Industry Briefs Dec. 10, 2021: Beeline Completes Series A Funding
Beeline Completes Series A Funding
Beeline, Providence, R.I., a digital start-up mortgage lender, completed a Series A round of financing for an undisclosed amount. The capital will be invested in automation and artificial intelligence to improve the user experience for borrowers.
The round of financing was led by the Cavalry Fund and included participation from strategic co-investors Atalaya Capital Management, Ellington Financial Inc., and Australia-based Pipeline Capital. The latest transaction brings the total capital raised by Beeline to $22 million. The new funding will accelerate development of Beeline’s mortgage automation platform, which identifies, processes and resolves underwriting conditions in real-time so borrowers can instantly know if they are pre-approved for a loan.
ACES Quality Management Partners with Financial Services RegTech Provider Winnow Solutions
ACES Quality Management, Denver, partnered with Winnow Solutions to power certain compliance and regulatory operations within ACES through its RegTech platform Winnow.
A financial law database built by attorneys, Winnow takes the guesswork out of compliance by identifying regulatory requirements applicable to specific institution types and products. The addition of Winnow’s database helps ensure ACES continues to provide its users with accurate and up-to-date information on state regulations.
Mortgage Coach Integrates with ICE Mortgage Technology
Mortgage Coach, Irvine, Calif., announced an advanced integration with ICE Mortgage Technology. Mortgage Coach has leveraged Encompass Developer Connect application programming interfaces so lenders can deliver information-rich Total Cost Analysis loan comparison data to borrowers automatically and easily.
The Mortgage Coach platform helps lenders engage borrowers in the home financing process with digital TCA presentations that deliver an interactive comparison of how mortgage strategies perform over time. The integration enables lenders to instantly generate accurate and compliant TCA presentations for every loan record managed in Encompass via a secure, single sign-on user experience.
CFPB Issues Final Rule to Facilitate Transition from LIBOR
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finalized a rule facilitating the transition away from the LIBOR interest rate index for consumer financial products. The rule establishes requirements for how creditors must select replacement indices for existing LIBOR-linked consumer loans after April 1, 2022.
No new financial contracts may reference LIBOR as the relevant index after the end of 2021. Starting in June 2023, LIBOR can no longer be used for existing financial contracts. The transition away from LIBOR was set into motion after a criminal rate-setting conspiracy implicated large international banks and undermined public confidence in the index. Nearly $1.4 trillion of consumer loans are estimated to be currently tied to LIBOR.
The Bureau is reserving judgment on the SOFR-based spread-adjusted replacement index to replace 1-year USD LIBOR until it obtains additional information. Once the Bureau knows which SOFR-based spread-adjusted index the ARRC will recommend for replacing the 1-year USD LIBOR index for consumer products, the Bureau will consider whether that index meets the comparability and “historical fluctuations are substantially similar” standards and, if so, whether to codify such determinations in a supplemental final rule.
The final rule can be accessed at https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/cfpb_facilitating-libor-transition_final-rule_2021-12.pdf.
NewPoint Real Estate Capital Completes Asset Acquisition of Housing & Healthcare Finance
NewPoint Real Estate Capital LLC, Plano, Texas, acquired certain assets of Housing & Healthcare Finance, including its FHA multifamily and healthcare origination business and its loan servicing portfolio.
With a specialized focus on healthcare and senior housing lending, HHC Finance augments NewPoint’s existing suite of agency lending solutions and strengthens the company’s healthcare and senior housing financing capabilities. HHC Finance Founders Erik Lindenauer and Rich Lerner will join NewPoint as Co-Presidents of the FHA Housing Business Unit and lead the integration of HHC Finance’s team of approximately 50 professionals into NewPoint’s existing FHA origination and servicing business.
Redfin: Home Prices Hit Record High; Supply Hits Record Low
Redfin, Seattle, reported the median home sale price rose to a record high, while the number of homes for sale fell to a record low.
Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather said there are some signs that homebuying may be returning to a more typical seasonal trend as the share of homes sold in one week fell after Thanksgiving more than it has since early September. Pending home sales fell to their lowest level since February.
“Homebuying demand seems to be returning to a slowdown trend that we’d typically expect to see in the last few weeks of the year,” Fairweather said. “The latest research on the Omicron variant seems to be easing consumers’ worst fears, but a lot of uncertainty remains in the economy—from inflation, jobs and wages to how the Fed reacts to those factors. Amid all that economic uncertainty, the notion that home prices will continue to grow in the near-term feels relatively certain.”
OptifiNow Builds Custom Integration with LoanScorecard for Non-QM Wholesale Lender
OptifiNow, Seal Beach, Calif., integrated with LoanScorecard, enabling wholesale lenders to provide fast and accurate scenario quotes to mortgage brokers in a high-volume call center sales process.
Oaktree Funding, a wholesale mortgage lender in Upland, Calif., is the first client to use the integration. Oaktree selected OptifiNow and LoanScorecard to build a custom process that allows call center sales agents to rapidly respond to inbound phone calls with loan scenario quotes. OptifiNow integrated its Support onDemand customer service module with LoanScorecard’s automated loan decision engine, making it easy for users to quickly enter a scenario and receive a product and pricing decision in the CRM. Product and pricing are emailed to the mortgage broker while speaking with the sales agent on the phone.
CFPB Report Finds Wide-Ranging Violations of Law in 2021
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a Supervisory Highlights report, which shines a light on legal violations identified by the CFPB’s examinations in the first half of 2021. The report also highlights prior CFPB supervisory findings that led to public enforcement actions in the first half of 2021.
This past year, the CFPB prioritized mortgage servicing supervision due to the increase in borrowers applying for and receiving mortgage forbearance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the CARES Act prohibits mortgage servicers from imposing fees on consumers receiving CARES Act forbearance, CFPB examiners found that mortgage servicers still charged borrowers late fees and default-related fees. These illegal fees exacerbated the economic hardships experienced by struggling homeowners in 2021. Examiners observed that mortgage servicers failed to refund some of the fees until almost a year later.
CFPB examiners also identified several violations of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act by mortgage lenders. The examination team found that mortgage lenders discriminated against African American and female borrowers in the granting of pricing exceptions, compared to non-Hispanic white and male borrowers.
CFPB examiners also found that lenders improperly considered small business applicants’ religion in their credit decisions. For religious institutions applying for small business loans, some lenders improperly utilized a questionnaire that contained explicit inquiries about an applicant’s religion.
Ginnie Mae Reports November MBS Issuance of More than $67 Billion
Ginnie Mae, Washington, D.C. reported mortgage-backed securities issuance volume for November rose to $67.38 billion. It said 248,087 homes and apartment units were financed by Ginnie Mae guaranteed MBS in November.
A breakdown of November issuance includes $63.74 billion of Ginnie Mae II MBS and $3.65 billion of Ginnie Mae I MBS, which in turn includes $3.5 billion of loans for multifamily housing. Ginnie Mae’s total outstanding principal balance as of November 30 was $2.143 trillion, up from $2.131 trillion in the prior month, and up slightly from $2.111 trillion in November 2020.
Green Circle Life Covid Passport Platform Helps Companies Create Safe Working Environments While Meeting Vaccine Compliance Requirements
Green Circle Life recently launched Covid Passport, which can be used by companies to comply with all the present and likely future mandates.
Covid Passport allows companies to manage vaccination, testing and exemptions at both a local and central level using a hierarchical administrative console. As an added feature, Green Circle can review the vaccination records and testing results uploaded by employees to reduce the burden on the HR staff. The platform is flexible and can be quickly deployed for any size organization. Employees can access the platform via an app and the web. They can record their vaccination status and store their vaccination card. Employees can also track the results of Covid tests as well as get reminders for weekly testing and future vaccination doses. The app allows employees to manage their vaccination exemption and take an optional daily Covid risk assessment questionnaire.
Zillow: Home Values to Grow by 11% for 2022
Zillow, Seattle, said the 2022 housing market may not reach the heights of 2021, but it will be anything but slow next year. Zillow said to expect the strong sellers’ market to persist, the Sun Belt to maintain its top spot as the most in-demand region, and flexible work options to continue to shape housing decisions in new ways in 2022.
The Zillow forecast calls for 11% home value growth in 2022. That’s down from a projected 19.5% in 2021, a record year-end pace of home value appreciation, but would rank among the strongest years Zillow has tracked. Existing home sales are predicted to total 6.35 million, compared to an estimated 6.12 million this year. That would be the highest number of home sales in any year since 2006.
Rising home values will impact the rental market as well, Zillow said. After a slowdown in the early months of the pandemic, rent prices came roaring back, especially in what were previously some of the most affordable markets. As rising costs make it harder to save for a down payment, expect demand for larger rentals to increase, including for single-family homes, as families stay in the rental market longer.
Maxwell launches Processor Edge
Maxwell, Denver, launched Maxwell Processor Edge to meet demand from small to midsize lenders as they look to modernize and increase mortgage processing efficiency.
The platform integrates with a lender’s loan origination system, using machine learning to accelerate the document review process and detect data discrepancies before underwriting. The technology also streamlines communication with borrowers and stakeholders to increase processor capacity while reducing costs and loan approval times.
Tavant Partners with LogRocket
Tavant, Santa Clara, Calif., partnered with LogRocket, a data and analytics company based in Boston, to enhance consumer lending experiences for American homebuyers.
Within Tavant’s AI-powered consumer lending platform – VΞLOX –data from LogRocket helps Tavant and its clients identify key areas of friction and pain-points customers face today in the mortgage application process. LogRocket offers front-end performance monitoring and product/UX analytics to help their partners improve their online experiences and continue to engage millions of active users daily.
ClearValue Consulting Partners with ValueScape Analytics
ClearValue Consulting, Chandler, Ariz., announced a partnership with ValueScape Analytics to use its artificial intelligence technology to enhance ClearValue Consulting’s CLARITY appraisal review engine.
The CLARITY Quality Control & Rules Engine improves the appraisal review process by using technology to quickly ensure investor compliance and reduce the time appraisers spend reviewing and correcting orders. ValueScape Analytics uses AI through its Deep Learning Auditing Service, which verifies and creates evidence—or lack of evidence—that images, data and narrative in an appraisal report are accurate.
MCT Launches Learning Center
Mortgage Capital Trading Inc., San Diego, debuted its new Learning Center, a one-stop educational content database for each stage of growth of a mortgage lender in the secondary market.
With a repository of webinars, technical whitepapers, blog posts, market commentary and a dictionary of industry terms, the Learning Center grants educational access to users looking to expand their knowledge of capital markets.
Black Knight: Forbearance Plans Fall by 112,000
Black Knight, Jacksonville, Fla., said its McDash Flash daily loan-level forbearance data showed active forbearance plans saw a significant decline last week, falling by 112,000 (-11%) from a week ago, pushing the number of active plans below 900,000 for the first time since the initial stages of the pandemic.
Portfolio/PLS loans led the way, falling by 49,000 (-15%) week-over-week, alongside 42,000 (-12%) and 21,000 (-7%) declines in FHA/VA and GSE plans, respectively. All in, active plans are down 177,000 (-17%) from the same time last month.
Black Knight said as of December 7, 882,000 (1.7% of) mortgage holders remain in COVID-19 related forbearance plans including 1.1% of GSE mortgages, 2.6% of FHA/VA and 2.1% of portfolio-held and privately securitized mortgages.