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.

Yes, The Mortgage Industry Does Care

After the financial crisis many thought that mortgage lenders were evil. Any time I told anyone what I did for a living they would give me a dirty look. But nothing is farther from the truth. For example, an elderly widow is feeling extra thankful this holiday season, thanks in part to friends and employees of Mortgage Network, Inc., a prominent local lender.


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One of the largest independent mortgage bankers in the eastern U.S., Mortgage Network partnered with Rebuilding Together Boston and the Massachusetts Mortgage Bankers Association to rebuild the home of the local Dorchester, Massachusetts woman. The work included new kitchen cabinets and appliances, new doors, windows, landscaping, plumbing, electrical work and a rebuilt porch, roof and ceiling.


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The woman, named Bernice, is 78 and has limited mobility, had struggled to maintain her home after the death of her husband. She lives on a fixed income and had been victimized by dishonest contractors by paying for home repairs that were never completed.


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“Once we heard Miss Bernice’s story, our entire office jumped at the chance to help to bring her home back to life and put a smile back on her face,” said Brian Koss, executive vice president of Mortgage Network. “Best of all, her house has new health and safety features as well, including new railings and electrical work, so she will be able to enjoy the comfort of her home for years to come.”

It was the third straight year Mortgage Network has partnered with Rebuilding Together Boston and other local lenders to help a Dorchester homeowner with critical home repairs. Rebuilding Together Boston is just one of many community organizations Mortgage Network supports every year. Among many other events, the company sponsors or co-sponsors the Tour de Greenbelt, a bicycle ride to raise funds to protect local farmland, wildlife habitat and scenic landscapes; the HOPE International “Drive Out Poverty” golf tournament in York, Pennsylvania to help fight global poverty; and a “Polar Express” themed holiday event to raise money for local schools in Beverly, Massachusetts.

“As we approach the Thanksgiving season, all of us at Mortgage Network feel particularly honored to be able to help members of our community in need like Miss Bernice,” added Koss.

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AI-Driven Lead Distribution For Mortgage Lending

ProPair, a mortgage-industry technology start-up based in Silicon Valley, launched an AI-based lead distribution solution that eliminates the uncertainty of the lead assignment process while optimizing results and ensuring fairness in the assignment process. Using artificial intelligence to correlate lead data with information about individual loan officers, ProPair facilitates the lead assignment process to allow lenders to distribute leads to maximize the performance of the entire loan team.


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ProPair is led by former mortgage industry executive, CEO Ethan Ewing and an engineering PhD, CTO Devon Johnson. The company uses AI-driven software to automatically match prospects and loan officers based on dozens of different factors. Capturing and analyzing multiple information sources provides a level of visibility not previously possible, making lenders more efficient and delivering better overall outcomes. ProPair also improves loan officer performance by assigning prospects based on the likelihood of success rather than seniority or guesswork. The result is more closes and a more fair system for all loan officers.


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“I am passionate about helping companies in the mortgage industry maximize the impact of their sales professionals,” explains Ewing. “By providing an AI-driven software solution to lenders massive data assets, we can replace gut instinct and spreadsheets with hard science and increase close rates and ROI in the process.”


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Designed with the everyday needs of lending organizations in mind, and optimized in conjunction with mortgage industry leaders, ProPair’s AI-based platform replaces outdated manual processes with data-driven lead assignments that improve productivity across the board. “ProPair has fundamentally changed how we look at our lead distribution methods,” says Dan Stevens, SVP Mortgage Strategy at NBKC Bank. “In the not too distant future, we will look back at the days before working with ProPair and wonder why we used gut feelings to make so many important decisions around our leads.”

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Increase Monthly Loan Volume Through Advanced Automation

PenFed, one of the nation’s largest credit unions, has selected LoanLogics’ LoanHD platform to accelerate loan quality reviews and loan file deliveries to investors. LoanHD enables real-time, highly automated mortgage quality assurance and control that improves productivity compared to manual internal audits and third-party audit services.


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PenFed, a federal credit union with 1.7 million members and $23.5 billion in assets, chose LoanLogics to help them increase their capacity for growth in their correspondent lending business, according to Ben Sizemore, PenFed’s senior vice president of mortgage transformation. By automating a substantial number of tasks and streamlining loan deliveries, Sizemore expects LoanHD will enable a significant expansion of the credit union’s monthly loan volume as their business grows.


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“PenFed has always been committed to using technology to operate more efficiently, which makes LoanLogics the perfect partner to scale our mortgage business,” Sizemore said. “We anticipate LoanHD will enable us to increase our loan throughput by automating processes and continue to deliver our loan document packages to meet investor and regulatory requirements,” he said. “LoanHD also meets our standards for robust quality controls that enable us to lower operating costs.”


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LoanHD automatically harvests data from loan documents and third-party sources and automates virtually every quality control task, providing a “red light, green light” approach to loan manufacturing and acquisition that reduces the cost of compliance at every stage. It includes a library of customizable business rules and checklist-driven auditing processes that encompass pre-underwriting, pre-funding and post closing reviews, due diligence and loan boarding as well as specialized audits for HMDA, TRID and other regulatory and agency requirements.

Sizemore said LoanLogics’ reputation as a regtech leader in the mortgage industry made the decision to choose LoanHD easy. “The company’s superior technology and expertise allow us to quickly and simply enhance automation for our correspondent and third party channels, increasing our efficiency for the delivery of high quality services for our members.”

“We’re honored to be working with the team at PenFed to grow its mortgage volume,” said LoanLogics CEO, Brian Fitzpatrick. “By verifying and validating loan data prior to loan review, regtech solutions like LoanHD can significantly automate audit tasks and lower costs which deliver huge benefit to credit unions and their members. We look forward to helping PenFed gain greater efficiencies and control loan quality for years to come.”

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Co-Issue Trading Solution Emerges

Blue Water Financial Technologies has developed an electronic co-issue pricing and trading platform, MSR-X. Blue Water is introducing  the first of its kind, cross investor and fully integrated web-based technology solution for co-issuing purposes that allows lenders and investors to view portfolios and transactional data in real time.


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A Technology Driven Financial Innovation

“This technology is long overdue in the industry. MSR-X is a game changer – it’s a true one-stop shop for liquidity,” said Al Qureshi, Senior Managing Partner at Blue Water. “Our founding principles seek to integrate technology and price transparency to drive better outcomes for our clients and MSR-X is a testament to that. This platform will drastically change how MSRs are transacted in the secondary market. Originator demand has been strong and we’re confident this innovation will solidify its foothold in the marketplace.”


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Addressing Cost Pressures for Originators while Creating Liquidity

The platform brings greater efficiencies to the co-issue process and lowers costs for both investors and originators by reducing any manual input of pricing and increasing the immediacy of information. Buyers and sellers can access MSR-X via the web and view information in real-time. MSR-X uses a single platform across investor types to mitigate timing risk, providing a real-time way to adjust pricing for changes in rates. Further, cost-minded originators can use the platform to reduce margin exposure, lower costs and streamline their secondary market operations.


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Upending the Traditional Broker Model

With the introduction of MSR-X, Blue Water also switches the paradigm in terms of the way business was previously conducted. Originators don’t pay to participate, rather, the investors do. In return, the investors obtain transactional data, they have better yield certainty through the purchase process and much of the administrative paperwork has been simplified. Investors can dynamically manage their appetite for MSR and even upload a daily grid based off of the types of MSR they would like to purchase. Originators are able to access buyer-side liquidity with no cost. “I see offering liquidity and price transparency in a free venue for originators as something your typical originator just can’t afford to overlook – especially in this rate cycle,” said Jason Sweeney, Director of Business Development at Blue Water.

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Direct Integration Simplifies The Antiquated Complexities Of Updating Post-Trade Details

Resitrader, an Optimal Blue company and the leading online digital exchange for whole loan trading in the secondary mortgage market, integrated its fully automated trading platform with LendingQB. The streamlined interface enables participants to quickly and efficiently update loan-level trade information from the Resitrader platform into LendingQB immediately following completion of a trade. Resitrader creates a trade ticket for every trade between sellers and buyers, as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. LendingQB users can import price, commitment, and investor loan numbers across multiple trades with a single click.


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The integration includes data elements as specified by the originator, and the seamless integration also allows the user to generate and leverage custom fields applicable to their unique business processes and need. With one click, data is securely transported in real time and accepted by the LendingQB platform.


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“The ‘one-click’ feature is highly regarded by our clients,” said Linn Cook, Director of Sales and Marketing with LendingQB. “The ability to easily move data from trading to their LOS has saved an incredible amount of time and streamlined the archaic process of manual, duplicate entry.”


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The integration between LendingQB and Optimal Blue’s loan trading platform is considered an exciting first step of many new digital integrations between the firms and their respective platforms. With this initiative complete, the firms have now turned their attention toward fully integrating LendingQB with Optimal Blue’s hedge advisory and product eligibility and pricing engine.

“Our partnership with LendingQB further demonstrates our commitment to an open platform across the industry,” explained John Ardy, Vice President of Resitrader by Optimal Blue. “We look forward to expanding integrations with LOS and hedge-advisory firms to cover the full spectrum of the mortgage loan process; and we believe the relationship with LendingQB is one of many that will support the initiative for Optimal Blue and our network of strategic alliance partners to provide the highest level of satisfaction to our customers.”

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Bogota Savings Bank Uses Tech To Enhance The Customer Experience And Gain Efficiency

We here at PROGRESS in Lending champion technology advancement. We like to report on success stories. As such, Bogota Savings Bank, a $650-million New Jersey-based bank, will move to Fiserv to streamline operations and better serve customers. In reaching its decision, Bogota Savings was especially drawn to the integration between Fiserv core account processing technology and key capabilities such as digital banking and payments, which will facilitate a streamlined user experience for both customers and employees.


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“By integrating online banking, online account opening and other solutions with the core platform, Fiserv enables us to gain faster and better access to the information we need to deliver a superior customer experience and eliminate two-thirds of our existing third-party services,” says Kevin Pace, executive vice president, Bogota Savings Bank. “Having information available in one place and updated in real time helps our back office, marketing and frontline staff be more efficient as well.”


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Bogota Savings Bank is looking forward to replacing inefficient manual processes and time-consuming batch operations with the customizable, real-time processing available in the DNA account processing platform from Fiserv. These new capabilities will enable the bank to stay in step with consumers who are looking to manage their finances as quickly and easily as possible.


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“DNA offers a tremendous amount of flexibility and control over how we want to operate by providing access to all of its data fields,” Pace added. “No matter what we need to do, it seems there’s a way to do it – usually in minutes or hours rather than days or weeks.”

In addition to core account processing, Bogota Savings Bank will leverage a range of solutions from Fiserv for digital banking, debit processing, payments, source capture, item processing, online account opening, and more.

DNA is an open, real-time account processing platform built for collaboration. A modern platform developed using contemporary, standards-based components, DNA provides a 360-degree view of customer relationships and facilitates streamlined processes within the financial institution.

“Understanding where technology and consumer expectations intersect is essential to delivering innovative, intelligent capabilities that meet real needs,” said Todd Horvath, president, Bank Solutions, Fiserv. “By upgrading to contemporary technology Bogota Savings Bank is positioning themselves to deliver on their customers’ high expectations.”

Planet Home Lending Launches New Digital Mortgage Assistant

To support the continued growth of its retail channel and provide an exceptional home loan experience to customers, Planet Home Lending, LLC, has launched a new digital mortgage assistant, Skymore by Planet Home Lending. Planet’s digital mortgage assistant leverages artificial intelligence to make home loans easy, convenient and fast.


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“Consumers want smart technology, and they want access to smart home loan professionals,” said Planet Financial Group CEO and President Michael Dubeck. “Skymore by Planet Home Lending makes applying for a loan much easier and is enhanced by our mortgage loan originators. They have an equally important role as experienced advisors who can explain home loan options clearly and help customers make advantageous choices.”

Skymore by Planet Home Lending features:

>>Mobile Friendly – Customers apply and upload documents securely from any device, including their phones


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>>Co-pilot Navigation Assistance – Borrowers can share their screen with Planet mortgage loan originators or processors to get help when they need it

>>Easy Asset Statement Collection – Securely connects to thousands of financial institutions making it easy to provide documentation

>>Smart Technology – Only asks customers questions relevant to their individual situation and loan application

>>Transparent Process – Tracks current loan status 24/7, automatically showing next steps for the consumer


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>>Eco-friendly – Electronically delivers disclosures and loan documents and allows digital signatures

“We believe in making the home loan experience personal and transparent, and employing best-in-class technology to improve the home loan journey for our customers,” said Planet Executive Vice President of National Sales, Michael Lee, said. “Skymore by Planet Home Lending speeds borrowers through the process, freeing our mortgage loan originators to focus on giving advice and counsel. We’ll get you home is more than just our motto; it’s what we do.”

Founded in 2007, Planet Home Lending is a privately held, national residential mortgage lender with multiple business channels uniquely positioned to provide competitive products and services. The company is an approved originator and servicer for FHA, VA, and USDA as well as a Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae Seller/Servicer, a full Ginnie Mae Issuer and approved sub-servicer, and a Standard & Poor’s-and Fitch-rated special and prime residential servicer.

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Tech Revolution Will Change Appraisals

Computershare Loan Services has released new data that suggest U.S. appraisers believe their industry is on the brink of significant change.

The top-rated provider of end-to-end mortgage operations recently asked its network of appraisers to share their experiences and views on a range of subjects, with the 400+ answers providing a snapshot of current industry thinking.


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Although 35% of respondents said that they currently use desktop technology for at least a quarter of appraisals, twice as many (70%) said that they expected to deploy such methods for at least the same amount of their work over the next two to three years.

In addition, although only 12% said that desktop appraisals, which exclude a property visit by the appraiser that completes the opinion of value, represent at least half of their work now, 37% said they expect to undertake more than half of their role using desktop technology by 2020 or 2021.

The survey’s results form part of Computershare Loan Services’ white paper, Property Appraisals in 2020 – Embracing New Technology to Reinvigorate the Industry, which was released today.


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Nick Oldfield, CEO at Computershare Loan Services, said: “Like many professions, property appraising currently faces some interesting challenges as well as the emergence of significant technological changes.

“However, our white paper shows that, by embracing new methods, whether desktop appraisals, cloud computing or the use of drones, the industry can dramatically increase its efficiency and overcome other issues, such as declining numbers and a shortage of new appraisers entering the industry.

“Interestingly, despite inevitable reservations about the nature of these changes, respondents to our survey seem to appreciate some of the benefits that new tech can bring.

“We’re looking forward to continuing to engage with our appraiser network and beyond on how the industry can best use new ideas and methods to improve standards – and the professional lives of appraisers themselves.”


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The survey also revealed an appreciation of the need for greater education to prepare appraisers for change, with more than 60% of respondents saying that they support continuing education programs for desktop appraisals.

Although respondents expressed concerns about the effect that technological change may bring their profession, there was also pragmatism about the benefits, with more than 93% of respondents saying that they would like to see the appraisal software tools that are used for agency loans (Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae) made available to all appraisers.

Desktop appraisals can enable a smaller group of appraisers to conduct more jobs between them: particularly relevant when some sources estimate that the number of appraisers in the U.S. decreased by 21% between 2008 and 2017, and when nearly two-thirds of appraisers are over 50.

65% of respondents to Computershare Loan Services’ survey were over 50, and none were under 30.

Respondents rated higher fees as the most important change needed by the industry to attract “a new generation” of appraisers, rating “easier entry into the profession” second.

More than eight out of ten respondents said that their work was more efficient as a result of their use of digital cameras (92%), electronic databases (90%), computer forms (85%) and email (81%).

71% said that digital access to data, flood maps, public records and aerial or satellite imagery had been the technological development that had most helped improve their work, with 21% citing appraisal software enhancements, form filing and autocalcuation and 5% regression analysis, analytics, charts and graphs.

69% said that valuation and data analysis were more important components to appraisals than inspections.

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Integration To Perform All Automated Reviews

QuestSoft, a provider of automated mortgage compliance software, now offers its end-to-end mortgage compliance platform to lenders using LendingQB’s cloud-based loan origination software (LOS). The integration helps lenders to automate mortgage compliance reviews by testing loans for HMDA, High Cost, All Federal/State/Local consumer regulations, as well as fraud and risk services prior to a loan’s closing.

With QuestSoft’s Compliance EAGLE’s proactive loan compliance tools and capabilities, lenders using LendingQB can save time and avoid costly penalties by testing every loan for full adherence to national, state and investor rules and regulations both pre- and post-closing. LendingQB has added all of Compliance EAGLE’s services in an “a la carte” menu, providing lenders a full array of compliance checks. Now, LendingQB clients can select from more than a dozen different services to order only the ones they need.


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“Partnering with QuestSoft provides our lenders the highest quality loan reviews in an intuitive, flexible interface that takes the complexity out of compliance,” said David Colwell, president of LendingQB. “Working seamlessly within our web-based LOS, lenders can conduct Mavent reviews, conduct instant HMDA reviews, evaluate loans for fraud and risk while also testing for RESPA fee tolerances, verifying borrower information and ensuring compliance for settlement services.”


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Compliance EAGLE automates the entire mortgage lending compliance process through a single platform, delivering increased speed, data integrity, and reporting capabilities. Additionally, as new regulatory guidelines are introduced to the mortgage industry, Compliance EAGLE automatically applies updates to maintain optimal compliance procedures.

LendingQB’s web browser platform provides mortgage lenders with core LOS capabilities using modern web-optimized technology, enabling robust integrations to other web platforms such as QuestSoft.


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“The mortgage industry’s constantly evolving regulatory environment makes automated compliance essential for reducing risk and ensuring a high-quality loan portfolio,” said Leonard Ryan, president of QuestSoft. “Our strong relationship with LendingQB has been very beneficial to their customers and LendingQB’s expanded integration with Compliance EAGLE provides lenders a trusted tool for ensuring full compliance with the latest regulatory updates, applicable laws and secondary market guidelines.”

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Experian, FICO And Finicity Launch New UltraFICO Credit Score

Experian, FICO and Finicity have launched a new credit score. The new score, called UltraFICO Score, leverages account aggregation technology and distribution capability from Experian and Finicity to help consumers improve access to credit by tapping into consumer-contributed data, such as checking, savings and money market account data, that reflects responsible financial management activity.


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With UltraFICO Score, a consumer grants permission to contribute information from banking statements, including the length of time accounts have been open, frequency of activity, and evidence of saving, which can be electronically read by Finicity and combined with consumer credit information from Experian to provide an enhanced view of positive financial behavior.

Experian, FICO and Finicity estimate this new score has the potential to improve credit access for the majority of Americans and is particularly relevant for those who fall in the grey area in terms of credit scores (scores in the upper 500s to lower 600s) or fall just below a lender’s score cut-off.  Consumers who are relatively new to credit with limited history or those with previous financial distress that are getting back on their feet stand to benefit the most.


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“This changes the whole dynamic of the lender and customer relationship,” said Jim Wehmann, executive vice president, Scores, at FICO.  “It empowers consumers to have greater control over the information that is being used in making credit risk decisions.  It also enables a deeper dialogue between the consumer and lenders to help both parties make better financial decisions.  It’s a game changer.”

The UltraFICO Score will launch as a pilot program in early 2019. The pilot is designed to validate the score and assess willingness of consumers to share financial data for a potentially higher score. Pilot participants were sourced across various lines of businesses.


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The model developed by FICO will be implemented through Experian and integrated into a lender’s existing operational workflow. Borrower data will be aggregated through Finicity. The UltraFICO Score builds off of the framework of the base FICO Score, and is designed to reflect the same odds-to-score relationship so that the new score can be easily incorporated into lending strategies and origination, account management systems. The UltraFICO Score is slated to be broadly available to lenders mid-2019.

“As the consumer’s bureau, our goal is to help empower consumers and to give better access to credit for more consumers, all while promoting fair lending,” said Alex Lintner, president, Consumer Information Services, Experian. “Through this project, we’ve found a new way to use consumer-permissioned data that allows lenders to make better decisions and helps consumers gain access to credit.”

“This approach allows Americans to benefit from positive financial behaviors,” said Steve Smith, CEO, Finicity. “We are proud to have created a new way for consumers to share financial information, safely and securely so that a new UltraFICO™ Score can be created.”

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