Is it now or never for AML reform?

The 2020 elections and a potential new chair of the Senate Banking Committee in the next Congress could put a deadline on passage of a bill to ease a key anti-money-laundering requirement for banks.
Source: American Banker

Tech-based home insurance provider Openly launches

Just in time for the holidays, Openly launched on Tuesday, equipped with $7.6 million from its seed round of funding. The tech-enabled home insurance provider likely has Gradient Ventures on its list of things to be thankful for, as Google’s AI-focused venture fund led the funding round. 

According to Openly, the company aims to empower agents and simplify the home insurance buying process. Rather than using technology to remove agents from the process, Openly sells its up-market home insurance exclusively through independent insurance agents.

“Some people in the tech world think that the term ‘insurance agent’ refers to a relic of the past, but they’re wrong,” said Ty Harris, CEO and co-founder of Openly. “At Openly, we know agents add value by delivering objective advice and options to their clients.”

“Our goal is to help agents as they work to modernize their businesses,” he said. “We let them offer their customers better, faster and more economical products with comprehensive insurance protection for a wide range of needs. We’re pleased to have the support of such heavyweight investors and reinsurers to fuel our rapid growth into 2020 and beyond.”

Openly’s first product is a premium homeowner’s insurance product. According to the company’s announcement, homeowners using Openly can receive a bindable quote on a highly-valued home after answering only three questions.

“The Openly product contains many uncommon features like guaranteed replacement cost on the home up to $5 million, endorsements to cover home-sharing, optional coverage to insure losses arising from cyberbullying, and true coverage customization that isn’t available in most contracts,” the release stated. “The company is also adding flood and umbrella liability coverages as endorsements on its home policies.”

The company has currently launched in Illinois and Arizona, and said it plans to expand Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Tennessee in the next few months. In addition to launching in new markets, company said it will also launch complementary product lines, such as automobile insurance, with a focus on simplifying and modernizing the process for consumers. 

The post Tech-based home insurance provider Openly launches appeared first on HousingWire.

Source: HousingWire Magazine

SBA pursues legislative fix to revive its Express program

The Small Business Administration has told lawmakers it can reinvigorate its streamlined guarantee program by nearly tripling the maximum loan size. So far, Congress has been mum on the idea.
Source: American Banker

Freddie Mac: Here’s what to expect from the housing market in 2020 and beyond

Just over a year ago, mortgage rates nearly hit 5%, levels that hadn’t been seen since the early part of this decade. But as we get ready to move into a new decade, mortgage rates are more than a full percentage point lower than that, comfortably back in the 3-4% range.

And according to a new forecast from Freddie Mac, mortgage rates should stay that low for the rest of
this year and well beyond that.

In Freddie Mac’s newest housing market forecast, the
company’s economic and housing research group states that they expect mortgage
rates to remain around 3.8% for the rest of 2019 and stay at that level for all
of 2020 and 2021.

As other recent forecasts and mortgage market data has shown, this year’s unexpectedly low mortgage rates have driven a rise in refinances, as well as a surge in home purchases.

A recent forecast from the Mortgage Bankers Association shows that 2019 is expected to be the best year for refis since 2016, and the best year for purchase mortgages since 2006.

Freddie Mac agrees and expects the good times to keep
rolling. In its latest forecast, the government-sponsored enterprise expects
there to be $846 billion in refinance originations this year, and $834 billion
more in refis next year.

Both of those figures would be more than $300 billion more
in refis than there were in 2018.

On the purchase side, Freddie Mac expects there to be $1.255
trillion in purchase originations this year. And the GSE expects those figures
to rise in both 2020 and 2021.

According to Freddie Mac, it expects there to be $1.299
trillion in purchase originations in 2020 and $1.369 trillion in purchase
originations in 2021.

Overall home sales are also expected to rise in each of the
next two years. According to Freddie Mac, it expects to see 6 million home
sales in 2019, 6.1 million home sales in 2020, and 6.2 million in 2021.

Despite home sales and purchase originations projected to
rise over the next few years, Freddie Mac currently expects 2021 to see a
decline in total mortgage volume from 2020’s expected level due to a decline in

The GSE’s forecast expects to see just $429 billion in refis
in 2021, perhaps a function of there simply not being that many people left who
have not refinanced their mortgage by then, especially if mortgage rates stay
as low as they are currently expected to.

Overall, Freddie Mac expects there to be $2.101 trillion in
total mortgage originations in 2019, $2.132 trillion in originations in 2020,
and $1.798 trillion in 2021.

The GSE also expects home price growth to slow over the next few years, with annual growth rates of 3.2%, 2.9% and 2.1% in 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively.

“The economy has seen increased volatility in November as
hopes for a favorable resolution to the trade dispute have recently waned,”
said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “However, given low interest
rates, modest inflation and a solid labor market, the U.S. housing market continues
to stand firm, and, our forecast is for the housing market to maintain momentum
over the next two years.”

The post Freddie Mac: Here’s what to expect from the housing market in 2020 and beyond appeared first on HousingWire.

Source: HousingWire Magazine

Freddie Mac’s board of directors adds industry veteran Mark Bloom

Mark Bloom, global chief technology officer at Aegon N.V., has been elected to Freddie Mac’s board of directors, the company announced recently.

Bloom brings a wealth of experience to the role as he also serves as a member of the management board at Aegon, a multinational life insurance, pensions and asset management company.

“By virtue of his long career at the intersection of finance, technology, and risk management, Mark Bloom brings valuable expertise to Freddie Mac’s Board,” said Sara Mathew, non-executive chair of Freddie Mac’s board of directors. “We welcome this highly qualified new member, whose decades of experience will allow him to play a leadership role on our Compensation & Human Capital and Risk Committees.”

Prior to joining Aegon, Bloom worked for Citigroup for almost a decade, serving in positions such as managing director and head of global consumer technology delivery services.

During his time with Citi, he was responsible for digital, data, and operations technology solutions and innovations. Bloom has also served as senior vice president, Chase Home Financial Technology with JPMorgan Chase, as well as senior vice president, eBusiness Solutions at CACI International.

As a board member for Freddie Mac, he joins fellow board members, David Brickman, Kathleen Casey, Lance Drummond, Aleem Gillani, Christopher Herbert, Grace Huebscher, Steven Kohlhagen, Sara Mathew, Saiyid Naqvi and Eugene Shanks, Jr.

The post Freddie Mac’s board of directors adds industry veteran Mark Bloom appeared first on HousingWire.

Source: HousingWire Magazine

Premium Point Investments CEO Anilesh Ahuja gets 50 months in prison for RMBS, securities fraud

The founder and CEO of a New York investment firm will spend
more than four years in prison after being convicted of lying about the value
of hedge funds that included residential mortgage-backed securities.

The Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced this week that Anilesh Ahuja, the founder, chief executive officer, and chief investment officer of Premium Point Investments, was sentenced to 50 months in prison after being convicted of engaging in a securities mismarking scheme.

According to the Attorney’s Office, Ahuja and Jeremy Shor, a former trader at Premium Point who focused on non-agency RMBS, participated in a scheme to overinflate the net asset of the value of firm-managed hedge funds by more than $100 million between 2014 and 2016.

Court documents show that Ahuja co-founded PPI in 2008. The
company managed hedge funds that primarily focused on structured credit
products, including residential mortgage-backed securities.

One of PPI funds, launched in 2013, focused on purchasing
and securitizing pools of mortgages that were not issued or guaranteed by a
government agency.

According to court documents, from at least 2014 through
2016, Ahuja and Shor participated in a scheme to defraud PPI’s investors and
potential investors in the company’s various funds by “deceptively mismarking
each month the value of certain securities held in these funds, and thus
fraudulently inflating the (net asset value) of those funds as reported to investors
and potential investors.”

In order to accomplish this, PPI “fraudulently obtained
inflated quotes, including from corrupt brokers, and manipulated its valuation
process to inflate the purported value of securities held by the funds,” the
U.S. Attorney’s Office stated.   

These actions allowed PPI to materially overstate the
reported net asset value of the funds by more than $100 million, which
benefited the firm in two ways.

First, the firm was able to charge its investors higher
management and performance fees. Second, the firm was able to delay investors who
would have requested their money back had they known about the funds’ true
performance and operating health.

According to court documents, the scheme was conducted as a
result of Ahuja demanding that the firm maintain its image of success and “keep
pace” with the performance of other similar funds, despite market conditions
and the actual performance of the funds.

As a result of the scheme, Ahuja was sentenced to 50 months
in prison, while Shor received a sentence of 40 months. Both Ahuja and Shor
will also be required to serve three years of supervised release upon the
termination of their prison sentence.

“Anilesh Ahuja, founder of Premium Point Investments, was
convicted of participating in a scheme to mismark securities and thereby
mislead investors as to the true value of the funds that Premium Point managed,”
U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a release.

“Ahuja conspired with others in his company and corrupt
brokers to fraudulently inflate the value of the assets under their management,
which in turn allowed them charge higher fees and avoid redemptions by
investors who otherwise would have pulled their money from Premium Point,”
Strauss continued. “The substantial prison term imposed on Ahuja appropriately
holds him accountable for his criminal acts.”

The post Premium Point Investments CEO Anilesh Ahuja gets 50 months in prison for RMBS, securities fraud appeared first on HousingWire.

Source: HousingWire Magazine

GSE limit for single-family loans to surpass $500K in 2020

Loan limits for most mortgages Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac buy will exceed $500,000 for the first time ever next year, and the maximum for most high-cost areas will be $765,000.
Source: American Banker

USAA's win vs. Wells, BB&T-SunTrust's green light, GSE reform: Top stories of the week

USAA won $200M from Wells Fargo in patent fight — will others be on the hook?; three takeaways from regulators’ approval of the BB&T-SunTrust merger; don’t believe the doom and gloom on Fannie, Freddie; and more from this week’s most-read stories.
Source: American Banker

Comment on Appraising in Retirement by Kennneth Smith

A 77 year old man on a 15 foot ladder.What could could possibly go wrong

Source: Working RE Magazine

Robinhood to pull application for national bank charter

The fintech firm, which had made prior attempts to offer a federally insured consumer account product, said it has “no plans at this time” to become a bank.
Source: American Banker