Chase stops accepting HELOC applications


Just a few days after it raised its lending standards to require nearly all purchase mortgage borrowers to have at least 20% down and a 700 FICO score, JPMorgan Chase is “temporarily pausing” its home equity line of credit offering.

Beginning April 16, Chase will no longer accept new HELOC applications. Customers with existing HELOCs will be able to continue to draw funds on those lines of credit, but the bank is not accepting applications for new HELOCs.

In a statement provided to HousingWire, Amy Bonitatibus, chief marketing officer for Chase Home Lending, said that the bank is making the change due to the “uncertainty” currently in the market.

“Due to the economic uncertainty, we’re temporarily pausing new applications for home equity lines of credit,” Bonitatibus said. “Customers can still tap into their home’s equity through a cash-out refinance of their existing mortgage.”

As Bonitatibus said, the bank will still allow customers to pull equity out of their houses through a cash-out refinance, which draws on the equity on the borrower’s mortgage.

A HELOC, on the other hand, is typically a second lien.

According to Chase, cash-out refis have been growing in popularity among its customers. Last year, for example, the bank did twice as many cash-out refis as HELOCs.

Chase had already shifted some of its HELOC staff to handle regular mortgages amid the refinance boom early last month before the country shut down.

And going forward, the bank will not accept any new HELOC applications. How long that pause lasts remains to be seen.



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Chase now requires 700 FICO score, 20% down payment to buy a home


As the country struggles through the economic impact of the coronavirus, numerous mortgage companies have raised their lending standards to protect both borrowers and themselves. Now, one of the largest mortgage lenders in the country is joining that list.

JPMorgan Chase this week is increasing its minimum lending standards to require nearly all borrowers to have at least 20% down in order to buy a home. Beyond that, Chase is also raising its minimum FICO credit score to 700 on purchase mortgages.

Put simply, if a borrower doesn’t have a 20% down payment and a FICO score of 700 or above, they will likely not be able get a loan from Chase to buy a home. According to Chase, those lending standards also apply to refinances on non-Chase mortgages.

The bank will still move forward with refis under its previous lending standards if the loan is either serviced by Chase or in Chase’s portfolio, but for all other refis, it’s 700 FICO or look somewhere else.

It should be noted that the changes do not apply to Chase’s DreaMaker mortgage program, which makes loans available for low-to-moderate income borrowers with as little as 3% down and reduced mortgage insurance requirements.

According to Chase, the changes will allow the bank to spend more time on the loans it is working on and do the appropriate verifications to ensure the loan is the right move for all involved.

“Due to the economic uncertainty, we are making temporary changes that will allow us to more closely focus on serving our existing customers,” Chase Home Lending Chief Marketing Officer Amy Bonitatibus said in a statement.

With the changes, Chase becomes the latest lender to tighten its lending standards. Certain segments of the business, including government, non-QM, and jumbo loans, have dried up substantially as lenders pull back from loans that are seen as riskier than conventional loans. But as the crisis continues, lenders are beginning to change their conventional lending standards as well.

United Wholesale Mortgage, the second-biggest mortgage lender in the country, recently announced that it will require reverification of a borrower’s employment on the day their loan is scheduled to close. The purpose of that move is to ensure that borrowers are actually still employed when their mortgage closes.

“If people don’t have a job, I’m not going to put them in a bad position,” UWM CEO Mat Ishbia told his employees last week. “By doing this, we’re protecting borrowers, the company, and the country.”

But UWM wasn’t the only one making employment verification changes as COVID-19 pushes layoffs to record levels in the U.S. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac recently announced that they changed the age of document requirements for most income and asset documentation from four months to two months. What that means is all income and asset documentation must be dated no more than 60 days from the date of the mortgage note.

The bottom line of all these changes is lenders are attempting to protect themselves and borrowers from getting into a mortgage that is not in the borrower’s or lender’s best interest.

And despite Chase being the biggest name to make changes like these so far, it likely won’t be the last lender to do so.

The changes to Chase’s lending policies were first reported by Reuters.



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FHA, VA join Fannie, Freddie in relaxing some standards


With the coronavirus continuing to reshape the face of the country and the economy, the biggest players in the mortgage business are moving to make it easier to lend under these extraordinary circumstances.

Last week, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac relaxed their standards for both property appraisals and verification of employment on the loans they buy.

And late last week, the Federal Housing Administration and
Department of Veterans Affairs made similar changes.

The FHA and VA both announced late Friday that would allow for appraisal and income verification alternatives as appraising homes and verifying employment are more difficult right now than they were just a few weeks ago.

On the appraisal front, the FHA and VA will allow
exterior-only appraisals (known as drive-by appraisals) or in some cases, desktop
appraisals, where the appraiser doesn’t inspect the property or comparable
sales. Instead, the appraiser relies on public records, multiple listing
service information, and other third-party data sources to identify the
property characteristics.

In its announcement, the VA cited the contagious nature of
COVID-19 as the main factor for making the appraisal changes.

“Loan Guaranty is committed to protecting veterans, appraisers and industry stakeholders while continuing to execute our mission of delivering VA home loan benefits,” the VA said in a bulletin.

“The potential risks associated with the COVID-19 provides
unique challenges in the appraisal process as VA fee panel appraisers may be
required to access the interior of homes,” the VA continued.

As a result, the VA said it is changing the “long-standing
practice of requiring access to the interior of the home for certain types of
loans and characteristics of those loans.”

According to the VA, appraisers are still required to follow the same procedures of the VA appraisal process and are still required to meet Uniform Standards of Appraisal Practice and state requirements, but are allowed the broader use of exterior inspection.

“Considering the health and safety of veterans and VA Appraiser Fee Panel members during this national emergency, valuations may come in a form of an exterior-only appraisal with enhanced assignment conditions or in limited instances, a desktop appraisal,” the VA said.

According to the VA, the new appraisal rules apply to purchase
and refinance loans but considered to be “temporary in nature.” The VA noted
that it will return to “normal operations after the national emergency.”

The stipulations are much the same for the FHA.

According to the FHA, approved appraisers can “use exterior-only or desktop-only appraisal inspections as a substitute for interior inspections for most forward mortgage and Home Equity Conversion Mortgage purchase transactions and exterior-only appraisal inspections for most forward refinance and HECM traditional and refinance transactions.”

Beyond the appraisal policy adjustments, the FHA and VA are
also making changes to their employment verification policies.

“Many employers have suspended non-essential operations in compliance with state and local government directives,” the FHA said in its announcement. “This has hampered the ability of mortgagees to fully comply with FHA requirements for reverification of employment, either verbal or electronic, to be completed within 10 days prior of the date of the note.”

For forward and HECM loans, the FHA will now allow mortgagees to use the following alternatives to re-verify borrower’s employment:

  • Year-to-date pay stub or direct electronic verification of income dated immediately prior to the note date
  • Bank statement showing a direct deposit from the borrower’s employer for the pay period that immediately precedes the settlement date

According to the FHA, for forward purchase transactions, the
mortgagee must also provide documentation of a borrower’s cash reserves
equaling a minimum of two months of principal, interest, taxes, and insurance.

The VA’s policies are similar.

“Lenders should continue to use good judgment and flexibility when verifying stable and reliable income,” the VA said. “Lenders should make every effort to satisfy VA’s longstanding requirements concerning verification of employment.”

But if a lender is unable to verify employment through traditional
means due to coronavirus-related issues, the lender can use “employment and
income verification third-party services,” the VA said.

“If the lender is not able to utilize a third-party service to verify employment and income, a verification of employment can be met with evidence of direct deposit from a bank statement and pay stubs covering at least one full month of employment within 30 days of the closing date,” the VA said.

“Lenders should reconcile payment amounts between the paystubs and direct deposit listed on the bank statement,” the VA continued. “If the required VOE documentation cannot be obtained by evidence of bank statement and pay stubs, and the borrowers have cash reserves totalling at least two months mortgage payments post-closing, the loan is eligible for guaranty.”

For more information on the VA’s employment verification changes, click here. For more information on the VA’s appraisal changes, click here.

And for more information on the FHA’s changes, click here.



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Non-QM lending has disappeared from the market


Just a few days ago, HousingWire asked the question, “Did non-QM just disappear from the market?” as many of the biggest lenders specializing in lending to borrowers outside the Qualified Mortgage lending box were pausing their activities due to uncertainty in the market.

The two main holdouts were Angel Oak Mortgage Solutions and Citadel Servicing, which both stated as recently as Friday that they were still in the non-QM lending business.

But now, those last two holdouts have bowed out, too.

Angel Oak, which has grown its non-QM business significantly in the last few years, said on Friday that it planned to continue lending, but with adjusted rates and guidelines. But that plan changed over the weekend.

On Monday morning, the company sent out a letter to clients stating that it plans to halt “all loan activity” for a period of two weeks.

“The pandemic has continued to cause turmoil in the worldwide economy,” Angel Oak said in its note to clients. “Due to the constant shifts and the inability to appropriately evaluate credit risk, we are pausing all loan activity for two weeks. This includes fundings and any new loan activity.”

It was also thought that Citadel Servicing, another big non-QM lender that was purchased by HPS Investment Partners in February, would be able to weather the storm as well since it now had the financial backing of HPS.

But that changed over the weekend as well.

Citadel Servicing sent out a note on Monday stating that it also planned to shut down its lending operations, but instead of shutting down for two weeks like Angel Oak, Citadel is shutting down for 30 days.

The reason for the action is twofold, according to the company. The company is based in California, which just issued a statewide “stay at home” order that requires all residents to stay at home other than for “essential needs.” Therefore, the company is issuing a work-from-home mandate for many of its employees.

That, combined with the market conditions, are causing Citadel to back away from non-QM lending as well.

“In light of the COVID-19 developments, the recent announcement of California’s Stay at Home Order, as well as rapidly changing conditions in the financial markets and to protect the health and safety of our employees, our customers, and to maintain Citadel Servicing Corporation’s position as the Non-QM market leader, we have decided to implement a 30-day stay-at-home policy for the employees of many of CSC’s departments, and we are temporarily pausing loan originations for the next thirty days,” Citadel said in a note to clients.

The company states that the decision to pause its lending activities is not a reflection of the health of its business.

“Importantly, CSC is not terminating or shutting its operations,” Citadel said. “We have a strong balance sheet and are not experiencing credit or liquidity issues. Instead, we are making this business decision out of an abundance of caution, in order to comply with California Governor Newsom’s Executive Order, and recognizing the in-person interactions at loan closings and in the origination process. Current conditions require reconsidering these interactions.”

The company also notes that in an effort to “limit the impact on consumers,” it plans “to fund purchase money loans intended for primary occupancy transactions currently in our Funding Department with issued Closing Documents.” The company also states that it plans to “extend and honor Conditional Loan Approvals for applicants who continue to qualify under our guidelines upon resuming operations.”

The company also states that its servicing department will continue to operate throughout this 30-day lending pause.

“We value our relationships and regret that this may be a burden in this difficult time for all of us,” the company said. “CSC plans to fully resume normal operations after thirty days or as conditions permit. We will be back, and with your continued support, stronger and better than ever.”



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Mnuchin getting the OneWest band back together again at the OCC


Department of the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin apparently enjoyed working with some of his compatriots at OneWest Bank so much that he’s now moving to staff the leadership of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency with former OneWest executives.

Joseph Otting, who served as the CEO of OneWest from 2010 until 2015, is already the Comptroller of the Currency. Now, the OCC is adding Brian Brooks, who served as vice chairman and chief legal officer at OneWest, as its chief operating officer and first deputy comptroller.

The OCC announced Monday that Brooks, who most recently served as chief legal officer of Coinbase, one of the world’s largest digital currency exchanges, is set to join the OCC next month.

Prior to joining Coinbase in 2018, Brooks served as Fannie Mae’s executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary for almost four years. Brooks came to Fannie Mae in 2014 after leaving OneWest.

Mnuchin and his partners at Dune Capital Management formed OneWest after buying the remains of IndyMac Federal Bank from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in 2009. Mnuchin and his partners sold OneWest to CIT Group in 2015. 

But Mnuchin’s, Otting’s, and Brooks’ time wasn’t without some controversy. Last year, OneWest agreed to settle claims that the bank redlined certain minority neighborhoods for several years, including part of the time that Mnuchin, Otting and Brooks were in charge of the bank.

OneWest’s reverse mortgage servicer, Financial Freedom, was also the subject of allegations about its dealings. During Mnuchin’s confirmation process, Democrats claimed that Financial Freedom was responsible for a “disproportionately high” foreclosure rate on reverse mortgages from April 2009 through April 2016 and nicknamed Mnuchin the “foreclosure king.”

OneWest later agreed to an $89 million settlement over allegations of reverse mortgage abuses brought by the Department of Justice.

And now, two of Mnuchin’s top lieutenants at OneWest will be in charge of the OCC.

Brooks’ name has been attached to the Trump administration for some time. Brooks was once rumored to be on the Trump administration’s shortlist to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

But instead of going to the CFPB, Brooks will be going to the OCC.

“Brian Brooks is a strong leader with extensive experience in the financial services sector,” said Mnuchin said in a statement. “I look forward to working with him to ensure the stability of our financial system and its ability to foster greater economic growth for the benefit of all Americans.”

Brooks will be replacing Morris Morgan, who announced that he plans to retire at the end of April.

“Morris Morgan has dedicated his career to bettering this agency and promoting the safety and soundness of the federal banking system,” Otting said. “We will miss his voice and leadership on the agency’s Executive Committee and wish him the very best.”

Brooks is set to take over as OCC’s first deputy comptroller and COO on April 1.

“Brian brings an extensive career of legal, banking, and financial innovation expertise to the agency,” Otting said. “He is a visionary thinker with a passion for service and a deep understanding of how the financial services industry supports our nation’s prosperity. We are fortunate to attract such an experienced and talented individual to join our federal agency.”



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Fifth Third Bank accused of opening fake accounts


Last week, Fifth Third Bank revealed that it was facing a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau enforcement action over “alleged unauthorized account openings.”

And Monday, the other shoe dropped when the CFPB said it is suing Cincinnati-based Fifth Third alleging the bank’s employees opening accounts in customers’ names without their consent in order to meet sales goals and earn incentives.

According to the CFPB, “for several years Fifth Third, without consumers’ knowledge or consent: opened deposit and credit-card accounts in consumers’ names; transferred funds from consumers’ existing accounts to new, improperly opened accounts; enrolled consumers in unauthorized online-banking services; and activated unauthorized lines of credit on consumers’ accounts.”

The bureau claims that, much like Wells Fargo, Fifth Third engaged in a “cross-sell” strategy, where the bank’s employees were encouraged and incentivized to get customers to open additional accounts.

The CFPB claims that from 2008 through at least 2016, that system led to Fifth Third employees opening fake accounts in customers’ names in order to meet those goals.

The bank, on the other hand, claims that the CFPB’s allegations are without merit and its lawsuit is uncalled-for. Put simply, the bank said that it “rejects” the bureau’s allegations.

“Fifth Third Bank respects and values the important role that the CFPB plays in protecting consumers but believes that the civil suit filed today is unnecessary and unwarranted,” said Susan Zaunbrecher, chief legal officer of Fifth Third Bank. “The Bank will defend itself vigorously and is confident in the outcome.”

According to Zaunbrecher, the bank’s compensation and incentive structure “does not reward retail employees for opening unauthorized accounts, nor does it give them sales quotas or product-specific targets.”

Zaunbrecher said that the bank’s controls are “designed to prevent and detect unauthorized account openings.” Zaunbrecher added the bank “claws back” compensation from employees for accounts that are unused or closed shortly after they were opened.

In defending itself against the CFPB’s claims, Fifth Third admits that some of its former employees did open unauthorized accounts in customers’ names between 2010 and 2016.

According to Fifth Third, less than 100 employees opened approximately 1,100 unauthorized accounts over that six-year period.

“After an investigation spanning more than three years and involving nearly half a billion pieces of data produced by the bank, the CFPB has not informed us of any unauthorized accounts beyond the fewer than 1,100 accounts that the bank itself identified out of 10 million – or approximately 0.01% of accounts opened between 2010 and 2016,” Zaunbrecher said.

“These accounts involved less than $30,000 in improper customer charges that were ultimately waived or reimbursed to customers years ago,” Zaunbrecher added. “While even a single unauthorized account is one too many, we took appropriate and decisive action to address each situation.”

According to the bank, between 2010 and 2016, 96 employees were terminated or resigned for opening accounts that the bank deemed suspicious or didn’t meet the bank’s standards for quality and customer usage.

During that time, the bank had more than 27,000 employees serving in customer-facing roles.

Additionally, the bank claims it received just 424 complaints regarding unauthorized accounts from more than 10 million customer accounts over that six-year period.

The bank claims that this indicates that “misconduct was the exception, not the expectation.”

The CFPB claims that Fifth Third’s remediation efforts for the affected customers were insufficient, a claim the bank also disputes.

It should also be noted that the scope of the Fifth Third fake account problem appears to be much smaller than the one that has plagued Wells Fargo for the last several years. In its lawsuit, the CFPB does not indicate the size or scope of the problem at Fifth Third.

Wells Fargo’s fake account scandal stemmed from 5,000 Wells Fargo employees opening two million fake accounts in order to receive sales bonuses. Fifth Third is also smaller than Wells Fargo.

Fifth Third has branches in Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Tennessee, West Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina, whereas Wells Fargo is nationwide.

The CFPB seeks an injunction to “stop Fifth Third’s unlawful conduct, redress for affected consumers, and the imposition of a civil money penalty.” The bureau also wants to see the bank ordered to “correct harmful consumer-reporting-agency information, including but not limited to correction of any harmful trade lines on consumer-credit reports resulting from unauthorized consumer-financial accounts and services.”

Fifth Third, meanwhile, said it will move for a quick trial.

“The bank is confident that it has treated its customers fairly,” Zaunbrecher said. “When a federal court examines the evidence, we believe it will agree with Fifth Third that this is a limited and historical event. The bank will press for an early trial.”



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Former Treasury housing advisor Craig Phillips joining HouseCanary


Craig Phillips, who served as Department of the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s top housing advisor and the Trump administration’s point person on reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac before stepping down in 2019, has a new job in the housing industry.

Phillips will be joining HouseCanary, a provider of software and analytics for the real estate industry that specializes in valuations and appraisals, as a senior advisor.

According to the company, Phillips will be working with CEO and Founder Jeremy Sicklick and the senior team at HouseCanary to help the company in its mission to automate real estate appraisals.

Phillips left the Treasury Department in Summer 2019, stepping down before enacting major changes at Fannie and Freddie.

Phillips joined the administration in 2017, signing on as Mnuchin’s top housing advisor after leaving BlackRock. At Blackrock, Phillips served as head of financial markets advisory and client solutions.

According to Phillips’ BlackRock bio, he joined the company in 2008. Previously, Phillips served as a managing director of Morgan Stanley from 1994 to 2006. While at Morgan Stanley, he worked in the company’s Fixed Income division, and was responsible for oversight of its global Securitized Products Group.

The New York Times described Phillips as a “veteran Wall Street mortgage trader,” and it was believed that his mortgage-related experience would help the administration pursue GSE reform.

Despite speaking out on multiple occasions about the administration’s plans to reform Fannie and Fannie, Phillips left the Treasury before the administration moved to begin the process of ending the conservatorship of the GSEs.

Craig Phillips

And now, Phillips is joining HouseCanary at what the company calls a “pivotal time” in the mortgage industry. The company cites the recent change to the real estate appraisal rules.

Last year, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve approved a policy that increased the threshold for needing a real estate appraisal from $250,000 to $400,000. That was the first time the threshold had been raised since 1994.

Under the policy, certain home sales of $400,000 and below will no longer require an appraisal.

The new rules do not apply to loans wholly or partially insured or guaranteed by, or eligible for sale to, a government agency or government-sponsored agency.

What that means is that loans sold to or guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration, Department of Housing and Urban DevelopmentDepartment of Veterans Affairs, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac still require an appraisal, per each agency or companies’ rules.

But the rule does apply to loans that are either held in portfolio by lenders or sold to secondary market investors via the private-label securitization market.

Companies like HouseCanary, which provides automated property valuations, stand to benefit from this change.

Investors seem to see the appeal of HouseCanary, as the company raised $65 million earlier this month.

“I am honored to have Craig join HouseCanary in this strategically important role,” Sicklick said. “Craig is a proven leader and pioneer in the mortgage and banking industry. His background in innovation, the private and public sector, and regulatory and financial systems are an asset to HouseCanary as we continue to build the most accurate valuations in the housing industry.”

Phillips said that he is excited to join HouseCanary at such a unique time in the housing business.

“Technology changes will likely enable a disruption of the traditional appraisal process as we now know it, benefitting both consumers and lenders,” Phillips said. “HouseCanary has developed industry-leading analytics that have the ability to support a frictionless home purchase and borrowing experience. I’m excited to join at this period of growth and innovation for the company and the industry.”



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Equifax expects to pay out another $100 million for data breach


The Department of Justice may think it knows who hacked Equifax and exposed the sensitive personal information of 148 million U.S. consumers, but that doesn’t mean the breach is behind Equifax quite yet.

In fact, the credit reporting agency disclosed this week that it expects to pay out an additional $100 million for its role in the breach.

Last year, the company set aside then agreed to pay out nearly $700 million to settle numerous federal and state investigations.

But the company revealed this week in its fourth-quarter earnings report that it set aside another $99.6 million in the fourth quarter for “certain legal proceedings and government investigations related to the 2017 cybersecurity incident.”

According to the company, it believes this accrual will cover the remainder of its expected payouts for the breach. More specifically, the company said it “represents completed settlements and our best estimate of remaining liabilities for the U.S. matters related to the 2017 cybersecurity incident.”

All in all, the company set aside just over $800 million for breach-related payouts in 2019, which does not include the company’s legal or professional services expenses.

Beyond that, the company spent an additional $337 million in 2019 on technology and data security, legal and investigative fees, and product liability for the breach.

In total, the breach cost Equifax $1.14 billion in 2019 alone.

Overall, the breach cost Equifax more than $1.7 billion since it was first disclosed in 2017.

According to Equifax, at the time of the breach, the company had $125 million in cybersecurity insurance coverage. The company has long since received the maximum reimbursement of $125 million on that insurance policy.

The company also cautions that despite its current belief that this $100 million will cover all its “remaining liabilities,” it is possible that its financial punishment is not over yet.

“While it is reasonably possible that losses exceeding the amount accrued will be incurred, it is not possible at this time to estimate the additional possible loss in excess of the amount already accrued that might result from adverse judgments, settlements, penalties or other resolution of the proceedings and investigations related to the 2017 cybersecurity incident based on a number of factors, such as the various stages of these proceedings and investigations, that alleged damages have not been specified or are uncertain, the uncertainty as to the certification of a class or classes and the size of any certified class, as applicable, and the lack of resolution on significant factual and legal issues,” the company said in its earnings statement.

“The ultimate amount paid on these actions, claims and investigations in excess of the amount already accrued could be material to the company’s consolidated financial condition, results of operations, or cash flows in future periods,” the company added.



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UWM enters the big leagues, unveils first Super Bowl commercial


Quicken Loans may be the “official mortgage sponsor” of the NFL and the face of the Rocket Mortgage Super Bowl Squares Sweepstakes, but one of its biggest lending rivals is dialing up its own big play on Super Bowl Sunday.

United Wholesale Mortgage, which is now one of the largest lenders in the country, will air its first Super Bowl commercial during this year’s matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers.

The commercial is the lender’s first Super Bowl ad and the ad itself is a direct shot across Quicken Loans’ bow. 

The ad, which can be seen below, opens with a swipe about how playing with rockets is fun when you’re a kid, but not so much when you’re an adult. 

UWM’s first Super Bowl commercial

The ad highlights the “FindAMortgageBroker.com” website, which is powered by UWM and helps borrowers find a mortgage broker in their area.

The ad claims that by using a mortgage broker, who work with various lenders instead of just one, borrowers can get a “faster, easier, more affordable” mortgage than the one they’d get using Quicken Loans’ Rocket Mortgage or other lenders.

UWM and Quicken Loans are no strangers to competing against each other. Both are among the top lenders in the country, but UWM only does wholesale, while Quicken Loans does retail (mainly through Rocket at this point) as well as wholesale, through Quicken Loans Mortgage Services.

In fact, one might even say that the companies are rivals, as seen a couple of years ago when each company accused the other of underhanded dealings in the competition for borrowers.

But by advertising during the Super Bowl, UWM is following a path originally laid out by Quicken Loans, which rolled out its first Super Bowl commercial four years ago.

The commercial unveiled Rocket Mortgage and its tagline “Push Button. Get Mortgage” to the nation as a whole, but that tagline led to some serious confusion and angst among the public at large.

But Quicken Loans wasn’t the only lender to make a big push during the Super Bowl that day. SoFi also advertised during Super Bowl 50, spending 20% of its ad budget on its Super Bowl commercial.

SoFi was back the next year, although it took a different approach, choosing to buy one of the ad spots that would run only if the game went into overtime. That year’s game actually did go into overtime, leading to a big win for SoFi.

Quicken Loans returned to the Super Bowl advertising game a couple of years later, hiring actor Keegan-Michael Key to appear in its ad, which was much more well-received than its first go-round.

Super Bowl viewers will apparently see another Quicken Loans commercial this year, as the lender has recently been teasing an appearance from Game of Thrones and Aquaman star Jason Momoa in its ad.

Quicken Loans’ commercial will be a national spot, likely costing the lender somewhere between $5 million and $5.6 million if the ad is 30 seconds. If it’s longer, the price goes up, of course. And that doesn’t factor in how much it cost to produce the ad itself.

UWM, on the other hand, is taking a more targeted approach. The company’s ad will be available in “select markets,” the company told HousingWire.

The company did not indicate which markets those would be, but the move to advertise on what will be the most-watched TV program of the year in every market is still a big play for the already sizable lender. 

As for a little more on why UWM is running the Super Bowl commercial this year, UWM CEO Mat Ishbia provided HousingWire with an exclusive video discussing the company’s reasoning.

In the video, Ishbia says that the ad is not about UWM. Rather, Ishbia said it’s about supporting mortgage brokers.

Check out that video below.



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Mr. Cooper shuttering Oregon office, laying off 301 employees


For the second time in just over a year, more than 300 people employed by mortgage servicer Seterus are about to see their jobs eliminated.

Just over a year ago, IBM laid off just over 300 employees within its mortgage servicing operation, Seterus. That move came just days after Mr. Cooper Group announced it was purchasing Seterus from IBM.

And now, one year later, Mr. Cooper is laying off another 300 employees from within the Seterus servicing operation.

Mr. Cooper (the company formerly known as Nationstar) is shutting down a Beaverton, Oregon office location that was part of the Seterus acquisition and eliminating all 301 positions at that location.

The layoffs were revealed in a WARN Notice filed with the state of Oregon. According to that WARN Notice, which can be read here, the closure of the Oregon facility is “expected to be permanent” and the layoffs are “expected to be permanent.”

The facility is expected to close on March 18, 2020.

“Mr. Cooper Group continuously looks for ways to further increase efficiencies that best meet the needs of our team members, customers and shareholders and ensures the long-term success of the business,” the company said in a statement.

“After careful consideration of all our options and strategic priorities, we made the decision to close the Beaverton, Oregon location,” the company continued.

“While we deeply regret team members in Oregon will be impacted, we believe our changes will allow for investments that further our goals and improve the customer experience,” the company concluded. “We are dedicated to supporting our Beaverton employees in this transition with career services and, where we can, have worked to find new opportunities for them within the company.” 

According to the company, the affected employees were told two months in advance that the office would be closing. Beyond that, the company is offering career transition support, including career coaching, resume and cover letter assistance, networking tips, mock interviews, and other aid to the affected employees.

Beyond that, the affected employees will have the option of consider a move to Mr. Cooper’s Texas offices and receive a stipend for relocation.

Seterus became part of Mr. Cooper in March 2019. At the time, Mr. Cooper said that the deal would add 300,000 new mortgage servicing customers to its portfolio. The deal included $24 billion in government-sponsored enterprise mortgages and a subservicing contract for $24 billion.

“We are excited to welcome more than 300,000 customers and the Seterus team to the Mr. Cooper Group family,” Mr. Cooper Group Chairman and CEO Jay Bray said when the deal was first announced.

“We are confident our new team will be energized by our people-first culture, and our new customers will benefit from our user-friendly mobile and online tools designed to help them manage their home finances,” Bray continued. “This transaction is consistent with our outlook for profitability targets and portfolio growth.”

But now, nearly a year later, more than 300 of those Seterus employees are about to be out of a job.

The layoffs at Mr. Cooper were first reported by The Oregonian.



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