Rocket Mortgage is making a big play for the legion of self-employed borrowers who have been frustrated by a lack of mortgage options and overwhelming red tape: a new jumbo mortgage product offered through its Rocket Pro TPO channel.

The new product launch comes just a few months after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau retired the much-maligned Appendix Q patch, and amid a wave of vaccinations for the COVID-19 virus, which should boost the bottom lines of small businesses.

Effective Tuesday, Rocket Pro TPO broker partners can offer their clients a new jumbo product, called “Jumbo Smart.”

“So, the beautiful thing about this product is it mirrors DU [desktop underwriter] guidelines and requirements with just a few small overlays,” Rocket Pro TPO Vice President Austin Niemiec said in a video addressed to brokers. “So we run this through DU, giving you instant findings and approval.”

Niemiec said the new product would allow significantly more borrowers to qualify than a typical jumbo, and noted that loans go up to $2 million amounts. Borrowers can use them for primary homes, secondary homes and investment properties.

Should lenders look to non-QM when the refi boom slows?

HousingWire recently sat down with Tom Hutchens, Angel Oak EVP of production, who shared how non-QM lending could be an effective way for lenders to replace lost business in the event of a refi boom slowdown.

Presented by: Angel Oak

“You can also go all the way up to 45% DTI and 80% LTV, so the buckets are wide here,” he said in the video to brokers.

Niemiec also claimed that the loans are “easier to process and close” than your typical jumbo. The loans require just one appraisal, and there is significantly less self-employed documentation than the typical jumbo, a product that skews heavily toward self-employed clients, he said.

Rocket Mortgage claims the pricing is more competitive than the typical jumbo, which as of Feb. 28 averaged about 3.32% for a 30-year fixed-rate product.

“Take advantage of this product: we’re rolling it out right before purchase season, so you can differentiate yourself with purchase clients and agents,” Niemiec told brokers. “And also, as you know, jumbo refi clients have been sitting on the fence, not taking advantage of the low rates because of the red tape and the limited jumbo products. So go help those borrowers and win more business.”

The self-employed borrower has been in a bind since the pandemic began. Many small business owners have needed a year-to-date profit-and-loss supported by at least three months of business bank statements to obtain a mortgage. A year ago, a profit and loss from the client to the most recent quarter would have sufficed, several brokers and retail LOs told HousingWire. It’s onerous.

“It’s never been harder in my 30 years in the business to do a loan for self employed,” one LO told HousingWire in late January. “With the volume of loans I am handling, I hate doing loans for self employed right now as they take so much time, so doc heavy.” The LO told HousingWire the experience for borrowers is “worse than getting a colonoscopy.”

Rocket Mortgage is hardly alone in recognizing that self-employed borrowers represent a good business opportunity. Its rival United Wholesale Mortgage has pledged to come out with a new jumbo product this quarter, and several non-QM specialists have been very active in the space over the last few months.

Even some depository banks, which tightened lending standards during the pandemic, have indicated that they have or will soon loosen underwriting requirements to capture the rise in purchase business in the non-conforming space.

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RE/MAX has greatly expanded its foothold in northeast Florida, buying Jacksonville brokerage mainstay Magnolia Properties.

Magnolia Properties’ 125 agents are now part of RE/MAX Leading Edge, a franchisee based in St. Augustine, Florida, according to a RE/MAX company announcement Monday. Before the deal, RE/MAX Leading Edge had 40 agents.

The deal shakes up the distinctive real estate market of Jacksonville, the largest U.S. city by physical area. Lately, northeast and California homebuyers have migrated toward the seaside, sprawling enclave, said Molly Butler, owner of RE/MAX Leading Edge.

“Have you been seeing the news?” Butler said, with a laugh. “Florida is open for business. The market is incredible.”

But the market is also beset by a 40 percent decrease in year-over-year inventory, Butler said.

Eileen Blocker founded Magnolia Properties three decades ago, and, according to Butler, has been in conversations about cashing out for well over a year.

Magnolia Properties’ listings range from multi-million-dollar oceanside mansions to $200,000 starter homes.

“This isn’t like Aspen, where you can focus on one thing,” Butler said of the local market. “Jacksonville is just like this massive area.”

Watson Realty Corp. and Florida Home Realty & Mortgage are the top Jacksonville brokerages by sales volume, according to RealTrends 2019 data.

Like other brokerages, RE/MAX weathered a volatile 2020. It suffered a sharp revenue downturn in the spring, but regrouped with a burst of sales activity by late summer.

The company, which is publicly traded, reported $266 million in 2020 revenue, down from $282 million the year before, and $11 million in net income, a drop from $25 million in 2019. RE/MAX reported a company-wide headcount of 138,000 agents.

Like other brokerages, RE/MAX has been bolstering its tech capabilities of late. The firm acquired location data company Gadberry Group in September. It has also upped its focus on mortgage as well – the company already has a mortgage franchise, Motto Mortgage, and added wemlo, a mortgage processing startup, last year.

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Logan Mohtashami
Logan Mohtashami HousingWire Lead Analyst

When economic data that is typically sticky has a waterfall dive followed by a quick parabolic recovery, forecasting a trend can be tricky. The MBA purchase application data changed during our year of COVID-19.

In a typical, non-pandemic year, the bulk of the volume of purchase applications occurs in the heat months for housing, those being the second week of January to the first week of May. By the end of May, purchase application volumes start to fall. Every year, we get some rookies that think the post-May decrease means that housing is crashing. Don’t be one of those.

When we keep this data line’s seasonality in mind, we can get a pretty good picture of the housing market’s health. When the housing market isn’t doing great, purchase application data shows negative year-over-year data for the entire year. The last time we had a negative year-over-year decline in purchase applications was in 2014. That year purchase applications were the lowest ever when adjusted to the population.

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With low interest rates and a booming refinance market, it is natural that loan officers and brokers are focused on agency loans and also a thriving purchase market. However, with a futures rate curve that has recently been increasing, only so many loans qualify for refinancing, and this customer base will continually shrink as rates ascend.

Getting experience now is the appropriate time for originators to consider expanding to non-QM products – not just to grow their business and diversity their production offerings, but also to ensure they are not missing out on an opportunity to better serve their customers.

Poised for Growth

“When rates go up, the QM market can have a visceral reaction when the supply disappears, fast, and I think that is a huge tailwind for non-QM,” said Keith Lind, Executive Chairman and President of Acra Lending. “Brokers are going to look for that next product – ‘Where can we still make money?’ – and it is going to be non-QM.”

Lind said he is already seeing people turning to non-QM products because of how busy QM originators are right now; non-QM lenders are not as backed up and have faster turn times.

“It is to the point where the QM market is saturated with increasing competition; there are limited resources to handle the demand,” he said. “We are getting the side flows, because people know that we can close in 30 days and it is not going to take them six months.”

Above all, Lind stressed the flexibility that non-QM offers for clients in unique or underserved situations.

“The guidelines for QM [loans] are pretty stringent,” he said. “We are that next outlet for people who have complicated scenarios. That is the beauty about non-QM – I call our underwriters master puzzle makers because they put together these complicated situations that a QM product is just never going to support.”

Flexible Programs

Acra Lending offers a variety of non-QM programs for borrowers in those complicated, unique situations.

For example, Lind noted that the number of non-traditional investors is increasing, but GSE guidelines around investment properties mean that some investors will not be able to get loans for those properties from the agencies. A Debt Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR) program, which entails looking at a borrower’s rental income versus the property’s expenses to ensure that the net money remaining covers their mortgage payment, could be a great fit for investors.

There is also an increasing number of self-employed borrowers, who can qualify with a bank statement loan product. Acra Lending offers both 3-Month Bank Statement and 12-Month Bank Statement program options – with much more stringent guidelines on the 3-month version. “The last three months are often more useful than the last 12,” Lind said, “especially in light of potential lost income due to COVID.”

Additionally, a bank statement loan could appeal to clients and brokers wanting faster times to close on their loans.

“As opposed to going through an agency underwrite and providing all the documentation, knowing it can take three to four months to get that loan done, [a borrower might] come to us and say, ‘I like this three-month bank statement program, I am a qualified applicant, and I would like to work with you because I know I could close in 30 days,’” Lind said.

For borrowers with enough liquid assets to pay off their home loan with cash, an ATR-in-Full program might be another ideal option.

“If you are looking to purchase a house, and – away from the down payment – the applicant has enough liquid assets to own that house, that clearly tells us that they have an ability to repay,” Lind said. “That is another loan where you are not going through bank statements per se because they are proving that they already have cash available to own the property outright if desired.”

There are also Interest Only programs that allow qualified applicants a defined period of time where they are only paying the interest on their loan rather than the interest plus principal.

“For that initial five-year period, the client could use that extra cash flow to do something else – maybe pay down consumer or credit card debt,” he said. “Again, very situational, but it gives people flexibility.”

Market conditions can contribute to the need for non-QM products as well. For example, the need for Jumbo non-QM programs right now is partially driven by the increase in home prices over the last year. “This means more loans are falling outside of the agency performing balance and into the jumbo realm, whether that is prime or non-prime loan,” Lind said.

In every case, Lind says Acra Lending works to ensure it is not putting the borrower in an untenable situation.

“In all of our underwriting, we are always thinking about the credit aspect. We want to make sure we are giving a loan that the client has the ability to pay back their loan,” he said. “It is easy to give a loan; it is hard to collect it. What we want to make sure is that if we are giving that loan to someone, they can afford it.”

Ultimately, non-QM is, “A niche that is getting bigger and bigger,” Lind said. “This market is not getting smaller, it is getting bigger. We want to fulfill the needs and dreams for all of the people that want to own homes or investment properties, just like people in the GSE space. We are just doing it to a different tune.”

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Let’s admit it. The closing process, that time between underwriting approval and the actual closing, is the mortgage industry’s not-so-secret Achilles heel. That’s not a knock on the good professionals who enact minor miracles choreographing the multi-faceted ballet that is a typical closing. Blame it on the patchwork of regulatory requirements and sheer number of different parties who need to touch the transaction to get it done.

It’s a process requiring exquisite collaboration and pristine information exchange. But the fact is that it takes an average of 47 days to close a mortgage (according to Ellie Mae as of September 2020). Much of that is, from the Realtor’s or consumer’s perspective, the “dead time” between the excitement of getting approved for the loan and the additional excitement of getting the keys.

The process in between is, for them, quiet and mysterious. The wait seems tedious. Information and updates do not flow freely.  Like it or not, the most nerve-wracking part of buying or selling a home comes when the “file” heads out to the title and escrow company.

We haven’t had to really focus on that much for the past 18 months. Instead, the mortgage industry has been focused on its production pipeline as a historic wave of refinances engulfed lenders. But now that it’s all but certain we are coming into a true purchase market, the unknown and uncertainty that is the period prior to close will once again come under more scrutiny.

With a purchase market, of course, comes higher production costs and weaker margins. There’s just a lot more to a purchase mortgage. More emotion. More players. More opportunity for things to go sideways…or at least, hit a chokepoint in the process. And all of that means more expense. More cost. More time.

Mortgage lenders, at least before the jaw-dropping volume of 2020, have redoubled their efforts to stave off margin compression in recent years. We’ve seen the thought of eMortgages start to be accepted and embraced by lenders as the way of not just the future, but the present.

But, to date, most of the streamlining has happened at the point of marketing and sales. It’s much more efficient to reach a loan officer and input an application into the pipeline than ever before. Some investment has also gone into the underwriting process. These investments will really begin to pay off in a purchase market that will foster greater competition for less volume.

But about those fulfillment, production and closing costs…

In 2019, The MBA estimated that for depositories, 46% of retail origination costs were used to cover sales functions. (Source: MBA and STRATMOR Peer Group Roundtables, July, 2019). For non-depositories, it was 58%. Depository or not, that still means almost half of the cost to originate a loan comes from the production element.

It makes perfect sense, then, that the first priority for streamlining and improved efficiency would be sales. We’ve seen great advances in LOS technology in the just the past two years. But while there’s been some talk about using things like artificial intelligence to streamline and better automate the production side of things, the hard truth is that we’re just not there yet.

It doesn’t help the lender that much of that closing process lies in the hands of its third-party service providers. But it still remains that too much of that phase of the transaction — especially the period between underwriting approval and closing date, an area where things like TRID rule the day — involves patchwork technologies, multi-business collaboration using archaic tools like email, the telephone or even, unbelievably, fax machines.

This is where the mortgage process grinds to a near halt and begins to hemorrhage costs as well as time. It’s where phone tag and emails lost in spam filters mean duplicated tasks, needless delays and even errors. It’s where professionals who would be more effective attacking the more complex elements of production and closing, instead, spend hours on the phone with the Realtor, answering the question “How are things going?”

It’s been that way for decades. It’s where what is becoming a relatively efficient part of the mortgage transaction, the origination phase, bogs down into a grind virtually powered by manual labor.

Now, look more closely at the title, escrow and closing process itself, which is usually (mostly) in the hands of the title agent and title underwriter. During a purchase transaction, most title agency professionals are focused on getting the file to the closing. That includes procuring the underwriting policy, managing the title search, curative, TRID requirements and so forth.

However, especially during a purchase transaction, many title professionals are frequently forced into double duty — spending countless hours on the phone or in their email updating one of the parties to the transaction status (“When will closing be? How long until the title search is complete?”) or seeking information.  These are tasks that could easily be automated without sacrificing too much of the personal element.

Most agencies, which also operate on razor-thin margins, cannot afford deep staffing to begin with. So the more time that the escrow officer, or closer, or other staff member spends on mundane tasks such as answering routine questions, updating status or chasing down a driver’s license or social security number, the more time it takes to clear an HOA lien or finalize the C.D.

Although we can all agree that communications with the borrower or Realtor are important, the bulk of these interactions tend to be status-based — something that doesn’t necessarily require a phone call or email to convey. Yet, it usually is. And the inefficiency is only amplified by the use of 20th century tools to do it.

That inefficiency is further reflected in the third party’s costs, which in turn, are passed on to the lender.

With the arrival of a purchase market, these issues will be exacerbated. Just as pipeline and production challenges flared as refinance volume surged, lenders will quickly notice as the increased number of purchase transactions spotlights weaknesses in the closing and production process.

They’ll be dealing with more consumers and more Realtors, all with questions about status or who can’t be reached for needed information. They’ll be dealing with more complex appraisal and title issues. And they’ll be doing it with, most of the time, an ad hoc collection of proprietary technologies and good old-fashioned shoe leather. Lenders will quickly notice their margins shrinking. And they’ll know why.

It’s time for us to accelerate our attack on the costs and inefficiencies inherent to the closing process and production. There are solutions out there, with many more coming. It starts with decision-makers thinking globally about all of their processes. Not just their sales processes.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of HousingWire’s editorial department and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Hoyt Mann at

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Sarah Wheeler at

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The HW Tech100 identifies and recognizes the most innovative technology companies serving the mortgage and real estate industries.

The 2021 Tech100 Real Estate winners are changing the home sales process forever – from home search to lead management solutions, and remote closing to transaction management software.

These companies are truly leading the way toward a more innovative and efficient housing market. Conversational artificial intelligence solutions, digital closing platforms, remote online notarization and augmented reality are just a few of the technologies that have officially propelled the real estate industry into a digital era for housing. The Great Acceleration is here.

The following table presents the 2021 winners. These are the companies and solutions helping real estate professionals propel their businesses forward in 2021.

Company Name Company Website Markets Served Company HQ
Orchard Real Estate Sales New York, NY
Buyside Real Estate Sales Philadelphia, PA
HelloSign Real Estate Investment and SFR, Multifamily / CRE San Francisco, CA
NestReady Real Estate Sales Wilmington, DE
RateMyAgent Real Estate Sales Carlsbad, CA
Structurely Real Estate Sales Ames, IA
Adeptive Software Corporation Real Estate Sales Louisville, CO
Cape Analytics Real Estate Investment and SFR Palo Alto, CA
Home Captain Real Estate Sales Brooklyn, NY
Noah San Francisco, CA
Real Geeks Real Estate Sales Dallas, TX
Tavant Real Estate Sales, Real Estate Investment and SFR Santa Clara, CA
Adwerx Real Estate Sales Durham, NC
Chime Technologies Real Estate Sales Salt Lake City, UT
HomeLight Real Estate Sales San Francisco, CA
Notarize Real Estate Sales, Real Estate Investment and SFR, Multifamily / CRE Boston, MA
RealScout Real Estate Sales Mountain View, CA
TopHap Real Estate Sales, Real Estate Investment and SFR, Multifamily / CRE San Ramon, CA
Amrock Real Estate Sales Detroit, MI
CINC Real Estate Sales Marietta, GA
Homesnap Real Estate Sales Bethesda, MD
NotaryCam Real Estate Sales, Real Estate Investment and SFR, Multifamily / CRE Newport Beach, CA Real Estate Sales Santa Clara, CA
TRIBUS Real Estate Sales Chicago, IL
Asteroom Real Estate Sales Fremont, CA
ComeHome by HouseCanary Real Estate Sales San Francisco, CA
Hommati Real Estate Sales Westerville, OH
OJO Labs Real Estate Sales Austin, TX
Redfin Real Estate Sales Seattle, WA
UpNest Real Estate Sales Burlingame, CA
ATTOM Data Solutions Real Estate Sales, Real Estate Investment and SFR, Multifamily / CRE Irvine, CA
CoreLogic Real Estate Sales Irvine, CA
Hubzu Real Estate Sales, Real Estate Investment and SFR Atlanta, GA
Opcity Real Estate Sales Austin, TX
ReferralExchange Real Estate Sales San Francisco, CA
Usherpa Real Estate Sales Denver, CO
Avenue 8 Real Estate Sales San Francisco, CA
DataTrace Information Services Real Estate Sales, Real Estate Investment and SFR, Multifamily / CRE Santa Ana, CA
IDX Real Estate Sales Chicago, IL
Pavaso Plano, TX
Remine Real Estate Sales Vienna, VA
yaza Real Estate Sales San Francisco, CA
3D City Scapes Real Estate Sales, Real Estate Investment and SFR, Multifamily / CRE Toronto, ON
Back At You Real Estate Sales Los Angeles, CA Real Estate Sales San Francisco, CA
Inside Real Estate Real Estate Sales Draper, UT Real Estate Sales, Real Estate Investment and SFR Charlotte, NC
Revaluate Real Estate Sales, Real Estate Investment and SFR, Multifamily / CRE Golden, CO
Ylopo Real Estate Sales Venice, CA
Atmos Real Estate Sales San Francisco, CA
Big Purple Dot Real Estate Sales Irvine, CA
Docusign Real Estate Sales San Francisco, CA
JetClosing Real Estate Sales Seattle, WA
Propertybase Real Estate Sales West Boxford, MA
Roof Real Estate Sales Montreal, QC
Young Alfred Real Estate Sales New York, NY
ActivePipe Real Estate Sales Austin, TX
Black Knight Real Estate Sales Jacksonville, FL
Dotloop Real Estate Sales Cincinnati, OH
LemonBrew Real Estate Sales Charlotte, NC
PropStream Real Estate Sales, Real Estate Investment and SFR, Multifamily / CRE Lake Forest, CA
Roofstock Real Estate Investment and SFR Oakland, CA
Zigzy Real Estate Sales Tustin, CA Real Estate Sales Irvine, CA
BombBomb Real Estate Sales Colorado Springs, CO
Earnnest Real Estate Sales Greer, SC
LendingHome Real Estate Investment and SFR San Francisco, CA
Propy Real Estate Sales Palo Alto, CA
Roosted Real Estate Sales Cave Creek AZ
Zillow Real Estate Sales Seattle, WA
Hometap Real Estate Investment and SFR Boston, MA
BoomTown Real Estate Sales Charleston, SC
Endpoint Real Estate Sales, Real Estate Investment and SFR El Segundo, CA
London Computer Systems Real Estate Investment and SFR, Multifamily / CRE Cincinnati, OH
Proxio Real Estate Sales Santa Clara, CA
ShowingTime Real Estate Sales, Multifamily / CRE Chicago, IL
FundingShield Real Estate Investment and SFR, Multifamily / CRE Newport Beach, CA
Breakthrough Broker Real Estate Sales Denver, CO
Equator Real Estate Sales, Real Estate Investment and SFR Atlanta, GA
Lone Wolf Technologies Real Estate Sales Huntington Beach, CA
Qazzoo Real Estate Sales Annapolis, MD
SkySlope Real Estate Sales Sacramento, CA
SmartRent Real Estate Sales, Multifamily / CRE Scottsdale, AZ
Brivity Real Estate Sales Bellingham, WA
Evocalize Real Estate Sales, Real Estate Investment and SFR, Multifamily / CRE Seattle, WA
Luxury Presence Real Estate Sales Santa Monica, CA
Qualia Real Estate Sales San Francisco, CA
Snapdocs Real Estate Sales, Real Estate Investment and SFR, Multifamily / CRE San Francisco, CA
RentSpree Real Estate Investment and SFR, Multifamily / CRE Los Angeles, CA
Brokermint Real Estate Sales Carlsbad, CA
First American Data & Analytics Real Estate Sales, Real Estate Investment and SFR, Multifamily / CRE Santa Ana, CA
Mav Real Estate Sales Detroit, MI
Quantarium Real Estate Sales, Real Estate Investment and SFR Bellevue, WA
SOA Labs Real Estate Sales San Francisco, CA
Knox Financial Real Estate Investment and SFR Baltimore, MD
Buffini & Company Real Estate Sales Carlsbad, CA
Glide Real Estate Sales San Francisco, CA
Modus Real Estate Sales Seattle, WA
Radian Real Estate Investment and SFR Philadelphia, PA
Spruce Real Estate Investment and SFR New York, NY
Company Name Company Website Markets Served Company HQ

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As origination volumes hit record highs in 2020, Truework’s verification experts saw a spike in fraud, and expect that trend to continue this year. HousingWire recently spoke with Jeffrey Morelli, General Manager of Truework Verifier, about what lenders can do to prepare for and overcome the growing threat of fraud and data inaccuracy.

HousingWire: As we head into 2021, what are some challenges you foresee for lenders regarding employment verification?


Jeffrey Morelli: Throughout 2021, we foresee an ever-growing presence of fraud and disinformation in the employment verification process. Looking back to 2020, Truework’s verification experts saw an enormous spike in fraud—a notable case being the rise of income misrepresentation on TPO loans in Southern California last fall. This can be attributed to increasing mortgage applications and refinances due to COVID-19 and low interest rates. Given that the majority of lenders were overwhelmed with the sheer number of applications—it became easier for fraud to proliferate. 

All lenders should expect this trend to continue well into 2021 given that the economy should not expect relief from COVID-19 until the latter half of the year—keeping interest rates low, and mortgage and refinance volume high. 

HW: How can lenders prepare for and overcome those challenges?

JM: Lenders can prepare for fraud and data inaccuracy by automating their verification process, which helps keeps data more secure than a manual process and monitoring extensively for key signs of fraud such as misrepresented information from small businesses, generic emails such as an  or an, altered or completely altered forms of documentation (ie W-2 forms), large financial windfalls. 

Outsourcing the verification process to a solution like Truework can also be incredibly helpful when dealing with fraud. Our verification providers focus solely on your verifications, data, and monitoring—and have deep knowledge of the landscape with higher rates of fraud detection—freeing lenders like yourself from the process. 

Furthermore, with Truework’s integrated partnerships with several top payroll providers, we give you the latest payroll data for each of the 35 million active employees on our instant network. If your verification happens to be outside of the 35 million employees on our network, our manual team will source data directly for you from HR departments, so that you can be sure that any verification on Truework has the most accurate and current data. In addition, our automated validation engine runs on every completed report to make sure the data is accurate and complete. Based on Fannie Mae guidelines—Truework goes above and beyond what is necessary to flag improper reports.

HW: How has Truework helped lenders through the high-volume environment of 2020?

JM: Truework’s unique combination of software and services has been pivotal in ensuring speed, security, and efficiency for lenders through the high-volume environment of 2020. Our platform uses a tech-based and data-forward approach along with an expansive and ever-growing network—so that lenders can instantly and accurately verify tens of millions of employees across the United States, and take advantage of Truework’s manual verifications—the fastest and most accurate in the industry. 

Along with Truework’s extensive team of mortgage professionals—lenders have, and continue to count on Truework as their one-stop-shop for all of their verifications. 

HW: What are some of the most common pain points you see when it comes to employment verification?

Some of the most common pain points we’ve seen when it comes to employment verification have been: 

  • Slowness: Verifications often take too long, and slow down the overall lending process—creating inefficiencies and often forcing lenders to leave valuable loans on the table. 
  • Inaccuracy: Lenders often are given out-of-date data, or inaccurate information. 
  • Fraud detection: Especially in high-volume times, lenders often cannot identify fraud either due to lack of insight, or lack of time. 

Truework can help lenders with all of these pain points and more. With our tech-enabled platform, expansive and growing network, and a team of mortgage professionals—lenders can count on Truework to provide friction-free verifications, enabling them to complete the verifications faster and more accurately than ever before. 

The post How lenders can prepare for growing fraud threats appeared first on HousingWire.

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TIAA Bank has tapped JPMorgan Chase‘s head of consumer banking, Thasunda Brown Duckett, to succeed longtime president and CEO, Roger Ferguson, Jr.

With the hire, TIAA is now the first Fortune 500 company to have two Black CEOs in a row.

At JPMorgan Chase, Duckett has led a banking network with more than $600 billion in deposits, 4,900 branches and over 40,000 employees.

Under Duckett’s leadership, JPMorgan Chase was the nation’s fifth largest mortgage lender in 2020, originating about $133.4 billion in mortgages, according to data from Inside Mortgage Finance.

“Thasunda is widely recognized as an exceptionally dynamic and inspirational leader,” Ronald Thompson, TIAA board of trustees’ chairman said in a statement. “She brings invaluable experience leading and growing large, complex businesses, setting and executing strategy, improving client experience and attracting and developing talent.”

How lenders will benefit from Proctor Financial’s acquisition of Loan Protector

HW+ Managing Editor Brena Nath joins Proctor Loan Protector executives Damon Laprade and Mike Dimas to discuss the acquisition and the new brand, Proctor Loan Protector.

Presented by: Proctor Loan Protector

Ferguson, a former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, will retire after 13 years at TIAA in May. He will stay on in an advisory role for Duckett, the company said.

“I am very grateful and heartened that we have found a leader who is as inspired by our mission as I have been ever since I had the great fortune to join this amazing company almost 13 years ago,” Ferguson said.

Duckett began her career at Fannie Mae, leading affordable housing initiatives for people of color. She holds a B.A. in finance and marketing from the University of Houston and an MBA from the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University.

One of Duckett’s key initiatives at Chase’s consumer division was undertaking the bank’s first major branch expansion in 10 years, with the ultimate goal of adding 400 new branches in 20 new markets over five years.

She also held the title of executive sponsor of JPMorgan Chase’s Advancing Black Pathways program, an initiative aimed at helping Black Americans close historical achievement gaps in wealth creation, educational outcomes and career success. 

Over the last year, Duckett has run point on Chase’s focus on communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19. That led to her becoming Chase’s executive sponsor of the bank’s Fellowship Initiative, which offers young men of color academic and social support.

JPMorgan co-president Gordon Smith said on Thursday that Duckett’s successor as head of consumer-banking would be named shortly.

TIAA, which manages pensions on behalf of colleges, healthcare networks and nonprofits, had $1.3 trillion in assets under management as of Dec. 31, though it is far less active in the mortgage space than JPMorgan Chase.

“Thasunda’s dedication to putting people first – clients and colleagues – ensures that TIAA will continue to create lifetime income for millions of people working in higher education, healthcare, government, the arts and other nonprofit sectors,” said James Chambers, TIAA board of trustees chairman-elect.

Duckett, who has talked extensively about the need to close the wealth gap between white and Black Americans, expressed enthusiasm for the new role.

“I often think about the day my father asked me to help him plan his retirement, and I had to tell him, ‘Dad, your pension is not enough,’” Duckett said. “Now, thanks to his work and sacrifices and the support of many others who have guided me throughout my life and career, I am blessed to join TIAA.”

TIAA has paid out over $500 billion of lifetime income and other benefits since its founding in 1918.

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HousingWire recently spoke with Propertybase CEO Vance Loiselle about real estate tech and how the past year has accelerated the need for digital collaboration tools across the entire customer journey.

HousingWire: What role has the increase in technology played for both businesses and consumers in the real estate space?


Vance Loiselle: In the 20th century, the primary technology innovations in real estate were the telephone and the MLS. This century has seen a rapid shift to a digital-first economy from the internet to portals to email marketing to smartphones to social media. The end result has created a far more educated and informed consumer while also breaking down what we consider traditional B2B and B2C channels.

Quite frankly, you may consider the new trend as B2P – business to people. Consumers today expect access to instant information and don’t want to spend lots of time making calls to coordinate showings or filling out paperwork to get a mortgage. Technology has given consumers the power of choice and expedited the entire real estate purchasing process.

Successful agents, brokerages and loan officers of the future are going to rely significantly on technology to find, nurture and engage with buyers and sellers while also playing an expanding role as personal advisors in all things related to mortgage, insurance, moving, renovating and new home transitioning.

HW: How has the financial industry’s response to COVID accelerated the need for digital tools?

VL: The financial industry’s response has been swift and impactful, by lowering interest rates and providing fiscal stimulus – for the benefit of consumers and loan originators, of course. Home sales and refinancing have seen large year-over-year increases in an environment where people have not been congregating face-to-face. This has heightened the need for digital tools for marketing, viewing, financing and closing on home purchases.

But we also must acknowledge that the core definition of any stimulus is to implement something that causes an immediate, short-term response. This response has an end-life and those looking towards the future sense a renewed focus on more quality lead generation as the refinance boom draws to a close.

People already want to be able to browse the rich details of a home and neighborhood on their own and then be able to apply for that home online without filling out tons of paperwork or going through antiquated processes. The past year has exposed a need for richer collaboration tools and better data that bring consumers, agents and loan officers together in one system to minimize work and increase transparency for everyone involved.

HW: What data, research and trends do you see that support the vision of collaboration across the entire industry?

VL: A recent study by Forrester found that post-COVID remote work will be at 300% of prior levels. This will result in a major shift in how people use their homes and where they want to live.

The “Zoomification” of the COVID world has also exposed hundreds of millions of people to collaboration technology, which was previously only used by a specific segment of enterprise workers. Our focus at Propertybase is to make collaboration between consumers, agents and loan officers as easy as shopping from third-party sellers on Amazon.

HW: What steps in the real estate transaction could benefit from further digitalization?

VL: So many areas could benefit by embracing digitalization. The loan pre-qualification step is an area that almost all parties need for a successful outcome (consumers, real estate agents, loan officers, insurance agents). The transaction management processrequires precise compliance steps, documents and electronic signatures across many parties, all of which can be digitized – at Propertybase we’re actually already enabling this with our Propertybase Back Office software.

The post-close nurturing process is woefully lacking and can be digitized. How do I sign my kids up for school?  How do I find a doctor?  Who are the best contractors? All of which can be digitized and are often repeatedly shared by agents but are currently so fragmented.

HW: How will Propertybase’s acquisition of Unify help accelerate the use of digital tools across the entire customer journey?

VL: Our mission at Propertybase is to empower real estate and lending professionals to grow their businesses through collaborative technology.

Customers in the Propertybase family will get access to a myriad of new digital tools as part of the acquisition, including access to our nationwide pool of buyer and seller prospects, AI-powered lead scoring engine, credit-bureau pre-qualification, text concierge, and post-close credit inquiry monitoring.

The Propertybase family of brands will create a community for our clients to transcend ancillary services – and we’re really just getting started.

The post How 2020 exposed a greater need for collaboration between real estate agents and LOs appeared first on HousingWire.

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Extreme increases in lumber prices have caused some people to go bearish on new home sales. Not this one! If we play a version of rock, paper, and scissors with lumber prices and mortgage rates, mortgage rates will win. Mortgage rates have a much more significant influence on the new home sales market than lumber prices, even at their current highs.

Proof of this is the recent new home sales report released by the Census Bureau. New home sales beat expectations by a lot, and all the revisions to the last report were positive.

Last month, I wrote that we should have expected new home sales to moderate after their parabolic rise.

Sales are still working to find a sustainable trend after the massive distortion in all housing data lines due to COVID-19. This recent report, especially regarding the positive revisions to the last report, tells a solid story for new home sales in 2021 as long as rates stay low.

From Census:  “Sales of new single-family houses in January 2021 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 923,000, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 4.3% (±18.1%)* above the revised December rate of 885,000 and is 19.3% (±19.5%)* above the January 2020 estimate of 774,000.

When reviewing new home sales data, it is wise to keep an eye on the monthly supply. When the monthly supply is 4.3 and below, builders will have the confidence to continue building. This is especially true when the 3-month average is 4.3 months or below. Currently, inventory is at four months with a three-month average of 4.06 months of supply, so it’s looking pretty good. The revisions on this report showed a lower monthly supply than in the previous month.

The low monthly supply is why builders’ confidence is high, despite the massive spike in lumber prices. As a high school basketball coach in my previous life, I know that sometimes all that matters is that you shoot better than your opponents. Don’t overthink it. Better sales plus lower inventor equals increased builder confidence.

Today, the MBA’s purchase application data was also positive by 7% year over year, even with the President’s Day holiday and the Texas snowstorm — two factors that typically hurt applications. Positive year-over-year growth is a good thing. 

So far this year, our year-over-year comparisons have been against a “pre-covid” housing market. March 18 is almost here, which means year-over-year comparisons of housing data are going to get funky. If you see scorching year-over-year growth – don’t be fooled that it will be a sustainable trend. 

Purchase applications in 2021 have exceeded my estimated peak rate of growth of 11%. I expected to see a trend growth rate between 1%-11% year over year, up until March 18.  We are currently trending at 12.375%. The substantial purchase application growth speaks well for housing sales 30 to 90 days out.

The take-home message is that sales are strong, which will contribute to hotter home prices. Right now, we want the rate of growth to cool down.

Next week for HousingWire, I will explain why we should expect to see some purchase application data show weaker year-over-year data in the second half of 2021. There is more to this story than higher mortgage rates.

The post Even with high lumber prices, new home sales beat appeared first on HousingWire.

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