Industry Briefs Apr. 7, 2023: HUD Extends AFFH Proposed Rules Comment Period by 2 Weeks
HUD Extends Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Proposed Rules by 2 Weeks
HUD extended the public comment date for its Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing proposed rule by 14 days, to April 24, per a notice in the Federal Register.
HUD published its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on February 9.It aims to remedy the effects of the long history of discrimination in housing, will help to foster opportunity in communities across the country where every resident can thrive. The original announcement of the proposed rule can be found here.
Comments may be submitted electronically through https://www.regulations.gov/document/HUD-2023-0009-0001.
Qualia Releases Resware Version 10
Qualia, San Francisco, released the newest version of Resware. Along with many new major features, Resware 10 also includes enhancements that streamline and simplify the Resware upgrade process.
Resware is a material component of Qualia’s ecosystem of title and escrow products. Resware 10 also includes hundreds of enhancements, new features and fixes designed for a faster, easier, and higher quality user experience for both end users and Resware administrators. The new interactive Action Visualizer tool allows users to visualize and graphically configure complex workflows, triggers, effects, and actions.
GetAugie, FormFree Partner to Help Consumers Build Credit History
Credit-building platform GetAugie, New York, announced a partnership that will enable consumers to sign up for its Augie Card using the Passport mobile app from ability-to-pay fintech FormFree, Atlanta.
By automating the identity verification process required to obtain an Augie Card, GetAugie’s integration with FormFree will make it easier for consumers to get started building credit without changing their spending habits. The Augie Card does not require a credit check and does not charge consumers any of the fees or interest that typically come with a credit card, nor does it require consumers to come up with an upfront cash deposit to secure the account. However, unlike payments made by direct debit or using a debit card, payments made with the Augie Card are reported to credit bureaus to help consumers build credit history.
FHFA Announces Inaugural Housing Finance TechSprint
The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced its inaugural TechSprint, a team-based problem-solving event hosted by FHFA’s Office of Financial Technology, designed to secure the free and fair flow of data in a safe and sound housing finance system.
Named “Velocity,” the TechSprint will bring together experts and practitioners from the technology and the mortgage finance sectors to propose solutions that can reduce mortgage costs and delivery times while creating a more inclusive and transparent process.
The FHFA Velocity TechSprint will begin on Monday, July 10, in Washington, D.C. The event consists of three days of intensive, in-person collaboration, along with several publicly available live-streamed panels and presentations. FHFA will select participants from the applicant pool and place them into TechSprint teams. Teams will then work on selected problem statements that address the central question: “How might data digitization drive transparency and increase access, fairness, affordability, and sustainability in mortgage lending?” The event will culminate in a Demo Day exhibition on Thursday, July 13, when the teams will present their innovative ideas to a panel of judges drawn from experts in industry, the nonprofit sector, and government.
FHA Seeks Feedback on Draft Mortgagee Letter Proposing Earlier Claim Submissions for Home Equity Conversion Mortgage Assignment Claims
The Federal Housing Administration posted a draft Mortgagee Letter proposing changes to the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program and documentation requirements for the HECM Assignment Claim Type 22 submission criteria.
The proposal would allow servicers to begin submitting required claim documentation for review by FHA when the mortgage reaches 97 percent of the Maximum Claim Amount (MCA), versus 97.5 percent of MCA allowed today. FHA is proposing this change to expedite the payment of claim funds when the mortgage reaches 98 percent of the MCA, to mortgage servicers in light of current market liquidity considerations.
The HECM Assignment Claim Type 22 is an option that allows a HECM servicer to assign a mortgage that is in good standing to FHA in exchange for payment of the loan balance, up to the maximum claim amount. For a HECM loan to be eligible for assignment to HUD, both the lender and the borrower must be in compliance with all program terms. Once a HECM loan is assigned to HUD, HUD becomes the administrator of the loan and will continue with the servicing duties for the remainder of the HECM loan term.
Interested stakeholders are encouraged to thoroughly review the draft ML and provide feedback through April 11. More information can be found here.
Cornerstone Servicing Launches Mortgage Subservicing Business
Cornerstone Servicing, Englewood, Colo., launched a subservicing business designed to enable homebuyers to be smart homeowners for life and fuel sustainable growth for lenders and investors of all shapes and sizes.
Homeowners can log into the company’s secure, user-friendly web portal or mobile app to access a complete view of their loan and 24/7 self-service options. An AI-powered virtual assistant offers immediate help navigating and utilizing the portal, with secured messaging available for more personalized assistance from Cornerstone Customer Care team members. The portal includes a learning center with helpful resources and tools designed to empower smart homeownership.
TransUnion’s Financial Inclusion Forum Brings Together Industry Executives to Discuss Ways to Better Serve Marginalized Consumer Segments
TransUnion, Chicago, brought together senior leaders in the financial services and insurance industries at its inaugural Financial Inclusion Forum. They discussed ways to meet and engage consumers where they are on their financial journey and to create and deliver equitable products and services for them, opening new sources of business growth while building long-term resiliency and prosperity for underserved families.
The Financial Inclusion Forum included several executive roundtable conversations focusing on how to empower and engage more consumers who traditionally do not have access to credit or insurance as well as how to use more inclusive ways to evaluate their risk.
CFPB Issues Guidance to Address Abusive Conduct in Consumer Financial Markets
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a policy statement that explains the legal prohibition on abusive conduct in consumer financial markets and summarizes more than a decade of precedent. The policy statement will assist consumer financial protection enforcers in identifying wrongdoing, and will help firms avoid committing abusive acts or practices.
In this policy statement, the CFPB sets forth how abusive conduct generally includes (1) obscuring important features of a product or service or (2) leveraging certain circumstances—including gaps in understanding, unequal bargaining power, or consumer reliance—to take unreasonable advantage. In particular, the statement describes how the use of dark patterns, set-up-to-fail business models like those observed before the mortgage crisis, profiteering off captive customers, and kickbacks and self-dealing can be abusive.
Black Knight: February Home Prices See First Monthly Rise After Seven Straight Declines
Black Knight, Jacksonville, Fla., said home prices rose in February on both non-adjusted and seasonally adjusted bases, driven by a combination of modestly easing affordability in January and early February along with worsening inventory levels.
The report said sales rose in February on interest rate dips according to Collateral Analytics data from Black Knight, but remained 18% below 2019 pre-pandemic averages as affordability pressures continue to weigh on demand. Inventory levels continued to deteriorate, with the seasonally adjusted number of homes available for sale falling for the fifth consecutive month to their lowest level since May of last year. Adjusted for seasonality, prices were up 0.16% in February – the strongest single-month gain since May 2022 – while at the same time, at 1.94%, annual home price growth fell below 2% for the first time since 2012.
Black Knight said 39 of the 50 largest U.S. markets saw home prices rise on an adjusted basis in February; that’s in sharp contrast to this past November, when prices were falling in 48 of 50 markets. February’s price strengthening also helped shore up homeowner tappable equity levels, which are now $1.6 trillion off peak (-15%); collectively, homeowners with mortgages still have $9.3T in tappable equity available.
Ncontracts Introduces New Section 1071 Functionality
Ncontracts, Brentwood, Tenn., announced its platform will be ready with updates to comply with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Section 1071 final rule.
Ncontracts is helping impacted commercial lenders comply with new requirements by introducing new functionality required by 1071 into its cloud-based transmittal tool, Ntransmittal. Users will be able to generate 1071 transmittal files in addition to CRA transmittal files. Ncontracts’ fair lending analytics tools will also be updated to allow in-depth analysis of 1071 data.
Ncontracts is also hosting a webinar Section 1071 Compliance: What Does the Final Rule Mean for Small Business Lenders Like You? on April 20 at 1 p.m. (CST). Ncontracts’ team of regulatory compliance experts will explain the ins and outs of the final 1071 rule and what small business lenders need to do to comply with it.
IndiSoft Partners with FormFree on Housing Counseling Services to Underserved Consumers
FormFree, Athens, Ga., said IndiSoft is leveraging FormFree’s Passport to enable HUD-approved housing counseling agencies to provide more effective and expeditious consumer counseling.
IndiSoft’s National Housing Advocacy Platform connects thousands of HUD-certified housing counselors with mortgage lenders, servicers and investors. Passport is an app that enables consumers to electronically share their Financial DNA — which is made up of direct-source identity, asset, income, employment, public records, credit and rent payment data — with financial professionals. Integrating Passport with IndiSoft’s HUD-certified client management system, RxOffice CMS, enables housing counselors to advise consumers more efficiently and increase the number of successful consumer outcomes.
Paradatec’s AI-Cloud Integrates with Path Software
Paradatec Inc., Wilmington, Del., announced its AI-Cloud platform is now integrated with Path Software, a mortgage loan origination system.
The integration pairs Path with AI-Cloud, Paradatec’s AI-based document classification, versioning and data extraction technology. Through the integration, AI-Cloud automatically retrieves a lender’s loan documents for classification from within Path, indexes and meta-tags them, and returns the documents to Path. Its AI-Cloud automated document analysis technology uses AI-based machine-learning tools and pre-trained libraries to find and capture more than 8,500 data points trapped in more than 850 mortgage and real estate documents and transforms them into actionable data.
LERETA Launches Charitable Tax Grants Initiative for Military Veterans
LERETA, Pomona, Calif., announced the LERETA Tax Grants program, which will help pay property taxes for military veterans through Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit whose mission is to build strong, stable, and secure military families.
LERETA is partnering with the national nonprofit on the charitable initiative that provides one-time grants to pay the annual property taxes of veteran families who are participants in Operation Homefront’s Permanent Homes for Veterans program. Operation Homefront’s Permanent Homes for Veterans program provides mortgage-free homes to veterans who qualify and complete an intensive educational program on financial literacy and successful home ownership. The PHV program gives veterans the opportunity to move into an Operation Homefront home and work directly with caseworkers and other financial counselors to learn and plan for home ownership, including paying property taxes and handling home maintenance. After successful completion of the program, selected veterans receive the deed to the home, mortgage-free, and will be eligible to receive a LERETA Tax Grant to pay one year of taxes.
First American: Not All Markets ‘Boomed;’ Not All ‘Busting’
First American Financial Corp., Santa Ana, Calif., said its monthly Real House Price Index showed house prices decreased by 0.9 percent between December and January, but increased by 38.8 percent between January 2022 and January 2023.
The report said consumer house-buying power increased by 1.3 percent between December and January, and decreased 24.8 percent year over year. Real house prices are 32.8 percent more expensive than in January 2000. Unadjusted house prices are now 48 percent above the housing boom peak in 2006, while real, house-buying power-adjusted house prices are 7.1 percent below their 2006 housing boom peak.
States with the greatest year-over-year increase in the RHPI were Vermont (+52.8 percent), Alabama (+49.4 percent), Maryland (+48.2 percent), New Hampshire (+47.8 percent) and Florida (+47.4). No states showed a year-over-year decrease. Metros with the greatest year-over-year increase in the RHPI were Miami (+59.5 percent), Indianapolis (+57.0 percent), Orlando, Fla. (+49.1 percent), Baltimore (+47.1 percent), Jacksonville, Fla. (+46.5 percent).
FHFA Announces Enhanced Payment Deferral Policies for Borrowers Facing Financial Hardship
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will enhance their payment deferral policies to allow borrowers facing financial hardship to defer up to six months of mortgage payments. The enhanced payment deferral policies will promote sustainable homeownership and will further support the safety and soundness of the Enterprises.
Borrowers facing financial hardship should contact their servicer to discuss whether this is an appropriate solution for their unique circumstances. Servicers may offer borrowers one of several solutions to resolve a delinquency, including the enhanced payment deferral, reinstatement, repayment plan, or loan modification, depending on their individual situations.
Movement Mortgage Partners with Fiserv
Movement Mortgage expanded its 14-year relationship with Fiserv Inc., Brookfield, Wis., to enable a smooth and stress-free process for homebuyers, allowing them to secure a mortgage more quickly and easily in an evolving market.
Movement leverages the API-enabled Mortgage Director from Fiserv to access Product and Pricing Engine technology from Polly, a provider of SaaS technology for the mortgage capital markets space. Polly’s PPE configures rules, manages margin strategies, and distributes unique pricing across all channels with a customizable user experience to help the Movement team stay ahead of the competition and win more business.
CFPB Orders Repeat Offender Portfolio Recovery Associates to Pay More Than $24 Million for Continued Illegal Debt Collection Practices
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau took action against Portfolio Recovery Associates, one of the largest debt collectors in the nation, for violating a 2015 CFPB order and engaging in other violations of law. The CFPB filed a proposed order that, if entered by the court, would require Portfolio Recovery Associates to pay more than $12 million to consumers harmed by its illegal debt collection practices, in addition to a $12 million penalty that would be deposited into the CFPB’s victims relief fund.
The Bureau said Portfolio Recovery Associates violated the 2015 order by collecting on unsubstantiated debt, collecting on debt without providing required documentation and disclosures to consumers, suing or threatening legal action against consumers without offering or possessing required documentation, and suing to collect on debt outside the statute of limitations. Portfolio Recovery Associates also failed to properly investigate and resolve consumer disputes about the company’s credit reporting.
Tavant, Propmix Partner to Automate Loan Processing, Underwriting
Tavant, New York, announced expanded functionality within its Touchless Lending platform through a partnership with PropMix, a real estate valuation, decision support, and automation platform.
As part of the partnership, PropMix’s Appraisal Digitization capabilities to convert residential appraisal PDF documents into standard MISMO XML is integrated into Touchless Lending using PropMix’s APIs. Tavant’s customers can now process first-or second-generation (scanned) appraisal PDFs with no manual interventions. The result is an automated loan production process that lets correspondent buyers and sellers and wholesale lenders process mortgages faster with reduced costs.
Newfi Adopts Indecomm’s GeniusWorks Automation-Enabled Mortgage Platform
Indecomm, Edison, N.J., announced that Newfi, a technology-driven multi-channel lender, adopted Indecomm’s GeniusWorks.
GeniusWorks uses Indecomm’s Genius suite of automation products to automate an estimated 70% of middle-office tasks and processes, reducing manual touchpoints on the part of Newfi associate, and accelerating the underwriting decision. Wherever manual intervention is needed, Indecomm’s staff of processors and underwriters pick up from where automation left off.