One-stop-shop trend continues with Propertybase’s Unify buy

With its acquisition of Cross Media this week, real estate software provider Propertybase joins a host of companies completing mergers and acquisitions with the goal of becoming an all-encompassing one-stop shop for housing-related needs.

Cross Media owns Unify, a customer relationship management platform for the residential mortgage industry aimed at lead generation and client retention, as well as real-time loan origination system integration. The company works with roughly 80 mortgage companies in North America, mining and analyzing potential borrower data through automation to produce higher-intent leads. Its new owner, PropertyBase, offers lead generation, CRM, compliance management and other software tools, which are used by 4,500 real estate entities across the country, the company said.

Unify will operate as an independent business unit under the new ownership, but other terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Vance Loiselle, CEO of Propertybase

Recent studies have shown that 2021 should be a big year for industry consolidation and increased use of built-out technology to boost operational efficiencies. With its purchase of Cross Media, Propertybase recognizes the need to cover the entirety of a real estate transaction, CEO Vance Loiselle told National Mortgage News. The acquisition fits the next phase of the company’s vision to enhance its network in the “digital-first world,” he said.

The marriage of lead generations should connect the dots from purchasing a home to financing it.

“Now is the perfect time to transcend the gap between technologies and to further align ancillary services,” Loiselle said. “In addition, as the mortgage industry continues to benefit from refinancing, it will be imperative to proactively support mortgage brokerages with software to handle these requests as well as generate new leads.”


IT Jobs; VOE, CRM, Non-QM Products; Conventional Conforming News; CPI: No Inflation Worries

IT Jobs; VOE, CRM, Non-QM Products; Conventional Conforming News; CPI: No Inflation Worries

Here we are in the seemingly 58th week of 2020. What’s new? The podcast of today’s commentary features thoughts from the Millennial host on how lenders can address that market, and it can be heard via Apple, Spotify, or Google: subscribe and download. In terms of news, the FHFA extended forbearance protection past March. (More below on that.) And rating agency Moody’s view is that the CFPB’s recent changes to the QM rules would “allow lenders to qualify more types of loans as QM, resulting in a non-QM market with loans of lower credit quality, since most of today’s higher-quality non-QM loans would qualify as QM under the new rules, making future non-QM more synonymous with non-prime… the rule, if implemented could incentivize some lenders to price riskier loans lower than their true risk in an effort to fall within the new QM rule’s APR threshold. QM status conveys potential benefits to lenders and securitization issuers, such as protection against legal challenges and exemption from securitization risk retention.” More on this below as well, remember, the mandatory compliance date for the revised general QM and seasoned QM definitions is July 1.

Lender and Broker Services and Products

As the rush of mortgages and refis continues to flood the industry, it’s no secret that everyone’s feeling the deluge and leaving valuable loans on the table. At Truework, we know you’re feeling overwhelmed. Here are three things you can do to stop leaving valuable loans on the table, and take advantage of the market so you can come out on top. Truework is a US-based company with an expansive and ever-growing network and a dedicated team of mortgage professionals that are committed to tackling and completing any and all VOE/VOI requests. Additionally, we are the market leader for coverage for small and mid-sized companies. Start a verification on Truework now. Furthermore, with Truework, you can reverify employment for any request within 90 days of the original, receive up-to-date statuses on all verification reports, and get fast turnaround times. And for a limited time, Rob Chrisman readers get 6 free Verifications ($240 value). Let us do the heavy lifting so you can focus on what matters. Reach out to Zackary Green now for questions and to claim this offer.

Attention ClosingCorp and Reggora customers! If you use either of these platforms, you can now order appraisals and check the status of reports directly from within these systems – no need for yet another login. Triserv is fully integrated with both ClosingCorp and Reggora, as well as many other LOS and other technology providers. Triserv is a 50-state AMC that has client-specific, dedicated teams on both coasts offering high-touch, personalized service. To find out more, contact Triserv Appraisal Management Solutions.

Mortgage demand among self-employed and credit-challenged borrowers is still growing, according to Verus Mortgage Capital, the industry’s largest purchaser of Non-QM loan products. Largely ignored by lenders since COVID struck, the consumers demand has not changed. Fortunately, Non-QM guidelines are back to pre-COVID levels and some pricing is actually better, attracting more originators to this business. It’s time to help borrowers who don’t fit into the GSE credit box and who need the flexibility offered by the leading Non-QM investor. For more information about adding Non-QM products to your menu contact Jeff Schaefer, EVP of Correspondent Sales (202-534-1821).

One month into 2021 and Stearns Wholesale is already kicking the new year into high gear with exciting new tech developments! This week, Stearns has reduced its minimum lock duration from 60 to 45 days, reduced the minimum credit score to 620 now allowing up to 90% LTV on its Accelerator program, and removed the COVID cash out adjustment of .375. Stearns has also enhanced its Jumbo Loan Guidelines, which now allows 2nd homes, a max loan amount of $2 million and a minimum credit score down to 700. If you want to learn more about these exciting new product updates or partner with Stearns, click here to be contacted.

It’s a well-known fact that 2020 was a banner year for the mortgage industry. As you look over your 2020 numbers, ask yourself, “is this the best we could have done?” If you’re not working with Sales Boomerang to maximize borrower retention, the answer to that question is, “Nope. You definitely could have done better.” Sales Boomerang notifies lenders when someone in their database is ready for a loan. And the numbers speak for themselves: up to 65% borrower retention and 20-40% average lift to loan volume, all for around $299 per acquired loan — an average 20x ROI. Want more proof? With a loan loss report, Sales Boomerang can show you which competitor took your deal, the loan amount, type of loan, the term and much more. Request yours from Sales Boomerang today to learn how you can keep more of your borrowers.

As industry experts, TMS anticipates 2021 should see a steady rise in mortgage rates, and consequently, the refi faucet slowly turning off (eventually). The purchase market will once again be lenders’ bread and butter, although with slightly modified, post-COVID conditions. TMS CAREspondent has compiled some great tips in its new blog to help lenders prepare for this impending shift. Partner with TMS today.

While there’s no crystal ball capable of showing the industry’s future, MBA Chief Economist Dr. Mike Fratantoni is the next best thing. Join LBA Ware for the first of its quarterly webinar series More Insights, Better Decisions: Michael Fratantoni’s 2021 Mortgage Industry Outlook for a data-packed discussion on the state of the mortgage industry. Drawing on the latest stats, Mike will help you take a data-driven approach to your business decisions this year. Register for the free webinar, which takes place tomorrow, Thursday, February 11, from 1-2 pm ET.

“When people and robotic processes work together, loans get completed faster, error free.” If Elon Musk chose the mortgage industry, that’s how he’d do it. It’s how modern assembly lines achieve maximum efficiency. Yet many loan teams still handle loan files the old-fashioned way with tedious data entry, error-prone, time-consuming communications, and no way to get visibility into what may be at risk of missing critical deadlines. Now imagine an online, ultra-productive, “loan assembly line” that coordinates every step for every loan, actively prioritizes everyone’s tasks and eliminates tedious, routine work in your CRM+POS+LOS. That’s what TeamworkIQ does for $24/user/mo. It makes sure things get done right and get done on time while tracking each loan’s details, documents, deadlines and turn times. Loans get done faster and error free. What if you could 4x your efficiency in under 30 days? See how American Pacific Mortgage did and test-drive TeamworkIQ for free.

Leverage your existing technology ecosystem… it’s paid for!  Service 1st is integrated with multiple LOS and point of sale systems for TRV, SSV, VOE and credit reporting, with more added each year. Keep your team safely engaged and instantly cascade through S1 solutions within your IT environment. Additionally, many originators and lenders experienced significant VOE and credit reporting cost increases as we entered 2021. Have you contacted S1? S1 creates significant value via loan manufacturing efficiencies: Results (verifications and tradeline updates delivered 50% faster than industry benchmarks) without the hefty price tag. No signup fees or minimums.  Get started today with a no obligation price proposal at

There’s still time to register for XINNIX’s upcoming quarterly Leadership Lessons Webinar: “Beyond the Daily Commentary 2021: A Live Q&A with Rob Chrisman” happening today at 1 PM ET. XINNIX Founder & CEO, Casey Cunningham, will be hosting this live Q&A session likely on topics focusing on exactly what is important to you. Reserve your seat today!

FHFA, Freddie, Fannie News Impacting Borrowers Everywhere

Huh? Freddie and Fannie operated like utilities? Let’s see how that is working out for PG&E and California. Seriously, what if the Administration left the two of them under conservatorship? It would certainly leave industry pundits less to talk about, right?

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) extended the forbearance period to 15 months for GSE borrowers. This is an additional three months beyond the previous 12-month limit. Black Knight had reported that nearly 25% of all (not just GSE) active forbearance plans were scheduled to reach their 12-month expiration in March, and another nearly 15% in April. This extension should provide support for troubled borrowers through the difficult winter and early spring months. We view this announcement positively for mortgage credit broadly. In our coverage universe this primarily benefits mortgage insurers and mortgage REITs.

Fannie Mae issued Selling Guide Announcement SEL-2021-01 which includes update information on the verification requirements related to seasonal and secondary income, the seller/servicer post-purchase adjustment (PPA) process to require the use of the PPA form, and the removal of references to lenders authorizing release of MI data.

A recent Compliance Update from First American Docutech discussed Freddie Mac’s announcements in Bulletin 2021-4  regarding CMT-indexed ARM, IRS Form 4506-C, and

authorized change for the uniform Oklahoma Mortgage (Form 3037). And Fannie Mae is retiring CMT Arm Products per FNMA LL-2021-05; more information in Compliance News.

loanDepot’s Weekly Announcement includes the Fannie Mae Appraisal Risk Management Policy Reminders and Resources and updates on FHA Loan Limits 2021. loanDepot has new programs available, smart Term Conforming and High Balance. Information on these programs and updates to its Conventional Lending Guide are discussed in this Announcement.

PRMG announced the expiration of QM Points and Fees Cure Provision on covered transactions with consummation dates after January 10. Impacted loan programs include Conventional (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), FHA and USDA. Lenders or assignees will no longer be allowed the option to cure the transaction and bring it into QM compliance when the total points and fees exceed the applicable limits.

Plaza Home Mortgage offers Fannie Mae HomeStyle® and Freddie Mac CHOICERenovation® loan programs. Download Plaza’s flyer for more information. In alignment with Freddie Mac Bulletin 2020-45, Plaza has updated the Home Possible® program guidelines, effective for all loans purchased on or after March 1, 2021. Specifically, this update reduces the maximum LTV from 95% to 85% for certain Home Possible Mortgages secured by 2-4-unit properties.

COVID tolerances have been extended on Flagstar Bank Conventional Products. Read Memo 21011 for details.

MQMR addressed how internal audit policies and procedures can meet federal and agency requirements. It discussed Fannie Mae’s release of several checklists as part of their Seller/Servicer Risk Self-Assessments, including the Internal Audit checklist. Internal audits are an important risk mitigation tool that uncover operational inefficiencies and potential areas of risk within a lender’s organization. For that reason, it is important for sellers/servicers to know that their Internal Audit policies and procedures satisfy federal and agency requirements and are effective for identifying risk. The article provides a list of requirements for an internal audit self-assessment checklist.

MQMR also spoke to the best practice of requiring outsourced service providers, such as contract underwriters and processors, to be checked against exclusionary lists. While the practice may not always be feasible to do, particularly if the lender is not made aware of the individual contract underwriter’s/processor’s name by the third party service provider that employs them, the article provided a summary of Agency guidelines on this issue from Fannie Mae Selling Guide Chapter A3-3, HUD Handbook 4000.1, Chapter II, A, 1, iii, and Freddie Mac Seller/Servicer Guide Chapter 3101.

Capital Markets

Our economy is driven by jobs and housing, and it is worthwhile to take another look at the employment numbers last week to keep things in perspective. After falling 227,000 in December, nonfarm payrolls increased a mere 49,000 in January disappointing many analysts who were expecting a more robust number. But thanks in part to a drop in the labor force, the unemployment rate fell from 6.7 to 6.3 percent. The U-6 unemployment rate, which includes those marginally attached to the labor force as well as those who are working part-time but prefer to be working full-time, declined. And initial claims for unemployment have been slowly declining and February’s outlook remains positive. Claims are still well above pre-recession levels and still largely affecting those in their prime working years. On top of that, U.S. manufacturing continues to improve according to the latest ISM Manufacturing Index. Inflation? Commodity prices rose nearly across the board for the month. Services also continued to expand but arts/entertainment/recreation, education services, and retail trade continue to struggle in the face of the ongoing pandemic.

Looking at rates Tuesday, Treasuries yields rose marginally across longer durations and the MBS basis ended Tuesday tighter, particularly on higher coupons as investors weighed the latest on stimulus, earnings, and vaccination efforts, trying to determine whether letting the economy run hot will spark destabilizing inflation. The day’s $58 billion 3-year note auction was met with solid demand ahead of today’s $41 billion 10-year Treasury note auction results.

Today’s economic calendar is already underway. Mortgage applications decreased 4.1 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending February 5. 30-year mortgage rates remained near their cycles lows during the reporting period (2 7/8). We’ve also had January Consumer Price Index (+.3 percent, as forecast, much of the gain due to gasoline, the core rate was unchanged). Coming up are December wholesale inventories and sales, remarks from Fed Chairman Powell on the “State of the US Labor Market” before the Economics Club of New York, and the January budget deficit from the Congressional Budget Office. Today’s Desk purchase schedule is the largest of the week at $8.8 billion over three operations, including over $7.3 billion in UMBS30s. We begin the day with Agency MBS prices unchanged and the 10-year yielding 1.15 after closing yesterday at 1.16 percent after the CPI data reminded us that inflation is currently not an issue.



“OpenClose continues to experience record setting growth while bank, credit union, and mortgage lender demand for our award-winning digital lending ecosystem is booming. This success makes available exciting opportunities for experienced mortgage banking and innovative software professionals to join the OpenClose family. We are seeking qualified and energetic professionals to join our implementation team as a Mortgage Software Implementation Specialist. The specialist will be responsible for the implementation of new customers and work with existing customers providing business + channel + user analysis, workflow evaluation, application setup and optimization of installations of our Web-based, enterprise-level mortgage software platform. Notable is that OpenClose is a 100% browser-based platform and can largely be implemented remotely. Minimal travel, if any, is involved in this position. Come see why OpenClose has received the Top Mortgage Employer award four years running. This and other opportunities can be accessed at Join the OpenClose Family!”

STRATMOR Group is anticipating a significant uptick in Merger and Acquisition activity in 2021. As a follow up to its recent open-position post, STRATMOR is seeking a professional with at least two years of hands-on M&A or Private Equity experience. This is a junior level position that will benefit from STRATMOR’s extensive experience in this industry. Employees of STRATMOR enjoy working at a company that has successfully managed remote work for decades and continues to grow in importance in the market. Specifically, this new hire will assist the STRATMOR team with tracking the M&A deal pipeline, generating interest with new M&A candidates, and creating Confidential Information Memorandums (CIMs), and financial models. If you are looking for an exciting new position with a highly respected mortgage consulting firm, then drop STRATMOR a note.



A VC Firm uniquely positioned for global elevation

[Note from editor: The “Mastermind Showcase” highlights companies and news from members of the GEM. Today’s showcase: Sapphire Ventures.]

Sapphire Ventures LogoSapphire Ventures is a venture capital firm with more than $5.7 billion under management across over 10 countries. They invest in growth stage companies, leading financing rounds in the $10 – $50 million range, with a strong focus on next-gen enterprise & consumer tech.

Since splitting from parent company SAP in 2011, they have invested in over 120 companies including 20+ IPOs & 35+ M&A exits.

On February 4, Sapphire Ventures announced a $1.7 billion raise across multiple funds which will be used to ramp up their investments in Series B through IPO enterprise-tech companies in the U.S., Europe, & Israel.

Notable proptech investments include DocuSign, Side, and Reonomy. Also a backer of iconic companies such as Linkedin and FitBit.

What we like: Leading the charge is Paul Levine, a seasoned real estate operator with industry connections and knowledge. He served as COO at Trulia and then as President after the Zillow Group acquisition. 

Learn More


Lower taxes, more M&A: Behind a California bank’s move to Texas

First Foundation in Irvine, Calif., is ready for its next act — in North Texas.

Lured by opportunities to beef up lending, add wealth management clients and pursue acquisitions of community banks — and the promise of lower taxes over time — the parent of First Foundation Bank is relocating its corporate headquarters from California to Dallas this spring. Executives are scouting locations near Plano for a potential branch that could open within the next six months and are gearing up to hire as many as 35 new employees by the end of this year.

The relocation — announced in late January during the company’s quarterly earnings call — is part of a plan to boost assets from $7 billion to $10 billion by 2023.

When First Foundation “started figuring out how to get to the growth numbers” it sought, “we decided that we need other markets to help us get there,” CEO Scott Kavanaugh said this week. “And the Dallas metroplex is such a strong marketplace that we felt very compelled to try to build out there.”

First Foundation is the latest in a string of companies fleeing California for Texas, joining Charles Schwab, Toyota Motor North America and Jamba Juice and others that have moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth market.

Seven hundred sixty-five companies left California in 2018 and 2019, on top of an estimated 13,000 companies that left the state between 2009 and 2016, according to a California economics newsletter published by the Hoover Institution, a think tank at Stanford University.

Kavanaugh said companies view Texas as being more business-friendly than California, where taxes are high, regulations can be tough and growth opportunities are limited.

First Foundation’s taxes will decrease over several years as the company ramps up loan production and starts earning more profits outside of California, Kavanaugh said. A more immediate benefit of the relocation, however, is a healthy multifamily lending space in Dallas, where the percentage of vacancies is low and monthly rental fees are rising thanks to the region’s robust population growth.

At the end of December, the number of residents in the Dallas-Fort Worth area topped 7.8 million, a new high, according to a Cushman & Wakefield report.

As it settles into Texas, First Foundation will focus on multifamily lending, at least in the near term, Kavanaugh said. Right now, multifamily lending is the largest segment of the company’s loan portfolio, accounting for 42% of the mix as of late December, though the company is doing more commercial and industrial lending, which accounts for 26% of the portfolio.

In the multifamily sector, JPMorgan Chase is First Foundation’s largest competitor in California, but in Dallas the market is “a little bit more fragmented,” Kavanaugh said.

“Real estate lending is usually easier to build” in a new market, First Foundation Bank President David DePillo told investors last month. But as time passes, the company will “start layering in C&I and consumer” loans, along with wealth management products, he said.

The company will seek Texas trust powers after it opens its first branch, Kavanaugh said. It is also planning to host its annual shareholders meeting in Dallas this year, he added.

There are no plans to change the headquarters of the bank or the wealth management business, which will remain in Irvine for now, Kavanaugh said.

The shift to Texas won’t have “an overnight effect” on the company, but focusing on multifamily is a solid starting point, said Gary Tenner, an analyst at D.A. Davidson.

“Multifamily, if you bring on the right people, is clearly a space where you could grow pretty quickly if you source the right people, so I have no doubt they can do that,” Tenner said. “In terms of more traditional C&I, that’s a longer sales process … and more commodified. It’s the same with wealth management. You have to source the right people to bring over the assets and I think all of that takes time.”

The company considered Denver, Florida and other markets, but ultimately decided that Dallas would provide the best chance for expansion, including by way of M&A, Kavanaugh said. There were more than 400 community banks in Texas as of Sept. 30, according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data.

“In the Dallas metroplex area, there are more than you can shake a stick at in terms of community banks,” Kavanaugh said. “Now, whether they’re willing to consider M&A, that’s a different topic, but I do believe there’s great opportunity for consolidation in the Texas marketplace.”

There have been discussions with potential sellers, but nothing has been worked out yet, he said.

HoldCo Asset Management disclosed last month that First Foundation tried to initiate merger talks with the $9.7 billion-asset Boston Private Financial Holdings. HoldCo, a Boston Private investor, is upset that the company agreed to be sold to SVB Financial in Santa Clara, Calif.

HoldCo, in a letter to Boston Private CEO Anthony DeChellis, shared the contents of an email from Kavanaugh stating that he had “persistently” called DeChellis “to pursue a dialogue about a merger.” First Foundation was told in late November that Boston Private’s board had instructed DeChellis to focus internally and that the company was “not interested in pursuing a sale.”

First Foundation is not the first out-of-state bank to relocate to Texas seeking more growth and acquisition opportunities. In 2007, Comerica moved its headquarters from Detroit to Dallas and about three years later struck a deal to acquire Sterling Bancshares in Houston.

For Kavanaugh, a University of North Texas graduate, the move is a homecoming of sorts. He moved to California from Dallas in 1986 and helped launch First Foundation Bank in 2007.

Kavanaugh is building a home in the area, which he expects will be finished in April.

The relocation will mark First Foundation’s third expansion outside California, where it launched the first of its two units, First Foundation Advisors, in 1990. In 2012, it opened a branch location and an adviser office in Las Vegas and two years later did the same thing in Honolulu.

Today, the company has 20 branches, all but two in California, and employs about 500 people, roughly 75% of them based in Irvine. Over time, certain operations and other back-office jobs in Irvine will shift to Dallas, but how quickly that will happen hasn’t been decided, Kavanaugh said.

“I’ve had quite a few CEOs call me and ask” about the relocation, he said. “A lot of people are saying, ‘We think it’s a smart move.’ ”


Originators predict more outsourcing and consolidation in 2021

Managing costs and creating operational efficiencies are foremost on the minds of the mortgage lenders, with the ongoing pandemic creating pressure on their profit margins.

Outsourcing was the leading choice for producing those efficiencies, by 41% of those surveyed for Altisource Portfolio Solution’s latest the State of the Originations Industry report.

That edged out using more technology and digital services to reduce the need for staff, cited by 39% of the respondents to the survey of 200 people conducted between Aug. 17 and Aug. 29, 2020. Those shares were unchanged compared with the previous year’s survey.

“With costs rising and revenues down in many cases due to the pandemic, it makes sense. Rather than spending time and money hiring and training full-time staff, service providers can support and strengthen an originator’s workforce by handling a portion of the lender’s volume,” the report said. “In this way, an originator can avoid the typical hiring/firing cycles that significantly distract an organization from closing more loans.”

When asked what they predict for the mortgage business over the next two-to-three years, 80% of the respondents — up from 79% the previous year — said originators will outsource more to third-party vendors to better deal with market fluctuation, especially as total volume is expected to shrink due to lower refinance activity.

That was the third most-cited prediction, with the No. 1 being that growing costs will drive smaller lenders out of the business or into merging with other lenders. That was cited by 84% of respondents, up four percentage points from the previous year’s survey.

Sandwiched between those two choices was the return of private money into the mortgage securitization market, predicted by 82% of the respondents. That share was unchanged from the previous year, but it was the most cited answer for that period.

Ranked fourth among the predictions cited by the respondents was the likelihood of a market crash in the next 24 months, at 68%, while fifth, at 64%, was a new option for the latest survey, nonbanks will dominate the originations business over the next two-to-three years.

Prior surveys gave respondents the option that big banks will come back in and dominate the mortgage business; in the previous year’s survey, that was the second most cited response at 81%.

Regulatory constraints was the most-cited challenge in today’s mortgage market, by 27% of respondents. This was followed by technology at 24%; staff retention, 21%; margin compression — which is why many lenders are worried about costs — 19%; capacity, 10%; and other, 1%

When asked to rank the initiatives that are most important in differentiating their individual business compared with their competition, technology enhancements edged out customer service, 21% to 20%. Pricing was third at 19%, followed by marketing at 11%, quickest timeline at 10% and artificial intelligence at 9%.

In terms of what makes mortgage products more attractive to consumers, 38% said improved customer experience was key. Lower loan costs was cited by 23%, followed by fully digital closings at 22% and fasting closings at 18%.

“While the road ahead is still unclear, as always, mortgage companies that are ready for whatever comes will have the best chance of thriving in the market,” Brian Simon, president of three Altisource subsidiaries including the Lenders One cooperative, said in a press release.


Guaranteed Rate acquires DTC lender Owning Corporation

Fresh off its acquisition of Stearns, Guaranteed Rate has picked up Owning Corporation, a direct-to-consumer mortgage lender.

The acquisition gives Guaranteed Rate, best known for its retail prowess, another engine to boost its growth in the direct-to-consumer channel.

Terms of the deal with Orange, California-based Owning were not disclosed.

According to Guaranteed Rate, Owning’s direct-to-consumer platform processed over $20 billion in total loan volume in 2020.

“We’re actively seeking strategic acquisition opportunities to strengthen our position in growth channels,” said Guaranteed Rate’s President and CEO Victor Ciardelli in a statement. “The addition of Owning complements our existing Consumer Direct business, building on our momentum and further accelerating expansion in that segment.”

How lenders will benefit from Black Knight’s acquisition of Optimal Blue

HW Media CEO Clayton Collins and Scott Happ, president of Secondary Marketing Technologies at Black Knight, discuss Black Knight’s acquisition of Optimal Blue and what the industry can expect from the company’s new Secondary Marketing Technologies division.

Presented by: Black Knight

Like virtually all residential mortgage lenders, Chicago-based Guaranteed Rate had its best-ever year in 2020, originating about $73 billion in mortgages.

In early January, it acquired Stearns Holdings, a multichannel lender who originated about $20 billion in 2020.

With the acquisitions of Stearns and Owning, Guaranteed Rate now has a stable of profitable joint-ventures, some of the nation’s top-producing retail loan officers, access to the wholesale channel and a stronger direct-to-consumer platform to grow its refi business.

Guaranteed Rate, founded in 2001 in Chicago, is now firmly a top-10 mortgage lender in the U.S. It grew nearly 100% in 2020. Last year, the mortgage firm also had two loan originators produce over $1 billion in mortgages: Ben Cohen and Shant Banosian.

According to the NMLS, Owning has 62 loan officers and was formed in 2018. The company appears to be only licensed in California. It specializes in low-rate mortgage refinances, in which it originates a loan with no closing costs, including appraisal, credit report, escrow and title. The firm also has a zero down purchase mortgage program in California and several programs that appear related to iBuying.


SitusAMC acquires Assimilate Solutions

Real estate services and technology firm SitusAMC on Monday announced its acquisition of mortgage and title outsourcer Assimilate Solutions – the second acquisition by the New York-based firm in January, and its fourth overall in less than a year.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In a statement, SitusAMC said its latest acquisition will help to expand its residential mortgage offerings. The deal also gives it an international footprint; Assimilate has offices in the Indian cities of Gurugram, Noida and Chandigarh.

Launched in 2012, Assimilate outsources lenders’ document preparations for new and active loans as well as documentation for title, escrow and settlement processes. The firm also offers analysis and audits for clients in both the primary and secondary mortgage markets.

“This acquisition provides us with an optimized business model leveraging a combination of onshore and offshore staff that can support our clients’ licensed and non-licensed activity needs in a nimble, technology-enabled environment, which will drive better outcomes for everyone we serve,” said SitusAMC CEO Michael Franco.

In the past year alone, SitusAMC has embarked on a buying spree. On Jan. 12 the firm broke in to the wholesale tech channel after acquiring mortgage tech software developer ReadyPrice for an undisclosed amount.

In its latest release, SitusAMC revealed it plans to utilize ReadyPrice’s platform to reach brokers and lenders looking to outsource solutions in 2021.

In November the firm scooped up rSquared, the parent company of compliance technology provider ComplianceEase in September, and the third-party loan servicing platform Cohen Financial in August.

Despite all the acquisitions, they are still operating in a high-growth market with tough competition. Market rival Intercontinental Exchange scooped up Ellie Mae in an $11 million deal in September, while Wolters Kluwer GRC took in eOriginal in December and mortgage compliance software provider Questsoft was snapped up in Jan. 2021 by Ncontracts to name a few.