Industry Briefs Mar. 31, 2021
Embrace Home Loans Rolls Out SimpleNexus Homeownership Platform to 300 Retail Mortgage Loan Officers
Embrace Home Loans, Lehi, Utah, announced plans to roll out SimpleNexus, a homeownership platform for loan officers, borrowers, real estate agents and settlement agents, to more than 300 retail mortgage LOs before the end of the year.
Embrace Home Loans is the first lender to leverage SimpleNexus. Other aspects of the implementation include a new mobile disclosures integration with First American Docutech and a feature that will allow borrowers to pay for appraisals in-app using a credit card.
Top of Mind Partners with MBS Highway
Top of Mind Networks, Atlanta, partnered with MBS Highway to distribute Real Estate Report Cards through Top of Mind’s Surefire CRM.
The MBS Highway Real Estate Report Card is a single-page dashboard that provides homebuyers a high-level overview of a home’s value couched within the context of neighborhood real estate data. Designed to position mortgage lenders and their real estate agent partners as market experts, Real Estate Report Cards include graphs depicting a property’s historical and forecasted appreciation, affordability index and current neighborhood inventory. Real Estate Report Cards can be co-branded with real estate agents to strengthen referral partnerships.
Top of Mind’s integration with MBS Highway enables lenders to generate and distribute Real Estate Report Cards from Surefire CRM, facilitating deployment via email or text in tandem with Surefire CRM’s marketing campaigns and automated workflows.
Notarize Raises $130M Series D Funding
Notarize, Boston, said it raised $130 million through its Series D funding
Fintech-focused VC firm Canapi Ventures led the round and is joined by Alphabet’s independent growth fund CapitalG, Citi Ventures, Wells Fargo, True Bridge Capital Partners and existing investors. Canapi Ventures Partner Neil Underwood was added to Notarize’s Board of Directors.
Black Knight: Forbearances Fall by 19,000
Black Knight, Jacksonville, Fla., said its McDash Flash daily performance data showed active forbearance plans fell again last week, dropping by another 19,000 (-0.7%) from last Tuesday. In total, this puts the number of active plans down by 135,000 over the past month – a 5% reduction, the strongest rate of improvement since late November and is a direct result of servicers working through the 1.2M plans that entered this month with scheduled March month-end expirations for extension and/or removal.
Black Knight noted even with such strong monthly improvement, there are still more than 46,000 active plans with March month-end expirations, which provides the potential for additional improvement in coming weeks. As of March 23, 2.57 million homeowners remain in forbearance, representing 4.9% of all homeowners with mortgages.
This week’s improvement was driven by improvements among both GSE (-21,000) and FHA/VA plans (-10,000), while active plan volumes rose among portfolio/PLS mortgages (+12,000).
FHFA: More than 5.5 Million Homeowners Helped Since Conservatorship
The Federal Housing Finance Agency released its fourth quarter Foreclosure Prevention and Refinance Report, which shows that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac completed 362,912 foreclosure prevention actions in the fourth quarter, bringing the total number of homeowners who have been helped during conservatorships to 5.588 million.
The report also shows 30 percent of loan modifications completed in the fourth quarter reduced borrowers’ monthly payments by more than 20 percent. The number of refinances increased from 1.76 million in the third quarter to 2.01 million in the fourth quarter.
The Enterprises’ serious delinquency rate dropped from 3.14 percent to 2.78 percent at the end of the quarter. This compares with 11.19 percent for Federal Housing Administration loans, 5.96 percent for Veterans Affairs loans and 5.03 percent for all loans (industry average).
Sales Boomerang, Usherpa Expand Partnership
Sales Boomerang, Washington, D.C., expanded its partnership with Usherpa, a marketing and customer relationship management platform for realtors and mortgage lenders. Sales Boomerang’s automated borrower intelligence is now integrated with Usherpa’s newest feature, a FCRA- and RESPA-compliant co-marketing portal that helps lenders expand the nature and depth of their referral partnerships with Realtors.
By leveraging Usherpa’s integration with Sales Boomerang’s automated borrower intelligence, lenders can receive actionable, real-time alerts whenever someone in their database — or their referral partner’s database within the co-marketing portal— is ready for a loan.
Maxwell raises $16.3M Series B
Maxwell, Denver, a digital mortgage and fulfilment platform for small to midsize mortgage lenders, raised a $16.3 million Series B funding round led by Fin VC and TTV Capital. Rotor Capital, The Mortgage Collaborative Emerging Technology Fund, and existing investors including Anthemis Group, Route 66 Ventures and Sovereign’s Capital also participated in the round. Maxwell has raised over $20 million in eight months after a $5 million Series A funding round in June.
Maxwell uses AI to streamline and accelerate the mortgage process for community lenders and their borrowers. Its AI automation, built on aggregated loan data from its network and real-time data insights, offload the manual tasks for loan officers, processors and underwriters of processing and underwriting to streamline the process. Loans on the platform close more than 50% faster than the national average.
IndiSoft Expands Advocacy Platform to Support Landlord, Tenant Mediation
IndiSoft LLC, Columbia, Md., enhanced its National Housing Advocacy Platform to support landlord and tenant mediation. The collaborative technology helps facilitate states’ landlord/tenant mediation processes in response to COVID-19 related policies that mitigate the financial effects of the pandemic on tenants and landlords.
A unique feature of the NHAP is the full integration of HUD-certified housing counselors who are playing an increasingly critical role helping distressed consumers navigate complex application processes, while providing guidance with the consumer’s best interest as the primary goal. The rental mediation platform is COVID-19 compliant by supporting a paperless environment. It is mobile-friendly allowing consumers to upload pictures of documents from their smartphones. Also, virtual meetings can be scheduled and held among all stakeholders with a native application to NHAP.
ENACOMM Strikes Partnership with IDmission
ENACOMM, Tulsa, Okla., and IDmission announced a partnership. ENACOMM customers will have the opportunity to streamline the onboarding process and boost customer acquisition using IDmission’s secure authentication technologies.
With features including true passive liveness, deduplication, identity-proofing-as-a-service and enhanced biometric Multi-Factor Authentication, IDmission platforms help businesses prevent fraud, identify and monitor threats for Know Your Customer compliance, and enable frictionless customer experiences. IDmission also determines document authenticity, matches selfies to document(s) and reduces racial bias through AI.
BoomTown Acquires Brokermint
BoomTown, Columbia, S.C., a cloud-based sales and marketing automation platform for real estate professionals, acquired Brokermint.
Brokermint’s technology consolidates and automates all back office and transaction management functions through scalable software platforms. By using Brokermint, real estate brokerages, teams and agents can simplify complex back-office tasks, close transactions and focus on driving growth.
Brokermint’s back-office management and automation platforms include transaction management, commission automation, accounting, agent management and reporting and analytics.
Mint, Rocket Mortgage Launch Fully Digital Mortgage Platform
Today, Intuit’s personal finance app Mint, San Diego, and Rocket Mortgage , Detroit, announced an extension of their partnership where Mint users can get approved to purchase a home entirely digitally, within the Mint app – powered by Rocket Mortgage’s API.
This new platform gives homebuyers the ability to go from application to an accurate rate confirmation and an approval in as few as eight minutes, instead of days. Users can complete the entire process in the Mint app and they can easily import information they have already added to their Mint account. This new mortgage experience simplifies the previously time-consuming and confusing mortgage process and gives homebuyers an advantage in the increasingly competitive housing market.
MetaSource: Annual QC Audit Findings Report Shows Insufficiently Documented Fee Changes as Main Error Source
MetaSource, Salt Lake City, Utah, said its annual review of post-close quality control mortgage audits in 2020 shows closing disclosure tolerance violations remain the chief source of compliance trouble for lenders.
Closing disclosure tolerance violations have ranked in the top five of its annual QC findings every year since the new TRID rules went into effect and have taken the highest spot on the list four out of the past five years. A deeper dive into the audits, however, shows most lenders are adhering to the underlying tolerance regulations. They are just not including sufficient documentation of the circumstances that cause fees or costs to change from what was provided in the original loan estimates.
Michigan First Credit Union Implements CompenSafe by LBA Ware
LBA Ware, Macon, Ga., announced Michigan First Credit Union implemented LBA Ware’s ICM platform CompenSafe to automate incentive compensation for its mortgage division’s 40+ loan originators and loan originator assistants.
CompenSafe integrates directly with mortgage loan origination systems and automatically calculates commissions and bonuses as loans fund in near real-time. In addition to freeing lenders from the error-prone, time-consuming process of managing incentive compensation with spreadsheets, CompenSafe tracks and timestamps all commission transactions, creating a comprehensive audit trail for CFPB compliance.
LenderClose Completes $10 million Series B Round
LenderClose, Des Moines, Iowa, a real estate and home equity lending technology platform, received a Series B funding round of $10 million in new capital. The investment comes from Next Level Ventures (VC Firm), Ardent Credit Union (Pa.), Strata Credit Union (Calif.), Tucson Federal Credit Union (Ariz.), Collins Community Credit Union (Iowa), Financial Plus Credit Union (Iowa), Serve Credit Union (Iowa) and Ascentra Credit Union (Iowa).
The Series B provides the funding required to focus on the company’s growth. LenderClose recently launched its automated loan processing platform, HEx (Home Equity Express).
Freddie Mac: Confidence in Housing Market High as Concerns about Finances Linger
New Freddie Mac research shows the uncertainty renters and homeowners have about their ability to pay their rent or mortgage during the pandemic. This survey, of which two-thirds of respondents are homeowners and one-third are renters, shows that although homeowners and renters continue to feel the economic pressure of the pandemic, those figures have improved and are down from the record high reached in October and November.
“Freddie Mac is focused on understanding how consumers are thinking about their current and future financial situation amid a pandemic,” said Donna Corley, executive vice president and head of Single-Family Business at Freddie Mac. “While the housing market appears to be healthy and has recovered faster than the rest of the economy, many segments of the population are still struggling.”
Throughout 2020, more than half of surveyed renters remained concerned about their ability to make housing payments, fluctuating between 54% (April) and 71% (November) during the year. In December, renter concern showed a slight improvement at 67% and dropped to 63% in February 2021. Meanwhile, over the course of 2020, homeowner concern about making payments fluctuated between 33% (June) and 55% (October), ending the year at 45%. Those numbers have further improved to 41% in February 2021. As of December 2020, 27% of homeowners and 35% of renters had asked for a housing payment postponement, most commonly due to uncertainty over making payments beyond the next one. By February of this year, those numbers dropped to 19% of homeowners and 28% of renters.
STRATMOR Group: Lenders Face Major Staffing, Productivity, Compensation Challenges
STRATMOR Group, Greenwood Village Colo., released its monthly Insights Report (https://www.stratmorgroup.com/insights-report/), showing mortgage operations executives are encountering challenges not only with maintaining productivity but measuring it as well.
In his article, “People, Productivity and Compensation: 2021 Mortgage Ops Challenges,” STRATMOR Group Senior Partner Jim Cameron details these and other challenges which were discussed in recent STRATMOR Operations Workshops with 120 Operations executives.
For example, the workshop participants—who represented 49 different lenders—significantly overestimated the productivity of their processors, underwriters and closers. After participants were asked to estimate the productivity of their processors, underwriters and closers, STRATMOR compared their responses to the calculated productivity of full-time employees for these positions based on quarterly application and closed loan data submitted by participants.
Cameron’s article also examines the challenge overtime plays in measuring productivity. While staff productivity improved in 2019 and 2020, according to production data from the MBA and STRATMOR Peer Group Roundtables program, it’s unclear how much of the increase was due to overtime versus greater efficiency.
Real Estate Firms Partner with Adwerx
Adwerx announced a number of companies have partnered with it to improve branding strategies.
Adwerx launched online listing and retargeting advertisements for Copper West Real Estate, providing its agents with a platform to build their brands and market their properties to consumers who are spending time online.
With this new service, digital ads for new listings launch when a property is publicly listed, and appear on popular websites including CNN and ESPN, as well as local news outlets and social media sites. These advertisements contain a listing photo, agent contact details, brokerage branding, and a link to the listing, and are easily customizable. By combining these ads with traditional marketing efforts, agents are able to reinforce their local brand and maximize the visibility of each listing.
Realty ONE Group Innovation also implemented the Adwerx Enterprise Automated Advertising Platform, including automated online ads for new listings, use of website retargeting and access to Streaming TV services.
Digital ads for new listings launch when a property is publicly listed – and during the all-important first week that a home hits the market and receives the most attention. They appear on popular websites such as ESPN and the New York Times and social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram. This helps to instill confidence and optimism amongst sellers, proving Realty ONE Group Innovation agents are digitally savvy and are providing the best marketing possible for their listings.
Harry Norman, Realtors also launched the Adwerx Enterprise Automated Advertising Platform to power digital advertising for all of its agents. The firm is now automating online ads for newly listed properties, plus custom retargeting campaigns for every agent. Agents also have the ability to run local, personalized streaming TV commercials.
Premier Real Estate Services LLC also implemented the Adwerx Automated Advertising Platform for each of its sales offices. Intelligent retargeting technology and automated listing ads powered by Adwerx deliver the digital advantage that home sellers and agents expect from their brokerage, empowering them to compete in today’s aggressive real estate market.
Digital ads for new listings launch as soon as properties go on the market. These ads appear on Facebook, popular mobile apps, and across premium websites that consumers and potential home buyers visit on a daily basis, including local and national news outlets. This helps to instill confidence and optimism amongst sellers seeking a swift transaction. Additionally, the program automates the work of digital marketing promotions, allowing agents to focus on acquiring new listings and providing enhanced quality client service.
Redfin Reports Record 39% of Homes Sold Above List Price
Redfin, Seattle, said the median home-sale price increased 16% year over year to $331,590—a record high. However, year-over-year comparisons may more reflect the fact that this time last year, stay-at-home-orders halted both home-buying and selling activity. They don’t necessarily reflect how the housing market has changed over the past year.
The report said asking prices of newly listed homes were flat from the previous four-week period at $349,973, and up 11% from the same time a year ago. Pending home sales rose by 28% year over year. New listings of homes for sale were down 12% from a year earlier, while active listings fell 42% from 2020 to a record low. This is the largest decrease on record in this data, which goes back through 2016.
The report can be accessed at https://www.redfin.com/news/housing-market-update-39-pct-homes-sold-above-list-price/.