Apr. 25: 1003, expense control, marketing products, LO jobs; digital trends; Amazon’s blockchain product

Amazon Web Services, the conglomerate’s cloud computing division, has announced AWS Blockchain Templates, which will compete with similar offerings from IBM and Oracle. “The Amazon product gives developers access to a choice of two preset blockchain frameworks, and its producers say it will streamline efficiency by reducing the need for third-party intermediaries.” There are plenty of rumors, and concerns from existing residential lenders, that Amazon is researching entering the residential mortgage space. How might an Amazon Mortgage operate? What competitive advantages might Amazon Mortgage have? There’s the blog post on the STRATMOR Group website: “Amazon in the Mortgage Jungle.”

Lender products

Four months after launching, Vendor Surf has its post-launch numbers to share. The site has 4,300 unique visitors and 37,000 page-views to date. Vendor Surf continues to expand the breadth of its B2B search engine, currently at 661 vendor listings. Looking ahead, Vendor Surf is excited to carry the positive momentum into the rest of 2018. “Vendor Surf is committed to establishing a strong online presence across the vendor sourcing ecosystem.” said co-founder Craig Leabig. Check out Vendor Surf’s great explainer video. For more information reach out to co-founders Craig Leabig or Scott Roller.

The mortgage industry is less than a week away from the release of Floify’s highly anticipated, next-generation 1003 loan application, which insiders are predicting will be a game changer for borrowers, LOs, small teams, and enterprise lenders alike. After collecting feedback from top producers and lenders, Floify’s design and engineering teams have been working tirelessly on developing a beautifully remastered 1003 that is sure to make applying for a loan far more intuitive and enjoyable for borrowers connected to originators who use the Floify point-of-sale platform. Lenders will have access to powerful new automations, integrations, and branding configurations that will push their lending capabilities to new heights. If you’ve been considering Floify for yourself, your brokerage, or your enterprise, now is the perfect time to take advantage of this incredible solution and be on the leading edge of mortgage tech. Request a live, 30-minute demo today to learn more!

There’s one crucial factor you could be overlooking that’s raising your expenses. Lenders are getting hit from both sides as the cost of loan production and compliance regulations continue to climb. Faced with these threats, lenders need a more reliable way to save time, money, and – most importantly – shield them from potential security risks. Download Informative Research’s new whitepaper and see how you could protect your earnings and save millions in compliance and loan production costs by just considering this one change in your process.

Insellerate is pleased to announce its recognition as a 2018 HW Tech100 Winner. Each year, innovative mortgage technology companies are recognized as paving the way for top lenders. “The number of fintech companies serving the mortgage industry has exploded over the last several years — making the choice of just 100 companies this year very difficult,” said HousingWire Magazine Editor Sarah Wheeler. “Companies in the 2018 Tech100 represent the leading edge of solutions and services that will propel mortgage companies toward success. “To compete in today’s market and earn the attention of the modern borrower, lenders need to meet borrowers on their terms. It starts with updating current sales and marketing processes to adapt to the shopping experience borrowers have grown accustomed to. “These companies provide innovative solutions and are moving the housing finance industry forward as technology rapidly changes how the landscape operates,” said HousingWire Online Editor Caroline Basile.

Open doors – close more deals. It’s that simple. That’s the expectation we set for HomeScout-HBM lead and conversion technologies – making it easier for branch managers and loan officers to compete in a challenging purchase market by helping pre-approved buyers locate homes or risk losing them. HomeScout, a National MLS for lenders, is a mobile real estate search app that provides home buyers with THE most current listings available. Featuring a private digital real estate marketplace with 100% MLS listing data where you, the loan officer, are exclusively branded to home buyers alongside cooperative agents. With low inventories and public search sites that feature fake listings, accurate information is critical for buyers. Improve conversion rates by showing your customers what they need while becoming a lead source for your agents. For more information or to schedule a demo contact us HERE or give us a call at 952-831-0623.”

Employment & promotions

With the company’s continued growth (notably a 25.5% increase in production in Q1 2018 over Q1 2017) Academy Mortgage has hired Kevin Ginsburg as Vice President of Production, Strategic Alliances. Based in Austin, Ginsburg will be responsible for creating strategic partnerships with real estate professionals and homebuilders in Texas and the surrounding states. He will also contribute to these markets’ production goals. “I have worked with Kevin in the past and have full confidence in his abilities to grow our referral partner relationships and our volume,” said Kevin Haycock, Head of Production at Academy. Ginsburg has nearly 20 years of experience in the mortgage lending industry, with an expertise in new home construction. Contact Kevin Ginsburg or National Recruiting Manager John Owens to join Academy, one of the top independent purchase lenders in the country as ranked in the 2017 CoreLogic Marketrac Report.

Growth like that of Caliber Home Loans, Inc. is simply unparalleled in the current market. They invested in proprietary technology, introduced new products, and hired the best talent who are local market experts. In addition to being a leading originator, Caliber services over 96% of the loans it originates. By retaining so many relationships with its customers, Caliber has been able to create customers for life for its Loan Consultants. Caliber’s growth during a time when the industry and its top lenders are declining in volume is an impressive achievement. Loan Consultants interested in learning how Caliber equips their producers with the tools for success, can contact Jeremy DeRosa.

Stearns Lending’s Joint Venture (JV) channel breaks the status quo. Stearns has demonstrated its expertise as the nation’s largest JV lender. One of its largest realtor JVs is Home Mortgage Alliance. HMA has had proven success and continued growth year after year with its strategic partner, RE/MAX Alliance. In 2017, HMA was one of Colorado’s largest lenders. President of HMA, Bill Goldberg says, ‘We’ve had a great partnership with Stearns. We are consistently looking for ways to give ourselves a competitive edge, especially through the marriage of technology with service excellence. Stearns has put us in the position to accomplish this goal for our customers, partners and Mortgage Loan Originators.’ Stearns has boldly invested in a future of excellence for its JV program and it shows. For more information on partnering with Stearns Lending, contact Chief Operating Officer James Hecht (972-467-2343).” His email is jhecht@stearns.com.

HomeStreet in Seattle is cutting more costs after posting another loss in its mortgage segment. HomeStreet ($6.9 billion in assets) said in a press release that it will eliminate 86 positions, including 37 jobs in its mortgage business. The other cuts will involve personnel in its commercial and consumer business lines and corporate support.”


As a follow up, yesterday, I mistakenly reported on the Illinois licensing status of Diamond Residential Mortgage Corporation. The story posted was not true; in fact, the company is (and has always been) in good standing in every state in which it operates, including Illinois. I apologize to readers, and more importantly, to the company, for the error. The story has been retracted from my website.

Digital, tech, digital, tech…

In his presentation on “Digital Disruption” at the MBA Technology Solutions Conference last week, STRATMOR Senior Partner Garth Graham told the crowd that, “The top perceived barriers for digital mortgages are lender, not consumer issues. Nearly everything we consider an obstacle is our issue, not the consumer’s.” This set off a discussion of the obstacles and opportunities in digital in which Graham shared his tips for making the most of digital technology and his “Seven Commandments for Achieving Borrower Satisfaction.” He backed up his discussion with data from STRATMOR’s Technology Insight Survey and other STRATMOR data surveys and gave attendees ample opportunity to participate through a real-time digital polling process. One of the points Graham was most passionate in sharing was on the need to develop processes that consider the Big Three: People, Processes and Product. “At STRATMOR, we see lenders who might have subpar technology but are successful because they have good people and a well-defined and managed process. But we don’t see lenders who are able to use technology to overcome poor people and processes. The best lenders have all three.” For more on the digital disruption discussion, check out this story in MBA Insights.

Eagle Home Mortgage, a subsidiary of Lennar Corporation, announced the introduction of a digital mortgage platform that can be accessed via virtually any mobile device. “The Eagle Digital Mortgage platform enables customers to apply for a mortgage loan from their smartphone, tablet, desktop or laptop, anywhere, anytime. Customers can automatically connect their bank statements, tax and employment information, and any other document necessary to apply – in minutes – eliminating the inefficiencies of the paper-based process. Lennar said loan officers can also ‘co-pilot’ an application directly with a customer to guide them every step of the way. (It was developed in partnership with Blend.)

Pavaso (built-in eNotarization capabilities, Digital Close platform scalable from hybrid closings – part ink, part digital all the way to a full eNote and eVault capabilities) has now partnered with Utah-based mortgage lender Intercap Lending, Salt Lake City-based Elevated Title and Columbus, Ohio-based Signature Closers to deliver an eClosing experience during which the lender, title company and notary provider all collaborate within the Pavaso portal to complete the closing.

SunTrust Mortgage just announced the launch of SmartGUIDE™, a digital platform that allows people to complete their mortgage application entirely online. Most applicants can complete the online application in 30 to 40 minutes versus the traditional timeframe of an hour or more. SmartGUIDE™ pre-populates and validates much of the application, automatically pulling data from documents and bank statements that otherwise would need to be scanned and uploaded manually by the applicant. This creates a paperless process, even letting clients e-sign application documents requiring a signature.

Capital markets

Everyone’s yapping about the 10-year’s yield moving above 3%. Is this a surprise? The Fed Governors have been telling us for months that rates will be moving higher for a variety of reasons. Yesterday early selling lifted the 10-year yield above the 3.00% mark for the first time since early 2014, and the dollar rallied towards its highest level in three months.

Of particular interest to lenders, new home sales helped drive up the 10-year, as they were seen increasing 4.0% MoM in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 694k from an upwardly revised 667k in February, well above estimates of 631k. New home sales activity was the strongest in the South and West regions, which are the nation’s biggest markets, suggesting there is good underlying demand. We also had two house pricing releases, with the FHFA Housing Price Index up 0.6% in February and the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index up 6.8% in the same period. The recent rise in starts is all due to multifamily activity!

Separately, the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index increased to 128.7 in April, well above 126.1 expectations after a downwardly revised 127.0 in March, leaving it close to the February reading, which was the highest level since 2000. The percent of consumers expecting their income to decline over the coming months reached its lowest level (6%) since December 2000. Expectations are typically driven by feelings of job security, which could drive a pickup in consumer spending.


Today’s calendar is relatively light with no major economic releases. We did have the MBA’s weekly mortgage applications for the week ending April 20: -.2%, with refis down to 37% of total apps. There is also $52 billion in treasury supply for markets to take down between $17 billion new 2-year FRNs and $35 billion 5-year notes. Wednesday starts with rates higher versus last night: agency MBS prices are worse .250 and the 10-year is yielding 3.03%.

I went fishing last weekend but after a short time I ran out of worms. Then I saw a cottonmouth with a frog in his mouth. Frogs are good bass bait.

Knowing the snake couldn’t bite me with the frog in his mouth I grabbed him right behind the head, took the frog, and put it in my bait bucket.

Now the dilemma was how to release the snake without getting bit. So, I grabbed my bottle of Jack Daniels and poured a little whiskey in its mouth. His eyes rolled back, he went limp.

I released him into the lake without incident and carried on fishing using the frog.

A little later, I felt a nudge on my foot. It was that snake, with two more frogs.

Visit www.robchrisman.com for more information on our industry partners, access archived commentaries, or to subscribe to the Daily Mortgage News and Commentary. If you’re interested, visit my periodic blog at the STRATMOR Group web site. The current blog is, “Amazon in the Mortgage Jungle.” If you have both the time and inclination, make a comment on what I have written, or on other comments so that folks can learn what’s going on out there from the other readers.


(Market data provided in partnership with MBS Live. For free job postings and to view candidate resumes visit LenderNews. Currently there are over 300 mortgage professionals looking for operations, secondary and management roles. For up-to-date mortgage news visit Mortgage News Daily. For archived commentaries, or to subscribe, go to www.robchrisman.com. Copyright 2018 Chrisman LLC. All rights reserved. Occasional paid job listings do appear. This report or any portion hereof may not be reprinted, sold or redistributed without the written consent of Rob Chrisman.)

Rob Chrisman