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USF Federal Credit Union Donates $10,000

We are in the season of giving, so I want to talk about how our industry is giving back. For example, USF Federal Credit Union (USF FCU) donated $10,000 to Tampa General Hospital (TGH) Foundation to purchase three, high-tech UV lights to disinfect toys in the play area of TGH’s Children’s Medical Center.


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The lights, known as toy sterilizers, quickly kill viruses and bacteria, making the toys safe for children to play with. “The toys need to be cleaned after each child plays with them,” explained Kelly Shelor, nurse manager of the Children’s Medical Center. “The UV lights will be a great help to us.”


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She said the lights typically kill germs in about a minute, and will make it much easier for staff to make sure the toys are clean.


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“We are pleased to be able to make this donation to the hospital and are glad this will help the children stay safe,” USF FCU president and CEO Richard J. Skaggs said. “The work they’re doing at the Children’s Medical Center is vitally important and we’re happy to help with this donation.”

TGH is a Select Employee Group for the credit union and TGH employees and their families are eligible to join USF FCU.

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Equity Rich Properties Represent 25.7% Of U.S. Properties

ATTOM Data Solutions released its Q3 2018 U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report, which shows that in the third quarter of 2018, nearly 14.5 million U.S. properties were equity rich — where the combined estimated amount of loans secured by the property was 50 percent or less of the property’s estimated market value — up by more than 433,000 from a year ago to a new high as far back as data is available, Q4 2013.


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The 14.5 million equity rich properties in Q3 2018 represented 25.7 percent of all properties with a mortgage, up from 24.9 percent in the previous quarter but down from 26.4 percent in Q3 2017.


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The report also shows more than 4.9 million U.S. properties were seriously underwater — where the combined estimated balance of loans secured by the property was at least 25 percent higher than the property’s estimated market value, representing 8.8 percent of all U.S. properties with a mortgage. That 8.8 percent share of seriously underwater homes was down from 9.3 percent in the previous quarter but still up from 8.7 percent in Q3 2017.


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“As homeowners stay put longer, they continue to build more equity in their homes despite the recent slowing in rates of home price appreciation,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president with ATTOM Data Solutions. “West coast markets along with New York have the highest share of equity rich homeowners while markets in the Mississippi Valley and Rust Belt continue to have stubbornly high rates of seriously underwater homeowners when it comes to home equity.”

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Gateway Mortgage Group Launches New Down Payment Protection Program

Gateway Mortgage Group, a full-service mortgage company licensed in 40 states and the District of Columbia, announced the launch of an innovative program providing homebuyers with protection of their down payment in the event they sell their home under less than ideal market conditions. The new program is offered through ValueInsured and has been seamlessly integrated into most of Gateway’s mortgage loan products.


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“Gateway is always growing, innovating and seeking new ways to better support homeownership in the communities we serve around the country,” said Alan Ferree, president of Gateway. “This partnership with ValueInsured allows us to differentiate Gateway from other mortgage lenders while providing our customers with a unique option that offers some peace of mind and simply makes sense for certain markets or borrowers.”


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The new Down Payment Protection Program offers homebuyers an optional insurance feature that can minimize market risk on the value of their home and safeguard some, or all, of their down payment. If the market price drops and the home sells at a loss, up to the full amount of the down payment could be reimbursed in a turnkey, home inspection-free process usually taking 30 days or less (some restrictions apply).


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“Gateway operates in many markets where home values are at all-time highs,” said Joe Melendez, founder and CEO of ValueInsured. “Gateway continues to prove its commitment as a champion of the American dream by allowing customers to buy with confidence while helping to alleviate the concerns and unpredictability of today’s real estate values.”

Ferree added, “Our primary focus is to deliver the highest level of service to our customers through local, caring mortgage professionals across the nation. By offering this Down Payment Protection Program, we will be able to provide our customers with added flexibility, control and confidence in their journey to homeownership.”

Gateway is licensed in 40 states, and the District of Columbia, and operates more than 170 retail locations across the country. The company’s annual loan volume is forecasted to exceed $7 billion while the servicing portfolio will surpass $20 billion.

North Carolina Bankers Association Members To Gain Compliance Knowledge

OnCourse Learning Financial Services has partnered with the North Carolina Bankers Association to provide regulatory compliance training for members of NCBA. The NCBA, through its membership, plays a vital role in creating an atmosphere under which all banks in the state can thrive, prosper and continue to serve their communities. In today’s highly regulated environment, banking professionals must have expert knowledge of the latest federal regulation changes in order to stay compliant and better serve customers.


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“The partnership enables NCBA members to provide the most updated available bank training for their employees,” said Brett Shively, executive vice president, professional certification and licensure for OnCourse Learning. “Having well-trained bank employees gives bank managers the peace of mind they need to focus on offering the timely, personalized service their customers have come to expect.”


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The OnCourse Learning 2018 Course Catalog for Banking offers regulatory compliance training topics, including “Anti-Money Laundering (AML),”  “Fair Lending Overview” and “Introduction to Human Trafficking.”


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The North Carolina Bankers Association was founded in the mid 1980’s by a group of North Carolina bankers concerned with the expansion of large, national and regional banks into the state.

“With this alliance with OnCourse Learning, bank members will now have access to online courses and case studies in a wide variety of formats, including engaging videos on some of the most critical topics in the financial services industry,” said President & CEO of NCBA Peter Gwaltney.

OnCourse Learning Financial Services is a provider of governance, risk and compliance training for the bank, mortgage, credit union, gaming and nonbank financial services industries. Formerly known as BankersEdge, OnCourse Learning Financial Services educates more than 85,000 financial services professionals each year and has developed more than 1,100 financial services courses. Its parent company, OnCourse Learning, has been delivering continuing education, pre-licensing and corporate training for more than 60 years.

Mortgage Payoff Statements Becoming Gateways To Fraud

Fraud perpetrators are increasingly initiating wire fraud scams by targeting the industry practice of emailing or faxing payoff requests to title and escrow companies, according to a new white paper from CertifID.  As a result, the company is observing a breathtaking increase in the use of “spoofed” mortgage payoffs and fraudulent payoff statements to pull off wire fraud schemes.


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This disturbing trend is analyzed in Mortgage Payoffs Under Siege, a free, online white paper published by CertifID CEO/Co-Founder Thomas Cronkright, author of multiple reports on the burgeoning wire fraud trend. According to the white paper, over $1 trillion in mortgages are paid off each year; with most done so by wire. Traditional mortgage wire fraud scams usually began with a fraudster deceiving a buyer or key party to the transaction into believing that imposter was a key party to the transaction (such as the seller); then changing already established wiring instructions (with the funds then being diverted to the scammer).  Now, fraudsters are deceiving title companies by issuing counterfeit mortgage payoffs and wire instructions from the start.


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“Fraudsters now understand that it’s not that hard to ‘spoof’ or imitate an authentic payoff statement—and that statement is the ultimate authority for title or escrow companies awaiting official wire instructions,” said Cronkright.  “As a result, the agent’s guard is down and, once the fraudulent payoff statements are received by fax or email, the funds are quickly and mistakenly wired directly to the criminals.”


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Cronkright notes that this new wrinkle directly attacks the conventional best practice which marks any change to wiring instructions as a red flag. “Now, the fraudulent directions are often the first instructions the escrow or title agent even sees.”

The white paper describes five emerging examples of payoff fraud, including how the schemes work and what title and lending professionals can do to identify and prevent them.

The white paper can be downloaded at no cost at https://certifid.com/white-paper-payoff-fraud/.

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Yes, The Mortgage Industry Does Care

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


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


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


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

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

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

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Lenders One Touts Member And Preferred Provider Growth

The Lenders One Cooperative, a national alliance of independent mortgage bankers, has kicked off its annual Summer Conference in Minneapolis, MN. The cooperative will celebrate its continued strong growth and participate in education sessions, keynotes and networking events designed to help members discover new opportunities in a changing market.

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Already the nation’s largest mortgage cooperative, Lenders One has welcomed the addition of 13 new members, four new vendors and four new preferred investors since the beginning of the year. The cooperative most recently celebrated the addition of two notable preferred secondary providers:

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Mortgage Capital Trading, Inc. (MCT)is a capital markets-focused risk management and advisory services company providing independent analysis, training, hedging strategy and loan sale execution support to clients engaged in the secondary mortgage market. Since 2001, MCT has grown from a pipeline hedging services specialist into a fully integrated provider of capital markets services and software for lenders at every stage of growth. Lenders One members will receive discounted pricing on selected services. In addition, MCT is committed to integrating with noteXchange and working closely with Lenders One members and the cooperative’s preferred investors to bring even more efficiencies and productivity lift to the bulk trading market.

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Planet Home Lending, LLC is a full-service, multi-state lender providing its customers a wide variety of loan products, including 203(k)s and FHA manufactured home loans, with a non-QM, alternative doc program for self-employed business owners and jumbo products coming soon. Consistently ranked in the top four for price on ICON for best effort, Planet Home Lending gives Lenders One members an assigned sales and service representative delivering personalized service plus access to state-of-the-art technology and a seasoned management team.

“We are thrilled with the momentum our cooperative has achieved,” said Bryan Binder, chief executive officer of Lenders One. “As we continue to grow in size and market presence, our team is committed to delivering value to our members through our many networking and educational opportunities as well as innovative technology offerings. We can see that our progress and industry-leading services are resonating with our members as the attendance at this Summer Conference is up over 30 percent from last summer.”

Over the past three conferences, Lenders One has announced the strategic addition of new technologies to help benefit our members, including Vendorly and noteXchange. At this year’s Summer Conference, Lenders One will launch additional noteXchange capabilities as well as preview a new cutting-edge eClosing ‘in a box’ offering as well as a continued focus on digitalization to prepare mortgage bankers for the future of the industry.

Castle & Cooke Mortgage Expands Into Mississippi

Castle & Cooke Mortgage, LLC, an independent mortgage lender with locations across the U.S., has expanded into Mississippi with the opening of its Southaven branch (NMLS #1647847). The new branch is led by industry veteran Tammy D. Kennedy (NMLS #35154), who has 16 years of experience in the mortgage industry and understands the housing needs of the Southaven area well.

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“We are thrilled to have Tammy and her team join the Castle & Cooke Mortgage family,” expressed John F. Brawner (NMLS #218829), area manager for Castle & Cooke Mortgage. “This group is in a fast-growing market and they are aggressive in their approach to helping homebuyers. They accomplish this through excellent customer service, a vast knowledge of the industry and strong, trustworthy relationships with Realtors and builders.”

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Prior to joining Castle & Cooke Mortgage, Kennedy was a sales manager for Envoy Mortgage and a senior loan officer with PrimeLending. Her years of experience have given her the expertise necessary to lead the Southaven team as they work together to serve the lending needs of their community. From rural housing loans and low down-payment programs to conventional lending options, Kennedy is persistent in her efforts to obtain the right loan for her clients’ needs. Her commitment to exceptional customer service is evident throughout the lending process.

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“My team and I are looking forward to helping borrowers purchase or refinance a home while interest rates are still historically low,” said Kennedy. “And I am thrilled to become a part of Castle & Cooke Mortgage, one of the leading and most responsible mortgage lenders in the country.”

Castle & Cooke Mortgage Launches Consumer Direct Team

Castle & Cooke Mortgage, LLC launched its new Consumer Direct team, designed to improve retention of clients in the company’s expansive servicing portfolio and ensure the mortgage needs of all Castle & Cooke Mortgage’s current borrowers are being met. In addition to portfolio retention activities, the new consumer direct team will originate loans to consumers across Castle & Cooke Mortgage’s extensive nationwide footprint.

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With loan originators licensed in all states in which Castle & Cooke Mortgage does business, the team is able to accommodate clients across the country, providing them with access to conventional, FHA, VA and USDA purchase and refinance loans, renovation loans, energy-efficient mortgages, zero down payment options and other loan programs.

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The new, rapidly-growing team of highly experienced loan originators is led by Matthew Keyworth (NMLS #254513), who joined the company in late 2016 as managing director of consumer direct sales. Matthew brings over 15 years of mortgage industry experience working for national lenders, most recently serving as vice president of retail sales and channel management for PennyMac. He has overseen the funding of billions of dollars in residential loans and helped other call centers and consumer direct groups grow exponentially during his career.

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“I was attracted by the chance to start and grow a consumer direct team to help defend Castle & Cooke Mortgage’s portfolio and take advantage of other opportunities that only a team like this can provide,” said Keyworth. “Moreover, I appreciate the fact that the company is an established purchase lender with a broad product offering to accommodate the diverse needs of today’s homebuyers.”

“Matthew’s experience in mortgage servicing portfolio defense and his familiarity working with multiple departments to improve business processes and ensure an optimal customer experience made him the ideal choice to lead our Consumer Direct team,” said company President and COO Adam Thorpe. “His leadership and the excellent team of talented originators behind him will make great strides toward Castle & Cooke Mortgage becoming an industry leader in both purchase and refinance business.”

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Grow Your Business

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ATTOM Data Solutions released its Q4 2016 U.S. Residential Property Loan Origination Report, which shows more than 1.7 million (1,748,177) loans were originated on U.S. residential properties (1 to 4 units) in the fourth quarter of 2016, down 15% from the previous quarter, but still up 2% from a year ago. More than 7.3 million loans were originated in 2016, up 2% from 2015 to the highest total since 2013. Total dollar volume of loan originations in the fourth quarter increased 8% from a year ago to more than $461 billion ($461,291,961,501). So, what do these industry dynamics mean for lenders? Lisa Schreiber, EVP Operations at Sprout Mortgage, talked to us about what lenders need to do in order to thrive in the current mortgage market. Here’s what she said:

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Q: What’s ahead for Sprout Mortgage this year?

LISA SCHREIBER: We are growing our product line. We are not just offering more products, but new services, as well. We are growing our national sales strategy across the country. We’ll be in all channels of business. So, we’re very excited about 2017.

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Q: What are Sprout’s technology priorities this year?

LISA SCHREIBER: We are building out automation for decisioning on non-QM products. We are working with a vendor right now. That technology will be embedded in our LOS and we’ll white label it for our correspondents. I’m looking to find good tools to obtain documentation without putting that responsibility on the borrower. We want to help the borrower through the process and put less of the burden on the borrower to provide paper documents like bank statements, W2s, etc.

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Q: What do you see as the future of straight through processing?

LISA SCHREIBER: When I was at Ellie Mae we were talking about mortgage as a manufacturing process. We can do a much better job of accessing client data upfront. We need to be clear upfront and have triggers throughout the process that constantly keep the borrower informed.

Q: How does the mortgage industry craft a process where the user experience has no friction?

LISA SCHREIBER: No friction is difficult. It goes back to how we can better enable borrowers. I have daughters in their twenties and they don’t like to talk to people as much as we do. They want to do things with the push of a button and they want to be informed at every step, as well. So, it’s a combination of technology and people power.

Q: How will the recent governmental changes impact the mortgage market in 2017 and beyond?

LISA SCHREIBER: The big headline for us is Dodd-Frank. Several people, myself included, do like more structure. However, the timelines set up by Dodd-Frank are a little crazy though. I’d like to see some portions of the regulation go away, but not everything all together. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to Dodd-Frank. When they say they want to get rid of regulation, what does that mean?

Q: When evaluating their technology strategy, what elements should lenders keep in mind?

LISA SCHREIBER: There’s no one technology that is going to be everything to everyone. Lenders need to really think and plan first. Most times lenders just grab a piece of technology and build it out because we’re still doing loans and we still have to make a profit. We don’t always whiteboard or analyze things fully before buying a piece of technology. There should be someone in the organization that is always thinking globally. It’s hard to plan everything out, but some times you spend more resources to fix new technology then you should.

Q: What is perhaps the single biggest misconception lenders believe regarding technology?

LISA SCHREIBER: That it will solve all of their problems. That it will work when you turn it on. That it will instantly solve the problem without the lender having to put much thought into it. It’s not going to automatically work and not everyone in your company is going to automatically understand how to use the new technology.

Q: What do lenders need to do in 2017 to remain competitive?

LISA SCHREIBER: Lenders have to assess cost and try to manage cost better. We are coming out of refinance boom so people spend a lot of money getting to all the refinance business, but that changes in a purchase market. Lenders have to adjust to spending their money wisely in a purchase market.

Industry Predictions

Lisa Schreiber thinks:

1.) Interest rates will rise, but not by too much.

2.) It’ll be a terrific year for purchase volume.

3.) There we be a lot of product development and new products entering the market to address particular borrower needs.

Insider Profile

Lisa Schreiber is EVP Operations at Sprout Mortgage. She is a true mortgage industry veteran that has worked with lenders, technology vendors and as a consultant. She was a Regional VP at Bank of America; EVP at American Brokers Conduit; EVP of Wholesale Lending at TMSFunding Wholesale Lending; VP of Correspondent Lending at New Penn Financial; VP, Lender Business Development at Ellie; President at LSK Consultants, etc.