By Tony Garritano
What’s going on in the mortgage market? What trends should you be aware of? Tony tells you in this daily column.

SecurityNational Mortgage Implements A Fully Paperless Closing Process

SecurityNational Mortgage Corporation (SNMC), an independent national mortgage banker, has successfully rolled out DocMagic’s comprehensive Total eClose platform. Since rolling out Total eClose in September, SNMC has reduced borrower time at the closing table to as little as 15 minutes, and become one of the first national lenders to offer a true eClosing solution that involves no paper whatsoever.


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It has dramatically sped up the closing process, ensuring accuracy and loan quality, and delivering newfound efficiencies for borrowers, notaries and settlement providers. Total eClose enables SNMC’s customers to preview documents prior to closing, eSign all documents, and complete both remote and in-person eNotarizations. As a result, SNMC is now positioned to capture more market share, reduce operational costs, expedite closing times and elevate the borrower experience.


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“Our goal was to perfect a completely digital eClosing process, not to be just another lender offering a basic hybrid closing,” said Steve Johnson, president of SNMC. “Achieving our goal required a powerful end-to-end technology, a perfectly executed seamless implementation, and an intuitive interface that everyone—staff, settlement service providers and borrowers—could use immediately, without a steep learning curve. We got that and more with DocMagic. Plus, the DocMagic implementation team was with us all the way. We never had to worry about a thing.”  


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The two companies approached the project as partners to ensure swift adoption and a quick understanding of the new workflow-driven eClosing process for both SNMC’s staff and customers. DocMagic worked hand-in-hand with the lender, leveraging its vast eMortgage expertise to help sculpt a unique strategy and a successful go-to-market launch. Unlike other document and eClosing solution providers, DocMagic takes an ultra hands-on approach to implementations, from developing the project roadmap, to training all parties—such as staff, title agents and notaries—to synchronized testing of each facet of the Total eClose platform.

“Our implementation teams function like expert consultants—we work very closely with each client, guiding them literally every step of the way,” said Dominic Iannitti, president and CEO of DocMagic. “There is a huge number of moving pieces in an eClosing solution. As a single source solution, we have intricate knowledge of every one of them, so there are none of the issues that plague other providers—not only immediately after the implementation, but over the long haul as well. In contrast, lenders who choose incomplete or cobbled-together eClosing technologies may have to hit the restart button within 12 to 18 months and search for a comprehensive solution.” 

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Total Tappable Equity Falls For First Time Since Housing Recovery Began

The Data & Analytics division of Black Knight, Inc. released its latest Mortgage Monitor Report, based on data as of the end of October 2018. This month, Black Knight looked at full Q3 2018 data to revisit the U.S. home equity landscape, finding that quarterly declines were seen in both total equity and tappable equity, the amount available for homeowners with mortgages to borrow against before hitting a maximum 80 percent combined loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. Ben Graboske, executive vice president of Black Knight’s Data & Analytics division, explained that the decline is being driven by home prices pulling back on a quarterly basis in some of the nation’s most expensive housing markets.


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“After seeing a significant slowdown in its growth from the first to second quarters of 2018, the amount of tappable equity fell by $140 billion in Q3 2018,” said Graboske. “That is the first decline we’ve seen since the housing recovery began, and its cause can be traced directly to softening home prices in some of the nation’s most expensive – and equity- rich – markets. Indeed, tappable equity fell in 60 of the 100 largest markets, including 12 of the top 15. Three markets in California alone – San Jose, San Francisco and Los Angeles – accounted for 55 percent of the total net decline. Add Seattle into the mix, and you see that just four markets were behind two-thirds of the net reduction in tappable equity. All were areas where home price growth has far outpaced the national average in recent years, but in which prices fell in Q3 2018 – from as little as one percent in Los Angeles, to a 4.6 percent drop in San Jose.


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“Of course, there is still $9.8 trillion in total home equity in the market, some $5.9 trillion of which is tappable. That’s $571 billion more than in Q3 2017, and tappable equity remains near an all-time high. It’s also important to remember that in general third quarters are relatively flat as far as home prices are concerned, and that tappable equity is up on an annual basis in 98 percent of major metro areas. But the fact remains that affordability concerns are beginning to have an impact on home prices, particularly in more expensive markets, and as a result, on homeowner equity as well.


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Interestingly enough – although for-sale inventory is up on an annual basis for the first time in four years – an analysis of listings on mortgaged properties suggests that homeowners reluctant to put their current homes on the market due to ‘rate lock’ or ‘affordability lock’ may still be holding down available inventory by about six percent. By constraining the supply of available homes, this in turn may be countering what might otherwise be greater downward pressure on home prices.”

Other results from the quarterly equity data showed that just 1.8 percent of homeowners remain underwater, owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. For those with equity, the average homeowner with a mortgage has $191,000 in equity in his or her home. Among those with tappable equity, the average amount available to borrow against is $136,000. In total, over 50 million homeowners with mortgages have some amount of equity in their home, 43.6 million of which have tappable equity – a decline of approximately 272,000 from this time last year.

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AMC Giant Will Pivot Into Full Service Collateral Valuation Provider

Class Appraisal, one of the largest nationwide providers of real estate asset valuation and appraisal management solutions to the residential mortgage industry, announced today that the company will be changing its name to Class Valuation to better describe its expanded focus — now including new and disruptive collateral valuation offerings. Adding new products will allow the company to help lenders further improve the borrower experience.


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The company’s reputation for excellent customer service will be maintained as they expand their business. “Thanks to our truly committed, engaged, and enthusiastic team here at Class, we’ve done a fantastic job of delivering a high-touch service offering to our clients,” said Class’s Chief Innovation Officer, Scot Rose. “At the same time, we know the space is changing, and we are committed to our clients’ long-term success. This means focusing on technological and process innovation designed to lead the industry into the future.”


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As part of the new brand, Class will focus on highlighting its clients, its appraisers, and ultimately the homeowners. It is the real results that Class affords these individuals that matters most, and their new brand will showcase those results. The addition of disruptive offerings designed to further client success will ultimately help make more homeownership dreams come true, and that is the company’s mission.


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“These changes are an extension of the company’s willingness to take ownership of, and then solve, client problems, while defining the future of valuation services,” said Class’s President, John Fraas. “Continuous innovation of new processes and new products is core to who we are at Class. It’s all about the borrower, their lender partner, and the experience they share. It always has been for us at Class, and our new offerings will make these experiences even better for all parties involved.”

The company will continue doing business as Class Appraisal pending acceptance of the name change by all relevant regulators.

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