Mortgage Network Taps New Branch Leader

Mortgage Network Inc.,one of the largest independent mortgage lenders in the eastern U.S., is pleased to announce that Beth Vega Wittman is now the branch manager of the company’s Mansfield, Massachusetts office.

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Based in Danvers, Massachusetts, Mortgage Network is celebrating its 30th year in business.  The company has grown to over 400 employees, with 40 branch offices licensed in 27 states. The company provides a full array of residential mortgage products, from conventional and non-conventional loans to FHA and VA loans to mortgage refinances and reverse mortgages.  Mortgage Network is more focused and agile than many larger competitors, which allows the company to provide a high level of service to its customers and its business and referral partners.

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Wittman (NMLS# 49745) has over 25 years of mortgage banking experience. Prior to joining Mortgage Network, she served as branch manager at Residential Mortgage Services.  Wittman’s background in consumer lending and credit reporting provides an additional layer of knowledge and expertise for her clients. Over the years she has helped thousands of clients finance the purchase of their homes and is very familiar with the guidelines of today’s marketplace offerings, including FHA, USDA, VA, MassHousing and jumbo specialty programs.

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“Given her track record and long experience in the Metrowest real estate market, we’re confident Beth will be a great addition to our office,” said Brian Koss, executive vice president of Mortgage Network.

“Mortgage Network has a very genuine culture and is well-known for its superior customer service,” Wittman said. “The company has a great reputation with customers as well as in the industry, and we will continue to build on that in the Metrowest area. The large variety of programs we offer, along with local processing and underwriting, enables us to provide clients with the absolute best options available. Helping someone purchase their home, whether it’s a $60,000 condo or a multimillion dollar home, is what is important to me.”

“The Metrowest area is one of the most competitive housing markets in the nation, so prospective homebuyers have to be well prepared,” Wittman added. “The best way to do that is to get prequalified for a mortgage before starting the home hunting process.”

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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Mortgage Companies Are Hiring For Success

In order to remain competitive and excel in the current mortgage market, mortgage lenders and technology providers are hiring high-powered executives to take their businesses to the next level. Here are some recent examples of this trend:

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Alexis Anderson, (daughter of industry tech icon Tim Anderson) was recently appointed as Director of Marketing with MortgageFlex Systems based in Jacksonville, Florida.  She will be responsible for all corporate digital marketing and PR for the firm.  She graduated Cum Laude from the School of Communications at the University of Alabama with a major in Public Relations and specific focus and studies on Digital Marketing Communications and Design.

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Also, Mortgage Network Inc., one of the largest independent mortgage lenders in the eastern U.S., is pleased to announce that Chris Horley has joined the company as manager of its new Newport, Rhode Island branch office. Horley (NMLS# 7836) brings to Mortgage Network 23 years of mortgage banking experience in the Rhode Island area. Most recently, Horley served as a senior loan officer for Citizens Bank. He is a lifetime Rhode Island resident and has lived the past three years in Newport. He is an active affiliate member of the Newport County Board of Realtors and the Newport Chamber of Commerce.

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Roostify, a digital lending platform provider, announced that Eric Amblard has joined the company as Chief Financial Officer. Amblard comes to Roostify from EverString Technologies, where he also served as CFO. “Roostify has undergone considerable recent growth, including a funding round and continued push into enterprise accounts,” said Rajesh Bhat, CEO, Roostify. “Eric’s extensive financial and operational experience with growth-stage enterprise SaaS companies will be a great asset to the leadership team as Roostify continues to scale. Eric will also manage the company’s internal regulator, compliance and contract teams. Eric has already brought a great energy into the role and we are extremely excited to have him on board.” Amblard comes to Roostify with over a decade of broad operating experience scaling B2B SaaS companies.

Lastly, LERETA, LLC, a national provider of real estate tax and flood services for mortgage servicers, has selected Rick Holcomb as senior vice president of its tax outsourcing operations. In his new position, Holcomb oversees LERETA’s tax outsourcing, call center and customer care teams. Holcomb comes to LERETA with more than 25 years of experience focusing on all facets of servicing, insurance and tax with a core emphasis on strategic planning, customer relationships, process improvement and operational management. “LERETA has invested significantly in technology and integrated solutions focused on transforming the tax service industry,” said Jim Micali, COO at LERETA. “Adding Rick will enhance our leadership team, and his overall industry experience also brings significant value to our current and future clients.” Most recently, Holcomb was vice president of operations at CoreLogic. He began his tax service career at First American Real Estate Tax Service and had increasing responsibilities throughout the operational departments. He also worked for Midland Mortgage, a division of MidFirst Bank in Oklahoma.

The State Of Innovation


Over 100 mortgage executives came together to attend PROGRESS in Lending Association’s Seventh Annual Innovations Awards Event. We named the top innovations of the past twelve months. After that event, we wondered what would happen if we brought together executives from the winning companies to talk about mortgage technology innovation. Where do they see the state of innovation? And what innovation is it going to take to get our industry really going strong? To get these and other questions answered, we got the winning group together. In the end, here’s what they said:

Q: Some say innovation has to be sweeping change. Others say innovation can be incremental change. How would you define innovation?

LEONARD RYAN: I would define innovation as more of a process improvement over current methods. Sometimes major breakthroughs happen after a lot of thought on process improvement. Today when we talk about innovation, it often means computer programs and their contribution to making the mortgage process faster, more secure, less complicated or instant. Thirty years ago an innovation was printing a 1003 on a laser printer. That would hardly qualify today since that is now an everyday process. In terms of your awards, it seems the more significant the process improvements, the more likely to be recognized.

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REBECCA MAYERSON: No change in mortgage banking can be sweeping due to the layers of regulation and compliance by federal, state, GSE, and big banks. So innovation must be incremental due to the risk/reward.

TIM ANDERSON: Incremental. Because the mortgage business is a highly regulated one consisting of a multitude of participants each adding a step and receiving their cut of revenue to get from point A to Z it is a hard business to affect sweeping change. Still too many players, steps touching too many different disparate systems in the process to affect sweeping change or significant impact by itself.  Because of this I don’t see a company developing something like the iPhone coming into the mortgage space with a whole new app or mobile device that is singularly going to revolutionize this business.

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The GSE’s because of their critical role in financing and market share (aggregator) have been the ones to affect real change in this business. If you look at their Uniform Mortgage Data Program, (UMDP) it’s a phased in approach at developing systems to better evaluate critical data elements to reduce risk. They moved the traditional post-closing pre-funding QC process to pre-closing QC and leveraging their new technology and regs like TRID (with three day delivery rule) to support this trend. Also because the mortgage process has very distinct processes with siloed departments dedicated to the mortgage manufacturing process, (POS, origination, processing, underwriting, closing, secondary marketing, servicing) each re-entering the same data that introduces a lot of steps, divisions, (overhead, operational costs and risk) vendor players and participants all have to agree to change their processes and automate to affect real change and ROI in this business.

CURT TEGELER: Innovation can be both sweeping and incremental. Innovation must be persistent and a mindset. It is a necessity to remain relevant in any industry and to enhance the products and services we offer. This involves implementing new strategic ideas, creating dynamic products and improving existing services. In having an innovative approach, you are increasing the probability of success and development in your business.

CRAIG ZIELAZNY: Innovation is creating an impactful solution to a problem. The innovation process can’t be boiled down to just listening to customers, though. Only through continuous and meaningful engagement can you identify real problems and execute effective solutions. It doesn’t become an innovation until the unmet need has been overcome by an appropriate and well-executed solution. Rarely is innovation the product of an individual person experiencing an “aha” moment. Ideas are easy, execution is hard and it is what makes any idea tangible.

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RICK TRIOLA: I think we all want sweeping change that solves problems quickly and delivers on the promises technologists have made and that consumers all want, but unfortunately we don’t see that, at least not in our industry. Most innovation fails because it never gets to the end user because the innovation can’t get passed through all the gatekeepers and entrenched stakeholders.

For example, the mortgage industry had the opportunity to adopt eSignatures as soon as the Federal ESign Act was signed into law in June 2000. Instead of leapfrogging over the antiquated paper processes and skipping a generation by heading directly to digital lending, too many players decided to invest instead in scanning and faxing devices and processes. Borrowers, buyers, sellers — everyone — would have loved the opportunity to just eSign instead of papering out and couriering documents all over the place, but instead our industry took more than a decade to move in the right direction.

We wish innovation would sweep down on our industry quickly, but the extensive eco-system here combined with and entrenched and outdated status quo results in new innovators being forced to ‘stand down’ while the industry accepts incremental change.

JOHN VONG: In other industries, change and innovation can happen simultaneously and dramatically. However, because the mortgage origination process is very complex, innovation in our industry tends to be more incremental and less sweeping. Take, for example, e-mortgages. As an industry, we’ve been talking about doing e-mortgages since 2000. It’s seventeen years later and less than one percent of originations are e-mortgages. One of the key reasons for this was that there were differing and competing priorities from parties within the mortgage origination and closing ecosystem including lenders, investors, warehouse banks, county recorders, notaries, and GSEs, among others, and not everyone was on the same page about digitization. Customized closing processes throughout the country is another impediment to innovation. Finally, the average borrower gets a new mortgage or a refinance infrequently compared to other common financial transactions, so they are willing (or at least have been in the past) to put up with inefficiency and inconvenience.

Q: How would you define the state of innovation in the mortgage industry? Is it thriving or in a state of decay?

CURT TEGELER: Innovation in the mortgage industry is stronger than ever. The industry is so far behind in technology innovation that it can only advance from here. There are countless opportunities to embrace innovation and the industry is becoming more and more digital. Every phase of the mortgage process is evolving, from the consumer experience to the lender experience.

CRAIG ZIELAZNY: As is the case in all industries, there are firms which innovate and those that don’t but rather choose to follow. The firms which continually innovate maintain close ties with their clients and the market, always searching for a better way to do something or to solve a seemingly unsolvable problem. The state of a firm’s innovation status is largely a function of the culture and the value placed on listening to clients and doing the math to unearth needs which are not clearly identified by the client.

RICK TRIOLA: Despite the fact that I feel our industry moves too slowly in general, we’re actually at a very exciting place right now. While we had the technology to do end-to-end digital lending a decade ago, lenders weren’t ready and consumers weren’t pushing for it. Today, consumers are ready at the same time investors and regulators are pushing for it. Even loan officers we’re talking to are excited about doing digital.

And they want to share all of the benefits of digital with borrowers, that means closing the loan from anywhere. We know this is possible because we have now completed tens of thousands of online notarizations and cracked the code around the ‘last mile’ friction of having to appear in person.

I believe that over the next few years, we’ll see a great influx of lenders moving into fully digital lending and realizing cost and time savings at the same time they offer better experiences to consumers. In 5 years, no one will deliver a mortgage on paper.

TIM ANDERSON: I think now that we have gotten past TRID this has freed up resources and initiatives to implement some change and innovation. I give Quicken Loans a lot of credit as well because everyone now wants their version of Rocket Mortgage and push to better qualify and verify the loan quicker and faster with initiatives like FannieMae’s Day One Certainty initiative and FreddieMac’ s Loan Quality Advisor tools to streamline the process. We are also seeing a major rise in finally implementing the Digital Mortgage and eClosings to complete the eProcess and deliver not only a better consumer experience but a replicatable, repeatable automated QC process that provides electronic evidence of compliance along the way.

REBECCA MAYERSON: Innovation is at the highest level in over a decade and surging. The need to lower expenses while improving the process for the customer while still protecting risk is driving innovation at a high speed.

LEONARD RYAN: Innovation in the mortgage industry is “making a comeback.” The mortgage crisis and subsequent regulations forced vendors with traditional products to spend resources on implementing those regulations. Only new companies or entrepreneurial minds during those times seemed able to develop substantial changes in process. However, I now see the start of vendors looking to make substantial changes to the process. I believe most of those changes will result in vastly reduced lender costs.

JOHN VONG: From the perspective of a technology provider, it’s thriving. Every loan origination system and service provider is enhancing its technology or developing new solutions.

From the lender perspective, however, cyclicality trumps innovation. When the rates are low and demand is high, lenders are often too busy to focus on technology and innovation. Instead they throw bodies at the problem. When volume declines, there is often a reluctance to invest. Instead, loan production is the top priority. That’s why it takes the mortgage industry a longer time to adopt or upgrade technology than other financial services sectors.

Of course, over the last few years, the risk management and compliance areas are an exception because lenders have more of an incentive to protect their companies from regulatory scrutiny after the meltdown.

Q: Lastly, if there was one innovation that you would say the mortgage industry desperately needs to happen over the next twelve months, what would it be?

REBECCA MAYERSON: Any of the Day One certainty steps that would allow All investors beyond Fannie to accept would be great for our industry.

TIM ANDERSON: A closing collaboration system that exchanges the data between the title system of record and lenders not only for TRID or final CD but the upcoming Uniform Closing Dataset (UCD) requirement coming September 25th. Most lenders look at these as separate compliance initiatives but the proper collaboration should start at time of application with the initial Loan Estimate, automatically check for compliance tolerances anytime the data or disclosures change, conduct a final reconciliation and comparison three days prior to Closing Disclosure and keep tracking 90 days after closing of any changes. This should not only include the CD but all the closing documents and then once approved be able to do a full eClosing to ensure data and document quality, integrity and compliance.

CURT TEGELER: Digital mortgages are significant for the mortgage industry. With millennials becoming a large percentage of homebuyers, being able to complete the mortgage process online is important. Bringing the lifecycle of the process from a lead to a buyer is crucial. Essentially, Realtors should have the ability to advertise and turn leads into homebuyers and borrowers digitally. Even a hybrid approach where the front-end process becomes digitized is a step in the right direction. With procedures and an evolving industry ahead of us, the ability to be move quickly is critical to long-term success, and this is done through being digital.

CRAIG ZIELAZNY: Ball games are rarely won because of home runs… It’s the team that strings together singles and doubles that will win. Our industry is no different. Each innovation will contribute to the overall improvement of the industry and the benefits delivered to the various members. If we listen to our customers and probe for a deeper understanding, we will all become innovators and help move the industry forward.

JOHN VONG: The existing traditional origination process is not geared to cater to Millennials, who have different expectations and are more tech savvy than previous generations. They don’t want to spend ninety days to get a mortgage with a traditional loan officer. Millennials want to go to online, fill out their basic information, and get instant decisioning, as well as shop for competitive rates. Traditional lenders need to significantly rethink the customer experience they offer if they want to be relevant to this growing customer segment. Moreover, both traditional and FinTech lenders are going to have to find ways to qualify non-perfect borrowers and do so in a more digital fashion.

RICK TRIOLA: From the lender’s perspective, we desperately need technologies that will reduce their costs and increase their profits in an environment with tightening margins. At the same time, they need tools that will help them compete more effectively as rates rise, refinances disappear and competition heats up.

There has never been a better time to adopt technology that will answer these needs. In my mind, it’s going to be all about online closings, anytime from anywhere, which exactly what eClose360 offers. In fact, we just ran the numbers for a new client and found that using the eClose360 platform would add $18 million in bottom line profits over the next 12 months. That’s the kind of innovation lenders need now.

And The 2017 Winners Are …



Prominent mortgage executives gathered to see who the Executive Team of PROGRESS in Lending named the top industry innovations of the past year at the Seventh Annual Innovations Awards Event. This honor is the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, the Gold Seal when it comes to recognizing true industry innovation. All applications were scored on a weighted scale. We looked for the innovation’s overall industry significance, the originality of the innovation, the positive change the innovation made possible, the intangible efficiencies gained as a result of the innovation, and the hard cost and time savings that the innovation enables industry participants to achieve. In alphabetical order, the top innovations are:


ComplianceEase-2017-WinnerPROGRESS in Lending Association has named ComplianceEase a top innovation. In preparation for the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) rule, ComplianceEase spent 18 months enhancing its flagship compliance management platform, ComplianceAnalyzer. The company released the new module, called TRID Monitor, which provides the comprehensive, real-time auditing of disclosure timing, changed circumstances, and fee tolerances across all disclosures. ComplianceAnalyzer with TRID Monitor allows lenders to insert flexible TRID compliance controls into any system and can be used at any point in the lending process and across multiple origination channels. The module can also be used for pre- and post-close quality control and securitization due diligence. Depending on a lender’s workflow needs, lenders can use ComplianceAnalyzer with TRID Monitor to review the latest terms and fees on any single TRID disclosure or to monitor changes in fees and terms throughout the origination and closing processes.


DocMagic-2017-WinnerPROGRESS in Lending Association has named the work done by DocMagic a top innovation. As the mortgage industry slowly embraces the Digital Mortgage, DocMagic launched what was dubbed its “Total eClosing solution,” which enables a comprehensive, true 100% paperless eClosing that automates the entire process — from start to finish. Looking back, DocMagic was brought to the forefront of eClosing technology awareness with its participation in the CFPB’s eClosing pilot in 2014. This vendor was 1 of only 12 firms that was invited by the CFPB to participate. If the industry is going to go digital it will need vendors like DocMagic to lead the way. The Total eClose solution includes the seamless incorporation of its eSignature-enabled SMART Documents, a nationwide eNotary network, MERS eRegistry access, eWarehousing, eNotes, a secure eVault, and secure investor eDelivery — all in a single, comprehensive eClosing platform and completely TRID-compliant. There is absolutely no paper involved at any point, at any time.

Mercury Network

Mercury Network-2017 WinnerPROGRESS in Lending Association has named Mercury Network a top innovation. In March of 2016, Mercury Network launched Fee Analytics, a rich set of current data and analytics for actual appraisal fees in every county in the United States, delivered monthly. Lenders subscribe to Fee Analytics to know the most current appraisal fees paid for collateral valuations, along with details on the transactions. Since more than 800 lenders and appraisal management companies rely on Mercury Network for collateral valuation management, more than 10,000 transactions a day are passing through the system, providing rich trended data with many benefits for the industry. With Mercury Network’s Fee Analytics tool, lenders can determine where appraisal fees are rising and where they are falling, a clear indicator of supply and demand, as well as a valuable clue for hyper-local and regional lending booms that present opportunity for business expansion.

Mortgage Network

Mortgage Network-2017 WinnerPROGRESS in Lending Association has named Mortgage Network a top innovation. Mortgage Network has been creating and using its own technology for several years. But in 2016, it took things to a new level by creating an online borrower portal that allows consumers to initiate and drive the mortgage process with very little assistance from the loan officer. The portal gives borrowers the option to upload their own mortgage documents through a drag-and-drop method, virtually eliminating the need for loan officers to keep coming back to borrowers to request more information. Borrowers can also see their loan choices based on the information they provide, receive disclosures electronically, and receive an underwritten loan commitment in as little as two days. In many ways, the new borrower portal might be compared to TurboTax, the off-the-shelf software that revolutionized how Americans prepare their taxes. This portal will do the same for mortgage lending.


NotaryCam-2017 WinnerPROGRESS in Lending Association has named NotaryCam’s eClose360 a top innovation. As the industry interest in eClosings has risen, with NotaryCam’s eClose360 you no longer have to force participants into the same room, deploy a laptop and signing pad — which is essentially 12-year old technology — to close a loan when it can be done online anytime from anywhere. NotaryCam’s eClose360 is an online notary platform that allows mortgage closings to take place entirely online, removing all associated stress and the friction of having to attend closings physically. Further, Fannie Mae approved NotaryCam’s eClose360 as a provider of both a SMARTDoc and eVault solution. Specifically, this online closing solution is now on the list of software that Fannie Mae has certified and approved for use on loans it purchases from mortgage loan originators. NotaryCam’s eClose360 has legally completed tens of thousands of notarizations in all 50 states and over 65 countries.


QuestSoft-2017 WinnerPROGRESS in Lending Association has named QuestSoft a top innovation. This industry has been inundated with new rules and regulations for some time now. The key to maintaining compliance is preparation. One of the next big rules for lenders to comply with are the CFPB HMDA changes. Last October, QuestSoft sent specifications to 29 loan origination software companies, and those imports are expected to come online during the first quarter of 2017. Customers can then import live data from those LOS platforms to see gaps, interact with their systems, and internally adjust their procedures. The test version is also being provided well in advance of the CFPB’s schedule. Further, QuestSoft’s Compliance RELIEF application has been designed so that as error codes and other specifications are made available by the CFPB, this company will be able to incorporate them quickly and distribute updates to lenders seamlessly.


WebMax-2017 WinnerPROGRESS in Lending Association has named WebMax a top innovation. Last year, 5.8 million homes were purchased compared to 5.6 million in 2015 and 5.3 million in 2014. Further, seventy-seven million millennials make up about one-fourth of the U.S. population. Millennials in the U.S. wield about $1.3 trillion in annual buying power, 85% of them are using smartphones as their daily technology device, and 49% are seeking to buy their first home. Millennials are becoming a significant force in the mortgage industry. To reach these new borrowers WebMax’s MortgageWare application provided an innovative digital solution designed to make Mortgage and Real Estate easy, one that enhanced the online lending experience for both the lender and the borrower. In 2016, the solution assisted with the closing of 123,388 mortgage loans and hosted over 2,990 mortgage websites. WebMax clients are provided with a compliant, ascetically appealing, and user-friendly web solution that include key program integrations.



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Here’s What The Future Mortgage Process Will Look Like …

As we’ve been reporting on, for the sixth consecutive year, PROGRESS in Lending Association hosted its groundbreaking ENGAGE Event designed to engage the mortgage industry to discuss and find solutions to so many pressing  industry issues. This was a frank and thorough exchange of ideas and tips about how to solve the problems that face the mortgage industry.  We reported on what the speakers said about the future of mortgage regulatory compliance, the future of mortgage technology innovation, and today we’ll tell you how they see the future of the mortgage process itself. Here’s what they had to say:

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“The problem is that you e-sign here, submit conditions here, and you still get calls,” said Lionel Urban, CEO, founding partner and chairman of the board at PCLender. “That shouldn’t happen. You should be using as much machine-readable data as possible coming straight from the source, not the borrower, and that way the processor will only deal with exceptions. that’s how the process should work.”

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From a lender’s perspective, Joe Dahleen, vice president of consumer lending at Axia Home Loans, points out, “You have to get to the data upfront. We as lenders should be able to verify the borrower, their income, their bank statements, etc. electronically from the source. Also, we are getting things like the appraisal and other information as XML. Similarly, we are being required to deliver more to the investor as XML. So, technology vendors need to offer lenders a way to easily store and search all of that XML because the LOS doesn’t do that today.”

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Meanwhile, Rebecca Walzak, founder of rjbWalzak Consulting, wants technology to focus more on risk so the mortgage process of the future produces quality loans 100% of the time. “Where is the technology to help lenders mitigate risk?” she asked. “I’d like the mortgage industry to be a real industry instead of just a follower of our peers or the regulators.”

Brian Koss, chief storyteller, executive vice president, national head of production at Mortgage Network, agrees.”Making changes in reaction to an outside event hasn’t worked,” he argued. “We, as an industry, have to start being proactive. We have been so busy just trying to comply with the latest rule that we haven’t stopped to take a breadth. We have to look at the process in a new way. The cost to originate a loan continues to go up, so what should we do? We have to hold the line and continue to fight to genuinely improve the process so we can lower cost. That has to be the focus of every lender.”

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The Regulatory Risks Ahead


Get ready, because 2017 will bring a lot of new regulatory challenges. You can be sure that regulatory risk continues to weigh heavily on lenders’ minds. So, are there any specific regulatory rules coming up in 2017 that lenders should be preparing for? How about enforcement action? What hot button items do lenders need to stay away from next year?

You bet, answers Wade Hamby, national director of sales and marketing, Stonehill Group. “The new 1003 and HMDA change is going to be big next year. Servicing remains in the spotlight and will continue to be. With respect to TRID, in the fulfillment area we are seeing that it takes more time to clear stips.”

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Hamby has more than 25 years of executive experience in mortgage lending, outsourcing and quality control. He oversees The StoneHill Group’s nationwide sales and marketing activities and is responsible for expanding use of the company’s solutions in the mortgage industry.

“Further, the new 1003 will impact how you capture data,” he continued. “Lenders have to have partners that are effective when it comes to cyber security. You have to do the penetration testing and meet those compliance needs. Too many vendors don’t provide those services. There’s a lot to prepare for.”

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So, how do lenders get prepared? Many are turning to technology. One can argue that technology plays a far more significant role in today’s enforcement driven market. With so many regulatory landmines, lenders use technology to stay out of trouble, protect profitability and be as efficient as possible. That being said, how have lenders’ technology strategies evolved in the year or two? Why? In your opinion, what are the elements of an effective technology strategy in today’s market? And what is the single biggest mistake lenders make regarding technology?

“Technology is critical,” pointed out Brian Fitzpatrick, president and CEO of LoanLogics, Inc. “We are missing the boat to what technology should be doing to drive down cost, though. Technology has to embed all the rules. Technology has to take all of those rules and guidelines and embed them within the system and deploy as close to the point-of-sale as possible. Technology has to be dynamic so it can be easily changed as the rules change.”

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Fitzpatrick oversees all operations of LoanLogics. Mr. Fitzpatrick has raised industry-wide awareness of how technology plays a key role in the production and measurement of loan quality and performance.

The regulatory landmines ahead are many. “There are a number of new obstacles things coming up,” added Fitzpatrick. “For example, the required use of trended credit data will be mandated. Comments are due to the CFPB for updates to TRID. The changes will be impactful. There will be new HMDA fields that need to be captured. In 2017 we’ll see the optional use of the new 1003, which will be mandatory in 2018. All of this speaks to the need for more dynamic technology.”

“In addition, we are expecting UCD in the second half of 2017,” added Kelli Yarbrough, vice president of Loan Retention, Roundpoint Mortgage Servicing Corporation. “We are expecting a lot of guidance. In general, lenders need to resist the urge to rush into things like non-QM. You need to be well trained and have your technology in place before you wade in.”

Yarbrough is responsible for all aspects of customer contact in the loan retention process for RoundPoint’s MSR portfolio. Ms. Yarbrough is a veteran of the mortgage industry with more than 16 years of experience leading both sales and operations teams in wholesale, retail, and direct-to-consumer channels.

“As much as lenders rely on technology, often times we are catching things too late,” she noted. “A key point to a successful technology strategy is system integration. If the systems aren’t able to speak with each other they won’t last. Everyone needs to remain nimble, but we can’t forget to invest in training programs for the front line. The LOs have to understand how to use the technology and comply with the rules. I think we expect too much from our technology.”

A wild card in all of this could be the outcome of the Presidential Election. “With the election coming up, we should look at larger issues like a lack of new affordable housing,” said Fitzpatrick. “Also, rates are going to go up. So, how does all of that impact the market? The news coverage needs to focus on these issues relative to our industry, as well.”

Regardless of what happens, the smart lender has their eye on the future. “Next year will be the year that we crack open all the data,” said Brian Koss, EVP of Mortgage Network. “If you are forced to collect new data at the same time you have to deal with a new application, that should be a good thing for the space to digest. It will be a good opportunity for the industry to rethink the entire process.”

Brian Koss has more than 25 years of mortgage banking experience and has personally generated more than $1 billion in home loans. Mr. Koss has trained hundreds of loan officers over this career, including many top producers. For ten years, he served as the host for “Mortgage Mondays” on the nationally syndicated “Money Matters” radio show.

“Lenders are typically founded by sales guys that pay little attention to detail and just buy technology off the shelf,” Koss said. “It’s like self medicating. You have this ache so you take this medicine, then this other thing hurts so you pick up some medicine for that, but you aren’t aware of how those medicines work together. Lenders will some times buy something because it sounds good, but you have to look at how that new technology impacts your process and other technologies. That decision making process has to end.”

All of this change is making it more and expensive to originate a loan. “Everyone is talking about how the front end is changing and being digitized, but the real issue is that we have to figure out how to bring the cost of complying down,” concluded Fitzpatrick. “Lenders will not be effective if they are always scared of compliance enforcement. A lot of the technology on the market today is old technology that has been around for 20 or 30 years. It’s like building a new modern house on top of old knob and tube wiring system. It doesn’t work. Technology has to evolve to help lenders meet the challenges of complying.”

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Asking The Tough Questions


As market conditions shift, lenders are concerned about how they comply with new rules, how they attract younger borrowers, how they increase efficiency, how they remain competitive, etc. The best solution, according to Brian Koss, EVP of Mortgage Network, is to stick with what you know.

“Knowing your core customers, your core states, your core products and your core markets is important,” he said. “You need to eliminate as many variables and create constants. You can’t be everything to everybody. You have to stay true to your mission.”

This strategy has helped Mortgage Network thrive. The lender has again been honored by two state housing agencies for its commitment to providing affordable financing options to qualified first-time and low- and moderate-income borrowers.

The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) recently announced that Mortgage Network had the fourth highest loan volume under the agency’s affordable mortgage program in 2015, up from sixth last year. Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, Mortgage Network was the top producing lender of affordable mortgage products under the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency (MassHousing) in both Hamden and Hampshire counties. Last year, Mortgage Network was the third top producing lender of MassHousing loans in the state.

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The best way to do effective lending these days is to do quality control as close to the point-of-sale as possible. “Once you’re in, you’re locked in,” noted Koss. “Quality control should be done at the point of quote. That’s hard because there are a lot of variables. Writing as much information up front is best. You want to build a better questionnaire for the borrower. Lenders that involve the consumer more and do more upfront have been the most successful.”

Based in Danvers, Massachusetts, Mortgage Network provides mortgage banking services in more than 20 states through a wide variety of retail offices built to fit each local market. Mortgage Network is more focused and agile than many larger competitors, which allows the company to provide a high level of service to its customers and its business and referral partners.

“Growth for growth’s sake is filled with risk,” noted Koss. “It’s hard to create a strong national platform. We’ve become a local business again. You have to have strong processes and systems to ensure that mistakes are not made.

“We are pure retail so we are consumer driven. It’s all about the local loan officer and their customers. We get great ideas from asking customers what they thought. If you are willing to ask and listen, you will get pearls of wisdom,” concluded Koss.

“Lenders are going to have to increasingly turn automation,” added Ann D. Fulmer, a senior industry advisor for FormFree Holdings. “Everything has to be documented, and the only way to do that is with technology. As much as can be automated, should be automated.

“One of the wild cards is how the disparate impact will be applied. You have to have processes that are in place, and you have to show that they are being applied to everybody the same. Lawyers are waiting to get their hands on data that could show if different products or processes are being used in different areas, among certain populations.”

FormFree is a provider of automated asset verifications for banks and mortgage lenders. A nationally recognized fraud expert, Fulmer is a former assistant D.A. in DeKalb County, Georgia, where she supervised investigations of white collar crimes, including real estate and mortgage fraud. Fulmer is also a speaker, author and thought leader in the areas of data integrity, regulatory compliance and mortgage risk detection and prevention. Most recently, she served as vice president of industry relations and strategy for Interthinx.

Fulmer warns that, “if a lender is only doing post closing quality control, you are spending a lot of time collecting mistakes instead of catching the mistakes early. If you are not looking at the quality control findings, you can’t go back and make sure that you are correcting these mistakes.

“In the end, it’s hard to integrate staff and systems, though. You have to make sure that everyone has the right regulatory training and the right systems. When growth happens through acquisition you always have these issues, for example.”

The secret is to never take your eye off of the consumer experience. “The biggest thing that lenders can do for consumers is to make things easy,” Fulmer said. “Mobile lending is amazing. I just purchased a home and it was mostly electronic and easy. Consumers don’t want to submit pages and pages of documentation. The trend toward mobile banking and e-mortgages is happening. The future is now.”

A lot of this responsibility falls on the LOS as the system of record. Lenders have to be smart about the LOS that they choose. “Our customers do best when they isolate their processes and document a loan consistently,” noted Lionel Urban, CEO, founding partner and chairman of the board for LOS PCLender, LLC. “There should be business logic to take care of all the steps and ensure that the steps are done. The market is unforgiving.”

One reason why the market is so unforgiving is because of the increased regulation and the pressure to comply. “The problem is that the regulations are interpreted differently. If you can’t define the regulation, you can’t define a process to address that regulation. There has to be a cure for that loan that is out of compliance, but beyond that, there has to be a cure for the process, as well,” Urban pointed out.

Prior to founding PCLender, LLC, Urban was a co-founder and CEO of Navigator Lending Solutions, Inc. (NavPros), a fulfilment services company specializing in mortgage banking services. Preceding NavPros, Lionel was the co-founder, president and CEO of, Inc. from 1997 to 2011.

During this time, he supervised the development of a pioneering, Internet-based mortgage technology platform supporting banks, credit unions and mortgage companies across the country. Since 1987, Lionel has acquired vast mortgage banking experience in management, origination, operations, secondary marketing and compliance roles within banks, credit unions, and independent mortgage bankers.

But in the end it all comes down to the type of people that you employ. “Mortgage executives have much to consider as they seek to grow profitability through expansion strategies,” pointed out Rick Glass, CEO of Rick Glass Executive Search. “Identifying executive leadership talent in unfamiliar geographic areas is never easy, so top management should be prepared to conduct substantial research to develop a list of the best candidates. This can, of course, take a great deal of time and effort that can distract from the everyday decisions of running a mortgage business. But taking the path of least resistance and hiring without the proper research, contact strategy, value proposition and vetting assessment can have far more serious effects and place the company at risk.

“Additionally, lenders are discovering that leading younger sales forces is quite different from leading older mortgage professionals, so the skill set for leaders is evolving rapidly. The younger Millennial group comes with different priorities, different motivators and different requirements for job satisfaction. Finding them, hiring them and succeeding with them requires leadership who truly “get” Millennials. Senior leadership must truly understand this new generation of the shared economy, with their vastly more sophisticated communications standards, notably with mobile devices, the latest apps and social media.”

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Lender Helps Build Homes For Local Families

Staff from the Salisbury, Maryland branch office of Mortgage Network Inc., one of the largest independent mortgage lenders in the eastern U.S., spent the past weekend helping to build homes for needy families through Habitat for Humanity of Wicomico County.

Eighteen employees, friends and the future homeowners worked side-by-side framing houses at the Cole’s Circle project in Salisbury’s Doverdale neighborhood. The single-story, four-bedroom homes are expected to be ready for occupancy by late summer or fall. Mortgage Network does business in Maryland as MNET Mortgage Corp.

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Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organization that forms partnerships with public and private entities to build, renovate and repair houses worldwide using volunteer labor and donations. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage.

“We were honored to help two local families achieve the dream of homeownership, and a fun and rewarding time was had by all,” said Hope Morgan (NMLS #476322), District Branch Manager of Mortgage Network’s Salisbury branch. “Over the years, Habitat for Humanity of Wicomico County has helped build more than 60 homes for local families. Mortgage Network is proud to be a part of that tradition, as we share Habitat’s belief that every person should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live.”

Based in Danvers, Massachusetts, Mortgage Network provides mortgage banking services in more than 20 states through a wide variety of retail offices built to fit each local market. Mortgage Network is more focused and agile than many larger competitors, which allows the company to provide a high level of service to its customers and its business and referral partners.

Lender Works To Conserve Farmland

A team of seasoned roadies and cycling newbies from Mortgage Network Inc., one of the largest independent mortgage lenders in the eastern U.S., rode in the “Tour de Greenbelt” this past weekend to support land preservation in Essex County. The Tour De Greenbelt included separate 25-mile and a 50-mile routes that passed through 11 towns and more than 50 historic and extraordinary properties. Mortgage Network was a major sponsor of this year’s event, which benefits Essex County Greenbelt, Essex County’s Land Trust. Greenbelt works with local landowners and communities to conserve the region’s farmland, wildlife habitat and scenic landscapes.

A total of 12 Mortgage Network employees and friends rode in the Tour de Greenbelt, while seven employees and supporters handed out water and snacks and gave encouragement to the riders at a Mortgage Network-hosted water stop.

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“Not only does land conservation play a critical role in maintaining a vibrant ecosystem, it contributes greatly to the quality of life we all enjoy,” said Robert McInnes, president of Mortgage Network. “We were proud to sponsor the Tour de Greenbelt, and I know our team as well as the other supporting riders enjoyed a fun, safe and scenic ride.”

Participants in the Tour de Greenbelt were given free Essex County Greenbelt memberships. Mortgage Network donated its free memberships to Action, Inc., a non-profit an emergency homeless shelter located in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

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Based in Danvers, Massachusetts, Mortgage Network provides mortgage banking services in more than 20 states through a wide variety of retail offices built to fit each local market. Mortgage Network is more focused and agile than many larger competitors, which allows the company to provide a high level of service to its customers and its business and referral partners.

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