Industry Briefs Dec. 20, 2021: Clear Capital Launches ClearPhoto

Clear Capital Announces Automated Appraisal Photo Review

Clear Capital, Reno, Nev., launched ClearPhoto, a set of AI-driven rules built into ClearCollateral Review, automating the review of property photos and ensuring they are aligned with the appraisal data and sketch.

ClearCollateral Review is now enhanced with automated critical checks throughout the appraisal review process, including confirmation that each photo is correctly labeled; validation that the number of unique rooms shown in imagery matches the appraisal data for bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens; and validation that the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens in the sketch matches the appraisal data

ENACOMM, PSCU Partner to Bring Prepaid Mobile Apps, Websites to Credit Unions

ENACOMM, Tulsa, announced a partnership with PSCU, a credit union service organization. The agreement enables credit unions across the U.S. to roll out new mobile apps and websites through PSCU’s prepaid product line with next-generation functionality, including biometric authentication.

Through the agreement, the prepaid mobile application and website platforms were built once and deployed multiple times for PSCU credit unions. The platforms make it possible for each credit union to brand the platforms to appear as if they were custom-built for the financial institution.

Closepin Announces New API Integrations to Reduce Purchase Loan Turn Times

Closepin, Plymouth Meeting, Pa., announced availability of its new API for lenders. The ClosepinAPI is focused on helping lenders reduce purchase loan turn-times when working with a borrower’s preferred local closing agent.

The ClosepinAPI gives lenders access to more than 65+ validated and commonly requested data points from closing agents which can be integrated with any LOS system. Data are provided by the closing agent and verified by Closepin, giving lenders a continuously updated source of truth. This eliminates the time needed for email-based communications, manual data entry, PDF forms/surveys, and correction of duplication errors with thousands of closing agents.

HomeBinder Partners with Thumbtack

HomeBinder, Boston, announced a new integration with Thumbtack. The integration expands upon the more than 23,000 recommended service providers already listed in HomeBinder to provide consumers with access to hundreds of thousands of home service professionals across every county in the United States.

HomeBinder simplifies home management with to-do lists, maintenance records, home project planning tools and online storage of documents, appliance models, property details and photos. Before gifting HomeBinder to a client, home inspectors, mortgage lenders and realtors can populate the ‘Home Service Provider’ tab with a personalized list of recommended home service professionals, strengthening their relationships with those referral partners while providing a valuable service to homeowners.

Thumbtack helps homeowners manage their homes — confidently knowing what to do, when to do it and who to hire. Once a homeowner is ready to start a project, Thumbtack matches them to skilled local professionals with the right expertise, availability and pricing. Through this new integration, homeowners on HomeBinder can now instantly book top-rated professionals on Thumbtack from television mounters to house cleaners and local movers.

Fannie Mae: Lenders Foresee Return to a More ‘Normal’ Housing Market in 2022

Fannie Mae, Washington, D.C. said for the fifth consecutive quarter, a plurality of mortgage lenders expect near-term profitability to decrease. The Q4 2021 Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey said 65% of mortgage lenders believe profit margins will decrease in the next three months, up from 46% in the prior quarter, while 31% believe profits will remain the same and 3% believe profits will increase. Competition from other lenders and market trend changes were once again the top reasons cited for the profitability expectations.

Additionally, across all loan types, more lenders this quarter reported reduced consumer demand over the previous three months for both purchase and refinance mortgages. Looking ahead, again across all loan types, lenders on net expect purchase mortgage demand to remain largely stable, while refinance demand is expected to decrease substantially.

Staircase Raises $18M Series A Funding Led by Bessemer Venture Partners 

Staircase, Philadelphia, secured $18 million in Series A funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners with participation from Avid Ventures, Clocktower Technology Ventures, Metaprop Ventures, RRE Ventures and Zigg Capital, as well as a collection of notable angels, including Tom Montag, COO of Bank of America.

Staircase provides an application programming interface platform that brings together numerous parties involved in the mortgage origination process, from borrower application to employment and income verification through to closing and fulfillment. Staircase ensures that all parties involved in originating a mortgage don’t need to adopt a common language but can still communicate. By providing a platform to integrate disparate systems, Staircase eliminates the challenges that typically prevent rapid adoption of technology in the mortgage origination process while ensuring compliance with legal and regulatory standards.

Biz2Credit: IT Firms Led in Post-Pandemic Financial Measures

A new study published by Biz2Credit, New York, that analyzed 2020-2021 industry trends among small businesses, finds that information technology firms received the most funding of any industry in terms of volume, the highest average amount of funding and had the highest average revenue.

Additionally, the owners of IT businesses had the highest average credit score. The Accommodation and Food Services industry finished second in terms of total funding volume. Food Services businesses also had the highest approval rate for financing.

The Biz2Credit 2021 Top Small Business Industries Report analyzed the financial performance of over 200,000 companies that used the company’s online funding platform to apply for funding, including forgivable loans through the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program, in 2020-21.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Note Assistance Options Following Recent Tornadoes

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac issued reminders to homeowners and renters impacted by the recent tornadoes in communities across Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi of available mortgage assistance and disaster relief options.

Under Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac guidelines for single-family mortgages impacted by a natural disaster:

•           Homeowners may request mortgage assistance by contacting their mortgage servicer (the company listed on their mortgage statement) following a disaster.

•           Mortgage servicers are authorized to offer forbearance for up to 90 days – even without establishing contact with the homeowner – if the servicer believes the home was affected by the disaster.

•           Homeowners affected by a disaster are often eligible to reduce or suspend their mortgage payments for up to 12 months. During this temporary payment break, homeowners will not incur late fees and foreclosure and other legal proceedings are suspended.

•           Following the payment break, there are a number of options available to potentially help homeowners catch up on missed payments, including Disaster Payment Deferral.

Mortgage servicers can also immediately leverage Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae short-term forbearance programs to provide homeowners mortgage relief for up to 12 months without incurring late fees or penalties. Foreclosure and other legal proceedings are also suspended while homeowners are on a forbearance plan.

Senso Launches Senso Engage

Senso, Toronto, a fintech analytics startup that helps mortgage lenders build relationships with borrowers, has launched Senso Engage, a new SaaS product that enables mortgage banks, lenders and servicers to build relationships with borrowers in the months leading up to their home purchase.

By providing relevant and personalized information early in the buying process, Senso Engage enables banks to nurture relationships from initial contact to loan closure — and drive higher origination growth and retention rates.

Zillow Adds Down Payment Assistance Information to For Sale Listings

Zillow, Seattle, announced a partnership with Down Payment Resource to help home shoppers discover the wide variety of down payment assistance programs, especially for first-time home buyers.

Home listings on Zillow now include information about the number of potential down payment assistance programs that may be available to buyers searching for homes on its platform. Interested home shoppers can input some basic information that is run through Down Payment Resource’s database, which then populates a list of all potentially available programs that includes the specific maximum amount of assistance offered and links to gather more details. This feature can be found on all eligible for-sale listings nationwide.