Digital lender Beeline goes on a hiring spree

Digital lender Beeline plans to hire over 300 new employees total by September 2021 – with over 100 new positions opening in Charlotte, North Carolina and Providence, Rhode Island, the company said Monday.

After its initial launch by industry veterans Nick Liuzza, Peter Gonzalez, Jess Kennedy, Greg Ellis and Jay Stockwell in May with $7.6 million in funding, the once 30-person company said it is looking to expand beyond its Northeastern home base.

According to Beeline, the company plans to unveil a new office in Charlotte in the fall of 2020 – followed by a new branch on the West Coast towards the end of the year.

The team aims to hire over 100 “loan guides,” 10 developers/data scientists, more than 50 post-approval underwriters, and 20-plus “loan guide assistants” across current markets — with a current focus on its Charlotte and Providence locations. 

The company has developed an alternative to what is traditionally know as a loan officer role.

“Beeline’s personal “Loan Guides” are essential team-members that are assigned to a customer from the start of their application process all the way to the closing of their home/refi to be their 24/7 point of contact for questions and assistance. You also don’t need to be an expert in real estate — Beeline will show you the ropes,” Beeline said. “We can make fancy technology and AI etc (which we do) but Loan Guides must embody our tone and values — informal, approachable, inclusive, yet knowledgeable, responsive and playful.”

For those who have not previously worked as a loan officer, Beeline offers a precursor role known as a loan guide assistant which the company says will give prospective employees the opportunity to grow into the loan guide role.

According to Beeline, applicants can have little-to-no mortgage experience.

To learn more about the company, its open positions, and how you can join Beeline, click here.

HousingJobs is a curation of housing companies that are hiring. If you are looking for a job in the industry, check out our hiring stories here. If you’re an executive at a housing company and you’re hiring, please send a note to our Chief Product Officer Diego Sanchez at dsanchez@housingwire.com.

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Source: HousingWire Magazine

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac forbearance rate falls to a 4-month low

The forbearance rate for mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac dropped to a four-month low of 4.88%, while the overall rate was 7.2%, unchanged from the prior week, the Mortgage Bankers Association said in a report on Monday.

The GSE rate for the week ended Aug. 23 fell 5 basis points from the prior week, the MBA report said. The rate for mortgages packaged into Ginnie Mae securities, primarily loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration and the Veterans Administration, increased to 9.58% from 9.54%.

The July 31 expiration of the $600 a week unemployment payment that was part of the CARES Act is hitting FHA and VA borrowers first, said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s chief economist.

“The loss of enhanced unemployment insurance benefits, coupled with a consistently high rate of layoffs and uncertainty about the job market, are having a disproportionate impact on FHA and VA borrowers,” Fratantoni said.

The Trump administration has replaced the CARES jobless benefit with a $300 a week payment using a Federal Emergency Management Fund intended for hurricane relief, but states need to update their systems to begin sending it out.

FEMA has approved applications from more than two dozen states to offer the “lost wages assistance,” but only a handful have finished reprogramming so they can begin the payments.

With the unemployment rate at 10.2%, higher than the worst month of the financial crisis, some economists have worried the forbearance rate could begin to rise after the lapse of the $600 weekly payment.

Also in the MBA report, the forbearance rate for private-label and portfolio mortgages, loans that aren’t eligible for government backing, rose to 10.44% from 10.37%.

Looking at mortgage servicing centers, the average length of calls rose to 7.7 minutes from 7.2 minutes, the MBA report said.

The abandonment rate, in which callers give up before speaking to a service-center worker, fell to 4.9% from 5.7%, the MBA report said.

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Source: HousingWire Magazine

As eviction moratoriums end, what will happen in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Florida and California?

According to Census data, approximately 21% of renter households are behind on rent payment, and it’s estimated that up to 40 million renters could face eviction over the next few months after federal eviction moratoriums expired in late July.

Now, states and localities are deciding if and when to end or extend eviction moratoriums. Today, eviction moratoriums are expiring in Atlanta and Pennsylvania. On Tuesday, they will expire in Nevada, California and Florida.

In Pennsylvania, a Census survey said that one in five adults either missed July’s rent or mortgage payment or had slight or no confidence their household could make their rent payment in August in time, the Philadelphia Enquirer said.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf hinted on Monday that he supports a second extension of the moratorium, pending approval from the General Assembly.

In Nevada, an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 renters could face eviction due to owed rent or back pay, KTNV in Las Vegas said, flooding courts with three times as many eviction cases as last September.

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signaled that he might extend the eviction moratorium – for the fifth time – on Tuesday, when the fourth extension is set to expire.

California’s eviction moratorium is set to end on Tuesday, but Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced a new bill on Friday that could likely save renters facing eviction, pending approval from lawmakers.

What about the rent payments due on Tuesday?

RealPage said that it expects rent collections for September to continue to slump since states are paying only up to $400 more a week for unemployment benefits after the original $600 unemployment payment from the CARES Act expired in July.

When August rent payments came due, only 79.3% of apartment households had made a full or partial rent payment by August 6. This is down 1.9 percentage points from last August.

However, that number had risen to 92.1% of renters paying by Aug. 27, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council’s Rent Payment Tracker. This is 1.9 percentage points less than the same time last year.

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Source: HousingWire Magazine

Despite this year’s short pause, demand for non-QM is stronger than ever

Citadel Servicing Corporation returned to origination in July, bringing in new leaders as part of its strategy to remain best-in-class. HousingWire spoke to Doug Perry, Citadel’s new managing director of Wholesale and Retail Sales, about his plans for Citadel and the current state of non-QM lending.

HousingWire: Tell us a bit about your background and your plans for Citadel Servicing as its new managing director of Wholesale and Retail Sales.

Doug Perry: I bring decades of experience to the table, having worked for a number of organizations, including Countrywide Home Loans, Indymac Bank and PennyMac. My most recent position was vice president of sales at 5 Arch Funding.

The strong foundation at Citadel Servicing is such an ideal situation to build on – growing the people, processes and technology that will fuel the next stage of market leadership. I am driving content and vision to the growth of the company with a keen eye to instituting best-in-class operating methodologies and a focus on exceeding customer expectations. The team here is not content to rest on their laurels; we are critical thinkers with a constant improvement mindset, which makes this opportunity a really good fit for me.

HW: What does the demand for non-QM lending look like now following the sector’s pause earlier this year?

DP: The events following the outbreak of COVID-19 rapidly led to a liquidity crisis across the mortgage industry, something seasoned veterans never thought they would witness again after the collapse of the housing market in 2008. But just like during the housing crisis, business practices will improve, whether that’s securing the balance sheet of the company or making the origination process more efficient for our brokers and consumers.

Unlike prior significant economic events over the last couple of decades, real estate fundamentals have remained sound, which provides a strong foundation to re-start lending in segments that were hard hit at the start of the COVID-19 crisis. The strong fundamentals will drive non-QM lenders and their capital partners to re-enter the space. Even though the sector paused for a short period, the demand for non-QM programs is stronger than ever.

HW: How is Citadel Servicing adapting to customer demand and other post-pause changes?

DP: At its core, non-QM lending is serving what has historically been an underserved borrower base post the financial crisis in 2008. Underlying demand for non-QM lending products remains strong.

Citadel Servicing has a strong corporate culture of service and that is one of the key drivers in our decision-making process. Things move quickly in the mortgage business and that is especially true now as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. The deep experience of the senior management team at Citadel Servicing allows us to react quickly to changing market conditions, which enables us to meet customer demand while also exceeding their expectations.

HW: How do you think an increase in Non-QM lending could impact the housing market?

DP: The impact will be profoundly positive in many ways. Housing demand in the purchase segment is very strong, which is a great underlying fundamental considering some of the weaker areas in the economy.

On the refinance side, we see strong demand in both rate-and-term refinances as well as cash-out refinances, especially with borrowers looking to tap into equity to do home improvements. Housing is such a vital part of the economy, assisting borrowers who did not have options just a couple of months ago will be a big boost to the housing market.

HW: Based on your experience in the sector and the current environment, what do you think the future of non-QM looks like?

DP: I think the outlook is very positive. Underlying housing fundamentals are strong and the attention to detail on credit standards and underwriting will allow the strong competitors to thrive. Deep relationships in both the primary and secondary markets are critical to long term success.

Overall, I am optimistic about the non-QM segment as a whole and the ability of Citadel Servicing to remain a leader in the space. We are providing programs and services to a sector that are often understated or overlooked.

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Source: HousingWire Magazine

Cannae and Senator deliver written consent to vote on replacement of CoreLogic directors

[Update: The story has been updated to include a comment from a CoreLogic spokesperson. The subhead has also been updated to reflect the views of both firms as it had originally stated that CoreLogic was bound to hold a special meeting as a result of the written consent.]

Cannae Holdings and Senator Investment Group announced on Monday that written consent to call a Special Meeting of Shareholders was delivered to CoreLogic for consideration of director nominations previously introduced by the two investors.

On June 26, Cannae and Senator — who jointly own or have an economic interest equivalent to approximately 15% of CoreLogic’s outstanding common stock — offered to buy CoreLogic for $65 per share in cash. However, CoreLogic rejected the bid, stating the proposal was opportunistic, undervalued the company, and was “not in the best interest of the shareholders.”

The investors then threatened to replace CoreLogic’s board, and CoreLogic issued another rejection of the bid.

Following the rejection, Cannae and Senator issued an open letter to fellow shareholders to call a special meeting intended to elect nine “independent and highly accomplished directors” to the CoreLogic board of directors. The nine proposed nominees were candidates lacking any affiliation or association with Senator or Cannae who would act in best interests of the shareholders, the firms said.

On Aug. 9, CoreLogic announed that a special shareholders meeting was to be held on Nov. 17 to address the continued $7 billion takeover attempt. According to Cannae and Senator, CoreLogic then notified the investors that it could unilaterally cancel the meeting at any time and not allow shareholders to replace directors unless they performed the consent solicitation process.

“Since our initial June 26th proposal, shareholders have repeatedly asked CoreLogic to run a legitimate process that maximizes shareholder value through a sale to the highest bidder. We have made clear that we fully encourage such a process and, with appropriate access to diligence, are open-minded as to the value of our offer,” Cannae and Senator said. “Unfortunately, the Company has continually denied this request as part of a pattern of defensive tactics at odds with shareholders’ interests.”

Fund operator T. Rowe Price Investment Management, who had previously been the largest CoreLogic shareholder, sold most of its investment stake between June 30 July 31 this year, going from 12.4% of shares to 2.6%, according to a regulatory filing. The fund operator had owned 17.8% of CoreLogic at the end of December 2019.

According to Cannae and Senator, since T. Rowe Price’s selling, the firms have been informed that other long-term investors have similarly chosen to exit the stock at near their bid price and that the shareholder list is “rapidly filling with funds focused on a transaction.”

CoreLogic recently advised proxy voting service providers of two record dates – Sept. 18, 2020 and Sept. 24, 2020 – for determining  shareholders entitled to vote at its Nov. 17 special meeting.

“Shareholders should be mindful that if the Company uses the earlier of those dates as the record date, then in order to vote their shares at the Company’s Special Meeting, shareholders will need to hold their shares as of September 18th, 2020, which means that any trade to acquire such shares should be executed no later than September 16th, 2020 and settled no later than September 18th, 2020,” Cannae and Senator said.

“Given the Company has recently advised proxy voting service providers of two different record dates – one on September 18th and another for September 24th – it appears there may be yet more tricks coming. Either way, with the actions we have taken today, CoreLogic is now bound to hold a Special Meeting,” the firms said.

“Barring a change of course from CoreLogic, we look forward to communicating further with shareholders in advance of the record date about why new independent directors are needed in the CoreLogic boardroom.”

In response to the Monday press release from the two firms, a spokesperson for CoreLogic released the following statement:

CoreLogic has publicly committed to holding the Special Meeting on November 17.  Senator and Cannae are persisting in running an unnecessary consent solicitation to call a Special Meeting that has already been called to address the business they propose.  We believe this tactic is designed to confuse shareholders and distract them from the fact that the Senator/Cannae proposal significantly undervalues CoreLogic.

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Source: HousingWire Magazine

[PULSE] Are potential new agents holding off on entering the market?

An analysis of recent real estate licensing trends released by Agent Advice this week reveals that licensing rates are beginning to recover from a precipitous drop caused by COVID-19 in March and April. 

Guest Author, Jasen Edwards

Data pulled from California, Texas, and Florida (which together capture 36% of real estate licensees in the United States) indicates that prospective real estate agents, and the real estate industry as a whole, experienced a collective slow-down in March and April as COVID-19 began to spread across the United States. New home listings dropped by 44%, creating significant uncertainty among prospective agents about whether the timing was right to begin a real estate career. And of course, local and state “stay-at-home” orders further increased this uncertainty, as many State Real Estate Commissions experienced closures of their own that impacted new agents’ ability to get a real estate license.

As a result, the issuance of new licenses crawled to a halt in April. In California, new licenses issued dropped by 59%. In Texas, they dropped by a staggering 94%. And in Florida, things came to a near standstill, slowing down by more than 97% vs. the prior year. 

Thankfully, May, June, and July brought a strong recovery as agents (and the market more broadly) adapted to the new normal.  Even with the recovery, new licenses year to date are still down by 29% in Florida and 12% in Texas (California data from July was not available at the time of publication). That said, average monthly licensing rates are trending upwards and are likely to soon recover back to pre-COVID levels.  

Despite the COVID-19 driven starts and stops in licensing, the overall number of new Realtors has continued to grow year over year. According to the National Association of Realtors, there were 1,409,727 members at the end of this July, up 1.9% from the same time the prior year. And even just comparing July to June, the count has grown by almost 1% – a good sign that prospective agents are beginning to recover their confidence in the market and seek their licenses. 

Chris Heller, real estate industry veteran and member of the Agent Advice Editorial Board, puts it simply: “I can tell you that although some agents left the industry when the market saw weakness earlier this year, others used the disruptions caused by COVID-19 as a springboard to start a new career in real estate. The best agents are those that don’t let temporary market fluctuations disrupt their career trajectory, but instead use them as opportunities to improve their skills and prove to their clients that they are a trusted advisor, even when things get tough.”

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of HousingWire and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Jasen Edwards at jasen@jasenedwards.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Sarah Wheeler at swheeler@housingwire.com

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Source: HousingWire Magazine

Sound Credit Union in Wash. buying branch from First Interstate

The deal continues Sound’s push into markets north of its Tacoma headquarters.
Source: American Banker

Borrowers want consistency through the lending process – Here’s how to give them that

This year’s low rates have led to high loan volumes, and lenders overwhelmed with applications are looking for the best way to handle the increased workload. Scaling up staffing can help, but it can be difficult to find enough people to take care of the manual processes to keep up with the demand. And hiring in a wave of high volumes can mean layoffs when the market is less robust.

Lenders need to be able to grow their business in a way that is not linear and is not tied to the market cycles – leveraging automation technology can help.

“With automation, you’re removing the dependency on human beings to do tasks that machines can do, so you can really scale up and down in a manner that doesn’t impact your cycle,” said Narayan Bharadwaj, senior vice president of automation at Indecomm Global Services.

Indecomm approaches automation by looking at practical applications for the technology across the entire mortgage lifecycle, using a framework called the automation continuum for mortgages.

Indecomm’s Automation Continuum

The company’s solutions involve applications of a few different types of automation technology.

Robotic process automation (RPA) is on the simpler end of the automation continuum, as it can be used to handle repetitive, high-volume tasks, but only those that are non-judgment-oriented.

The next level up from RPA is intelligent automation, which is judgment-oriented and capable of handling multiple validations and subjective outcomes for decision management. Essentially, Bharadwaj said, intelligent automation is “extracting the data sitting inside of documents and direct-sourced data to apply those against rules to automate straight-through processing.”

The third type of automation included in Indecomm’s continuum is supervised automation, which involves human oversight for the ongoing training of machine learning algorithms and engines and exception processing to handle fall-outs from any automation effort

All of the above categories of automation solutions are built on a foundation of machine learning solution which has been developed by Indecomm specifically for the mortgage industry over the past several years.

“Despite any automation effort, there will always be exceptions and fallouts that a human being needs to oversee,” Bharadwaj said. “[For example] when there’s an underlying machine learning or an artificial intelligence model, you need to feed the data and train that model, or transactions that require a high touch/velvet glove approach. That is where supervised automation comes in.”

State of Mortgage Automation

Indecomm’s automation continuum showcases several potential opportunities for RPA across the mortgage origination lifecycle.

“Any function that is typically high-volume, repeatable or has a defined set of rules, but is not heavily judgment-oriented, can be automated using RPA,” Bharadwaj said.

Automation has been applied fairly well to both the front office and back-office sections of the mortgage life cycle, he said, citing tools like point-of-sale and loan officer portals on the front-office as well as the acceleration of digital closing capabilities on the back-office, but there are still opportunities for improvements to the process.

“What’s left is the true middle office, which is where the most complex processes are being performed: the processing, the setup, the underwriting functions,” Bharadwaj said. “These have seen very little automation.”

That lack of automation in the middle of the process can lead to a “digital dissonance” for borrowers. If a borrower is able to use an online portal to quickly and easily submit an application but they’re stuck waiting for 45 days to close their loan, that creates frustration. Completing the digital cycle by leveraging automation technology throughout the entire process creates a more holistic borrower experience and can make a huge difference in borrower satisfaction.

Those middle office functions are where Indecomm sees a majority of the potential for automation to make a difference in the near future.

As lenders look to adopt automation technology as part of their process, Bharadwaj stressed that Indecomm’s automation continuum is neither prescriptive nor a linear path to progression. Instead, lenders should start by examining their current needs and the maturity of their current technology.

“It depends on the level of technology maturity of each lender’s middle office. You identify functions within the technology infrastructure that support automation readily, and then you start automating those pieces,” he said. “Because as much as automation is a long-term vision, it’s also about lenders proving value to the business as they move along the course.”

Indecomm’s automation solutions are designed with its continuum in mind, leveraging multiple types of automation with a focus on innovation for the middle office.

BotGenius is a pre-built set of RPA-enabled bots that address automation in certain workflows and tasks rather than requiring a multi-quarter implementation process.

“We’ve industrialized the process and turned it into more like hiring robots like contract workers,” Bharadwaj said. “The only difference is that they scale up and down and are far more efficient than a human being.”

Indecomm’s IncomeGenius is an income calculation tool that reduces income calculation time by up to 50% through automation technology and robust rules engine, with integrations for source of truth data, LOS and POS providers. AuditGenius uses supervised automation for risk management and quality control. AuditGenius compares data to audit and track loans on every stage of the mortgage lifecycle and report on the exceptions that may expose an organization to risk.

All of Indecomm’s automation tools are built on its proprietary imaging and data extraction platform, which includes machine learning algorithms the company has developed over years of experience.

To learn more about the automation continuum and Indecomm’s solutions, visit https://mortgage.indecomm.net/about-us/.

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Source: HousingWire Magazine

How regional banks edged out larger rivals in reputation rankings

The results of the American Banker/RepTrak Survey of Bank Reputations underscore the importance of communicating in a crisis.
Source: American Banker

Black Knight acquires DocVerify to boost RON capabilities

Black Knight has acquired DocVerify to boost its e-notarization capabilities.

Black Knight announced the purchase of the privately held company on Thursday, without disclosing the terms of the transaction.

“The 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,” the mortgage company said in a statement.

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated efforts in the mortgage industry to adopt technology such as remote online notarization, known as RON, to create a lending process that is completely digital.

The purchase of DocVerify will move the lending process “closer to a secure paperless environment through the digitization of the document validation process and a highly secure eNotary solution that our mortgage and real estate clients can leverage to offer a 100% digital closing,” Black Knight said in a statement.

As technology moves toward paperless transactions, state laws have lagged. Only 27 states have laws that enable their notaries to conduct remote notarizations, Ballard Spahr said in an Aug. 10 report. The states with RON statutes include Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Some of those states, such as Maryland, require the notary to be physically located in the state where the document is signed.

Nearly every state that doesn’t currently allow RON has pending legislation to allow it, Ballard Spahr said. Some, such as New York, have allowed it on a temporary basis because of the pandemic.

The New York directive was originally effective through June 5 and has now been extended to Aug. 29, Ballard Spahr said.

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Source: HousingWire Magazine