Kamala Harris, potential VP pick, played hardball with banks during financial crisis cleanup

Kamala Harris, potential VP pick, played hardball with banks during financial crisis cleanup

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), a leading candidate to become former Vice President Joe Biden’s pick for his running mate, has a rocky history with the mortgage industry.

Eight years ago she became known as the toughest negotiator among the 49 state attorneys general who went up against the nation’s biggest banks to secure a $25 billion settlement for mortgage servicing violations such as robo-signing and predatory lending practices that contributed to the foreclosure crisis.

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Keller Williams’ social equality task force addresses unconscious bias after Facebook group controversy

Keller Williams’ social equality task force addresses unconscious bias after Facebook group controversy
Controversy erupted in a Keller Williams Facebook group this week related to the use of the terms ‘monkey’ and ‘monkey mind’ in Keller Williams‘ BOLD Pivot training sessions.

Last month, Keller Williams launched its BOLD Pivot training via KW MAPS Coaching for agents across the U.S, formatted digitally. Coinciding with the paid training sessions is admission to Keller Williams’ private Facebook group for BOLD Pivot training, which boasts more than 40,000 members.

“Don’t listen to your monkey mind,” is one phrase used in the training that was published on its BOLD Pivot website. The term ‘monkey mind’ references a Buddhist concept related to meditation, but surprised some of the Keller Williams group when they encountered it in the context of the BOLD Pivot training.

The Facebook group discussion generated hundreds of comments and included some agents who found that and related terms offensive, while others defended their use or did not want to have a discussion about it in that setting. Many of those disturbed by the phrase called on Keller to address the issue directly, since he had recently set up a task force “to come forward with recommendations for action to eliminate any racial disparity within our company, our industry, and how we can lead the way in the communities where we live and work.”

As of Thursday afternoon, the ‘monkey mind’ language appeared to be gone and on Friday a Keller Williams spokesperson confirmed to HousingWire that the materials in question had been taken down and will be refreshed with new materials for the next training session.

“That’s a constant evolution,” said Kymber Menkiti, Keller Williams Regional Director for Maryland and Washington D.C. and co-chair of the task force, in an interview with HousingWire. “We’re constantly looking at ways that the material can be improved and I think the next session is in a couple of weeks since I think we’ll see all of that be represented there.”

In an email to Keller Williams agents on Thursday, Monica Reynolds, the vice president of KW MAPS Coaching and BOLD, addressed the discussion on the Facebook page, ultimately announcing that the page itself would be taken down sooner than planned. The page was originally set to be taken down at the end of June, when the program ended.

“Our communities – and the world – are going through an important time, which has spurred thoughtful introspection and conversation around persistent racism and inequality in many, including all of us here at Keller Williams,” the email began. “And, we’ve seen important conversations happen in our BOLD Pivot Facebook Group. One such conversation happened recently around the wording of a BOLD Law. While the law in question was already being looked at, with actions underway to address it, we fully recognize there is still much work to be done.”

On May 31 Keller sent an email to agents creating the KW Social Equality Task Force and outlined the company’s approach to racial inequality.

“The truth is that racial injustice and inequality persists,” Keller said in the email. “And, in order to help change that, it’s critical to not only say something about it, but to do something about it. I believe that the real estate community has a unique opportunity to promote healing and reform. The first step is reflection and thoughtful self-examination. Then, we listen. We learn. We speak up. That’s how change happens. We know many of you are past this stage. And, from you, we need your leadership.”

The task force is comprised of over 100 members nationwide and over 800 members on the regional level. The sub-task force groups will meet daily, then meet with the national group again in two weeks.

“Everything from community impact, how do we support homeownership, how do we help increase the number of Black associates in the industry to…marketing unconscious bias [and] how do we impact that leadership, so there’s lots of just different ideas that started to come, that was sort of the first domino,” Menkiti said. “And our goal is now in the next week, those groups will continue to identify real tangible ways that they can impact change.”

The KW Social Equality Task Force had its first meeting on Thursday, in which they discussed unconscious bias within the company, addressing the conversations held on Facebook this week.

“Now, one of our pieces is around marketing and just thinking about how things are perceived and unconscious bias and structures, how are they received and perceived by different groups of people and how can we address those?” Menkiti asked. “Because I certainly think BOLD laws, [and] different communications will all be looked at through that task force.”
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CoreLogic: 7.4 million homes are at risk during hurricane season

CoreLogic: 7.4 million homes are at risk during hurricane season
In a time where the COVID-19 pandemic has caused financially-strapped homeowners to put mortgages and other loans into forbearance, what will happen when they’ll need it because of a natural disaster?

Case in point, it’s hurricane season.

Last year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said there were at least 14 events – including hurricanes, tornadoes, hailstorms, floods, earthquakes and wildfires – that resulted in losses exceeding $1 billion in the U.S.

The 2020 CoreLogic Storm Surge Report revealed that today, nearly 7.4 million single- and multifamily homes with more than $1.8 trillion in combined reconstruction cost value are at risk of storm surge and possible mandatory evacuation – during a precarious time when the country continues to face the challenges of a global pandemic.

Last year, when wildfires ripped through California and hurricanes slammed the Texas coast, a study from Simple Dollar showed that 47% of Americans purchased home or rental insurance, while 31% didn’t even know if they had home or rental insurance.

By the week ending June 26, there were 4.68 million homeowners with forbearance plans, meaning their mortgage payments are temporarily suspended, up 79,000 from the prior week, according to Black Knight. The total represents 8.8% of all active mortgages, up from 8.7% the week before, the report said.

So what are homeowners left to do when they already have a mortgage in forbearance from COVID-19?

According to a Freddie Mac spokesperson, the company’s borrowers are able to extend forbearances again.

“Under the CARES Act, a borrower affected by COVID-19 is eligible for up to 12 months of forbearance,” the spokesperson said. “Under our servicing guidelines, a borrower who completes a forbearance period, brings their loan current, and then experiences a subsequent disaster-related hardship may be eligible for up to another 12 months of forbearance.”

In terms of impacting credit and future loan payments, Freddie Mac said it advises borrowers to contact their servicers to discuss ways to bring their account current, including a potential mortgage modification. Certain borrowers may also be eligible for a payment deferral.
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Private equity firm ASG acquires AI-powered startup Homebot

Private equity firm ASG acquires AI-powered startup Homebot
Homebot, an AI-driven mortgage lending and real estate software provider, has been acquired by private equity firm ASG for an undisclosed amount.

Denver-based Homebot, a 2020 HW Tech100 Mortgage winner, has created a financial dashboard aimed at helping lenders get repeat and referral business by facilitating “meaningful engagement between lenders and their clients.”

The startup, which says it helps homeowners maximize their wealth, raised $4.5 million in 2017 in a seed round led by Black Knight Financial Services. 

CEO Ernie Graham and CIO Ira McMahon cofounded the company in 2015 after their experience doing research and product development at realtor.com. Their goal was to develop a data and communication tool that all parties involved in a home transaction – homeowner, mortgage lender and real estate agent – could use.

Today, Homebot serves thousands of loan officers nationwide and achieves an average 50% monthly engagement rate across millions of homeowners with an unsubscribe rate of less than 2%. 

The current Homebot leadership team – Graham, McMahon, and COO Michael Lynch – will continue to lead the business along with Charlie Pratt, who joins as CRO. According to ASG, all of Homebot’s 50-plus employees will remain with “no employee changes at this time.”

The acquiring firm, ASG, is a portfolio company of Alpine Investors that buys, builds and operates vertical SaaS (software-as-a-service) companies. The buy of Homebot marks ASG’s second in the proptech space and first expansion into residential real estate software, according to Mark Strauch, partner at Alpine Investors and cofounder of ASG.

“The U.S. homeownership market is valued at $30 trillion but is a largely ‘unmanaged’ asset class,” Strauch said in a written statement. “Homebot is changing that…and we look forward to continuing their already impressive growth.”

ASG declined to comment on Homebot’s financial metrics.

GLC Advisors served as the financial advisor for Homebot in the transaction.

In late May, ASG also acquired WorkSpace, a commercial real estate software company that works to enable business teams “to make value-based decisions.”

Earlier this week, real estate tech startup OJO Labs announced the close of a $62.5 million funding round and the acquisition of Movoto, a residential real estate search site. OJO Labs also uses AI by combining human and machine intelligence to provide personalized property recommendations and insights.
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Startup profile: AREAL.ai

Startup profile: AREAL.ai
Taken from the June issue of HousingWire Magazine, the startup profile on AREAL.ai looks at a company seeking to disrupt the loan approval process. AREAL.ai is looking to minimize the need for human interaction in the origination process.

Launched this year in the midst of the pandemic, AREAL.ai restructured into a soft-launch by opening up its website and sending out update emails after its plans to launch at MBA Annual were disrupted.

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CoreLogic reviewing $7 billion acquisition bid

CoreLogic reviewing billion acquisition bid
CoreLogic is reviewing an unsolicited $7 billion acquisition bid from Cannae Holdings and Senator Investment Group, LP, which own 15 percent of the outstanding shares of CoreLogic. Read on to learn more.
Source: thetitlereport.com

Mortgage forbearances rise after three weeks of decline

Mortgage forbearances rise after three weeks of decline
Mortgage forbearances rose this week after three consecutive declines, Black Knight said in a report on Friday.

There were 4.68 million homeowners with forbearance plans this week, meaning their mortgage payments are temporarily suspended, up 79,000 from the prior week, Black Knight said. The total represents 8.8% of all active mortgages, up from 8.7%, the report said.

Broken out by investor types, 6.9% of mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are in forbearance, up from 6.8% last week. That’s a total of 1.93 million mortgages with $405 billion in unpaid principal, the report said.

The forbearance share for home loans backed the Federal Housing Administration was 14.7%, up from 14.3%, and the share for mortgages backed by the Veterans Administration was 7.5%, up from 7.3%, according to Black Knight.

Together, the FHA and VA loans represent $258 billion of unpaid principal, the mortgage data firm said.

In addition, there are 1.5 million private-market mortgages in forbearance, representing a 9.6% share, up from 9.5% last week, Black Knight said.

Private-market mortgages aren’t backed by a government agency or a GSE. They could be jumbo mortgages held by banks or home loans packaged into private-label bonds. The unpaid principal balance for those mortgages is $361 billion.

At this week’s level for all types of mortgages in forbearance, servicers need to advance a combined $5.7 billion a month in principal and interest payments to holders of government-backed mortgage securities on COVID-19-related forbearances, the report said.

In April, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said servicers handling GSE-backed mortgages were only required to advance four months of missed payments for loans in forbearance. After that, the servicer is under “no further obligation to advance scheduled payments,” the agency said.
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