the right hyperlocal geographic area; personalized with the agent’s photo and contact information; displayed to prospects where they are spending time online; reaching consumers who are likely to purchase a home; and measurable to track reach

FHA Achieves Full FHA Catalyst Digital Claim Submission Capabilities

The Federal Housing Administration implemented additional functionality in its FHA Catalyst: Claims Module, achieving full, digital submission capabilities for all FHA Single-Family Title II forward mortgage claim types and elimination of manual, labor intensive paper-based claim submission processes for servicers of FHA-insured mortgages.

New claim types available in the module include electronic submissions for FHA’s Claims Without Conveyance of Title (CWCOT) program, augmenting the programmatic streamlining made to this alternative conveyance method announced by FHA in July. Servicers submitting claims to FHA for insurance can now use the FHA Catalyst: Claims Module for all 17 Single Family forward mortgage claim types, including FHA’s special COVID-19 National Emergency Standalone Partial Claim and other home retention claim types designed to help homeowners regain sustainable homeownership as they recover from the financial effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

FHA Catalyst is FHA’s multi-year technology modernization initiative and is supported by a $40 million appropriation from Congress. FHA Catalyst is a secure, flexible, cloud-based platform that provides a modern, automated system for use by lenders, servicers, and other FHA program participants, while enabling FHA to manage its programs and processes efficiently and effectively.

Black Knight: Loans in Forbearance Up for 3rd Straight Week

Black Knight, Jacksonville, Fla., released its latest blog, showing mortgages in active forbearance saw another increase last week, rising by 37,000 from Dec. 15.

Black Knight said the primary driver behind this week’s rise came from a pullback in such plan exits, which were down considerably week over week. Overall, active forbearance plans rose by up 31,000 from the same time last month, and – as of December 15 – 5.3% of all mortgages (2.79 million) are in forbearance. Together, they represent $563 billion in unpaid principal. The week saw an increase of 18,000 FHA/VA forbearance plans, 14,000 among PLS/portfolio loans and a modest 5,000 rise in GSE plans.

First Option Mortgage Expands National Footprint in Kentucky, Texas, Florida

First Option Mortgage, Atlanta, four new offices. The new locations and branch managers are in Ft. Myers, Fla., led by Whitney Hall; Corbin, Ken., led by Ben Minton; San Antonio, Texas, led by Shane Kelley; and Ashland, Ken., led by Tom Hobbs. 

First Option has 24 branches nationwide and plans to continue the retail branch network expansion in 2021. The company’s model allows it to maintain quick turn times on each loan, which is currently 24 days.

CoreLogic Whitepaper: Modernizing the Housing Economy through Technology

CoreLogic, Irvine, Calif., released its latest whitepaper, Modernizing the Housing Economy: Using Technology to Navigate the Next Decade. The whitepaper provides a lookback at the 2020 housing economy and the impact of COVID on the mortgage and broader market, investments made in new technology to combat the new lending challenges and where we may expect to see continued investment in 2021.

The whitepaper can be found at  

Premier Bank Selects CSI for Core Banking Services 

Computer Services Inc., Paducah, Ky., announced Dubuque, Iowa-based Premier Bank selected its NuPoint core platform to offer more strategic and reliable banking services that can evolve in lockstep with its customers.

Premier Bank was using an in-house core processing system that required the institution to have not only a considerable amount of extra hardware on site, but also the expertise to manage it themselves. CSI’s private cloud environment will simplify the bank’s back room operations and alleviate its responsibility to configure important systems, such as disaster recovery, on its own.

Black Knight Launches Mandatory Analytics Interactive Dashboard

Black Knight Inc., Jacksonville, Fla., launched Mandatory Analytics, an interactive data dashboard that allows investors to analyze and benchmark mandatory commitments on the secondary mortgage market.

Black Knight Mandatory Analytics enables buyers to draw clarity on the competitiveness of their executions, identify and isolate gaps in their strategy and take action to better optimize organizational efforts—all from within a single, unified portal.

First American Rebrands Data & Analytics Division

First American Financial Corp., Santa Ana, Calif., rebranded its data division as the First American Data & Analytics Division, which brings together advanced analytic services for title automation, fraud risk management, compliance and valuation.

Using proprietary document data extraction technology, First American collects, extracts and curates property-related data, such as mortgages, deeds, assignments, liens, etc. First American’s proprietary process captures all recorded document elements. The division currently maintains a geographic collection of title plants, representing a dataset of more than 7 billion recorded documents, and adds more than 5 million new document images and more than 20 billion data elements each month to the dataset.

S&P Ranks BSI Financial Services as Residential Primary Servicer

BSI Financial Services, Irving, Texas, announced S&P Global Ratings affirmed the company’s Average ranking as a residential primary servicer and added the company onto its Select Servicer List.

BSI Financial employs Libretto, an AI-powered compliance engine from Bizzy Labs, to examine every loan in the company’s servicing portfolio daily, identifying loan file exceptions that result in exception reports that are routed to operations, administration, and onboarding teams for resolution. These reports are used in compliance testing to resolve loan-level exceptions, perform in time series analyses, and manage the firm’s data integrity program.

Fannie Mae: Economy Poised for Considerably Stronger 2021 as COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Efforts Commence

Economic growth expectations for 2020 and 2021 were upgraded for the second consecutive month due to positive developments associated with the COVID-19 vaccine, the likelihood of new fiscal stimulus, and upbeat consumer spending data, according to the latest commentary from the Fannie Mae Economic and Strategic Research Group.

On a full-year basis, Fannie Mae said real GDP in 2020 is now expected to contract only 2.2 percent — up from the November forecast’s expectation of negative 2.5 percent – before resuming a positive trajectory in 2021 with growth of 4.5 percent, a 1.2 percentage point improvement from the previous forecast. The ESR Group did note a heightened level of near-term uncertainty and potential weakness stemming from new lockdown and social distancing measures amid rapidly rising COVID-19 case counts, hospitalizations, and fatality rates. However, the expectation of ongoing accommodative monetary and fiscal policy, household spending strength, and, most critically, the commencement of widespread vaccine distribution efforts has the consumer well-positioned to accelerate spending come spring, ultimately driving a considerably faster pace of growth in the second half of 2021.

Evolve Mortgage Services Acquires Appraisal Technology Platform

Evolve Mortgage Services, Frisco, Texas, acquired the appraisal platform assets of Veptas Technology Solutions Inc., which will help Evolve offset the severe shortage of mortgage underwriters that has been created by the current refinance cycle.

The Veptas platform streamlines appraisal ordering and enables home lenders to use technology to adhere to appraisal independence requirements put in place following the financial crisis. In addition, it performs quality assurance and quality control functions that are typically handled by the loan underwriter. Evolve acquired the platform from Veptas Holdings Inc., the parent company of Veptas Technology Solutions and AiCurio. A name change is being made by Veptas Holdings Inc. to AiCurio Holdings Inc.

Terms of the transaction, which is classified as an asset sale, were not disclosed. Bill Reese, the head of operations at Veptas Technology Solutions, joined Evolve as part of the deal.

FHFA Issues 2019 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.

The report said for all loan products combined, the average single-family guarantee fee in 2019 increased 1 basis point to 56 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), decreased 2 basis points to 13 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 3 basis points to 43 basis points.

The average guarantee fee in 2019 on 30-year fixed rate loans increased 2 basis points to 58 basis points, while the fee on 15-year fixed rate loans decreased by 1 basis point to 36 basis points. The fee on adjustable-rate mortgage loans increased 2 basis points to 56 basis points.

LoanMonkey, Valligent Technologies Partner to Enhance Borrower Experience

LoanMonkey, San Diego, and Valligent Technologies, Roseville, Calif., partnered to provide the Valligent Virtual Appraisal to LoanMonkey’s borrower clients.

The Valligent Virtual Appraisal is a compliant residential appraisal created using Valligent’s proprietary streaming technology that connects the homeowner with an experienced staff inspector via a smartphone or mobile device. This allows the inspector to conduct a virtual walk-through of the property via the homeowner’s mobile device. The result is improvement in the user experience, borrower engagement and appraisal turn times.