Accelerate Your Sales Today

Christine Beckwith, a veteran who rose from the trenches to become a respected and well-known Executive Mortgage Industry Leader celebrated her 30thyear in the industry this past July. To her own surprise, she jumped into her 5-year business plan early by launching a national coaching and consulting company: 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching. 

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When we asked her about this big move from senior executive sales position at AnnieMac Home Mortgage to become Master Coach and Founder of her own entrepreneurial business, her answer was authentic and classically Buffy (as she is known to her peers). Here’s how she describes her new business and the state of mortgage lending:

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Q: Christine, you have had quite the year; been in the spotlight, visible in many publications, received awards and lots of attention. To what do you credit the year you are having?

CHRISTINE BECKWITH: “It has been quite a year indeed. Well, I published my two books in the start of 2018.  ‘Wise Eyes- See Your Way to Success’, is my life’s work written in personal stories and successful top tips that I believe can change a sales person’s life. I open up about my humble beginning and get real with professionals about what it took for me and what it will take for them to have a winning career in sales. 

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I also wrote, ‘Clear Boundaries- Every Business Woman’s Essential Safety Guide’. This book was co-authored with Jessica Peterson and became a Best Seller overnight. It has taken on a life of its own, for which we are both grateful and astounded. It was written to help women stay safe in any situation from a truly state-of-the-art perspective. The book is focused on helping women position themselves for safety and on how men can help their loved ones stay safe. We hope—no, we already know—it saves lives. 

Clear Boundaries was dedicated to a murdered co-worker who lost her life in a domestic situation on December 30th, 2017. She was the compliance manager at AnnieMac Home Mortgage, so the dedication has an emotional connotation for me. The MBA and Marcia Davies, COO specifically has endorsed Clear Boundaries and the women who attended MBA Annual mPower Empowerment session received a donated copy. We are proud of that. 

I feel blessed this year to have been listed amongst elite men and women in several award publications; especially since these are nominated industry publications. It is gratifying to realize that my colleagues and employees put me there. I have also had the pleasure of writing this year as a feature writer now in many magazines. I give credit to the acclaim I’ve received this year to writing and copiously sharing what I write. I love writing, obviously. Words are powerful, and I believe they change lives.” 

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Q: Tell us what you have seen change most over 30 years?

CHRISTINE BECKWITH:“Every year presents new changes, obstacles, and hurdles to mount and conquer. I’ve enjoyed no breaks in my career since 1988, so I have seen this industry in all phases of growth and recession. Good and bad, some ugly years. That said, I think what has most changed is technology. When I started, we were scrolling carbon copied legal size notes in a typewriter. Today we are digitally uploading documents on an iPhone as the consumer is seated before us. 

Q: What has been the most rewarding thing about working in the Mortgage Industry?

CHRISTINE BECKWITH:“I think teaching others how to manage, how to survive, and more over thrive. How to handle fires in a productive manner, to stay in the pocket of prospecting, and ride their sales highs. How to work a business plan. How to compete. All of it. I am an athlete and competitor. I went to school for sports medicine and nutrition, and I will kill myself to win a contest. That competitive mindset is what I applied my whole career and it has led to substantial wins. 

In the past five years many have seen me as a senior sales leader a few times removed from the trenches. And while true, the reality is that I kept my head in the trenches by keeping up my competitive edge by holding master mind sessions at the Mortgage Loan Originator seat. This kept me fresh and let me see what the originators were seeing. 

And of course, there are plenty of guys in the industry who knew me for two decades when I was directly competing. I won contests where I was up against 200 guys at the top level. I ran districts to the top of national company level—from the bottom. As you might expect, I withstood a lot of bullying verbally and proved repeatedly that I could dish it back out. What I liked best was to beat them with results instead of words. I earned my seat at the table. 

Q: Ok, let’s go in a different direction. What has been the hardest thing in the past 30 years?

CHRISTINE BECKWITH:“What a great question! I will stay true to my authentic self and own this. The honest answer is fighting for respect and judgement based on accomplishments. It was especially challenging to not be diminished because I am a woman playing on a male-dominated field. It was an uphill battle and one I believe is still angled sharply today for women. I am not sure we can completely solve the problem, but I will continue to help women and men do so. 

Assumptions are made when you become a minority senior executive sales leader. People automatically assume I am a feminist, trying to prove something. I’ve never understood why. Why does my accomplishment need a label? I had many men assume I was voting for Hillary Clinton when the Presidential Election was happening. That in and of itself was insulting. Assumptive, inaccurate, but also not surprising. All my career I have had to explain what I did. Two decades ago I showed up in a Chicago district to speak to 125 employees. I stood in the back of the room having let myself in quietly.

A guy also leaning against the wall next to me asked, “Oh, are you that company trainer coming from corporate?” 

I said, “Yeah, something like that.” You would think that when I was introduced as the Senior Vice President of Sales and went to the podium to speak, he might have understood that I was much more than a corporate trainer. I do not believe he even knew that, partnered with another SVP, I ran the company at the senior level, responsible for all of retain sales. 

Repeatedly in my career I have had to defend that I actually was in charge. And sad to say, if I didn’t watch out, there was always some guy I worked with who would rise up, attempt to push me over, or want to diminish my role. To not become jaded, defensive, and bitter is an art in and of itself. It’s been trying and made success even sweeter. The roles I’ve chosen and risen into are not for the thinned skin. When people see me fly my flag high and proud, understand that it’s on purpose, to say proudly, “Yes, I may be a unicorn, but I am what I am.”

Q: Describe what you’ve been doing the past 5 years?

CHRISTINE BECKWITH:“I’ve been forecasting sales, building sales business plans, teaching sales techniques, coaching, holding management meetings, fronting our real estate and realtor facing platform, speaking within the industry, making contributions to the women’s movement in our industry, writing in industry magazines, and building my coaching company that is about to launch. I’ve been raising a son who is now a teenager, keeping a home, exercising, and striving to be a good sister. Daughter, and girlfriend. Most of all I have been feeling like I want to engrave my name in this field and leave a legacy for others. I’ve worked hard to be a shining example for all people, female or male. It is my intent to encourage others to take leaps into their next best selves through carefully made plans and daily focus on drivers that lead to results. 

Q: What has been your advice to loan originators about this past year economy?

CHRISTINE BECKWITH:“Another great question. I wrote an article on this subject that was published in Mortgage Women Magazine and shared by mPower in the MBA News. The article title was “How to Stay in a Solid Sales Seat in 2018—The Game of Musical Mortgage Chairs.” (find on Linkedin) In the article I gave the advice to stay seated unless you were sitting in a sinking boat. The cliff notes version is this: Markets like this make people nervous. 

When things slow, management gets pressure from above. Since I’ve been in their seats, early on this year I, with the other senior sales leaders on our team, knew enough to batten down the hatches and to discuss what the ugly parts of this years’ market would look like. Experience predicted that compressed margins would make people, especially managers. We advised our people against making a jump when other companies wave guarantee monies. That’s most often a short-sighted mistake. We still had casualty, less than most. We did pick up all the swimmers (the good ones) who were bailing out of their sinking ships. 

This market is rough as it has multi-faceted issues, like rising rates, inventory pressures, and compressed margins. We have to widen and deepen the sales funnels. I said it hundreds of times this year, markets like this are a fifth-grade math problem. Johnny sells 10 apples a day for $1. How many apples does he need to sell to make the same money if apples are only worth 50 cents now? Answer: Johnny needs to sell more apples which means work harder for less.

That is math no one wants to face or hear but it’s true. Sales people need to adjust, ebb and flow to match efforts with the market state. Show me a rigid sales guy and I will show you a guy who will not bounce when he hits the wall, it will crumble him to pieces. 

This market is a sign of a slowly strengthening economy. It has problems that can’t be solved overnight and won’t be. We will prevail, but we need to row steady, stay in the boat, and bail any water we are taking on. We need to stick together as a team. We need to keep our eye on the bottom line of our P & L’s and stay lean and mean. And most of all, we need to be willing to make difficult decisions to benefit the whole of the team. 

Q:Where do you think technology is taking the Mortgage Industry?

CHRISTINE BECKWITH:“I think it’s going to take us everywhere. LOL! Mobile, Block Chain (long term), the lead flow arena–all will strengthen when equity begins to return combined with a desire for activity or more volume. MLO’s need to get active to fill the void. We are figuring out the algorithms of this market and as we do, we will see technology help us get where the business is going. 

We talked about this on the Progressive Lending FinTech panel during MBA Annual. Mortgage companies investing in technology need to make a 2-year commitment because sales people adapt slowly. The average age of the MLO is 52. That will change. We are seeing younger originators enter the space again. There was a big lull for a while when the first reactive rigid regulation of licensure for MLO’s came out in 08’, but with the letting out of the belts combined with signs of past years stronger economy, younger originators are emerging. With their thirst for technology they will drive us to greater usage. My mom still doesn’t text, it kills me. I would do anything to send her a text. If I can get my mother to text, I can teach anyone anything on earth. I have made this my greatest goal in life. 

Q:If you could say anything to the mortgage industry for the past 30-year career and to up and coming professionals what would that be?

CHRISTINE BECKWITH:“You ask excellent and topical questions. My best advice? Assume nothing. I would tell them to stay pliable and be prepared to adjust. I would remind them they are an extension of Wall Street, that they sell on a moving platform and as such, what they are selling, how, and to whom, will all change tomorrow. 

Being successful is far less about “selling” than it is about networking and being trusted. Find your tribe of referral partners and offer them value. 

Show up when you say you will, be professional, work hard, don’t take anything less than excellence from leadership, and if you want to have career succession be authentic. People will follow you if you are real. They know the difference. 

Don’t succumb to the wolves. There are many; keep your head down and walk by them. Have Faith that you are making a difference. Believe in you. Be Strong at all times. 

Compete like your life depended on it. Be the game changer, the bar raiser and don’t let words hurt you, especially if directed by lesser individuals who are trying to shake you. You chose a career of survival, be a survivor. Don’t see yourself as a victim, play harder, out smart your competition, just be better. 

Be the best…your best, the highest and best version of yourself you can be. Remember people are watching. If what you are doing can’t be printed on the front of the NYTimes, don’t do it. Finally, remember you are building your legacy every day you’re alive. Build a great one, one your grandchildren will gather their grandchildren around to repeat; the story of their ancestry. We need more of that. Be that. 

Q:Final thoughts?

CHRISTINE BECKWITH:Long after we are gone the homes we close on will be occupied by folks who are sitting around a fireplace or table with a family who is kept, warm, safe, and healthy. Those roofs will weather storms, will create memories from holidays, and raise generations of people to come who will one day be figuring out the economy of a future we can’t even imagine. Let’s take the baton, do whatever we can with it to push the ball forward and hand it off, in great shape with the spirit of entrepreneurs, heart and soul for the next guy in line. 


Christine Beckwith thinks:

1.) Even with the global economy slowing moderately as we head into 2019, we continue to say goodbye to the effects of the financial crisis & the worst recession since the Great Depression of 1929, the best advice for mortgage professionals is “stay relentlessly focused” on their own personal business and financial wellness. Hone Sales Skills, Refine Business Plans at a laser focus and build your savings, reduce debt and be focused on business growth.

2.) Ignore volatility in stocks, bonds and commodities because these are things you simply cannot control. What you can control are you actions and attitude, which brings me full circle back to staying relentlessly focused. 

3.) Inflation might increase a bit but this should be offset by a more rapidly slowing Asian and European economy, which in essence allows us to import disinflation. So despite a modest slowdown in economic growth the US housing market will remain strong due to a persistent supply and demand imbalance.


Christine Beckwith became a 30-year mortgage industry veteran in 2018.  Over 3 decades she has consistently won in mortgage sales originations at all ranks, from the Loan Officer seat and up the ranks all the way to her Regional sales management roles at the top 5% consistently. For the past 18 years she has run mortgage companies at a senior and executive level. During that time, she has continued to win public awards for breaking several glass ceilings.  She would become a sought after public speaker on the mortgage circuit and in January will be speaking on Gary Vaynerchuk bill at his Agent2021 tour, in Miami at the Miami Gardens Stadium.  Christine will also co-host the National Association of Minority Mortgage Bankers Convention in April.   This past year Christine won numerous awards including “Most Elite Women in Mortgage” by MPA, a 3X recipient of this public nominated & culled award.  She also was named “Most Connected Mortgage Professional” by National Mortgage Publications and “Most Powerful women in Banking” by NMP as well.   She was the feature story and cover of Mortgage Womens Magazine for the March/April edition and now is a monthly columnist for that publication.   She has written and released two bestselling books in early 2018 and won the American BookFest award for her Sales book ‘Wise Eyes’ while receiving the “Best Selling” label for ‘Clear Boundaries’ her safety book by ‘Hot New Releases’ & ‘Womens Business’ Book ratings.  On November 1st, Christine fully launched her Coaching company 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching & Consulting into the Mortgage finance and Real Estate world.

Empowering Consumers

US Mortgage was founded in 1994 and has been committed to providing an outstanding borrower experience ever since. That commitment means being willing to change as consumer demographics, and expectations, evolve.

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“If you look at the numbers today, 35 percent of all homebuyers are Millennials—and that number is growing,” said Scott A. Milner, President of US Mortgage Corporation. “We had to step back and look at how we could service everyone—and give our borrowers the empowered experience they wanted to have.”

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In recent years, that meant giving buyers self-service options.

“People want to feel empowered, like they’re controlling their own process, their own destiny; whether they’re buying diapers on Amazon or comparing mortgage products online,” Milner explained. “Although we had an online 1003, it really didn’t engage borrowers or give them agreat experience. So, we started looking for more of a unified platform that connected mobile and desktop experiences, and would make the mortgage process simpler and more enjoyable for the consumer.”

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Milner knew how critical it was to roll out the right digital solution the first time. So, he and his team developed an extensive list of criteria and started what would become a two-year search.

“We wanted a 1003 that was dynamic and easy-to-follow—one that stepped consumers through the process and provided them transparency into how much of the application they’ve completed, and how much more they have to go,” Milner said.

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The borrower’s movement from mobile to desktop had to be seamless, so if the borrower completed part of the application on her phone, she could pick it up where she left off on the desktop, or vice-versa.

“By having a loan application that was mobile friendly, browser agnostic and wizard-based, we believed we could drive over 80 percent of our consumers to complete their applications online,” Milner said. “They know more about their financial picture than anyone else, so they should be jump-starting the process.”

From the time the application was complete to the day the loan closed, the platform had to give the borrower, as well as the referral partner, visibility into the process.

“We wanted to limit, if not do away with, the calls coming into the loan officer that started with, ‘What is my loan status?’” Milner explained. “If we found a platform that gave borrowers and Realtors visibility into the loan process, the borrower experience would improve, and the referral partner would feel more like a partner, not just a lead source. And, if our loan officers quit wasting time answering status questions, they could manage bigger pipelines, be more productive and stay focused on higher-touch conversations.” During the extensive search, Milner and team demoed every alternative on the market— and watched each company’s progress.
“We kept coming back to the concept that we really needed to have a mobile app presence as well as a desktop experience,” Milner said. “There really wasn’t another option that was as dynamic from a desktop and application perspective as SimpleNexus—and offered the ability to white label our unique brand.” Although Milner was sold on SimpleNexus, he wanted to make sure his loan officers were as enthusiastic about the platform as he was.

“Before we signed on with SimpleNexus, we did a companywide webinar for all of our LOs to demonstrate the platform. When it was over, we sent everyone a survey that asked two things: do you like it and would you use it,” Milner explained. “We had 99 percent buy-in from the get-go which allowed for a much more seamless rollout.”

The decision was made.

US Mortgage has branded the platform as USMPower, a combination of the company name, and the fact that it empowers borrowers to control their own mortgage experience.

“We actually just finished rebuilding our web site,, to better leverage SimpleNexus. The new site has a single button that says, ‘Let’s Get Started,’ which seamlessly flows into the SimpleNexus platform so the borrower can start his or her application,” Milner explained. “Our loan officers’ individual landing pages link to their customized, SimpleNexus app, as well. We’re really fully integrating the platform into everything we do.”

As the company pays for the platform and provides it as a value-add to its loan officers, the adoption rate was 100 percent from day one. But, Milner is quick to point out that to maximize SimpleNexus’ value, companies have to keep the platform top of mind.

“Choose one person in your organization to be the point person for SimpleNexus—and don’t assume that that’s automatically someone from your IT department,” he said. “Honestly, it’s more of a marketing mindset, so, make sure it’s someone who not only understands the platform but can continually promote its value.”

That strategy has paid off. At the time of this writing, US Mortgage’s top seven LOs have shared the app more than 200 times each, with its top LO personally sharing it a full 678 times. The top 10 of the company’s LOs have received 50 or more loans via SimpleNexus, with its top LO receiving 112 loan applications via the mobile app.

According to Milner, with SimpleNexus, borrower self-provisioning is a simplified, streamlined experience.

“Now, our borrowers can go to the online or mobile application and do their e-consent and authorization right there. They can use the calculator to see how much of a loan they can afford. They can upload their documents from their phone,” Milner said. “All of that data flows into Encompass, so it’s a much cleaner path.”

To date, US Mortgage’s top six LOs have each acquired 200-602 loan documents each through SimpleNexus, with that number growing every day.

When the loan is in progress, push notifications go out to borrowers, referral partners, and the loan officer, whenever the loan hits a particular milestone. So, no one has to call in to find out loan status.

“I don’t know if SimpleNexus has reduced the number of phone calls our loan officers get, but I do know that the calls they are getting are now more high level. They’re building relationships instead of reporting on status,” Milner said.

In addition to giving borrowers convenience and control, SimpleNexus also gives US Mortgage loan officers the flexibility to work from anywhere.
“Now, our LOs have the opportunity to start the mortgage process with the consumer in a Realtor’s office, or at a remote site; run credit, get pricing— instantly help the borrower on the spot,” Milner said. “If they start the process on their mobile device, they can seamlessly continue on their desktop. It makes them more productive, and better able to service our borrowers.”

According to Milner, the fact that his LOs can co-brand the app with their Realtors and referral partners is also a significant competitive advantage.
“With that co-branding, and the transparency SimpleNexus offers, our partners actually feel like they’re part of the process,” Milner said. “In a lot of ways, your referral partners are where you’re going to create the stickiness with the app. The Realtor is going to keep the app on thephone for extended periods of time.”

So far, the response has been extremely positive, with US Mortgage’s top seven loan officers co-branding with 40 Realtor partners, and its top loan officer engaging 119 partners through the app.

“We have a lot of Realtors who are pushing their IDX feeds through the app, so, their customers can use it for home searches,” Milner said. “It’s not only marketing for them, but it gives us a symbiotic relationship with the Realtor community. As a purchase-focused, referral-based lender, those relationships are a big priority with us.”

Although, at the time of this writing, US Mortgage has only been on SimpleNexus a short time, the numbers already show that this platform is positioning the lender for the future.

“In 2015, about 27 percent of our online applicants were Millennials, with that number increasing to 37 percent since SimpleNexus,” Milner said.
He’s also seeing more Millennials doing conventional loans—up from 35 percent in 2015 to 50 percent today. Conversely, the number of government loans the company is writing for Millennials has decreased from 64 percent to 51 percent.

“We anticipate that with these trends, we’re going to see a continued increase of the use of the mobile app in the months and years to come,” Milner said. 

The key is continuing to add new features that make borrowers’, referral partners’ and loan officers’ lives easier.

“Ultimately, we want to work with SimpleNexus on the next phase of our rollout, adding features like eSign, as these become available,” Milner said. “By continuing to build on what we have, we can better serve our borrowers and fulfill our mission that everyone deserves a roof over their head.”

About The Author

New Compliance Trends

The United States has made great strides towards equality in many aspects of life since the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. The housing industry, though, is one area in which we as a country have historically struggled to achieve the desired results. Congress passed two key pieces of legislation aimed at leveling the playing field in the industry. The Fair Housing Act was passed as part of the broader Civil Rights Act in 1968. This law made it illegal for banks to discriminate on the basis of race when evaluating mortgage applicants. Prior to its passage minorities were often unable to obtain loans from most banks, as systematic discrimination was commonplace. 

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Although the Fair Housing Act illegalized overt racial discrimination, it did little to resolve the disparate impact of some other common lending practices. Many banks began to engage in what is known as “redlining” in what they designated as high-risk lending areas.  The practice of redlining is exactly what it sounds like: banks would literally draw a red line around certain areas of states or cities and refuse to lend to people in those areas. Those redlined areas tended to be home to very low to moderate income individuals and families and, more often than not, those neighborhoods were occupied predominantly by minorities. 

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Lending institutions abolished their explicitly discriminatory lending policies, but the racial discrimination that the Fair Housing Act was enacted to prevent was still taking place under the guise of risk-based lending. In response, Congress enacted the Community Reinvestment Act in 1977, which not only made redlining illegal, but compelled banks to lend and invest in those low to moderate income communities and neighborhoods. Although the law was enacted with the greatest of intentions, it has proven to be woefully inefficient in narrowing the housing gap for low to moderate income families, specifically minorities. Furthermore, many lending institutions struggle when trying to internally evaluate performance ahead of regulatory reviews because of the lack of definitive guidelines and frequent implementation of revisions.  

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The CRA Tests

Every FDIC insured bank is responsible for meeting requirements promulgated by the Community Reinvestment Act and is subject to review from regulatory agencies. As discussed above, the goal of the Act is to help low to moderate income Americans and traditionally underserved communities. The definition of “low to moderate income” varies based upon the geographic regions in which institutions operate, as they fluctuate based upon average income for those specific areas. In areas with high costs of living and higher average incomes (such as New York), the poverty line is higher than it would be in areas with lower average income and cost of living (such as Wichita, Kansas).

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The region in which the lending institutions operate is not the only variable that affecs lenders’ scope of responsibility under the CRA. The size of the institution also dictates the stringency of the requirements to which they are subject. The larger the institution (the greater the assets) the more resources it must devote to meeting the three compliance tests. Those tests are: 1) the Lending Test; 2) the Investment Test; and 3) the Service Test. For each test, regulators will give scores of “Outstanding”, “Satisfactory”, “Needs to Improve”, and “Substantial Noncompliance”, and then will give an overall score to denote the institution’s level of general compliance. In this section we will discuss what regulators look at for each test. 

The Lending Test is the most straightforward of the three. When evaluating compliance, regulatory bodies look at the dollar value of loan to deposit ratios for the institutions’ low to moderate income clients. The higher the dollar value of loans to total deposits, the higher the score will be given to the institution being evaluated. One of the most common problems many lending institutions face when it comes to CRA compliance is the lack of definitive guidelines regarding grading thresholds for the three tests. Most lenders are able to develop compliance targets internally based upon past experience, but are always on edge due to the uncertainty about which rubrics regulatory agencies employ when evaluating performance. Although there is no bright-line test, Kenneth H. Thomas, president of Miami-based Community Development Fund Advisors, and former lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, has formulated his own thresholds based upon his extensive experience in the industry. He surmised that in order for an entity to achieve a score of “Outstanding” on the lending test, it must have a loan to deposit ratio of at least 80%. 

The second test that lending institutions must pass is the Investment Test. This test looks at the qualified investments that are made in low to moderate income service areas. This test, however, doesn’t simply look at the dollar value of the investments. Although the amount of investment is important when evaluating compliance under this test, regulatory agencies look deeper in order to ensure that the investments are impacting these communities in a meaningful way. Regulators judge the innovativeness and complexity of each investment to encourage investors to thing about novel ways to remedy problems that have traditionally plagued these communities. Lenders are also required to make investments that are responsive to the development needs of these communities. Because adversity faced by beneficiaries of this law vary widely in each geographic area, there cannot be a “one size fits all” method of investing. Regulators want investors to seriously consider the needs of each community in which they invest. Again, although there are no definitive guidelines regarding how much is enough, Thomas suggests that in order to achieve an “Outstanding” rating, lenders should looks to invest 1% of review period assets. 

The last test under which lenders are evaluated is the Service Test. This test looks at the type and number of retail and community development services that banks provide to each low to moderate income service area. Like the Investment Test, this test doesn’t just the number of services into account. Lenders must provide services that are innovative and responsive to the needs of each community in which they are offered. From his experience, Thomas recommends that lenders who wish to attain an Outstanding score must offer 12 services per year per billion dollars in assets.

Despite numerous regulatory bodies and agencies offering overviews and some guidance regarding compliance with CRA requirements, many lenders are still in the dark about what they need to do to receive Outstanding scores because of the lack of definitive compliance standards. Approximately 90 percent of lenders were given an overall grade of satisfactory, while less than 10 percent were able to attain Outstanding marks. These statistics prove that despite devoting significant time and resources to CRA compliance, lenders still struggle with implementing programs that unequivocally meet regulatory standards. 

CRA Compliance Efficacy

When compiling a CRA requirement plan, lenders should seek to implement programs that will not only help the community, but will empower those who the CRA aims to help to become homeowners. For instance, many low to moderate income consumers struggle with credit. There is a demonstrable need for services that provide credit education and remediation in those communities. Many lenders have already begun to partner with non-profit entities that provide these types of services for applicants who do not have the necessary credit scores to qualify for the financial products that they seek. If those same lenders partnered with non-profits to provide those same services at no cost to low to moderate income communities that they serve, it would help them meet the requirements of not one, but two CRA tests. Funding a credit remediation program such as the one described above would obviously sere to help meet the requirements under the Service Test. However, once those low to moderate income households or individuals build their credit profile, they could qualify for mortgages or various other financial products, which would help that same lender meet Lending Test requirements as well. Lenders should begin thinking creatively an order to make strategic to investments to ensure that they are positioned to receive some type of benefit from the resources they are already devoting to community development. 

About The Author

Conversation Marketing Hacks: 8 Ways To ‘Speak Human’ & Change The Game

Nobody starts out automatically caring about your products or services. They care about how you can make a difference in their lives.  No matter the context, all relationships begin with a “handshake moment,” whether literally or figuratively—those first few introductory moments that reveal a great deal about the character of the person standing before you. Why should company interactions with current and prospective customers or clients be any different? 

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Sure, “content marketing” has been a crucial ingredient impelling the evolution of traditional marketing into today’s more personalized approach, bridging the gap between cookie-cutter TV, radio, and print mass marketing to highly customized digital and social media-driven communications. Even so, today’s more personalized digital communications have plenty of challenges, all too often falling on “deaf ears” and “blind eyes” amid a marketplace becoming highly desensitized to the glut ofadvertising and marketing messages its exposed to any given hour of any given day…year in and year out. 

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So, how can brands can make and maintain meaningful connections and create a lifetime value with customers in ways that’ll set them apart in a “noisy,” increasingly jaded and discriminating marketplace? How can businesses tell an authentic story so as to foster maximized marketplace engagement and breed brand loyalty?  According to Kevin Lund, author of the new book, “Conversation Marketing: How to be Relevant and Engage Your Consumer by Speaking Human”the proverbial key to the Kingdom is for companies, no matter their size and scope, to simply “speak human.
In this new book  Lund, who’s CEO of T3 Custom—itself a content marketing firm helping brands learn to “speak human” and supercharge ROI reportedly by as much as16-times, provides an in-depth analysis of what’s required to succeed in today’s modern marketing era, which he’s aptly coined the “Conversation Age.” Specifically, he details key principles critical for driving the more evolved conversation marketing approach, which can help companies amplify results on multiple fronts. 

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According to Lund, “Those who are wildly successful at conversation marketing understand the strategy is not simply about propagating online content and sharing through social media accounts. Rather, it’s a disciplined approach to communicating with a target audience in a way that tells a simple, human story that will educate, inform, entertain and, most importantly, compel customers in a way that fully captures mind–and-market share through messaging that truly resonates. Companies must stop talking ‘at’ their customers and, instead, connect with them by simply speaking human. And, it’s far beyond that initial ‘handshake moment—it’s through a constant stream of congenial engagements with each individual consumer, or the marketplace at large, based on trust and performance.”

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Think it’s complicated to be an adept conversation marketer and speak human to your constituents? Think again! Below are eight of Lund’s tactical strategies from the new book that can help companies large and small become more engaging and relevant with customers, and the marketplace at large:

1. Earn Attention

To gain attention in today’s crowded marketplace, it’s prudent to do the opposite of what most everyone else is doing. That means don’t deliver clichéd, boring content that’s written for robots—search engines or otherwise—and for generic consumption. It’s unsustainable for you and your brand as well as frustratingly futile for the audience you’re trying to reach. Instead, speak human by engaging your audience with eye-level language in order to gain their attention and set your brand apart. Learn to use language that educates and entertains the audience. 

Earning attention starts with asking yourself what you and your company are passionate about and conveying that genuinely in that all-important “handshake moment” of first contact—online or otherwise. Assume you’re meeting the person on the other side of the screen for the first time. Think of what you can say that’s new, memorable, a standout, and jargon-free. Also, understand and adapt to your audience. You wouldn’t talk the same way to an aging Baby Boomer as you would to a teenager.

2. Tell a Story

How do you hold someone’s attention long enough to break down a topic and engender his or her trust, but also in a way that’s unforgettable and leaves that person feeling more knowledgeable than before? The answer lies in good storytelling. 

Good conversations are filled with good stories and anecdotes. But be mindful that the hero of the story isn’t your company or its products, but rather how your product or service will have a positive impact in your customers’ lives. If you can elicit an emotional response, you’re onto something.  Some standout companies have figured this out. Apple’s story, for example, isn’t about devices. It’s about innovation and how our lives are being changed for the better with Apple technology in them. Learn how to make your story short, to the point, and easy to share online.

3. Stay Humble

Being humble begins with letting go of ego—that instinctual part of the psyche that screams for a marketer to make too much noise about products or services and brag about themselves. Sigmund Freud developed a psychoanalytic theory of personality he coined the “id,” and marketers often tap into their own ids by telling the world how great their company and its products are, and how great a potential customer will be for buying them. The id operates based on the pleasure principle, which demands immediate gratification of needs. 

In conversation marketing, speaking human dictates that your customer’s needs, not your own, are top priority. Your audience wants to know what you can do for them, and that means stop talking about yourself and drop the megaphone. Instead, embrace a different approach that thoughtfully and humbly explains why you do what you do and why it can make a difference in someone’s life instead of focusing on your bottom line. Stop beating them over the heads with the fabulous features and benefits of your products. Instead, tell stories that inspire and resonate with their own life experiences.

4. Pick Your Party

Equally important to the “how” of your conversation is the “where.” It should all fit seamlessly together and feel natural and organic in that moment.  Part of learning how to talk to your audience and engage them in any form of conversation is deciding where to talk to them in the first place. 
This means doing the footwork to learn where your potential customers gather, and meeting them on their own ground. Where do your potential customers hang out on social media? What are they saying, and what challenges are they discussing that you can compellingly weigh-in on? Easily available research tools can help you join the right conversation at the right time and in the right place with consistency.

5. Be Relevant (on a Molecular Level)

True listening is about far more than hearing words. It’s also about fully understanding the message and concepts being imparted—whether they’re needs, wants, desires, or even complaints. Being relevant means making sure you’re talking about topics that are of sure interest to your audience, and that’s often achieved by addressing their pain points. Before a marketer can aptly communicate and speak to such pain points, however, he or she must first hear what the prospect, customer or marketplace has to say. It can be dangerous, expensive and ultimately futile for companies to presume to inherently know what should be said in conversation marketing. 

6. Start the Conversation 
How do you gain audience attention in a way that prevents you from just being part of the noise? It’s no longer a question of whether you should insert yourself into the world of content marketing. It’s a matter of when you’re going to start talking, what you’re going to say, and how you’re going to say it. One good approach is to base that initial conversation on your unique value proposition for the given audience. 

It’s important to always remember that your target audience doesn’t care about you. They care what you can do for them. If you’ve done your research, you’ll be familiar with their pain points and better prepared to offer answers that address their needs. Don’t be a “me-too” marketer who dishes out the same information as everyone else. Instead, develop a unique angle with a thought-provoking headline that sparks attention—even better if it disrupts conventional thinking. In addition, know your topic inside out before communicating, and make sure any other people handling your communications are experts in the field. You don’t want to risk sounding trite or inaccurate.

7.  Stop Talking

Unlike a monologue, a conversation is a two-way endeavor. Knowing when to stop talking is as important as knowing what to say and when to say it. It’s the only way to truly get a sense of what your audience (or your potential customer) is thinking in reaction to what you’ve offered, and whether to stay the course in your strategy or tweak it on-the-fly. Once you hear preliminary reaction, you can respond to questions and concerns before moving ahead or otherwise couse-correct as needed. Also bear in mind that what your audience isn’t saying can be just as impactful as what they do convey.

Once your message is out, take a step back and “read the room.” That could mean monitoring online response to your blog post or using various tools to learn which of your resources are drawing attention. Are people engaged? Are they adding to the conversation? What should you do if the feedback is bad? Don’t consider a negative response or lack of response necessarily a failure. Instead, see it as an opportunity to adjust, make changes, and perhaps find ways to better meet your audience’s needs.

8. Ditch the Checklist

Before every takeoff, airline crews verbally work through an extensive checklist. There’s a detailed set of tasks to cover before the plane can even push back from the gate. However, in an ebb and flow conversation marketing context, this adherence to a certain protocol can pose limitations. Indeed, one problem with simply sticking to a checklist is that a content marketing strategy will never evolve with the times or differentiate itself in any way from what everyone else is doing.

Successful marketers endeavor to open new horizons. They take a step back and ask bigger questions about themselves and their companies’ ultimate goals, as well as what sort of new challenges their audience or customers might face over time–how to aptly adjust when needed. 

Lund also suggests finding sources of inspiration. “Explore some of the successful content marketing plans that showed passion, ditched the tired old language, zeroed in on what customers needed, and started a real conversation with the market,” he urges. “Then scrutinize your own strategy and see where it might be lacking, so that you can continually refine your own checklist.”

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3 Strategies For Millennials Battling ‘Boardroom Sexism’

Over the last several decades, women have made strides in the corporate world, in many cases launching their own enterprises and some taking the helm at Fortune 500 companies.

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Despite such progress, sexism remains a significant hurdle in business.Sexist attitudes are certainly well entrenched in Asia.

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Having my own experiences with sexual harassment and gender inequality, Tran says she identifies with the #MeToo movement that swept the United States. Not only have I had to deal with inappropriate behavior by business men during meetings, I am constantly asked when I will marry. I even started my own #StandTaller campaign to combat gender bias and promote better dialogue between the sexes.

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It’s a real battle to strive to eliminate the structural sexism that exists in society. One of the challenges we face is that gender stereotypes start very early.

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Here’s some advice for women rising up the corporate ladder:

Don’t Behave Like a Man. To compete with men, some women might believe they should act like men, which can translate into being abrasive and domineering in conversations. That’s not how women highlight their natural leadership qualities. I think there is great strength in a woman’s negotiating skills and ability to listen. There is plenty of research that demonstrates how a company’s operational abilities improve when there are more women on the board.

Stand Up and Be Counted.Even a woman who holds a significant position in a company sometimes can be expected to perform menial duties, such as taking notes or making coffee, especially if she’s the only woman in a meeting. Avoid that trap, she says, and certainly don’t volunteer. It’s best not to offer to make everyone else a cup of coffee until you reach a senior enough position where this is viewed as a positive gesture, rather than a given. Speaking of note taking, a supervisor once asked a friend of mine to do just that. She declined, telling the supervisor it’s always women who are asked to take notes and until they refuse it will stay that way. This is one example of ways women can stand taller in the boardroom.

Seek Male Allies.In order to dismantle sexism, we need men to help. Women cannot eliminate sexism on their own. The good news is that more and more men are eager to do this. Those five words – do I have your support – are critical because the create unity not separation. They encourage support. For me, in the boardroom, I have found these five words to help push forward in the most challenging times.

When it comes to gender equality, I do my part by ensuring that THP Beverage Group offers women the same opportunities as men.

We have 10 senior directors and four are women. My sister is also a deputy CEO, and she and I try to set a very strong example for women leaders in our company. We work to boost the number of female employees overall, as well.It helps that our father has never discriminated between men and women. It did not matter to him if we were sons or daughters. He just wants the right person for the job.

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Integrations That Make Sense

Black Knight and LERETA have partnered to enhance tax reporting services to Black Knight’s MSP servicing system customers.    

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The relationship aligns LERETA’s commitment to innovation with the processing power of the MSP system. The relationship will allow servicers on MSP to enjoy enhanced integration to improve data exchanges, a reduction in payment timeframes, the elimination of manual report entry errors, improved processing with unique functionality, greater accuracy, enhanced tax-specific processing and an improved customer experience.

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“This alliance demonstrates our continuing commitment to driving innovation in property tax servicing,” said John Walsh, CEO of LERETA. “It also shows how the respective leaders in tax service and servicing systems can work together to improve this critical servicing function. Servicers using LERETA for tax on the MSP system will now have more automation and decrease in risk.”

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The integration will allow loan servicers to onboard loans faster and removes the burden of creating manual tax reports and other antiquated manual processes, which dramatically improves reporting accuracy and responsiveness for the servicer, the tax provider and loan processing system. The system enhancements mean decreasing the risk of delays in paying taxes and reducing tax penalties, while offering better collaboration and improved customer service.

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“Integrating LERETA’s tax service with Black Knight’s industry-leading MSP system demonstrates our ongoing commitment to continuously enhance our technologies with the highest-quality capabilities,” said Black Knight President Joe Nackashi. “This innovative tax service will further streamline the onboarding process for our clients, increase process transparency and provide a better customer experience.”

LERETA introduced one of the newest technologies to the tax service industry in 2016 with the launch of Total Tax Solution (TTS), the core processing system for LERETA’s outsourced tax clients and an ASP solution for standard tax reporting clients. 

The new strategic relationship marries the power of MSP loan processing with LERETA’s comprehensive nationwide tax database to provide real-time visibility and transparency to tax service at the portfolio and loan level. This translates to more call center efficiencies and improved customer service.

“Customer service is always the biggest concern for servicers, and the launch of our Total Tax Solution has changed the way our customers can support their customers,” Walsh said. “TTS dramatically improves the transparency of tax service, which has helped reduce the number of real estate tax-related service calls by over 30 percent. The implementation of TTS has also resulted in industry-leading customer service call times; and 85 percent of tax-related calls are resolved on the first call, dramatically improving customer experience.”

The Black Knight MSP loan servicing system is a single, comprehensive platform used by financial institutions to service over 34 million active loans – more than any other in the mortgage industry. MSP is an end-to-end system that includes all aspects of servicing, including loan boarding, payment processing, escrow administration and default management. The system’s comprehensive functionality helps servicers increase efficiency, reduce operating costs and improve risk mitigation – all while supporting servicers’ regulatory requirements.

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Perfect Your Sales Cycle

In the article entitled “How to Eliminate Sticking Points in Your Sales Process” by Rob Steffens, he points out that the sales process is one of the most important parts of keeping your business growing. Yet, many organizations don’t even have a formal map of their sales process.

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You can think of your sales process as all the activities your sales team performs to convert a prospect into a customer. This is a repeatable, reliable, predictable process that gets you from point A to point B, rather than a methodology. 

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Optimizing your sales process will save you time and earn you more money by:

>>Reducing effort duplication and time spent on lower priority sales tasks.

>>Helping you to onboard new sales reps and get them to producing faster.

>>Allowing you to recognize bottlenecks and other problems to be solved.

>>Empowering your team members to pursue tougher “stretch” sales goals.

And that’s really only the beginning.

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As the man once said, to manage, you must measure.

Once you start that “measuring,” you’ll probably find all kinds of little leaks in your sales funnel that need to be plugged. A sales process usually isn’t severely broken – that level of dysfunction is easy to notice. Instead, it loses energy at all kinds of different points.

When you start patching those small holes, you can truly raise sales performance overnight.

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Let’s look at some of the biggest areas where organizations can improve their sales process:

Start By Mapping Out Your Sales Process

A very basic sales process map might look like this:






In an inbound-focused organization, a sales rep generally first becomes aware of a lead when he or she engages with your marketing material. This shows your sales team a pain point that this lead might have.

In inbound sales, the sales and marketing teams contribute side by side to qualification. When your website and marketing materials are aligned correctly, you can often entice a lead to pre-qualify online without ever having to use sales resources.

To do this, though, everyone has to understand the steps in the sales process. It should be stored in a digital format where sales, marketing, and product development stakeholders can see it.

Get Everybody On The Same Page

A map is helpful, but the map is not the territory. Each person on the sales team needs to have a concrete understanding of his or her role in making deals a reality. That usually means having an “all hands” meeting where you can go over the salient points:

>>Who are our buyer personas — Who are our “best fit” buyers we want to focus on targeting?

>>What do our buyers know about our product? What marketing materials do they see?

>>What are our current methods for making sure a lead is completely sales qualified?

>>What are our current methods for prospecting, aside from our site? Do they work?

>>What objections are we running into in discovery sessions? Are we addressing them?

Clarifying these topics will help sales pros recognize when they’re investing time into a lead who is unlikely to convert or offer enough value for the enterprise. To consistently stay focused on only the best leads, however, you need to collect appropriate data and apply it through automation.

Make Sure You’re Collecting Relevant Data

To get your sales processes humming along the way they should be, you need to be certain you know which activities demonstrate sales intent and what conversion action moves a lead from one phase of the process to another. Luckily, there are amazing software tools to help.

There are two things you absolutely need here:

>>A data analytics suite that recognizes and flags sales-oriented activity on your site.

>>A customer relationship management (CRM) suite that offers full visibility for all leads.

Working together, these two apps will capture all the information you need about a sale in the making, whether the action takes place on your website, social media, or in email.

And Then Act On That Data Consistently

A modern CRM can empower you with lead scoring that will notify you when leads’ actions pass a certain threshold that suggests you should follow up with them right away.

That can be because they did something that indicates a pressing need – such as accessing a product demo or starting a free trial – or because their pattern of behavior over time strongly implies they are fully qualified and might benefit from personalized attention.

At any given time, you should be able to look at all your outstanding sales leads and see how many deals are in your pipeline, the potential value of each one, and where each person stands in the process, as well as which member of the team takes point on each agreement.

Put Strong “Gates” In Place Between Phases

With your data collection in place, it should be easier than ever to recognize the points where a lead passes from one phase of the sales process to the next. Just as importantly, however, is that your sales reps should receive customized notices for each lead as these milestones are reached.

As a lead goes from one stage to the next, you can visit your CRM to review their situation.

One of three things will happen:

>>You’ll notice something that disqualifies a given lead. Update your CRM’s logic.

>>The lead should be fast-tracked. Dive in and contact them personally right away.

>>The lead is “on target.” Send out whatever materials you normally would at this time. (You can automate this process and send internal notifications for sales reps with a great CRM, like HubSpot)

It’s crucial that there be no ambiguity around where one phase of the sales process begins and the other ends. Clear demarcations between the steps are essential for targeted communication.

If the steps are ambiguous, then at the very least, your leads will be very confused. Often, they’ll conclude that you aren’t paying attention to their needs and may take their search elsewhere.

Monitor Conversion Rates At Each Phase

Conversion rates are always going to differ – by industry, company, and even season of the year. The only thing you can always say for sure is conversion rates will go down with each step.

However, understanding whatyourcompany can consider “average” at each conversion is vital. This is the data that lets you know when part of your sales funnel is literally leaking leads.

It also gives you the power to recognize when a new initiative is lifting conversion rates. Just like your inbound marketing, your sales should be data-driven and always trend in the right direction.Long sales cycles and complex buyer journeys make B2B selling a challenge. When you break it down into individual, data-focused elements, you see how everything fits together. What seems like a sprawling, messy process becomes a series of “levers” you can pull, adjust, and optimize.

About The Author

The Rising Role Of Independent Mortgage Banks

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) released a white paper, The Rising Role of the Independent Mortgage Bank – Benefits and Policy Implications, which emphasizes the vital role Independent Mortgage Banks (IMBs) play in single-family real estate finance.

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“IMBs have always served the needs of a wide variety of consumers, particularly low- and moderate-income families and first-time homebuyers. Their historic and current contribution to the mortgage market reinforces their importance to making the American dream of homeownership a reality,” said Robert D. Broeksmit, CMB, President and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

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Broeksmit continued, “It is the responsibility of all stakeholders, including regulators, to protect consumers by supporting rules and regulations that support IMBs. MBA believes the recommendations put forth in this white paper will enhance market stability and strengthen the housing finance system to better serve consumers.”

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In order to ensure a stable and liquid mortgage market for consumers that features robust competition among a wide variety of types of mortgage lenders, the white paper details a series of policy recommendations. They include:Ensuring that QM standards, as well as GSE and FHA/VA lending standards, remain focused on creditworthy borrowers and safe products. 

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>>Enhancing IMB access to longer-term, stable sources of liquidity to supplement short-term warehouse funding.

>>Providing the government housing finance programs (FHA, VA, USDA, and Ginnie Mae) with the funding and resources needed to implement improved counterparty risk standards that are transparent and risk focused, as well as to identify and respond to emerging risks.

>>Ensuring the mortgage servicing compensation regimes of the GSEs and Ginnie Mae preserve and support a deep and liquid market for mortgage servicing rights (MSRs) for servicers of all sizes and business models.

>>Further improving the value and liquidity of Ginnie Mae MSRs by continuing to advance options discussed in the Ginnie Mae 2020 white paper, including improvements to their MSR financing agreements and allowing loan-level servicing transfers (i.e., “split pools”).

>>Standardizing the servicing requirements at the government guarantors and clarifying the nature of the liability that participation in their programs entails. 

>>Making the mortgage market more attractive to banking institutions, including by addressing punitive capital requirements on mortgage servicing assets and reducing FHA False Claims Risk.

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Veros: Home Appreciation To Dip Through November

According to a new forecast of nationwide residential real estate values predicts significant slowing in most markets through 2019. The 2018 VeroFORECAST is the latest 12-month forecast from Veros Real EstateSolutions (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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“Wedonotseeacrash,”Foxcautioned,”butsimplyaslowingdownasthestrengthofthepastfewyearsisexpectedto dissipate somewhat in mostmarkets.”

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 wouldhavebeen hadtheflatinterestrateenvironmentcontinuedasithasforthepastseveralyears,”Foxsaid.”Atthe same time, housing supply is a key discriminator between our top and bottom forecast performingmarkets.”