Credit report provider CIS Credit Solutions has completed its second merger in a little over two months, this time combining with Universal Credit Services. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. In August, CIS merged with Avantus and its sister company Credit Bureau of Connecticut.All three companies are, at least initially, maintaining their independent brands and will gradually combine their operations. Aside from credit reports, the companies supply flood certification services, tax transcript request fulfillment, verifications of employment, income and assets, and tenant screening services. The three companies combined have over 4,000 mortgage industry clients and 10,000 tenant screening clients. That represents a doubling in size. About 2,000 mortgage clients were served following CIS's merger with Avantus, according to an announcement of that merger. As a newly formed entity, the three companies have operations centers in Pennsylvania — its headquarters is in the Philadelphia area — as well as Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Oregon. The executive team comes from all three organizations. CIS Chairman Perry Steiner will remain in his role. Mike Brown, who at the time of the Avantus merger was chief executive officer at CIS, will now be chief operating officer. The new CEO Jerry Haftmann, Chief Financial Officer Bob Dumont, President Bill Merryman and Chief Integration Officer Jayne Kelly are all from Universal. Michael Delaporta, now the chief technology officer, was with Avantus. "The service record and history of our companies is unmatched in the mortgage markets, and this merger underscores our collective commitment to our customers, employees, technology development, and our future growth," Steiner said in a press release on the Universal transaction. Avantus is the oldest of the three companies, having been in business 85 years, with 35 years for CIS and 28 years for Universal.
For the second month in a row, South Florida residential sales are beating out 2019. They're also driving up prices, bringing the median price for a single-family home in Miami-Dade and Broward counties to $425,000 — the highest ever. The total number of home sales was up more than 12% in September 2020 over September 2019 sales in both Miami-Dade County and Broward, according to the Miami Association of Realtors. That follows a similar increase in August — welcome relief after the four-month decline in previous months. "We are seeing tremendous influx coming in from outside of Miami, and in a way a revaluation from people in Miami. This is the first time that people have spent this much time at home," said Jessica Adams, global real estate adviser with One Sotheby's International Realty. Adams focuses on single-family homes in Coconut Grove and Coral Gables. Miami-Dade Total residential sales rose by 12.5%, from 2,240 in September 2019 to 2,521 in September 2020. Single-family home sales grew by 19.3%; condo sales grew by 6.3%. The September numbers reflect an ongoing pandemic-era preference for single-family homes. "A lot of people have looked at condos in a different way. People were reevaluating what they were paying for when all of the amenities got shut down. That showed an influx into the single-family home market," Adams said. "[Despite amenities reopening] buyers realize that in a house they don't have to interact with other human beings." Miami-Dade's popularity is eating at inventory, which dwindled by 37.3% for single-family homes — from 6,444 in September 2019 to 4,039 in September 2020 — and by 6.6% for condos — from 15,142 to 14,148. The market has 3.8 months of supply for single-family homes and 13.8 months for condos. Industry professionals consider a balanced market to consist of six-to-nine months of inventory. Demand is so strong that Adams keeps a running list of would-be house buyers — currently 22. One has been looking for the past six months; the others contacted her this summer. "The main thing that is setting our market back is the lack of inventory. We are trying to sell things before they hit the market ... At this point, it's kind of about convincing sellers that this is the time to sell, especially for empty nesters that have those large estates," Adams said. Tight inventory means higher prices. The median price for single-family homes jumped year-over-year by 15.2%, from $377,750 to $435,000 — the highest median price for the market, said Lynda Fernandez, chief of communications for the Miami Association of Realtors. The previous highest peak — $416,000 — was in August 2020. Both are well above the pre-recession high of $401,000 in May 2007. The median condo price increased by 8.2%, from $245,000 to $265,000. Single-family homes closed at 96.7% of the listing price, up from 95.3% in September 2019. Condos closed at 94.4% of the listing price, up from 93.7%. Cash buyers comprised 26.9% of all closings, down from 33.9%. Still, it's above the national figure of 18%. Broward Total residential sales increased by 14.5%, from 2,606 in September 2019 to 2,984 in September 2020. Single-family home sales rose by 24.9%; condo sales by 5.2%. "Schooling being done at home and parents working from home are driving families to the single-family home market," said Mark Sadek, Keyes Company district sales manager. "First-time buyers would love to buy condos if they can get an FHA loan, but the limited FHA inventory is pushing people towards townhouses and single-family homes." The mortgage limit ranges from $373,750 for a one-bedroom home to $718,750 for a four-bedroom home for FHA loans in Broward County. Inventory decreased by 39.3% for single-family homes — from 5,330 in September 2019 to 3,234 in September 2020, but increased by 1.7% for condos — from 7,655 to 7,784. Broward has 2.6 months of supply for single-family homes and 6.5 months for condos. Single-family home buyers are primarily looking at Weston, Parkland, Pompano, Lighthouse Point, Oakland Park, East Plantation, and Coral Springs, Sadek said. Condo hunters are searching in Hallandale Beach, Pompano, Deerfield Beach, and Fort Lauderdale. Prospective sellers are afraid to list, Sadek said, for fear of not finding their next home in what seems to be a competitive market. "Sellers are hesitant, because they worry that they can't find a place to go," Sadek said. Median prices increased by 15.6% for single-family homes, from $367,500 to $425,000, and by 11.8% for condos, from $170,000 to $190,000. Houses closed at 97.1% of the listing price, up from 96.2% in 2019. Condos closed at 95.2% of the listing price, up from 94.4%. Cash buyers comprised 28.8% of all closings, down from 33.8% in September 2019. Still, it's above the national figure of 18%.
The boom in refinancing brought mortgage application fraud risk down 26.3% from the second quarter of 2019, according to CoreLogic. While the overall Fraud Risk Index declined due to the relative safety of refinances, purchase risk rose 6% year-over-year. CoreLogic's Annual Mortgage Fraud Trends Report showed one in 164 mortgage applications carried fraud indications in the second quarter of 2020. That ratio goes to one in 126 for purchases and one in 200 for refis. Of the six segments measured, only occupancy fraud risk increased, shooting up 25.8% year-over-year. This ties to applicants misrepresenting their use for the property. "Investment loan applications are showing a higher risk because real estate investors have a profit motivation for their activity," Bridget Berg, CoreLogic's principal of fraud solutions strategy, said in the report. "This introduces other factors and increases the risk compared to a purchase for personal use. Investors often own other real estate and are more likely to have undisclosed ownership and transactions in process."Even though the current fraud risk is low, that could drastically change once the refinancing wave subsides and the uncertain repercussions of the pandemic unfold. At the state level, New York had the highest risk with an index score of 177 in the second quarter. Nevada followed at 155 with Florida just behind at 141. CoreLogic set the baseline of 100 for the index in the third quarter of 2010. “Fraudsters thrive in uncertain market conditions, where their activities are harder to detect and separate from legitimate investors who are also attracted to variable markets," said Ann Regan, product management executive at CoreLogic. "Nevada’s economy took a big hit with COVID-induced shuttering of gambling/tourist activities and this is driving a decline in home prices as well as an increase in fraud risk. With many economists predicting a recession later this year or early next year, we can expect to see market variability in other regions and likely an increase in fraud as well.”
The wave of nonbanks going public raises the stakes for lenders across the board, as those newly public companies seek greater brand recognition and growth, one longtime mortgage executive said. “We haven’t seen this in at least 10 years, but certain competitors of ours are trying to line themselves up again for world dominance, to be one of five players that together capture 60% of the market. So for Union Home and our executive team, we think time is of the essence now to play on a larger scale, because we do see history repeating itself,” said Bill Cosgrove, owner, president and CEO of Union Home Mortgage and the former chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association. But there are clearly some new dynamics and challenges this time around, Cosgrove noted. Among these is an increase in the importance of brand, consumer-direct lending and proprietary technology amid a digital revolution accelerated by the pandemic, he said. In order to stay competitive, every lender, no matter the size, must adapt. “I think as an industry we’re at a crossroads where it literally is a double down or go home decision,” said Cosgrove. “The customer of the future seems to be as attracted to brand name as, ‘Hey I’ve got a friend who does a great job with mortgage lending.’” Even smaller mortgage companies that don’t have any plans to go public, like Union Home, must place more focus on branding and distinct technology along the lines of those used by publicly traded nonbank behemoth and digital lending pioneer Rocket Cos. to compete, Cosgrove said. That’s why, for example, Union Home recently became the title sponsor for what is now named the Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl, an annual college football postseason game played in Tampa, Fla. The company also invested in signage at and near the Cleveland Indian’s Progressive Field in its home state of Ohio. “What we’ve tried to do is take on certain attributes of competing companies that work,” Cosgrove said. “We’ve seen others learn how to build a brand, we’ve seen others that really double down on technology. We’ve seen others double down on people, and it’s paid off.” There are ways to stay competitive as a smaller firm, Cosgrove said. While Union Home may not have the resources to develop a completely proprietary technology platform like Rocket’s, the company has been able to tap a lot of the latest advances — like optical character recognition with the artificial intelligence component — by mixing its own IT innovations with off-the-shelf products, he said. Cosgrove and the company’s staff determine the extent of their technology investments based on their strategic value in growing the company in an unpredictable market. “We want to do things cheaper and leverage technology to create operating scale, but more importantly, we want to do it because consumers are demanding we do business that way,” said Jon Baymiller, who oversees business process and technology efforts for the company. “You have to be responsive to that or you are going to be a dinosaur,” Baymiller said. The extent to which the company continues remote operations has been part of that reassessment, he said, noting that some loan channels outside of consumer-direct may fare better outside the remote-only environment. “It’s going to be hard to be remote forever,” said Jim Ferriter, senior vice president, retail sales. “For my sales team there’s a lot of interaction with real estate agents with referral sources. There are clients that like to meet face-to-face.” The number and variety of loan channels lenders have could help to distinguish them against competing mortgage companies. Cosgrove thinks at this point the best mix is a diverse one. “I think everybody’s in at least two channels and we think strategically all four help us to be successful,” he said. When it comes to staying on top, Cosgrove agrees with analysts who consider cost controls, capital and strong retention rates among the key strategies in the highly regulated mortgage business. He also stresses the importance of being able to roll with the punches and readjust strategies on the fly in a business where historically, it’s been a good idea to take all predictions with a grain of salt. “I have no crystal ball,” Cosgrove said. “All I know is the last 20 years, when we’ve looked at what’s different and what the next year is going to be like, we’ve often been wrong.”
Posted on October 28th, 2020 Mortgage Q&A: “When to refinance a home mortgage.” With mortgage rates at or near record lows, you may be wondering if now is a good time to refinance. Heck, your neighbors just did and now they’re bragging about their shiny new low rate. The popular 30-year fixed-rate mortgage slipped to 2.80% last week, per Freddie Mac, well below the 3.75% average seen a year ago, and much better than the 4-6% range seen years earlier. Historically, mortgage interest rates have never been lower, making a mortgage refinance a veritable no-brainer for many homeowners out there. In other words, there’s a good chance you won’t be holding off from refinancing because interest rates are too high (unless you just recently refinanced). Compare the Top 10 Mortgage Refinance Options Near You Select your state to get started State But even if you did, there’s a possibility it could make sense to refinance a second time. Should I Refinance My Mortgage Now? Consider your current interest rate relative to today’s available rates Along with required closing costs and how long it will take to break even Think about how long you plan to keep the mortgage/property And any other factors like removing mortgage insurance or shortening your loan term Well, the answer to that question depends on a number of factors that will be unique to you and only you. First, what is the interest rate on your existing mortgage(s)? Is it higher or lower than current mortgage rates? If it’s higher, how much higher? If it’s lower, is your current loan adjustable? Or do you want to refinance for another reason, perhaps to tap equity? Once you’ve got those basic questions answered, let’s talk about the new loan. What will the rate and closing costs be on the new mortgage? Have you started shopping rates yet? Do you even know if you qualify? How long do you plan to keep this new mortgage? What about the house? Are you sticking around for a while? Assuming you’re still here, it might be a good time to take a look at a common scenario to illustrate the potential savings of a refinance. Let’s look at a quick home refinance example: Loan amount: $200,000Current mortgage rate: 4.25% 30-year fixedRefinance rate: 2.75% 30-year fixedClosing costs: $2,500 The monthly mortgage payment on your current mortgage (including just principal and interest) would be roughly $984, while the refinanced rate of 2.75% would carry a monthly P&I payment of about $816. That equates to savings of roughly $168 a month if you were to refinance. Not bad. But we aren’t done yet. Now assuming your closing costs were $2,500 to complete the refinance, you’d be looking at about 14 months of payments, give or take, before you broke even and started saving yourself some money. Yes, you need to consider the cost of the refinance too… So if you happened to refinance again or sold your home during that window, refinancing wouldn’t make a lot of sense. In fact, you’d actually lose money and any time you spent refinancing your mortgage would be wasted as well. But if you plan to stay in the home (and with the mortgage) for many years to come, the savings could be substantial. Just imagine saving $168 for 200 months or longer. This “break-even” point is key to making your decision, at least financially speaking. You also need to consider whether it makes sense to buy down your interest rate by paying points, which will increase the time to this break-even point. For example, those who paid upfront points on their refinance a year ago might be kicking themselves, knowing they’ll benefit from a subsequent refinance thanks to today’s even lower rates. So sit down and determine your future housing plans before you decide to refinance to determine if it’s the right move. If you don’t know what your plan is for at least the next few years, you may want to hold off until you do. [The refinance rule of thumb.] How Long Have You Had Your Existing Mortgage? You also have to consider how long you’ve had your current home loan This can play a big role in determining whether a refinance makes sense Take note of how much it has been paid down since that time And how much of each payment is going toward interest Here’s another consideration. If you’ve already paid down your mortgage substantially, it might not make sense to refinance, assuming you want to pay the thing off. Even if rates are super low, as there’s a good chance you’ll pay more interest overall if you “reset the clock” and start your full loan term over again. But this isn’t always the case. To determine if a refinance is still the right move, get your hands on an amortization calculator. That way you can see what you’ll pay in interest if you keep your mortgage intact versus what you’ll pay in interest with the new mortgage, factoring in what you’ve already paid on the old mortgage. You can also use my refinance calculator to plug in all the pertinent numbers, including what we discussed above, to get a quick answer. If your calculations reveal that you’ll pay more interest over the entire term of the refinance mortgage, there’s an easy strategy to reduce both interest paid and the term of the new mortgage. Simply make the same monthly mortgage payment you were making before the refinance, with the excess going toward principal each month. This will shorten the loan term and could save you a lot of money. I explain this method on my mortgage payoff tricks page, which you can read about in more detail. If you can afford it, you may also want to look into shortening the loan term by going with a 15-year fixed mortgage. For example, if you’re already 10 years into your 30-year mortgage, reducing the term to a 15-year fixed will ensure you don’t extend the aggregate term. And with mortgage rates so low, you may be able to retain your low monthly mortgage payment and pay the mortgage off even earlier than expected. Also, 15-year mortgage rates are lower than those on the 30-year fixed. Other Mortgage Refinance Considerations… Even if interest rates are comparable to what you already have It could make sense to refinance out of an ARM or an interest-only loan The same is true if you want to get rid of mortgage insurance Or if you’d like to consolidate two mortgage loans into one If you’re currently in an adjustable-rate mortgage, or worse, an option arm, the decision to refinance into a fixed-rate loan could make a lot of sense. Even if the monthly savings aren’t tremendous, getting out of a risky product and into a stable one could pay dividends for years to come. Or if you have two loans, consolidating the total balance into a single loan (and ridding yourself of that pesky second mortgage) could result in some serious savings as well. You’ll have one less mortgage to worry about and ideally a lower combined monthly payment. The same might be true if you have mortgage insurance and want to get rid of it. Many homeowners will execute an FHA-to-conventional refinance to drop MIP and reduce monthly payments once they’ve got some equity. Additionally, you might be able to get your hands on a no cost refinance, which would allow you to refinance without any out-of-pocket costs (the rate would be higher to compensate). In this case, if the rate is lower than your existing rate, you start saving money immediately. As mentioned earlier, a cash-out refinance could also contribute to your decision to refinance if you are in need of money and have the necessary equity. Heck, with mortgage interest rates this low you could even make the argument to tap equity and invest it elsewhere for a better return. Again, you’ll want to aim for a lower rate and cash back, but there could be a scenario where borrowing from your home is the best deal, even if you don’t save much or anything mortgage payment-wise. This is really just the tip of the iceberg. There are countless reasons to refinance your home loan, including many seemingly unconventional ones you may have never thought of. Whatever the reason, be sure to put in the time (and the math) to ensure it’s a good decision for you and not just the bank or a loan officer pushing you to do it!
CoreLogic confirmed it is in discussions with unnamed suitors for a transaction that values the company at $14 per share more than the hostile bid from Senator Investment and Cannae Holdings. Within 15 minutes after the market opened Wednesday morning CoreLogic's stock zoomed to $76.98 per share from $67.67, according to Yahoo Finance. Trading was halted for approximately 20 minutes around 10:15 a.m. during which the company issued a press release disclosing the talks. "In light of recent market speculation, CoreLogic today confirmed it is engaging with third parties indicating preliminary interest based on public information in the potential acquisition of the company at a value at or above $80 per share," it said in a press release. "No decision has been made to enter into a transaction at this time, and the company can offer no assurance that it will enter into any transaction in the future or, if entered into, what the terms of any such transaction would be. The company does not intend to comment further on market speculation or further developments unless and until it deems further disclosure to be appropriate or required." Shortly after it resumed trading, CoreLogic's stock reached $78.45 per share, an all-time high, topping the $69.87 per share reached on July 23, the day CoreLogic released its second quarter earnings. The original bid from Senator/Cannae of $65 per share became public on June 26. During CoreLogic's third quarter earnings call, while arguing against the hostile bid, CEO Frank Martell said the company was "open to all pathways to create value" for its shareholders. Senator and Cannae are looking to elect nine new membersto CoreLogic's board during a special meeting on Nov. 17. In raising its bid to $66 per share, Senator and Cannae offered a "go shop" period if CoreLogic accepted the new offer. But that bid was also rejected. Furthermore, Senator and Cannae have argued that newer shareholders in CoreLogic are expecting it to do a merger transaction. Cannae's chairman Bill Foley has the same title at both Fidelity National Financial and Black Knight.
Black homeowners lose an average of about $14,000 over the life of a mortgage and about $67,000 in retirement savings due to higher interest rates, according to the National Association of Real Estate Brokers eighth annual State of Housing in Black America report. The analysis of 2019 HMDA data found that Black borrowers locked in an average mortgage rate of 4.44% for conventional loans — 15 basis points higher than white borrowers. Though not as stark, Black consumers paid higher average interest rates across all loan types compared to their white counterparts. "The reality is white homeowners have gotten very specific benefits over time that accumulate," David Dworkin, president and CEO of the National Housing Conference, said on a NAREB-hosted call with fair housing advocatesthis week. "One of the biggest ones is the 'daddy down payment loan.' If you're a multigenerational homeowner, your family has the wealth and resources to help you with your down payment,” Dworkin added. "This is not rocket science and this is not special treatment. This is saying we have given special treatment, we just want everybody to receive it now." Multiple advocates posited that bridging that rift would require governmental intervention. Otherwise, it'll be more of the same: incremental bumps in homeownership during good economic times without real change and racial discrepancies holding steady."Let us be absolutely clear as a bell: the federal government in public policy created, aided and abetted the racial wealth and homeownership gap in America," Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, said on the call. "The federal government is an essential element in trying to rectify and correct it. What we know from the last 40 years of public policy is it will require intentionality, not simply generalized policies." The repercussions of the coronavirus unevenly affected housing for BIPOC communities. The fallout of unemployment from COVID-19 and possible subsequent lockdowns threaten to spread the racial wealth gap even further. That impact can already be seen in certain markets. "The pandemic, if anything, showed the ugly face of the real economic divide in our country," Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., said on the call. "Close to 13% of my Detroit residents reported being evicted. That's 88,000 folks without a home in one year. Michigan lost more Black homeownership than any other state in the country." The racial divide in homeownership widened in the third quarter of 2020 as rates fell across all demographics, according to the Census Bureau.The Black homeownership rate dropped to 46.4% after reaching a 16-year high of 47% in the second quarter. While it still marks an improvement from 42.7% year-over-year, Black homeownership has never hit 50%. The overall U.S. homeownership rate crept down quarterly to 67.4% from 67.9% and while rising annually from 64.8%. Following the same pattern, white homeownership went to 75.8% from 76% in the second quarter and 73.4% a year ago, Hispanics went to 50.9% from 51.4% and 47.8% and all other races went to 58% from 59.3% and 56%.
Mortgage applications increased 1.7% from one week earlier as the average rate for the 30-year fixed loan fell to yet another low point, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The MBA's Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending Oct. 23 found that the refinance index increased 3% from the previous week and was 80% higher than the same week one year ago. The refinance share increased to 66.7% of total applications from 66.1% the previous week. "Refinance activity has been somewhat volatile over the past few months," Joel Kan, the MBA's associative vice president of economic and industry forecasting, said in a press release. "With the 30-year fixed rate at MBA's all-time survey low of 3%, conventional refinances rose 5%. However, the government refinance index decreased for the first time in a month, driven by a slowdown in VA refinance activity."Purchase application volume was little changed compared with last week as the seasonally adjusted index increased 0.2%, while on an unadjusted basis it decreased 0.3%. "Mortgage applications to buy a home were flat compared to the prior week, but overall activity remains strong this fall. Applications jumped 24% compared to last year, and the average loan size reached another record high at $372,600," Kan said. "These results highlight just how strong the upper end of the market is right now, with outsized growth rates in the higher loan size categories. Furthermore, housing inventory shortages have pushed national home prices considerably higher on an annual basis." Adjustable-rate mortgage activity increased to 2.1% from 1.9% of total applications, while the share of Federal Housing Administration-insured loan applications decreased to 11.7% from 11.8% the week prior. However, there was a big drop in the share of Veterans Affairs-guaranteed loan applications, to 11.4% from 12.6%. The U.S. Department of Agriculture/Rural Development share remained unchanged at 0.5%. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($510,400 or less) decreased 2 basis points to 3%. Meanwhile, the 30-year FRM with jumbo loan balances (greater than $510,400) had a 5-basis-point drop in the average contract rate to 3.28%. The 15-year FRM average decreased 1 basis point to 2.6%. But the average contract interest rate for 30-year FRMs insured by the FHA increased 2 bps to 3.14%. And the average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs increased by 19 bps to 3.05% from 2.86%.
Posted on October 27th, 2020 If customer satisfaction is your thing, and you happen to need a home loan, you might want to check out Royal United Mortgage. The company recently topped LendingTree’s customer satisfaction rankings for four consecutive quarters, and have consistently ranked in the top-10 for the past six years. Another thing that makes them unique is the fact that they offer home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), and a lot of them at that, based on their HMDA data. Let’s learn more. Royal United Mortgage Fast Facts Privately-held, employee-owned retail mortgage lender licensed in 32 states Founded in 2008, headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana Funded roughly $1 billion in home loans during 2019 via consumer direct channel Ranked a top-10 mortgage lender by LendingTree since 2014 Began 2020 as LendingTree’s #1 lender in customer satisfaction for 4th quarter in a row Most of their business comes from the states of Florida, Indiana, and Texas Royal United Mortgage is a relatively young company, around since 2008, which is right around the time the mortgage crisis and Great Recession took place. But they’ve made it through some tough times and mustered over a billion in home loan volume last year. Compare the Top 10 Mortgage Refinance Options Near You Select your state to get started State They’re a privately-held, employee-owned direct-to-consumer mortgage lender, meaning they operate remotely without branches. At the moment, they seem to be licensed to do business in 32 states, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. Royal United Mortgage Loan Process They offer a digital mortgage application powered by Ellie Mae You must first get in touch with a loan advisor to get started Prospective can call them up directly or fill out a short contact form on their website Claim to have some of the fastest turn times in the industry thanks to in-house processing and underwriting To get started, they ask that you either call them up or fill out a short contact form on their website. Once you connect with a so-called trusted loan advisor, they’ll go over your goals and guide you through the loan process, including an overview of available loan options. They appear to offer a digital mortgage application powered by Ellie Mae that should allow you to link financial accounts and/or upload key documents. Additionally, once conditionally approved for a loan, you can check loan status at any time or opt-in to real-time notifications regarding loan progress. Because they use in-house loan underwriters and processors, they say they’re able to offer some of the fastest turn times in the industry, typically only 2 to 3 weeks (how long does it take to get a mortgage). All in all, pretty straightforward, though it would be nice if you could apply without having to take the extra step of speaking to a human. Loan Types Offered by Royal United Mortgage Home purchase loans and refinance loans Rate and term and cash out refis (debt consolidation) Home improvement loans Conforming loans backed by Fannie/Freddie FHA loans and VA loans Home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) One drawback to Royal United Mortgage is their somewhat limited menu of loan programs. While they appear to have most of the basics, they’re missing a few major loan types, including jumbo loans and USDA home loans. That leaves us with conforming loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, along with FHA loans and VA loans. The good news is that should cover most of the homeowner population. They seem to focus on mortgage refinances, including rate and term refis and cash out refis for debt consolidation. They also say they’ve got home renovation loans, though it’s unclear if they’re talking about the FHA 203k and/or the Fannie Mae HomeStyle. One silver lining is they offer home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), which not all lenders offer these days. So you can tap into your equity without touching your first mortgage. While they do offer home purchase financing, it seems to make up a small portion of their overall loan volume, maybe just north of 10%. Interestingly, it is HELOCs that tend to make up the most of their business. They lend on primary residences, second homes, and investment properties. Royal United Mortgage Rates For one reason or another, Royal United Mortgage does not publicize its mortgage rates. This isn’t uncommon, as many banks and lenders tend to keep their interest rates to themselves. However, since they don’t advertise their rates, we have no way of knowing how competitive they are in the pricing department relative to other mortgage lenders. The same goes for their lender fees, which don’t seem to be listed on their website anywhere. This means we don’t know if they charge points or a loan origination fee. So be sure to get all that information early on before you spend too much time with them in case their rates/fees aren’t to your liking. Royal United Mortgage Reviews As noted, they were ranked 1st by LendingTree for customer satisfaction from the second quarter of 2019 through the first quarter of 2020. That’s four consecutive first place rankings, which seems like a pretty big feat. Additionally, they have roughly 9,000 customer reviews on LendingTree with a 4.9 out of 5-star rating. Some 98% of former customers recommend using Royal United Mortgage, per the LendingTree website. They have been Better Business Bureau accredited since 2008 and currently hold an A+ rating with the company. At the time of this writing, Royal United Mortgage has nearly 400 customer reviews on the BBB website with a 4.5/5 rating. Like all other mortgage lenders, they have complaints too, which are inevitable when you’re dealing with a large number of customers in the mortgage industry. But all in all, they appear to be well received by their customers, which is a good sign. Royal United Mortgage Pros and Cons The Good Offer a digital mortgage application powered by Ellie Mae Ranked #1 by comparison service LendingTree Excellent customer reviews across multiple review sites A+ BBB rating and an accredited business Offer home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) Free mortgage calculators and mortgage glossary on site The Maybe Not as Great Not licensed to lend in all states You have to contact them before applying for a home loan Don’t offer USDA loans or jumbo loans Do not publicize their mortgage rates No mention of lender fees on their website They don’t service their home loans (photo: Sean Davis)
Washington Federal Bank has agreed to pay a $200,000 fine to settle allegations by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that it reported inaccurate data about home loan applications. The CFPB said the $18 billion-asset institution based in Seattle submitted Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data in 2016 and 2017 that contained significant errors. HMDA data is used by the CFPB and other regulators to examine and identify fair-lending violations. Inaccurate data can make it hard for regulators and the public to root out discrimination in mortgage lending, the CFPB said in a press release. Washington Federal reported HMDA data on 7,000 loans in 2016 and 2017. The bank currently is subject to a 2013 consent order based on previous findings by the CFPB that it violated HMDA and Regulation C. "The occurrence of errors in many different fields, rather than concentrated in one or two fields, indicates broad [compliance management system] failures and a lack of adequate resources, because the errors were not caught, and the errors cannot be directly attributed to one or two systemic failures," the bureau said in the order released Tuesday. The bank’s HMDA errors in 2016 were caused by a lack of staff, insufficient training and ineffective quality control, the bureau said. In a review of 100 files, the CFPB found a 40% error rate in Washington Federal’s 2016 HMDA data. The 2017 HMDA errors are directly related to weaknesses in the bank’s compliance-management system, board and management oversight, monitoring, and policies and procedures, the CFPB said. The bank did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In addition to the $200,000 civil money penalty, the bank is required to develop and implement an effective compliance-management system to prevent future violations, the CFPB said.