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Churchill Mortgage Supports Homebuyers With New ‘Rate Secured’ Program

Churchill Mortgage has launched its “Rate Secured” program to lock eligible borrowers into an interest rate for 90-days after engaging with the lender, whether or not they have a home or property already selected. Churchill provides conventional, FHA, VA and USDA residential mortgages across 46 states.


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Homebuyers today are increasingly challenged by rising interest rates, which can entice them to prematurely purchase a home before they are ready or avoid entering the market altogether. Following the success of its Certified Homebuyer Program, Churchill has introduced its Rate Secured program to give borrowers increased peace of mind as they navigate the home buying process. If the borrower does not find a home within that timeframe, they can then easily reset the rate for another 90 days, and more importantly, if interest rates should decrease during the lock time, the borrower will receive the lower rate at closing.  


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“More than ever, borrowers need services such as these to help them make smarter mortgage decisions,” said Tom Gillen, SVP of Secondary Marketing for Churchill Mortgage. “Coupled with our Certified Homebuyer Program, Rate Secured allows borrowers to shop for their dream home with the confidence that their loan will close seamlessly, and at a rate they can plan around.”


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“In today’s rising interest rate environment, buyers are more hesitant to enter the market and are appropriately cautious towards any future changes” said Mike Hardwick, founder and president of Churchill Mortgage. “Through Churchill’s ‘Rate Secured’ program, we are empowering borrowers to better plan their home searches by eliminating any surprises relative to their financing – all of which helps ensure a smarter mortgage process and better borrower experience.” 


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Founded in 1992, Churchill Mortgage is a privately-owned company by its more than 350 employees. A full-service and financially sound leader in the mortgage industry, the company provides conventional, FHA, VA and USDA residential mortgages across 46 states. As heard on personal finance expert and author Dave Ramsey’s nationally syndicated radio show, the lender’s mission is to help borrowers achieve debt-free homeownership and build wealth through a smarter mortgage plan, regardless of their starting point. Churchill Mortgage is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Churchill Holdings, Inc.

WFG National Title Launches Cyberfraud Awareness Effort

WFG National Title Insurance Company (WFG), a Portland-based national title insurance, settlement, valuation and technology services company, is creating a Cyberfraud Awareness Team to educate consumers and companies involved in the home buying and mortgage process. The company is asking industry participants – including real estate agents, mortgage lenders, financial institutions and other title insurance companies – to join the team to educate consumers about the dangers of online and email fraud, particularly at the time of closing when funds need to be wired to settlement service providers. 


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WFG has hired Aaron Cole, a local homeowner who just lost $123,000 in a sophisticated email scam, as the team spokesperson. A few days before the Coles were supposed to close on the purchase of their new home, Aaron Cole received an email – purportedly from WFG – instructing him to wire the down payment to an email address that looked like WFG’s but actually belonged to the scam artist. By the time Cole realized that the email was bogus, the money had been transferred from his bank account to a bank account in Florida before eventually being transferred to four other banks and then out of the country.


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The Coles were in danger of losing their home days before Christmas. WFG found a way to help the Cole family and put Aaron in a position to educate other consumers on the dangers of cyberfraud, particularly the fraudulent email scam known as “phishing.”


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After conducting a thorough investigation, WFG Executive Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer Don O’Neill confirmed that WFG’s email account was secure and clear of any hacking activity, which typically means in these cases that an email or emails from other parties involved in the transaction were compromised. Personal email accounts are usually not encrypted and can be easily hacked, as is often the case for consumers and real estate agents working on their personal cell phones, computers and email accounts. 


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“While Aaron’s story has a happy ending, most borrowers scammed by email hackers generally wind up with an unhappy ending,” O’Neill said. “We believe people will pay attention to Aaron’s story because they can relate to other consumers who are in the process of transferring funds while purchasing a home.”

WFG is creating an awareness among the large number of real estate agencies that do not consistently leverage critical cybersecurity protections. According to Bruce Phillips, head of WFG’s Information Security team (INFOSEC), without these protections, individuals and companies are vulnerable to hacking. 

“Unsecure email and mobile devices are particularly at risk, and consumers are vulnerable at emotional times with tight deadlines, such as home closings,” Phillips said.

O’Neill, Phillips and WFG first recommend to always make absolutely sure an email address is legitimate before sending any sensitive personal, private information or documents or money to anyone – even if the recipient is someone they have emailed in the past.

“If you’re not sure, call the institution you’re working with to verify wire transfer directions,” O’Neill said. “Be especially on guard when you’re given last-minute changes and instructions to send money immediately. Those are red flags.”

Verus Mortgage Capital Finalizes $442 Million Non-QM MBS

Verus Mortgage Capital (VMC), a full-service correspondent investor offering residential non-QM and investor lending solutions, has completed its seventh rated RMBS (residential mortgage-backed securities) transaction for $442 million. The transaction is the second largest in VMC history, and its fourth securitization this year.


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Rated by S&P Global Ratings and Morningstar, the transaction included 809 loans from 61 lenders. The transaction included owner occupied non-QM loans as well as non-owner occupied loans.


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“We continue to see great demand for non-QM and investor loans and expect that to continue in 2019,” said Dane Smith, President of VMC.


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“We remain focused on the dynamic secondary market where we are engaged with quality partners,” Smith added. “Purchasing responsible non-QM and investor loans consistently and efficiently illustrates our commitment to this sector.”

Founded in 2015, Verus Mortgage Capital (VMC) is a non-QM correspondent investor backed by Invictus Capital Partners, a leading investment firm. VMC purchases loans in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and focuses solely on the non-agency 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 in excess of $3 billion in expanded, non-agency loans since its inception. In addition, through its affiliates, VMC has completed seven rated securitizations. 

Develop A Team, Not A Shop

As the mortgage industry continues to evolve and lenders look to target new homebuyer markets, training and developing a healthy, diverse team of mortgage professionals has become all the more important. 


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Why is this though? Simply put, borrowers want to work with lenders who understand their individual needs and are focused on providing a high level of service, and not simply trying to make a sale. For example, when we recruit VA loan specialists, we look to hire veterans or like-minded individuals because they understand the unique needs of veteran borrowers and what specific traits they should look for in their mortgage. 


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Even more important however, is for lenders to instill the heart of a teacher in their employees. This means coaching staff on how to delicately guide borrowers through one of the most important events of their lives: purchasing a home.  It’s here where the memory, knowledge and experience of seasoned employees can play a significant role for those entering the industry and in need of that institutional wisdom. We often find that people don’t just want to know what they “can” do, but rather what they “should” do. This means focusing on advice and guidance, not just orders or commands.

Building a Better Path

But there’s a problem. Quite frankly, there is no traditional path into this business from the university system. As a result, most loan officers end up in the mortgage business by accident. My vision is to build a firm instead of a shop by borrowing the apprentice system used in the financial planning industry and other professions.


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I’ve always been surprised that the mortgage industry lacks a structured mentorship program with high levels of accountability, training and guidance.  Mortgage shops are notorious for having a sink-or-swim mentality, saying “Here’s your compensation plan. Now, go find clients and do loans!” Too often, new originators are tossed into the deep end after receiving little more than half-baked training programs.

My business partner Rick Mount and I are beginning to develop some entry-level professionals on the California team at Churchill. This program is currently in its beta-test phase, but I can already tell that these new employees will be future leaders in the mortgage business. To find these future leaders, I look for five things — or the Five C’s: 

  1. Character (first and foremost)
  2. Competence 
  3. Care Factor 
  4. Consistency 
  5. Coachable 

This is my litmus test, which not only helps us find strong candidates, but with those five aspects firmly in place throughout the team, build a good, healthy staff of mortgage professionals. After finding the right recruits, we provide guidance personally and professionally, and also pair them with mentors — home-loan specialists who have done things very well for a long time. This way, our new, inexperienced recruits can learn mortgage best practices under the wing of a veteran pro before we launch them into their own position with their own client base.

Instilling Healthy Boundaries

That’s not the end of the process, however. One of my personal missions is to help my people find and put into place healthy boundaries that will protect them from themselves in the long term. Too often, I have seen bright-minded mortgage professionals come into the business with a passion for helping people become homeowners, only to have the business slowly take them over, like a tide, and push them to a place where they become slaves to the business.

To combat that unhealthy trend, we teach our people the importance of maintaining a healthy mindset by taking the time to plan out each week. We try to instill a mantra of 10 percent planning, 80 percent massive execution and 10 percent course correction, adjustment and wise counsel. This way, our people can attack each week with intention instead of spinning their wheels every day.We encourage and model daily discipline physically, mentally and with healthy family relationships in addition to building a successful mortgage business.

Establishing boundaries between work and life helps create healthier, happier mortgage professionals. Look, in this business, we often work with people who are experiencing one of the top-five emotional moments in their life. Buying a new home is right up there with getting married and landing that first job. It is a high-impact moment.

As mortgage professionals, one of the best gifts we can offer our clients is the space to be able to enjoy and fully experience the magic of that moment. But if we, as a group, are not at a healthy point in our own lives, both personally and professionally, we can miss the window of opportunity into that high-impact moment.

The path to creating a firm of healthy professionals instead of just leading a shop of drones who churn out loans is to ensure that everyone on the team is at the top of their game and are mentally, physically and spiritually healthy. My goal is always to be healthier on the inside than I am on the outside — and to make sure that this attitude permeates throughout the team as well.

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An Affordable Path To Homeownership

As volume dips, Risk Reduction Mortgage Corp., a startup Fintech mortgage product provider, has launched its signature solution, Risk Reduction Mortgages. This new product will be made available to homeowners and creditors starting in 2019, disrupting the $30-trillion U.S. and $160-trillion global real estate market.


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Developed by renowned mortgage experts, this product has been proven to substantially reduce risk for all stakeholders and provide much needed stability to the housing finance system. Underpinned by Home Diversification Agreements (borrower sells local home-price index and buys national price index), Risk Reduction Mortgages will deliver key benefits:


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>> Eliminate the need for PMI, HFA or piggy-back second mortgages for those unable to afford the standard 20-percent down payment – providing savings of thousands of dollars each year for the tens of millions of homeowners in this category.


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>> Provide a diversification benefit enabling homeowners to substantially reduce their home equity value risk, obtain a similar reduction in foreclosure risk and enjoy a lower interest rate due to their reduced-risk profile.

>> Provide creditors (e.g.- GSEs) up to a 70-percent reduction in systemic credit losses.

“Our new mortgage product is the most important financial innovation since securitization,” says Marc Biron, RRMC founder and CEO. “If available at the time, there is strong evidence they would have helped avert the 2008 meltdown”

Adds RRMC Senior Advisor, John N. Osland, “Our mission is to help millions of homeowners by diversifying their most concentrated investment – their homes. We will remain relentlessly laser-focused on the homeowner.”

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Churchill Mortgage Equips Real Estate Professionals With Strategies For Success

Churchill Mortgage has launch of its “Momentum Makers” campaign designed to help real estate professionals refine how they engage with homebuyers and win clients in today’s hypercompetitive market. Churchill is a leader in the mortgage industry providing conventional, FHA, VA and USDA residential mortgages across 46 states.


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Real estate professionals are under tremendous pressure to differentiate themselves from the competition and enhance how they operate in a digital world, all while providing exceptional homebuyer service and a personal touch with each engagement. In an industry defined by its “sink-or-swim” mentality, Churchill is now providing these professionals with a resource featuring tailored advice and guidance on how real estate professionals can enhance their customer acquisition strategies, online presence and use of technology. 


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To sign up for Churchill’s “Momentum Makers,” or to view the latest resources for real estate professionals, click here:https://info.churchillmortgage.com/momentum-makers-archives


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“As market competition for housing continues to grow, real estate agents are laser focused on serving their clients’ needs and identifying leads, not so much on the latest technology trends or online marketing tactics,” said Tanya Cross, Acquisition and Digital Marketing Manager for Churchill Mortgage. “Churchill’s Momentum Makers newsletter is designed to alleviate this burden and help real estate agents enhance their business strategies, without requiring tedious research or an expensive marketing budget.”

“The relationship between a mortgage lender and real estate agent is not solely built on the leads or clients they share,” said Mike Hardwick, founder and president of Churchill Mortgage. “Rather, the proper foundation for any successful, productive relationship is in the advice and insight shared between the two. Churchill is proud to offer our industry partners Momentum Makers as a resource to enhance their business.”

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NewDay USA Awards Scholarships To Children Of Servicemembers

NewDay USA, a nationwide VA mortgage lender, has announced that it is extending its military prep school scholarship program criteria to include children of soldiers and National Guard members with a successful deployment record in the Global War on Terror (GWOT). NewDay USA scholarships were initially reserved for children of Gold Star families and the children of a 100 percent disabled combat Veteran.  


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“Overseas deployments put a huge strain on military families, both personally and financially. We want students to get a great military education and not have their families worry about the cost during such a time,” said Rear Admiral Thomas Lynch USN (Ret.), Executive Chairman of NewDay USA.  


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On December 3rd, NewDay USA awarded its 50th full military prep school scholarship to Kathryn Lilyanne Bailey to attend Georgia Military College Preparatory School (GMC Prep) in Milledgeville, Georgia. Kathryn, a sixth-grader at the school whose father is a 100 percent disabled combat Veteran, was awarded a scholarship that will pay her tuition until she graduates 12th grade. Her brother Jacob is also a recipient of this scholarship. 


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“We are just blown away by the generosity of NewDay USA and their support of our soldiers and their families,” said Brigadier General Randall Simmons, Commanding General of the Georgia National Guard. “Providing these scholarships does so much for our deployed soldiers, who now have increased confidence that their children are getting a quality education back home so they’re able to focus on the mission at hand. We couldn’t be more thankful for NewDay’s generosity and expanding their scholarship program to the children of GWOT Veterans.”

Kathryn Bailey was awarded the scholarship just as the Georgia National Guard 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) was about to be deployed to Afghanistan. The scholarship is good for the entire time she attends GMC Prep. “As the beneficiary of a JROTC education, I know personally how important such an education is in building America’s leaders of tomorrow,” said NewDay USA CEO Rob Posner. “Expanding our scholarship program to the children of those who have served our country during the Global War on Terror (GWOT), is one of the most important things we are doing as a company.” 

The NewDay USA Foundation has now awarded 50 full scholarships to students at 13 military prep schools in 11 states, including 13 scholarships to GMC Prep School cadets since 2016. NewDay USA has also donated $1 million to the GWOT Memorial, currently under construction in Washington, D.C.

“It’s absolutely incredible what these scholarships do for these families,” added Lieutenant General William B. Caldwell, IV, President of Georgia Military College. “We are incredibly appreciative of NewDay USA. Their commitment to Veterans is so special.

Gateway Appoints New Chief Risk Officer

Gateway Mortgage Group, a full-service mortgage company licensed in 40 states and the District of Columbia, announced today Steven Patrick as its new Chief Risk Officer. In this role, Patrick will provide executive oversight to the company’s Credit and Risk management teams. His responsibilities will span all efforts in enterprise risk management, compliance and quantitative analytics.


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“Steve has a tremendous amount of experience in mortgage finance, credit and risk arena,” said Stephen Curry, CEO of Gateway. “He brings a deep understanding of enterprise-level risk management to this role and understands its importance to a company’s overall health and growth. We are happy to welcome Steve into the Gateway family and we know he will be a valuable addition to the executive leadership team.”


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Most recently, Patrick was Managing Director with Everett Advisory Partners where he counseled clients on implementing risk-reducing strategies, capital raises and solutions to complex funding problems. Prior to Everett Advisory Partners, he held many different roles with Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago. Patrick was involved in a variety of initiatives where he developed strategies to mitigate risk while building the mortgage program, which purchased mortgage loans in secondary markets; he also advised banks on liquidity strategies. He has worked extensively in the financial services industry since 1987, starting at Merrill Lynch before moving to Bank of America. He is a graduate of Carleton College and received his MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.


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“I am grateful for the opportunity to work for such a great company,” said Patrick. “The team members have made the transition easy, and I look forward to being a part of the very bright future at Gateway.”

In the last ten years, Gateway Mortgage Group has been recognized twenty-three times as an industry leader including seven times by Inc. Magazine as one of the country’s fastest-growing privately held companies and six times by Mortgage Executive Magazine as a “Top 100 Mortgage Company.” Currently, the company is on track to originate over $6 billion in mortgage loans while the servicing portfolio will surpass $20 billion and 110,000 customers this year.

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Total Tappable Equity Falls For First Time Since Housing Recovery Began

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


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


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


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

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

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How Do Underwriters View Mortgage Lending?

CoreLogic surveyed 275 underwriting professionals. What are the top workflow challenges underwriters face today? Some stats on their answers to questions like this are revealed. Highlights include:

>>96% of underwriters said accessing applicants data from one source would save them time


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>>73% said that providing borrowers with a real-time status of their loan would their job easier


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>>56% of underwriters need more than 30 days to complete one loan file


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Here’s what else the survey revealed: