Industry Briefs Mar. 12, 2021

HUD Reaches Agreement with JPMorgan Chase on Discrimination Claims in Appraisals

HUD approved a Conciliation Agreement between JPMorgan Chase Bank and a Black woman, resolving the woman’s claim that the mortgage lender, relying on an appraisal that she believed was inaccurate, valued her home at an amount lower than its actual worth because of her race. 

Under the Conciliation Agreement, JPMorgan Chase Bank will pay $50,000 to the woman and provide home lending advisors and client care specialists with mandatory training on the Reconsideration of Value process and fair lending issues related to appraisals, including specifics regarding how to handle complaints of discrimination in the appraisal process.

The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to discriminate in the terms, conditions, or privileges of the sale of a dwelling because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. The Act also makes it unlawful for any person or other entity whose business includes residential real estate-related transactions to discriminate against any person in making available such a transaction, or in the terms or conditions of such a transaction.  Residential real estate-related transactions covered by the Act include making loans secured by residential real estate and appraising residential real property.

FHFA Extends COVID-Related Loan Flexibilities through April

The Federal Housing Finance Agency said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will extend temporary loan origination flexibilities until April 30. The temporary flexibilities are designed to ensure continued support for borrowers during the COVID-19 pandemic. All temporary flexibilities were set to expire on March 31.

Temporary flexibilities extended through April include alternative appraisals on purchase and rate term refinance loans; alternative methods for documenting income and verifying employment before loan closing; and expanding the use of power of attorney to assist with loan closings. Certain temporary flexibilities including employment verification, condominium project reviews, and expanded power of attorney, are expected to be retired on April 30.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Meadows Mountain Realty Partners with Adwerx

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Meadows Mountain Realty is expanding on the automated listing ad campaign they already receive through its corporate office by providing every luxury property through Adwerx with three weeks of advertising support when the home hits the market.

Ads appear on Facebook, Instagram, popular mobile apps, and premium websites that consumers and potential home buyers visit on a daily basis. By expanding on the Adwerx Enterprise Automated Advertising Platform, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Meadows Mountain Realty can attract, develop, and support its top real estate professionals.

First American Data & Analytics Data Now Available on Snowflake Data Marketplace

First American Data & Analytics, Santa Ana, Calif., joined Snowflake Data Marketplace. Availability of highly curated property information from First American Data & Analytics in Snowflake Data Marketplace makes it easier for a broader set of data consumers in Snowflake’s Data Cloud, including fintech and proptech clients, to leverage property and ownership datasets to drive advanced insights, reduce risk, build new analytics and power innovation.

First American’s cloud delivery capabilities, via Snowflake Data Marketplace, provides customers direct and near real-time access to several uniquely curated, comprehensive, data packages derived from First American’s property information assets, reducing the time, cost and overall effort of data acquisition. In addition to cloud capabilities, First American Data as a Service offerings include delivery through API, bulk licensing and advanced data solutions.

Freddie Mac Offers CreditSmart Homebuyer U in Spanish

Freddie Mac, McLean, Va., said its homeownership education course CreditSmart Homebuyer U is now available in Spanish.

This course is a free, online resource for consumers who want to learn about the home purchase and homeownership process. CreditSmart Homebuyer U offers six educational modules, each focused on a key learning principle relating to money management, credit, getting a mortgage, the homebuying process and preserving homeownership. Consumers can toggle between English and Spanish content throughout the course, and customer support is available in both English and Spanish.

IDS, eNotaryLog Ink Partnership to Support Remote Online Notarization

International Document Services Inc., Salt Lake City, announced it entered into a partnership agreement with eNotaryLog, a remote online notarization company. This partnership will support an integration between IDS’s eClose platform, Solitude Solution, and eNotaryLog’s RON platform.

Through this integration, any lender will be able to facilitate a complete digital closing through IDS’s Solitude Solution. Notaries and borrowers will meet remotely to complete the closing transaction by eSigning and eStamping closing documents, as permitted on a state-by-state basis.

AmCap Home Loans Selects LimeGear by LBA Ware

LBA Ware, Macon, Ga., announced AmCap Home Loans implemented LBA Ware’s LimeGear BI platform across its 143 branch locations. AmCap also uses LBA Ware’s ICM platform CompenSafe to manage incentive pay for its 600 loan originators.

LimeGear promotes mortgage lender productivity and efficiency with turnkey mortgage business intelligence. Visually intuitive dashboards quickly give lenders a high-level overview of critical insights with the ability to drill down into key performance indicators such as funded volume, fall-out rate, turn time and loan revenue.

Bellco Credit Union, Cherry Creek Mortgage Form Bellco Home Loans

Bellco Credit Union and Cherry Creek Mortgage have joined forces to create a new lending company, Bellco Home Loans. This new joint venture combines Cherry Creek Mortgage’s 34-year expertise in helping families find the right loans with Bellco’s history and commitment to providing members with services since 1936.

Bellco Home Loans customers will benefit from technology offerings developed by Cherry Creek Mortgage to help simplify the loan process. FasTrac streamlines documentation required for submitting a loan to underwriting and provides fast pre-approval, and Smart Close adds convenience by allowing customers to complete the majority of their closing documents electronically.

MAXEX: Refis Continue to Rule in Low-Rate Environment

MAXEX, Atlanta, said its March report shows despite a predicted decline, refinances continue to rule the day, representing nearly 60% of jumbo lock volume in February.

The report also noted as originators increasingly turn toward the non-agency market for new revenue opportunities, an increasing number are benefiting from using the agencies’ Automated Underwriting System results to simplify jumbo underwriting. Weighted Average Coupon on jumbos saw a gradual decline through January, with a slight increase beginning in February.

Additionally, the report said FICOs remain higher than historical averages as credit rules. “With lower rates we continue to see LTVs diverge on refinances vs. purchases,” the report said.

Fannie Mae: Consumer Sentiment on Housing Dips Slightly Despite Growing Labor Market Optimism

The Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index decreased in February by 1.2 points to 76.5. Four of the HPSI’s six components fell month over month, including most notably the homebuying conditions and household income components. Offsetting much of that decline, however, was increased optimism regarding job security, with consumers reporting a significantly more positive view of the labor market compared to January. Year over year, the HPSI is down 16.0 points.

“As we expected, the HPSI remained relatively flat in February, but underlying data indicate growing job-related optimism among consumers, especially among lower-income and renter groups,” said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. “With the growing likelihood that lockdown restrictions will continue easing as vaccination efforts ramp up, and with warmer weather on the horizon and another round of fiscal stimulus pending, these two segments of consumers may have good reason to feel more positive about the labor market.”

WalletHub: Americans Shed $83 Billion in Credit Card Debt in 2020

WalletHub said while 2020 was a year to forget in most respects, Americans excelled in terms of paying off credit card debt, getting rid of a record $82.9 billion in debt. This is a major accomplishment, WalletHub said, considering that consumers have added an average of $54.2 billion in credit card debt per year over the past 10 years.

However, Americans still collectively owe nearly $1 trillion to credit card companies, and the average household balance remains high, at $8,089. Both figures are also likely to rise as the economy reopens from the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, WalletHub’s early projection for credit card debt in 2021 is that U.S. consumers will add roughly $50 billion to their total balance.

“The latest credit card debt statistics tell us that American consumers are actually getting healthier financially in some respects because of the coronavirus pandemic,” said WalletHub Analyst Jill Gonzalez. “Paying off so much credit card debt indicates that consumers have been making the most of the pandemic, by using the stimulus money and COVID restrictions to make their finances more sustainable.”

Ginnie Mae Enhances MBS Data Disclosure

Ginnie Mae, Washington, D.C, implemented an Environmental, Social and Governance stratification record in the Single-Family Supplemental File located on Ginnie Mae’s Disclosure Data Download page. The objective is to give Ginnie Mae mortgage-backed securities investors information that supports their sustainable investing decisions and solutions.

The ESG record will provide pool level aggregate information about the extent of loans and unpaid principal balance dollars that are in low- and moderate-income areas. The low- and moderate-income areas used in formulating this new disclosure are defined by HUD. The new disclosure aggregates to the pool level the number of loans, percent of loans, UPB dollars and percent UPB dollars across low- and moderate-income areas applicable to the pool.

Black Knight: Largest Weekly Decline in Forbearance Plans Since January

Black Knight, Jacksonville, Fla., said its latest McDash Forbearance Tracker reported the largest weekly decline in forbearance plans since early January. Active plans fell by 77,000 from last Tuesday, a 2.9% decline.

As of March 9, 2.6 million homeowners remain in forbearance, representing 4.9% of all homeowners with mortgages. This marks the first time the forbearance rate has been below 5% since early April 2020. While scheduled March month-end expirations are down from 1.1 million a week ago, there are still more than 800,000 plans currently listed with March expirations.