Feb. 3: Fairway Independent exits wholesale; set straight on McDonalds; vendors partnering & raising money; Saturday Spotlight: New Story Lending

I won’t compare people from the Northeast or Midwest to manatees, but these groups are all magically drawn to warm areas, like Florida, around this time of year. Of the three, manatees, and who doesn’t like manatees, who are there year ‘round, inhabit the shallow, marshy coastal areas and rivers of the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, the Amazon basin, and West Africa. Non-residents of Florida have bid up the price of real estate in the state; fortunately, manatees don’t bid up houses or land, but they do occupy it. Blue Spring, a natural spring in Florida, remains a constant 72 degrees F., so it’s an attractive place for manatees to spend the winter. They (manatees) also wallow near the outlets of power plants, which isn’t bad for them per se but rather runs the risk that they could form a long-lasting habit that could imperil their species once the power plant closes. There are between 7,000 and 11,000 manatees in Florida, and lots of them went to Blue Spring this year: 932 manatees were counted at the state park. (A drop in the bucket compared to 600,000 Floridians above the age of 85.) And now, back to mortgages!

Saturday Spotlight: New Story Lending

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“Everyone Deserves to Create a New Story Around Home Ownership.”

In 3-5 sentences, describe your company (when was it founded and why, what it does, where, recent growth and plans for near-term future growth).

New Story Lending was founded in 2022 as a full-service independent mortgage bank to provide the American Dream of homeownership to every consumer willing to work towards it, no matter their circumstances. The name New Story Lending resulted from the challenges both cofounders, Shane Miller and Juan Rodas, experienced in their childhoods, and their belief that anyone, regardless of circumstance, could create their own new story around the dream of homeownership. New Story Lending has grown rapidly. To date, New Story is agency approved, licensed in 17 states, and plans on becoming licensed in most all states in the country.

Tell us about what type of volunteer work employees are encouraged to engage in, or charities your company supports, and why.

One of New Story’s core values is Giving Back. Employees are encouraged to volunteer, most specifically in the local communities each reside.

Both CEOs take this value seriously and lead by example. Juan donates much of his time and resources to Shriners Hospital for Children. Born with a hand deformity, Juan believes in the Shriners mission because of how much the organization assisted him as a child and will never forget how Shriners supported him. The reinforcement Juan and his family received from Shriners changed his life.

The son of a single mother, Shane’s family’s income was below the poverty line. He has a passion for community advocacy and local churches because of the impact and assistance afforded to his family as a child. Shane supports many local charities but desires those focusing on financial literacy and assistance to single and misplaced parents. Check out their biographies on the website NewStoryLending.com.

Tell us how your company maintains its culture in a work-from-home environment, or how you plan on bringing employees back into the office, if applicable.  

We believe in a “team” culture, one that values openness, support, transparency, and accessibility. This creates synergy, autonomy, and clarity among our group, which organically advocates for an environment of cohesion and collaboration. Because we recognize the needs of our team and authentically appreciate our employees and their contributions, our focus is thoroughly performance-based, regardless of where one sits, which grants maximum flexibility for remote or in-office work. Through our frequent sales, operations, companywide calls, “water cooler” channel and team-building events, we sustain our culture and maximize clarity and dissemination of information.

Things you are most proud of that don’t have to do with sales.  

We are minority and veteran owned, with a distinct focus on affordable housing and community advocacy, which is a large reason we received our Freddie Mac approval in record timing, along with completion of our HUD test cases in 90 days. This is a testament to the volume of affordable housing we complete. Additionally, we have our own proprietary New Story Heroes $911 lender credit provided to all veterans (active and reserve), first responders, teachers, and medical professionals.

Fun fact about your company.

New Story takes pride in leaving egos at the door. We are sincerely mission driven and customer focused. Therefore, it is naturally fitting that we are a leadership dyad with two CEOs. It is rare for companies to have two chiefs, but we believe in breaking barriers. Having co-CEOs significantly reduces layers of management, promotes access and collaboration through active leadership, and advocates leadership with two CEOs proficient in all areas of the mortgage process. The co-CEO model is complementary and allows us to achieve, together, much more than we could alone.

(For more information on having your firm’s extracurricular activities, employee growth, and your charitable side featured, contact Chrisman LLC’s Anjelica Nixt.)

Putting a myth to rest

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Last Saturday’s Commentary had a joke about the “passing of common sense” which included, “Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.” It prompted this email:

“Rob Chrisman, I’m shocked and saddened that you would participate in perpetuating the myth about the ‘money-grubbing’ woman who spilled hot coffee in her lap. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the absolutely awful reputation that she doesn’t deserve was completely a vile PR stunt. Stella Liebeck (who died 20 years ago) was a 79-year-old woman who suffered third-degree burns (the worst level of burns) in her pelvic region when she accidentally spilled coffee in her lap after purchasing it from a McDonald’s restaurant. She was hospitalized for eight days while undergoing skin grafting, followed by two years of medical treatment. She suffered permanent disfigurement and was partially disabled for two years. Stella sought to settle with McDonald’s for only $20,000 to cover her medical expenses. McDonald’s refused, offering her $800.

 

“She was the victim, not McDonald’s. To put a point on it, she was not driving when this happened. McD’s smear campaign implied that she was, but she was in the passenger seat, and they were parked.

“Before this happened, McDonald’s had received more than 700 previous reports of injury from its coffee, including reports of third-degree burns. Despite this, it did nothing.

 

“You can watch the documentary Hot Coffee about this case in a number of places: Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Roku, YouTube TV. Warning: the photos of her injuries are hurl-worthy. And finally, here’s another link on the case.”

Fairway Independent says goodbye to wholesale

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It isn’t the first, and won’t be the last as lenders and vendors are constantly evaluating the profitability of the channels they’re in, as well as how best to execute their model. Many distributed retail lenders, for example, like Newrez LLC & Caliber this week, have greatly reduced or entirely cut their regional manager staff, or moved them from receiving basis points of production to basis points of profitability.

Yesterday Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation announced a pivot in the company’s business model to 100 percent retail originations. With this move Fairway’s Wholesale platform will cease. “The people who have run Fairway’s Wholesale Department are some of the most talented, humble people in the business and will be a huge value add at their next mortgage home,” said Fairway CEO and Founder Steve Jacobson. “We want to thank our entire amazing Wholesale team for its dedication and professionalism over the years. We are simply making a business shift, nothing more, nothing less, in order to focus on our core business to ensure that we continue providing the best customer experience going forward.”

(Fairway has branches in all 50 states and is the #2 overall retail lender in the U.S. and was the #1 ranked mortgage origination company for borrower satisfaction in 2023 by J.D. Power.)

No one’s getting any younger: how’s your reverse division?

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The Census Bureau tells us that about 10,000 people a day turn 62. And a lot of them have equity and credit card debt. How’s your reverse mortgage department? And their counseling skills for the families of older borrowers? Thanks to advances in medical science, more and more people are making it to age 100 and over in the United States. In 1950, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that just 2,300 Americans were aged 100 and up, a figure that by 1990 had risen to 37,300 and by 2020 was all the way up to 80,100. This year, there are an estimated 101,500 people in the United States aged 100 and up (0.03 percent of the overall U.S. population) and over the next several decades that number is expected to climb. In 2054, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there will be 421,700 people in the United States aged 100 or higher, and that they’ll then be 0.1 percent of the U.S. population. Why it is some people are able to live so long remains a mystery, but if you’re curious read or watch The Blue Zone. And eat prunes.

Vendor updates

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Shift from gut feelings to data-driven clarity with Gallus. Uncover real profitability per loan and accurately track pull-through rates at both branch and loan officer levels (and much more). With Gallus, simplicity is key: if you can use Google, you can use Gallus. Join the ranks of major lenders who have already embraced our cutting-edge platform. Don’t just follow in the data and AI revolution; lead it. Gallus bridges intuition and information, turning insights into powerful, actionable strategies. Be at the forefront of the lending landscape; let precise data fuel your decisions. Eager to experience this transformation? Reach out to Augie. Book a meeting here. Gallus: Where data is your decisive edge.

DomiDocs, Inc. has created a platform that brings together an arsenal of tools, data, and functionality available to consumers. Founder and CEO, William McKenna, IV stated, “Our products and services are market fluctuation agnostic. Our goal is to consolidate down all the homeowner’s business needs into one single portal of convenience. By uniting all the different technologies, service providers, and education, we empower homeowners.” The Homeowner Enablement Platform®: Homeowners now have all the business tools to effectively manage their property(s). The platform is a digital powerhouse, offering three flagship products, along with everything a homeowner needs in today’s tech-driven world. HomeLock™: The Ultimate Safeguard Against Residential Property Fraud. TrueValueIndex®: The Smart Way to Appraise and Enhance Your Home’s Worth. propRtax™: The Tool That Could Save You Thousands on Property Taxes. Documenting for Disaster™: Preparing For Mother Nature & Everything Else. Real Estate Transactions: Closing Document Delivery, Storage and Fraud Protection.

Secure Insight and CATIC, a leading title insurance company, have announced a strategic partnership in mutual support of SI’s new TruePay disbursement fraud prevention tool. CATIC has endorsed the TruePay tool to assist its title agent offices in fighting the rising wave of cyber-crimes surrounding closing disbursements. CATIC sales managers will be promoting the product to the company’s agents beginning this week. The company has negotiated a special pricing arrangement with Secure Insight as a benefit for its agents.

TruePay is the latest offering from Secure Insight in the ongoing battle against mortgage closing fraud. It allows users to verify ownership and account details for personal and business payments prior to disbursements and offers a free database of verified mortgage payoff accounts. There are no contracts, no onboarding fees, just a pay-as-you-go system.

Dark Matter Technologies (Dark Matter) announced the availability of a new, automated workflow in the Empower® loan origination system (LOS) that makes it easier for lenders to identify and qualify loan applicants who could benefit from evaluation of their positive rent payment history. Developed in partnership with Informative Research utilizing the positive rent payment history enhancement in Fannie Mae’s Desktop Underwriter® (DU®), the workflow in the Empower LOS is configured to allow lenders to improve pull-through for borrowers who have a history of consecutive rent payments.

Snapdocs partnered with LenderLogix to provide shared customers with a unified closing experience. The integration between Snapdocs’ eClosing platform and LenderLogix’s LiteSpeed point-of-sale (POS) gives lenders the ability to offer borrowers a streamlined digital closing from loan application to final signature, all while automating cumbersome and time-intensive internal processes. The companies’ newly integrated systems allow borrowers to start and complete their mortgage transaction within one familiar platform. No additional logins or interfaces are required. Snapdocs’ open API enables a secure stream of data from Snapdocs’ eClosing platform into LenderLogix. This allows lenders to receive closing updates in real time, reducing the time and costs of these otherwise manual processes and increasing overall lender efficiency.

The leading loyalty platform specializing in rent and neighborhood rewards, Bilt Rewards announced a $200 million equity investment, led by General Catalyst, with significant contributions by Eldridge, alongside existing investors Left Lane Capital, Camber Creek and Prosus Ventures, making its valuation $3.1 billion. Bilt welcomed Ken Chenault as its Chair of the Board. Chenault is also Chair and Managing Director of General Catalyst, and the former Chairman and CEO of American Express.

Finastra has partnered with Newgen Software to provide customers with enhanced loan origination solutions and integrate them with Finastra’s state-of-the-art LaserPro system. This partnership is a game-changer for banks, as they aim to provide a best-in-class digital-first customer experience. The API-driven integration between Newgen’s Loan Origination System and Finastra’s LaserPro simplifies the creation of loan documents across various consumer collaterals, significantly reducing manual efforts and ensuring seamless data validation.

VizionX, a title technology provider focused on driving the next generation of PropTech, has launched its premier offering, VizionX Fees, within their Xchange platform. Additionally, Xchange integrates tightly with several popular LOS technologies, such as Encompass® by ICE Mortgage Technology, for workflow efficiency.

docutech Compliance made updates to three HELOC security instruments and Certificate of Foreign Status of the Beneficial Owner of the United States tax withholding.

Some people watch the Super Bowl just for the ads. Budweiser’s had some great ones over the years. Here’s one.

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. STRATMOR’s current blog is titled, “Adjusting Loan Officer Compensation to Improve Profitability.” The Commentary’s podcast is live and at any place you obtain your podcasts (like Apple or Spotify).

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(Market data provided in partnership with MBS Live. For free job postings and to view candidate resumes visit LenderNews. This newsletter is for sophisticated mortgage professionals only. There are no paid endorsements by me. For up-to-date mortgage news visit Mortgage News Daily. For archived commentaries, or to subscribe, go to www.robchrisman.com. Copyright 2024 Chrisman LLC. All rights reserved. Occasional paid job & product 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