Doug Duncan to speak at Engage Marketing June 17

Doug Duncan to speak at Engage Marketing June 17
Economists came into their own last year as their ability to model likely future scenarios and interpret the numbers were crucial to lenders surviving and thriving in the pandemic. That information is still critical this year, that’s why we’ve invited Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae, to speak at HousingWire’s virtual Engage Marketing event on June 17. 

At Fannie Mae, Duncan is responsible for forecasts and analyses of the economy and the housing and mortgage markets. He also oversees strategic research regarding the potential impact of external factors on the housing industry and serves as the Chair of the Fannie Mae Corporate House Price Forecast Working Group.

Under Duncan’s leadership, Fannie Mae’s Economic & Strategic Research Group (ESR) won the NABE Outlook Award, presented annually for the most accurate GDP and Treasury note yield forecasts, in both 2015 and 2016 – the first recipient in the award’s history to capture the honor two years in a row. In addition, ESR was recognized by Pulsenomics for best home price forecast.

At Engage, Duncan will sit down with HousingWire CEO Clayton Collins for a Q&A on Understanding the Current Market.

Named one of Bloomberg/BusinessWeek’s 50 Most Powerful People in Real Estate, Duncan is Fannie Mae’s source for information and analyses on demographics and the external business and economic environment; the implications of changes in economic activity on the company’s strategy and execution; and for forecasting overall housing, economic and mortgage market activity.

Prior to joining Fannie Mae, Duncan was senior vice president and chief economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association. His experience also includes work on the Financial Institutions Project at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and service as a LEGIS Fellow and staff member with the Committee on Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs for Rep. Bill McCollum, R-Florida.

The event will feature a keynote by renowned speaker coach René Rodriguez. Rodriguez, CEO of Volentum and creator of the AMPLIFII Influencer events, will lead a hands-on workshop on how to practically apply his proprietary AMPLIFII Formula to achieve maximum influence. Participants will walk away with immediately applicable skills that they can use in their day-to-day work.

HousingWire’s fourth-annual Engage Marketing event will also feature experts focused on the specifics of mortgage and real estate in a purchase market. While appetite for refinance loans is projected to plunge in the second half of the year, a huge demographic wave of first-time homebuyers is looking to join the market — assuming they can find a house to buy.

The challenges of helping consumers become homeowners in this housing market is why we’ve designed our virtual event around “All Eyes on Purchase.” Some of our sessions include:

Marketing to reach a diverse audienceWorking with referral partners to make winning offersBuilding a personal brandSpecific sessions on LinkedIn, Instagram, Clubhouse and TikTokand more!

The summit is designed for our HW+ members, who get access to all HousingWire premium content, including events, articles, an exclusive Slack community, and more. Not a member? You can sign up for HW+ membership and register for the summit here, or get event-only access for your company or team here.
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Old Republic reports healthy 1Q revenue after rough 2020

Old Republic reports healthy 1Q revenue after rough 2020
Title giant Old Republic saw massive first quarter 2021 gains, reporting a 40% year-over-year growth in title insurance premiums and fees.

The company posted a total operating revenue of $2.3 billion for the first quarter 2021 — up from only $764 million in the first quarter of 2020. Income was reported at $502 million, a huge recovery from the first quarter of 2020 when Old Republic reported a loss of $605 million.

Total expenses for the first quarter were $1.7 billion, a 12.4% increase from the first quarter of 2020.

Old Republic’s title insurance segment notched $978 million in operating revenue in the first quarter of 2021, a 40% increase over the $690.7 million from the same quarter a year ago. Its income in the segment checked in at $103.7 million, a 139% gain from the $43.3 million registered during Q1 2020. Claim costs came in at $29.2 million, 35.8% over the $21.5 million from Q1 2020.

President and CEO Craig Smiddyori called the company’s first quarter “exceptional,” and the company noted the increases were “driven by a continued low interest rate environment and a robust real estate market, resulting in an increase in both purchase transactions and refinance activity.”

“Having begun the year with a solid foundation, we remain optimistic for the remainder of the year,” Smiddyori said during Old Republic’s earnings call. “Mortgage rates are expected to remain near historic lows throughout 2021, providing a catalyst for continued robust real estate market, and although refinance transactions are projected to drop over 35%, this is in comparison to 2020’s record-setting volume.

“Relatively speaking, will still be at a healthy level.”

Old Republic, based in Chicago, saw a total of $670 million in net income in 2020, excluding investment gains or losses, up 21% from $554 million in 2019. For all of 2020, the company reported a 20% increase in title insurance income, rounding out at $3.29 billion — compared to $2.74 billion in 2019.

The company noted that general insurance premiums increased slightly compared to the first quarter of 2020, when the impact of the pandemic was not yet reflected.

The company’s board of directors announced in February a regular quarterly cash dividend of 22 cents per common share to shareholders, as well as full-year cash dividend of 88 cents per share. That’s up from 84 cents paid in 2020 — the 40th consecutive year Old Republic boosted its shares.

“Shareholders’ equity rose to $6.45 billion, and book value per share grew to $21.59,” said Karl W. Muellerori, Old Republic CFO and vice president, in the earnings call. “That’s about a 5.1% increase for the quarter, inclusive of all regular dividends.”

Last year saw a boon for title agencies across the board, as insurers wrote $19.2 billion in premiums in 2020 — a nearly 22% increase from the $15.8 billion in 2019. Interestingly, though, Old Republic saw a drop in its marketshare from 2019 (15.4%) to 2020(15%).
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Forbearance slides to 4.47% after a lackluster week of exits

Forbearance slides to 4.47% after a lackluster week of exits
The total number of servicers’ loans in forbearance fell for the ninth straight week. However, due to a slowdown in exits, forbearance portfolio volume dipped just two basis points last week to an average of 4.47%, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Several investor types were down by just a single digit basis points, with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans falling two points to 2.42%, while Ginnie Mae loans slid seven basis points to 6.02%.

On the other hand, the forbearance share for portfolio loans and private-label securities (PLS) increased by 13 basis points to 8.55%.

“The increase in the forbearance share for portfolio and PLS loans highlights both the ongoing buyouts of delinquent loans from Ginnie Mae pools as well as an increased share for other loans that are not federally backed,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s senior vice president and chief economist.

Overall, the uneven scale of entries and expirations pushed the rate of exits to the lowest level since February, the MBA said. By stage, 12.8% of total loans in forbearance are in the initial forbearance plan stage, while 82.3% are in a forbearance extension. The remaining 4.9% are forbearance re-entries.

Of the cumulative forbearance exits for the period from June 1, 2020, through April 25, 2021, 25.3% represented borrowers who continued to make their monthly payments during their forbearance period. For months now this number has been inversely dropping against a rising percentage of borrowers who did not make all of their monthly payments and exited forbearance without a loss mitigation plan in place yet — which is back up to 14.6% as of last week.

However, a shift in the past month saw the greater population of exits were those that resulted in loan deferral/partial claim. Last week those loans reached 27% of exits. Since the MBA began tracking these numbers, up-to-date borrowers had previously always made up the greatest share, though it is likely the population of the borrowers left in their plans are those that needed aid the most.

While exits have been lackluster the previous two weeks, a number of dates are on the horizon for large scale exits (or at least reviews) of forbearance plans.

According to data analytics provider Black Knight, about 890,000 exit plans, many of which will be 15-month reviews for early forbearance entrants, will take place in June. This will represent the last round of quarterly reviews before the first wave outstanding forbearance plans is slated for their 18-month – and as for now, final – expiration at the end of September, Black Knight noted.

While servicers continue to help work through the 2.23 million homeowners the MBA estimates are still in forbearance plans, Fratantoni is confident the economy is ready for a return to normalcy.

“Job market and housing market data remain strong. We expect that further gains in hiring will help to support many homeowners as they exit forbearance in the months ahead,” Fratantoni said.
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FHFA finalizes rule on living wills for Fannie and Freddie

FHFA finalizes rule on living wills for Fannie and Freddie
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) finalized a rule on Monday that will require Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to develop plans that would ensure upon their eventual exit from conservatorship, they won’t do any large scale harm to the financial system.

Should the FHFA be appointed receiver for the government-sponsored entities under the Housing and Economic Recovery act of 2008 (HERA), the so-called “living wills” would facilitate a “rapid and orderly resolution” from conservatorship, the agency said Monday.

After the capital rule, the finalization of the living will rule is one of the last major regulatory pieces needed to give effect to Congress’ intent in HERA, said Mark Calabria, Director of the FHFA.

“Just like other large financial institutions, these plans will provide Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHFA with a roadmap for preserving business continuity should they fail again,” said Calabria. “This rule helps create a stronger, more resilient housing finance system by protecting taxpayers and the mortgage market from harm if either Enterprise fails.”

Under the new final rule, the FHFA is requiring:

The GSEs identify their core business lines (CBL) that would be most important to continue operating, including any services, functions or support the CBL requires The GSEs must submit their initial resolution plans two years after the release date of the final rule and subsequent resolution plans must be submitted every two years after thatA strategic plan must be drafted out by Fannie and Freddie that would require them to identify weaknesses or roadblocks that could cause broader economic harm, and how to address them

The final rule also requires a number of assumptions be made throughout the planning process, including that exiting conservatorship could have severe adverse economic effects and the GSEs can no longer assume “extraordinary support” from the U.S. government. By prohibiting that assumption, the FHFA alluded that the Senior Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements (PSPAs) with the U.S. Department of the Treasury may be negatively perceived as too much support from the government.

At the same time the Enterprises entered conservatorship, the PSPA was designed to provide each Enterprise financial support up to a specified amount. Because this agreement was contractual, both Fannie and Freddie publicly commented on the proposed rule released in December for further clarification on PSPAs.

“There is the potential for ambiguity regarding the scope of the assumption,” Fannie Mae said. “To eliminate this ambiguity, Fannie Mae believes that the final rule should clarify that this prohibited assumption means that the PSPAs would be assumed to have been terminated in their entirety. This would include being able to assume that without the PSPAs there are no restrictions on the Enterprises’ freedom to raise debt or equity or transfer all or any portion of their assets without the U.S. Treasury Department’s consent, and that the senior preferred stock will have been retired at no additional cost to the Enterprises.”

Freddie Mac responded in a similar fashion, noting its concerns over the distinction between support that might be provided and support that is already secured.

Calabria had previously commented on the need for another round of PSPA amendments in a panel at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s spring conference, noting the regulator was taking a close look at the current agreements.

“So for us to really be able to bring in the kind of capital that we needed to Fannie and Freddie for them to be able to support the mortgage market, we need to restructure the balance sheet, and that needs to be another round of PSPA and of course all the things in the PSPA are on the table,” he said. “I think it’s also worth remembering that the PSPAs themselves are not meant to be permanent, these are temporary bridges to getting Fannie and Freddie fully capitalized.”

Overall, the final rule is similar to a rule issued by both the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation under the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which requires many large financial institutions to submit living wills.

The FHFA said it will work with the Enterprises when developing their initial plan which will be partially made public, while other areas will remain confidential.
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Agents National Title named fastest-growing underwriter

Agents National Title named fastest-growing underwriter
Agents National Title Insurance Co. was the fastest-growing title insurance underwriter in the U.S. last year, according to a market share analysis from the American Land Title Association. Read on for more about the company’s growth.

HousingWire Magazine: May 2021

HousingWire Magazine: May 2021

While they’ve long been the backbone of companies trying to navigate the cyclical nature of the industry, housing finance executives took center stage last year. With housing demand already high, the Federal Reserve introduced a new quantitative easing program in response to the COVID-19 crisis that pushed mortgage rates to historical lows and the housing market reacted in a way that no one saw coming – it flourished. 

Then, on top of all of this, the events of last year created a race to file for IPO from the top mortgage and real estate players, creating even more liquidity for the heavy hitters in the industry. 

HousingWire’s newest award program recognizes the 40 housing finance executives who are driving financial performance, expanding margins, improving liquidity, helping their businesses access the capital markets, and most importantly, moving the housing economy forward.

And to get a detailed synopsis of the secondary market that these executives were having to plan around, go to page 40. This feature compares the 2008 financial crisis to the pandemic’s impact on the capital markets, outlining the massive shift in market share by lenders. Despite the roller coaster that was 2020, the author of the story, John Toohig, asks, “Could the industry be entering a new Golden Era for mortgage lenders — both depository and nonbank alike?”

The rest of this content is for HW+ members. Join today with an HW+ Membership! Already a member? log in

HW+ includes weekly long-form digital content, HousingWire Magazine, access to HousingStack, and free admission to all HousingWire virtual events.

To see all HousingWire Magazine issues, click here.
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Valuation tech special reports

Valuation tech special reports
During the pandemic, many housing professionals saw firsthand how easy it is for the valuation process to be disrupted. With social distancing and lockdown orders, appraisers struggled to evaluate homes in a timely and effective manner. To solve this problem, the industry needed a way to automate the valuation process while keeping homeowners and appraisers safe. The nine companies featured in this section offer virtual solutions to not only speed up the process but eliminate potential errors that could delay a homebuyer’s move-in.

Black KnightCoreLogicFirst American Mortgage ServicesIncenterNationwide Appraisal NetworkQuantarium/ValligentRadianReggoraValueLink Software
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Total Home Valuex from CoreLogic leverages machine learning to simplify and standardize valuation

Total Home Valuex from CoreLogic leverages machine learning to simplify and standardize valuation
One of the first steps in determining a property’s value is the use of an Automated Valuation Model (AVM).  Using an AVM helps lenders quickly and accurately get an independent assessment of collateral value, which can streamline the home buying process for them and the borrower. With that said, not every AVM is created equal. When deciding on the right solution, it’s important to look for a model that will meet your specific needs. 

Total Home Valuex (THVx) from CoreLogic is a state-of-the-art AVM built to simplify and standardize valuation through the loan lifecycle. Leveraging CoreLogic’s vast property datasets, MLS data and other unique data assets, THVx uses a single model methodology to provide an optimal combination of accuracy and coverage. In addition, innovative technology supports different valuation use cases throughout the lifecycle, with customized pricing structures and delivery options.

“We continue to see the benefits of using advanced AI and machine learning techniques when developing new mortgage lending solutions,” said Ann Regan, Executive, Product Management at CoreLogic. “Not only does this allow us to provide an AVM model that can support diverse valuation use cases from marketing through portfolio monitoring, but it also reduces the potential for fraud and valuation subjectivity.”

THVx implements numerous innovative modeling, data and computing technologies, including a machine learning algorithm, network graph technology, cloud-based analytic infrastructure and a comprehensive data strategy. The performance, delivery and pricing of each THV solution are customized to unique needs of each lending use case. 

“The benefits of leveraging a state-of-the-art AVM as part of your lending process are more numerous than ever,” Regan continued. “This is particularly true today where the GSEs are waiving the requirement for a full interior inspection in some instances and allowing some purchases under $400,000 to be completed without a full appraisal.”

The use of AVMs for lending purposes is highly regulated and CoreLogic works closely with their large customer base to support the strenuous testing, documentation, auditing and vendor management requirements that underpin this use of AVMs.

In addition to the regulatory requirements, the Total Home Valuex AVM delivers accuracy and geographic coverage that ensure buyers, sellers and owners benefit from a fair and consistent collateral valuation. 

“Because Total Home Valuex uses the same valuation methodology from acquisition to underwriting, there are fewer valuation ‘surprises’ that can lead to fallout and consumer disappointment,” Regan said. “Not only will this increase a lender’s efficiency, but it can also improve client retention. Lenders get a more accurate, better-quality AVM that they can leverage across the loan lifecycle and borrowers get a better experience knowing the value they see is representative of the home’s actual value. Everyone wins.” 

Ann Regan, Product Management Executive 

Ann Regan is responsible for general management and product strategy for the CoreLogic portfolio of property, loan and market analytic solutions. She is an experienced product and business manager with over 25 years of experience developing, delivering and managing predictive analytic/big data solutions for financial services companies.

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Incenter’s virtual appraisal solution brings “arms-length” photos back to the remote inspection process

Incenter’s virtual appraisal solution brings “arms-length” photos back to the remote inspection process
As many real estate professionals saw firsthand, the valuation process was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. With social distancing and lockdown orders, inspectors and agents struggled to determine a home’s value without being there in-person.

To help mitigate these pain points, Incenter Appraisal Management is offering remote BPO and remote inspection capabilities paired with AVMs. These virtual solutions enable lenders and servicers to get their eyes on a property, regardless of whether they can appraise it in person – as long as the homeowner has access to a cell phone.

“Unlike any bifurcated or traditional ‘in-person’ inspection product, the inspector, agent or appraiser is able to see and view the images and video of the home by using the homeowner like a ‘human tripod,’” explained Mark Walser, president of Incenter Appraisal Management. 

Incenter’s Remote BPO and remote Inspections don’t require homeowners to download mobile applications and take pictures on their own. The inspector attesting to the home inspection or the real estate agent performing the BPO Inspection is able to take the pictures they want via the owner’s camera. This process speeds the return of accurate broker price opinions and inspections to the lender, without borrowers or third parties visiting the property or manipulating the images, introducing a crucial “arms-length” component of the process previously unavailable in a mobile inspection performed with a homeowner.  

From an accuracy perspective, the pictures and images generated are geo-location coded and meta-tagged, and the inspector can see and mark up the images in real-time without the risk of missing something out of frame. Not only does this solution benefit the inspector, but also the borrower. They don’t have to have someone physically visit their home, and they don’t have to download an app or do any of the work themselves. 

“This remote process makes for 100% accuracy and zero possibility of image manipulation from the person at the property holding the camera,” Walser said. “This also ‘future-proofs’ the inspection process from any potential negative impacts like pandemic lockdowns or natural disasters.  As long as there is someone at the property, an inspection can be done in hours or days, not weeks.”

The remote BPO’s and remote inspections keep the process going, even during a lockdown. Using this technology, homeowners, lenders and inspectors don’t have to worry about putting off the inspection process or skipping it altogether.  The many applications for financial institutions of this technology include Home Equity Lending to Insurance inspections.  

“It’s a game-changer for consumers and speeds up the inspection process while also keeping the homeowner and inspector safe,” Walser added. “Our solution brings back the notion of ‘arms-length’ images to a remote inspection process, which is something the industry definitely needs right now.”

Mark Walser, President of Appraisal Management

Mark Walser is responsible for overseeing operations, sales and technology for the company nationally and supporting its sister brands.

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Nationwide Appraisal Network’s valuation solutions allow lenders to select appraisers based on performance

Nationwide Appraisal Network’s valuation solutions allow lenders to select appraisers based on performance
With an increased demand for appraisals across the country, the need for efficiency during the appraisal process is greater than ever. Nationwide Appraisal Network (NAN) is an industry-leading appraisal management company providing residential and commercial valuation services in all 50 states.

NAN’s advanced data and predictive analytics provide lenders with a suite of valuation solutions that help streamline the appraisal process from start to finish, and stakeholders in this industry seek out AMCs who are at the forefront of innovation. NAN provides them with the confidence they deserve by offering a combination of technological innovation and common-sense efficiencies, which add up to a true competitive advantage for its lender/broker partners. 

NAN’s valuation solutions give lenders the chance to evaluate, select and manage appraisers based on their quality and performance. NAN utilizes technology that evaluates appraiser key performance indicators (KPIs) in real-time and generates a score based on quality and performance milestones, including turn times, CU scores, an on-time percentage, and even a percentage of value disputes.

“It’s one thing to be able to leverage technology to optimize the selection of appraisers for the best possible outcome, but to consistently raise the bar on turn times and communication to create a flawless customer experience every time – that’s what sets us apart,” said Joni Pilgrim, Chief Executive Officer. “We work to modernize the way appraisal management companies provide valuation services through innovation, transparency, accountability and world-class service.“ 

From a regulatory standpoint, this suite of solutions ensures compliance with federal and state guidelines. In terms of performance, it decreases turn times, while increasing appraisal quality and reliability at the same time. By removing subjectivity from appraiser selection and replacing it with a transparent, objective approach, NAN improves the quality and performance of the appraisal process. 

“It’s in our DNA to always be on the forefront of technology, and our usage of advanced data and analytics, along with performance-based appraiser incentives, has not only allowed us to raise the bar on turn times and report quality but allows our clients to truly hold us accountable and review our performance in real-time,” said Steve Sussman, Chief Business Development Officer.

NAN’s predictive analytics allows files to be assigned to the best performing appraisers in each market based on thousands of data points. By leveraging KPIs for all local market appraisers, appraisers are dynamically scored in real-time, and NAN seeks the highest-scoring appraiser for each assignment. 

“What differentiates us can differentiate our lending partners too. It’s the difference between a regular AMC and a ‘smart’ AMC,” said Cari Pinkert, Chief Information Officer. “We listen to our clients, and we pivot quickly. By investing in business intelligence tools, NAN transforms appraiser selection and increased efficiencies for lenders.” 

The technology utilized ensures a compliant method of selection based on past performance and predictive analytics, and NAN’s concierge approach to service allows them to combine that data-driven approach with a genuinely human touch. The result is a seamless experience for the broker/lender community, where appraisals are completed with urgency and efficiency, without sacrificing quality or customer experience.

“Our lender partners are always in the know and can focus on what really matters, which is closing loans. What we do as a leading national AMC provides our clients and their borrowers peace of mind,” said Sussman. “They can close confidently, knowing the best lending decision was made for the biggest investment of their life because we were able to ensure a top-quality appraisal report completed by the most qualified appraiser for the job.”

Joni Pilgrim, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of NAN

Joni Pilgrim oversees all day-to-day operations and executes on NAN’s vision and mission to revolutionize the way appraisal management companies operate by putting automated processes in place that maximize efficiencies for their lender and broker partners.

Steve Sussman, Chief Business Development Officer at NAN, 

Steve Sussman develops and fosters long-term relationships with new and existing clients, and takes the necessary time to understand their challenges to offer solutions that eliminate them. Sussman is responsible for increasing NAN’s market share as well as ensuring the needs of existing clients are met and their expectations are exceeded. 

Cari Pinkert, Founder and Chief Information Officer

Cari Pinkert is responsible for optimizing and managing the overall operation of NAN’s IT department and the technology development, both internally-facing and externally-facing systems, in support of the delivery of high-quality appraisals, flawless customer service, and fast turn times.

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