We’re not necessarily looking to break technology news, but we are looking to put it all into greater context for you. Right now we’re hearing:

Amherst Sells Portfolio Of Homes To Altisource

Amherst Holdings, LLC  (“Amherst”) announced that its Single Family Residential platform has sold a portfolio of 751 single family rental properties to Altisource Residential, L.P. (“Altisource Residential”), an operating partnership controlled by Altisource Residential Corporation (NYSE: RESI), a publicly traded REIT, for a total sale price of $117.1 million.

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The transaction represents Amherst’s second closing with Altisource Residential as part of a March 2017 agreement to sell Altisource Residential up to 3,500 single family rental properties this year. Amherst and Altisource Residential have now closed on the purchase and sale of 1,508 single family rental properties in the first half of 2017.

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Under the terms of the agreement, Altisource Residential has purchased a fee simple interest in the portfolio of properties, and Amherst-sponsored entities are providing seller financing equal to 75 percent of the sale price. Amherst will remain the property manager for the portfolio through its subsidiary, Main Street Renewal, LLC, a vertically integrated property acquisition, repair and management business that currently manages more than 12,000 single family rental properties across the United States.

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“We are excited to continue our partnership with Altisource Residential to deliver portfolios of professionally managed single family rental properties with strong cash flow,” said Drew Flahive, President of the Amherst Single Family Residential platform. “Amherst is committed to investing significant capital in this asset class as single family rental properties continue to demonstrate strong performance momentum and institutional investor interest in this asset class continues to rise.”

The Amherst Single Family Residential platform provides a comprehensive suite of services to facilitate ownership of single family rental properties, including the sale of stabilized cash flowing properties, property management services, asset level financing and asset management services. With a deep understanding and proprietary analytics on the single family home and mortgage markets, Amherst’s platform combines a unique combination of national scale with local market knowledge and execution. The platform has sold over 9,000 professionally managed rental properties since the beginning of 2016 to institutional investors and operators.

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Using Technology To Attract Borrowers

In this case, Denver, Colorado-based Reason Real Estate unveiled its new website and brokerage model this June. With new home search tools, a data-centric team, and a model based in creativity and flexibility, the firm and aims to give local home buyers and sellers an edge as the summer home buying season peaks.

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Summer and back to school time brings a fresh seasonal rush to the real estate market. With interest rates still near historic lows, and rents sky high, local buyers and property investors are expected to be out in force over the next few months of fair weather.

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To aid them in their quest Reason Real Estate has made its new website live, complete with new home search tools, access to market data and trends, and insights for investors. The easy-to-navigate portal makes it a breeze to find single family houses, condos, multifamily properties, and land for new construction homes. Right from the home page buyers will instantly see brand new Denver property listings, as well as those which have just reduced prices. Find it online at www.ReasonRealEstate.com. There is also a free mobile app which can be downloaded from the resources section.

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Reason Real Estate specializes in serving South Metro Denver, including: Denver, Englewood, Greenwood Village, Centennial, Parker, Lone Tree, Highlands Ranch, and beyond. The boutique brokerage has differentiated itself in the city by committing to a ‘Single Agency’ approach; meaning it only represents one party in a transaction. Most area brokerages and Denver brokers will act as ‘transaction brokers’ to facilitate the buying and selling party getting together, while ceasing to be a client’s fiduciary and partner. Reason prides itself on bringing a factual approach, with top-notch negotiation talent, to get their buyer clients the right property, at the best possible terms and price, and their seller clients the maximum return on their property investment.

Broker-Owner Michael Schaffer says this approach recently “helped one client close with an immediate 15% equity gain on the purchase of a home,” and “with our attention to market intel, we can provide buyers key information like the value certain architectural differences, valuation of improvements and renovation, or how new zoning regulations or developments like the expanding presence of nearby multi-family rentals can impact them in the future.”

Michael Schaffer is a 12+ year resident of the Denver area, holds an MBA from a Top 25 ranked school, and is a former Hollywood talent agent and professional poker player and coach. Today he thrives on delivering fantastic home buying and selling experiences to Denver residents, while giving them a tenable advantage in the market.

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WebMax Enhances Loan Origination And Borrower Experience With Optimal Blue

WebMax has chosen Optimal Blue as their partner to provide a unique digital mortgage experience with lender-specific, real-time, compliant pricing, rates and product eligibility through the Optimal Blue API.

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This integration will allow WebMax to provide accurate, instantaneous data at the time of application submission, further enhancing and providing a better path to completion, as well as increased efficiencies for the lender and enhancing customer satisfaction.

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“WebMax is thrilled to work with Optimal Blue to increase the seamlessness of the borrowing experience,” said Curt Tegeler, President and CEO of WebMax. “Current and future clients can now benefit from the enhancement of the borrowing life cycle through this integration. Through our website solution, pricing and rates are provided to the borrower immediately upon submission of our digital application.”

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Optimal Blue’s eCommerce platform consumes product and pricing content from the industry’s largest network of investors, provides intelligent selection and customization of that content as desired by lenders, and distributes the personalized results to leading technology providers via RESTful APIs – wherever, whenever it matters most.

“This is an exciting partnership for Optimal Blue and WebMax,” said Chazz Huston, Strategic Alliances Manager for Optimal Blue. “It benefits everyone in the loan lifecycle. Borrowers and lenders are seeking a simplified, accurate and streamlined mortgage experience, and this integration does just that.”

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FirstClose Adds Desktop Valuations To Decrease Turn-Around Time & Reduce Costs

FirstClose, a provider of end-to-end technology solutions for refinance and home equity lenders nationwide, announced the addition of Desktop Valuations to its stable of bundled products.

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Desktop Valuations are evaluations using interactive analytical methods and valuation tools. Lenders can choose to have the Desktop Valuation completed by FirstClose’s in-house team of licensed, real estate valuation specialists or completed and signed by a licensed appraiser ensuring USPAP compliance. Desktop Valuations replace costly expenditures associated with 2055 (drive-by) and 1004 (full) appraisals. Lenders can also add a Property Condition Report to a Desktop Valuation, which will provide an external inspection, current photos and overview of property condition.

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“One of our customers decreased closing times by 25 percent and saved more than $1.1 million in the last 12 months by implementing Desktop Valuations in lieu of costly drive-by and full appraisals,” said Tedd Smith, co-founder and chief executive officer of FirstClose. “FirstClose is proud to offer these kinds of hard cost savings to ultimately give our customers a competitive edge as they reduce closing times for borrowers.”

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Desktop Valuations service highlights include:

>>The option of ordering a Desktop Valuation within a FirstClose Report package, with a Property Condition Report, or à la carte;

>>Comparable sale search parameters that are consistent with appraiser-level criteria;

>>Delivery within 72 hours of order acceptance, including estimated value, low value, high value, confidence score and comparable sales used to determine value;

>>Nationwide coverage.

 Headquartered in Austin, Texas FirstClose provides end-to-end technology solutions to refinance and home equity lenders nationwide, as well as a vendor management system that eliminates duplicate data entry. The company’s flagship product, the FirstClose Report, is the first, comprehensive refinance and home equity loan solution with capabilities to deliver title, flood, valuation and other important data elements in one report.

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Equity National Title Now Conducting eClosings With Pavaso

Equity National Title, a national provider of title and settlement services is now able to deliver eClosings with Digital Close through Pavaso, Inc., a provider of digital closing solutions for the mortgage industry.

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More specifically, Equity National Title can now deliver hybrid eClosings in which select documents, such as the Deed and Note, are printed and “wet-signed,” but much of the closing package is executed electronically. ““An awesome closing experience for our customers and their borrowers is our primary focus and the digital closing experience is one that more and more of our lending partners are demanding,” said Jim O’Donnell, President of Equity National Title. “Pavaso’s technology is being used by a number of our lender clients, and we’ve found that they deliver fantastic support as well as flexibility through the hybrid option when we need to close on any combination of paper and digital.”

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Pavaso’s Digital Close accommodates paper, hybrid or fully digital closings.  It also enables efficient online communication and collaboration between the real estate agent, lender, title/settlement agent and borrower during the entire closing process. The digital closing platform provides built-in eSign and eNotarization capabilities, allowing borrowers to sign and notaries to verify and stamp documents digitally. Although there are still some traditionally wet-signed documents, this allows the majority of the closing package to be executed more efficiently and securely.

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“Each time a national provider like Equity National Title adopts an eClosing process, the digital transformation of the mortgage becomes much more widespread—even much more mainstream,” said Mark McElroy, President and CEO of Pavaso. “With a large title network for digital mortgages emerging, it’s really only a matter of time until eClosings are a staple for businesses.”

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Lender Embraces A More Efficient Appraisal Process

American Financial Network, Inc. (AFN), one of the country’s fastest growing mortgage companies with more than 30 appraisal management company vendors, has deployed Mercury Network to manage efficient, compliant appraisal operations. Mercury Network’s technology is used by more than 800 of the nation’s lenders and appraisal management companies (AMCs) to manage real estate valuation operations and collateral risk.

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AFN’s collateral valuation operations will be managed using Mercury Network’s web-based platform to place and track appraisal orders with their AMC partners. The implementation allows AFN to order and see status on valuations from within their loan origination system, significantly reducing delays and human errors, while effectively routing orders to AFN’s chosen appraisal management companies.

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“The appraisal process is critical for our loan officers and clients, and we weighed several possible solutions. Mercury Network gives us consolidated control across all our AMC partners and efficiency gains that have already made a great impact for our customers and staff”, said Jonathan Gwin, Esq, COO and General Counsel at AFN. “Now, staff can order and manage all appraisals from a single secure dashboard, rather than navigating to each vendor’s website.”

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“We’re excited to welcome American Financial Network”, said Jennifer Miller, President of Mercury Network. “Their commitment to innovation and client service is well known in the industry, and we look forward to helping AFN continue to scale operations at their rapid pace.”

Established in 2001, American Financial Network, Inc. is a licensed mortgage lender (NMLS #237341) based in Brea, CA. AFN is a FNMA, Freddie Mac, GNMA approved direct lender with over 100 branches in numerous states.

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QC Player Is Ready For Day 1 Certainty

ACES Risk Management (ARMCO), a provider of financial quality control and compliance software, has updated its flagship ACES Audit Technology with new functionality that aligns with Fannie Mae’s Day 1 Certainty (D1C) initiative. With this update, ACES now includes additional fields for assessing asset, income, employment and collateral data according to Fannie Mae’s D1C initiative. The company also updated its rule-based technology to assist auditing these loans according to the D1C initiative.

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ACES users continue to use ACES Intelligent Questionnaire technology to customize questions and scripts according to their own unique needs and objectives. ACES’ direct import of D1C data enables users to preserve the integrity of their QC processes, while also aligning with D1C parameters.

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“Lenders can gain added protection under Fannie Mae’s Day 1 Certainty initiative, but they have to follow certain protocols,” says Phil McCall, COO of ARMCO. “We updated ACES so our clients can automate their auditing process to account for the different checkpoints associated with D1C. Our clients know that ARMCO’s mission is protecting their businesses. They know they can rely on us to stay on top of all guidelines, initiatives, regulations and trends, and they know we will continue providing the tools that help them grow and protect their businesses, not just for now, but also for the long haul.”

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The recent ACES software enhancement went into effect for all clients June 12, 2017.  Clients and interested parties can get further information on this update via the proprietary ACES Knowledge Center, or by visiting the ARMCO website (www.armco.us) for a demonstration of the latest software.

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Lender Launches Homecoming Campaign To Reunite Separated Military Families

Embrace Home Loans announced the launch of its Embrace Coming Home campaign. Inspired by the dedication and commitment soldiers give to our country, the initiative seeks to provide surprise homecomings to those dealing with the hardships of deployment, reuniting at least five families in 2017.

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The campaign is driven by three of Embrace’s core values including love, community and courage, and the company looks to give back to military families who embody all three. Any member of the public is eligible to visit Embrace’s website and nominate a deserving family. Once a service member and their family are selected, Embrace will begin to arrange travel and a surprise meeting for the family in their hometown, and a day of surprises for the family will follow. Expenses for the surprise reunion will be paid by the lender, who will keep the homecomings a secret.

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“Our goal is to bring happiness into the lives of those who have sacrificed so much for their country,” said Meghan Handy, customer experience manager at Embrace Home Loans. “By partnering with friends of military families, we’re excited to raise support and awareness of the sacrifices that military families make for each of us. The surprise homecomings will allow us to give back to our community in a way that is unique and memorable.”

 
Embrace and its employees have helped support not only military members and Veterans, but also local families in need, school supply drives, the families of active military members, and friends and families of Embrace employees who have had sudden emergencies such as a medical crisis, to name just a few. The national lender has raised thousands of dollars through its simple tradition of giving.

“While local communities are important to us and we remain dedicated to supporting them with their home financing needs, military personnel and Veterans have a special place with us,” said Handy. “As implied by our name, we ‘embrace’ the men and women that serve our country as well as their families, and we strive to improve the quality of their lives. We’re honored to bring joy to the lives of a few families across the nation this year in order to show our gratitude.”

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Lender Supports Financial Literacy

Churchill Mortgage announced the winner of its $5,000 nationwide sweepstakes, which was developed in recognition of Financial Literacy Month and as part of its commitment to financial health and education. Officially established in 2004, Financial Literacy Month is celebrated every April and is dedicated to teaching Americans how to establish and maintain healthy financial habits.

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The winner is 60-year old Michael Bodnar, a resident of Carnegie, Penn. and employee with the Port Authority of Allegheny County. “I enter contests quite frequently and this is my biggest win so far, so we’re going to be smart about how we use the money,” said Bodnar. “After all, that’s what financial literacy is all about: knowing your limits, identifying what your future needs will be and working toward that.”

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Click here to read a Q&A between Churchill and Bodnar and learn how he plans to invest his winnings.

The National Financial Educators Council recently surveyed 2,409 people on what high school-level course would benefit them the most. An overwhelming 54 percent selected “Money Management (Personal Finance)”, emphasizing the need for greater financial educational resources. As a lender focused on providing borrowers with a personalized path to debt-free homeownership, Churchill is dedicated to educating borrowers to ensure that they choose the right home and build wealth over time through a smarter mortgage.

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“Financial literacy is a bigger issue than saving for a home purchase – it’s about making wise decisions every day and understanding the lifelong implications of each one,” said Mike Hardwick, president of Churchill Mortgage. “Education leads to empowerment, which leads to more confidence in exercising responsible financial practices. As lenders, we have a fiduciary duty to help others by guiding individuals with the heart of a teacher and providing resources to help them achieve financial freedom.”

Founded in 1992, Churchill Mortgage operates with zero debt and focuses on providing borrowers with a personalized path to debt-free homeownership. The result is an educated borrower that chooses the right home and builds wealth over time through a smarter mortgage.

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Newfi Wholesale Expands To Utah

Newfi Lending, a technology-enabled residential mortgage lender and portfolio company of Warburg Pincus, has expanded Newfi Wholesale into Utah. Newfi Wholesale is the third-party origination division of Newfi Lending.

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Newfi Wholesale also announced the hiring of Shayne Nielson as Regional Account Manager to drive the expansion into Utah. Nielson has spent many years in both wholesale and retail mortgage lending at Headlands Mortgage and GreenPoint Mortgage, working in Utah and Florida.

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“We are pleased to continue our strong growth momentum with our expansion into Utah and we welcome Shayne to the team,” said Debbie Ingle, Newfi Lending’s Senior Vice President of Wholesale Lending. “We’re excited to partner with mortgage brokers in Utah, and to show them the same exceptional level of service that we provide to all our customers.”

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This move brings the total number of states serviced by Newfi Wholesale to nine, covering over one-third of the U.S. population. In addition to Utah, Newfi Wholesale currently provides wholesale lending services in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Oregon, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Washington.

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