June 8: Companies to know if you’re hacked; real estate report in a vacation area; vendor news; Saturday Spotlight: New Wave Mortgage

Hey, maybe we should raise money for a horror movie about giant sloths!? People running through the streets yelling, “Argh! The giant sloths are coming!” But, of course, they’re very slow. So later in the movie… they’re still on their way! A good visual, but the strategy would just be to walk fast. If you’re a lender or vendor, does your business strategy from five years ago of “just trying to walk fast” still work? Cracker Barrel’s is not. Since 1969 it has billed itself as a place where weary travelers can stop for a hearty meal in a homey dining room, and also pick from a large selection of knick-knacks at its country store. That pitch hasn’t resonated very well since the pandemic. Cracker Barrel’s older clientele has not returned to Cracker Barrel. Now, its retail stores are taking a hit as consumers pull back on spending. In the three months ended on April 26, Cracker Barrel’s total revenue fell 1.9 percent compared to the year before. Retail sales at stores open at least 18 months fell 3.8 percent, while restaurant sales fell 1.5 percent. The company’s stock has declined nearly 37 percent this year and has plunged about 70 percent over the past five years. (Sound familiar?) The Tennessee-based chain owns its roughly 660 locations, which can be found throughout the country. But management has shifted things, and restaurants now offer new early-bird deals from 4-6PM on weekdays hoping that will help. The meals start at $8.99 and include reduced portions of Cracker Barrel’s signature country comfort food, like meatloaf and chicken. We’ll see!

Saturday Spotlight: Next Wave Mortgage

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“Providing all the resources the market has to offer.”

 

Can you share the inspiration behind starting Next Wave Mortgage and what core principles guide your company?

 

Phil Ganz and Ryan Skerritt started Next Wave Mortgage in September 2023. Our guiding principle is hard work, “All Gas, No Brakes”. We are fully dedicated to your business aspirations by knocking down the barriers preventing you from reaching your full potential.

What distinguishes your mortgage service model from others in the industry?

 

Instead of just focusing on the number of loans closed, our main focus is to support our loan officers so they can be successful in their job. We do this by offering the transparency of a broker model, the support of the retail model, a more comprehensive range of products (You think of it, we get it), and prioritizing customer satisfaction. The compliance department has reviewed the marketplace and informed us that we are, on average, ½ point lower on rate than the retail model, providing 8.5 percent more customer opportunities with higher price points. Data collected by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) under the Home Disclosure Act (HMDA) shows consumers can save more than $9,000 in interest and fees on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage when they secure the loan using the broker model.

How does Next Wave Mortgage plan to grow and innovate in the coming years?

 

We love what we do at Next Wave and are here to SERVE YOU. One Team – One Mission – One Family

 

Looking ahead to the remainder of 2024 and beyond, Next Wave Mortgage has ambitious growth plans through growing the loans officer’s business vertically, with a two-pronged approach.

 

The first is Direct (loan officer) to consumer: We have over 126 online domains targeted at specific states, cities, and areas, for example, Make Florida Your Home, which helps to generate local leads. We collaborate with partners to become the leading mortgage provider in their areas.

The Second is Agent Elite: Next Wave will pinpoint prospective real estate agent collaborators within the loan officer’s region and coordinate individual meetings for them. Additionally, it will supply effective strategies for subsequent follow-ups. The goal is 60 realtor appointments per year for each loan officer.

 

We want to be very clear in stating our company is a mortgage company built on technology prepared for the future of lending. With 95 percent of consumers starting their homebuying search online, we need to connect if your company is not providing you with a state-of-the-art digital footprint.

How does Next Wave Mortgage contribute to the community and what qualities do you look for in potential team members?

 

Next Wave loves charity and believes in LLIO—Local Loan Officers Initiatives; we support loan officers’ local Grassroots campaigns in their communities.

If someone is interested in learning more about Next Wave Mortgage or joining your team, how can they reach out? 

 

Next Wave Mortgage is looking for eager (hungry), modest (humble), and hardworking (hustle) individuals. If you wish to learn more, please send me (Phil Ganz) a text at 617-529-9317. We can schedule a time to chat or zoom.

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

Real estate in a vacation area

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The U.S. economy is driven by jobs and housing, not tourism. But every once in a while, it is worthwhile to hear what is going on in a location known to be a vacation area.

Real estate agent Tal Fletcher writes from the Lake Tahoe area, “The year-to-date performance of real estate activity in the Tahoe Truckee region is following a familiar pattern through the first 5 months of 2024. As supply has ratcheted up to the highest level in nearly 4 years, overall activity in the marketplace has ticked up proportionately. May of 2024 saw 82 residential transactions against 75 in the same period of 2023, yet this number is but half the quantity during the frothiest moments of 2021 and lags the historical average by 30 percent.

“The number of May closings strikes an increasingly optimistic tone as has been the case throughout the first half of the year. However, the real story of recent weeks is the number of new listings brought to market. Having sold through all available inventory during the pandemic-era surge, the region has existed with painfully thin supply for several years. As sales waned over the last 24 months, many would-be sellers remained on the sidelines either disinterested in selling for any amount less than the absolute market apex or unable to find a suitable replacement property, whether in market or elsewhere, based upon similarly tight supply and peaking interest rates. Due to supply remaining so constrained, values have remained stubbornly high despite many fewer transactions.”

The CFPB, scams, and protecting your network

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I bring this up because I continue to receive emails about it. In response to scam attempts by “bad actors” pretending to be with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), earlier this year the agency published a notice warning consumers to “Beware of new CFPB impostor scams.” The bureau said it has confirmed that scammers have been using CFPB employees’ names to try to defraud people, specifically older adults, by phone or video calls.

How are systems hacked? Two of the primary ways are embedding malware in an e-mail attachment, or using stolen passwords to log in to the remote desktops that workers use to connect to company networks. Hackers will usually target combinations of lax security and a low tolerance for disruption. Think accounting firms during tax season, or schools right before students return.

So, you or your company has been hacked. Now what? There are companies out there like GroupSense that specialize in ransomware situations. Ransomware notes usually include a link to a site on the dark Web, which often include a ticking clock and a chat box: ominous. There’s cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks.

There is the Federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Companies like Kaspersky. The FBI advises victims to avoid negotiating with hackers, arguing that paying ransoms incentivizes criminal behavior. There is the Nonprofit Institute for Security and Technology. Companies often spend months rebuilding their systems, pay fines by regulators, or bogged down in a class action lawsuit. It is estimated that more than half pay their hackers to try to avoid the leak of personal information after the hacker has (typically) encrypted files with a private key and demanding a fee to unlock them.

Did someone say, “Pay the ransom!”? Bitcoin allows the receipt of digital payments without revealing the payees identity. There’s CipherTrace or Coveware. Insurance: Control Risks.

Ransomware groups like DarkSide or REvil are often involved, or criminal syndicates. Larger groups actually employ call centers to talk victims through the confusing process of obtaining cryptocurrency and offer discounts for timely ransom payments!

If you’re interested in cyber-insurance there’s Resilience; there’s Triad Consulting Group to negotiate. Also check out MonsterCloud.

But the question remains, do ransomware negotiation specialists abet crime by facilitating payments to hackers to obtain the decryption key? The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control watch payments to criminals. The money often goes to venture capital for this dark-Web Silicon Valley in Russia, Belarus, or Ukraine. Veteran negotiators will tell you to avoid making counteroffers in round numbers which can seem arbitrary. Admit that you’re paying them for being a talented hacker. But not what they’re demanding.

Vendor/third-party provider products are always changing

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“Whether you are a broker ready to make a splash, a small to midsize lender eager to grow market share, or a large institution grappling with a loss of technology resources due to downsizing, Dragon9 Partners is your strategic ally, offering tailored solutions to help you navigate the ever-changing mortgage market. Dragon9 Partners is a global technology advisory and consulting firm with a team of business and technology executives with deep mortgage lending and servicing experience and a strong track record of delivering value-added solutions and successes to our customers. We understand how to align business needs with technological solutions and identify opportunities to improve your bottom line. We can help you build technical and call center infrastructures, integrate with any LOS ecosystem, establish front and back-office applications, address cybersecurity challenges, and be your technology partner, innovator, and supporter. Contact us here for a complimentary cybersecurity readiness assessment.”

A leading provider of automated underwriting technology and other technology-enabled solutions for the mortgage industry, Candor Technology, Inc., announced it has completed a study of more than 500,000 funded loans and zero had repurchases. Thirteen repurchase claims were defended because the technology provided the proper information at loan closing. In addition, the company announced that investors are leveraging the automated underwriting technology to quickly review portfolios and avoid re-underwriting files. After years of concentrating on mortgage origination underwriting, Candor has broadened its support to strategic partnerships with investors, quality assurance and quality control firms, due diligence companies, and private mortgage insurance providers.

Recent FICO news  announced that Paramount Residential Mortgage Group, Inc. (PRMG) has adopted the company’s newest, most innovative and most predictive scoring model. FICO is committed to assisting mortgage industry participants looking to transition to its most current credit scoring model, FICO® Score 10 T. The FICO Score Migration Resource Center provides a detailed guide to support organizations through their score transition with key planning steps and activities, in addition to implementation best practices.

Alanna.ai, the creator of the only conversational AI-powered virtual assistant for title agents, has introduced Secure DocLink, a secure document delivery system that creates a temporary, convenient means to connect real estate agents, buyers and sellers to their title and closing documents without the need for a password or creation of a new account. Making use of “passwordless authentication,” Secure DocLink uses secure links to provide the equivalent of a secure pathway, opening access for agents, brokers and consumers who need to review or download title or closing documents. For the title agent, there is no need to expose the documents to or store them with third parties (with any associated potential NPI risks) and can be set to expire at a time of the title agent’s choosing. For the user, it means no need to create a new account, download a new app; or remember a series of passwords to access their documents.

ACES Quality Management® (ACES), the leading provider of enterprise quality management and control software for the financial services industry, has announced a new partnership with Digilytics to provide ACES users access to Revel, an advanced optical character recognition (OCR) technology powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

Digilytics’ Revel OCR platform enhances loan review and QC from origination to post-closing review by enabling lenders to perform loan reviews more efficiently. Using AI to index large loan packages and extract data, Revel improves reviewers’ speed and accuracy, allowing them to give more attention to exceptions as they move through their reviews inside the ACES platform.

Dark Matter Technologies announced enhancements to the Loan Assumptions feature in the Empower® loan origination system (LOS) that make it easier for mortgage lenders and servicers to transfer assumable mortgages to new homebuyers. The Empower LOS is the first mortgage loan origination system to announce native support for loan assumptions, a feat made possible by the system’s flexibility and robust mortgage servicing platform integrations.

(Warning: unrated, but sure to upset someone. Don’t read if easily offended.)

A man in a Florida supermarket tried to buy half a head of lettuce.

The very young produce assistant told him that they sell only whole heads of lettuce.

The man persisted and asked to see the manager.

The boy said he’d ask his manager about it.

Walking into the back room, the boy said to his manager, “Some ‘jerk’ wants to buy half a head of lettuce.”

As he finished his sentence, he turned to find the man standing right behind him, so he added,

‘And this gentleman has kindly offered to buy the other half.’

The manager approved the deal, and the man went on his way.

Later the manager said to the boy, “I was impressed with the way you got yourself out of that situation earlier. We like people who think on their feet here. Where are you from, son?’

“Canada, sir,” the boy replied.

“Well, why did you leave Canada?” the manager asked.

The boy said, “Sir, there’s nothing but ‘prostitutes’ and hockey players up there.”

“Really?” said the manager. “My wife is from Canada.”

“No kidding?” replied the boy. “Who’d she play for?”

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, “Catastrophe and Climate Risk Is Only Increasing”. 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