eClosing Solutions

eClosing Solutions
Most lenders looking to digitize their mortgage experience have prioritized the beginning of their loan process, focusing on portals for borrowers to apply and to submit documents online.

However, recent months have highlighted that digitizing the closing process is just as beneficial for borrowers and as crucial for business. A number of tech companies offer eClose solutions that not only make closings simpler for borrowers but improve the process for everyone involved.

In this section, we highlight seven companies providing the digital closing solutions lenders need for a streamlined, efficient process. Click through to learn more:

Black KnightThe Closing ExchangeDocMagicDocutech, A First American CompanyeClosePlusSimplifileSnapdocs
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2020 HW Woman of Influence: Pam Faulkner

2020 HW Woman of Influence: Pam Faulkner

Pam Faulkner joined SimpleNexus in February 2019 following a 13-year tenure at Ellie Mae, where she helped launch the Scenarios comparison tool within LO Connect, Ellie Mae’s mobile solution for originators.

Since her arrival at SimpleNexus, the company has posted quadruple-digit growth and grown its team to include well over 100 employees – and many of the new arrivals received an informal mortgage education from Faulkner. She collaborates with the company’s training, product, sales and marketing teams to ensure projects are on target, and she also advises the customer success team on how they can encourage lenders to maximize their implementation of SimpleNexus. Faulkner was credited with the successful launch of SimpleNexus’ disclosures toolset – though perhaps “successful” is too mild a word because the company recorded a 93,272.3% increase in the number of disclosures packages delivered via mobile app each month. Paul Drobot, SimpleNexus vice president of sales, said it best when he stated: “Pam brings a dedication to the success of SimpleNexus and everyone in the company. She is well-respected by her vast network of mortgage contacts and has been a key resource for training our team members on technology and the industry, supporting the sales function and helping build out internal processes.”

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2020 HW Woman of Influence: Yulia Yutsis

2020 HW Woman of Influence: Yulia Yutsis

After emigrating to New York City at the young age of 15, Yulia Yutsis proved her dedication and tenacity when she learned English, earned her Bachelor’s degree from Baruch College, and then focused her sights on an MBA from NYU’s Stern School of Business.

Subsequently focusing her studies in real estate finance and analytics, Yutsis began her career working at Beam Living as a senior financial analyst. Through her quest to constantly improve both herself and those around her, she was recently promoted to vice president of the strategy, planning and analytics department. Over the last year as vice president, Yutsis achieved both financial and operational success by creating a revenue management platform, spearheading Beam Living’s major data and business intelligence initiatives, and guiding the organization through unprecedented regulatory challenges. Yutsis actively displays leadership by exhibiting pride and loyalty to her team and company, as evidenced by her 14 years with the firm. Her leadership style is one that puts trust in her team’s work and decision-making, but she is always ready to roll up her sleeves. Yutsis is an integral member of the Beam Women’s League – a group that empowers young professional women. She also conducts seminars where she shares experiences of her own hurdles as a woman in real estate.

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2020 HW Woman of Influence: Crystal Sumner

2020 HW Woman of Influence: Crystal Sumner

Crystal Sumner played an instrumental role in growing Blend’s customer base to more than 225 lenders while brokering contracts with Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank.

Sumner joined Blend in 2016 and immediately began working tirelessly to bring Blend’s one-tap pre-approval technology to market, enabling lenders to verify a consumer’s assets, income and employment with source data and reducing paperwork to provide a modern application experience for consumers. In her daily role at Blend, Sumner exemplifies how to implement and advance consumer banking technology, ensuring the company builds innovative products that simultaneously push the consumer lending industry forward while adhering to strict security and compliance standards. Her streamlined risk management program and contract service processes helped Blend’s customer base grow over the last year by 93%. In addition to her day-to-day work, Sumner is also the executive sponsor of Women at Blend, overseeing the professional development of Blend’s female workforce and building a supportive network within the company. Outside of Blend, Sumner is an active member of both the Women’s Journal Counsel Network and Tech General Counsel group and a volunteer for the ACLU and OneJustice Immigration Pro Bono Response Networ

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HousingWire Magazine: August 2020

HousingWire Magazine: August 2020

August 2020: The Reveal

August 2020 is already one of our most exciting issues of the year because in it, we feature the winners of one of my favorite awards: The Women of Influence. This year, our issue launch is even more special as this marks the official redesign of HousingWire Magazine. 

When we first set off to redesign the issue, we had one rule: rethink everything. If there was a way to make something better for the reader experience, we did it, and nothing was above examination. If something could be improved, we did it. So we went to work. Our Graphic Designer Emily Carpenter cleaned up the look, refreshed fonts and even customized the HousingWire logo across the front. Any time we stopped to wonder, “Are we taking this too far? Is it too different?” we went back to our first and only rule: rethink everything. 

The end result? You can judge for yourself. Our goal was to bring you a premium product design that matches the premium content we bring you each month. We also included new sections like our Inside Agent section on page 20, which features a real estate agent and their luxury listing. 

As always, we featured our Women of Influence starting on page 34. In celebration of their achievements, we also gave this section some special dazzle, so flip through them and get to know the women who continue to drive our industry forward through their strength and influence.

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Julian Castro on Trump’s AFFH tweet: “It’s a naked ploy to drum up racial fears and white resentment”

Julian Castro on Trump’s AFFH tweet: “It’s a naked ploy to drum up racial fears and white resentment”
Early on, the Trump administration signaled it would target regulations related to the Fair Housing Act for changes, first delaying implementing the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing provision of the Act — put in place under President Obama — then proposing changes, and finally, last week, abolishing the AFFH rule altogether.

In the week since the rule was abolished, both HUD Secretary Ben Carson and President Donald Trump have commented officially and through social media about their reasons for abolishing the rule. I sat down with Julian Castro, HUD Secretary under Obama from 2014-2017 — to talk about the AFFH and what future he sees for it.

Sarah Wheeler:  Let’s talk about the AFFH provision of the Fair Housing Act, which President Trump struck down last week. What was the original intent of that provision?

Julian Castro:  We implemented AFFH as a piece of unfinished business of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The intent was to hold communities across the country more accountable for ensuring fair housing opportunities for everyone — no matter what they looked like.

Unfortunately,  even in the 21st century, so many years removed from the Fair Housing Act, people still face discrimination in the housing market and we wanted to address that and provide greater opportunity for people.

SW: When Secretary Carson announced HUD was abolishing AFFH, the reasons he listed included that the AFFH regulation was “unworkable and ultimately a waste of time for localities to comply with.” What was your experience with communities as they worked under the rule? Did they find it difficult?

Castro: The process of coming up with AFFH involved a tremendous amount of outreach to communities throughout the U.S. to get their input to make this a workable, pragmatic but effective rule. So we did a lot of work making sure that this was something communities could comply with, that’s why I don’t put much stock in Secretary Carson’s view.

SW: After the formal announcement, Secretary Carson tweeted out that the AFFH rule was “a ruse for social engineering under the guise of desegregation.” What do you make of that?

Castro: That’s all about ideology and fear-mongering. What we were looking for was a partnership with local communities to create a better and more equal housing opportunity for everyone. AFFH was about allowing communities to come up with stronger plans to ensure fair housing opportunities — not about the federal government telling communities how they had to achieve better opportunities, but allowing them to come up with their own strong plans and evaluating that.

SW: President Trump went even farther, tweeting two days ago: “I am happy to inform all of the people living their suburban lifestyle dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood…Your housing prices will go up based on the market, and crime will go down. I have rescinded the Obama-Biden AFFH Rule. Enjoy!” What was your reaction to that statement?

Castro: Trump sounds like a small-town sheriff or mayor from 60 years ago. It’s a naked ploy to drum up racial fears and white resentment about people of color a couple of months before an election that Trump knows he is losing. He is losing the suburbs to Biden and this is his embarrassing ploy to try and get people back on his side — acting like it’s 1950 instead of 2020. Although this racism may appeal to some people, I think the vast majority of people are going to reject it.

SW: What are we missing if we don’t have neighborhoods that have a mix of housing types?

Castro: Millions of American families are being blocked from living in higher-opportunity areas with access to better jobs, schools, healthcare — it runs the gamut. Research done by Raj Chetty offers a powerful analysis of the benefits of living in a higher-opportunity area. This should inform our policy going forward, as right now a lot of people are losing opportunity simply because they earn a lower income.

Q: You launched a PAC this year called People First Future. What is the goal for that organization?

Castro: We’re committed to helping build a strong progressive bench of policy-makers at federal, state and local levels by supporting programs and candidates in 2020 elections. It was motivated by the realization that it’s not enough to only have progressives at one level, in the House or Senate for instance. We need people that are district attorneys, who want to work on criminal justice reform, we need mayors and state attorneys general. So we are identifying and supporting fantastic progressive candidates that will create a bench of lawmakers that have a vision of serving the most vulnerable Americans. We announced a new round of people yesterday, so we’re now supporting a total of 22 people.

SW: Anything else you’d like to add?

Castro: One of the first orders of business for the next HUD secretary is to get the AFFH back on track, beginning Jan. 20, 2021.

SW: You’ve already served as HUD secretary… If Biden wins, is there another role you would like to work in?

Castro: Right now my focus is on doing what I’m doing, which is supporting other people. I’m not aiming for any office.
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How a pragmatic approach to eClosings helps lenders succeed during COVID-19 and beyond

How a pragmatic approach to eClosings helps lenders succeed during COVID-19 and beyond
Many lenders are thinking about digital closings in a way that’s preventing them from achieving the ROI they want. Many have been solely focused on Remote Online Notarization (RON), since RON is seen as the quickest solution to the immediate challenges that COVID-19 has created.

However, as lenders try to conduct business remotely and keep up with high loan volumes while switching from fully paper closings to completely digital RON closings, they experience firsthand how difficult this is.

Lenders need to have a digital closing strategy that’s successful in any environment and in every state, regardless of the speed with which individual states and stakeholders adopt new technology or change their policies.

After onboarding dozens of lenders, we’ve learned that there are two concepts that are fundamental to success.

To continue reading, fill out the form below.

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Mortgage forbearance rate drops to a three-month low

Mortgage forbearance rate drops to a three-month low
The U.S. mortgage forbearance rate dropped to a three-month low of 7.7% this week as more Americans were able to pay their loans on time, Black Knight said in a report on Friday.

It was the lowest share of mortgages with suspended payments since late April, when New York was the center of the COVID-19 pandemic. That share represents 4.1 million loans that remain in forbearance as of July 28, Black Knight said.

The data was released on the same day as the expiration of the $600 per week federal unemployment benefit, part of the CARES Act passed by Congress to keep jobless Americans current on their bills.

Typically, unemployment insurance only replaces about 50% of a person’s former salary. Forbearances could begin to increase again because of the lapse of the enhanced beneft, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors.

“The number of requests for forbearance could rise,” Yun said. “Whether it’s one percentage point or two percentage points, I couldn’t say.”

Applications for unemployment benefits climbed last week for the second consecutive gain as COVID-19 infections surged in some of the nation’s biggest states.

The Senate adjourned for the weekend on Thursday night without reaching an agreement on extending the enhanced unemployment benefits. The House of Representatives passed the Heroes Act in May that extends the $600-a-week benefit through January.

The Senate began considering COVID-19 relief earlier this week and has proposed a HEALS Act that hasn’t yet been released in full or been voted on. It would reduce the enhanced jobless benefit to $200 a week, according to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows asked the Senate to pass a week-long extension of the $600 benefit so it wouldn’t lapse before they could find a solution, but couldn’t get a deal done, Beacon Policy Advisors said in a note to clients.

Many Republicans, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, want to reduce the unemployment benefit to 70% of an unemployed person’s former salary, though state agencies that oversee the benefit have said it would take up to five months to upgrade their systems to be able to do that.
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UWM now offering 15-year fixed mortgage rates as low as 1.875%

UWM now offering 15-year fixed mortgage rates as low as 1.875%
Mortgage rates for a 15-year fixed currently sit at approximately 2.5%. However, customers of the nation’s second-biggest lender could soon receive an interest rate below 2%.

United Wholesale Mortgage announced Friday that it is rolling out a new loan program that offers borrowers an interest rate as low as 1.875% for both purchase mortgages and refinances — a record low.

UWM is both the nation’s biggest purchase mortgage lender and the largest wholesale lender, meaning it doesn’t lend directly to borrowers. UWM works directly with mortgage brokers, who can in turn offer low rates to their customers.

“United Wholesale Mortgage is proud to provide some of the best rates, service and technology to borrowers exclusively through independent mortgage brokers while closing loans in 15 days or less,” said Mat Ishbia, president and CEO. “We’re proud to offer great rates for borrowers for 15-year mortgages just like we have been on our 30-year mortgages as well.”

Those eligible for a conventional mortgage are eligible for the rate, according to Ishbia.

In May, UWM rolled out a new loan program that offered borrowers an interest rate as low as 2.5% for both purchase mortgages and refinances.

Then in June, UWM announced a new VA loan program that offered borrowers mortgage rates as low as 2.25% for both purchases and refinances.
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[PULSE] Housing discrimination: It’s real and not just a tweet

[PULSE] Housing discrimination: It’s real and not just a tweet
On July 16, I published this article in Housing Wire calling on HUD to back away from proposed changes to the disparate impact rule. I was one voice of many from industry and housing who called on HUD to not erode protections for families facing housing discrimination and the requirements for efforts to affirmatively further fair housing.

Unfortunately, HUD did not listen to large lenders, trade groups or housing advocates. In this time of BlackLivesMatter, the stark reminder that ignorance remains strong about this nation’s history of discrimination in housing became obvious. Secretary Carson and the Trump Administration not only reversed the important policy established just years earlier under Secretary Donovan and President Obama, but in the midst of their action President Trump triumphantly declared that the suburbs would be “safe” now.

In a series of tweets, President Trump declared, “I am happy to inform all of the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood.” He added: “Your housing prices will go up based on the market, and crime will go down. I have rescinded the Obama-Biden AFFH Rule. Enjoy!”

This one tweet was met with shock by many. A release from the National Association of Realtors stated, “NAR is disappointed that HUD is retreating on its decades-long policy requiring that communities receiving taxpayer money address discrimination and segregation. We previously communicated that disapproval to the industry and to the public , and our stance remains unchanged. Our commitment to fair housing and the property rights of all is unwavering. Discrimination and bias have absolutely no place in housing.”

HUD has a long history of racial discrimination in housing, promoting or supporting “white only” neighborhoods in the not-too-distant past. HUD was at the center of establishing what is now known as “redlining” as official policy. In fact, FHA publications implied that different races should not share neighborhoods, and repeatedly listed neighborhood characteristics like “inharmonious racial or nationality groups.”

Richard Rothstein’s book, The Color Of Law, exposed the explicit role the government played in creating white-only suburbs for middle class Americans while forcing minorities into urban buildings. “The Federal Housing Administration, which was established in 1934, furthered the segregation efforts by refusing to insure mortgages in and near African-American neighborhoods — a policy known as ‘redlining.’ At the same time, the FHA was subsidizing builders who were mass-producing entire subdivisions for whites — with the requirement that none of the homes be sold to African-Americans.”

As to the new rule just finalized, NYU’s Furman Center points out how the new rule puts the entire burden of proof of discrimination on the consumer. “Under the new rule, plaintiffs claiming disparate impact will be required to satisfy an onerous, and at times impossible to meet, pleading standard at the outset of litigation.”

It adds this critical point: “The proposed rule exempts ‘single events’ from scrutiny because single events, it alleges, are materially different from broader policies and practices. It removes ‘perpetuation of segregation’ from the list of discriminatory effects prohibited under the FHA. The rule also creates loopholes for landlords and lenders to defend discriminatory housing policies and algorithms, either as belonging to a third party and therefore out of scope, or as necessary to achieve ‘legitimate objectives.’”

So… as long as you discriminate only once and not all the time I guess you’re off the hook.

The rule is an outrageous attack on fair lending and obligations to affirm support for people with lower incomes — those simply searching for ways to improve their family’s opportunities.

But the dagger in the back of our nation’s housing history was just turned an additional notch as President Trump doubled down, almost taking a page from the clear discriminatory language used years ago but never truly eliminated from communities.

Within recent years there have been communities in wealthy areas like Connecticut and some wards in New Orleans and elsewhere that have filed suit, or been sued, to fight for their ability to ban access to families simply wanting safe and affordable housing with access to quality schools and support systems to raise their children.

The outrage of these tweets from a sitting U.S. president, “you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood,” are themes that sound like echoes from the past. They were wrong then and wrong now, and certainly should not be part of today’s dialogue where class distinctions based on race are so pronounced despite decades of effort to tear down the barriers created by our government and protected so fiercely by laws that saw white versus black as an acceptable paradigm.

The actions taken by HUD and subsequently celebrated in tweets set this nation back generations. It will be up to governors, mayors, housing policy advocates and more to reverse the tide while we await the chance to correct this huge mistake and the disregard of fairness by this rule change.
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