Daily Mortgage News & Commentary

June 11: Letters on the Equifax situation, Black Knight & ICE, all cash programs, combatting fraud; Saturday Spotlight: Denim Social

Residential lending and servicing these days? Servicing packages continue to be sold for various reasons, and news about layoffs rarely stops. It is fun being a manager when you’re out hiring. When you’re not, and in fact making tough decisions, well, it is difficult. Fairway Independent’s Holly M. relayed, “Robert Frost said it best when he said, ‘Never cut what you can untie.’ One of my favorite quotes ever and such a good way to live life. Don’t sever a relationship that’s not meant to be permanently cut off over squabbles and misunderstandings. Work through the trials. Have you ever got a knot in your shoelaces that it was so tight and bound up that you only had two choices…cut or work it out in order to loosen it up? Relationships can often be the same. Sometimes you just have to be patient and work that knot loose to untie it in order to lace it back up better and stronger than before. Don’t cut what you can untie because when you do make that incision it makes it harder to mend it back together and when it does get reattached it’s not nearly as strong as it would have been had you just taken the time to figure out how to get the knot out in the first place.” Thank you, Holly!

 

Saturday Spotlight: Denim Social

______________________________________

“Successfully scale conversion optimized campaigns across all social media channels.”

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). 

Denim Social is a Software As A Service (SaaS) provider that powers social selling programs. Our platform empowers marketers, producers, associates, lenders, and more to communicate and engage on their channel of choice, leading to more meaningful customer relationships. In partnership with Denim Social, financial institutions compliantly and authentically distribute thought leadership, build trust, and deepen relationships at scale to drive business results. Our vision is to make the practice of social selling easy, compliant, and scalable.

 

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

In addition to the tremendous work individual Denim Social employees (also known as “Denimites”) do in their communities, we come together semi-annually for a service project. This year we’ve raised thousands of dollars to create supply backpacks for LifeWise STL, which provides high-impact, relationship-based programs to help individuals of all ages develop fundamental life skills. These skills include literacy, fitness and health education, financial literacy, emotional wellness, and much more.

What does your company do to help elevate your employees’ growth? Describe any mentoring programs, outside classes or training, in-house training. How does the company help people develop?

As our company grows, so do our employees. From training sessions to individual specialty certifications, we are constantly learning new skills, failing forward, and consistently improving our ways of working together to support our vision to continuously (and relentlessly) grow the company.

 

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. 

Denim Social is headquartered in St. Louis with additional locations in Des Moines, San Diego, and Austin, but we search everywhere for the best talent. Denim Social employees are trusted to exercise their expertise and own their work, which means they can work from anywhere in the world. We’re intentional about creating culture in a remote environment and bring the team together, when it makes sense, to serve our clients and plan for our future.

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

The past several years have been a time of transformation for Denim Social. In the heart of the pandemic in 2020, we merged two companies to create Denim Social. This allowed us to offer our customers a more robust platform and with additional investment over the past several years, we’ve significantly grown the team to include best-in-the-industry talent.

 

Fun fact about Denim Social?

The most coveted Denimite award of the year is a jar of “Doug’s Dills,” pickles grown and made by our CEO, Doug Wilber.

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

Here’s a tip for biz

______________________________________

Our very own MBA reports that, “1/3 of Declined Mortgage Applications Addressable with Homebuyer Assistance.” If you’re an LO, there is nothing wrong with an additional option!

And here’s why: Every loan counts. According to Curinos, May 2022 mortgage rate-lock volume was down 42% YoY and 6% MoM across all channels, while funded volume decreased 40% YoY and 5% MoM. In the Retail channel, lock volume decreased 46% YoY and 6% MoM, while funded volume was down 44% YoY and 5% MoM. The average 30-year conforming retail funded rate in May was 4.98%, 58 bps higher than April and 172 bps higher than the same month last year. Purchase rates were 57 bps higher MoM and 176 bps higher YoY, while Refinance rates were 57 bps higher MoM and 164 bps higher YoY. Curinos sources a statistically significant data set directly from lenders to produce these benchmark figures. We drill into this data further here.

Combatting mortgage fraud

___________________________________________

Lenders everywhere are cutting costs, trying to improve efficiency, and save pennies. So when a hacker gains access to your network and holds it for ransom, or $400,000 is wired out to some scam account, it hurts.

David Upbin with the Mortgage Bankers Association writes, “Hi Rob, in response to your comments on fraud and the examples of mortgage fraud, I wanted to make sure you and your readers knew about the resources from MBA. On July 12, we are hosting an AML Update webinar that is complimentary to MBA members. We also have four self-study courses that specifically cover mortgage fraud and that include fraud for profit, overview and current trends, best practices and resources, and loan-level misrepresentation. Each course comes with a certificate of completion when passing the final assessment.”

Equifax update

______________________________________

As first mentioned in this commentary… Equifax® Inc…. a coding issue that may have resulted in errors to consumer credit scores and credit data reported by Equifax from March 17 to April 6, 2022… may have impacted approximately 12% of credit scores issued during this time period that were based on Equifax credit data…

I received this note. “Rob, a while back your commentary mentioned an alleged mis-scoring by Equifax whereby thousands of borrowers may have been negatively impacted from being placed into unsuitable programs and impacted by worse pricing. What’s the latest?” For an answer I asked Tracey King, COO of Partners Credit & Verification Solutions. “Rob, your readers should know that currently many lenders are at a standstill on how to proceed after learning of the Equifax scoring issue. Fannie Mae has sent out a release to all its seller servicers with its response. Freddie Mac did as well.

“Lenders, whether they are independent mortgage banks, banks, or credit unions, should have been notified by their Credit Reporting Agencies on whether they had files that were impacted, and specifically, the details of the scores that were provided, and what they should have been. We also understand, however, that the information that Equifax provided was based on simulations and therefore may not have been based on the same information as Experian and TransUnion may have had at the time of the original reports.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and will advise our customers as soon as we receive information as to the best way to address affected files. My suggestion to our customers is to sort through these files and determine if it made any decision on each of the affected files that was based on an Equifax score, so that it knows which files may need to be revisited.”

As a side note, rumor has it that Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac may have issued its statement without consulting the FHFA, its conservator, and that the FHFA is currently in discussions with Freddie and Fannie regarding revised directives. There is conjecture that the NCRA will be meeting with the CFPB to address this. If this rumor is true, stay tuned!

The credit industry, of course, is no stranger to being in the press. Remember this from late 2020? TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez.

The Supreme Court issued its eagerly awaited opinion in TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez (No. 20-297), in which the NCRA submitted an amicus curiae brief in support of TransUnion’s position. Justice Kavanaugh delivered the opinion of the Court, with which five of the nine Justices agreed and four dissented.

 

The Court’s landmark opinion clarifies that “an asserted informational injury that causes no adverse effects does not satisfy Article III” and that “[a]n injury in law is not an injury in fact.” Simply stated, “[n]o concrete harm, no standing.” The most relevant portions of the opinion, which reverses many of the Ninth Circuit’s determinations about class member standing, are summarized as follows:

 

Of the 8,185 class members on behalf of whom the 1681e(b) claim was pursued, only the 1,853 whose reports were actually provided to end users had standing to sue for alleged inaccuracies in the reporting of OFAC information.

 

The remaining 6,332 class members whose reports were never disseminated to third parties lack standing to sue because they suffered no concrete harm: “The mere presence of an inaccuracy in an internal credit file, if it is not disclosed to a third party, causes no concrete harm. […] A letter that is not sent does not harm anyone, no matter how insulting the letter is. So too here.” The Court thereby rejected Ramirez’s argument that inaccurate information in TransUnion’s database presented a concrete “risk of future harm” for which relief was available.

 

The Court also rejected Ramirez’s novel argument that TransUnion had “published” class members’ reports internally to TransUnion employees in such a manner that would confer standing to those individuals whose reports were not provided to end users.

 

As to Plaintiff’s 1681g claim, concerning the format of TransUnion’s file disclosures, the Court found that no class member other than Ramirez had standing to pursue relief because there was no evidence that they had suffered any concrete harm (i.e., confusion, distress, and/or reliance on the information in the disclosures).

 

The Court reversed the judgment of the Ninth Circuit and remanded the case for further proceedings, explaining that “[o]n remand, the Ninth Circuit may consider in the first instance whether class certification is appropriate in light of our conclusion about standing.”

All-cash programs

______________________________________

Don Burton sent, “Rob, I saw your STRATMOR article on cash offers. Evergreen has an innovative products division with dozens of people involved in developing and ultimately hundreds involved in the rollout of our CashUp product, the first of its kind the lender space. I admit to having no small amount of pride in our team and the creativity they showed developing this product and the other products we are launching soon.

“The CashUp by Evergreen program pays cash for homes on behalf of homebuyers, and then provides permanent financing when it transfers ownership to them. I was a real estate agent before starting the mortgage company, and Evergreen’s focus has always been, ‘How can we help agents and add value to agents?’ Tamra Rieger oversaw a special product team at Evergreen that developed the CashUp program over six months. The team was preparing to launch the cash offer program in March 2020 when the pandemic struck.

“There was so much risk in the regular lending environment, we had to pull up on the CashUp program,” Rieger recalled. But “fast forward a year, and we’re getting through COVID, and managing risks pretty well. So we started with a pilot launch in February. A handful of Evergreen’s top loan officers (about 10 out of a total of 260) dedicated themselves to rolling out the CashUp program in Washington state, she said.

“After homebuyers have been preapproved, the CashUp program allows them to submit a cash offer with no financing or appraisal contingency. If the offer is accepted, Evergreen buys the home and transfers it to the buyer once their permanent financing is finalized. This is a guaranteed cash close… There’s nothing that’s going to derail the closing. And because Evergreen is a mortgage bank, it’s got the funds to not only purchase homes with cash, but provide permanent financing directly to the homebuyer.”

Black Knight and ICE

______________________________________

Scott Olson with the Community Home Lenders Association scribes, “I am not sure how much attention your readers are paying to the proposed purchase of Black Knight by ICE, but it could be a big deal for IMBs that use their software and related sources. CHLA sent a letter to the Justice Department asking for an antitrust review – raising concerns about industry concentration, about how it could encourage anti-competitive practices like bundling and tying, and how it could hurt consumers and smaller IMBs. CHLA is also asking the CFPB to review the proposed purchase to look at its impact on consumers, and is also asking the FTC to review the deal.

“The Community Home Lenders Association is writing to request that the Justice Department undertake a comprehensive antitrust review of the proposed $13.1 billion purchase by Intercontinental Exchange of Black Knight. CHLA asks the Justice Department to take such actions as are necessary and appropriate (including merger denial or approval conditions to prevent anti-consumer actions, i.e. tying, or bundling and to maintain the competitiveness of the market for mortgage services).”

Old Farmer’s Advice:

Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight, and bull-strong.

Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.

Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.

A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.

Words that soak into your ears are whispered… not yelled.

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 titled, “The All-Cash Phenomenon.” The Commentary’s podcast is live and at any place you obtain your podcasts (like Apple or Spotify).

qoɹ

(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 2022 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.)