Daily Mortgage News & Commentary

Sep. 26: Vendors partnering, merging, being acquired, offering new products; Saturday Spotlight: Assurance Financial

I try not to repeat information, but I felt that this study, which I had yesterday in the Capital Markets section of the Commentary, warranted it given that it relates to possible changes in the credit quality of potential, and existing, borrowers. Yelp tells us that as of August 31, 163,735 businesses in the United States that were open on March 1, 2020 have closed, up 23 percent since July 10. Of those businesses marked closed 60 percent will not reopen, or 97,966 permanently closed businesses with 65,769 temporarily closed ones. The most affected are restaurants (32,109 total closures), retail and shopping (30,374), and beauty and spas (16,585). It is rumored that shortages in items like canning supplies and canned pumpkin (actually mostly other squash) have replaced toilet paper, so human behavior during this pandemic continues to interesting (to say the least).

Saturday Company Spotlight

This week we highlight Assurance Financial, “an independent, full-service residential mortgage banker… created to service the loan industry a little differently.”

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). Founded in 2001, we have grown organically over the years with selective hiring, requiring all potential hires to demonstrate high character, job stability and a willingness to be involved in their community. Licensed in 41 states, we have 20 branch offices, two operations facilities (Baton Rouge and Charlotte) and a Consumer Direct division. Growth plans are to build new markets in the Midwest and expand our existing footprint.

  

Tell us about what type of volunteer work employees are encouraged to engage in, or charities your company supports, and why. Our operations team participates in a “jeans fund” which allows them to dress casual at work by making a small contribution from each paycheck that goes toward our company philanthropy partnership (St. Jude Children’s Hospital).  We chose St. Jude because childhood cancer touches every market where we do business.

 

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? We have a culture of helping each other and this mentality is in line with hiring high character folks who pay it forward…everyone is willing to help the next person up. We use outside companies like XINNIX for training and we have an internal training department as well.

 

Tell us how your company maintains its culture in the office, or in a work-from-home environment if applicable. Our HR team does a great job of keeping things as light and fun as possible. From talent skit competitions to celebrations for milestones, we try to have fun in the workplace. Also, we have an annual LO incentive trip and the criteria is set so as many people as possible will qualify. We have spouses attend and it has helped foster some long-time relationships between our team members in different markets.

 

Things you are most proud of that don’t have to do with sales. I am most proud of the long tenure for so many of our team members. To create a platform for our people to have a great career and be able to provide a nice life for their families is our greatest accomplishment. They make their own success because they are super at what they do but it sure is rewarding to play a role in the journey.

 

Fun fact about Assurance Financial? With our corporate headquarters in Baton Rouge, we are a proud partner of LSU athletics and reigning College Football National Champions.

                  

Is there anything else you’d like to share along these lines? In 2018 when the mortgage industry was dealing with “margin compression” and other financial hurdles, we doubled down on our technology investment. These initiatives put us in a great position from a digital perspective and has allowed our LO’s to maximize production while providing a second to none borrower user experience.

 

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

Vendorpalooza

Companies catering to the residential mortgage business do plenty of other things besides create company names that challenge spell checkers. Let’s take a random look at who is doing what, as it definitely gives us a flavor of trends in lending: follow the money! For example, Black Knight and ICE are not the only entities out there buying residential mortgage-related companies.

SitusAMC Holdings Corp. has acquired LogicEase Solutions Inc., the parent company of leading residential regulatory compliance technology provider ComplianceEaseÒ. The acquisition adds industry-leading automated compliance software ComplianceAnalyzer and TRID Monitor to SitusAMC’s growing technology portfolio. The ComplianceEase management team will be retained by SitusAMC. ComplianceEase will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of SitusAMC with no planned changes to existing staff or operations. (Since its inception, ComplianceEase has processed audits for over 90 million loans.) With the acquisition of ComplianceEase, SitusAMC expands its rapidly growing residential technology offerings which include systems of record for the custodial and warehouse space (emBTRUST and ProMerit); product, pricing, and eligibility for loan conduits (The Rate Lock System); document classification and data extraction (Acuity); document management (DocAcuity); and loan accounting (SBO.NET).

Remember that Black Knight, Inc. acquired Compass Analytics, Optimal Blue, and DocVerify. The DocVerify acquisition “helps accelerate Black Knight’s goal of digitizing the entirety of the real estate and mortgage continuum as DocVerify’s trusted and proven digital document verification capabilities are already seamlessly integrated with Expedite Close, Black Knight’s digital closing platform.”

CoreLogic confirmed that it had received a revised unsolicited proposal from Senator Investment Group LP and Cannae Holdings Inc. on Sept. 14 to acquire all outstanding common shares of CoreLogic for $66.00 per share in cash.

Docutech has officially rebranded to First American Docutech. A new campaign kicked off titled “Accelerate Closings. Accelerate the Dream.” Check out the press release here and the broader website here.

In mortgage vendor partnership news, Top of Mind has enhanced its integration with SimpleNexus to extract consumer information from abandoned mortgage applications, enabling mortgage loan originators to follow up with borrowers who begin, but do not complete, online mortgage applications. This enhanced integration features bi-directional syncing, data flows both ways; with the push of a button, loan officers can fetch new or updated contacts from SurefireCRM and import them into SimpleNexus.

Seaway, a division of Self-Help Federal Credit Union (Self-Help), and Guaranteed Rate, Inc., have partnered to broaden the availability of mortgage loan products to the community in Chicago’s South Side. Through this partnership, Seaway’s mortgage division can now refer qualified borrowers to all of loan product options, including FHA and VA loans, which Seaway previously didn’t offer.

Recall that a joint venture of Guaranteed Rate and @properties, created Proper Rate, LLC, a new independent retail mortgage lender that offers home buyers and owners personalized lending services through a select group of some of the most highly experienced and dedicated mortgage professionals using one of the industry’s top platforms. Proper Rate delivers all of the advantages of a big lender with the hands-on feel of a “boutique” firm. Proper Rate offers home loans to home buyers throughout select regions in the country, including those represented by @properties’ 2,800 agents. Providing an integrated solution where clients can get financing in addition to finding homes and negotiating purchases; real estate agents can now work with Proper Rate mortgage originators using innovative FlashCloseSM technology to process loans.

Altisource’s Vendorly SaaS oversight platform now prevents wire fraud with Secure Insight. This alliance furthers Vendorly’s offering of a cradle-to-grave solution for the lending and banking industries that helps mitigate ongoing risks associated with vendor management.

Home Captain announced the launch of the “Home Captain Hub,” a new suite of innovative products and services tailored to dramatically increase the lifetime engagement and satisfaction of mortgage service and banking customers who are purchasing, selling or refinancing their home. This announcement follows the company’s recent acquisition announcement of Redefy and the combined companies’ rebranding.

Home Captain is also “increasing loan officer capacity” with its new Hub Conversion Optimization System. COS now includes products for portfolio retention, artificial intelligence lead engagement, loss mitigation, and customer propensity modeling.

National MI announced that it is fully integrated with Lender Price providing loan officers with instant access to National MI’s risk-based Rate GPS® through the Lender Price PPE platform.

Transformational Mortgage Solutions (TMS) assists lenders with executive leadership coaching and consulting services. SupportLink3 (SL3) provides financial services-based companies an alternative to incurring the expense of employing in-house resources that extend sales, business development, and other topline generating activities. The partnership these two firms just announced will offer mortgage entities a range of business management expertise with the ability to outsource and expand revenue-generating functions.

PRMG announced its partnership with ReadyPrice, a new service which provides brokers with an additional option to price loans, run DU and then submit loans to PRMG. Sign up for this free service.

Xome and Manor Financial announced the availability of Inspex a consumer-facing mobile application, that gives homeowners a seamless tool to appraise their property and lenders a simple, contactless option for their borrowers to reduce wait times on appraisals and other valuation products by as much as 50 percent. While the digital transformation of residential real estate has been in motion, COVID-19 has accelerated the desire for contactless appraisals. Inpex enables contactless and also addresses consumers’ desire to quickly take advantage of record low interest rates to buy, sell and refinance homes.

With loan volumes at an all-time high, Nations Lending and SWBC Mortgage rely on Advantage Systems’ AMBfx Module for better financial reporting, building custom reports and delivering enhanced financial reporting all while working remotely during the pandemic. With hundreds of easy-to-use reports already embedded into the AMB system, AMBfx allows users to build custom reports specific to their needs. Data is accessed directly from the AMB database into spreadsheets created by the user, meaning that changes made in AMB are immediately reflected in the customized spreadsheet.

Real Estate Profinder launched a Free App to Consumer and Real Estate Professionals. This search system finds reputable real estate agents, lenders, home inspectors, and title agents free of cost to the consumer. This system is a win-win for the consumer and the professional. The consumer gets in exchange for their feedback, a professional that follows the Real Estate Profinder Customer Service Policy, and the professional get a free introduction. Real Estate Profinder Customer Policy causes consumer’s referral and loyalty to the real estate professional that assisted the consumer in a satisfactory outcome. Check out this Profinder video for more information.

Home Point Financial selected Docutech’s Solex eClosing software to enable a hybrid eClosing experience. Borrowers can review their closing package digitally prior to the day of closing, taking the time they need to familiarize themselves with the document prior to signing. On the day of closing, borrowers can eSign most documents in advance of meeting at the closing table, reducing the closing time to mere minutes. Once the closing is complete, all documents are digitized and stored in the Solex eVault.

This summer National MI integrated with Cloudvirga’s digital mortgage origination platform for retail and wholesale lenders. Mutual customers now have direct access to National MI’s  Rate GPSSM through Cloudvirga’s technology platform.

UWM announced an “industry-first” Insights Tool for brokers. Insights is a new instantaneous tool built into UWM loan origination system, EASE that allows clients to generate up-to-the-minute, customizable reports specific to their businesses. Brokers have the control over their data and capability to research, make data-based decisions and run reports instantaneously to help them more efficiently manage their business and pipeline. Reports take seconds to generate and give clients the ability to search, sort, filter and organize their data. These reports can even be exported to update your own systems for easy compliance and audits.

HomeLight launched Move Safe Certification, a program to identify agents who are using the best tools, technology, and practices to help keep buyers and sellers safe in a COVID-19 environment. HomeLight’s Top Agents Insights report, surveyed over 1,000 top agents across the United States since before COVID-19 hit and subsequently after, agents are mostly still open for business, with: 97% of agents surveyed are still accepting new clients. 67% of agents describe their business as slower than normal, but still doing deals. Over 64% of agents report that they are optimistic about the housing market this year.

One of the two underwriters brought back into the office lifted her head. “They’ve been working us like dogs for six months. I know how to get some time off work,” the woman whispered.

“How?” asked the second underwriter.

Instead of answering, the woman quickly looked around. No sign of her manager. She jumped up on her desk, kicked out a couple of ceiling tiles and hoisted herself up. “Look!” she whispered, then swinging her legs over a metal pipe, hung upside down.

Within seconds, the manager emerged from the lunchroom at the far end of the floor. He saw the worker hanging from the ceiling, and asked her what on earth she thought she was doing.

“I’m a light bulb,” answered the underwriter.

“I think you need some time off,” barked the manager. “Get out of here – that’s an order – and I don’t want to see you back here for at least another two days! You understand me?”

“Yes, sir”, the underwriter answered meekly, then jumped down, logged off her computer and left.

The second underwriter was hot on her heels.

“Where do you think you’re going?” the boss asked.

“Home,” he said lightly. “I can’t work in the dark.”

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, “The Agency Finance Fee: Delayed but not Forgotten.”

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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 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.)