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2018 HW Tech100 Winner: Simplifile

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Lending, Real Estate

Simplifile has partnered with Docutech to combine Docutech’s Solex eClosing solution with Simplifile’s services. As a result, Simplifile helps deliver the superior functionality of a digitally streamlined eSign, eNotarization and e-recording to settlement agents, lenders and borrowers.

In addition to e-recording, Simplifile has also developed collaboration and post closing tools to facilitate a more seamless solution experience of eClosing and beyond for agents, lenders and borrowers. Using Simplifile Collaboration, lenders and settlement agents can securely share, receive, track, validate, and communicate on documents and fees  to reduce  the risk of errors on closing documents, ensure a seamless closing process and create an audit trail for compliance.

simplifile.com

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2018 HW Tech100 Winner: SimpleNexus

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Lending, Real Estate

The company offers a private-label solution that connects lenders with its borrowers and Realtors to a single, branded solution to easily exchange data and documents throughout the entire loan lifecycle. Borrowers are able to search for homes, apply for a mortgage, run calculations, upload documents and see real-time status of their loan progress.

With SimpleNexus, a loan officer is now a mobile originator. Through the smartphone app, LOs are able to view new loan applications the second they come in, pull and view credit reports, run live pricing scenarios via Optimal Blue, see a live CRM feed and send approval letters. All of this from the palm of their hand, as the app connects real-time with their LOS.

simplenexus.com

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2018 HW Tech100 Winner: RynohLive

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Real Estate

RynohLive is a web-based, bridge application for escrow account management practices. The company offers continuous end-to-end account auditing, daily reconciliation, transaction monitoring, anti-fraud algorithms and built-in automated reporting.

It is comprised of five modules: RynohPay, which provides automated Positive Pay; RynohRecon, which automatically retrieves paid items data from the client’s financial institution and reconciles them with their escrow accounting software; RynohTrax, which automatically tracks and validates all funds flowing into and out of an account; RynohReport, which combines the functionality of the above three modules to provide daily and monthly management reports; and RynohSecure, which is the monitoring module for the underwriter.

rynoh.com

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2018 HW Tech100 Winner: Xome

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Real Estate

Xome aims to be a true “one-stop shop” for the real estate process, taking buyers and sellers from search and discovery, to managing offers, to closing escrow. Xome also offers technology that enables sellers to maximize exposure by self-listing their home directly to the MLS without the cost of an agent. Xome enables buyers and sellers to better understand the value of a home and conditions of the local market, thanks to Xome’s AI and data science team, which has built a lender-grade valuation model that is publicly available on the company’s consumer-facing website.

Xome also offers a 100% digital closing experience for buyers and users can also leverage the Xome Auctions app for a mobile optimized end-to-end experience. Xome recently launched real estate discovery and mortgage lead generation sites for two of the country’s largest mortgage servicers and two of the top five mortgage originators.

Xome.com

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2018 HW Tech100 Winner: Westcor Specialty

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Lending, Real Estate

Westcor Specialty is the technology arm of Westcor Land Title Insurance Company. Westcor Specialty works to identify ways Westor can bring innovation to marketplace participants outside of its traditional title insurance products and services. Westcor Specialty creates new products and services, focusing on new and emerging segments of the marketplace.

One member of Westcor Specialty’s portfolio of companies is Closepin, which provides a cloud-based, automated closing agent compliance validation platform for a lender’s closing agent network. Closepin reduces risk for lenders, creates market exposure for closing agents, and provides a searchable closing agent database for consumers, real estate agents, and loan officers. The platform offers a compliance certificate to the lender, rate and fee comparisons to consumers, as well as enhanced lender visibility for title agents.

closepin.com

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2018 HW Tech100 Winner: ValueLink Software

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Lending, Servicing, Real Estate

ValueLink’s appraisal management software provides appraisal management companies, lenders, and appraisers with the ability to manage and track all their appraisal orders from a single location, while also maintaining regulatory compliance. The cloud-based system is integrated with major loan origination systems and order management platforms used by lenders, and can be accessed from any location on multiple devices.

In 2017, the company launched Connect, a complete order management platform for appraisers and appraisal companies that allows appraisers to receive orders from multiple lenders and AMCs and manage those orders from a single location. The company also offers CrossCheck, a proprietary appraisal review technology that analyzes appraisal reports for almost 1,000 rules, and alerts reviewers on any potential UAD and non-UAD errors on the report.

valuelinksoftware.com

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Experts: Homebuyers should prepare for onslaught of competition this spring season

The latest Case-Shiller report showed home prices are continuing to rise, but now experts say not only are those high prices here to stay, but homebuyers could be pummeled this spring by an increase in competition.

One expert explained that homebuyers will face not only the typical spring competition, but also the pent-up demand from would-be buyers looking for, but unable to find, a home over the past several months.

“The spring home shopping season will soon be in full swing, and with it we can expect the usual seasonal bump of would-be home buyers to come out of the woodwork to compete over a shrinking pool of homes to choose from,” Zillow Senior Economist Aaron Terrazas said. “But in a twist, this year’s buyers may be competing against some of those buyers who have been unsuccessful during the past few months.”

“Increasingly, the traditional seasonal boundaries around home shopping season – which generally heats up in early spring and cools off by late summer in time for back-to-school season – are becoming less pronounced,” Terrazas said. “Limited supply, fierce competition and rising prices are forcing many buyers to stay on the market longer in hopes of finding the right home at the right price. More inventory is really the only cure for those pressures right now, especially for those at the entry-level end of the market, but it has proven frustratingly slow in coming.”

And one expert explained this increased competition is also increasing home prices, which means high home prices are here to stay.

“Our first glimpse into Case-Shiller home price data in 2018 confirms high prices are here to stay,” realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale said. “In fact, if we continue to see a steady stream of buyers and owners remain largely uninterested in selling, we can expect prices to continue to rise.”

Another expert explained that while homes on the lower end of the market are failing to keep up with demand and seeing quickly increasing prices, the same can’t be said for luxury homes.

“The Case-Shiller Home Price Index continues to support our view that today’s housing market is driven by a mismatch of demand and supply,” said Tian Liu, Genworth Mortgage Insurance chief economist. “There is robust demand by first-time homebuyers for affordable homes, and equally robust supply for higher-end homes.”

“Over the last 12 months, the low-tier homes measured by the Case-Shiller Index have out-performed the aggregate index significantly while the high-tier homes have under-performed,” Liu said.

The chart below from Trulia shows the amount of home price increases has been steadily climbing since about mid-2014. In the past couple months, the increase rate surpassed 6%, and has held there.

Click to Enlarge

Trulia

(Source: Trulia)

However, not all experts expect home price growth to continue at its current rate.

“That is the first time annual growth has fallen since June 2016, and supports our view that house price gains peaked at the end of last year,” Capital Economics Property Economist Matthew Pointon said. “We expect growth will continue to ease gradually this year, although tight market conditions and rising household incomes argue against a sharp slowdown.”

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FHFA: Home prices jump in January

Home prices increased in January, moving even faster than the levels of increase seen at the end of 2017, according to the latest House Price Index from the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Home prices increased by 0.8% from December to January, the index showed. And December’s increase of 0.3% was upwardly revised to 0.4%.

The chart below showed January’s increase in home prices was the highest monthly increase since February 2017, when home prices also rose 0.8%. August came close with an monthly increase of 0.7%.

Click to Enlarge

FHFA home prices

(Source: FHFA)

The FHFA monthly HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Because of this, the selection excludes high-end homes bought with jumbo loans or cash sales.

Home prices saw the most monthly increases on the coasts, both the East and West Coast.

Across the U.S., changes in home prices from December to January ranged from a decrease of 0.7% in the West South Central division to an increase of 1.2% in the New England and Pacific divisions.

Annually, all home price changes were positive, ranging from an increase of 5.1% in the West South Central division to an increase in the double digits of 10% in the Mountain division.

West South Central: Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana

New England: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut

Pacific: Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California

Mountain: Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico

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Housing inventory relief could be coming soon

Although current housing inventory continues to slip, driving up home prices and limiting homebuyers across the U.S., one expert says that could all be about to change.

After analyzing February’s housing starts data, First American Financial Corp. found the housing inventory shortage could soon see relief. First American Chief Economist Mark Fleming pointed out February’s employment report showed a boost of nearly 7,000 residential construction jobs from January to February this year.

In fact, the increase in February’s construction labor growth was the strongest since August 2008, and the number of residential construction jobs is up 3.8% from last year, First American pointed out. It also explained this growth in construction jobs will support further improvement in the pace of home building.

The chart below shows the movement of housing starts and construction employment since January 2000.

Click to Enlarge

First Am

(Source: First American, U.S. Census Bureau, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)

In February, builders broke ground on fewer homes in February than they did in February 2017, but this was mainly due to a drop in multifamily starts. Single-family housing starts actually increased 2.9%, Fleming pointed out.

Housing completions, or the number of new homes added to the current housing stock, increased significantly from the year before, indicating relief for the supply shortage. An increase in permits along with the surge in construction employment means this relief could continue into the spring home buying season and the year ahead.

“Despite a drop in housing starts, the annual increase in housing permits and completions, in conjunction with the rise in construction employment, signals an upward trajectory for housing starts for the spring home-buying season,” Fleming said.

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Realtor.com adds Michelle Meyers as vice president of customer success

Move, which operates Realtor.com for the National Association of Realtors, announced recently that it appointed Michelle Meyers to the newly created role of vice president of customer success.

In this role, Meyers is tasked with boosting the company’s relationships with real estate agents, Realtors, and brokers.

According to the company, Meyers will work with Realtor.com’s customers (Realtors, real estate agents, etc.) to “identify opportunities to better streamline and coordinate communication, support and service, and help generate measurable business growth,” the company said in release.

Meyers has spent the majority of her career in customer engagement and client relationship management in the workforce mobility and healthcare sectors and brings a background in business operations, analytics and reporting to her new role.

Meyers most recently served as the northern California general manager for Synergy Global Housing, which provides relocation and temporary housing services in over 55 countries around the world.Michelle Meyers

Earlier in her career, Meyers served as chief operating officer of medical device company Biolyst d/b/a Realief Neuropathy Centers, and in client engagement and client service leadership roles at SIRVA Relocation.

Meyers began her career as a real estate professional, which Realtor.com said will give her “relevant insight” into the needs of the website’s customers.

“We are constantly evaluating every point of our customer journey to ensure we create the best environment for our customers to build, manage and grow their business,” said Debbie Neuberger, senior vice president of service operations. “This new role helps further extend our reputation for best-in-class results among competing national providers, and Michelle is supremely qualified and positioned to advance professionals and realtor.com in this capacity.”