When it comes to their home, Millennials are picky

When it comes to their home, Millennials are picky
For the generation that is waiting the longest to buy a home, they appear to be the pickiest too.

According to a new data set from the National Association of Home Builders, Millennials care just as much (if not more) about they want in a house rather than what they need.

And even though Millennials carry loads of student debt, they still want to live out the American Dream in a home, whether it’s rented or not.

The NAHB asked recent and prospective homebuyers about the features they want in a home and a community. Homebuyers were asked to rank more than 175 features in a home on a four-tiered scale of do not want, indifferent, desirable, and essential/must have.

The most popular specialty room, other than a bedroom, bathroom or kitchen, is the laundry room, with 50% saying it’s an essential while 36% said it’s more desirable.

On the bottom of the necessity list is breakfast nook and sunroom. Of those surveyed, 19% said both were an essential and 39% it’s just a desirable.

Having multiple family rooms was also at lower end of the list of desirables, with 24% saying a separate living room was an essential and 37% saying it was a desirable; 23% said a separate family room was an essential and 39% said it was a desirable, and 22% said a study/den/library was an essential and 41% said it was desirable.

Across generations, Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers and Seniors all agreed that an exercise room, media room and game room were a desirable.
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Expert: Here are 5 tech trends to watch in housing in 2020

Expert: Here are 5 tech trends to watch in housing in 2020
As we move toward the new year, many experts and economists are forecasting the housing market will continue to see growth. Now, one expert looks at the technology advancements we will see in 2020.

HousingWire sat down with Steve Butler, AI Foundry president and founder, who gave five trends to watch for artificial intelligence in 2020.

Recently, HousingWire sat down with Butler to talk about AI, where he predicted that within just two years, the majority of mortgage originations won’t need a human to touch them.

Now, Butler is expanding on his thoughts for AI with five predictions for 2020:

1. AI enables “Minimal human hands” on loans

Due to advancements in AI and machine learning, within the next two years, we will see the majority of mortgage loans get manufactured and sold off to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with very little human involvement. It will be a much more automated, mechanized process, driven by AI. In a recent article in Forbes, Keith Polaski, Radius Financial Group co-founder and chief operating officer, said that his company’s goal is to deliver all of its loans without a human touch to secondary mortgage market buyers like Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

2. AI becomes vertical-specific

We will see the adoption of vertical-specific intelligent robots that have the level of industry expertise required for mortgage processing. These intelligent robots will play a key role in the process. More companies will turn to mortgage-specific robots with embedded industry knowledge. According to an Inc. Magazine story, five billion-dollar industries that will be impacted by AI include: real estate, automotive, education, customer service and IoT.

3. AI drives digital transformation to new levels

The mortgage process is very paper-based and analog. However, robots need digital data – solutions that can turn analog processes into digital ones will help the mortgage industry make new advances in digital transformation, replacing many of the old analog processes that have been used for decades (e.g. thousands of paper documents, verbal conversations to check and re-check information, emails and written communication throughout the loan process.)

4. AI skills elevate executive careers

An increasing number of mortgage executives will reach proficient level on AI as they embrace learning and using AI technologies. These new AI-savvy executives will enhance their careers, separate from their peers, and create opportunities to improve their business. For example, Polaski stated in this Forbes story that by using AI, his company has reduced their loan manufacturing cost by 70%.

5. AI creates “virtual assembly lines” 

The mortgage office will change and begin to look more and more like a series of connected robots accomplishing discrete functions on the loan lifecycle. A “loan assembly line” will begin to take shape.
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Mortgage Tech Rundown: Openly, roOomy, and Wolters Kluwer

Mortgage Tech Rundown: Openly, roOomy, and Wolters Kluwer
Mortgage Tech Rundown looks at the latest news in mortgage technology, featuring new product updates, integrations and announcements.

Tech-enabled home insurance provider Openly launched on Tuesday, equipped with $7.6 million from its seed round of funding. The company said in a press release it aims to simplify the home insurance buying process by empowering home insurance agents.

In order to do so, Openly plans to sell its up-market home insurance exclusively through independent insurance agents, rather than using technology to completely remove them from the process.

“Our goal is to help agents as they work to modernize their businesses,” said Ty Harris, the CEO, and co-founder of Openly. “We let them offer their customers better, faster and more economical products with comprehensive insurance protection for a wide range of needs.”

roOomy, a technology company that offers virtual staging services and 3D modeling and rendering for interior design, announced a partnership with home furnishing company Havertys to enhance the home selling and buying process.

Through the partnership, Havertys has launched the Designer Application, which is a custom interior design tool that enables its design consultants to transform 2D images of their customers’ rooms to assist in creating photorealistic 3D renderings.

“Often, the problem with redesigning any room is visualization – it’s difficult to picture how the room might look like with new furnishings or to imagine how it will all fit together,” roOmy said in a press release. “But that’s a thing of the past – with Havertys latest offering consumers will be able to visualize the entire room like never before.”

Wolters Kluwer, a Netherlands based information and financial services company, launched a new consumer lending offering that aims to enhance the online loan origination capabilities of U.S. community banks and credit unions.

The offering, Online Applications for Consumer Lending, is powered by Temenos Infinity, the digital front office product from banking software provider Temenos.

By integrating seamlessly with Wolters Kluwer’s ComplianceOne solution, the offering allows consumers to begin a loan application from any digital device, at any time.

“Until now, community banks and credit unions had few options available for providing online consumer loan applications, other than to build their own in-house functionality,” said Steven Meirink, the executive vice president of Wolters Kluwer Compliance Solutions. “Online Applications for Consumer Lending helps level the playing field with larger institutions and internet-only banks, delivering an appealing consumer design and high-tech experience without a heavy technology investment.”
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CoreLogic expects home prices to do this in the next 12 months

CoreLogic expects home prices to do this in the next 12 months
Nationally, home prices increased 3.5% year over year in October, according to CoreLogic‘s latest Home Price Index Report.

To be more specific, prices rose on lower-priced homes. A big trend seen in the 2019 housing market was tight inventory in both single-family and multifamily, creating an increase in prices.

The lowest priced home tier increased 5.5% year over year in October 2019, compared to 4.7% for the low- to middle-price tier, 4% for the middle- to moderate-price tier, and 3.1% for the high-price tier, according to CoreLogic.

(Image courtesy of CoreLogic. Click to enlarge.)

Going forward, CoreLogic expects home prices to increase 5.4% from October 2019 to October 2020.

Over the last six months, home prices have been increasing from between 3.2% to 3.5%, which means the rate of home price growth is leveling off.

In September this year, home prices rose 3.5% compared to September last year. At the time, CoreLogic predicted home prices will increase by 5.6%, come September 2020.

Idaho saw the largest and highest amount of price increase, with annual home price appreciation of 10.9% in October 2019.

Connecticut saw the lowest price appreciation increase, hovering just around zero. Connecticut home prices in October 2019 were also the farthest below their all-time HPI high, still 16.5% below the July 2006 peak.

(Image courtesy of CoreLogic. Click to enlarge.)

Overall, home prices in 41 states (including the District of Columbia) have risen above their nominal pre-crisis peaks, CoreLogic states.

While annual price increases slowed in 38 states compared to 2018, prices in Nevada increased by 3.2% year over year in October 2019, an 8.7-percentage-point tick down from the 11.9% annual increase in October 2018, signaling a slow down.
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Mortgage credit eases in November, MBA says

Mortgage credit eases in November, MBA says
It became easier to get a mortgage in November, according to data published Thursday by Mortgage Bankers Association.

The group’s Mortgage Credit Availability Index rose 2.1% to 188.9 last month, indicating a loosening of credit standards. It was close to the 11-year high of 189.5 in June, according to MBA. November’s reading was the third-highest reading of the post-crash years.

“Credit availability rose for the third straight month in November, with an increase in supply across all loan types,” said Joel Kan, an MBA economist. “Expanding credit availability will continue to support active levels in mortgage lending, even as refinance activity starts to level off.”

Measuring credit availability by loan type, the government MCAI that includes loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, the Veterans Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture saw its first increase in nine months. The improvement was “driven by streamline refinance programs,” MBA said in a statement.

The Conforming MCAI that measures loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rose 0.2% after declining through most of 2019.

The biggest jumps were in the two indices measuring private-label mortgages. MBA’s Conventional MCAI, including mortgages not backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the FHA, the VA or the USDA, rose 1.4% and the Jumbo MCAI rose 2.2%.

“Most notably, the jumbo index climbed to yet another record high, as investors increased their willingness to purchase loans with lower credit scores and higher LTV ratios,” MBA’s Kan said.

The MBA’s credit availability indices analyze data from Ellie Mae’s AllRegs Market Clarity covering several factors related to borrower eligibility such as credit scores, loan type, and loan-to-value ratios. The data comes from over 95 lenders and investors, MBA said.

Low mortgage rates will push home lending this year to a 12-year high of $2.07 trillion, MBA said in a Nov. 20 forecast. Refinancing probably will reach $796 billion, the most since 2016, MBA said.
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Business Continuity: Have a Plan

Business Continuity: Have a Plan
Earlier this year, while Americans across the country were still celebrating July 4th, Jaime Kosofsky and his staff woke the following day to learn that a fire had gutted Brady & Kosofsky’s main office in Matthews, N.C.
Kosofsky, a partner with the law firm, said that within minutes of arriving on scene, the executive management team activated the firm’s Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plan (BCP). The law firm relocated everyone to an alternate location as detailed in its BCP. The team contacted the proper parties, which made it possible for the firm to be open for business that day.
“This was a devastating blow to our team, however because of their commitment to compliance with our compliance management system, we were able to work through what could have been the end of Brady & Kosofsky,” Kosofsky said. “We are in great shape, our temporary office was up and running, and our new office was recently built.”
Having a business continuity plan is essential to keeping an operation going following a disaster. Being prepared to manage disaster recovery can greatly minimize business disruption. The third pillar of ALTA’s Title Insurance and Settlement Company Best Practices encourages title professionals to have a disaster management plan in place to help protect non-public personal information (NPI). To find a company to help with business continuity, go to alta.org/marketplace.
Despite the destruction, Kosofsky said that there was no data or document loss due to the firm’s move to a paperless office. The fire did extensive damage to the IT infrastructure and phone system, but the main number was forwarded to a cell phone.
Kosofsky said his firm’s first line of defense were the policies and procedures that were developed more than five years ago.
“While it was great to have this all on paper and in writing, it was the culture of compliance at our firm which really paid off and protected us,” he said. “Our employees took the adoption of our policies and procedures very seriously and take a great deal of pride from being an integral part of our security and compliance system.”
As the fire burned, the firm’s chief financial officer contacted Brady & Kosofsky’s managed service provider to get an assessment of data loss since the servers were in the building that burned. The good news was that data backups were stored in a data center some 1,000 miles from the fire.
“We knew the extent of the data loss before the fire was out. That took a lot of pressure off,” Kosofsky said.
The next concern was how quickly the firm could reopen and replace lost equipment. The CFO contacted the insurance company, filed a claim and got clearance from the adjuster to order equipment necessary to get the company operational.
Since the firm’s BCP required employees with laptops to take them home, only two of them were lost in the fire. The company then set up a war room in the building next door and relied on the BCP to formulate next steps such as contacting employees, and getting email, its title production system and other IT resources running again.
After figuring out who could work remotely, the leadership team secured alternate workspace, furniture and equipment necessary to continue business within two days. Clients were then contacted with alternate email and phone numbers.
In retrospect, Kosofksy says the law firm needed a stronger plan for restoring its phone system and will move its entire data infrastructure into the cloud, which will allow the company to rebound immediately following the next catastrophe.
“Our BCP/Compliance Policies have a strict clean-desk policy for anything containing NPI or other sensitive information,” Kosofsky said. “So, having that along with having employees take their computers home at night really paid off.”
A BCP doesn’t happen quickly. Reviewing these procedures ahead of a disaster can help your company find the weak points in the organization and let you proactively fix them.  This will give you best shot of success after an unexpected event.  We can always rebuild the network and we know the data is secure. The most important part was the communication between B&K and Premier One to make sure that they were up and running the next day. 
Kansas-based Premier One helped B&K develop its business continuity plan. Shawn Fox, director of sales and marketing for Premier One, said a BCP can't be developed quickly. Reviewing procedures ahead of a disaster will help a company find the weak points and to proactively fix them. "This will give you best shot of success after an unexpected event," Fox added. "We can always rebuild the network and we know the data is secure. The most important part was the communication between B&K and Premier One to make sure that the law firm was up and running the next day." 
How to Develop a Business Continuity Plan
According to ready.gov, the development of a business continuity plan includes a business impact analysis (BIA). This predicts the consequences of disruption of each business function and process and gathers information needed to develop recovery strategies. This involves identifying time-sensitive or critical business functions and processes and the resources that support them.
The BIA should identify the operational and financial impacts resulting from the disruption of business functions and processes. Impacts to consider include:

Lost sales and income
Delayed sales or income
Increased expenses (e.g., overtime labor, outsourcing, expediting costs, etc.)
Regulatory fines
Contractual penalties or loss of contractual bonuses
Customer dissatisfaction or defection
Delay of new business plans

The BIA should identify the critical business processes and resources needed for the business to continue to function at different levels. A BIA questionnaire can be used to survey office managers within the company.
Scenarios resulting in significant business interruption should be assessed in terms of financial impact, if possible. These costs should be compared with the costs for possible recovery strategies.
The BIA report also should prioritize the order of events for restoration of the business. Business processes with the greatest operational and financial impacts should be restored first.
Recovery Strategies
If an office is damaged and business is impacted, financial losses can quickly begin to grow. Recovery strategies are alternative means to restore business operations to a minimum acceptable level following a business disruption and are prioritized by the recovery time objectives (RTO) developed during the business impact analysis.
Recovery strategies require resources including people, facilities, equipment, materials and information technology. An analysis of the resources required to execute recovery strategies should be conducted to identify gaps. For example, if an office is destroyed by a natural disaster but other offices are readily available to make up lost production, then there is no resource gap.
Strategies may involve contracting with third parties, entering into partnership or reciprocal agreements or displacing other activities within the company. Staff with in-depth knowledge of business functions and processes are in the best position to determine what will work. Possible alternatives should be explored and presented to management for approval and to decide how much to spend.
Depending upon the size of the company and resources available, there may be many recovery strategies that can be explored.
Utilization of other owned or controlled facilities performing similar work is one option. Operations may be relocated to an alternate site. This strategy also assumes that the surviving site has the resources and capacity to assume the work of the impacted site. Prioritization of production or service levels, providing additional staff and resources and other action would be needed if capacity at the second site is inadequate.
Telecommuting is a strategy employed when staff can work remotely from home. It can be used in combination with other strategies to reduce alternate site requirements. This strategy requires ensuring telecommuters have a suitable home work environment and are equipped with or have access to a computer with required applications and data, peripherals and a secure broadband connection. It’s also a good idea to test this strategy from time to time by having employees work a day or to per month remotely.
Partnership or reciprocal agreements can be arranged with other businesses or organizations that can support each other in the event of a disaster. Assuming space is available, issues such as the capacity and connectivity of telecommunications and information technology, protection of privacy and intellectual property, the impacts to each other’s operation and allocating expenses must be addressed. Agreements should be negotiated in writing and documented in the business continuity plan. Periodic review of the agreement is needed to determine if there is a change in the ability of each party to support the other.
There are many vendors that support business continuity and information recovery strategies.
External suppliers can provide a full business environment, including office space and live data centers ready to be occupied. Other options include provision of technology-equipped office trailers, replacement machinery and other equipment. The availability and cost of these options can be affected when a regional disaster results in competition for these resources.
Plan Development

Develop plan framework
Organize recovery teams
Develop relocation plans
Write business continuity and information technology (IT) disaster recovery procedures: IT includes many components such as networks, servers, desktop and laptop computers and wireless devices. The ability to run both office productivity and enterprise software is critical. Therefore, IT recovery strategies should be developed so technology can be restored in time to meet the needs of the business. Manual workarounds should be part of the IT plan so business can continue while computer systems are being restored.
Document manual workarounds: If the staff is equipped with paper order forms, order processing can continue until the electronic system comes back up and no phone orders will be lost. Identify the steps in the automated process, creating a diagram of the process can help.
Assemble plan, validate and gain management approval
Testing and Exercises
Develop testing, exercise and maintenance requirements
Conduct training for business continuity team
Conduct orientation exercises
Conduct testing and document results
Update Business Continuity Plan to incorporate lessons learned from testing and exercises.

Developing an IT Disaster Recovery Plan
Part of any business recovery strategy should include an IT disaster recovery plan. This begins by compiling an inventory of hardware (e.g. servers, desktops, laptops and wireless devices), software applications and data. The plan should include a strategy to ensure that all critical information is backed up.
Identify critical software applications and data and the client and server hardware required to run them. Using standardized hardware will help to replicate and reimage new computers. Ensure that copies of program software are available to enable reinstallation on replacement equipment. Prioritize hardware and software restoration. Document the IT disaster recovery plan as part of the business continuity plan. Test the plan periodically to make sure that it works.
Data Backup
Businesses generate large amounts of data and data files are changing throughout the workday. Data can be lost, corrupted, compromised or stolen through hardware failure, human error, hacking and malware. Loss or corruption of data could result in significant business disruption.
Data backup and recovery should be an integral part of the business continuity plan and information technology disaster recovery plan. Developing a data backup strategy begins with identifying what data to backup, selecting and implementing hardware and software backup procedures, scheduling and conducting backups and periodically validating that data has been accurately backed up.
Developing the Data Backup Plan
Identify data on network servers, desktop computers, laptop computers and wireless devices that need to be backed up along with other hard copy records and information. The plan should include regularly scheduled backups from wireless devices, laptop computers and desktop computers to a remote network server. Data on the server can then be backed up. Backing up hard copy vital records can be accomplished by scanning paper documents into digital formats and allowing them to be backed up along with other digital data.
Options for Data Backup
Many vendors offer online data backup services including storage in the “cloud.” When backup systems are installed and properly configured, software installed on the client server or computer is automatically backed up.
Large-capacity USB drives with integrated data backup software also are effective means for businesses to backup data. The frequency of backups, security of the backups and secure off-site storage should be addressed in the plan. Backups should be stored with the same level of security as the original data.
Data should be backed up as frequently as necessary to ensure that, if data is lost, it is not inaccessible to the business. The business impact analysis should evaluate the potential for lost data and define the “recovery point objective.” Data restoration times should be confirmed and compared with the IT and business function recovery time objectives.
Source: blog.alta.org