Remember last Halloween when the Accounting Department, decked out like a M*A*S*H unit, trounced the Shipping Department, done up like The Sopranos, to claim the company Halloween prize? That won’t be happening this year but you should know that Halloween dates back 2,000 years to the Celtic festival of Samhain, though what was an ancient tradition associated with images of witches, ghosts and vampires has evolved into a celebration characterized by child-friendly activities like trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, and dressing in costumes. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated there were 41 million trick-or-treaters in 2019 (children ages 5 to 14) and estimates 126.8 million potential houses will be giving out candy this year based on occupied housing units for the second quarter of 2020 – if trick or treaters show up. But how’d you like to have your name made fun of? Karen is a fine name held by many wonderful people. But now there’s even a Karen mask for Halloween.
Saturday Company Spotlight
This week we highlight Service 1st (Service First Information Solutions, LLC), where total loan verification services are made simple.
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). Service 1st was originally founded as the Credit Bureau of Santa Maria in 1926. In 2019, the Redding, CA company was acquired by the Knuth family and rebranded as Service First Information Solutions. With branches in California and NJ, S1 is now the information services affiliate to NCS (National Credit-reporting System, Inc). S1 leverages NCS income and identity solutions that complement the firm’s origination solutions such as credit reporting and portfolio monitoring. Like many in the mortgage industry, gross revenue for S1 will double this year. The company plans to invest in data parameterization in 2021 to further enhance its solution portfolio.
Tell us about what type of volunteer work employees are encouraged to engage in, or charities your company supports, and why. We prefer to downplay our corporate charitable efforts. However, we are very proud of our employees who volunteer bi-monthly with the Community FoodBank of NJ, working on food distribution in Southern NJ. The pandemic has severely impacted the hospitality industry along our coast, specifically the Atlantic City casinos. As families deal with continued loss of income, we feel strongly in helping to place food on our community tables.
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? S1 is partnered with [email protected] for continuing education, reenforcing business concepts such as the S.M.A.R.T. goal system. Managers work with employees on career goals along with specialization certificates selected by both prior to reviews. This year, S1 incorporated the “360 review” concept into annual reviews to improve partnership and leadership opportunities.
Tell us how your company maintains its culture in the office, or in a work-from-home environment, if applicable. Accountability is crucial at Service 1st. Accountability drives ownership, which fosters pride in our work product. Collecting and measuring data limits disruption and is an important tool at S1. Our technology partnerships with MeridianLink and NCS provided excellent reporting platforms during office closures.
A fun fact about S1? Service 1st ‘s founding company began as a regional credit bureau. Regional bureaus were as much of a necessity in the 1800s as the credit repositories are today. During that early time, merchants issued in-store credit regularly, so imagine a small livestock feed store providing in-store credit. If several farmers each year no longer honored their financial commitment, the feed store may not survive. If that store could check with other feed stores whether a farmer had “stiffed” other stores, that’s useful information to know before extending a line of credit. Thus, credit bureaus formed to hold payment files for merchants. Through time, these regional bureaus further consolidated. A major and more recent consolidation occurred when Equifax purchased a regional credit file from Computer Sciences Corp (CSC) for $1 billion in December 2012.
(For more information on having your firm and its charitable side featured, contact Chrisman LLC’s Anjelica Nixt.)
Vendor & technology news
Vendors and mortgage technology firms do a lot more than combine words and capitalize letters in the middle of new products. Let’s take a random look at who is doing what, who is raising what kind of money, being re-named, or merging.
I received this note from STRATMOR’s Nicole Yung. “We are nearing the end of our 2020 Technology Insight® Study, the final survey in the three-part study, Digital Innovations, closes October 30. We’re very interested to see how the 2019 data compares to 2020 in light of the changes made to manage COVID-19 restrictions. For example, in 2019, 76 percent of lenders provided the ability for their borrowers to execute disclosures online and 18 percent of lenders did e-Closings. How these numbers changed in 2020 will tell us a great deal about how far along the digital road the pandemic pushed lenders.”
Nicole’s note went on. “STRATMOR’s Digital Innovations Survey covers more than 20 front and back-end digital capabilities. Lenders who want insight into the key capabilities, benefits, and barriers to the digital technology available in the market today, should participate in STRATMOR’s 2020 and get the answers you need. The TIS: Digital Innovations Survey takes less than ten minutes to complete, covers your level of digital adoption plus a section on working remotely. Best of all, lenders who participate receive the survey report for free. Take the Digital Innovations Survey today!”
Black Knight’s latest release of digital solutions include Borrower Digital & LO Digital.
SimpleNexus announced its hybrid eClosing feature is now integrated in the Ellie Mae® Digital Lending Platform.
REPAY (RPAY) announced a new mortgage and payment product, Service Transfer Exchange (STX). The service was created to help streamline mortgage service transfers between lenders, automate payment processing, and, more importantly, reduce errors and create a more seamless customer experience. In addition, REPAY also announced a new integration with Ellie Mae further streamlining their payment processes, reduce costs, and provide a more seamless user experience.
New American Funding has partnered with Zigzy and will incorporate Zigzy’s signature real estate offering, Townify, into its lending operations. Townify provides real estate agents options to host virtual open houses, manage pipeline, automated branded marketing, custom-branded home shopping app, social media management and monitor real estate production data. The platform also gives real estate agents real-time loan status, plus access to key contacts on the transaction, including loan originator, listing agent, title company, escrow officer, and more.
LoanBeam has further refined its technology making it possible for Freddie Mac to enrich and expand its AIM for self-employed offering to their mutual clients. Using certified IRS Tax Transcript data, representation and warranty relief will be expanded to include tax income data used in income calculations. Additionally, LPA will expand the scope of rep and warranty relief-eligible income types to include rental, regular corporation (Type C), and farm income, as well as incorporating income data included on tax extensions. The expansion of Freddie Mac’s credit box includes a greater portion of the borrower’s income that helps give lenders greater control to reduce risk. Integration of the new IRS data sources will begin this fall.
Capacity, a cloud-based system that captures, mines, and connects organizational knowledge to maximize employee productivity by offering a more effective self-service support channel. At each organization, Capacity is chiefly deployed to improve workflows with automation among other benefits. Lenders like US Bank, LeaderOne, Planet Home Lending, American Pacific Mortgage, and PRMG are empowered with an easily searched, constantly updated knowledge base for instant access to every answer found in key company apps like AllRegs and Ellie Mae.
Tavant announced the launch of its Proptech business bringing technology and innovation together to address common customer challenges in the Real Estate industry. Leveraging its years of experience in Fintech, Digital Transformation, AI and ML Learning, the company’s new platform simplifies the home shopping and buying process. Hassan Rashid, CRO, Tavant explained that Tavant platform is touched by one in four mortgages in the US. “In 2019, over $30 billion was invested in Proptech by VCs, which is a staggering amount. Tavant Proptech empowers key players with intelligent, digital technologies, including industry leaders such as Opendoor, Realtor.com, and a few others in stealth mode to boost business efficiency.”
Rocket Companies (NYSE: RKT) launched “Rocket Pro Insight“, a new technology platform providing real estate agents real-time updates on the status of their clients’ mortgages. Through both a website and mobile app, real estate professionals will have transparency into the loan experience. They are now able to see where each loan is in the process, the terms of their clients’ loans, if additional documentation is needed and when it will close.
FirstClose has embarked into a new relationship with Calyx Point®. With an integration of the FirstClose ONE platform, Point users will now be able to order instant property reports on credit, flood, valuation, tax and title directly from the Point platform. Point users will be able to leverage tools such as FirstClose’s SMART Select, a tool that uses intelligence logic to automatically select the best title vendor within each financial institution’s unique lending footprint. With this integration, users will also have access to FirstClose’s intelligence logic and simplified vendor management, all through one simple user interface. This technology integration will give Calyx Point users the ability to significantly speed up turn times and reduce costs, ensuring they stay profitable and keep borrowers happy. These efficiency gains will also help users to stay competitive, regardless of the current market conditions.
Real estate tech company Snapdocs closed a $60 million funding round for product development and expanding the company’s workforce. (Snapdocs plans to double its 225-employee headcount within the next 9 months.)
Western Ohio Mortgage upgraded to Calyx Path® for its LOS. Path is completely configurable to the lenders’ specific needs, including workflows, roles, organizational structure, and compliance controls. It is device independent, accessible from any web-connected device. Path also includes a compliance management platform, Path Agile Compliance™ that provides proactive, automated compliance alerts, audit trails and parallel compliance workflow.
The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed in-person interactions. Land Gorilla’s new Remote Inspections solution eliminates in-person contact and enables businesses to move forward with critical services. Homeowners and other stakeholders can work with a Land Gorilla Remote Inspector to validate locations and verify identities using live streaming video resulting in a fast and accurate inspection that allows companies to overcome major roadblocks to completing projects in these impacted times. Businesses do not need to be a current Land Gorilla client and can sign up for Remote Inspections easily through a webform. Inspection reports are delivered to the business within 4 hours of the scheduled inspection, providing a process that is extremely fast and safe for all parties involved.
Earlier this year HouseCanary acquired Dropmodel, a technology startup with analytic and financial modeling solutions for the single-family real estate asset class. In addition, Dropmodel Co-Founder Tom Blake has joined the company as VP of Investor Platform. This is the first acquisition for HouseCanary which recently closed a $65M Series C growth funding round. Dropmodel is a web-based real estate financial modeling, analysis, and presentation application that includes a suite of smart, flexible models, calculators, and tools for the single-family real estate sector. It helps single-family real estate investors, across all strategies, “drop” their data into analytical models and get instant, comprehensive results that support data-driven business decisions.
eMortgageLaw announced it has rebranded as eClosePlus. The new name reflects the company’s specialization in digital eClosing solutions for the mortgage and title industries that deliver a streamlined closing experience for all parties. eClosePlus simplifies the real estate closing process for mortgage lenders, settlement agents and borrowers by digitizing closing documents to facilitate eSignatures and producing a more efficient and almost errorless closing process. The company provides several eClosing options, from hybrid to completely digital with SMARTNotes, eVault storage and automatic MERS registrations. eClosePlus also offers remote online notarizations (RON) capabilities that empower borrowers to execute their complete set of closing documents over the Internet from the comfort of their own home. All eClosePlus products are offered as software-as-a-service (SaaS) and are easily accessible via the Internet.
Nationwide Equities launched its own private reverse program. EquityPower is a fixed-rate product that enables borrowers with homes valued at up to $10 million dollars to access their home equity beginning at age 60. Other features that differentiate it from a HECM include lower closing costs and no mortgage insurance requirements. Nationwide Equities offers EquityPower through both its retail and wholesale channels.
Earlier this year Bradford Technologies launched OnSight™, a web-based application that enables appraisers to adhere to social distancing protocols while collecting property data remotely with the homeowner’s assistance. Homeowners can submit geocoded interior photos of their homes so that appraisers can complete reports safely and remotely. Using a link that is unique to them, the homeowner activates OnSight and is led through a series of questions about their property, such as when the home was last upgraded, the age of the roof, and the last time the house was painted. There are certain required photos, but a homeowner can take as many photos as needed to fully show the home’s features.
When you ask me what I am doing today, and I say “nothing,” it does not mean I am free to do what you want. It means I am doing nothing.
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, “Do Lenders Care About Forecasts or Predictions?”
(Market data provided in partnership with MBS Live. For free job postings and to view candidate resumes visit LenderNews. This newsletter is designed 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 2020 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.)