Industry Briefs Feb. 3, 2021 Launches National Mortgage Broker Directory

Rocket Mortgage, Detroit, launched a national mortgage broker directory, which is prominently displayed on its website. Homebuyers, and those looking to refinance their current loan, can start the mortgage process through the Rocket platform in any way, which now includes a local independent mortgage broker in their community as an option.

When Quicken Loans Mortgage Services transitioned to Rocket Pro TPO in September, it told mortgage brokers the change would enable them to leverage the Rocket Mortgage brand. In addition to being on the website, brokers partnering with Rocket can show their clients they have access to Rocket Mortgage technology. The directory includes 43,000 individual loan officers who work with us, and every mortgage broker in the country.

Redfin: Housing Supply in Rural Areas Drops a Record 44%, Helping Drive Overall Shortage of Homes for Sale

Redfin, Seattle, said homes for sale in rural areas nationwide started the year down a record 44.4% compared to a year ago. The analysis compares housing data for urban, suburban and rural housing markets for the four weeks ending January 21. Redfin found the number of homes for sale in suburban areas fell 38.4% compared to the same period a year ago.

The shortage of homes for sale is more severe in rural and suburban neighborhoods than urban areas. In urban neighborhoods, the number of homes for sale dipped 16.9% over the same time period, less severe than the 21.5% drop seen in May and June of 2020.

“The scarcity of rural and suburban homes for sale is driving the overall housing supply shortage. Many homeowners are staying put, and homes in those neighborhoods are snapped up as soon as they’re listed for sale,” said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather. “Homes in rural and suburban areas remain popular as the pandemic and remote work continue to motivate buyers to prioritize indoor and outdoor space over commute times and urban amenities.”

Black Knight: Loans in Forbearance Up 20,000

Black Knight, Jacksonville, Fla., released its latest McDash Flash Forbearance Tracker, showing the number of mortgages in active forbearance rose by 20,000 from Jan. 26.

The report said a 4,000 decline in active GSE forbearance plans was more than offset by a 9,000 increase in FHA/VA forbearance plans along with a 15,000 increase among portfolio held and privately securitized loans. GSE forbearances are now down 4% month over month, roughly four times the rate of decline among FHA/VA (-1%) and portfolio held and privately securitized forbearances (-1.3%).

Across the market, the monthly rate of decline in forbearance plans held steady this week at -2.1% as exits from plans continue to remain muted. Just 41,000 homeowners left their plans this week, making it one of the three lowest weeks in terms of removals since the recovery began. Black Knight reported 172,000 forbearance plans still scheduled to expire at the end of January, which represents a modest opportunity for volume improvement next week. As of January 26, 2.76 million (5.2% of) homeowners remain in forbearance. Together, they represent $551 billion in unpaid principal and including 3.3% of GSE loans, 9.5% of FHA/VA loans, and 5.3% of portfolio held/privately securitized loans.

First American Launches REconomy Podcast

First American Financial Corp., Santa Ana, Calif., launched the REconomy podcast, which can be found on all major podcasting platforms. Designed to deliver economic insights for real estate professionals and anyone interested in real estate, housing, affordability and related economic issues, REconomy is hosted by First American Chief Economist Mark Fleming and Deputy Chief Economist Odeta Kushi.

Recent REconomy podcast episodes include: Why Rising Mortgage Rates Are Nothing to Fear; What a Changing Labor Market Means for Housing; 2021 Housing Market Outlook; and Housing Affordability in the COVID Era.

The podcast can be found here.

LoanLogics Introduces New HMDA Automation Tools for Lenders

LoanLogics, Jacksonville, Fla., launched LoanHD HMDA DirectCheck, a new software that analyzes HMDA data for compliance with mortgage industry regulations and identifies loans needing manual exception review.

LoanHD HMDA DirectCheck uses data from a lender’s trusted source to trigger a proprietary rules engine that automatically clears loans with no errors—often the vast majority of loans—and identifies loans with defects for manual exception review. The HMDA audit worksheet enables data to be edited and conditions cleared in a matter of a few minutes. 

York Public Relations Forms Alliance with Stanton Law

York Public Relations, Atlanta, announced an alliance with Atlanta-based Stanton Law, a firm specializing in business, employment and transactional law.  

As part of the alliance, York Public Relations will work with David Adams, who has represented financial, private equity and non-financial institutions for nearly 20 years. Through the relationship, financial services organizations will now have access to both crisis public relations services and experienced legal counsel to successfully navigate emergencies while adhering to state and federal laws. 

Civic Financial Services Acquired by PacWest Bancorp

Civic Financial Services LLC, Redondo Beach, Calif., announced Pacific Western Bank purchased the company from Wedgewood LLC. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

CIVIC was founded in 2014 through a partnership between Wedgewood and one of its subsidiaries, HMC Assets, to serve investors who did not fit within traditional real estate lending criteria. The company will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of PacWest Bancorp, while William J. Tessar will continue to serve as CIVIC’s President.

Since its inception, CIVIC has funded more than 10,000 loans to real estate investors for more than $4.4 billion. In 2020, the company funded more than $1 billion amidst a pandemic that caused other private lenders to pause operations or exit the market. The company has also received several awards for being one of the best places to work in the financial industry. The acquisition advances Pacific Western Bank’s strategy to expand its lending portfolio and diversify its revenue streams.

Berkshire Bank Taps Cirrus to Support Small Business, PPP-Related Lending Initiatives

Cirrus, Evergreen, Colo., a provider of cloud-based document management software, announced Berkshire Bank selected the company’s enhanced secure document collection portal to help the bank manage an influx of SBA loan requests, including 942 PPP loans on the first day of the program.

Cirrus’ cloud-based system supports collaboration throughout the entire loan process by streamlining document management, ensuring Berkshire Bank and its customers have real-time status updates into the progress of each loan. From an operational standpoint, automating the collection and collaboration of loan documents allows Berkshire to better manage extensive loan requests and provide quicker access to capital for small businesses impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sales Boomerang Issues Beta Release of Prescriptive Scenarios

Sales Boomerang, Washington, D.C., announced the beta release of Prescriptive Scenarios, a product line of ‘smart’ loan scenarios designed to identify the ideal loan for each borrower.

The beta release includes three categories of Prescriptive Scenarios: 1) Rate-and-Term Scenarios are triggered when (a) a lender could refinance the borrower into a new loan with a better rate, better loan terms, or both; and (b) the borrower is credit-qualified for the lender’s available conventional, FHA Streamline or VA IRRRL refi programs; 2) Cash-Out Scenarios are triggered when (a) a borrower has enough equity in their home to draw out cash for reasons such as making home improvements or paying down another debt; and (b) the borrower is credit-qualified for the lender’s available conventional, FHA or VA cash-out refi programs; and 3) FHA Mortgage Insurance Removal Scenarios are triggered when (1) a borrower with an FHA loan has 80% or greater equity in their home; and (b) the borrower is credit-qualified for the lender’s available refi programs.

Fitch Ratings: Economy Losing Ground as Home Price Growth Accelerates

Fitch Ratings, New York, said the pace of U.S. home price growth continues to be positive while growth in the broader economy falls further behind. National home prices grew nearly 9% year to date and 9.5% year over year as of November. Fitch estimates that national home prices are 5.5% overvalued compared to 4.2% last quarter.

“Working from home has caused more people to seek more space for home offices and families and leading to increased demand for larger homes,” said Fitch Senior Director Suzanne Mistretta. “However, personal income had trended to pre-COVID-19 levels with stimulus and unemployment assistance fading out in 3Q20. Slowing employment recovery and still-high unemployment levels are not supportive of long-term sustainable price growth.”

As a result, Fitch’s market value decline estimation will likely continue to increase as rapid home price growth continues to fuel the demand/supply imbalance.