Market Analysis: Kudos To A Real Thinker

*Kudos To A Real Thinker*
**By Tony Garritano**

***I’ve had the great pleasure of knowing a lot of people in this space. I’ve made lasting friendships. I have a lot of respect for the visionaries in this space. One of those people is Liz Green. She’s spirited. She’s knowledgeable. She’s passionate. And when the appraisal group within MISMO needed a leader she stood up. So, when I found out about what she’s up to now I had to share it with you. Here’s the scoop:

****Elizabeth Green, an industry expert in valuation technology and data has launched a new consultancy aimed at helping lenders and appraisers work together more effectively to meet the challenges of today’s market. Green, a frequent industry speaker and an advocate in data standards, entered the mortgage industry in the early 90s and has spent most of the last decade working in the valuation space for some of its most successful companies.

****“I am excited to be in a position in which I can offer my expertise and perspectives to a broad spectrum of industry participants to achieve a higher good,” Green said. “Having worked for many of the technology firms across the origination, servicing and settlement services segments, I’m in the perfect position to help lenders make sense of the divergence of regulations and market influences impacting their valuation requirements and, at the same time I can help appraisers become more successful in a rapidly changing profession.”

****Green says she brings a bit of art to her work, explaining that it’s not all about the science when it comes to helping professionals with very different viewpoints work together effectively.

****“Not just as an industry but as a society, we face unprecedented challenges in residential real estate. We must find improved ways to assess and manage collateral risk and property valuation. Our communities and our economy depend upon it,” Green said.

****I can’t agree more!

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

Technology Spotlight: The Prescription For Success

*The Prescription For Success*
**First Bank Mortgage Profiled**

***First Bank Mortgage of Augusta, GA, a division of First Bank of Georgia, has selected Ellie Mae’s Encompass360 loan origination system (LOS) as its mortgage management solution. In 2011, First Bank Mortgage originated more than $400 million in mortgages through its retail branches and 60 correspondent lenders. So, if the bank was doing so well why did it switch its LOS. Here’s the story:

****Prior to selecting Encompass360, First Bank Mortgage had been using multiple systems, which made it increasingly difficult for their wholesale correspondent lending clients to do business with them. Third-party origination (TPO) lenders generated approximately 60 percent of First Bank Mortgage’s total volume in 2011 and are expected to account for roughly the same level of volume this year, according to the company. For more than six months, First Bank Mortgage evaluated various loan origination systems (LOS) before ultimately selecting Encompass360.

****“Every shop is different and has different needs. Ellie Mae understands this and Encompass360 allows users to set the system up in the best possible way for them,” said Thomas Bird, First Bank Mortgage’s executive vice president and a former president of the MBA of Georgia. “For us, this meant implementing a system that will make it easier for our TPO clients to do business with us online and to do it paperlessly. Encompass360 also enables us to customize our business rules to enhance compliance, which is a big issue for us. It also comes with a pricing engine, which saved us the cost of buying and integrating one.”

****Mr. Bird estimates that Encompass360 will produce at least $200,000 in hard-cost savings in the first full year, following implementation. “That’s not counting intangibles like higher productivity, increased business, improved customer service or the cost savings of preventing mistakes that could lead to compliance penalties or buybacks.”

****To build excitement for the new platform, First Bank Mortgage is creating and distributing t-shirts with Ellie Mae’s Encompass360 logo when they kickoff their new system on April 1. Mr. Bird said, “This is a big deal for us and we expect to save a significant amount of time and money. But going through a system change, even if it goes smoothly, is still stressful for our employees. So, we thought it would be a good idea for them to wear the t-shirts and blue jeans one day and have some fun with it.”

****“We have never had a client so excited about launching Encompass360 that they wanted to create t-shirts,” said Jonathan Corr, Ellie Mae’s chief operating officer. “But I can understand why. First Bank Mortgage’s move from multiple software systems to a complete, enterprise solution will give them more control, allow them to more efficiently manage loan officers and correspondents, and be more nimble when handling compliance, market and technology issues as they evolve. At the same time, they’ll have greater confidence that they are originating quality assets.”

Understanding The News: The Impact Of Shadow Inventory

*The Impact of Shadow Inventory*
**New Data Emerges**

***It seems unlikely that the mortgage industry can fully recover until we work through all of the shadow inventory. And new data shows that may take more time. CoreLogic, a provider of information, analytics and business services, reported today that the current residential shadow inventory as of January 2012 was 1.6 million units (6-months’ supply), approximately the same level reported in October of last year. On a year-over-year basis, shadow inventory was down from January 2011, when it stood at 1.8 million units, or 8-months’ supply. Currently, the flow of new seriously delinquent (90 days or more) loans into the shadow inventory has been offset by the roughly equal flow of distressed sales (short and real estate owned). Here’s the full industry findings:

****“Almost half of the shadow inventory is not yet in the foreclosure process,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Shadow inventory also remains concentrated in states impacted by sharp price declines and states with long foreclosure timelines.”

****“The shadow inventory remains persistent even though many other metrics of the housing market show signs of improvements. In some hard-hit markets the demand for REO and distressed property is now outstripping supply. As we move into what is traditionally the peak selling season for real estate, servicers will certainly be watching closely to see if now is the time to move more inventory out of the shadows,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO for CoreLogic.

****CoreLogic estimates the current stock of properties in the shadow inventory, also known as pending supply, by calculating the number of distressed properties not currently listed on multiple listing services (MLSs) that are seriously delinquent, in foreclosure and real estate owned (REO) by lenders. Transition rates of “delinquency to foreclosure” and “foreclosure to REO” are used to identify the currently distressed non-listed properties most likely to become REO properties. Properties that are not yet delinquent, but may become delinquent in the future, are not included in the estimate of the current shadow inventory. Shadow inventory is typically not included in the official metrics of unsold inventory.

****Data Highlights Include:

****>> As of January 2012, shadow inventory remained at 1.6 million units, or 6-months’ supply and represented half of the 3 million properties currently seriously delinquent, in foreclosure or REO.

****>> Of the 1.6 million properties currently in the shadow inventory, 800,000 units are seriously delinquent (3.1-months’ supply), 410,000 are in some stage of foreclosure (1.6-months’ supply) and 400,000 are already in REO (1.6-months’ supply).

****>> Florida, California and Illinois account for more than a third of the shadow inventory. The top six states, which would also include New York, Texas and New Jersey, account for half of the shadow inventory.

****>> The shadow inventory is approximately four times higher than its low point (380,000 properties) at the peak of the housing bubble in mid-2006.

****>> Despite 3 million distressed sales since January 2009, the period when home prices were declining at their fastest rate, the shadow inventory in January 2012 is at the same level as January 2009.

****>> The shadow inventory is approximately half of the size of all visible inventory listings. For every two homes available for sale, there is one home in the “shadows.”

****>> The segment of borrowers that were 60+ days delinquent in the past but were “cured” and are now current on their payments is increasing. This figure was 7.2 percent in January 2012, up from 5.7percent a year ago.

****>> The total percent of borrowers who were ever 60+ days delinquent (irrespective of delinquency status today) increased to 15.5 percent in January 2012, up from 14.3 percent a year ago.

****>> The highest concentration of shadow inventory is for loans with loan balances between $100,000 and $125,000 (Figure 5). More importantly while the overall supply of homes in the shadow inventory is declining versus a year ago, the declines are being driven by higher balance loans. For loans with balances of $75,000 or less, however, the shadow is still growing and is up 3 percent from a year ago.

Understanding The News: Who Says That Technology Doesn’t Pay Off?

*Who Says That Technology Doesn’t Pay Off?*
**Website Gets Major Kudos**

***Arguably the biggest problem that the mortgage industry faces is the foreclosure crisis. There has to be a better, faster, easier way to workout troubled loans and foreclose on loans that can’t be worked out. That’s where technology can play a role and it has. The National Mortgage Settlement (Settlement) announced last week and filed in federal district court by the Department of Justice, the 49 state attorneys general, and the five largest mortgage servicers, mentions Hope LoanPort (HLP) as a model for a neutral, national Web-based portal to facilitate compliance with the Settlement. HLP is a non-profit 501(c)(3) based in Washington, D.C. Here’s the scoop on why this matters:

****The landmark Settlement requires, among other new servicing standards, that the five mortgage servicers develop a portal that allows homeowners to submit and check the status of their foreclosure-alternative applications. The Settlement also mandates that other stakeholders, specifically, housing counselors who are working with homeowners, shall have access to a similar portal to be used to submit applications and to communicate with mortgage servicers. HLP was mentioned as a model portal in each of the separate consent orders filed in district court.

****Since its creation in 2009, HLP has been the prototype for a collaborative, multi-party, Web-based transactional platform focused on foreclosure prevention. Its mission is to provide transparent, efficient and traceable access to foreclosure-alternative options while ensuring homeowner information is securely and confidentially shared among key stakeholders such as housing counselors, mortgage servicers and homeowners. This efficiency helps everyone make informed, meaningful, and timely decisions that ultimately better serve homeowners at risk of, or in, financial distress.

****HLP has successfully worked with the housing counseling community and the mortgage servicing industry to agree upon a standard set of data and document requirements that allow consumers to apply for foreclosure alternatives. HLP has relationships with 14 mortgage servicers, including the five mortgage servicers who agreed to the Settlement. These servicers manage over 80% of the mortgages serviced in the United States. HLP is also working with over 700 HUD-Approved/National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NFMC) certified Housing Counseling Agencies with over 3,800 individual housing counselors in 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

****Camillo Melchiorre, President and CEO of HLP stated, “Hope LoanPort is proud to be mentioned in the National Mortgage Settlement and looks forward to working with the mortgage servicing industry, as well as the regulatory and housing counseling communities to better address the needs of homeowners.”

****You see, technology can make a big difference.

Market Analysis: Leveraging A True Technology Leader

*Leveraging A True Technology Leader*
**By Tony Garritano**

***Some think being innovative means that you completely reinvent the wheel. I’m here to tell you that’s not the case. Some profound innovations drew from and improved on existing technology in a new way. What do I mean? For example, PROGRESS in Lending has learned that Coester Appraisal Group, a nationwide provider of appraisal management technology and services, has launched Cloud Control, a revolutionary new appraisal management technology. Cloud Control is appraisal management software built on the award-wining platform of, which Forbes magazine designated as the most innovative company in the world in July 2011. Here’s the scoop:

****Cloud Control enables lenders to customize their appraisal processes far beyond the levels offered by other appraisal management technologies. Cloud Control offers virtually limitless customization—users can create business rules to automate virtually any function, from protecting standards through firewalls and safeguards, to business-unique sales and marketing activities that help companies generate new business in addition to enhancing compliance and efficiency.

Coester is providing Cloud Control completely free of charge to all lenders—Coester customers and non-customers alike—without obligation to use any additional Coester valuation service, whatsoever.

Cloud Control is a cloud-based, end-to-end appraisal management technology that efficiently manages the entire appraisal cycle. In addition to automating functions and tasks ranging from relaying the initial request to the lender’s desired appraisal panel to filing and storing the completed report, the system automatically extracts and converts data into UCDP-compliant formats and submits appraisal data through the Uniform Collateral Data Portal (UCDP). Cloud Control provides the property value as estimated by an automated valuation model (AVM), provides reviewers’ notes for every appraisal report, and verifies that the appraiser and property adhere to industry requirements by cross-checking resources like, FHA Connection and FEMA.

Cloud Control can be configured to accommodate virtually any business rules. It automatically verifies appraiser licensing and certification and cross-checks appraisers against investor “black lists,” in addition to offering extensive customer relationship management functions. The system is set up to stay up-to-date and adhere to all investor, local, state and federal guidelines and regulations. Because it is cloud-based, it is ready to use and can be set up in as little as 20 minutes—about the time required to merely add a new appraiser to the user’s appraiser panel with most other appraisal management systems.

“As an AMC, we had tried most of the appraisal management software on the market and we couldn’t find one with anywhere near the customizability we need, so we built Cloud Control,” said Brian Coester, CEO of Coester Appraisal Group. “Other technologies claim customizability but only offer minimal configurability. Cloud Control can be configured to do virtually anything you want—all the way down to the actual user level.”

Cloud Control is the only appraisal management technology that utilizes the platform and provides virtually the same power and flexibility offered by’s customer relationship management (CRM) software, Sales Cloud, a technology specifically designed to make it faster and easier for companies to connect with and service their customers, and to do so in a way that promotes high service levels and increased sales. With Cloud Control, users can fully automate the appraisal status notification and escalation processes at the user level, which means that users can automatically receive key information on customers and vendors, based on any trigger—such as a phone call—in real time. The system can also be set up to send custom email messages to specified groups. For example, certain property owners can be contacted with marketing messages when specific triggers are activated, like each time rates reach a certain threshold.

“Appraisal management technologies have missed numerous opportunities to proactively help lenders grow their business,” said Coester. “We’re changing that. Cloud Control is the first system that not only helps maintain compliance and efficiency, but also helps increase business and generate revenue. Plus, unlike other systems that can cost tens of thousands of dollars, Cloud Control is available for zero cost whatsoever—for as long as the lender wants to use it.”

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

Understanding The News: More Process Automation

*More Process Automation*
**Seamless MI Integration**

***Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corp. (MGIC), the nation’s largest private mortgage insurer, now has the availability of mortgage insurance rate quotes to lenders through the product and pricing engine piece of MarksmanLMP, from Mortech, Inc. The integration marks the first of a series of interfaces, with eligibility and MI-ordering forthcoming. Here’s the full story:

****MarksmanLMP’s mortgage insurance function is set up to automatically trigger when a loan scenario exceeds the 80% loan-to-value (LTV) threshold. The MISMO-based integration allows MarksmanLMP users to seamlessly check MGIC’s pricing without having to leave the platform. Lenders receive initial mortgage insurance rate quotes at the corporate and/or branch levels that can be dynamically adjusted according to specific loan scenarios. This fully automated two-way exchange of data provides mortgage lenders with a more efficient lending strategy, which enables a faster loan closing process and increased profitability.

****“Seamless access to MGIC’s competitive mortgage insurance rates through MarksmanLMP enables our customers to streamline their loan origination processes,” said Sal Miosi, Vice President of Marketing at MGIC. “MGIC’s partnership with Mortech is another example of our commitment to providing our customers with efficient technology.”

****“Automating more of the process of originating a loan is critical to making the loan officer of the future more efficient and effective, for both the mortgage company and the homeowner,” said Don Kracl, President of Mortech. “This is another step forward for the industry and one less thing loan officers need to worry about as they go about the business of serving American borrowers.”

Understanding The News: HARP Is For Everyone

*HARP 2.0 Is For Everyone*
**Help For Smaller Banks**

***PROGRESS in Lending has learned that String Real Estate Information Services, a consultancy and back-office service provider to the U.S. home finance industry, has added capacity in preparation to help smaller mortgage lenders capitalize on the government’s recently announced Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP 2). As many as 6 million homeowners may qualify to refinance existing mortgages under the program but experts say smaller institutions could benefit the most. Here’s the whole story:

****Research performed recently by FBR Capital Markets analysts predicts that the biggest beneficiaries of the HARP 2 program are likely to be smaller originators, if they are well positioned to pick up market share. Unfortunately, these smaller firms are the ones that are likely to need the most support to take on this additional volume.

****“Helping these originators find qualified borrowers, contact them with offers, underwrite and process their applications are exactly the types of tasks that our team has been built to handle easily,” said Prashant Kothari, chief executive officer for String Real Estate Information Services.”

****String has enjoyed phenomenal growth over the past 2 years and has been expanding into new markets and extending its footprint within the U.S. real estate industry. The company has been particularly successful in building capacity for title industry outsourcing. Kothari said String identified the HARP 2 opportunity last fall and has been working to build capacity since then. The company is taking on new clients for HARP 2 services now.

On The Move: Lenders One Names New CEO

*Lenders One Names New CEO*
**A New Chief Executive Takes Charge**

***Lenders One, a national alliance of community mortgage bankers, correspondent lenders and suppliers of mortgage products and services, has named Jeffrey R. McGuiness as its new CEO. McGuiness assumes this position after former CEO and co-founder, Scott Stern, announced last month he would leave the company to pursue other entrepreneurial opportunities.

****McGuiness has more than two decades of experience in the financial industry, with particular emphasis in building correspondent, retail and direct to consumer operations. Most recently, McGuiness was executive vice president of consumer banking and originations at St. Louis-based Aurora Bank, managing the bank’s consumer deposit and mortgage business units. Prior to joining Aurora, he was executive vice president of direct-to-consumer lending at American Home Mortgage. McGuiness also was with CitiMortgage for seven years in multiple senior management positions, including managing director of correspondent lending.

****“I am confident that Jeff’s extensive experience in mortgage operations will serve him well as he guides Lenders One into the future,” said departing CEO Scott Stern. “Jeff will build on the success of Lenders One and constantly strive to find new and innovative ways to offer our members the services and products they need to succeed.”

****After a thorough search, McGuiness was selected based on his comprehensive industry experience and demonstrated leadership skills. “I cannot think of a better choice than Jeff to lead Lenders One through these complex and challenging times,” said Lenders One Advisory Board member Stephen M. Calk, Chairman and CEO of Kansas-based National Bancorp Holdings, a member of the cooperative. “The combination of his correspondent, retail, investor, secondary market and regulatory experience is unparalleled. Jeff’s leadership experience and acute understanding of the needs of our members and the demands of today’s investors will be critical to the success of our cooperative now and in the future.”

****Lenders One was established in 2000 as a national alliance of mortgage bankers, correspondent lenders and suppliers of mortgage products and services. The St. Louis-based company originated more than $106 billion in mortgages in 2011 and is ranked as one of the largest retail mortgage originators in the U.S. Its mortgage productivity system additionally allows members to close more loans, satisfy continuing education requirements and market themselves more powerfully. Lenders One, now more than 220 lender members strong, is a subsidiary of Altisource Portfolio Solutions S.A.

Market Analysis: The LOS Saga

*The LOS Saga*
**By Tony Garritano**

***It always seems to me like there are too many loan origination systems to choose from. How do they all survive? In the end, I guess, they all have their unique strengths and weaknesses. To this end, PROGRESS learned a few months back of a new entrant that hopes to put their spin on this already crowded space. Now they’re staffing up to try and take the market by storm. Here’s the full scoop:

****LendingQB, an enterprise-class end-to-end Web-based LOS), has added Holt Crowder and Brian Smith to its business development team. Both new hires will be dedicated to introducing the new LendingQB LOS to the mortgage industry.

****“We are excited about Holt and Brian joining our team to help launch the LendingQB platform,” said Binh Dang, president of LendingQB. “We’ve spent the last couple of years operating in an R&D mode to engineer a one-of-a-kind end-to-end LOS that delivers functionality and value above and beyond anything that is commercially available on the market today. Holt and Brian will play a major role in demonstrating to lenders why our enterprise-class LOS is unlike any other. Their knowledge and experience working in the mortgage technology space is why we brought them on board; I’m confident they’ll be major contributors to our growth.”

****Holt will be responsible for managing new opportunities with banks, credit unions and lenders in an outside sales capacity. Holt brings more than 20 years of experience to LendingQB having worked at mortgage banks, mortgage technology providers and as a consultant. He has held various positions at Loan-Score Decisioning Systems, Mortgage Cadence, Portellus, PCLender, Paramount Residential Mortgage Group, Aames Home Loans, NovaStar, PHH Mortgage and others.

****Brian will manage the upfront sales process working with prospective clients to communicate LendingQB’s value proposition. He has experience working at mortgage technology providers Loan-Score Decisioning Systems and LoanSifter. While at Loan-Score, Brian was instrumental in building a book of business that grew the company’s client base at a rapid rate, which helped make it attractive for acquisition by Calyx Software, Inc. in 2010.

****LendingQB was in development and testing for several years, and is now being successfully implemented at mortgage banks that are realizing enterprise-wide efficiencies and greater profitability. The platform was officially launched in December of last year and has experienced a significant amount of attention as a result of its unique features and capabilities. I’ll keep you posted on their industry penetration as I get that news.

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

Market Analysis: Here’s Why Technology Matters

*Here’s Why Technology Matters*
**By Tony Garritano**

***Too often technology is dismissed. While others may think a provocative headline constitutes sexy and breaking news, I think a sexy headline is all about showing the real value of technology so lenders reading this column can share in that success. Nonetheless, some lenders say things like: “That’s too futuristic for me”. “That technology is too new and untested”. “I can’t invest in any technology unless it has a clear return on investment”. While some lenders reflect this view, others are investing in technology and reaping the benefits. One huge benefit that technology can bring a lender, beyond the obvious ironclad compliance, hard savings and efficiency, is intangible. What am I talking about? I’m talking about using technology to create a genuinely better experience for the borrower. Customer service matters. For example, PROGRESS in Lending has learned that Supreme Lending, a Dallas-based nationwide mortgage banker with branches throughout the U.S., reports that it has achieved a 98% satisfaction rating among its borrower customers during the second half of 2011, according to a customer survey completed by 86% of its customers. Here’s how Supreme achieved these numbers:

****The company, which also reduced closing times during the same period, attributes its high satisfaction ratings to the customer service initiative that the company put into place last year to support its plans for growth in 2012. The survey required customers to rate their overall experience with Supreme Lending by selecting one of five options: (1) very satisfied, (2) satisfied, (3) neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, (4) dissatisfied or (5) very dissatisfied.

****“Our customer-focused infrastructure is a key component of our vision, which is to become the best retail mortgage banking company in America—it’s also the foundation that supports the aggressive growth we have planned for 2012,” said Scott Everett, president of Supreme Lending. “One of the reasons we’re able to recruit and maintain such high level loan originators is because we have an active commitment to customer satisfaction. Both our processes and technologies are designed specifically to help build and sustain long-term customer relationships.”

****Supreme Lending previously implemented customer-focused initiatives that include underwriting, closing and funding loans in-house, and creating several state-of-the-art proprietary technologies. Both of these initiatives help provide borrowers with a smoother, more streamlined experience throughout the entire cycle of the mortgage, as well as significant cost savings. And based on the results of their survey, that investment in technology has paid dividends in terms of increasing overall customer satisfaction.

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