Mortgage Tech Demo Day: ValueLink

ValueLink Direct

ValueLink Direct is an end-to-end valuation management solution that enables Lenders to consistently deliver faster, accurate and reliable valuations. With a combination of automation, artificial intelligence, mobile technology and powerful reporting and analytics, ValueLink simplifies the valuation process for lenders.

Product Fast Facts:

#1

Direct enables automation of the entire valuation process resulting in at least 30% reduction in turnaround times.

#2

Direct offers integrations with leading Loan Origination platforms for seamless and error-free order creation and delivery.

#3

The powerful Reporting and Analytics engine puts data at your fingertips and helps users make informed decisions.

Get More Info

Visit ValueLink’s Services Guide Page

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Mortgage Tech Demo Day: Blend

 Blend Close

Blend Close offers a single integrated closing experience with support for all closing types (Remote online, Hybrid, traditional wet-sign) and includes all of the necessary functionality for eSign, Remote Online Notarization, generation and signing of eNote, and integration to an eVault.

Product Fast Facts:

#1

Getting started with eClosings doesn’t need to be complicated—speed up adoption with a consistent process no matter the closing type—from a traditional wet-sign to a fully remote online closing 

#2

Empower consumers during the process with step by step instructions and guided document review. If additional help is needed, lenders can answer questions using Blend’s signature Co-pilot. 

#3

Originally scheduled for launch in Q4 2020, Blend accelerated the launch to May 2020 because of increased demand due to COVID-19.

Get More Info

Visit Blend’s Services Guide Page

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Mortgage Tech Demo Day: Freddie Mac

Freddie Mac Developer Portal

Developer Portal is a single location for accessing Freddie Mac APIs. It’s designed to make it easy for both developers and business partners to understand the value APIs can deliver, test and experience them firsthand and ultimately build them to drive efficiency in their business.

Product Fast Facts:

#1

APIs give lenders access to the data they need to make fast, efficient decisions.

#2

APIs work within your current workflow, so you don’t have to undergo heavy system integrations.

#3

Developer Portal provides access to all the materials you need to test and build to Freddie Mac APIs

Get More Info

Visit Freddie Mac’s Services Guide Page

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Mortgage applications climb 4.1% on low rates

Mortgage applications gained 4.1% last week as mortgage rates fell below 3% for the very first time, according to a report by the Mortgage Bankers Association

The unadjusted purchase index increased 2% last week and was up 19% compared to last year – the ninth straight week of year-over-year increases for purchase activity, according to the report.

“Applications increased last week despite mixed results from the various rates tracked in MBA’s survey,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting. “There continues to be strong home-buyer demand this summer, as home shoppers have returned to the market in many states.”

After hitting a record low in MBA’s survey last week, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose slightly to 3.2%, however, some creditworthy buyers were offered rates as low as 2.98%, according to the report.

As a result, these low rates drove a 5% weekly gain in refinances and a 122% increase from a year ago, Kan said.

Just as the refinance index increased, refinance’s share of mortgage activity also saw a slight gain from 64.2% of total applications the previous week to 64.8%. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity remained unchanged at 3% of total applications.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, also gained 4.1% on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier.

Here is a more detailed breakdown of this week’s mortgage application data:

  • The FHA’s share of mortgage apps fell to 10.8% from 11.1%.
  • The VA share of applications fell to 10.8% from 11%
  • The USDA share of total applications remained the same at 0.6%
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($510,400 or less) increased to 3.2% from 3.19%
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $510,400) fell to 3.51% from 3.53%
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA fell to 3.13% from 3.24%
  • The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 2.71% to 2.7%
  • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs fell to 2.89% from 3%

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Startup profile: Homie

Taken from the July issue of HousingWire Magazine, Homie is making changes on what it calls a “stagnant industry.” The company is looking to provide a one-stop-shop experience and simplify the way homes are bought and sold.

Earlier this year Homie, which launched in 2015 in Utah and expanded into Arizona in 2018, announced it was set to move into three new states after the company raised $23 million in new funding.

The company has been in growth mode for several years now. It started as a flat-fee real estate company, before expanding into mortgage lending in 2017. Homie now also offers title insurance and homeowners insurance.

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[PULSE] What’s driving the lowest mortgage rates in history?

We are halfway through the year and mortgage rates have hit a low six times so far. With mortgage interest rates at the lowest they have ever been, the demand for housing is on the rise. 

Drivers of the lowest mortgage rates in history 

Several factors play into mortgage rates. Specifically, this year, the Federal Reserve has played a major role in keeping rates at their current low levels. They have stabilized the mortgage market by consistently buying mortgage-backed securities to ensure the housing market remains steady as it’s important that borrowing costs are cheap to avoid a housing crisis following a pandemic. 

In addition to the Fed buying MBS, we’re also seeing the natural supply and demand of a healthy mortgage market, which is a good sign. For example, jumbo rates have come down despite the Fed not buying mortgage backed securities in the jumbo space. 

shant
Shant Banosian
Guest Author

Typically, bad news leads to lower rates in the mortgage world. With recent news of coronavirus cases spiking in certain areas of the country and the potential of a second wave in the fall when schools reopen, money is going into a safer place – mortgage bonds and treasuries – and that keeps rates low. 

Low inventory + high demand = bidding wars 

Purchase applications are up 33% year over year (from June 2019 – June 2020). This is a huge increase. Part of this spike in applications is due to low activity in March and April when the pandemic first hit. This pushed a lot of the current demand into May and June.

Additionally, homeownership has become more important now than ever before. It’s where we live, work, go to school, workout and entertain. This has driven a big push out to the suburbs and many wanting to upgrade to a bigger space. A 900-square foot condo might have seemed like a good idea four months ago, but maybe not as practical now. Renters and owners alike are reevaluating what they want in a living space. 

According to Redfin, more than half of their offers were part of bidding wars for the second month in a row in June. Boston had the highest bidding war rate in June, of 72.4%, staying on top after 67.2% of offers had a bidding war in May. In June, the number of homes overall for sale in the U.S. was down 21.3% year over year, while the number of new listings was down 12%, leaving inventory at its lowest level since at least 2012.  

This will likely be the normal for some time so it’s important for buyers to be prepared. If a buyer knows their numbers – what their monthly payments will be, what down payment is needed, for a range of prices, they will not be overwhelmed by the competitive market. Prepared buyers will have success, win offers, and do well in an overbid situation.

In markets like Boston, the last two years a large percentage of homes have sold over asking. Now, just because something is going for over the asking price does not mean someone is overpaying. There are a lot of buyers that went over asking in these markets three, four and five years ago and their houses are worth a lot more money today than they were a couple of years ago. And those people don’t feel like they overpaid. 

The importance of new construction in a low inventory market 

Homebuilders saw the strongest June sales since the last housing boom. Sales of newly built homes jumped 55% annually in June. We’re seeing more new construction in the suburbs as the pandemic is pushing from the cities. We’re also seeing the desire for more customization in homes as people spend more time in them in the new normal. It was the largest annual gain since homebuilding began again following the epic housing crash a decade ago. It is also the highest pace since the height of the unprecedented housing boom in 2005. 

In short, we’re seeing a rise in interest of new construction as people want more space and more customization in their homes to fit their needs. 

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1.4 million homes have accessory dwelling units, Freddie Mac says

Guest home, granny flats and mother-in-law suites are more commonly used terms for accessory dwelling units in the U.S., which have grown in demand exponentially since the 1950s.

According to research from Freddie Mac, there are 1.4 million single-family properties with ADUs. They were identified using a national-level dataset of 600 million Multiple Listing Service transactions dating back to the late 1990s, the report said.

California, Florida, Texas and Georgia account for half of the 1.4 million ADUs in the U.S., according to Freddie Mac.

Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said there has been an increasing number of ADUs in the Portland, Oregon; Dallas; Seattle; Los Angeles; and Miami metro areas, with each market seeing double-digit growth since 2015.

“The nation’s affordable housing crisis has intensified in this turbulent economic environment, and ADUs are increasingly providing a viable affordable housing option for people of all ages,” Khater said in a statement. “This analysis is both unique and large in scale, giving us insight into the growing movement of accessory dwelling units.”

In 2019, 70,000 properties with ADUs were sold, which represent 4.2% of total homes sold on MLS. To compare, only 1.1%, or 8,000 properties, were sold with ADUs in 2000.

Between 2009 and 2019, the number of first-time listings of ADUs grew an average of 8.6% year over year, Freddie Mac said.

Meanwhile, the number of actively listed ADUs for rent increased from 2003 to 2019, from 1.8% to 4.1%, respectively, while the number of leased rental listings increased from 1.2% to 2.9%, respectively.

There were 8,000 ADUs leased in 2019, representing 2.9% of homes leased via MLS. Freddie Mac said these homeowners most likely used their extra space as another form of income.

Of course, the report is only looking at permitted ADUs.

Freddie Mac noted that “shadow housing,” or ADUs that aren’t legally accounted for, aren’t included in the report. This is because ADUs require building permits from respective local city permit offices, and depending on the location, ADUs might not be allowed.

In fact, the survey found three neighborhoods in Los Angeles with high numbers of foreclosures in which 34% to 80% of single-family housing units in these areas were likely to have illegal ADUs. Meanwhile, in 2011, researchers surveyed homeowners in the San Francisco Bay Area and found that more than 90% of secondary units didn’t have required building permits.

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Senate committee approves Trump advisor Judy Shelton for Fed board

Judy Shelton, the controversial nominee to an empty seat on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, won narrow approval on Tuesday in a Senate Banking Committee vote. She now advances to consideration by the full Senate.

Shelton, a Fed critic who has advocated for greater coordination between the White House and the central bank that sets the nation’s monetary policy, was an advisor to the campaign of President Donald Trump in 2016. For decades she has advocated for a return to the gold standard, putting her far outside the mainstream of American economists.

The Fed, so far impervious to Trump’s attempts to influence monetary policy, has provided steady support to the economy as the worst public health crisis in more than a century – the COVID-19 pandemic – caused the steepest recession since the Great Depression.

Among other actions, Chairman Jerome Powell announced in March the central bank would start buying Treasuries and mortgage-backed bonds to support the housing finance system. The purchases have driven home-loan interest rates to a series of new lows including last week when the average rate fell below 3% for the first time.

“Amid the chaos of the Trump administration, the U.S. Federal Reserve has stood out as an island of professionalism,” Bloomberg said in an editorial published before the Senate vote. “If the Senate Banking Committee wants to keep it that way, it should think twice before confirming Judy Shelton’s nomination to the Fed’s Board of Governors.”

Shelton has written dozens of books and articles over three decades advocating positions such as a return to the gold standard, a monetary policy abandoned by the U.S. almost five decades ago.

She was opposed to monetary easing in the years after the Great Recession, when President Barack Obama was in the White House, then reversed course and called for reductions when Trump began demanding the Fed cut rates to below zero last year.

After Trump nominated her in July, Shelton advocated for policy coordination between the Fed and the White House, which would break a decades-long tradition of Fed independence that economists credit with keeping inflation – and mortgage rates – near historic lows.

“It would be in keeping with its historical mandate if the Fed were to pursue a more coordinated relationship with both Congress and the president,” she wrote in a Wall Street Journal column on Sept. 16.

The Senate committee also voted to approve a second Trump nominee to the Fed, Christopher Waller, the director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Waller had broad support on the committee.

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Mortgage lending set to top $3 trillion as mortgage rates tumble

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Mortgage lending is set to reach $3.14 trillion this year, the highest since 2003, as the annual average rate for a 30-year fixed home loan falls to a record low of 3.2%, according to Doug Duncan, chief economist of Fannie Mae. Next year, rates are heading even lower, he said.

In 2021, the annual average rate probably will fall to 2.8%, said Duncan, who spoke to HousingWire via a video conference call on Monday in an exclusive interview. That would be the lowest ever recorded.

Duncan said his forecast is based on the open-ended commitment by the Federal Reserve to purchase $40 billion a month in mortgage-backed securities, coupled with the expectations that “margins” – meaning the difference in the yields for 10-year Treasury yield and mortgage bonds – will continue to shrink as the lending industry adjusts to doing business amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mortgage rates are set by bond investors who decide what yield, or return on investment, they’re willing to accept. Market-watchers compare rates between long-term Treasuries and MBS to see what kind of “risk premium” lenders are adding, meaning a buffer to protect profits in case some loans go bad or other problems arise.

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First Guaranty Mortgage plans to hire for more than 150 positions

Mortgage lender First Guaranty Mortgage Corporation and its dba Goodmortgage is looking to hire more than 150 people for its retail, wholesale, correspondent, non-delegated and shared services teams.

FGMC is opening positions in its Texas, Nevada, New Jersey, Maryland and North Carolina offices – with some positions being fully remote. The company also plans to open an Arizona branch in the future.

Current opportunities include underwriters, correspondent loan analysts, retail closers, risk analysts, mortgage loan originators and wholesale funders among many others. Positions vary from entry level to senior level management with deeper roots in the industry.

“The biggest benefit to working with FGMC and Goodmortgage is our culture,” said Sarah Gonzalez, COO of FGMC. “We call ourselves ‘Mortgage Mavericks,’ meaning that we think outside the box, act with integrity, and put our people (employees, partners, borrowers) first always.”

Recently the company launched Pulse, an “employee experience initiative” that includes a partnership with CASA, paid time off to volunteer, a speaker series, career development conversations, and a Pulse council that is made up of employees who will assist in idea generation for brand initiatives and service-level growth.

All of the wholesale, correspondent, non-delegated, and shared services positions are eligible for permanent remote work. However, retail sales positions are tied to a physical branch location for licensing purposes.

To apply to be part of the First Guaranty Mortgage Corporation team, interested individuals can send their resume to careers@fgmc.com or click here to apply online.

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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