Industry Briefs July 14, 2021

WFG Economic Outlook & Title Insurance Webinar Returns July 21

WFG National Title Insurance Co., Portland, Ore., will hold the third of its 2021 quarterly “Economic Outlook & Title Insurance” webinar series. The half-hour Q&A webinar featuring Williston Financial Group Executive Chairman and Founder Patrick F. Stone and Economist and Forbes contributor Dr. Bill Conerly, will begin at 7:00 a.m. PT/10:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday, July 21.

Attendance is open to all, but reservations are required, and may be made in advance by registering here.  Those wishing to submit questions for consideration must email them to no later than 5:00 p.m. ET Monday, July 19.

FormFree Integrates AccountChek 3n1 into Encompass for One-Step VOA/VOIE

FormFree, Athens, Ga., partnered with ICE Mortgage Technology, part of Intercontinental Exchange Inc., a provider of data, technology and market infrastructure, to make its AccountChek 3n1 asset, income and employment verification service available in the Encompass cloud-based loan origination platform.

The API integration allows lenders to order, manage and review verification of asset (VOA) and verification of income/employment (VOIE) reports with a single provider selection in Encompass. By consolidating VOA and VOIE orders through a single vendor, mortgage lenders improve efficiency in the loan origination process, reduce per-loan costs and streamline vendor due diligence.

FormFree’s AccountChek 3n1 securely delivers direct-source VOA and VOI/E data in less than a minute, significantly shortening loan application timelines and collecting critical underwriting documents earlier in the application process.

Black Knight: Rate Locks Rise After Two Consecutive Monthly Declines; Both Purchase and Cash-Out Refinance Lending Up in June

Black Knight Inc., Jacksonville, Fla., released its latest Originations Market Monitor report, looking at mortgage origination data through June 2021 month-end.

“After an initial rise following the Fed’s policy meeting in mid-June, Black Knight’s OBMMI daily interest rate tracker shows rate offerings settling in the second half of the month and now sitting roughly equivalent to where they were at the same time in May,” said Black Knight Secondary Marketing Technologies President Scott Happ. “Following two consecutive months of declines – and during the typical seasonal peak for purchase lending, no less – overall locks climbed in June. Both purchase and cash-out refinances were up, but refis in which the homeowner improves their rate or term continued their downward slide, despite rates returning to levels last seen in early March. Such rate/term refis are now down 30% from that point and 60% since January.”

The month’s pipeline data showed that overall rate locks rose by 3.9% from May, with a 6% rise in purchase locks and a more pronounced 10% jump in cash-out refinance locks. The purchase lock rise also comes after two consecutive months of declines, with May’s drop primarily due to the foreshortened month. While the volume of purchase loan locks per day was down slightly from May, they rose for the month due to the three additional business days in June, putting purchase activity just 5% behind March’s record high. On the other hand, locks for rate/term refinances were down 4%, causing the refinance share of the market mix to drop again, accounting for just 43% of June’s origination activity.

Ginnie Mae June MBS Issuance at $72 Billion; More than 272,000 Homes Financed

Ginnie Mae, Washington, D.C., said its mortgage-backed securities issuance volume was $72.45 billion in June, the 12th consecutive month volume has exceeded $70 billion. Nearly 272,280 homes and apartment units were financed by Ginnie Mae guaranteed MBS in June.

A breakdown of June issuance of $72.45 billion includes $68.98 billion of Ginnie Mae II MBS and $3.47 billion of Ginnie Mae I MBS, which in turn includes $3.37 billion of loans for multifamily housing. Ginnie Mae’s total outstanding principal balance as of June 30 was $2.117 trillion, up from $2.114 trillion in May, and down slightly from $2.125 trillion in June 2020.

Redfin: New Listings of Homes for Sale Surpass 2019 Levels

Redfin, Seattle, said sellers are returning to the housing market as the number of homes newly listed for sale surpassed 2019 levels for the first time since the start of the year.

The report said despite a long-awaited increase in the supply of homes for sale, homebuying demand continued to slip, leaving the market feeling a few degrees cooler. For the four-week period ending June 4, the median home-sale price increased 22% year over year to $364,430, a record high. Asking prices of newly listed homes were up 12% from the same time a year ago to a median of $359,500, down 1.1% from the four-week period ending June 27.

The report said pending home sales rose by 17% year over year, the smallest increase in nearly a year. Pending sales were down 6% from the four-week period ending May 30, compared to a 3% decrease over the same period in 2019. New listings of homes for sale were up 4% from a year earlier, and were up 3% from the same period in 2019. This was the first time new listings have surpassed 2019 levels since the beginning of the year. Active listings (the number of homes listed for sale at any point during the period) fell 32% from 2020—the smallest decline since the four-week period ending February 7—but have climbed 8% since their 2021 low during the four-week period ending March 7.

Redfin said 54% of homes that went under contract had an accepted offer within the first two weeks on the market, well above the 45% rate during the same period a year ago, but down 2.7 percentage points from the high point of the year, set during the four-week period ending March 28. Forty percent of homes that went under contract had an accepted offer within one week of hitting the market, up from 32% during the same period a year earlier, but down 3 percentage points from the high point of the year, set during the four-week period ending March 28.

“Many buyers have backed away from the housing market and are waiting until more and better homes are listed,” said Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather. “Buyers don’t have the same sense of urgency that they did at the beginning of the year. They aren’t racing to buy before prices increase, because asking prices have already increased and stabilized. And they aren’t racing to buy before mortgage rates go up, because rates have dropped back below 3% and are likely to stay low. With more new listings starting to come on the market, buyers who threw in the towel may want to look again because the market is tilting more in their favor.”

Fannie Mae: Mortgage Lenders Cite Business Process Streamlining, Talent Management as Top Business Priorities

Business process streamlining remained the top priority for a plurality of mortgage lenders for the second consecutive quarter, while talent management surpassed consumer-facing technology as the second most important business priority, according to Fannie Mae’s Q2 2021 Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey.

The survey said despite the continued recovery of the larger economy, for the mortgage industry, in some ways 2021 has shaped up to be a more challenging year. The absence of further mortgage rate declines is constraining the refinance market. Meanwhile, the lack of homes available for sale relative to demand, strong home price appreciation eroding affordability, and construction supply-chain disruptions are all headwinds for the purchase market. Consistent with these trends, 70 percent of lenders indicated that they expect their profit margins to decline from the highs set in 2020, the largest share since the survey’s inception in 20142. Against this backdrop, we used our most recent quarterly MLSS to survey over 200 senior mortgage executives to better understand lenders’ most pressing business priorities and challenges.

For three consecutive years, lenders have cited business process streamlining, talent management and leadership, and consumer-facing technology as their top business priorities. In Q2 2021, the priorities of process streamlining and talent management reached their highest shares in five years. Moreover, the importance of consumer-facing technology has slowly ticked down over the past two years, after peaking in 2019. The importance of “cost-cutting,” another commonly cited business priority, fell further this year after jumping in 2018, a year when rising interest rates led to a decline in industry production volumes that forced many lenders to pare back expenses to maintain profitability.

LenderHomePage, Insellerate Partner

LenderHomePage, Santa Ana, Calif., announced a partnership with Insellerate.

With Loanzify POS, lenders of all sizes can manage their pipeline with adaptable intake requirements and interactive consumer-facing tools they can customize to their brand and organization’s needs. Insellerate’s Customer Experience Platform allows loan officers the ability to deliver timely and highly personalized communications to their borrowers and referral partners through text, social media, email, Direct mail, phone, ringless voicemail and retargeting for maximum impact and engagement. The platform allows loan officers to provide external customers timely, relevant information based on data intelligence to build repeatable outcomes at each stage of the customer’s journey. 

Redfin: Hispanic Homeowners More Likely to Receive Financial Help Buying a Home

Hispanic homeowners in the U.S. are more likely than people of other races or ethnicities to receive financial help making their housing payments, according to a new report from Redfin, Seattle. They’re also more likely to have adult relatives live in their home.

Redfin Economist Sebastian Sandoval-Olascoaga said that familial support helps explain why the Hispanic homeownership rate has steadily risen over the last six years, with 50.1% of Hispanic or Latino Americans owning their home in 2020, up from 45.4% in 2014. The Hispanic homeownership rate has increased faster than the rate for white or Black Americans over the same time period.

Fifty-two percent of Hispanic homeowners have lived with family or friends without paying rent to save for housing costs, versus 39% of Black respondents and 38% of white respondents. Additionally, Hispanic respondents are more likely than respondents of other races to have received direct help making rent or mortgage payments from parents and other family members.

“Hispanic people in the U.S., especially those who are undocumented, tend to have less access to credit and higher debt compared to other racial or ethnic groups, making them more dependent on support from family to buy a home,” Sandoval-Olascoaga said. “With those limitations, support from family and social networks–such as living with family or friends without paying rent–allows Hispanic people to save money for a down payment or monthly mortgage costs. That ability to rely on family is one of multiple reasons why the Hispanic homeownership rate is steadily rising.”

FirstClose, MeridianLink Announce Integration

FirstClose Inc., Austin, Texas, announced a new integration with MeridianLink Consumer, formerly known as LoansPQ, a loan origination system, providing a full loan product suite to banks and credit unions.

As a single loan origination system, MeridianLink Consumer consolidates and streamlines applications from all channels, applying processes to ensure a streamlined process for bank and credit union staff and a world-class consumer experience for members and customers.

Ginnie Mae Solicits Feedback on Single-Family Issuer Eligibility Requirements

Ginnie Mae published a Request for Input on updates to eligibility requirements for single-family mortgage-backed securities Issuers.

“This announcement underscores Ginnie Mae’s commitment to continuously assess its MBS Guide requirements with a goal of continuing to ensure Issuer success in our program while minimizing risk to the government’s unconditional guarantee,” said Senior Vice President and Chief Risk Officer Gregory Keith.

Responses to the RFI are due August 9. The RFI can be viewed at  

Freddie Mac Launches New Learning Curriculum

Freddie Mac, McLean, Va., launched a new CreditSmart financial capability curriculum aimed at helping consumers learn about the importance of building, maintaining and using credit so they can take the reins on their financial futures.

Over the past two decades, more than five million consumers at various life stages have used CreditSmart’s financial education, which is available at no cost. Additionally, tens of thousands of housing professionals have become CreditSmart facilitators as a way to give back to their communities. The newly released CreditSmart Essentials curriculum builds on this by making financial education empowering, with a personalized experience tailored to consumers’ needs, including new content customized for renters.

The new CreditSmart Coach curriculum for facilitators will be available on Oct. 1.