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Firm Expands Its Mortgage Technology Footprint

Consolidated Analytics announced that it is expanding its enterprise sales team by adding mortgage operation’s expert Randy Loghry as senior vice president of mortgage origination and technology advisory services.  Loghry will drive the origination advisory practice with a focus on technology utilization strategy for digital transformation, process optimization and loan origination software (LOS) and point-of-sale (POS) selection.  


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“Randy is a foremost expert in leading mortgage lending and automation technologies,” said Steve Faulkner, division president at Consolidated Analytics. “His expertise delivers a distinct time-to-market advantage to our clients who are navigating the complexities of vendor selection and implementation of digital transformation and process optimization projects.”


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As former chief operating officer of leading LOS provider Mortgage Cadence and founder of Mortgage Technology Advisors, a successful mortgage technology consulting practice, Loghry has spent the last decade evaluating, selecting and implementing mortgage technology solutions for some of the industry’s most respected lending institutions.


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“The market’s demand for rapid implementation of origination tech has prompted the development of this new tech advisory team,” said Arvin Wijay, CEO at Consolidated Analytics. “Powerful technology must be paired with exceptional processes to maximize the return on investment and Randy will ensure that our clients get the most out of their investment spend.


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Founded in 1996, Consolidated Analytics, Inc. is a diversified provider of solutions to the mortgage services industry. Extending through all channels of origination, risk management, secondary, servicing and portfolio management the Consolidated Analytics companies provide innovative, comprehensive and fairly-priced products and services in the areas of valuation, due diligence, fulfillment, advisory and risk management.

Foreclosures Drop To 13-Year Low

ATTOM Data Solutions released its Year-End 2018 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, which shows foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — were reported on 624,753 U.S. properties in 2018, down 8 percent from 2017 and down 78 percent from a peak of nearly 2.9 million in 2010 to the lowest level since 2005.


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Those 624,753 properties with foreclosure filings in 2018 represented 0.47 percent of all U.S. housing units, down from 0.51 percent in 2017 and down from a peak of 2.23 percent in 2010 to the lowest level since 2005.


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ATTOM’s year-end foreclosure report provides a unique count of properties with a foreclosure filing during the year based on publicly recorded and published foreclosure filings collected in more than 2,500 counties nationwide, with address-level data on more than 23 million foreclosure filings historically also available for license or customized reporting. See full methodology below.


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The report also includes new data for December 2018, when there were 52,069 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings, down 2 percent from the previous month and down 19 percent from a year ago — the 6th consecutive month with a year-over-year decrease in foreclosure activity.


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“Plummeting foreclosure completions combined with consistently falling foreclosure timelines in 2018 provide evidence that most of the distress from the last housing crisis has now been cleaned up,” said Todd Teta, Chief Product Officer. “But there was also some evidence of distress gradually returning to the housing market in 2018, with foreclosure starts increasing from the previous year in more than one-third of all state and local housing markets. 

“Some of that distress was driven by natural disasters, most notably in Houston, where foreclosure starts increased 61 percent,” Teta continued. “But natural disasters do not explain the increase in markets such as Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Milwaukee and Austin — all of which posted double-digit percentage increases in foreclosure starts in 2018.”

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Lender Pledges To Plant Three Trees Per Closed Loan In 2019

Planet Home Lending, LLC, a national mortgage lender and servicer, has partnered with the National Forest Foundation (NFF) in a project that helps define the company’s brand while sequestering  its carbon footprint. Planet Home Lending pledges three trees for each closed loan in 2019, up to 25,000 trees. The NFF will plant the trees in national forests where they are most needed across the country.


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“We strive to be good corporate citizens, valuing and beneficially affecting our communities, society and the planet,” said Michael Dubeck, CEO and president of Planet Home Lending. “This tree-planting partnership with the National Forest Foundation allows us to define, promote and enhance the green aspect of our company while showing that it is possible to be fiscally successful and environmentally conscious.” 


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Planet Home Lending’s partnership with the NFF is a part of the company’s larger Planet with a Purpose initiatives. “This company was founded on the idea that we have a responsibility to the planet and the communities we serve,” Dubeck said. “Partnering with the National Forest Foundation will help our employees, customers and business partners feel good about the positive effect we collectively make on our planet with every loan we close.” 

The NFF is a nonprofit chartered by Congress to work with the USDA Forest Service and communities to promote the health and public enjoyment of the National Forest System. Since 2001, the NFF’s tree-planting program has planted more than 13.5 million seedlings in national forests across America, where they’re most needed. The NFF currently has approximately 150 corporate and small business partners in addition to Planet Home Lending that include Coca Cola, Blend, REI, Lands’ End and Southwest Airlines.


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“We are incredibly proud to partner with Planet Home Lending,” said Wes Swaffar, director of reforestation and partnerships at the NFF. “Partnerships like these with companies that are passionate about the environment help us work toward our goal of planting 50 million trees in our national forests.”


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Law Firm Ivey & Eggleston Embraces Digital Closings

Pavaso, creator of a complete digital mortgage closing platform, is pleased to announce that Ivey & Eggleston, an Asheboro, North Carolina law firm, has selected Pavaso’s technology to conduct its digital closings. 


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Ivey & Eggleston offers representation in a wide variety of legal matters, including real estate transactions for both the residential and commercial sectors. In selecting the Pavaso platform, Ivey & Eggleston are enhancing the closing experience for brokers, agents, lenders, home buyers and sellers. 


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“Ivey & Eggleston’s relationship with Pavaso allows us to offer our clients an innovative alternative to a traditional closing,” said S. Scott Eggleston, attorney and owner of Ivey & Eggleston. “eClosings will help save time and money, and prevent frustration throughout the transaction. We are excited to be early adopters of this technology and to be part of the wave of the future in real estate closings.” 


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Pavaso’s platform brings together all stakeholders on one secure platform to communicate, collaborate and exchange information throughout the entire closing process. Through a complete suite of eClosing products, Pavaso provides fully digital and hybrid closings that are designed to deliver the ultimate customer experience.


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“We are excited to work with Ivey & Eggleston to advance their closings to a digital process that will allow them to provide a superior customer experience, streamline processes and deliver a faster, more efficient closing,” said Cheryl Baillis, executive vice president of operations at Pavaso.

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St. Louis Loan Originator Bets On FinKube To Help Increase Home Finance Business

FinKube, a company that provides AI-powered Platform-as-a-Service solutions for a range of industries, announced that St. Louis-based LenderCity has successfully deployed ELSA, FinKube’s Electronic Loan Services Assistant. The mortgage industry’s first chatbot is already interacting with prospective borrowers on the LenderCity website.


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“Consumers want immediate answers to their home finance questions and ELSA is smart enough to provide the information they need and gather the information we need to prequalify the borrower,” said Gregg Harris, principal at LenderCity. “We know we need to respond very quickly to borrower requests for information, but we also want to capture as much information from them as we can, without taking up the loan officer’s time. FinKube’s ELSA is the answer.”


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ELSA is an intelligent assistant that uses AI and machine learning to enhance the origination process from origination to close. Her AI is powerful enough to gather borrower information, render decisions, automate time-consuming tasks and help lenders produce fully compliant mortgage loans in as few as 20 days, though she is well versed in any form of consumer lending.


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“American home buyers still want to visit with a live loan officer before signing on a new mortgage, but it’s not efficient to spend the loan officer’s time in conference with borrowers who do not qualify,” said Jorge Sauri, founder and CEO of FinKube. “At the same time, those borrowers who do qualify expect to have their questions answered immediately. They don’t want to wait for a call back. They want to feel like they are in control. Most chatbot technology cannot offer that, but ELSA does.”


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With ELSA, LenderCity is able to hyper personalize the home finance transaction at every stage. Studies have shown that this:

>>Reduces customer acquisition costs by 50-80%

>>Increases engagement and conversion by 500%

>>Reduces customer service costs by 50-80%

>>Increases loan retention by a factor of 6

As an A.I. powered virtual assistant, ELSA works 24/7/365 pre-qualifying leads, communicating with customers and synchronizing outreach across chat, text, voice, email, and mobile wallet. In addition, FinKube can deploy ELSA ten times faster than generic chatbots that can’t speak mortgage out of the box.

Veros Data Predicts A Market Dip This Year

A new forecast of nationwide residential real estate values predicts significant slowing in most markets through 2019. The fourth quarter 2018 VeroFORECAST is the latest 12-month forecast from Veros Real Estate Solutions (Veros), an award-winning industry leader in enterprise risk management, collateral valuation services and predictive analytics.


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The new report forecasts average appreciation of 3.9 percent in the survey’s 100 most populous markets, which is more than a half-percent drop from the 4.5 percent average of the top 100 markets in the previous quarterly report released last September.


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The drop is reflected throughout the latest report’s projections, which are based on data from 359 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). These MSAs include 13,870 zip codes and 1,004 counties for a total coverage of the residences of 82 percent of the U.S.population.


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“This amount of change from one quarter to the next is significant,”said Eric Fox, VP of Statistical and Economic Modeling at Veros and the report’s author. “While the market fundamentals remain solid and we still expect the overall housing market to remain healthy, there is a definite slowing down of most markets from last quarter’supdate.”


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“We do not see a crash,” Fox cautioned, “but simply a slowing down as the strength of the past few years is expected to dissipate somewhat in most markets.”

With the economy strong and unemployment continuing to drop, the report points to housing supply and interest rates as the key contributors to the softening.”Overall, interest rates appear to be softening the forecasts in many markets by one-to-two percent over what they would have been had the flat interest rate environment continued as it has for the past several years,” Fox said.”At the same time, housing supply is a key discriminator between our top and bottom forecast performing markets.”

Black Knight Makes Digital Closing Advances

Black Knight has enhanced the company’s Expedite Close digital closing solution has been enhanced with advanced intelligence and data recognition capabilities. Already able to support traditional wet-ink, digital or hybrid mortgage closings, the newly enhanced Expedite Close adds the ability to automatically determine the best way to close any given loan based upon a lender’s preferences and business rules, as well as jurisdiction-specific requirements.


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“Expedite Close was already a game-changer for eClosings by seamlessly supporting hybrid or fully digital processes while also making sure settlement agents, lenders, real estate agents, consumers and investors had what they needed without requiring changes to current practices or systems,” said Mike Brown, general manager of Black Knight’s Lending Solutions division. “But now it takes eClosing to a whole new level with advanced intelligence capabilities that automatically determine and execute on the best way to close a loan, based upon lender preferences and what a given jurisdiction allows. This newest iteration of Expedite Close is yet another innovative solution Black Knight is bringing to market as we continue to help transform the industry.”


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Whenever possible, Expedite Close supports fully digital closings – including eSign, eNotary and eClose components. For closings that are not fully digital, Expedite Close automatically identifies and executes whatever combination of wet-ink and digital closing works best for the lender and/or the property jurisdiction, saving significant cost and time. Expedite Close also enables lenders to adopt digital elements at their own pace, without requiring the purchase of additional technology when the lender – or the jurisdiction – is ready to embrace completely digital closings.


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This innovative closing solution also digitally audits the entire closing package at completion. Additionally, advanced document-recognition capabilities enable static PDFs of closing documents to become searchable, eSignable and data-centric, allowing Expedite Close to streamline the post-closing process. These innovative capabilities not only introduce greater speed and efficiency into the closing process, but also support consistency throughout the entire process. 


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 Expedite Close significantly enhances the consumer experience by providing a more streamlined closing with the ability to review all necessary documents before the actual closing and eSign-appropriate documents. Lenders and settlement agents not only benefit from improved borrower satisfaction, but also from reduced risk and enhanced efficiencies without having to significantly alter their current processes.

“Right now, mortgage closing requirements are inconsistent and inefficient across the country, and even from lender to lender, or agent to agent,” said Brown. “Expedite Close was designed to meet the challenges of today’s closings, while delivering maximum benefit to our clients and their customers, and making the process – and implementation – as simple as possible.”

Churchill Mortgage Supports Homebuyers With New ‘Rate Secured’ Program

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


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


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


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


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

Equity National Title, DCU Execute Their First Remotely-Notarized E-Closing

Equity National Title, a national settlement services provider, and Digital Federal Credit Union, better known as DCU, a non-profit financial cooperative serving members nationwide, have completed their first remote notary-enabled e-closing. 


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The closing took place in Virginia.  According to James K. O’Donnell, Esq., President of Equity National Title, the process began when DCU approached him in an effort to advance and accelerate its remote notary closing program. “DCU continuously seeks to use the best available technologies to improve the process for its members—and always has,” said O’Donnell. “Using our eWays technology, we were able to identify pending mortgage loans in the DCU pipeline that would benefit from remote technology and which could do so in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.”  According to O’Donnell, the eWays technology is a first-of-its-kind “e-closing” hub for mortgage lenders designed to advise of the types of digital closings available at a zip code level.  The portal was designed to help clarify for mortgage lenders whether key authorities in each zip code accept none, all or some combination of the four existing types of closing:  fully digital; hybrid; remote notary or traditional.  The website can be seen at https://www.eclosingsbyequity.com/.


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“Although the technology is innovative and forward-thinking, our biggest success was that we were able to maintain the personal element of the closing experience,” said Harry Tsianatelis, Mortgage Operations Assistant Manager for DCU. “We take great pride in providing borrowers a first-rate experience from start-to-finish.”


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Tsianatelis observed that the transaction was a success for the member. “I spoke to the member the day after the closing, and I was happy to hear he felt comfortable in communicating with the closing agent. 


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We want to utilize technology to enhance our mortgage closing process without sacrificing any valuable components from the traditional experience. I think we were successful in that goal.”

While DCU and Equity National Title had previously collaborated in the use of eWays for a mortgage in Florida, this was the first instance in which a remote notary was used to complete the closing. “Remote notarization is yet another welcome and modernizing enhancement to the closing process which puts the borrower first,” noted O’Donnell. “We’re proud to say that the use of this technology positions DCU and Equity National Title in a very small and elite group of lenders and service providers able to provide the best and most straightforward process for members. This remotely notarized e-closing represents the first of what we fully expect to be many to come in 2019 and beyond.”

Big Secondary Market Acquisition

American Mortgage Consultants, Inc. (“AMC”) has acquired Meridian Asset Services, LLC (“Meridian”), joining two of the premier service providers in the residential secondary mortgage market. Here’s what this will mean for the mortgage industry:


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The transaction will unite Meridian’s leading collateral, curative and title QC capabilities with AMC’s third-party review services and technology to support rated private-label securitization transactions, due diligence and quality control.


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“This transaction further highlights AMC’s commitment to being the foremost one-stop-shop for mortgage due diligence, consulting, advisory services and technology,” said AMC CEO Michael Franco. “We are excited to significantly enhance our service offerings through Meridian, a firm known for their quality and expertise. We expect this transaction to streamline operations for existing AMC and Meridian clients by centralizing activities, increasing transparency, and reducing cycle time.”


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Meridian will operate as a subsidiary of AMC and retain its branding and senior management team. Meridian will continue to be overseen by Karen Riffe who is joining AMC as the President, Meridian Asset Services. Brian Hansen will also join AMC as the Director, Strategic Relationships & Initiatives. Through the acquisition, AMC will add approximately 250 full-time employees in the greater Tampa area.


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“AMC’s commitment to the secondary market space and focus on continued investment in Meridian’s capabilities and offerings will create unique and differentiated services,” said Riffe. “We are excited to join AMC and look forward to working with AMC’s existing management team.”

Keefe, Bruyette & Woods served as financial advisor to Meridian.