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FNF Completes

LPS Acquisition

Fidelity National Financial Inc. (FNF), offering title insurance and transaction services to the real estate and mortgage industries, has completed its purchase of Lender Processing Services Inc. (LPS) for an estimated $2.9 billion.

“We are excited to consummate the LPS acquisition and bring its market-leading technology solutions and services back into the FNF family,” said FNF Chairman William P. Foley II, in a statement. “This combination creates a larger, broader, more diversified and recurring revenue base for FNF and makes us the nation’s leading provider of transaction services and technology solutions to the real estate and mortgage industries. We also believe that there will be future complementary acquisition opportunities, particularly in the core mortgage technology business, that will serve to enhance organic growth. This is a strategic acquisition that we believe will provide a platform for future growth opportunities that can continue to create significant value for our shareholders.”

It remains to be seen whether FNF will discontinue certain products and services offered by LPS, as a number of business lines at the two companies overlap.

It also remains to be seen how many existing LPS employees will receive pink slips - if any - for the same reason.

The purchase cleared a major hurdle in late December when it won approval from U.S. antitrust regulators.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) cleared the deal on the condition that FNF sell a copy of databases serving six Oregon counties to preserve competition.

FNF, which announced its intention to buy LPS in May, has hired JPMorgan Chase & Co. to review possible divestitures as it narrows its focus to the housing market, according to the report.

The FTC had originally objected to the merger, saying that the proposed combination of FNF’s and LPS’ title plant assets in six Oregon counties, including the Portland area, would substantially reduce competition, thus violating U.S. antitrust laws.

Oregon law requires title insurers to own an interest in a title plant in each county in which they issue policies. This requirement, however, creates a barrier to entry for new firms seeking to provide title insurance underwriting.

The FTC had argued that FNF’s purchase of LPS would eliminate one of only a few available title plants in six Oregon counties, thus making it possible for FNF and one other underwriter to exclude competing firms from having an interest in a joint title plant in the Portland area.

 

New Correspondent

Program A Success

AMC Links says its new correspondent program introduced in October is helping regional appraisal management companies (AMCs) become nationally competitive.

The new program allows AMCs to receive orders in states or areas outside their normal footprint without having to go through the regimented and expensive licensing process.

The correspondent program is also helping local and regional AMCs stay in alignment with strict regulation and compliance laws, the company claims.

In a company press release, an un-named employee of an un-named regional AMC headquartered in Alabama says the new program has helped the company capture business from outside the state, without having to go through the licensure process.

“Parts of our business got complicated when Illinois adopted new licensing requirements for appraisal management companies, and it didn’t make sense for us to get licensed,” the employee says. “We decided to use AMC Links as a conduit to fulfill orders in that state.”

AMC Links provides nationwide coverage in a non-exclusive correspondent role. Client AMCs are able to complete appraisal services anywhere in the country, which in turn helps them keep their customers satisfied.

Correspondent AMCs are not required to adhere to any minimum assignment quotas. They are also not required to pay start-up costs in order to enroll in the program.

 

Appraisal Rules

Exemptions OK’d

Mortgages of $25,000 or less and certain “streamlined” refinancings will be exempt from certain appraisal requirements defined under the Dodd-Frank Act, as per a final rule issued by six federal financial regulators in December.

In a joint press release, the six federal regulators say the exemptions are intended to save borrowers time and money while still ensuring that the loans are financially sound.

The new Dodd-Frank Act appraisal requirements, which went into effect on Jan. 18, apply to certain “higher-priced” mortgages. Typically, these are loans where the annual percentage rate exceeds the average prime offer rate by a specified percentage. The Dodd-Frank Act requires creditors to obtain a written appraisal based on a physical visit of the home’s interior before making these loans.

The final rule also includes special provisions for manufactured homes, which can present unique issues in determining the appropriate valuation method. To ensure that access to affordable housing options is not hindered while creditors make the necessary adjustments, the requirements for manufactured home loans will not become effective until July 18, 2015, the release states.

The six agencies issuing the final rule - which was first presented for public comment in January 2013 - include the Federal Reserve Board, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the National Credit Union Administration and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

 

Freedom Mortgage,

National MI Partner

To give its customers more loan options, Freedom Mortgage Corp., a national, full-service mortgage banker with retail, wholesale, correspondent and commercial origination and servicing operations, has teamed up with National Mortgage Insurance Corp. (National MI), a subsidiary of NMI Holdings Inc.

As per a press release, the partnership will enable Freedom Mortgage to expand lending capacity for loans with higher loan-to-value (LTV) ratios. Private mortgage insurance is typically required on mortgages with LTV ratios of greater than 80%.

“We’re very pleased to be an approved mortgage insurance provider for Freedom Mortgage,” says Bradley Shuster, president and CEO of National MI. “With the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) reducing its role in the mortgage market, we believe today’s lenders are looking for new private-capital alternatives to help qualify more borrowers and to close loans quickly. We’re happy that Freedom, a large, national and quickly growing lender, is choosing to work with National MI.”

Now that the FHA is decreasing the role it plays in providing mortgage insurance to borrowers, as was expected due to the housing recovery, new private mortgage insurance companies such as National MI are moving in to meet the requirement for mortgage insurance. Also helping to drive the trend is the shift from a refinancing to purchase market.

“We expect that the role of private mortgage insurance will grow as purchase loans continue to gain market share relative to refinances,” Shuster says.

 

Optimal Blue

Buys LoanSifter

In yet another example of ongoing consolidation in the mortgage technology and services market, Optimal Blue, a cloud-based provider of enterprise-level pricing, point-of-sale, compliance and secondary marketing automation services for the mortgage industry, has acquired LoanSifter Inc., a provider of product eligibility and pricing, point-of-sale and marketing solutions for mortgage lenders.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In a release, Optimal Blue says it will absorb all LoanSifter operations, employees and customer relationships into its brand.

Founded in 2004, LoanSifter provides content and technology that is used daily by mortgage professionals to search loan products and guidelines from more than 185 investors. LoanSifter offers a suite of services to mortgage bankers, credit unions, community banks and brokers, including a managed-content pricing engine, point-of-sale solutions, marketing and automated quoting.

Optimal Blue is a cloud-based provider of managed-content, product eligibility, pricing, secondary marketing, point-of-sale and compliance technology and services. Based in Plano, Texas, Optimal Blue has developed a suite of products and services designed to automate a lender’s complex processes, thus improving efficiency and profitability.

 

New Lending Program
For Investors

Time to fire up that rental-backed securities machine...

FirstKey Lending, which offers financing to investors in one- to four-family residential rental properties, has launched FirstKey Lending Express, a new lending program geared for investors seeking loans of $5 million or less to acquire new properties or refinance existing debt.

The company claims this new program offers investors in residential properties “a fast, efficient source of financing and a streamlined closing process.”

“The FirstKey Lending Express program is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of investors looking to borrow up to $5 million for their rental portfolios,” says Randy Reiff, CEO of FirstKey Lending, in a release. “Investors with rental property portfolios under $5 million represent the largest segment of this market, yet they have historically had limited access to capital. We are pleased to introduce the FirstKey Lending Express program to these historically underserved investors.”

Loans offered under the FirstKey Lending Express program are typically non-recourse and generally have lower rates and better terms compared to other small-balance commercial loan products, the company claims.

 

Churchill Mortgage

Opens New Branch

Brentwood, Tenn.-based lender Churchill Mortgage is opening of its first physical branch in California, located in Orange, which will serve all of Southern California, according to the company.

Nick Williams will manage the branch, bringing more than 20 years of experience in the industry. Prior to joining Churchill Mortgage, Williams served as a branch manager and mortgage advisor for Cherry Creek Mortgage, Nations Home Funding, First Reliance and Richmond Equity, which he also owned.

In 2013, Churchill Mortgage became employee-owned and recruited over 100 new staff members during the year.

 

Ginnie Mae Loan-Level

Data Now Monthly

Ginnie Mae is now releasing loan-level data for existing, active single-family mortgage-backed securities (MBS) on a monthly basis.

The first release of monthly data, issued Dec. 13, combines files for October and November.

Beginning last month, loan data is released on the 10th business day of each month.

“The release of loan-level data for existing single-family MBS is an important step toward improving our transparency,” says Ted Tozer, president of Ginnie Mae, in a release. “Enhancing MBS disclosures assists Ginnie Mae in attracting global capital by meeting the needs of investors more effectively and enabling them to make better-informed investment decisions.”

The loan data includes all active loans in single-family pools and is disclosed in separate Ginnie Mae I and Ginnie Mae II data files. Each includes information regarding borrowers’ debt-to-income ratios, delinquencies and credit scores.

The monthly files augment the daily files that Ginnie Mae started producing in August. To ensure borrower privacy, the firm truncates the Original Principal Balance and Unpaid Principal Balance (UPB) at Issuance fields to the thousandths place. In addition, it will redact the actual UPB for the first six months based on the Pool Issue Date. (The actual UPB will begin to be disclosed in the seventh month.) What’s more, it masks the Metropolitan Statistical Area field so that it is blank for all loans.

 

Stonegate Mortgage

Buys Crossline Capital

Stonegate Mortgage Corp., an Indianapolis-based publicly traded mortgage company focused on originating, financing and servicing residential mortgage loans, has completed the acquisition of Crossline Capital, a California-based mortgage lender that originates and services consumer direct mortgages.

The acquisition of Crossline expands Stonegate’s retail channel and accelerates its geographic expansion, which is consistent with Stonegate’s acquisition and growth strategy, according to Stonegate.

“Crossline Capital’s call center and retail branch network is in well-established markets with limited overlap to Stonegate’s retail locations, so this is highly complementary to our existing operations,” Jim Cutillo, CEO of Stonegate, comments.

Crossline is being operated as a wholly owned subsidiary of Stonegate Mortgage.

 

UWM Launches

Flex Term Program

Troy, Mich.-based United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) has launched its new Flex Term program.

According to the company, the new program provides originators with the option for borrowers to select the amortization term that works best for their financial situations.

UWM says the Flex Term program includes the following features:

FYI

FNF Completes LPS Acquisition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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