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On The Move: Executive News At Clayton And Churchill

*Executive News At Clayton And Churchill*
*Tracking The Latest New Hires And Promotions**

***Today we’ll be reporting on two executive moves, one new hire and one promotion. First, Clayton Holdings LLC, a provider of due diligence, underwriting and surveillance services to the residential and commercial mortgage and fixed-income industries, announced today that Robert A. Harris has joined the company as general counsel. In this role, Harris will be responsible for all legal and regulatory aspects of Clayton’s businesses. He will report to Paul Bossidy, Clayton’s chief executive officer.

****Harris joins Clayton with more than 25 years of legal experience as corporate counsel and in private practice roles. He served as chief legal officer of OpHedge Investment Services, LLC, a provider of comprehensive middle and back office services to alternative investment managers and funds. He was also the compliance officer, corporate secretary and chief administrative officer at OpHedge. Harris’ private firm experience includes Zeldes, Needle & Cooper in Bridgeport, CT, where he served as managing shareholder, and Levett Rockwood in Westport, CT, where his practice concentrated on litigation, arbitration and mediation of complex commercial disputes.

****“In today’s heavily regulated, zero-tolerance environment, clients expect their advisors and providers to scrupulously comply with the letter and spirit of laws and of all applicable regulations,” said Bossidy. “Rob’s legal background combined with his hands-on business experience will help Clayton stay ahead of the new rules that are transforming our industry.”

****A member of both the Connecticut and New York bars, Harris is also a Connecticut and American Bar Foundation Fellow and has served as chair of the Connecticut Bar Association’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Section.

****Second, Churchill Mortgage, a lender that provides conventional, FHA, VA and USDA residential mortgages across 23 states, today announced the promotions of Gary Gunn to controller and Heidi McQuaig to assistant operations manager within its corporate headquarters in Brentwood, Tenn.

****In his new position, Gunn will manage the accounting department and will be responsible for Churchill’s financial reporting. He will also ensure that branch departments are structured to maximize efficiency and profitability. Gunn brings 35 years of experience in finance and accounting, previously serving as chief financial officer for Madison Mill, Inc., a manufacturing company in Nashville, Tenn. He also served as chief financial officer of Wood Ridge Development, Inc., a residential land development company in Nolensville, Tenn. Gunn is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Accounting.

****McQuaig brings nearly two decades of experience to her new position of assistant operations manager and will manage production responsibilities to ensure quicker processing times for loans. McQuaig previously served as a loan processor for Access National, Nations Home Funding, Mortgage Edge and Home Security Mortgage.

Market Analysis: Reaching Out

*Reaching Out*
**By Tony Garritano**

***Yesterday we had some computer issues and the software accidentally picked up the subject from the prior day’s e-mail. I’m reaching out here today to apologize for the error. We were happy to be the first to tell you about the Mortgage Cadence acquisition of Prime Alliance, but we don’t have another LOS acquisition to report on just yet. We did however get an LOS scoop that we’ll be bringing you next week, so stay tuned for that. As we talk about reaching out, Carlye Financial, a mortgage bank offering customized residential loans, announces the opening of its new headquarters located at 9454 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 820 in Beverly Hills. Carlyle President Robert Cohan was joined by Dr. William Brien, the mayor of Beverly Hills, for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Here’s the details:

****“We’re excited to move into this prime location in the heart of Beverly Hills, and look forward to working closely with our financial and real estate business partners in the area,” said Cohan. “We believe Carlyle’s clients will find the location a welcoming and convenient place to do business,” he said. “The area’s longstanding reputation as the center of Los Angeles’s real estate and business community made it the logical choice for a flagship office,” Cohan added.

****As a mortgage bank, Carlyle Financial is a direct lender with the resources to fund loans in-house, and thus offers its customers more loan options than either a mortgage broker or a retail bank. Carlyle specializes in providing custom mortgage loans on residential properties, and has dedicated staff to focus on jumbo lending, which in Los Angeles County involves mortgage loans over $625,500.

****“Because we process, underwrite, and fund loans, we maintain control over the entire loan process and can help individuals get a mortgage loan that will suit them best. We also have the flexibility to work with another bank when this option is the best choice for a customer,” Cohan said.

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 tony@progressinlending.com.

Understanding The News: How Long Does It Take To Close A Loan?

*How Long Does It Take To Close A Loan?*
**New Research Sheds Light on Cycle Times**

***Ellie Mae released its Origination Insight Report for May 2012. The report draws its data and insights from a sampling of the significant volume of loan applications—more than 20% of all originations in the United States—that flow through Ellie Mae’s Encompass360 mortgage management software and Ellie Mae Network. Here’s the scoop on cycle times, volume, and much more:

****“In May, the average loan-to-value (LTV) for closed loans broke the 80% mark for the first time since our tracking began in August 2011,” said Jonathan Corr, chief operating officer of Ellie Mae. “The increase appeared to be driven by an easing of LTVs on conventional refinances (the average LTV was 72% in May compared to 69% in April). Last month, closed conventional refinances with LTVs of 95%-plus jumped to 11%, up from 7.1% in April and 3.6% in March, which may be a sign that HARP 2.0 is helping more borrowers.”

****To get a meaningful view of lender “pull-through,” Ellie Mae reviewed a sampling of loan applications initiated 90 days prior (i.e., the February applications) to calculate a closing rate for May. Ellie Mae found that 47.2% of all applications closed in May compared to 48.1% in April (see full report).

****“As you’d expect in the Spring sales season, the percentage of purchase loans increased to 46%, their highest level of the year,” noted Corr. “Credit scores for closed loans decreased slightly to 744 in May, with the biggest drop in FHA refinances, where the average credit score declined to 713 in May from April’s average of 720.

****“The combination of record-low interest rates, flexible HARP 2.0 refinances and a growing perception that housing prices finally may have bottomed are all creating increased demand—and slightly longer waits—for mortgages,” said Corr. “In May, the average loan closed in 46 days, one day longer than in April; and the average refinance also took one day longer, or 48 days, to close.”

Market Analysis: Election Year Drama

*Election Year Drama*
**By Tony Garritano**

***In an election year anything can happen. For example, we have a president that now miraculously supports same-sex marriage and just now decided to change immigration law enforcement through executive order after he himself said a year ago that immigration law could not be changed through executive order. I guess when the economy is in the dumps you have to do some crazy stuff to shore up your base. We’ll just have to see what candidate Romney comes up with on his end. Theatrics aside, the politicians are calling the shots in our space, too. So, what can we do? We have to be prepared. To this end, Interthinx has a series of Washington, D.C., Beltway breakfast forums dedicated to building confidence in the mortgage markets through a renewed focus on data integrity. The inaugural topic of “Reluctance to Reliance: Are We Ready to Be Compliant?” explored how the current political environment shapes policy that impacts the financial industry, the regulatory climate, and the future development of solutions and policies to reduce risk for the residential mortgage markets.

****The panel discussion, moderated by Interthinx Director of Federal Government Accounts Alison Beckner, included the following speakers:

****>> Tony Fratto, partner, Hamilton Place Strategies

****>> Rod Alba, vice president, Mortgage Finance and Senior Regulatory Counsel, American Bankers Association

****>> Tim Rood, partner, The Collingwood Group

****“Together, we can become the antidote for the mortgage fraud, waste, and abuse that threaten the solvency of various government agencies,” said Beckner. “The goal of the forum was to provide information, data analysis, and insight to help agencies conserve federal tax dollars through greater efficiency and data management. With open discussion about the regulatory environment and current challenges, we were able to identify industry best practices to detect loan defects, prevent fraud, and ensure compliance.”

****“Future policies and regulations need to address the demands of two key constituents: borrowers and providers of private capital. Borrowers and prospective borrowers are suffering from a crisis of confidence, and investors are suffering the effects of intolerable uncertainty,” said Tim Rood, partner and managing director for The Collingwood Group.

****Interthinx plans to host future forums in the Washington, D.C., area covering additional material on data integrity, data transparency, regulatory compliance, risk reduction, and strategies to conserve federal tax dollars.

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 tony@progressinlending.com.

Market Analysis: Mortgage Cadence Completes A Big Acquisition

*Mortgage Cadence Completes A Big Acquisition*
**By Tony Garritano**

***I brought you the scoop on D+H acquiring LOS Avista Solutions. I also filled you in when LOS Mortgage Builder acquired servicing vendor GCC. Today I have another acquisition scoop for you. Back in 2010 Monitor Clipper Partners made a significant investment in Mortgage Cadence. Since that time the company has used the investment wisely and rolled out several new products and services. But organic growth isn’t the only way to grow. Today I learned that Mortgage Cadence is using its new equity leadership position to acquire a major origination vendor. Here’s the scoop:

****Specifically, Mortgage Cadence, LLC, a provider of Enterprise Lending Solutions (ELS), Document Services, Compliance and Default Servicing Technology for the financial services industry, has acquired Prime Alliance Solutions, Inc., a provider of mortgage technology and related solutions to the credit union industry. Uniting these two players within the mortgage industry will position Mortgage Cadence as an end-to-end technology provider capable of supporting the top 10 banks and lending institutions along with the burgeoning credit union space, while also expanding market share in the community and regional bank arena.

****Prime Alliance and Mortgage Cadence share similar histories, culture and visions. A few years back Prime Alliance made news when it acquired point-of-sale mainstay Dexma. The decision now for Mortgage Cadence to acquire Prime Alliance was largely based on a shared passion to automate the mortgage process through rules and tasking, ultimately striving to achieve 100% compliant products. Dan Green, previous executive vice president of Prime Alliance who will assume the position of executive vice president of marketing for Mortgage Cadence. No sale price was disclosed.

****“Mortgage Cadence has been in the market for acquisitions,” said Michael Detwiler, chief executive officer and chairman of Mortgage Cadence. “Many of the deals that have happened in our space are deals that we looked at and passed on. We like the focus on manufacturing mortgages and offering zero defect mortgages. If you take the credit union space that Prime Alliance serves in aggregate, they are in the top five in terms of volume. We’ve always seen acquisitions as a growth play, but we don’t want to acquire just to tout market share. We want to acquire companies with a focus on serving their clients.”

****“We think we had the credit union space locked up. So, we wanted to get into the community bank and small lender space, which is why we bought Dexma and have now aligned with Mortgage Cadence,” added Joe Brancucci, founder, chairman, and CEO of Prime Alliance Solutions, Inc. “Today the consumer wants to be in control. We were founded on the principle of giving the customer complete transparency and the technology was built around that. Remember, the borrower owns the credit union. Now we can bring that concept to the broader market.”

****Currently, Prime+, Prime Alliance’s lending solution has been successfully positioned within the credit union and regional lending space. Prime Alliance is acutely aware of the challenges facing lenders today and knows that exceeding their clients’ expectations has been the key to their success. With the acquisition, Mortgage Cadence will be able to leverage Prime+ as a tried and true solution for this market segment, while also offering Prime Alliance’s current customer base a migration pathway to Orchestrator’s enterprise lending suit. This application combined with the new Mortgage Cadence Symphony application will enable the company to go to market with an on-demand solution built around industry best practices. Mortgage Cadence also has a more configurable solution in Orchestrator for the lender that wants a fully customized application.

****In discussing how this deal coincides with the future direction of the overall market, Detwiler said, “Historically you saw more focus on the back office. In the future you need to more effectively collaborate with your originators and LOs. You also need to enable them to better collaborate with the borrower. Collaboration is critical if you’re going to win as a lender. We believe that having the technology to document and validate the quality of the product will be key to regulators, investors looking to re-enter the market, etc.”

****“The market has changed dramatically,” pointed out Brancucci. “Credit unions are seeing their market share increase. We think that this trend will continue as consumers look for a trusted advisor. This acquisition is about offering a state-of-the-art platform to prepare the client for the future.”

****“This is about two innovative companies coming together,” concluded Detwiler. “This is about offering the best customer service. We are very optimistic about the future of the lending space. We continue to see clients look for true innovation vs. just maintaining the status quo. That’s what we’re achieving here.”

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 tony@progressinlending.com.

On The Move: Great Minds Are In Demand

*Great Minds Are In Demand*
**New Hires Exude Industry Knowledge**

***Where is the market going? Have we hit bottom? Who knows. Everyone has an opinion. What can be said with certainty is that if you’re looking to build your executive team, now is not the time to hire the new guy with no mortgage experience. In a volatile market, experience matters. Recent hires at Interthinx and Gateway prove this point. Here’s the news:

****First, Shareé McKenzie Taylor, most recently director of public policy for the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), has joined Interthinx as director of industry relations. Taylor will be stationed in Washington, D.C., as part of industry expert Ann Fulmer’s team and will focus on expanding relationships with leaders in the real estate finance industry, lawmakers on Capitol Hill, and various federal agencies.

****“Risk management and regulatory compliance are critical to restoring confidence and achieving a successful housing recovery,” noted Ann Fulmer, vice president of industry relations for Interthinx. “Taylor brings a unique blend of skills and experience that will help us monitor and report on regulatory changes and industry trends affecting our clients. I had the pleasure of working with her while she was with the MBA, and I know she’ll bring valuable insights to bear during these challenging times.”

****“I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with many companies seeking to help the mortgage industry recover from the downturn,” said Taylor. “Based on its excellent reputation, I’m excited about the opportunity to join Interthinx. I’m particularly looking forward to increasing the firm’s profile in Washington by working with key policymakers on issues critical to the industry.”

****Prior to her position with the MBA, Taylor was with Wexler & Walker PPA, where she worked primarily on matters related to financial services, foreign affairs, trade, and energy. Taylor started her legal career at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP as a corporate attorney. Born in Jamaica and raised in Canada, Taylor attended the University of Toronto, where she earned her B.A. with honors in both economics and political science before continuing on to earn a J.D. from Boston College Law School.

****Second, Gateway Mortgage Group LLC, a privately held mortgage company offering originations, servicing and correspondent lending, has hired Robert Rothrock to lead its marketing and corporate development department. Rothrock brings more than 20 years of experience to the role and focuses on expanding Gateway’s retail footprint as well as supporting its correspondent and servicing lines of business.

****Prior to joining Gateway, Rothrock was senior vice president of marketing, public relations and talent acquisition for Dallas, Texas-based NexBank where he oversaw all marketing, advertising, public relations, sales and recruitment activities. During that time, he drove the bank’s overall revenue and profitability higher while also helping to grow annual mortgage loan volume to $1 billion in a three year period. Previously, Rothrock held leadership positions with Countrywide Bank and Bank of America.

****In addition to recently launching correspondent, servicing and subservicing divisions, Gateway has added three new retail offices in St. Louis and Omaha, Neb. and continues to pursue the establishment of branches in other strategic locations.

****“As we focus on increasing market share through expanding our retail footprint, it is vital to further develop and enhance the resources that assist our new and existing retail locations,” said Kevin Stitt, president of Gateway Mortgage Group. “The addition of Rob to our team not only enhances that support by providing our branches with local marketing guidance and support, it also provides a strategic and integrated approach to Gateway’s growth plans across all of our channels.”

Market Analysis: What’s In A Name?

*What’s In A Name?*
**By Tony Garritano**

***Your name is important. This is a small industry. Your reputation is everything. I’ve always felt like my role was to further the cause of automation and I hope that I’ve done my part to express that to my readers, my industry contacts and my friends. I’m passionate about that and I think people know that about me. I care. I’m not here to slander people, I’m here to advance a cause and bring about industry change. So, when people say Tony Garritano, I hope my name means something positive. I hope my name aligns with my vision. The same is true for service providers active in the mortgage space today. For example, Coester Appraisal Group, a nationwide provider of appraisal management technology and services, has changed its name to CoesterVMS. The new name was selected to better brand the company’s new, expanded line of valuation management services, which includes an “assisted self-service” option, in which CoesterVMS provides appraisal management services in addition to managing the lender’s appraiser panel. Here’s the scoop:

****CoesterVMS provides three distinct options for managing the appraisal process:

****>> Full-service appraisal management provided by Coester Appraisal Group, a nationwide appraisal management company (AMC)

****>> In-house appraisal management with Cloud Control, Coester’s zero-cost “do-it-yourself” appraisal management technology, the only appraisal solution to be built on the Salesforce.com platform

****>> “Assisted self-serve” appraisal management, the industry’s first and only hybrid service that allows lenders to use Coester’s AMC, while also having CoesterVMS manage the lender’s appraisal panel.

****Regardless of the option selected, CoesterVMS ensures lenders 100% compliance with all regulations, guidelines, blacklists and more.

****Until CoesterVMS, lenders had only two choices for managing appraisals—outsourcing appraisal management to an AMC or using an appraisal management technology to manage the appraisal process in-house. The all-new assisted self-serve option allows lenders to use Coester’s appraisal management services in conjunction with their own appraiser panels—and have Coester manage the entire process, including management of the lender’s appraisal panel.

****“We’re changing the way that the mortgage industry handles appraisals,” said Brian Coester, CEO of CoesterVMS. “Lenders need ways to stay compliant without upsetting their ecosystems or their budgets. No one was addressing their needs, so we stepped up to the plate. Until the assisted self-serve option, no AMC would manage a lender’s appraiser panel. Until Cloud Control, no appraisal management technology was configurable to the user level, and no appraisal technology was 100% free. These advances might upset our competition, but we’re just giving lenders what they’re asking for.”

****The primary differences between the CoesterVMS’ full service AMC option and the assisted self-serve option are: (1) lenders using assisted self-serve receive status updates and correspondence through their appraisal management technologies rather than through a dedicated Coester account representative, and (2) lenders using full service delegate all appraisal process functions to Coester, from initial appraisal request through fully compliant UCDP delivery, and are assigned an account representative from whom they can get information on appraisal related issues, questions or updates.

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 tony@progressinlending.com.

Understanding The News: Success Stories Still Exist

*Success Stories Still Exist*
**Vendor Serves A Unique Need**

***We are all used to bad news, but some providers have good news to share, as well. For example, Orion Financial Group, a provider of mortgage assignment, lien release and document retrieval services, announces a 29.4 percent year-over-year increase in the number of transactions performed for lenders, servicers and investors. Orion attributes the growth to its ability to quickly and accurately provide document services, as well as to greater demand for those services by mortgage servicers, credit unions, and lenders as delinquency and foreclosure levels remain elevated.

****“The business of properly creating, recording and tracking mortgage documents has become increasingly important as the mortgage market continues to experience delinquencies and foreclosures well above historical ranges,” said Mike Wileman, president and chief executive officer of Orion. Problems with documentation often become apparent when a loan goes through a modification or foreclosure process, Wileman explained. “That’s when insufficient or improperly prepared documents, such as missing loan assignments, and unrecorded mortgages and title policies, typically become evident,” he said.

****Finding and correcting missing or inaccurate documentation can stall foreclosures, and delay or prohibit lenders from selling off loans to a third party. Investors also need to be vigilant with regard to documentation issues when they make loan purchases, Wileman said. “Missing mortgage documentation, such as proof of clear title to the property, can make it very difficult for loan investors to buy and sell mortgages,” he said.

****With mortgage delinquency rates and foreclosure levels expected to remain relatively high, Wileman anticipates that Orion will see continued growth in transactions for the foreseeable future.

****“The industry now realizes that accurate documentation needs to be a priority. Too often in the past, it was an afterthought. We are now repairing those items that were neglected previously, and going forward, we are proactively addressing potential issues with documents, as opposed to reacting after problems arise,” Wileman said.

****Orion distinguishes itself from other document services providers with its technology used to perform vital services such as tracking title chains, and securing lien releases and title assignments. Through its proprietary technology management system, DocPro, Orion creates documents at a rate 50 to 75 percent faster than the industry average, empowering its clients to handle significant document recording volume.

****“Orion has a proven capability to provide very necessary services in today’s market, such as cleaning up chain of titles and preparing and recording documents,” Wileman said. “Lenders and investors recognize that they must address issues associated with documentation sooner rather than later to protect their investments and to create an improved return on investment (ROI),” Wileman said.

****By ensuring that lender and investor documents are in order, Orion also helps its clients meet compliance requirements and avoid costly litigation, he added.

Market Analysis: Keeping Up With The Times

*Keeping Up With The Times*
**By Tony Garritano**

***With the mortgage industry in such a state of flux, you can’t fall behind. And if you’re an LOS the pressure on you is even greater. That’s why the good LOS companies out there are always looking ahead. For example, Mortgage Builder rolled out its two latest technology updates at its annual User Conference this month to enthusiastic response. The redesigned and improved electronic document management (EDM) solution, Blueprint, adds sophisticated new features to the award-winning Mortgage Builder platform. The refined and enhanced web portal upgrade, called Surveyance for its increased vision and transparent utility, also brings highly developed mobile application capabilities to Mortgage Builder users. Here’s the scoop:

****The over-100 attendees at the annual Mortgage Builder User Conference, held at the Hyatt Regency in Dearborn, Michigan on June 5-7, were also given a sneak peek at the major platform upgrade Mortgage Builder will unveil later this summer at a special press event in New York City. The dramatically improved platform will carry a new name – a first for Mortgage Builder since its original release in 1998. It is designed to increase efficiency, provide seamless transitions for current users of the existing platform, and lower both implementation timeframes and costs for new clients.

****These announcements follow closely on the heels of Mortgage Builder’s acquisition last month of former sister company GCC Servicing Systems. The addition of GCC made Mortgage Builder unique among independent LOS providers in offering fully integrated origination and servicing platforms under a single banner. GCC’s flagship software, G/Serv, will share the upgraded look and feel of Mortgage Builder’s new LOS platform, adding synergy and precision for lenders who also service loans.

****“We wanted to tell our loyal clients about the new platform first at the User Conference,” says Kelli Himebaugh, corporate vice president at Mortgage Builder. “They were impressed with the new Blueprint and Surveyance features, so we knew they’d appreciate an early look at the platform these improvements were designed to complement. Our sponsors, our users, our vendor partners and the Lenders One team were most supportive and enthused,” she says.

****“I don’t think I have ever left a conference feeling as excited as I do about the future and Mortgage Builder’s new technology,” said Kelly Welch, a Mortgage Builder user from Equity Resources, Inc. of Newark, Ohio following the conference.

****The Blueprint and Surveyance features are available now and bring new levels of convenience and utility for Mortgage Builder clients. By virtually eliminating paper from the origination process and providing full support for the mobile devices that are rapidly becoming essential tools for lenders, Mortgage Builder users can perform their jobs regardless of location. “Blueprint and Surveyance are just the latest improvements to the Mortgage Builder environment,” says Himebaugh. “Much more is on the way,” she adds, “and we look forward to playing our part in making the mortgage industry more responsive, more efficient and more productive, both on the origination and servicing sides.”

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 tony@progressinlending.com.

Understanding The News: Blurring The Lines Between Technology And Manual Processes

*Blurring The Lines Between Technology And Manual Processes*
**Improving The Appraisal Space**

***As the process becomes more automated, manual processes are blurring and being replaced. For example, InHouse, a provider of appraisal technology for banks, lenders, credit unions and other mortgage originators, is adding to its nationwide network of appraisers with an active recruiting and interviewing campaign. The effort is part of an ongoing program to meet the unprecedented demand among lender clients in response to the InHouse Connexions appraisal management platform’s “Build Your Own Appraisal Solution” approach. InHouse offers a wide range of options for lenders of all sizes to customize their appraisal programs to be self-managed, fully outsourced, or a combination of both — and growing demand for this kind of flexibility has translated into the doubling of InHouse’s revenues year after year since 2009.

****InHouse CEO and President Jennifer Creech notes that the company is also working to meet increasing lender preferences for appraisers to be certified in addition to standard licensing requirements. “We view our relationships with our appraisers as true partnerships, and do everything we can to support them. I believe this ultimately carries over into superior service provided to the lender,” Creech says. As a result, InHouse is actively encouraging its panel appraisers to become certified. She adds that the vast majority of their staff appraisers are presently certified, citing the company’s commitment to continuing education.

****The concept of lenders building their own appraisal solutions is gaining popularity with surprising speed, Creech observes. “A top-five bank recently pulled back from using appraisal management companies (AMCs) in order to gain more control of its appraisal effort,” she says. “While that means more control, it also can mean a lot more people and fixed costs. InHouse Connexions offers levels of flexibility and control that match those of the largest lenders, but without the prohibitive costs, thanks to the menu of options available with the technology.”

****Creech says the Connexions platform allows lenders to easily create and manage national panels of appraisers or combine with using their favorite AMCs with complete flexibility, quality reviews, and extensive tracking capabilities. At the same time, InHouse’s own AMC capability can be utilized when needed to supplement the effort, along with full ordering and receipt automation, borrower payment collection, appraiser compensation and any of the otherwise time-consuming, worker-intensive tasks. Lenders can submit directly to the UCDP (Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae’s Uniform Collateral Data Portal) and clear required edits, manage investor “do not use” lists, and set up queues for underwriter reviews of reports as desired.

****“The response to InHouse Connexions has been extraordinary and has necessitated an expansion of our appraiser qualification efforts to meet the demand,” Creech says. “So we’re looking for highly qualified appraisal associates to become part of the InHouse nationwide network. Our technology platform allows us to invest in top professionals rather than in back office staff, which results in better service and unparalleled flexibility for our clients,” she says. “By customizing to meet their unique situations, lenders can take back control of the appraisal process, improve results and reduce fixed costs, all at the same time.”