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Tech wave addressing a drop in retention to historic low

February 23rd, 2024|

When it comes to retention some large players are making headway but smaller ones who have fewer resources are still struggling. That's where the latest wave of servicing technology comes in."The bad news is customer retention for U.S. mortgage servicers is at a 16-year low of 11% per the latest MBA data," Julian Hebron, founder at lender and fintech consultancy The Basis Point said, commenting on the statistic at the Mortgage Bankers Association servicing conference in Orlando."The good news is a rising innovation wave in servicing fintech can help grow this to industry-best levels of tech-forward servicers like Mr. Cooper and Rocket, which currently have retention rates of 83% and 90%, respectively," he added.Companies demonstrating technology addressing this at the conference include Willow Servicing, which has a cloud native platform and functions supportive of originators aiming to retain customers; and Homebot, which sells technology aimed at optimizing repeat business and referrals.Optimal Blue, which uses real-time product and pricing engine data to make targeted retention offers to borrowers, also demonstrated its automation as did Haven, a company that aims to constantly engage customers with automated reports on loan status, equity and eligibility for other products.In addition to the major announcement released by servicing tech incumbent Sagent and one shortly before the show by competitor Intercontinental Exchange a week earlier, other relatively new tech products that vendors were marketing during the conference included Autopilot.The white-labeled automated underwriting system from Ardley Technologies, in line with the retention theme, aims to help servicers provide new mortgages or home equity products to customers identified as prospects.The system handles underwriting for the new loans through conditional approval, after which loans may go to the end investor's AUS, said Tim McLuckie, chief technology officer. It's designed to accommodate compliant loan officer involvement.It's part of a broader set of products the company has to help with borrower retention, including pre-existing portfolio analytics designed to identify such new origination opportunities for existing customers."We do millions of calculations per night for the servicers, dozens on each borrower. That servicer knows what value they have, and they decide how they want to market. That's where Autopilot comes in," McLuckie said.Other companies were focused on technologies accommodating interim servicing. These aim to help facilitate a lender's handoff to a servicer after origination without disrupting the relationship with the borrower.For one, cloud-based lending technology provider Blue Sage Solutions was in Orlando marketing a product in this area that it launched last month to improve what David Aach, chief operating officer, describes as a "painful manual process for many originators.""If you don't have your own servicing system, which a lot of originators do not buy, you have to figure out how to process that initial payment," he said. "The borrower may call up and ask, 'Did you get my check? Am I going to get my statement? Where can I go online to pay?'"

Fed's Williams says interest-rate cuts are 'likely later this year'

February 23rd, 2024|

Federal Reserve Bank of New York President John Williams said the economy is headed in the right direction, and it will likely be appropriate to cut interest rates later this year. Speaking in an interview with Axios, Williams said officials want to see inflation data that continues to move toward the central bank's 2% goal. "At some point, I think it will be appropriate to pull back on restrictive monetary policy, likely later this year," Williams said in the interview published Friday. "But it's really about reading that data and looking for consistent signs that inflation is not only coming down but is moving towards that 2% longer-run goal."Top Fed officials hammered home the message this week that the US central bank is still on track to cut interest rates this year — just not anytime soon.As recently as mid-January, investors and some economists were betting on the Fed to start lowering rates at its March 19-20 meeting. Markets have since significantly dialed back expectations for early and rapid cuts, shifting wagers on the first move to June or July on the heels of reports showing job and price gains well above forecasts in January.The patient approach by policymakers has been largely validated by data released in recent weeks. The consumer price index rose by more than forecast in January, and prices paid to US producers also climbed. As a result, economists forecast the Fed's preferred gauge of underlying inflation to rise at the fastest pace since early 2023 when it's released next week.Williams also said in the interview, which was conducted Thursday, that the recent spike in auto and credit card delinquencies is one reason why he expects consumer spending growth to slow this year. On the balance sheet, Williams said he and his colleagues are taking lessons from 2019. At the time, bank reserve balances became too scarce, causing overnight rates to spike and roiling markets. Officials will have an in-depth discussion about the topic at the March gathering. "We've learned some of the lessons that — you know, last time we had set out to get to the minimum level of reserves consistent with efficient operations, carrying out monetary policy," he said. Williams noted the Fed is looking to maintain a buffer above the lowest comfortable level of reserves without pushing too hard to the point of scarcity, and he pointed to the standing repo facility as a backstop that could help prevent market disruption. He also acknowledged they're looking at a variety of indicators, "but maybe through a different lens.""Interpreting these different indicators and some of the new ones we've developed are consistent with that goal," he said. "I think all three of those really come from the lessons of last time and experience from 2019 and then what happened after." 

Black renters gain buying power but still far behind whites

February 23rd, 2024|

Black renting families are catching up to whites in terms of mortgage readiness, although a sizable racial disparity in home buying power remains.Around 7.8% of Black non-home-owning families were "income mortgage-ready" compared to 12.5% of whites in 2022, according to research shared Friday by Zillow. The racial gap of 4.7% fell from a 7.9% split in 2012. The data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey defines "income mortgage-ready" as a family being able to make home loan payments for a typical home in their local market. Among the nation's 138 million non-home-owning families in 2022, 6.3 million were considered ready by the definition. "It's crucial to recognize the existence of additional barriers beyond monthly cost, including access to funds for a down payment and closing costs — as well as other barriers that significantly contribute to mortgage denials," said Orphe Divounguy, Zillow senior economist, in a press release. The report comes days after a National Association of Realtors study found 44.1% of Black Americans today are homeowners, well behind rates for Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans. Mortgage applicants of color are more likely to be denied than white applicants, studies show, with lenders often attributing insufficient credit history or debt-to-income ratios for Black would-be-buyers. The 7.8% of Black families income mortgage-ready compose of 738,000 households among 9.4 million Black non-homeowners, Zillow found. That share is greatest in typically more affordable Midwest metros such as Detroit (13.3%), Memphis (12.8%), and St. Louis (12%).The ratio of whites who are income mortgage-ready is still greater by several percentage points in those cities, and far larger in the nation's most expensive destinations like the Bay Area and the Northeast. At-large the number of renters of all races able to afford a mortgage fell from 12.9 million in 2021 to 6.3 million in 2022. The dip coincides with rates soaring from 3% to 7% over that time, and the median nationwide home price hovering closer to $400,000 amid scant supply.

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