Category Archives: Lending

TowneBank Mortgage integrates with LodeStar Software Solutions

Lender TowneBank Mortgage recently completed integration with HousingWire 2017 Tech100 winner LodeStar Software Solutions, enabling its employees to accurately quote closing costs.

This integration enables all TowneBank employees to instantly obtain quotes through Ellie Mae’s all-in-one mortgage management solution, Encompass.

“This integration is a true time saver for our entire operations team” said James Miller, chief operating officer at TowneBank Mortgage. “As we continue to grow both the size and scope of our mortgage operations, it is critical to leverage innovative industry partners like LodeStar to drive efficiency and accuracy.”

TowneBank users can instantly and securely generate a quote from LodeStar’s loan estimate calculator without duplicating any data entry. The quotes include transfer taxes, municipal recording charges, title insurance premiums and settlement costs, and are guaranteed for accuracy and returned in TRID format. TowneBank can quote their existing network of settlement service providers’ fees in the system or utilize LodeStar’s national settlement agent affiliate, Res/Title.

“LodeStar is delighted to partner with a major industry player like TowneBank Mortgage,” said Jim Paolino, CEO and Founder of LodeStar. “Our secure, seamless integration with Encompass simplifies the manual fee-quoting process for the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure forms, so companies of all sizes can process mortgage loans faster and focus on growing their businesses.”  

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Wells Fargo: Here’s the impact of HARP extension, GSEs’ new high-LTV refi program

After several delays, the government’s crisis-era Home Affordable Refinance Program was finally set to expire next month, until the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced Thursday that it’s extending the HARP deadline until the end of 2018.

According to the FHFA, the 15-month expansion is necessary to due to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac implementing a new streamlined refinance program, which is designed for certain borrowers with high loan-to-value ratios.

The refi program is scheduled to launch in October 2017, but the program’s eligibility rules dictate that loans must have at least 15 months of seasoning to participate in the program.

By delaying HARP’s expiration, borrowers have another refi option until they would be eligible for the new refi program in January 2019, the FHFA said.

So what’s the impact of all of these changes? Not much, unless there’s another housing crisis, Wells Fargo said in a new report.

As Wells Fargo notes, the LTV threshold for the new refi program is 95% for single- unit primary residences for both Fannie and Freddie.

And considering the new program is only for loans that were originated after Oct. 1, 2017, the criteria for the program limits its impact, outside of one specific circumstance, Wells Fargo’s analysts write.

“The program is only offered to loans originated on or after Oct. 1, 2017, and the eligibility criteria considerably limit the population that can take advantage of the program,” Wells Fargo analysts Vipul Jain, Anish Lohokare, and Randy Ahlgren write. “From our perspective, the program appears to be geared toward having an efficient refinancing construct in place, should there be another housing downturn.”

The potential impact of the HARP extension is a little harder to predict as of yet, the analysts note.

“The delay of HARP expiration and the expected drop in HARP speeds would be the limited implication of (the HARP extension) announcement,” the analysts write of the impact of extending HARP on mortgage bond investors.

“However, the larger question is whether or not we see a rebound in HARP speeds given the pullback in higher coupon speeds,” the analysts conclude. This will give us a read on whether or not the expiration of HARP was driving prints lower.”

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Beverly Hills developer ordered to pay $7.5 million for bilking investors in home flipping scheme

Jay Belson, a Beverly Hills broker and developer who specializes in luxury real estate, will pay more than $7.5 million in a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which accused Belson of defrauding investors in a series of house flips in Southern California.

The SEC complaint alleged that Belson and five companies he controlled, Smarte Real Estate Investments; Jack Rockman; John Blackstone; Residence at St. Ives; and Bellagio Place Residence; made false promises to a number of investors, including telling the investors that they would earn a minimum rate of return and be able to share in the profits from successful house flips.

According to the SEC, Belson also allegedly told his investors that he and his companies would only make money from the profits on successful flips or through “specifically identified development and management fees.”

Via these “false promises,” Belson raised approximately $18 million from at least 23 investors, the SEC said.

The SEC complaint states that instead of only taking money in those specific circumstances, Belson allegedly stole more than $1.8 million in investor funds.

According to the SEC, Belson pocketed some of the money and used some of the money to cover certain operating costs, including office rent, utilities and salaries.

Belson’s alleged malfeasance was discovered by one of his largest investors after Belson failed to pay the appropriate returns back to the investor.

According to the SEC complaint, the investor in question demanded and received access to the companies’ bank and accounting records. The investor then analyzed some of the bank records and discovered that Belson had allegedly been misappropriating funds.

The investor then confronted Belson about the alleged theft, accusing Belson of “taking other people’s money to support your life in hopes that we made a profit to make people whole, while putting everything in jeopardy.”

According to the SEC, Belson then admitted to the theft, stating (via the complaint) “You’re 100% right [….] i’m [sic] not sure how I got my attitude so twisted up on this.”

As part of the settlement, Belson neither admitted to nor denied the SEC allegations, but chose to settle nonetheless.

Under the terms of the settlement, Belson and the companies he controlled agreed to the entry of final judgments “permanently enjoining them from violating the charged provisions of the federal securities laws, ordering Belson and the entity defendants to pay, jointly and severally, $1.9 million in disgorgement and interest, ordering each of the entity defendants to pay approximately $905,000 in penalties, and ordering Belson to pay a penalty of approximately $1.1 million,” the SEC said.

The settlement is pending court approval.

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