Industry Briefs Sept. 18, 2020

ARMCO Rebrands as ACES Quality Management

ACES Risk Management (ARMCO), Denver, a provider of management and control software for the financial services industry, completed its rebranding effort to align the company’s image with its expanded focus on quality and risk management for banks and credit unions, as well as independent mortgage lenders.

Effective September 10, the company name will be known as ACES Quality Management, and the name of its flagship product ACES Audit Technology will change to ACES Quality Management and Control Software.

Along with the naming and logo rebrand come a newly designed website and product offering. ACES Audit Packs for Mortgage Origination, Servicing and Consumer Lending combine out-of-the-box reports and managed questions with the functionality and flexibility of the ACES platform.

Citywide Home Loans Launches Adwerx Enterprise Automation Platform

Citywide Home Loans, Durham, N.C., implemented the Adwerx Enterprise Automation Platform, delivering each loan officer an integrated, digital marketing platform including intelligent retargeting, streaming TV commercials and custom audience campaigns.

As part of the program, Citywide Home Loans leveraged Adwerx’s digital advertising automation technology to scale marketing best practices across its 55 branches. All loan officers and franchisees have digital retargeting campaigns that launch automatically across social media platforms and premium websites visited by potential clients. They also receive access to a pre-made inventory of personalized ads through a branded, self-service portal that they can run individually, complementing their automated campaigns.

Ginnie Mae August MBS Issuance Soars Above $77 Billion

Ginnie Mae, Washington, D.C., said issuance of its mortgage-backed securities totaled an agency record $77.62 billion in August, providing financing for more than 281,000 homeowners and renters.

A breakdown of August issuance includes $73.25 billion of Ginnie Mae II MBS and $4.38 billion of Ginnie Mae I MBS, which includes $4.11 billion of loans for multifamily housing. Ginnie Mae’s total outstanding principal balance of $2.121 trillion is an increase from $2.087 trillion a year ago.

Verus Mortgage Capital Launches Verus Commercial Real Estate Finance

Verus Mortgage Capital, New York, designated a new division, Verus Commercial Real Estate Finance to pursue origination opportunities in commercial real estate credit. VCREF is a balance sheet commercial real estate direct lender that will provide capital for a wide range of real estate asset classes nationwide.

VCREF’s senior team includes Kenneth Witkin and Ricardo Koenigsberger as Co-Presidents and Anthony R. Iervolino as Managing Director. VCREF will initially specialize in offering bridge loans for acquisitions, refinancing, restructurings, discounted payoffs, lease-up stabilizations and other special situations. Asset types include: Condo Inventory, Hotels/Hospitality, Industrial, Luxury Residential, Investment Properties, Mixed-Use, Mobile Home Parks, Multifamily, Offices, Parking, Retail, and Self-Storage. VCREF’s financial products include Senior Loans, B-pieces, Mezzanine Loans, and Preferred Equity. Targeted loans range in size from $1million to $25 million.

PhoenixTeam Expands Relationship with Department of Veterans Affairs

PhoenixTeam, Arlington, Va., a mortgage technology strategy and services provider, expanded its long-standing partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs Loan Guaranty Service.

As part of a new contract award to transform how LGY serves veterans, lenders, appraisers, servicers and other industry stakeholders, PhoenixTeam will modernize LGY technology products to maximize opportunities for veterans to obtain homeownership, retain their homes during times of financial difficulty and adapt their homes to better accommodate service-related disabilities.

Maxwell Adds Underwriting, Closing Services to Fulfillment Platform

Digital mortgage platform Maxwell, Denver, announced it added underwriting and closing services to the Maxwell Fulfillment Platform, enhancing the company’s suite of technology and outsourced services for small and midsize lenders.

As with its processing platform, Maxwell’s underwriting and closing platforms are accessible through the Maxwell Fulfillment Platform on a white-label basis, with all outsourced personnel functioning as an integrated part of the lender’s operations team. Because the underwriters leverage Maxwell’s data gathered on the front end, the underwriting process is faster, which results in an improved borrower and lender experience. Lenders can add team members as needed to accommodate the ebbs and flows of market dynamics while maintaining full ownership of customer data and delivering a fully branded, streamlined loan experience to borrowers.

NXTsoft, FirstClose Develop API Partnership

NXTsoft, Birmingham, Ala., a provider of API connectivity, and FirstClose, a provider of fintech platforms for mortgage lenders, developed a partnership to connect their platforms for financial institutions using NXTsoft’s established APIs.

The partnership gives financial institutions the ability to implement FirstClose’s point-of-sale digital lending platform – at application without additional manipulation of their core banking systems to render an instant loan decision by leveraging FirstClose’s automated ordering technology for all origination and settlement services needed to close a loan.

Black Knight: Loans in Forbearance Continue Improvement

Black Knight, Jacksonville, Fla., said its latest blog found mortgages in active forbearance continued to improve last week, declining by 26,000 (-0.7%). This marks the fourth consecutive week of improvement, and declining volumes for 10 of the past 12 weeks.

As of September 15, just under 3.7 million homeowners remain in COVID-19-related forbearance plans. That’s down more than 22% from the peak of more 4.7 million in late May. These loans represent 7% of the active mortgage universe, unchanged from last week. Together, they represent $781 billion in unpaid principal.

States Title Uses Machine Intelligence to Eliminate Human Review of Closing Documents

States Title, San Francisco, released its Instant Closing Disclosure product. Rather than relying on escrow employees to manually review closing disclosure documents and “stare and compare” to verify data and fees, the product uses data science to automatically deliver an accurate closing disclosure – almost instantaneously.

Similar to States Title’s Instant Underwriting product, which delivers title commitments in minutes, Instant Closing Disclosure enables lenders to get settlement statements get back from escrow officers in as little as one minute, versus hours or days. According to States Title, the company is eliminating the manual, error-prone work done by the closing agent, as fees are automatically reconciled from the lender’s closing disclosure into its title production system with no file re-formatting needed. This allows the settlement statement to be returned quickly, speeding the overall time to close. 

National MI Integrates with Lender Price

National Mortgage Insurance Corp., Emeryville, Calif., integrated with Lender Price, a cloud-based product, pricing and eligibility engine provider for the mortgage finance industry.

Loan officers now have instant access to National MI’s risk-based  Rate GPS through the Lender Price PPE platform.

LodeStar Software Solutions, Lender Toolkit Unveil Rate Calculator Integration

Lender Toolkit, Philadelphia, and LodeStar Solutions are partnering to integrate LodeStar’s rate calculator with the Lender Toolkit.

The integration will allow mortgage lenders using the Lender Toolkit platform to enable  consumers to search and compare loans with accurate rates and cost estimates. Consumers can use filters to look for 30-, 20- or 15-year loan terms; search for fixed or adjustable rates and see closing costs.

SitusAMC Adds ComplianceEase Software to Technology Portfolio

SitusAMC Holdings Corp., New York, a provider of services and technologies to the real estate finance industry, acquired LogicEase Solutions Inc., the parent company of residential regulatory compliance technology provider ComplianceEase. The acquisition adds automated compliance software ComplianceAnalyzer and TRID Monitor to SitusAMC’s technology portfolio.

The ComplianceEase management team will be retained by SitusAMC. ComplianceEase will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of SitusAMC with no planned changes to existing staff or operations.

Berkery Noyes served as exclusive financial advisor to ComplianceEase.

Fannie Mae: 2020 U.S. Economic Forecast Upgraded Despite Heightened Risks

Fannie Mae, Washington, D.C., said despite continued downside risks, full-year 2020 real GDP is now forecast to contract by 2.6 percent, an improvement from the prior month’s forecast of a 3.1 percent contraction.

The upgrade was attributed to continued strength in consumer spending – and data suggesting that such spending is likely to support economic growth through the remainder of the year. In fact, the ESR Group also improved its forecast for real GDP growth for the third quarter 2020 to 30.4 percent – from the prior forecast of 27.2 percent – but reduced its expectations for fourth quarter growth to 6.2 percent from 8.7 percent due in part to the lack of further COVID 19-related legislative stimulus. Risks to the forecast remain skewed to the downside, including the potential for a re-acceleration nationally of COVID-19 cases, a slowdown in global growth, and consumer retrenchment owing to diminished unemployment benefits and the expiration of federal relief programs. To the upside, many households continue to save at elevated levels and appear to have the means to offer additional support to the economy through increased spending.

“The most important factor in our expectations for U.S. economic performance remains the impact of COVID-19 on household, business and policymaker actions,” said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. “Optimism regarding a potential vaccine and declining infection and mortality rates are all supportive of stronger growth; however, any delays or disappointment in the development and deployment of a vaccine could result in a reduced rate of growth. As expected, the pace of economic recovery is slowing, but housing remains highly supportive. The Federal Reserve has made clear that it has no intention of raising interest rates in the near future, and, as mortgage spreads continue compressing, households are seizing the opportunity to refinance their existing mortgages. Historically, low interest rates are also an inducement to buy homes, but slow supply growth continues to result in high levels of home price appreciation, which is offsetting some of the affordability benefits of the lower rate environment.”

Docutech Is Now First American Docutech

Docutech, Scottsdale, Ariz., is now officially rebranded to First American Docutech, following First American’s acquisition of the company in March.

The combined offering enables lenders and settlement agents to accelerate closings by digitizing and streamlining creation, delivery, execution and perfection of mortgage documents.

ClosingCorp Fees Now Integrated with OpenClose POS, LOS Platforms

ClosingCorp, San Diego, announced its ClosingCorp Fees service is now integrated with OpenClose’s LenderAssist loan origination system and ConsumerAssist digital mortgage point-of-sale platform.

ClosingCorp Fees provides an automated fee platform that gives users immediate access to real-time closing costs with an audit trail and data-backed guarantee. The integration will enable OpenClose’s POS and LOS users to instantly access and provide real-time, accurate third-party provider rates and fees to borrowers. Using the interface, lenders can generate, preview and deliver the Loan Estimate  disclosure directly to their borrower. Lenders can adjust the loan characteristics and re-quote fees as needed, helping to ensure compliance and accelerate time-to-close metrics. In addition, lenders will also have access to comprehensive recording fees, transfer tax and property tax data on specific parcels at the county, local and other taxing agency levels.

Accurate Group Launches Bundled Platform for Credit Unions

Accurate Group, Cleveland, Ohio, launched a bundled platform designed to help credit unions accelerate growth and improve efficiency in real estate lending.

The bundled platform includes appraisal, title and closing technology and services, as well as flood insurance when needed. By connecting into existing LOS, POS and servicing systems and spanning the breadth of the loan process, Accurate Group also provides credit unions a dataset for decision support or process automation.

Reggora, GoodData Form Partnership

Reggora, Boston, announced a partnership with GoodData, a provider of embedded analytics platforms.

Through the integration, lenders can explore their data using a simple drag and drop interface. Dynamic reports with granular details and custom funnels can help identify trends such as turn time bottlenecks or payment processing errors.

Black Knight Introduces Digital Origination Suite

Black Knight Inc., Jacksonville, Fla., launched two new digital platforms. The suite of user-centric, responsive web-designed platforms includes Borrower Digital and LO Digital. Borrower Digital simplifies the loan application process by leveraging Black Knight’s artificial intelligence capabilities at the point of sale and throughout the approval process, while LO Digital gives loan officers the ability to provide support to their customers anytime, anywhere. 

Borrower Digital guides the homebuyer through prequalification, preapproval and refinance process via an intuitive Q&A format, validating data and documents along the way. Its automated workflow alerts the homebuyer about immediate next steps, providing a self-guided process for the customer. AIVA, Black Knight’s artificial intelligence platform, helps the borrower upload identification and other supporting documentation, while assessing whether the appropriate documents were received. Information is routed from the consumer to the loan origination system and vice versa, with AIVA providing near-real-time feedback.

LO Digital is designed specifically for loan officers to manage details of each application through an intuitive dashboard, allowing them to lead the homebuyer throughout the mortgage application process, respond to borrower questions along the way and view the same information the borrower sees.

Realty Partners Taps Adwerx

Realty Partners, Sarasota, Fla., implemented the Adwerx Enterprise Automation Platform to automate online ads for all new listings, plus custom retargeting campaigns for all of their agents.

The Adwerx Enterprise Automation Platform delivers each Realty Partners agent a fully integrated, results-oriented digital marketing platform. Automated ads are displayed on Facebook, mobile apps and premium websites that consumers and potential home buyers visit regularly. Intelligent retargeting extends agents’ reach and the opportunity to recapture the interest of prospects. All Realty Partners agents also receive access to a pre-made inventory of custom, personal brand ads through a self-service portal that they can run individually, complementing their automated campaigns.