Industry Briefs Jan. 19, 2022: First American Acquires Mother Lode Holding Co.

First American Acquires Mother Lode Holding Co.

First American Financial Corp., Santa Ana, Calif., signed an agreement for its acquisition of Mother Lode Holding Co., a California-based provider of title insurance, underwriting and escrow services for residential and commercial real estate transactions with 17 operating subsidiaries throughout the U.S., including its principal subsidiary Placer Title Co.

With 92 offices in 11 states, Mother Lode’s subsidiaries are branded within their respective real estate communities rooted in a 48-year track record of providing customer service. Mother Lode Holding Company’s subsidiaries operate primarily in California, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Texas, Arizona, Washington and New Mexico. Mother Lode CEO Randy Bradley, Chief Operating Officer Lisa Steele and President Darrick Blatnick will remain with the company and manage the day-to-day operations.

In connection with the transaction, Houlihan Lokey is acting as financial advisor to Mother Lode Holding Company.

Redfin to Acquire Bay Equity Home Loans

Redfin, Seattle, entered into an agreement to acquire Bay Equity Home Loans, a national, full-service mortgage lender. Under the terms of the merger agreement, the purchase price is estimated to be $135 million in cash and stock.

Founded in 2007 in the San Francisco Bay Area, Bay Equity is a licensed mortgage lender in 42 states and employs 1,200 people. The acquisition accelerates Redfin’s strategy to become a one-stop shop for brokerage, lending and other services. Redfin expects the acquisition to close in the second quarter, pending customary approvals, and to be accretive to 2022 earnings per share.

At nearly 10 times the size of Redfin’s existing lending business, Bay Equity helps match the scale of Redfin’s nationwide brokerage of 2,400 agents, increasing the number of brokerage customers whose homes Redfin can finance.

Tavant Launches VΞLOX NXTTM

Tavant, Santa Clara, Calif., launched VΞLOX NXTTM, the latest edition of its AI-based digital lending platform. The fully re-architected platform combines back-end optimization and automation features with new, advanced customer-centric capabilities to provide borrowers, loan officers and mortgage brokers a more unified, engaging and adaptive experience.

VΞLOX NXT will be available in-market and to current customers in March. It adds technical capabilities to enable homeownership in America, one mortgage at a time. VΞLOX NXT enables lenders to re-align from back-office efficiencies to focusing more on the customer, ensuring the borrower experience is at the center of their business. By partnering with experienced technology providers, Tavant offers the latest customer-centricity capabilities in one seamless platform, providing improved performance, processes, and performance regardless of the lenders’ existing business applications and eliminating the limitations of many third-party applications.

Trust Lending Leveraging ReverseVision Platform to Grow Reverse Mortgage Wholesale Business

ReverseVision, San Diego, said Trust Lending, a national mortgage banker, went live with ReverseVision’s Exchange platform for its wholesale lending channel. The platform helped Trust Lending springboard its wholesale channel into easily and expeditiously originating loans for reverse mortgage products.

Trust Lending implemented ReverseVision’s Exchange loan origination system to automate the reverse lending process. Its goal was to grow a new reverse product line amid a profit-pinched market along with providing its broker partners with easy-to-use technology tools that help them quickly and efficiently originate and manage reverse mortgage deals. 

Redfin: Home Sales Posted Largest Monthly Decline Since Pandemic Onset

Redfin, Seattle, said fewer homes than ever were for sale in December, driving seasonally adjusted home sales down 3.6%, marking the largest month-over-month sales decline since May 2020. Home prices surged 15% from a year earlier, the 17th consecutive month of double-digit increases.

“Home sales are slumping, but not for lack of demand,” said Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather. “There are plenty of homebuyers on the hunt, but there is just nothing for sale. In many markets, shopping for a home feels like going to the grocery store only to find the shelves bare.”

The report said median sale prices increased from a year earlier in all but one of the 88 largest metro areas Redfin tracks. The only metro area with a decrease was Bridgeport, Conn., where home prices fell 0.4% from a year earlier following a 28% year-over-year increase in December 2020. The largest price increases were in Austin, Texas (+30%), North Port, Fla. (+28%) and Phoenix (+28%).

Fannie Mae Launches Free Online Education Course

Fannie Mae, Washington, D.C., launched HomeView, an online homeownership education course to help consumers navigate the mortgage and homebuying process confidently and responsibly.

Available free of cost, and accessible online anytime on any device at, HomeView provides easy-to-understand content and resources designed to ensure aspiring homebuyers are well equipped to become more informed and successful homeowners. Fannie Mae collaborated with consumers and industry experts, including housing counselors, mortgage insurers, government organizations and other stakeholders, to ensure HomeView content aligns with national industry standards for pre-purchase homeownership education and addresses common homebuyer knowledge gaps and pain points. The course includes seven interactive learning modules that guide the user through the steps of buying and owning a home.

Freddie Mac Hits 2021 Multifamily Cap with $70.7 Billion in Total Housing Finance Support

Freddie Mac Multifamily, McLean, Va., purchased $70 billion in loans in 2021, hitting its Federal Housing Finance Agency volume cap. The company also made $674 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credit equity investments, for a total of $70.7 billion in multifamily housing finance support.

Overall, Freddie Mac said it financed 650,000 rental units, 95% of which are affordable to families making 120% of area median income and below. Freddie Mac also surpassed its goal for supporting units affordable at 60% AMI, with 26% of production volume supporting units affordable by that metric. It said 57% of its volume qualified as mission-driven, above the 50% target for the year.

DBRS Morning Star 2022 U.S. RMBS Faces ‘Long Way to Normalcy’

DBRS Morningstar, New York, said 2021 was another historic year for residential mortgage-backed securities, with the coronavirus-era recovery progressively improving. It said on the back of unprecedented government and private economic and social interventions, nearly all aspects of the economy, including public health, communities, businesses and markets, have improved over the worst of 2020. However, economic conditions still have some way to go to get back to normalcy and stability in a post-coronavirus world.

DBRS said as coronavirus-era interventions subside, the U.S. RMBS market will likely be migrating to a more balanced risk profile, which means relatively less upside/more downside risk versus 2021, but the credit performance trends did enter 2022 on a positive trajectory.

“Housing/mortgage landscape has looked vibrant, but it is unclear how long it can last at this pace,” said Stephen Bernard, Vice President of Corporate Communications, Growth and Strategy. “New rules, initiatives and guidelines will help shape the 2022 landscape. Also, with regard to ESG considerations, climate change effects will be more conspicuous.”

AI Virtual Assistant Alanna Now ‘Speaks’ 54 Languages

Alanna, McKinney, Texas, a conversational AI-powered virtual assistant for title agents, can now communicate in 54 different languages.

Alanna is conversational AI technology able to engage in complex conversations with clients via SMS text or web chat, often for customer service or information gathering. With the enhancement, Alanna can now fluently engage in English, Spanish, French, German, Japanese and multiple additional languages. Additionally, the technology can intelligently facilitate a conversation in more than two languages at the same time, where needed (including cases where three parties are engaged in the conversation using three different languages).

CFPB Announces Settlement Regarding the 2019 Taskforce on Federal Consumer Financial Law

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau settled a lawsuit filed by the National Association of Consumer Advocates, U.S. Public Interest Research Group and Professor Kathleen Engel. The lawsuit alleged that the Taskforce on Federal Consumer Financial Law did not comply with the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

FACA is a “sunshine” law that seeks to ensure that there is adequate transparency into agency advisory committees. When enacting FACA in 1972, Congress was concerned that special interest groups might use their committee membership to advance their private financial concerns.

The CFPB entered into a stipulated settlement agreement that required, among other corrective actions, the CFPB to release to the plaintiffs by March 22, 2022, all Taskforce records that would have been made public if the CFPB had complied with FACA’s requirements. These records will also be made publicly available on the CFPB’s website. Additionally, the CFPB has amended the Taskforce’s report to include a disclaimer noting that the CFPB failed to comply with FACA and that the report should not be relied upon as a “product of a FACA-compliant federal advisory committee.”