Protecting The American Dream

It is heartbreaking to learn from the latest reports that after enduring this past summer’s unforgiving hurricanes Harvey and Maria, many homeowners now face the perils of mortgage delinquency and potential foreclosure. All of this is happening as they try to rebuild their community and put their lives back together. Surely, that’s not what the homeowners had in mind when they purchased the home. This is when the American Dream could become a nightmare.

Featured Sponsors:


Hurricanes or not, owning a home continues to be the greatest American Dream and one of the most rewarding experiences. However, as they say, it’s always prudent to hope for the best and plan for the worst. We are reminded that homeowners must plan for the unexpected, as there is a long list of events that could happen – many completely beyond a homeowner’s control – to affect a home’s condition and its value. Hurricanes, sure; floods, earthquakes…this is why homeowners are strongly encouraged to buy homeowners’ insurance and to have other insurance policies to protect them against natural disasters and potential losses.

Featured Sponsors:

Just like hurricanes, geopolitical developments, terrorism, global economic events, domestic financial markets, the departure of a corporation and a large local employer…there are many things that can happen – also beyond a homeowner’s control – that could suddenly start a downturn ripple and plummet a home’s value. During the 2008 housing crisis, millions of American homeowners saw their home value in free fall – a recorded $11 trillion in total value loss – and not all of these homeowners were subprime mortgage borrowers. Nearly all homeowners in America, including those who held onto their jobs and paid their mortgage on time, saw their home value decline. And we do not need to go as far back as a decade ago. More recently, large local employers including GE and Aetna left Connecticut, causing a substantial hit to the local housing market beyond local homeowners’ control. To many in the state, it might have felt like a hurricane had made landfall. Lenders recognize the unpredictability of the housing market – this is why they mandate many homebuyers to pay for mortgage insurance to protect the lender’s investment.

Featured Sponsors:

Until now, homebuyers paid for mortgage insurance to protect their lenders from financial loss but did not have any channels to protect themselves. Just as we no longer walk down the street to use the neighborhood pay phone, home buying too has changed for the better. Today, homebuyers can protect their own hard-earned savings and contribution into the home – their down payment – by choosing down payment protection. By adding a few dollars a month to their monthly mortgage payment, or choosing a mortgage lender that offers the protection at no charge, homeowners can now protect their home if there is a real estate correction. They can have their loss reimbursed to them even if they sell their home for less than what they bought it for. This consumer-empowerment protection is also available to homeowners who refinance, in the form of equity protection. If a homeowner refinances in today’s housing market high and sells at a lower amount, he or she can preserve that home equity and have the lost amount reimbursed to them, as a policy holder of equity protection.

We don’t know when the next hurricane will hit but economists tell us a real estate market downturn typically happens in 7 to 10 year cycles. Instead of trying to time the market – or wishing to never experience a hurricane again – it is wise for homebuyers and homeowners to hope for the best, but always plan for worst.

About The Author

Cleve Bellar

Cleve Bellar is the CMO at ValueInsured. He leads all areas of marketing and is passionate about connecting with lenders, partners, homebuyers and anyone else who will listen to him about a new way to get Americans into the homes they deserve. Bellar, who is passionate about connecting people via technology, has had one foot in marketing and one foot in technology. He has advanced marketing operations at business software maker Sage, LexisNexis Risk Solutions and Computer Associates.

Surplus Funds: What Mortgage Servicers Can Do To Recover These Funds

All properties owe real estate taxes to their local government agencies. However, some of the real estate tax collecting agencies may also collect various local delinquencies including utility bills (i.e. water, sewer, and trash) and fire district taxes (primarily northeastern states). These taxes pay for roads, schools, and other government operations to keep communities functioning and safe. When taxes owed are not paid, the property is typically sold at tax deed sale or tax lien certificate sale, allowing the government to collect the delinquencies, incurred costs, fees, etc. Once the property is sold, the jurisdiction deducts what is owed in delinquent taxes, fees, etc., and any funds leftover are deemed Surplus or Excess Funds.

Featured Sponsors:


Typically, surplus funds can be recovered by the owner of the property at the time of the tax sale, by the recorded owner of each security deed associated with the property, or by any other party having a recorded equity interest or claim at the time of the tax sale. However, not all states allow the distribution of surplus funds. For those that do, the amount of surplus funds can vary between a few hundred dollars and hundreds of thousands of dollars. For example, Erie County, New York often has millions of dollars in surplus funds owed to thousands of former property owners after a single tax sale.

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, an entire industry dedicated to recovering surplus funds emerged. Throughout the internet, infomercials promise fast money by collecting surplus funds for other people on a contingency basis. They promise a six-figure income while working out of the comfort of your home and will sell you the tools to do it, which is often just a simple list of specific locations with surplus funds.

Featured Sponsors:

Asset recovery companies were created to collect surplus funds for a percentage of the recovery, like collection agencies. These percentages have ranged anywhere from 12 percent all the way up to an astonishing 75 percent. To protect consumers, several agencies have enacted laws to prevent usurious fees. In 2017, Florida limited the total compensation to 12 percent and requires recovery companies to qualify and register as a “surplus trustee” in order to assist homeowners in claiming surplus funds. Regardless, these companies are still aggressively seeking to recover surplus funds. Another key fact is these asset recovery companies are not attorneys and are often not familiar with the laws concerning how to collect surplus funds. This ineptitude has not only caused delays in the distribution of funds but has also caused agencies to require attorney representation and subsequent court proceedings to collect funds, which adds tremendous time and costs to the process.

Surplus fund distribution varies from state to state, and sometimes even differs by agency, but all are usually managed by the county. In some agencies, these funds are automatically sent to the homeowner on record at the time of the sale. In other states, the process is more complex. Jurisdictions are often not in a hurry to distribute these funds because unclaimed funds are escheated to the state if uncollected. So, what can mortgage servicers do to increase their chances of recovering surplus funds?

Featured Sponsors:

1.) Ensure the proper assignment of mortgage is filed timely and accurately to prove interest in the sold property. If the mortgage was not recorded and the county could not locate the homeowner at the time of the tax sale, the unclaimed funds revert to the state. Having valid proof of interest in the property is the first step to attempt to recover the funds, as the notice of surplus funds is sent to the last recorded mortgagee and to the homeowner at the address of the property sold.

2.) Different states/different rules. A solid working relationship with the jurisdiction can make the process go smoother and reduce the cost of claiming surplus funds. Therefore, it is important to partner with an experienced tax servicer who has relationships with property tax jurisdictions throughout the country and is familiar with surplus fund collection requirements.

3.) If the surplus funds case goes to court, having legal representation that is knowledgeable about the collection of surplus funds is key. This type of law can be simple until there are complications. Attorneys who are trained regarding the collection of surplus funds are crucial because they know the decision makers and they know the legal landscape. Changes in the legal landscape surrounding surplus funds, such as the DLT LIST case in Georgia, argues that surplus funds are personal property and any lien against real property does not attach to surplus funds, despite Georgia law allowing the owner of security deeds to submit claims on surplus funds.

4.) Educating appropriate mortgage servicing team members about surplus funds and the mortgage servicers rights to those surplus funds is important. Surplus funds collected can be applied to the outstanding mortgage balance and reduce the loss of the asset, i.e., the property, to the mortgage servicer

No one wants a property lost at tax sale. However, if it happens, mitigating losses by collecting surplus funds can be effective if done properly. With the emergence of recovery firms and “get rich quick” schemes trying to collect surplus funds, the process has become more complex and competitive. Mortgage servicers need to be diligent in collecting the funds in order to mitigate potential losses.

About The Author

Greg Oppenheimer

Greg Oppenheimer is a specialist with LERETA’s Claims and Lost Property Department team processing escalated claims and providing loss mitigation research on properties lost at tax sale. Before becoming part of LERETA, he was on the Client Support team at QBE First where he spearheaded client support issues relating to delinquent property taxes and title curative issues for outsourcing customers. Oppenheimer is a graduate of Dickinson College.

Taking LOS Integrations A Step Further

By now, most lenders can agree that there are countless benefits to integrating their Loan Origination System (LOS) with a technology provider’s software. For one, it eliminates the front-end data entry of having to visit multiple vendor websites and rekeying data they have already entered into the LOS. With a true “lights out” integration, the lender doesn’t have to ever leave the LOS; they can order everything they need within one system, saving valuable time.

In addition, LOS integrations eliminate copying and pasting on the back-end of the process once the order is complete. When the report is delivered back to the lender, not only is the PDF imported to the “manage files” section of the LOS, but key data elements populate important data fields. When done correctly, the LOS automatically populates the legal description and vesting information from the title work, the value of the property from the Automated Valuation Model (AVM), desktop valuation or appraisal, and valuable flood zone and HMDA data from the flood certification. Populating these key data fields saves the lender from copying, pasting or rekeying the information into the LOS. It also mitigates the risk of potential human errors associated with manual data entry; for example, the “w” and “e” keys, located right next to each other on the processors keyboard, could be accidentally keyed incorrectly which would present a problem for legal documents and recordation if “E. MAIN ST.” inadvertently becomes “W. MAIN ST.”

Featured Sponsors:


Lenders partnering with a provider that enables a true “lights out” LOS integration surely experience benefits. However, if their provider is not a middleware aggregator, they are still missing out on ways to improve their loan processing. By partnering with an aggregator, lenders can take their LOS integration a step further and distinguish themselves among competition.

In most LOS integrations, a technology provider integrates into a lender’s LOS in order to enable access to their own brand of products and services. An aggregator, on the other hand, provides lenders access to all brands within one platform. Even if a lender wanted to integrate with multiple providers, the process to include all of their vendors could take months to complete. With an aggregator, lenders can go live with hundreds of vendor choices available to them on day one.

Featured Sponsors:

Some aggregators even give lenders the ability to add their own vendors that may not be integrated with the aggregator; such as small, local title companies or appraisers. With User Defined Vendor (UDV) technology, the lender selects which vendor they would like to utilize and the aggregator delivers the order to the preferred vendor. Local vendors looking to access an aggregator’s system on the back-end can easily upload their documents to the system with data elements and the PDF so that the aggregator can convert the forms to XML and deliver them back into the LOS. UDV technology enables lenders to add their preferred companies into their LOS in days as opposed to months.

Another important tool that lenders should look for when choosing an aggregator is escalation intelligence. This type of technology programs the systems to automatically know what the lender wants to do next if orders receive a “no hit” or if the underwriting guidelines dictate that a more robust type of product needs to be ordered. For example, if a lender orders an instant property valuation and there is not enough information on the property for the system to return an AVM, the system will automatically order a desktop valuation, drive-by appraisal or full appraisal, depending on the underwriting guidelines, risk tolerance and cost savings objectives of the lender. The same technology can be applied to instant title searches, full property reports and title insurance products.

Featured Sponsors:

Finally, an aggregator has the ability to mimic the lender’s underwriting guidelines to provide additional efficiency and “automated decisioning” technology. They provide configurations that intelligently know what products to order based on credit scores, loan amounts, LTV and other underwriting criteria, then auto-order the appropriate products and services that are required for that specific loan. This type of technology eliminates the need for the processors to determine what to order and when to order it, thereby reducing the risk of human error.

LOS integrations with middleware aggregators result in reduced processing and closing times for lenders. The aggregator delivers faster integrations with more vendors, manages vendor turnaround time on behalf of the lender and even calculates Loan to Value (LTV) and Combined Loan to Value (CLTV) to automatically populate on the lender’s system. While general LOS integrations are beneficial, it is clear that the most competitive lenders use middleware aggregators to take their integrations to the next level.

About The Author

Tedd Smith

Tedd Smith is chief executive officer of Austin, Texas-based FirstClose, provider of end-to-end technology solutions to mortgage lenders nationwide. The FirstClose reporting suite is the first, comprehensive solution with capabilities to deliver title, flood, valuation and other important data elements in one report. For more information, visit

Lender Launches Consumer-Facing Website Touting Benefits Of Working With Mortgage Brokers

United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) has launched a consumer-facing website,, dedicated solely to promoting the advantages of working with a mortgage broker for borrowers as well as real estate professionals, and helping both groups easily locate mortgage brokers in their area.

Featured Sponsors:


UWM created the website to enhance awareness of mortgage brokers as a better option than large banks and mega retail lenders for three groups: consumers looking to get a residential loan; real estate professionals who want to build reliable partnerships and empower their clients; and bank or retail loan originators who are looking for the best place to work.

“Consumers are constantly inundated with advertising from banks and mega retail lenders that is only focused on interest rates, but there is more to a mortgage than the rate. More focus should be on finding the best program and lowest overall monthly payment for their specific needs, and the interest rate is only a small part of that,” said Mat Ishbia, President and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage. “A local mortgage broker will educate consumers on the full picture, clearly lay out all the options available from multiple lenders, and help them find the best possible deal. gives consumers nationwide a platform to easily locate nearby mortgage brokers and learn about why they’re the best choice for getting a mortgage.”

Featured Sponsors:

In addition to serving as an educational guide of written and video content explaining the value of mortgage brokers, the website provides a nationwide database of mortgage brokers filtered by location.

“Mortgage brokers are the best way for people to get a mortgage, but it’s difficult for people to use a broker if they don’t know where to find one. This website will make it easy to find a mortgage broker that is local to them,” Ishbia said.

Featured Sponsors:

Investing in this website to ensure that borrowers are educated on why mortgage brokers are best further supports UWM’s commitment to growing the independent mortgage broker channel.

About The Author

Tony Garritano

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

The Right Way To Win The Deal

Regardless of who you’re selling to, lenders, servicers or the borrower, you have to have a clear strategy and you have to execute. That’s essential. But even before that, famed consultant Jill Konrath challenges people in her article “The Experience of You” that you should start by asking yourself: Would you buy something from yourself?

Konrath goes further to say that you should imagine yourself as someone who’s always involved in the buying decision for your product/service. Here’s the scenario: You’re busy. Really busy. You’ve been in meetings all morning and by lunchtime you’re already two hours behind schedule.

Featured Sponsors:


Grabbing a quick sandwich and chips at the vending machine, you sit down at your desk to try to catch up while you eat. Forty-two new emails sit in your inbox awaiting your response. A quick scan shows nothing requiring an immediate reply.

Checking voicemail, you hear that you have seven messages piled up. Since you’re expecting an important call, you’re forced to listen to each one. But your attention span is short. If the caller doesn’t pique your interest right away, they’re bleeped.

Right after lunch, you’re meeting with a salesperson that somehow managed to get on your calendar. You look at the work piled on your desk. There’s enough there to keep you busy for two weeks if you had nothing else to do but finish it.

Featured Sponsors:

Your stomach wretches with the dread of another non-productive meeting. You have no patience for sellers who ask trite questions to which they should already know the answer.

You don’t want to hear about their products or service. Nor do you want to add any more complexity or change to what you’re already doing—even for just a short while. You can’t keep up as it is.

That’s the reality facing most buyers today.

If you’re like most sellers, your approach is creating your own problems. If you’ve been in sales for a long time, you’re likely using the same strategies and techniques you learned long ago. If you’re new to sales, you’re likely being trained on skills that worked just a few short years ago but are no longer effective.

Sales success today requires you to be distinct or face becoming extinct. In The Experience Economy, authors Pine and Gilmore write that future economic growth lies in the value of experiences and transformations. An interesting thought to ponder. What relevance could it possibly have for people who sell?

Featured Sponsors:

The truth is that every interaction you have with prospective customers is either a positive or a negative experience—never neutral. If your prospect feels they received value from your interaction, you get a second chance. If not, you’re out.

Sharing information about your product or service contributes virtually nothing to the value equation. It’s assumed that you will say only good things about your offering.

Additionally, buyers perceive that what you sell is nearly identical to your competitors – whether you think it is or not. As far as they’re concerned, everything is a commodity or soon will be.

Rich and compelling experiences are created by sellers who recognize the shift that’s taken place in the market. They study their prospect’s business problems and goals. They constantly search for information that their prospects would find valuable.

When they talk with their prospects, they bring along ideas and insights into what’s happening in the marketplace, with their prospect’s customers or with their competitors. They challenge their customer’s paradigm of what it takes to be successful and get them thinking.

These “experiences” don’t just happen serendipitously. You have to immerse yourself in your prospect’s business, market segment, industry and more. You need to continually be asking, “How can I help my customers achieve their goals or solve their problems?”

As a person who sells, your job is to orchestrate this rich and compelling experience. You can’t leave it up to happenstance.

Authors Pine and Ginsmore further advocate that customers should pay for this “experience.” With that in mind, I’ll leave you with one final thought:

Would your prospects willingly pay $500 for an hour of your time?

Think about that each time you meet with a potential buyer and make it happen. Your competitors won’t stand a chance.

About The Author

Michael Hammond

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

Calling On You To Build A Better Team & Kill A Toxic Culture

A toxic business culture can bring down the whole company, driving good employees away and draining productivity.

Such a negative atmosphere is fairly common in U.S. companies. A survey by The Creative Group showed nearly a third of executive-level employees said that a colleague had tried to make them look bad in a variety of ways. A study by the Harvard Business School reported that weeding out toxic employees could save a company over $12,000 per employee.

Featured Sponsors:


But before a team is driven apart or toxic employees are shown the door, some business culture-change experts say there are ways to preserve and build better teams.

When faced with organizational disarray, it’s sometimes helpful to introduce different team-development concepts.

Often, though, that’s not the one that rings most true with team members who, more often than not, are a group of great players who just need a better way to collaborate, coordinate and communicate – and not compete.

Featured Sponsors:

There are three ways company leaders can build teams that work well together towards a common goal:

Navigate the negatives. I suggest getting the team to play a game called Speed Boat, created by Luke Hohmann. Speed Boat is based on the concept that something is holding the team back, similar to anchors or rough waters. To determine what that impediment might be, individuals write down what they think is holding their boat (team) back, then post their reasons on a wall over a picture of a speed boat. It’s fascinating how a metaphor—a boat—and the image of an anchor help people uncover the toxic issues that are damaging their interactions.

Discuss sad, mad, glad. The purpose is to encourage team members to redesign their interpersonal relationships so that the toxic environment can be relieved, if not resolved. Participants each have a set amount of time to tell a story about what they are glad about, sad about, and mad about in their daily work. Then they talk about what they would do to increase, reduce and eliminate in order to create a new story that addresses the sad and mad, and builds on the glad.

Featured Sponsors:

Pair up. There is a growing realization in business today that solo work styles are not as effective as when people work in pairs. In this approach, pairs of staff members are responsible to each other to make sure their jobs are done on time and to specs. The pairs are rotated every two to three weeks. The watershed moment occurs when the pairs realize that their success only comes from results that both of them achieve.

Metaphors and games allow people to express their pain points in a more neutral, emotionally secure manner. It gets their boat moving again and pulls them together as a team.

About The Author

Andi Simon

Andi Simon, author of On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights, is a corporate anthropologist and award-winning author. She is the founder and CEO of Simon Associates Management Consultants, designed over a decade ago to help companies use the tools of anthropology to better adapt to changing times. Simon also is a public speaker and an Innovation Games facilitator and trainer. She served as a tenured professor of anthropology and American studies at Ramapo College of New Jersey, and was a visiting professor teaching entrepreneurship at Washington University in St. Louis.

How To Make Your CRM Big Data Small

Small and midsized (SMB) businesses love to think big, and there’s no better way to do that than with the right customer relationship management (CRM) technology. The operative words here, of course, are the right.

As the sheer volume of customer information captured through CRM continues to increase, businesses must evaluate whether they can truly capitalize on the valuable data their CRM software delivers. And so, it’s important to ensure that your CRM is designed with an SMB business needs in mind, since the tools and data that large corporations use might be of minimal use, irrelevant or even holding your SMB business back.

Featured Sponsors:


Instead, find a CRM that can scale to your business’s customer data needs by following a few guiding principles.

Start with the basics

There’s a wealth of invaluable data that can be gleaned from today’s CRM technology. Businesses can aggregate information about customer demographics, pain points, organizational objectives, timelines, contact preferences and much, much more. But the truth is, SMBs are often best served by taking a more minimalistic approach to their CRM strategy.

Featured Sponsors:

It’s important for new CRM users to begin with the essentials before working their way up to more complicated features and data points. Otherwise, they may find themselves drowning in a sea of customer data they are not prepared to interpret or make actionable.

Commence your CRM journey by establishing what your business’s basic needs are. Are you looking to track sales? Is customer feedback a top priority? What are your customers’ needs? Sticking to the essentials will help ensure your CRM implementation’s efficiency, ease of adoption and therefore effectiveness.

After you’ve mastered the basics, you can drill down further.

Focus on areas that benefit you most

Many CRM programs offer a daunting and seemingly endless assortment of complicated data input screens. But for SMBs, this data overload can be both overwhelming and superfluous. Such businesses are often better off focusing on the areas that offer them the greatest benefits.

Featured Sponsors:

According to, managing contact info, tracking interactions, scheduling and email marketing are among the other top priorities for SMB. If you do these basics well, you’ll be well-served through CRM and it will help you strengthen customer interactions. Nearly 75 percent of small and midsized businesses using CRM have reported improved customer relationships.

Take advantage of new technologies

Today’s CRM technology includes features such as voice interaction, predictive analytics and various other forms of artificial intelligence (AI) functionality. The right recommendation engine, tailored specifically for the SMB market, can provide a significant value to your business.

These technologies serve an important role in helping boil down the big data captured by CRMs to what is most relevant and actionable for your business. Though the majority of small businesses have been slow to embrace AI-capable CRMs, those taking advantage of these features are reporting significant benefits.

There’s no one size-fits-all CRM strategy for capitalizing on the big data available for today’s companies. SMBs have a unique set of needs that differ greatly from those of your large enterprise size competitors. The CRM an SMB chooses to serve those needs should reflect this reality; after all, if their needs aren’t the same, the strategy shouldn’t be either.

About The Author

Lorcan Malone

Lorcan Malone is president and COO at Swiftpage ( He has over 20 years of industry experience working with companies around the world, delivering major IT solutions for Fortune 100 organizations, implementing high-profile eGovernment initiatives, and selling and delivering large scale outsourcing and IT transformation projects. Lorcan was previously VP for Infor CRM and, prior to that, served as SVP and GM for Swiftpage’s Saleslogix software and GM at Sage CRM. Prior to joining Sage, Lorcan held a number of senior level positions at IT services company Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in Ireland and the Middle East, including Managing Director EDS Ireland and regional manager for EDS Middle East and North Africa. Lorcan was also the Chief Operating Officer of Injazat Data Systems based in Abu Dhabi. Lorcan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from University College Dublin.

Home Equity Growth Slows

Data shows that at the end of the first quarter of 2018, more than 5.2 million (5,206,446) U.S. properties were seriously underwater (where the combined balance of loans secured by the property was at least 25 percent higher than the property’s estimated market value), down by more than 291,000 properties from a year ago — the smallest year-over-year drop since ATTOM Data Solutions began tracking in Q1 2013.

The 5.2 million seriously underwater properties at the end of Q1 2018 represented 9.5 percent of all U.S. properties with a mortgage, up from 9.3 percent in the previous quarter but down from 9.7 percent in Q1 2017.

Featured Sponsors:


“We’ve reached a tipping point in this housing boom where enough homeowners have regained both sufficient equity and sufficient confidence to tap into their home equity — resulting in a noticeably slower decline in seriously underwater properties and slower growth in equity rich properties,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions. “This tapping of equity could take the form of a cash-out refinance, home equity loan or simply a home sale. We saw the biggest quarterly drop in average homeownership tenure for homeowners who sold in the first quarter since Q4 2008, evidence that more homeowners are reaching that equity-tapping tipping point more quickly and deciding to sell.”

More than 19.5 million (19,513,871) U.S. properties had between 20 and 50 percent equity (LTV of between 80 and 50 percent) at the end of Q1 2018, down by 1,714,099 from a year ago, an 8 percent decrease.

Featured Sponsors:

Homes with 20 to 50 percent equity represented 36.1 percent of all properties with a mortgage as of the end of Q1 2018, down from 36.3 percent in the previous quarter and down from 37.6 percent in Q1 2017.

Equity rich properties represent one in four properties with a mortgage

More than 13.8 million (13,841,082) U.S. properties with a mortgage were equity rich at the end of Q1 2018, up by more than 122,000 from a year ago but still down from a peak of more than 14 million equity rich properties in Q2 2017.

The 13.8 million equity rich properties represented 25.3 percent of all U.S. properties with a mortgage, down from 25.4 percent in the previous quarter but still up from 24.3 percent in Q1 2017.

Featured Sponsors:

Highest share of equity rich properties in coastal California, Honolulu, Seattle

States with the highest share of equity rich homes were Hawaii (41.6 percent); California (41.5 percent); New York (34.8 percent); Washington (33.1 percent); and Oregon (31.8 percent).

Among 98 metropolitan statistical areas with a population of at least 500,000, those with the highest share of equity rich homes were San Jose, California (66.1 percent); San Francisco, California (56.0 percent); Los Angeles, California (45.4 percent); Honolulu, Hawaii (43.1 percent); and Seattle, Washington (39.1 percent).

Highest share of seriously underwater properties in Scranton, Baton Rouge, Youngstown

States with the highest share of seriously underwater homes at the end of Q1 2018 were Louisiana (20.1 percent); Mississippi (18.0 percent); Iowa (17.2 percent); West Virginia (15.9 percent); and Illinois (15.9 percent).

Among 98 metropolitan statistical areas with a population of at least 500,000, those with the highest share of seriously underwater homes at the end of Q1 2018 were Scranton, Pennsylvania (21.9 percent); Baton Rouge, Louisiana (19.9 percent); Youngstown, Ohio (19.5 percent); New Orleans, Louisiana (18.5 percent); and Toledo, Ohio (18.0 percent).

Along with New Orleans, among 51 metro areas with at least 1 million people, those with more than 13 percent of seriously underwater properties were Cleveland, Ohio (16.5 percent); Milwaukee, Wisconsin (16.0 percent); St. Louis, Missouri (14.7 percent); Chicago, Illinois (13.8 percent); Detroit, Michigan (13.6 percent); Virginia Beach, Virginia (13.4 percent); and Kansas City, Missouri (13.4 percent).

Tony Garritano

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

Not All Banking Interactions Of The Future Will Be Handled By Bots

With Mastercard Inc. set to release its first-quarter financial results, and Finovate Spring 2018 approaching next week, fintech continues to lead the disruption charge in banking. US banks remain under pressure to stay ahead of what’s in store during the next wave of innovation, which is being led by AI advancements in the industry.

Featured Sponsors:


Gartner’s research shows the global banking industry will spend $519 billion on IT in 2018, up 4.1 percent year over year from $499 billion in 2017. Features like chatbots are changing banks’ relationships with customers, and digital players are increasingly integrating social media to interact with clients.

But despite the increase in technology adoption in the sector, the need for human contact persists, with voice recognition and chatbot technology still in its infancy.

Featured Sponsors:

Traditional banks must heavily invest in upgrading contact center environments to accommodate anticipated customer needs, in conjunction with embracing advanced technology platforms.

Banks can reap the benefits of AI and automation to improve interactions between staff and customers, says Intelenet Global Services, whose tech innovations for banks have seen them win recognition in the 2017 IDC Fintech Rankings.

Featured Sponsors:

Tony Antenucci, VP of Banking, Financial Services and Insurance for Intelenet Global Services, comments: “The way customers interact with their bank in the U.S. is changing, as branches close down and more people switch to online banking, communicating through contact centers via phone or online if they need more help.

“Keeping up with new technology is vital to keep the processes behind these operations running smoothly and maintaining a relationship between banks and their customers. AI tools can help personalize banking for the customer, and automated processes free up staff to focus more on customer service and complex question resolution.

Tony continues: “For example, voice-recognition programs can automatically recognize an individual by their voice, predicting the subject of a call before the customer has to explain it. Each customer can be automatically sent to the right department, or the person they spoke to before, without having to be passed between contact staff.

“This dramatically improves the experience for the consumer. One leading bank was able to reduce the average handling time for customer calls by 40 percent.

“Banks will need to keep up this lead in innovative technology, to fend off growing competition for customers from Fintech challengers.”

About The Author

Tony Garritano

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