Industry Briefs May 7, 2021

Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae Launch New Refi Options for Lower-Income Borrowers

Freddie Mac, McLean, Va., and Fannie Mae announced new refinancing options aimed at helping lower-income homeowners.

The Freddie Mac Refi Possible mortgage, available this August, will help borrowers who make at or below 80% of the area median income refinance their mortgage. Eligible borrowers with a Freddie Mac-owned single-family mortgage will benefit from a reduced interest rate and lower monthly mortgage payment, helping save an estimated $100 to $250 a month.

The Fannie Mae RefiNow option will be available June 5 and has similar criteria and projected savings.

FHFA Issues RFI on Short-Term Rental Units

The Federal Housing Finance Agency issued a Request for Input on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s eligibility requirements for mortgages in condominium, cooperative and planned unit development projects where a large portion of units are offered for short-term rental (30 days or less) or are used primarily for vacation or recreational lodging.

Information requested through the RFI will help the Agency determine whether or not changes or clarifications to Enterprise policies are necessary to ensure more accurate and consistent project eligibility assessments.

Link to RFI.

New American Funding Partners with Kavison Homes

New American Funding, Tustin, Calif., announced its continued partnership as the lender of choice for the Kavison Homes community, “The Pines in Downtown Las Vegas.”

Todd Stratton, owner of Kavison Homes, whose latest project, The Pines at John S Park, the newest community in the Downtown Las Vegas art district area, is slated to start at $605,000. New American Funding currently serves its mortgage customers from two Las Vegas valley locations.

Accurate Group Acquires Coast to Coast Title & Escrow

Accurate Group, Cleveland, Ohio, announced acquisition of Coast to Coast Title & Escrow (CTC), a real estate title and closing company; it expands Accurate Group’s local presence in the southeast U.S., strengthens its national title insurance and closing capabilities and broadens its title and closing technology platform and loan origination system integrations. 

In addition to the acquisition of CTC, Accurate Group launched a consumer-assisted version of its GroundWorks mobile inspection application. The Directed Remote Data Collection capability enables property data collectors to work directly with borrowers in a remote setting to collect property data and photos in real-time.

Adwerx Adds Four Realtor Clients

CENTURY 21 High Desert implemented the Adwerx Enterprise Automated Advertising Platform, including automated online ads for new listings, the use of website retargeting and access to Streaming TV services.

Additionally, Alterra Home Loans, MoxiWorks and Catskill Dream Team also implemented the Adwerx platform.

The Adwerx Enterprise Automated Advertising Platform further boosts awareness of the agents themselves through impactful brand radius and retargeting technology. These campaigns elevate the agent’s profile by optimizing visibility and keeping them top-of-mind with potential clients by ensuring brand ads featuring the agent’s photo and contact information reach potential buyers and sellers within a geographic area of the agent’s choosing, as well as with any prospect who visits an agent’s website. Agents have access to a branded, self-service portal where they can target qualified prospects directly with personalized commercials on streaming TV services, giving access to an advertising medium that is only going to grow.

HUD Charges California Mortgage Modification Service with Housing Discrimination

HUD charged owners and employees of a business known as The House Lawyer, Redwood City, Calif., with violating the Fair Housing Act by targeting Hispanic homeowners with illegal and unfair mortgage modification services.

HUD’s charge alleges, among other things, that the company collected fees from Hispanic borrowers for loan modification services prior to the completion of those services, in violation of California law, while encouraging them to withhold their mortgage payments, putting them at risk of foreclosure. The case came to HUD’s attention when multiple Hispanic homeowners filed complaints with HUD alleging that they had been the victims of a loan modification scam.  The charge alleges that the homeowners initially learned about the loan modification service through advertisements on a Spanish-language radio station which claimed that THL helped hundreds of people successfully modify their mortgages. When the homeowners contacted THL, THL agents allegedly provided inaccurate information about the application requirements, procedures and standards for review for loan modification requests, and misrepresented that so long as the homeowners withheld their mortgage payments and remained in default, their banks would be compelled to modify their loan.

Fitch Ratings Revises Appraisal and Diligence Approach in U.S. RMBS Criteria; No Rating Impact

Fitch Ratings, New York, updated its U.S. residential mortgage-backed securities Rating Criteria as part of its annual review. Several key enhancements were made to its operational and loan level due diligence analysis for RMBS transactions.

Fitch’s updated criteria considers the market usage of appraisal waiver, which have become prevalent in the GSE sector and have been appearing in private-label RMBS. Under this program eligible loans are originated using the borrower’s stated value or the sales price with the accuracy of the property value being validated by the GSEs’ proprietary systems.

The report also lowers the loan count threshold for statistical sampling for loan-level due diligence reviews and describes mitigating alternatives for pools with less than 100% tax and title search for seasoned and reperforming loan (RPL) transactions.

ENACOMM Open API Stack Allows Data Center Inc. to Power Array of Banking Apps

Fintech enablement company ENACOMM, Tulsa, Okla., partnered with Data Center Inc., the privately-owned developer of iCore360 core banking software and iCoreGO digital banking technologies for community financial institutions, to provide API connectivity between the DCI iCoreGO online/mobile solutions and any other core processors.

DCI will also leverage ENACOMM’s open API stack to empower current DCI iCore360 core clients to choose among other ancillary applications, payments processors and data aggregators of any type.

TCN Worldwide Announces New Affiliate Chicago Real Estate Resources Inc.

TCN Worldwide Real Estate Services, Chicago, announced Chicago Real Estate Resources Inc. as the newest member selected to join the international real estate services organization. CRER has 18 commercial brokers and primarily focuses on multi-family investment and retail services.

CRER specializes in a multitude of services including investment real estate sales, site analysis and acquisition/disposition, development land sales, retail sales and leasing, note sales, receivership services and property management. CRER President Eric Janssen, has been appointed receiver in Illinois and Indiana State and Federal courts in more than 1,700 cases for the past 20+ years involving assets valued in excess of $1.8 billion. Collectively, its team has sold more than $2.5 billion in commercial real estate assets.

First American: End of Forbearance Could Set Off Wave of Foreclosures

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist with First American Financial Corp., said the end of forbearance programs could set off a wave of foreclosures.

 “Forbearance is not a permanent solution to housing distress and eventually the emergency protections will expire, but because so many homeowners have a considerable equity buffer, we’re more likely to see a foreclosure trickle than a tsunami,” Kushi said. “If distressed homeowners are required to resolve delinquency, involuntary sales, while still distressing for those involved, are much more likely than foreclosures given the likelihood of significant equity buffers.”

Kushi noted while the number of homeowners in forbearance plans will likely continue to fall as the labor market rebounds further, concerns remain that the expiration of emergency protections will unleash a flood of foreclosures similar to the Great Recession. “Yet, our analysis shows that this time, the record levels of equity enjoyed by many homeowners will help limit the number of foreclosures,” she said.

Genworth Mortgage Holdings Inc. Launches IPO; Rebrands as Enact

Genworth Mortgage Holdings Inc., Richmond, Va., commenced an initial public offering of 22,576,140 shares of common stock. In connection with the commencement of the initial public offering, GMHI has announced that it will rebrand, changing its name to Enact Holdings Inc. (Enact).

J.P. Morgan Securities LLC and Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC are serving as lead book-running managers for the proposed offering.

AXIS Lending Academy Launches

AXIS Lending Academy, San Francisco, a non-profit education program that offers free hybrid education training to people seeking a career in the mortgage industry while helping home lenders diversify their workforce and lower costs, announced the formal launch of its operations.

AXIS Lending Academy provides a 90-day education program in which students are taught and mentored by a team of experienced leaders for a profitable career in the mortgage industry. Mortgage lenders that reach out to AXIS Lending Academy for new talent will receive candidates who are trained in modern-day mortgage operations and who will help them achieve better diversity, equity and inclusion. By hiring highly trained people who are new to the industry instead of spending large salaries and signing bonuses on veteran talent, AXIS Lending Academy will also help mortgage lenders lower the costs of originating loans.

MCM Capital, Temple View Capital Select Libretto from Bizzy Labs for Compliance Monitoring on Loan Files

Bizzy Labs, Irving, Texas, announced MCM Capital and its affiliate, Temple View Capital, have selected Libretto from Bizzy Labs for compliance monitoring on their entire portfolio.

Libretto, a regtech offering from Bizzy Labs, improves loan portfolio compliance by automating identification of data anomalies in loan files, enabling their timely research and remediation. Its comprehensive business rule library is curated by legal and compliance experts and can be configured by loan type. Its systematic and automated approach to loan diligence translates into fewer borrower complaints and higher loan valuations.

Florida Agency Network Grows with Addition of Patriot Title

Florida Agency Network, Plant City, Fla., added Patriot Title to its statewide network of title agencies. Patriot Title is a full-service title agency centrally located in Tarpon Springs, Fla.

FAN is a strategic alliance of members and vendors assembled to provide a customized, streamlined closing experience. The network is also developer of multiple proprietary, settlement services technologies. The addition of Patriot Title brings the number of FAN offices more than 30, with nearly 300 employees throughout Florida.

Black Knight: Forbearance Volumes Decline Across Board

Black Knight, Jacksonville, Fla., released its weekly report on forbearance data, showing forbearance volumes fell by 105,000 (-4.5%) this week, continuing the strong trend of early-in-the-month improvements.

The report said declines were seen across the board: GSE forbearance volumes fell by 39k (-5.3%), FHA/VA plan volumes fell by 44k (-4.7%) and PLS/portfolio forbearances declined by 22k (-3.4%). Some 73,000 plans are still listed with April expirations, suggesting opportunity may still remain in coming days for additional moderate improvements. Another 350,000 plans are set to be reviewed for extension/removal in May.

Black Knight said plans set to be reviewed jumps to nearly 900,000 in June, the final quarterly review before early forbearance entrants begin to reach their 18-month plan expirations later this year. As of May 4, just over 2.2 million (4.2% of) homeowners remain in COVID-19 related forbearance plans, including 2.5% of GSE, 7.4% of FHA/VA and 4.8% of portfolio/PLS loans.

Usherpa Makes Learning Management System Available

Usherpa, Denver, made its Master Ascent Plan, a sales training and Learning Management System, free to users of its automated marketing technology.

Usherpa’s Peak Performance Program consists of private branch-specific strategy sessions that offer customized tactics designed to focus specifically on each branch’s unique needs. This custom training helps branch managers get the most out of each LO’s strengths while teaching them how to minimize any weaknesses. Usherpa Guides then lead LOs through creation of their own strategies, using the Usherpa platform to increase their production and strengthen their relationships with realtor partners.