Posts

Gain One-Click Access To Improving Borrower Credit Profiles

Beta Music Group Inc. through its operating subsidiary Get Credit Healthy, Inc., a FinTech platform that provides independent mortgage originators with credit resources, education, data intelligence and lead recovery has partnered with ARIVE, a platform that offers the first of its kind mortgage marketplace designed to allow independent mortgage originators access to lenders, borrowers, and third-party vendors in a seamless ecosystem.


Featured Sponsors:

 


Through a partnership with AIME, the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts, ARIVE will provide independent originators with the connections and tools to both compete in a crowded marketplace and serve increasingly tech-savvy borrowers nationwide.  Lenders and third-party providers want to make it easy for their customers, and AIME is over 35,000 strong. 


Featured Sponsors:

 


ARIVE has multi-year contracts with a network of more than 20 wholesale lenders. That includes five of the top ten wholesale lenders in the country: United Wholesale Mortgage (#1), Caliber Home Loans (#2), Stearns Lending (#3), Flagstar Bank (#7) and Home Point Financial (#8). Combined, these lenders make up nearly half of wholesale market share. Top Renovation Lender AFR Wholesale, Reverse Lender Finance of America Mortgage, and Paramount Residential Mortgage Group (PRMG) are among the additional 20 wholesale lenders connecting to ARIVE.


Featured Sponsors:

 


Elizabeth Karwowski, CEO, stated, ” We are extremely excited to partner with ARIVE to deliver one-click access to a host of credit services and solutions to assist the ever growing number of Independent Mortgage Originators on the ARIVE platform”


Featured Sponsors:

 


Today’s fiercely competitive financial services market challenges originators like never before. Heightened pressure to create new loan opportunities, reduce prospect lead fallout, and provide better pipeline visibility poses a significant burden on independent mortgage originators.

To thrive under these market conditions requires a revolutionary new solution that transforms a currently untapped market into a well-qualified, well-informed applicant pool. Get Credit Healthy converts fallout into funded, helping independent mortgage originators close more loans while providing them with a significant competitive advantage. ARIVE, LLC., is a private technology company based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Conceived as an engine to drive mortgage technology into the future, ARIVE offers the first of its kind mortgage marketplace designed to allow independent mortgage originators access to lenders, borrowers, and third-party vendors in a seamless ecosystem.

New Compliance Trends

The United States has made great strides towards equality in many aspects of life since the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. The housing industry, though, is one area in which we as a country have historically struggled to achieve the desired results. Congress passed two key pieces of legislation aimed at leveling the playing field in the industry. The Fair Housing Act was passed as part of the broader Civil Rights Act in 1968. This law made it illegal for banks to discriminate on the basis of race when evaluating mortgage applicants. Prior to its passage minorities were often unable to obtain loans from most banks, as systematic discrimination was commonplace. 


Featured Sponsors:

 


Although the Fair Housing Act illegalized overt racial discrimination, it did little to resolve the disparate impact of some other common lending practices. Many banks began to engage in what is known as “redlining” in what they designated as high-risk lending areas.  The practice of redlining is exactly what it sounds like: banks would literally draw a red line around certain areas of states or cities and refuse to lend to people in those areas. Those redlined areas tended to be home to very low to moderate income individuals and families and, more often than not, those neighborhoods were occupied predominantly by minorities. 


Featured Sponsors:

 


Lending institutions abolished their explicitly discriminatory lending policies, but the racial discrimination that the Fair Housing Act was enacted to prevent was still taking place under the guise of risk-based lending. In response, Congress enacted the Community Reinvestment Act in 1977, which not only made redlining illegal, but compelled banks to lend and invest in those low to moderate income communities and neighborhoods. Although the law was enacted with the greatest of intentions, it has proven to be woefully inefficient in narrowing the housing gap for low to moderate income families, specifically minorities. Furthermore, many lending institutions struggle when trying to internally evaluate performance ahead of regulatory reviews because of the lack of definitive guidelines and frequent implementation of revisions.  


Featured Sponsors:

 


The CRA Tests

Every FDIC insured bank is responsible for meeting requirements promulgated by the Community Reinvestment Act and is subject to review from regulatory agencies. As discussed above, the goal of the Act is to help low to moderate income Americans and traditionally underserved communities. The definition of “low to moderate income” varies based upon the geographic regions in which institutions operate, as they fluctuate based upon average income for those specific areas. In areas with high costs of living and higher average incomes (such as New York), the poverty line is higher than it would be in areas with lower average income and cost of living (such as Wichita, Kansas).


Featured Sponsors:

 


The region in which the lending institutions operate is not the only variable that affecs lenders’ scope of responsibility under the CRA. The size of the institution also dictates the stringency of the requirements to which they are subject. The larger the institution (the greater the assets) the more resources it must devote to meeting the three compliance tests. Those tests are: 1) the Lending Test; 2) the Investment Test; and 3) the Service Test. For each test, regulators will give scores of “Outstanding”, “Satisfactory”, “Needs to Improve”, and “Substantial Noncompliance”, and then will give an overall score to denote the institution’s level of general compliance. In this section we will discuss what regulators look at for each test. 

The Lending Test is the most straightforward of the three. When evaluating compliance, regulatory bodies look at the dollar value of loan to deposit ratios for the institutions’ low to moderate income clients. The higher the dollar value of loans to total deposits, the higher the score will be given to the institution being evaluated. One of the most common problems many lending institutions face when it comes to CRA compliance is the lack of definitive guidelines regarding grading thresholds for the three tests. Most lenders are able to develop compliance targets internally based upon past experience, but are always on edge due to the uncertainty about which rubrics regulatory agencies employ when evaluating performance. Although there is no bright-line test, Kenneth H. Thomas, president of Miami-based Community Development Fund Advisors, and former lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, has formulated his own thresholds based upon his extensive experience in the industry. He surmised that in order for an entity to achieve a score of “Outstanding” on the lending test, it must have a loan to deposit ratio of at least 80%. 

The second test that lending institutions must pass is the Investment Test. This test looks at the qualified investments that are made in low to moderate income service areas. This test, however, doesn’t simply look at the dollar value of the investments. Although the amount of investment is important when evaluating compliance under this test, regulatory agencies look deeper in order to ensure that the investments are impacting these communities in a meaningful way. Regulators judge the innovativeness and complexity of each investment to encourage investors to thing about novel ways to remedy problems that have traditionally plagued these communities. Lenders are also required to make investments that are responsive to the development needs of these communities. Because adversity faced by beneficiaries of this law vary widely in each geographic area, there cannot be a “one size fits all” method of investing. Regulators want investors to seriously consider the needs of each community in which they invest. Again, although there are no definitive guidelines regarding how much is enough, Thomas suggests that in order to achieve an “Outstanding” rating, lenders should looks to invest 1% of review period assets. 

The last test under which lenders are evaluated is the Service Test. This test looks at the type and number of retail and community development services that banks provide to each low to moderate income service area. Like the Investment Test, this test doesn’t just the number of services into account. Lenders must provide services that are innovative and responsive to the needs of each community in which they are offered. From his experience, Thomas recommends that lenders who wish to attain an Outstanding score must offer 12 services per year per billion dollars in assets.

Despite numerous regulatory bodies and agencies offering overviews and some guidance regarding compliance with CRA requirements, many lenders are still in the dark about what they need to do to receive Outstanding scores because of the lack of definitive compliance standards. Approximately 90 percent of lenders were given an overall grade of satisfactory, while less than 10 percent were able to attain Outstanding marks. These statistics prove that despite devoting significant time and resources to CRA compliance, lenders still struggle with implementing programs that unequivocally meet regulatory standards. 

CRA Compliance Efficacy

When compiling a CRA requirement plan, lenders should seek to implement programs that will not only help the community, but will empower those who the CRA aims to help to become homeowners. For instance, many low to moderate income consumers struggle with credit. There is a demonstrable need for services that provide credit education and remediation in those communities. Many lenders have already begun to partner with non-profit entities that provide these types of services for applicants who do not have the necessary credit scores to qualify for the financial products that they seek. If those same lenders partnered with non-profits to provide those same services at no cost to low to moderate income communities that they serve, it would help them meet the requirements of not one, but two CRA tests. Funding a credit remediation program such as the one described above would obviously sere to help meet the requirements under the Service Test. However, once those low to moderate income households or individuals build their credit profile, they could qualify for mortgages or various other financial products, which would help that same lender meet Lending Test requirements as well. Lenders should begin thinking creatively an order to make strategic to investments to ensure that they are positioned to receive some type of benefit from the resources they are already devoting to community development. 

About The Author

Explaining Credit Score Models

This article will provide a brief overview of different credit scoring models, the differences between actual and simulated credit scores, and the importance of knowing your actual consumer credit scores. 

FICO v. Vantage

Your FICO score is a score that is meant to evaluate creditworthiness. It is promulgated by Fair Isaac Corporation and was first utilized by lenders in 1989.  Your FICO score is calculated based upon the following five factors: 1) Payment history, 2) Credit utilization ratio, 3) Length of credit history, 4) New credit accounts, and 5) Credit mix. 


Featured Sponsors:

 


In 2006, to compete with FICO, the three major credit bureaus developed the Vantage scoring model. This model calculates credit scores using some of the same factors as FICO, but also incorporates some additional information. The Vantage factors include: 1) Payment history, 2) Credit age and mix, 3) Credit utilization, 4) Balances, 5) Recent credit applications, and 6) Available credit. Although Vantage has been making a push in recent years, FICO scores remain the industry standard across various financial sectors for evaluating consumer credit worthiness.  

Actual v. Simulated

It is important to note the difference between actual credit scores and simulated credit scores. There are many websites, such as Credit Karma, that purport to provide consumer credit scores for free. However, consumers should be weary of putting too much credence or relying too heavily on those scores.  A simulated score is calculated based upon actual information in a consumer credit report, but it may not necessarily reflect your true credit score, which is promulgated by the FICO or Vantage models. There are many instances in which consumers review their simulated scores prior to applying for loan or other financial product, only to find out later that they do not qualify because their actual score is lower than the simulated score. 


Featured Sponsors:

 


Importance of Getting Actual FICO Score

According to FICO, 90 percent of “top” US lenders use FICO scores when evaluating the credit worthiness of applicants. As the predominant scoring model in the US, consumer FICO scores will, more often than not, determine whether a consumer will qualify for the loan or financial product for which he or she is applying. It is imperative that consumers keep this at the forefront of their minds when devising a strategy or making a decision about when and whether they should apply for a mortgage or a car loan. 


Featured Sponsors:

 


Whenever a consumer applies for financing, and the potential lender makes a hard inquiry (pulls the consumer’s credit), that consumer’s credit score is negatively impacted, and will decrease as a result of that inquiry. If a consumer believes that he or she will qualify based upon the simulated score, but is later denied, their credit score will take a hit unnecessarily. Because of the deleterious effect that hard credit inquiries have on a consumer’s credit profile, it is imperative that consumers know their actual credit score prior to applying for loans. There are companies that offer monthly subscriptions which include actual consumer FICO scores that are updated monthly. This type of service is invaluable for those who are serious about achieving and maintain credit health, and eliminating any guesswork when applying for loans.


Featured Sponsors:

 


About The Author

Be A Hero, Outmaneuver, Outperform, Outlast

One of the most common concerns weighing on loan officers across the country is the rising cost of lead acquisition in the face of a steady decline in mortgage applications. An increase in home prices across the market is taking its toll on the number of consumers actively applying for a mortgage. According to reports released by the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage applications have fallen a staggering 17 percent from only a year ago, and experts surmise that the rising purchase prices are playing a major role. To compound the problem, refinancing applications have also continued to trend downward, and are the lowest they’ve been since the end of 2000. When you combine these statistics with the ever-increasing cost of origination, it paints a bleak picture for lenders and loan officers. 


Featured Sponsors:

 


The question has now become, “how can lenders weather these arduous trends to outmaneuver, outperform, and outlast the competition?” Because the number of applications is down, overall, one of the best available solutions is forming of strategic partnerships that will allow lenders to wring all possible value out of those leads that are available by increasing the rate and percentage of conversion. I know this sounds much easier said than done, but if lenders are able to step back to gain some perspective regarding why their leads are failing to transition into successful applications, the problem becomes much easier to solve. 


Featured Sponsors:

 


Subpar credit scores are one of the leading hindrances to being approved for a mortgage. According to a 2016 study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, more than one-third of Americans have a credit score below 620. Even more alarming, the CFPB published a study in 2015 that found in addition to those with poor credit, there are another 45 million adults who are either un-scoreable or who do not have a credit score. Because the number of applications is down, in general, its is now more important than ever to find creative ways to overcome a low credit score for those applicants who would otherwise qualify for a loan.


Featured Sponsors:

 


We are beginning to see the emergence of non-profits that specialize in credit remediation and rehabilitation. Those third-party rehabilitation companies provide services to consumers at no cost to the lenders. This allows those lenders to steer their potential clients toward the assistance that they need to qualify without expending any additional resources, rather than the alternative of simply rejecting potential business. Those lenders who are able to stretch their dollar the furthest by making the most of the leads that they do receive, are the ones who will enjoy the most success in this market and live to see the day when it starts trending in a more favorable direction.

About The Author

Decrease Your Loan Fallout

There are several market conditions at play that make it harder for lenders to reduce their fallout, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Get Credit Healthy is a leading Fintech company that provides an award-winning technology platform that delivers a proven methodology to maximize business opportunities for Lenders, Financial Advisors, Municipalities and Consumers. At Get Credit Healthy the company’s highly skilled staff of business opportunity experts help create millions in new loan opportunities for lender partners. Get Credit Healthy is a disruptive and award winning platform that transforms a currently untapped market into a well-qualified, well-informed applicant pool that desires and more importantly, qualifies for the financial products offered in the market today.

Get Credit Healthy is an organization that provides consumers with the tools and resources they need to eliminate debt, build credit, and make sound financial decisions. Unlike similar companies that only treat symptoms, Get Credit Healthy operates under the philosophy that the only way to break individual and systemic cycles of poverty is to treat root causes of financial difficulties. The company believes that the only way to truly help consumers become financially healthy is to educate and change their behavioral and mental approach to their financial health.

Get Credit Healthy allows consumers to physically see how their decisions and actions impact their financial well-being, while also providing a practical education. In addition to coaching, the consumer also has access to a plethora of resources such as webinars, live telephonic sessions with credit specialists, and interactive educational materials. The company’s CEO Elizabeth Karwowski discussed how she sees the mortgage market evolving here…


Featured Sponsors:

 


Q: Today’s housing market is drastically different from the market of just 10 years ago. In your opinion, what are some of the biggest challenges that lenders are facing today?

ELIZABETH KARWOWSKI:That’s a great question because you can’t really begin to formulate and fine-tune business strategies until you are able to understand difficulties common to most lenders in today’s market. Business development has always been a challenge; if it was easy, everyone could do it. However, it is becoming much harder to generate quality leads. Every day we are seeing a greater shift from a refinance market to a purchase market. Many loan officers who are accustomed to generating new streams of revenue, in house, are now having to start from scratch when trying to attract new sources of business. Lenders are being forced to devote more time and resources, pecuniary and otherwise, to lead generation. Another major concern for many of the loan officers is the rising cost of lead acquisition. Quality leads are becoming harder and harder to come by, and the demand is driving the price up. When you couple this extra cost with another major problem, the lack of qualified applicants, the cost of origination increases such that it has become a barrier to entry for fledgling companies looking to establish a foothold in the contemporary marketplace.

Q:You raised some very interesting points, especially with regard to the shift to a purchase market. Could you expand a little more on why that shift is so significant to lenders?

ELIZABETH KARWOWSKI:Of course. It’s always easier to generate business from sources or people with which you or your organization has established a relationship or rapport. Logic would also dictate that a consumer with which your organization had a successful, prior business relationship has a higher percentage chance qualifying for the financial products that you’re offering than someone else chosen at random. What we are seeing now, is that many lenders must, increasingly, rely on third party sources for leads that are often proving to be of lower quality. I think this can be attributed to the changing paradigm regarding home ownership. What used to be known as the “American Dream” of owning your own home, no longer resonates with the younger generation which, traditionally, would have made home ownership a top priority. Many of the potential first time home buyers who are applying for mortgages are at a stage later in life where previous financial difficulties and low credit prevented them from purchasing a home. Some of these people were able to overcome those financial hurdles, but many are not equipped with the resources or financial IQ to put themselves in position to qualify for a mortgage. Lenders are becoming frustrated because the applicants that are willing do not qualify, and those consumers who do qualify are not willing.


Featured Sponsors:

 


Q: That makes a lot of sense, and it’s unfortunate that younger generations do not place more value on home ownership. You did mention, however, that there are many consumers who still want to buy, but are not qualified. How does this affect the cost of lead acquisition?

ELIZABETH KARWOWSKI:Well, in this industry, credit scores that fall outside of qualifying ranges are one of the common challenges to the successful conversion of leads. Leads that look attractive because the applicant has decent income or other assets, are all too often coupled with disqualifying credit scores. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, more than one-third of all Americans have a FICO score of 620 or below. 

That number is staggeringly large, and has huge implications in terms of price per lead and the cost of origination. Many institutions are spending thousands of dollars, and in some cases tens of thousands of dollars, on leads every month. If one third of those leads have less than qualifying credit, then lenders have essentially payed 33 percent more than initially thought for the applicants who do have a qualifying score, with no guarantee they’ll otherwise qualify or ultimately opt for the product for which they applied. 

In an effort to remedy this problem, lenders have begun forming strategic partnerships with organizations that specialize in credit remediation and that are able to rehabilitate consumers’ credit profiles in order to get them qualified. These organizations often offer their services at no cost to the lenders, and provide an avenue through which those lenders are able to recapture leads that would have otherwise fallen by the wayside. This strategy allows lenders to drive the price per qualified lead, and overall cost of origination, down by providing a larger qualified applicant pool for the loan officers to work with. 

Q:That is an interesting statistic; I would not have guessed that many people are affected by poor credit. What are your thoughts on consumer credit health at a macro level?

ELIZABETH KARWOWSKI:Well, it is nowhere near as healthy as it could be. Although we are all aware of the credit system and how big of a role it plays in our daily lives, very few of us possess a critical understanding necessary to successfully navigate the credit landscape. Most people, through no fault of their own, simply lack the tools required for self-help. As I previously mentioned, 33 percent of all consumers have a score below 620, but what is even more alarming is that a study conducted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau revealed that over 45 million adults either do not have a credit score or are un-scorable. Think about that for a second. There are 300 million people in this country (that includes children), and 15 percent of them do not have a credit score. Those two statistics, alone, should be sufficiently indicative of the difficulties faced by lenders in today’s market.

To compound the problem, the reactionary measures taken by governmental bodies and financial institutions, themselves, after the 2008 recession have increased the grade of what was already an uphill battle for loan officers. In some cases, increased regulation was warranted but, in many others, consumers who would have qualified in the past because they were able to demonstrate that they had the means to meet their financial obligations are denied every day, irrespective of their actual ability to pay back those loans. This is because credit scores are now weighed so heavily. 

So, to answer your question, I think there is certainly room for improvement. Many of those Americans who find themselves in less than ideal circumstances as they pertain to credit lack the resources and tools necessary to improve their standing. With a little guidance, those consumers could take the remedial measures necessary to qualify for a mortgage or reach their other financial goals. 


Featured Sponsors:

 


Q:Well what types of resources or tools do those consumers need? If those consumers are able to improve their credit health, I’m sure it could create a lot of opportunity for lenders.

ELIZABETH KARWOWSKI:You’re absolutely right. That pool of unqualified applicants represents a wealth of potential business for lenders. The bottom line is that the credit system in this country, in terms of what decisions impact your credit both, positively and negatively, can be very difficult to comprehend for most people. The emphasis that is placed on consumer credit scores during the evaluation process is often what determines whether or not an applicant will be pre-approved. From personal experience, I have seen successful businessmen and women, with high paying jobs, denied for a mortgage because their credit was a mess. They could have easily afforded the payments on the mortgages for which they applied, but were denied solely because of their credit profiles. The reason I bring this up is to emphasize that credit is not just a problem for the impoverished, it affects all people of all socioeconomic classes, from all walks of life. 

The good news is that credit coaching and education can go a long way in helping those consumers rehabilitate their credit. The methods by which credit bureaus calculate credit scores are often counterintuitive and, without the proper guidance, many people unwittingly wind up hurting their scores when they attempt to improve them independently. An example that I like to use, and what I encounter constantly, is when a consumer tries to raise his or her credit score by paying off a delinquent account. Let’s say that there is a delinquent account on your credit report that has been there for several years. It’s perfectly rational to think that if you pay that debt off, you would raise your credit score; you owe someone money, you pay it, so your score should go up because you’re no longer indebted to that creditor. However, paying off that account, which has been dormant for several years, can have an absolutely devastating effect on your credit score. By making a payment, you essentially “reset the clock” on that debt and, in doing so, can drop your credit score anywhere between 50-100 points. 

Credit is analogous to fields like law or finance. If you’re not a lawyer or an accountant, you wouldn’t litigate a complex business case or perform a financial audit on your own company. Well, the same holds true for credit. In order for a consumer to improve his or her credit profile and credit score, he or she should engage a professional who is well versed in the field, and who is capable of accurately assessing a credit profile, and providing solutions that will actually result in positive changes to that profile. 

Q:Well if consumers shouldn’t be attempting to fix their own credit, is there anything lenders could do to help?

ELIZABETH KARWOWSKI:Of course. Lenders are uniquely positioned to help their prospective clients. Through their interaction with an applicant, a lender learns about that applicants’ goals, which products will allow that applicant to reach those goals, and what that applicant needs to become qualified for those products. As I mentioned before, if the lenders are able to form partnerships with organizations that specialize in this type of credit rehabilitation, they could steer their potential clients toward the guidance and resources needed to help that applicant become qualified for the lender’s financial products. Several of these organizations are not-for-profit and were established to help consumers, but lenders are quickly becoming indirect beneficiaries.  

Q: You’ve brought up these partnerships with credit remediation companies several times, but is there any reason that the lenders cannot help their applicants, themselves?

ELIZABETH KARWOWSKI:That’s a great question, and the answer is that there are several reasons that lenders should be weary of assisting consumers in-house. The most obvious reason that comes to mind is that most lenders would find themselves in violation of federal law, specifically, the Credit Repair Organizations Act, or CROA for short, if they began helping these consumers fix their scores in-house. 

CROA is a law that was promulgated to regulate the credit repair industry and sets forth requirements by which credit repair organizations must abide when performing credit repair services. When I bring this up to lenders, I usually get “but this is not a credit repair company” as a response. The issue is that by definition, any organization that provides advice to consumers about how to improve their credit, and stands to gain, financially, as a result of providing that advice is a “credit repair organization” under the law. What this means, in practical terms, is that if a loan officer provides advice to an applicant about how that applicant could raise his or her credit score in order to qualify for a loan, that advice, no matter how well-intentioned, could result in that company being classified as a credit repair organization. If that happened, that lender would then be required to meet all requirements under the law and could potentially be subject to unwanted and unintended liability, including lawsuits from both, consumers and the CFPB. 

Lenders may also lose their ability to pull credit as another unintended consequence of performing these services in-house. Many providers of independent verification services explicitly prohibit those businesses to which they provide services from engaging in credit repair. Because these types of prohibitions are commonplace across the industry, lenders could very likely run afoul of these covenants, which would obviously have devastating consequences.

Finally, by partnering with organizations that specialize in this field, lenders are able to free up time, money, and resources for business development and other areas of need. If those non-profits are providing services to consumers at no cost to lender, then it doesn’t make much sense for lenders to undertake this task themselves, especially in light of the aforementioned potential consequences that we just discussed. 

Q: If lenders are interested in forming these types of partnerships that you discussed, what are some attributes that they should look for in a potential partner?

ELIZABETH KARWOWSKI:First and foremost, lenders should do their homework to ensure that they only select organizations that have a proven track record and are actually capable of providing consumers the competent assistance that they need. Any partner should not only provide credit remediation services, it should be a full-service company that provides consumers with a wealth of resources such as credit education and one on one guidance to help ensure a successful outcome for the referred consumers. 

Lenders should also ensure that there are mechanisms in place so that the lender is able to monitor referrals’ progress. Everything should be measured to track results.  This will also allow the lender to keep in contact with the referral throughout the remediation process, and will make it easier for the lender to recapture the leads that they’ve referred once that lead reaches his or her goal and becomes qualified for the desired product. 

INSIDER PROFILE

Elizabeth Karwowski is the CEO of Get Credit Healthy, a technology company that has developed a proprietary process and solution, which seamlessly integrates with the lenders’ loan origination software (LOS) and customer relationship management software (CRM) in order to create new loan opportunity and recapture leads. Get Credit Healthy helped their partners create over $200M of new loan opportunities in 2017 alone, and plan on continued growth in 2018. As a recognized credit expert, Elizabeth has been featured on NBC and Fox News, and published in a number of financial industry publications.

INDUSTRY PREDICTIONS

Elizabeth Karwowski thinks:

1. Competition is not going away in the mortgage industry. Lenders will continue to see rising cost to acquire leads causing margin compression.

2. The large amount of information on credit is not shrinking, it’s just making it even more confusing. Did you know some credit score models now go to 990? What happened to 850? Consumers are overwhelmed. We have not made the process to educate consumers EASY, digital, or interact.

3. Lenders will continue to spend large amounts of money to meet their CRA (Community Reinvestment Act) requirements if they don’t change the way they do things. Need to leverage technology and find ways to tap into different pool of people without spending a fortune.

Regina Lowrie Joins Advisory Board

Beta Music Group, Inc. (OTC Pink: BEMG) has appointed Regina Lowrie, former chairwoman of the Mortgage Bankers Association, to its operating subsidiary, Get Credit Healthy, Inc.’s, Advisory Board. Get Credit Healthy utilizes its proprietary processes, platform, and software to integrate with lenders to make it easier to recapture leads. Ms. Lowrie will provide advice and guidance with regard to current trends and best practices in the mortgage banking industry and will play an integral role in the development of novel business opportunities.


Featured Sponsors:

 

 


Lowrie is President and CEO of RML Investments Inc., d/b/a RML Advisors (www.rmladvisors.com) headquartered in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.  RML Advisors serves the financial services community as an independent advisor and consultant.  Prior to founding RML Advisors, Ms. Lowrie was President of Vision Mortgage Capital, a division of Continental Bank, and Senior Vice President of Continental Bank.  Previous to Vision Mortgage Capital, Ms. Lowrie was Founder/Chief Executive Officer of Gateway Funding Diversified Mortgage Services 1994-2006, a $3.2 Billion Mortgage Banker.


Featured Sponsors:

 


Lowrie is currently on the Board of Directors of Cherry Hill Mortgage Investment Corporation (www.chmireit.com) as an Independent Director (NYSE “CHMI”); Board of Directors of The Union League of Philadelphia  Regina served for 13 years on Montgomery County Community College Board of Trustees, Foundation Board and Treasurer and 10 years on  Gwynedd-Mercy Board of Trustees, Finance and Audit Committee.  She was the first woman Chairman of the National Mortgage Bankers Association (https://www.mba.org/) in 2005 and continues to serve on many committees.  Regina has also testified before Congress on public policy to include GSE Reform and has served as an expert witness for the financial services industry.  She attended the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flager Business School and is a Certified Mortgage Banker.


Featured Sponsors:

 


“Virtually every home purchase transaction involves credit-based financing.  Errors are a frequent occurrence on a credit file.  That becomes a major issue for many consumers, particularly millennials with student debt who seem to have few choices for favorable loan terms. GCH is uniquely positioned to help the myriad of disenfranchised credit consumers get appropriately favorable credit terms.  I’m delighted to join the GCH Advisory Board and support proactive improvements to the consumer credit marketplace” stated Regina Lowrie, Board Advisor of BEMG

Lowrie’s numerous accomplishments, include:

  • President and Founder, Gateway Funding Diversified Mortgage Services – 1994
  • Founder, President and CEO, RML Investments Inc., 1994 RML Advisors
  • President, Mortgage Bankers Association of Greater Philadelphia – 1995
  • Pennsylvania’s “Best 50 Women in Business” – 2000
  • Burton L. Wood Legislative Award – 2001
  • Chairman, MBA Residential/Single – Family Board of Governors (RESBOG) – 2002
  • Certified Mortgage Banker (CMB Designation) – 2005
  • Chairman, National Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) – 2005
  • Women of Distinction Award, Philadelphia Business Journal and National Association of Women Business Owners – 2006
  • MBA Mortgage Banking Leading Industry Women Honoree – 2013
  • Montgomery County Community College Leading Women of the Year – 2014
  • Trustee of the Year, American Association for Women in Community Colleges (AAWCC) – 2014
  • Leading Women in Philanthropy – 2014

BEMG, through its operating subsidiary Get Credit Healthy, utilizes its proprietary processes, platform, and software to integrate with lenders to make it easier to recapture leads. Developed for and by those with extensive experience in the mortgage industry, Get Credit Healthy’s platform has already facilitated over $200 million in new loan opportunity for its partners.

Generate Revenue While Serving The Underserved


Featured Sponsors:

 


We, as a country, have made huge strides since the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. The U.S. luckily came to the realization that all of its citizens, regardless of race, must have the opportunity to succeed in every facet of life if our country was to succeed as a whole. The disparity in minority homeownership and access to capital for that purpose came to the forefront of the national discussion, which prompted Congress to pass the Fair Housing Act as part of the broader Civil Right Act in 1968. Despite this crucial piece of legislation, it was discovered that banks were engaging in a practice called redlining, which essentially identified low to moderate income neighborhoods and refused to make loans to any residents of the residents therein. This obviously had a disparate impact on minorities who made up the majority of residents in these low to moderate income areas. To combat this practice, the Community Reinvestment Act was signed into law in 1977 which required banks to ensure that all communities that they served were afforded equal access to capital. 


Featured Sponsors:

 


Despite these regulations, the debate about access to housing for minorities, and the home ownership divide still rages today. Unfortunately, a very large gap still exists between white and minority homeownership despite the concerted effort to remedy the issue. The Urban Institute presented data analyzed by the American Community Survey from the 100 cities with the largest number of black households. Its analysis found that Minneapolis, Minnesota had the largest disparity where the white homeownership rate was 74.8 percent compared to a black homeownership rate of just 24.8 percent; a 50 percent gap. The smallest disparity was observed in Killeen, Texas where the rates of white and black homeownership were 63 percent and 48.5 percent, respectively; a 14.5 percent gap. According to the US Census Bureau, the overall homeownership rate for black households across the country has reached a 50 year low of 41.7 percent. Our country has not seen homeownership rates this low in black communities since before the enactment of the Fair Housing Act, when it was still legal to discriminate on the basis of race. 


Featured Sponsors:

 


Hispanic homeownership rates, although slightly higher, still pale in comparison to the national average. According to the US Census Bureau, the Hispanic homeownership rate was at 46.2 percent as of 2017, 17.7 percentage points lower than the overall national average of 63.9 percent. Freddy Mac released a report entitled “Will the Hispanic Homeownership Gap Persist” in which it estimates that Hispanics will close the gap with white homeownership rates by 5.1 percentage points by 2035. However, it bases this projection on past immigration patterns which, in this day and age, are far from certain to repeat themselves. 

Many experts believe that the housing bubble and subsequent 2008 recession is the number one contributing factor to the current gap in homeownership. Although the recession impacted all Americans negatively, regardless of demographic, it had a disproportionate impact on minorities who purchased homes at much higher rates during the height of the market. Furthermore, many minority borrowers were steered toward subprime loans despite the availability of other financing options, which resulted in several banks settling for millions of dollars with the Justice Department. 

Although the effects of the recession still affect the vast majority of Americans, they are amplified within minority groups in terms of the lingering damage to their credit. The credit profiles for the majority of those individuals who were able to obtain a mortgage just prior the recession have been scarred by foreclosures and, in many instances, crippling credit card debt incurred in the aftermath to cover necessities. Because these factors can affect credit scores for years, without assistance, the future looks bleak for many of these past borrowers.

Minority credit issues, however, aren’t just limited to those individuals who were directly affected by the housing crisis. The Urban Institute reported that in 2013 only 41 percent of Hispanics and 33 percent of black Americans had credit scores over 720 compared to 64 percent of white borrowers. Minority groups, specifically those who are black or Hispanic, are often plagued by lower credit scores because of the methods by which various scoring models generate credit scores. The CFPB found that minority populations are more likely to be credit invisible because they are less likely to have traditional sources of credit such as loans and credit cards. One solution proposed by Experian in a 2015 white paper entitled “Let there Be Light”, was to incorporate utility bill payments into the credit analysis. The white paper estimated that the inclusion of this data could reduce the number of subprime borrowers by as much as 47 percent. Until alternative metrics are devised to take these extenuating circumstances into account, however, leaders in the housing industry must work to find solutions to bridge the homeownership gap.

Many financial institutions are required by law to provide loans and extend credit to those individuals in low to moderate income communities, but they must do so in a manner consistent with safe and sound operation. Although the spirit of the law is meant to help those populations that are traditionally underserved,  many have argued that it is becoming increasingly difficult to lend in those areas because of the numerous factors discussed above. Many low to moderate income individuals, specifically minorities, do not have the necessary credit profile to qualify for the loans for which they apply. This often puts financial institutions in a bind. Although they are ready and willing to lend to qualified borrowers in those communities, precautions must be taken to safeguard the operation of their business. 

Fortunately for banks and other lenders, there may be a way to not only assist those minority groups and lower income individuals who need it the most, but generate significant revenue by tapping into a market that would have otherwise been inaccessible. The solution is to partner with not for profit companies that provide consumers with credit remediation services in addition to other resources such as coaching and education. When choosing a partner, banks and lenders should ensure that their potential borrowers have access to educational resources which will enable them to understand ramifications of their financial decisions. Doing so will ensure responsible borrowing in the future, which will help consumers and lenders, alike.

It is also imperative that any potential partner have mechanisms in place to track, monitor, and measure progress and results. Doing so will ensure the generation of data that can be studied to evaluate efficiency and the impact on those minority and low to moderate income communities. Those metrics can then be utilized by governmental and regulatory bodies to decide how best to solve the problems faced by those communities going forward. 

If key players in this sector are able to adopt and implement programs to help bridge the housing gap and raise the rates of minority homeownership, the industry as a whole will reap the benefits of a more robust market. There are an estimated 43 million black Americans in the U.S. and Hispanics, who are the fastest growing demographic, make up 18 percent of the population. These two groups represent billions of dollars in potential new loan opportunity. The only logical solution is to get these groups the assistance that they need in order to help eliminate any disparity while simultaneously to strengthening the housing market and our economy as a whole. 

About The Author

Perfecting The Borrower Experience Is All The Rage

As the industry is securely in a purchase market, improving the borrower experience is a key differentiator for lenders looking to close more loans. Prominent mortgage industry executives gathered in Washington, DC at the 8th Annual PROGRESS in Lending ENGAGE Event sponsored by Get Credit Healthy, QuestSoft and Optimal Blue, to really drill down on this industry trend. How can lenders offer a better borrower experience? Here’s what was said:

In talking about other companies outside of mortgage that do it right, Denis Brosnan, CEO at DIMONT, said, “My Dad is Amazon’s best friend. So, when people in this industry say that older folks won’t do things online, they’re wrong. What people don’t want is to call a call center. The biggest thing is to reach out to people. You need to be a professional advisor.”

Featured Sponsors:

 

 

“When you think about the customer experience, you really need to white board and draft out the entire process first,” noted Elizabeth Karwowski, CEO at Get Credit Healthy. “From there you need to ask what else can you be doing to get the borrower more engaged. Bring in other folks from outside the industry to give their perspective. We have to create a better journey for the borrower.”

Featured Sponsors:

 

“Borrowers are with you for 30 days, but LOs are with you for life,” added Joe Wilson, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at SimpleNexus. “We need to ask: How can LOs create a better experience for borrowers? You have to enable LOs and others within your organization to think more about the borrower if the process is ever going to improve.”

Featured Sponsors:

“We can start by doing a better job with the upfront validation piece,” concluded Eric Christensen, Chief Strategy Officer at LERETA. “The industry has done a great job at the point-of-sale, but that’s where it stops. You can’t just offer the borrower a good experience there and stop. We need to perfect the whole process, including the backend, as well.”

About The Author

Creating Borrowers For Life

Ever since the housing market took a hit back in 2008, the industry has been struggling to bounce back. The imposition of stringent federal regulation, coupled with shifting priorities for younger demographics that have, historically, held home ownership in high regard have taken their toll on lenders’ bottom lines. Lead generation is getting more expensive by the day, while the overall quality of those leads is slowly deteriorating.

The most frustrating aspect of the mortgage landscape, however, is that those leads that could potentially be converted into new business are falling by the wayside because of sub-par credit scores. To those in the lending industry, it’s common knowledge that poor credit is one of the most common hurdles consumers face when it comes to homeownership. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York conducted a study in which it concluded that over one-third of all Americans have a FICO score below 620. One third; that translates into over 90 million people (only takes those over the age of 18 into account). To compound that statistic, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that there are another 45 million people who do not even have a credit score. There is little doubt that lenders in today’s market are fighting an uphill battle.

Featured Sponsors:

 

 
Loan officers across the country are forced to turn thousands of potential clients away every single day because their credit scores fall just short of the qualifying threshold. When an applicant’s credit score is ten, twenty, or thirty points short of the score required for eligibility, many lenders are tempted to intervene and advise those would-be clients to take remedial steps to raise their scores. The advice could be something as simple as paying off a credit card to lower their debt to credit ratio, or disputing a delinquent account that the prospective client maintains was reported incorrectly. These minor steps might be just enough raise the applicant’s credit score, qualify them for a mortgage on their dream house, and earn the lender a life-long client. However, few lenders realize that providing this type of advice to consumers, no matter how well intentioned, could subject the loan officer and the organization for which he or she works to serious liability from both, the federal government and the consumers to which the assistance was provided.

The Credit Repair Organizations Act (“CROA” or the “Act”) is a federal law, which falls under the broader Consumer Protection Act. Under CROA, any person or entity that provides any advice or assistance to any person with the goal of improving their credit in exchange for valuable consideration (i.e. the sale of financial products) can be classified as “credit repair organization” under the law, even if they’re not being directly compensated for providing that advice. A reclassification of this nature could have a devastating impact on any organization that engages in the practice of providing this or similar assistance. Once a company is classified as a “credit repair organization”, it becomes subject to all of the stringent requirements imposed by the other provisions of the statute, which, if credit repair were not the main focus of that lender’s organization, would almost certainly mean that the lender is conducting its business in violation of the law. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has begun to take an interest CROA cases, and has already reached seven-figure settlements with several companies that have run afoul of the statutory provisions.

In addition to potentially being subject to governmental backlash, many lending organizations that provide this type of assistance to their potential clients also risk being stripped of their ability to pull credit. Surprisingly, few people in the industry are aware that many of the largest providers of independent verification services require lenders to certify that they do not engage in credit repair. These prohibitions are often glossed over because many lenders do not realize that the advice they provide actually puts them in breach of these agreements. If these verification services discover that the lenders with which they contract are engaging in these practices in-house, they could very well, and most likely will, terminate the contracts and refuse to provide their services in the future.

Featured Sponsors:

 
Because of the ever-increasing competition in the mortgage industry, it is imperative for lenders who wish to succeed to undertake initiatives to ensure that they stand head and shoulders above their competition. For the last few years we have seen a shift from a refinance to a purchase market. Additionally, the average origination costs have been steadily increasing, while the quality of leads is on the decline due, in part, to the credit difficulties widely experienced by consumers. Taking all of these factors into account, the question then becomes, “how?” “How can I differentiate myself from my competitors? “How can I increase my conversion rates?” “How can I establish a rapport with my clients to ensure repeat business and brand loyalty?”

One solution is to form strategic partnerships with third party companies that are able fill in gaps by providing services that you cannot. As discussed above, there are thousands of consumers who get turned away every day because of their credit scores. These consumers look great on paper in terms of employment status, income, and other assets, but their FICO scores render them ineligible for loans. Although lenders cannot and should not attempt to rehabilitate these consumers in-house, they should not just turn them away either. Those unqualified or underqualified consumers represent hundreds of millions of dollars in potential market share and, if lenders are able to implement a system to capture even a fraction of those consumers, they could bolster their bottom line by serving what was previously viewed as an untapped market, while establishing customer loyalty by indirectly aiding those customers that have traditionally been brushed off by the competition.

There are several not for profit entities that specialize in credit remediation and rehabilitation no cost to lenders, whatsoever. Although the non-profits were established to benefit consumers, lenders who choose to partner with these companies stand to become ancillary beneficiaries, while providing a niche service to their prospective clients. The effects of implementing this strategy are threefold in that lenders: 1) are able to insulate themselves from the potential liability that accompanies being reclassified as a credit repair organization, while ensuring that these consumers receive the assistance they require; 2) are able to maximize the value of every lead thy receive by providing this service without expending additional time or resources on conversion; and 3) are able to establish brand loyalty by offering a crucial service that competitors do not provide while simultaneously tapping a pipeline of new business.

When evaluating potential partnerships, it is imperative that lenders are able to pinpoint those organizations that are not only reputable, but that employ experienced personnel who are capable of providing the services necessary to rehabilitate the referred consumers. Not only should a chosen not for profit provide credit remediation, it should also provide coaching and education to give consumers who have traditionally experienced credit difficulties the requisite knowledge base to make sound financial decisions in the future. By affording consumers resources that teach responsible borrowing and spending habits, lenders can help ensure that when these clients return to them, ready to refinance or purchase another home in the future, they have the necessary credit profile to allow for an expeditious closing.

Featured Sponsors:

 
Lenders should also ensure that there are mechanisms in place to monitor the progress of all consumers that they refer to their not for profit partners. This will operate to ensure that not only are the referrals making progress, but that the lenders are advised upon the completion of the rehabilitation process so that they can recapture leads in which they’ve invested considerable time and resources. The lender should also endeavor to periodically follow up with their referrals during the remediation process in order to build stronger relationships, which should lead to higher conversion rates upon completion.

Although it is getting increasingly difficult to close new loans in the mortgage industry, there are plenty of potential sources of business for savvy lenders that know how to recognize them and have systems and strategies in place to capitalize. By differentiating your organization and providing consumers with alternatives to rejection, you have the ability to maximize lead value and cut origination costs, while simultaneously building lifelong client relationships.

About The Author