Mark Tribuna of CRA Note Exchange: How Habitat for Humanity Affiliates Build More Homes
Mark Tribuna is the senior advisor for CRA Note Exchange offered by CBC Mortgage Agency, a national provider of down payment assistance for low- and moderate-income homebuyers. He oversees the secondary mortgage trading platform that enables organizations like Habitat for Humanity Affiliates to sell their non-traditional notes to banks looking for opportunities to invest in their communities they serve. During a financial services career spanning more than three decades, Tribuna has worked for New American Funding, Guardian Mortgage Company and Habitat for Humanity International. He can be reached at email@example.com.
MBA NEWSLINK: Why do Habitat affiliates need to sell their notes?
MARK TRIBUNA, CRA Note Exchange: Habitat Affiliates need to sell their notes to generate funds to build more homes. That need has grown over the past couple years, particularly due to the detrimental impact the COVID pandemic has had on donations to nonprofits like Habitat. However, the notes sold by Habitat Affiliates don’t bring in much money. This is why some Affiliates are using the CRA Note Exchange, which lets them market affordable housing loans to greater numbers of banks and investors, thus enabling them to raise more money so they can build more affordable housing.
NEWSLINK: Who are buyers of the loans?
TRIBUNA: Banks are typically the ones that buy affordable housing loans for low-to-moderate income borrowers. All depository financial institutions are required by the Community Reinvestment Act to meet the credit needs of people in the geographic areas in which they do business, including those who live in low and moderate-income neighborhoods. By using the CRA Note Exchange, banks can earn CRA credits in order to reach these goals.
NEWSLINK: Do all the Habitat affiliates use a central origination system when they close and service a loan?
TRIBUNA: You would think so, yet each Habitat for Humanity affiliate is totally independent and has their own system for processing and closing loans. There’s a saying, “if you’ve met one Habitat affiliate, you’ve met one Habitat affiliate.” As a result, lending systems Affiliates use vary across the country.
In some instances, an Affiliate may have a relationship with a local bank that buys their loans, in which case they may be sophisticated enough to handle secondary transactions themselves. But as we’ve seen, some Affiliates find it more productive to use an online bidding platform like the CRA Note Exchange, so they can get their notes in front of more buyers as well as get assistance with preparing their loans for sale.
NEWSLINK: How is the loan packaging quality from a secondary marketing standpoint?
TRIBUNA: Again, it totally varies by Affiliate. With some, the loan documents are in good order and ready for sale. Others require quite a bit of work to get them to a salable condition. This is because most Habitat Affiliates, like most nonprofits in general, have very lean operations and lack the staff resources and experience needed to package loans, which can be a very time-intensive process.
NEWSLINK: How do the affiliates get the files into a marketable condition?
TRIBUNA: At CRA Note Exchange, we do a lot of hand holding and manually guide entities that offer affordable home loans through the tedious process of building a good file. We also educate them on the note selling process because many don’t have a lot of experience with it. Basically, we make it as simple as possible for Affiliates—plus we only collect a fee if the loans are sold. So far, it’s worked out rather well.
NEWSLINK: What is the process for affiliates to do a sale?
TRIBUNA: First, the Affiliate uploads one or more loan files to our platform, where our underwriters review them and determine their secondary market salability. Once the loans are deemed marketable, banks and investors that use the CRA Note Exchange are alerted to any loans that match the parameters they have set for the types of loans they are looking to buy. If there’s a match, they’re invited to bid on the loans. In most cases, the whole process takes only a couple of weeks.
NEWSLINK: Is each note sold individually?
TRIBUNA: Not necessarily. Our most recent sale involved a $2.5 million portfolio that was accumulated from five different Affiliates. But it is possible for a single note to be sold through the exchange. Regardless of whether an Affiliate sells one note or a dozen, they can benefit from having a turnkey secondary marketing solution that helps them get the loans in a salable condition and place them in front of the highest number of bidders.
NEWSLINK: What is the cost for affiliates to use the platform?
TRIBUNA: Habitat Affiliates pay a fee of 4% of the net proceeds after a loan sale is complete. For a small additional fee, an Affiliate can avoid recourse on their notes in case of a default. Considering that one Affiliate was recently able to double its home building production because of the increased liquidity they gained from using the CRA Note Exchange, we think it’s a great deal. It’s certainly more cost-effective and efficient than if an Affiliate were to try to find buyers for their loans themselves.
More importantly, though, the CRA Note Exchange is opening up affordable homeownership to more low-income working people, which ultimately results in stronger communities. Like every Habitat Affiliate, we believe that everyone deserves decent and affordable housing, which is why it’s so exciting to see the CRA Note Exchange take off.
(Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect policy of the Mortgage Bankers Association, nor do they connote an MBA endorsement of a specific company, product or service. MBA NewsLink welcomes your submissions. Inquiries can be sent to Mike Sorohan, editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org; or Michael Tucker, editorial manager, at email@example.com.)