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Home Prices Less Affordable Than Historic Averages

ATTOM Data Solutions released its Q2 2018 U.S. Home Affordability Report, which shows that the U.S. home prices in the first quarter were at the least affordable level since Q3 2008.

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The report calculates an affordability index based on percentage of income needed to buy a median-priced home relative to historic averages, with an index above 100 indicating median home prices are more affordable than the historic average, and an index below 100 indicating median home prices are less affordable than the historic average.

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Nationwide, the Q2 2018 home affordability index of 95 was down from an index of 102 in the previous quarter and an index of 103 in Q2 2017 to the lowest level since Q3 2008, when the index was 86.

“Slowing home price appreciation in the second quarter was not enough to counteract an 11 percent increase in mortgage rates compared to a year ago, resulting in the worst home affordability we’ve seen in nearly 10 years,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions. “Meanwhile home price appreciation continued to outpace wage growth, speeding up the affordability treadmill for prospective homebuyers even without the rise in mortgage rates.”

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Home prices rising faster than wages in 64 percent of local markets

Nationwide the median home price of $245,000 in Q2 2018 was up 4.7 percent from a year, down from 7.4 percent appreciation in the first quarter but still above the average weekly wage growth of 3.3 percent. Since bottoming out in Q1 2012, median home prices nationwide have increased 75 percent while average weekly wages have increased 13 percent during the same period.

Annual growth in median home prices outpaced average wage growth in 275 of the 432 counties analyzed in the report (64 percent), including Los Angeles County, California; Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona; San Diego County, California; Orange County, California; and Miami-Dade County, Florida.

Lowest home affordability indexes in Flint, Denver, Santa Fe, Nashville

Counties with the lowest home affordability indexes in Q2 2018 were Genesee County (Flint), Michigan (70); Denver County, Colorado (72); Adams County (Denver area), Colorado (73); Santa Fe County, New Mexico (73); and Wilson County (Nashville area), Tennessee (75).

Among 40 counties with a population of at least 1 million, those with the lowest home affordability indexes in Q2 2018 were Travis County (Austin), Texas (77); Alameda County (San Francisco area), California (81); Santa Clara County (San Jose), California (82); Oakland County (Detroit area), Michigan (82); and San Francisco County, California (83).

Highest share of income needed to buy a home in Bay Area, Brooklyn

Nationwide an average wage earner would need to spend 31.2 percent of his or her income to buy a median-priced home in Q2 2018, above the historic average of 29.6 percent.

Counties with median home prices requiring the highest share of average wage earner income were Marin County (San Francisco area), California (133.2 percent); Kings County (Brooklyn), New York (123.1 percent); Santa Cruz County, California (121.5 percent); Monterey County (Salinas), California (100.3 percent); and San Francisco County, California (97.2 percent).

Counties with median home prices requiring the lowest share of average wage earner income were Wayne County (Detroit), Michigan (13.5 percent); Clayton County, Georgia (13.7 percent); Rock Island (Quad Cities), Illinois (15.8 percent); Saginaw County, Michigan (16.4 percent); and Richmond County (Augusta), Georgia (16.4 percent).

Median home prices not affordable for average wage earners in 75 percent of local markets

An average wage earner would not qualify to buy a median-priced home in 326 of the 432 counties (75 percent) analyzed in the report based on a 3 percent down payment and a maximum front-end debt-to-income ratio of 28 percent.

Counties where an average wage earner could not afford to buy a median-priced home in Q2 2018 included Los Angeles County, California; Cook County (Chicago), Illinois; Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona; San Diego County, California; and Orange County, California.

Don’t Slack Off Now

It’s tempting to slack off during the dog days of summer, but content marketing doesn’t take a vacation. If you want top dog results, the time to assess your efforts is now.

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According to John Hall, in his article “This Is the Perfect Time of Year to Assess Your Content,” summer is the perfect time to kick back, hang at the pool, and leave behind any worries you might have about the future of marketing.

Even if your audience members take time off for travel of their own, summer doesn’t mean you get a free pass on your content. While you keep doing what you’re doing and just wait for the next budget cycle to make any real changes to your content strategy, your competitors are building their brands and climbing to the top of your audiences’ minds.

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Content is a dynamic part of your marketing strategy. You’re going to need to check up on your performance and make tweaks to your plan more than once a year, and summer is a great time to assess your efforts and correct course if you need to.

By now, you should have at least a full quarter’s worth of data on your content marketing strategy to review. You should know how close you are to achieving the goals you set and which areas have presented the biggest challenges so far.

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Not only do you have enough usable data, but you also have a competitive advantage when it comes to getting your content published.

Online editors across industries and niches need more contributed content in June, July, and August than almost any other time of year. You can meet editors’ needs, engage your audience members, and contribute to your goals, all at the same time, if your strategy is set up correctly.

And if those aren’t reasons enough to keep up with your content and assess your plan, ask yourself: Would you rather know whether your content is effective now or when it’s budget time and you don’t have the results you need to lock in those dollars?

Content strategies rely on a lot of moving parts, and actually assessing your effectiveness can be challenging, especially if you don’t have anything to guide you through it.

To get started making changes that can impact your company for the rest of the year, follow these three tips:

1.) Retrace Your Steps

Go back to your original strategy and the goals you set. What metrics did you say you would track? How are you doing on that front so far?

Maybe your goal is lead generation. Did you meet your lead gen goal for the quarter? Or are you creating lots of content without seeing many leads? You could have seen good social shares this quarter and grown your Twitter following by 20 percent, but did your content actually help you reach the lead gen goal you set for it? Start by comparing your performance to the goal you want to reach.

2.) Diversify Your Content

Company blogs play a vital role in any content strategy, but if you lean on your blog to do all the work of a diverse content mix, it’ll be nearly impossible to see the results you want.

Content is a toolbox, and you have so many tools at your disposal: blog posts, sure, but also press mentions, email marketing, guest posts, and more. Your blog can’t do it all alone. Great content strategies use different types of content for different goals, so consider what you’ve tried so far and whether it’s actually working, then test adding new content deliverables to amplify your results.

3.) Stretch Your Work Further

Developing content is one thing, but using it properly is a whole other animal. Are you distributing your content and building links? Do you have a plan for how to go from content production to increased revenue or brand awareness? Do you have the tools you need to scale?

Don’t stop at content generation. Put in the work to expand the reach of your content. From paid amplification to email marketing to SEO audits, invest in your content to get the maximum return on your investment.

Marketers have a responsibility to keep an eye on their content’s performance all year, but summer is an especially good time to dig deep. Use the data you’ve collected, identify the gaps in your approach, and correct course for a more effective strategy throughout the rest of the year.

About The Author

Michael Hammond

Michael Hammond is chief strategy officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and is the founder and president of NexLevel Advisors. They provide solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. He has close to two decades of leadership, management, marketing, sales and technical product experience. Michael held prior executive positions such as CEO, CMO, VP of Business Strategy, Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Marketing for a number of leading companies. He is also only one of about 60 individuals to earn the Certified Mortgage Technologist (CMT) designation. Michael can be contacted via e-mail at mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.

Investor Increases Loan Amounts To $5 Million For Multiple Non-QM Programs

Verus Mortgage Capital (VMC), a full-service correspondent investor offering residential non-prime lending solutions, has increased loan amounts to $5 million for several of its non-QM programs, and higher LTVs for interest-only loans. VMC has increased loan amounts for:

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>>Investor Solution Full Documentation, Self Employed and Foreign National programs, from $2 million to $5 million, starting at $75,000.

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>>Credit-impaired borrower loans from $2 million to $5 million, starting at $100,000, through the Credit Ascent program.

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>>Higher-balance loans offered with alternative documentation for self-employed individuals from $3 million to $5 million, starting at $150,000 through the Prime Ascent program. Prime Ascent interest-only loan LTVs increased from 80% to 85%.

“At Verus Mortgage Capital, we’re dedicated to building the non-QM market. We are committed to offering lenders flexible funding options for underserved borrowers who don’t fit into the conventional profiles,” said Dane Smith, President of VMC. “Right now, non-QM lending is a huge opportunity for lenders to grow their businesses and provide solutions to fill a very real void in our industry.”

Founded in 2015, VMC is a non-QM correspondent investor backed by Invictus Capital Partners, an investment firm. VMC purchases loans in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and focuses solely on the non-QM market. It offers correspondent lenders a wide range of home financing products for credit worthy borrowers.

The Washington, D.C.-based company, with operations located in Minneapolis, has purchased just under $2.4 billion in expanded, non-QM loans since its inception. In addition, through its affiliates, VMC has completed five rated securitizations.

About The Author

Tony Garritano

Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at tony@progressinlending.com.

Getting Closer To Full eClosings

Pavaso, a mortgage technology provider, has introduced a remote online notarization feature (RON) to its Digital Close eClosing platform. RON will enable users to conduct the mortgage closing session remotely—including notarizations. Pavaso is the developer of a truly digital mortgage enterprise solution platform that incorporates both lender and title participation.

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Pavaso’s development of its Remote Online Notarization tool provides its users the ability to conduct the entire closing (including notarization) using a single electronic portal through the Digital Close Enterprise eClosing platform.  Other systems require additional technology, integrations or multiple portals to conduct a complete, notarized closing. The feature was developed in direct response to the rapidly growing interest at the state level in allowing remote notarization. Currently, remote notarization is legal in Texas, Virginia, Montana and Nevada. Several more states, including Indiana, Minnesota and Tennessee, have passed laws or are expected to pass laws introducing remote notarization in the next year as well.

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According to Nancy G. Pratt, Vice President Partner Relations & Government Affairs for Pavaso, the addition of RON to Digital Close will empower users to notarize documents (where allowed by law) electronically and online—even when physically separated from the signer of the documents. The feature provides convenience to all parties without having to forego the use of experienced closing agents. Pavaso’s RON tool provides a faster, easier connection process for consumers as well as instant access to a recording of the notarizations.

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“RON is yet another powerful indicator that times are changing in the mortgage and settlement industries,” said Pratt. “Consumers are demanding more flexibility in choices – it’s no longer just a wish for flexibility in choices —they demand them. Pavaso’s unveiling of RON ensures that the consumer will now be able to experience the convenience, transparency and simplicity of a digital closing no matter where that consumer (or closing agent) might be situated.”

The Pavaso Digital Close platform delivers efficient, accurate closings by preventing errors at closing, including over signing, missed signatures and more. This, in turn, delivers a smooth, faster closing for consumers while reducing costs for mortgage lenders. The collaborative platform brings title and lender documents together for digital signature and allows consumers access all documents anywhere, on any device, prior to closing. Pavaso’s Digital Close platform provides flexibility in closing by facilitating hybrid closings as well as complete eNote and eVault transactions.

About The Author

Tony Garritano

Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at tony@progressinlending.com.

May 2018 Sees Second Fewest Foreclosure Starts In 17 Years

Data from Black Knight showed that May saw the second fewest foreclosure starts in more than 17 years (only December 2017 had fewer…by about 500), and the number of loans in active foreclosure continues to fall. Just 303K mortgages are currently somewhere in the foreclosure process, a 15-year low. At the current rate of improvement, foreclosure activity will be back at pre-crisis averages (2000-2005) early in Q3 of this year.

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Meanwhile, improvement continues among hurricane-affected mortgages. In fact, delinquency improvements in hurricane-affected areas more than offset slight increases seen elsewhere, bringing the national delinquency rate down to its lowest level in 15 months. All in, hurricane-related delinquencies fell by nearly 30K in May (-20%) with the highest rates of improvement in Irma-affected areas of Florida (-27%).

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Vendor Gets $20 Million Capital Investment

SimpleNexus, a vendor known for bringing the home mortgage process to mobile devices through their digital mortgage platform, raised $20 million in growth capital from Insight Venture Partners to accelerate continued growth and expansion.

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SimpleNexus provides a private-label digital mortgage platform and mobile app that connects mortgage lenders with borrowers and real estate agents, allowing all parties to easily exchange data and documents through the lifecycle of a mortgage loan. The online application is custom branded to the lending institution and includes individual pages for each loan officer to share.

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“Our unprecedented growth clearly demonstrates the leading role SimpleNexus occupies in the digital mortgage movement and an industry wide embrace of our mobile-first technology that is making the mortgage process more efficient,” stated Matt Hansen, SimpleNexus founder & CEO. Matt added, “As we historically have been self-funded, we know that this new partnership with Insight Venture Partners will catalyze our growth, and provide our executive team with the additional resources to drive market expansion.”

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SimpleNexus now has 15 of the top 25 retail mortgage lenders in the US using its enterprise digital mortgage platform.  Over $100 billion in transactions have flowed through the platform, and over 450,000 borrowers have used the SimpleNexus app.

“In the mortgage industry – and across financial services more broadly – we continue to see acute needs for improving the customer experience, empowering agents on the front line, and streamlining processes to reduce costs on the back end,” said Paul Szurek, Vice President, Insight Venture Partners. “The impressive traction that SimpleNexus has gained in this marketplace is a testament to the immediate and lasting value their mobile tools deliver for loan originators and borrowers alike. We look forward to welcoming them to our portfolio and driving further growth for their best-in-class solutions.”

With SimpleNexus, a loan officer becomes a Mobile Originator™. Through its smartphone app, loan officers are able to view new loan applications instantly, pull and view credit reports, run live pricing scenarios via Optimal Blue, see a live CRM feed and send pre-approval letters—all of this from the palm of their hand, as the app connects real-time with their LOS.

“Rather than replace the role of the loan officer, our custom digital solutions improve the borrower experience by cultivating the human to human interaction, which remains a core focus of SimpleNexus as we develop technology to support loan officers,” said Joe Wilson, SimpleNexus Chief Marketing Officer.

About The Author

Tony Garritano

Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at tony@progressinlending.com.

Mobile Property Inspection Technology Emerges

Accurate Group, a provider of technology-driven real estate appraisal, title data, analytics and e-closing solutions, today announced the next-gen release of its market-leading mobile app for property inspections. The GroundWorks app is the first of its kind in the industry, combining a crowdsourcing model, localized expertise and mobile technology to accelerate the delivery of more accurate interior and exterior property condition reports.

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The application connects Accurate Group’s nationwide network of pre-screened real estate property inspectors with lenders and servicers requesting property inspections. The app empowers inspectors with the ability to review, accept and respond to requests for property condition reports from any iOS or Android mobile device. Property inspectors in the GroundWorks network benefit from more business and a robust set of mobile tools for creating and delivering accurate property condition reports.

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Banks, mortgage lenders, loan servicers and credit unions benefit from faster turnaround on property inspection requests, plus the increased accuracy and insight that only a local, on-the-ground property inspector can deliver.

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The app enables local property inspectors to respond to incoming requests for property condition reports, use built-in GPS technology to pinpoint property location and leverage integrated camera support and sketch tools to capture property details. The app also allows inspectors to instantly capture relevant property specifications – essentially building the property condition report in real-time, all with the GroundWorks app. This ensures timely, accurate details are captured and delivered.

“Real estate lenders and servicers are always looking for ways to lower the cost per loan without sacrificing quality, accuracy and compliance. Accurate Group is leading the industry by applying the latest technologies – mobile, crowdsourcing, automation – to accelerate and improve appraisal management and valuation processes,” stated Scott Waxman, chief appraiser and president of Accurate Group’s ValueNet and GroundWorks divisions. “GroundWorks is changing the game in the real estate industry – we’re raising the bar on both interior and exterior property inspection turnaround times and delivering the level of accuracy that only local, on-the-ground expertise can deliver.”

Olympia Federal Savings Expands Construction Lending

Olympia Federal Savings has chosen Built Technologies to bring their construction loan administration to the digital age. Oly Fed is known for providing modern online banking and innovative lending programs, and is migrating their manual construction loan process to Built’s online platform for real-time collaboration, faster disbursements, risk mitigation and more efficient processing.

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Oly Fed customers can apply for construction loans online and monitor the project inspection and draw process with a digital, consistent experience. They can request draws easily, schedule inspections with a few clicks, and see the key performance metrics of their loan with intelligent reporting. The technology is a win-win for customers and Oly Fed staff, since it also dramatically reduces the manual labor involved in traditional construction loan administration.

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“The transition to a digital construction lending experience gives us the ability to provide even more customers with personal service,” said Richard Pitts, EVP, Chief Lending Officer of Oly Fed. “There is increased demand for these loans and modern financial technology gives us the ability to serve our community even better than before.”

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“We’re excited to welcome Olympia Federal Savings”, said Chase Gilbert, CEO of Built. “With their 110-year history and status as a leading portfolio lender, it’s a great compliment to be chosen as part of their customer service mission.”

Survey Finds That 59% Of Respondents Do Not Have A Fully Comprehensive Vendor Management Program

Vendorly polled banking and mortgage professionals on their organizations’ vendor management processes, challenges and technology capabilities. According to the study, there is a need for the implementation and enhancement of vendor management programs within the banking and mortgage industry. Three in five respondents (59 percent) said their organization does not have a fully comprehensive vendor management program in place. Of those respondents, one-third (33 percent) said their organization’s vendor management program needs improvement.

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Vendor Management Staffing Conditions and the Need for Improved Operations

When asked about the biggest challenge their organization faces within vendor management, more than one-third (36 percent) of respondents identified employee capacity to handle workload or vendor management as the greatest challenge. It is not surprising that the biggest vendor management challenge may depend on the size of the company’s vendor management team. Among survey respondents, 40 percent said their organization has three or more full-time employees dedicated to their vendor management program with 39 percent stating they have less than three.

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Nearly half of respondents (44 percent) said their organization is responsible for managing at least 100 vendors. With this volume of vendors to manage, it is no surprise that the second biggest challenge cited by professionals was knowing who their vendors are and tracking them (27 percent). Vendor inventory size and management may also influence reporting frequency. When asked how often their organization monitors and assesses vendor performance, 30 percent of respondents said annually.

The Growing Importance of Technology for Efficiency and Enhancing Vendor Management Processes

The need and desire for proper technology is evident among those surveyed. Nearly half (47 percent) said their organization does not have a technology solution in place to help manage vendors. A large majority (90 percent) believe technology would positively impact their vendor management program and process. Of those respondents, more than half (59 percent) said automation would help increase the efficiency of their program, 41 percent said technology would improve reporting capabilities to executive management and regulators, and 36 percent said it would improve effectiveness of vendor management by mitigating vendor risks.

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“The importance of technology to drive efficiency, increase due diligence and further improve an organization’s vendor oversight processes is becoming a realization for many,” said Jim Vaca, Senior Vice President, Vendorly. “However, as the survey results show, even though many have identified the need for a vendor management solution, a surprising number have yet to adopt or implement the technology. Our solutions allow for financial institutions to move away from historic and inefficient vendor management processes and transition toward a multifaceted vendor oversight program to help them achieve more efficient management of the process using much less human capital than otherwise would have been required without our technology.”

About The Author

Tony Garritano

Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at tony@progressinlending.com.

Black Knight Looks To Revolutionize Mortgage Servicing

Black Knight, Inc. has introduced LoanSphere Servicing Digital, a powerful and innovative new solution to help mortgage servicers deepen customer relationships and increase retention. LoanSphere Servicing Digital delivers detailed, timely and highly personalized information to customers about the value of their homes and how much wealth can be built from these real estate assets. A consumer-centric solution, this interactive tool gives customers the ability to easily perform tasks and find information related to their mortgages, while providing a platform for continual engagement between servicers and their customers.

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“Our goal with LoanSphere Servicing Digital is to give our servicing clients an engaging, consumer-centric tool for customer retention,” said Anthony Jabbour, CEO of Black Knight. “For many people, a house is the single greatest asset they’ll ever own. With that in mind, and employing a ‘design thinking’ approach, we’ve developed a solution that lets our clients provide their customers with ongoing, detailed information about their loans and homes, as well as the tools to help manage the wealth they have built in their homes.”

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Offering useful information specific to a customer’s mortgage, property and local housing market, LoanSphere Servicing Digital gives customers the tools to make more informed financial decisions related to their homes. In delivering this information, Black Knight draws upon the servicer’s data via the company’s comprehensive, end-to-end LoanSphere MSP system, as well as Black Knight’s industry-leading property records database; advanced analytics; and automated valuation models. The app – which features loan, home and neighborhood dashboards – presents information in a clear, intuitive design, with easy-to-use navigation that has been built for and tested by consumers.

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“Increasing engagement and providing tools that add value are key to deepening the servicer-customer relationship,” said Joe Nackashi, president of Black Knight. “By providing anytime, anywhere access to an array of customer-specific information and functionality, LoanSphere Servicing Digital enhances the consumer’s servicing experience and adds value on an ongoing basis, which results in higher retention rates.”

LoanSphere Servicing Digital provides customers with easy access to specific information about their mortgages, such as type of loan, interest rate and estimated PMI drop date. It allows mortgage customers to make payments, view detailed payment history and perform other self-service functions within the application. Customers can also explore various “what-if” scenarios, including options for building equity more quickly or the relative benefits of paying down or refinancing their loan. In addition, LoanSphere Servicing Digital provides up-to-date and valuable neighborhood information, such as recent sales, local school data and demographics, as well as transaction and lien history on the property.

The white-labeled solution can be branded to match the servicer’s brand identity, and will be offered as both a native mobile app and responsive web design. By providing loan and home information to customers wherever they are, when they need it most, LoanSphere Servicing Digital helps servicers regularly engage customers with insightful, value-add information that enhances the borrower relationship and supports customers’ financial well-being.

About The Author

Tony Garritano

Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at tony@progressinlending.com.