Category Archives: Mortgage & Real Estate

Ocwen reaches mortgage servicing settlement with Texas

Another day, another mortgage servicing settlement for Ocwen Financial.

Recently, the nonbank has been on a settlement streak, reaching agreements with 20 of the 33 states that took regulatory actions against Ocwen earlier this year over alleged escrow issues and restricted Ocwen’s ability to acquire new mortgage servicing rights and originate new loans.

The first round of settlements included with Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. Then came New Mexico, Virginia, West Virginia; followed by Alabama and Minnesota; and most recently, Arkansas, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia.

Now, it’s Texas’ turn.

Ocwen disclosed Thursday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it reached an agreement with Texas to remove the state’s mortgage servicing restrictions.

But, just like Ocwen’s previous settlements, this new agreement with Texas carries some conditions.

As with the previous settlements, Ocwen’s agreement with Texas prohibits the nonbank from acquiring any new residential mortgage servicing rights until April 30, 2018.

Ocwen also agreed to develop a plan to move away from its proprietary REALServicing platform, which is used to process and apply borrower payments, communicate payment information to borrowers, and maintain loan balance information.

Each of the states’ consent agreements, including the new one with Texas, restrict Ocwen from boarding new loans through REALServicing. Ocwen said that this restriction does not apply to loans already serviced on REALServicing, including modifications or loans that are converted to an arrangement where Ocwen acts as a subservicer.

Ocwen must also develop a new plan to “enhance” the way it handles consumer complaints.

Additionally, Ocwen must provide reports on its financial condition to the state for three years.

As with the previous agreements, Ocwen neither admitted nor denied liability. Ocwen also noted that the agreement does not include any monetary fines or penalties.

“Ocwen is pleased to have reached a resolution with Texas, which brings the total number of states where we have reached a resolution to 21,” Ocwen spokesperson John Lovallo said in a statement. “We continue to work cooperatively with the remaining 10 state regulatory agencies and two state attorneys general to reach acceptable resolutions.”

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NAR invests in Notarize to help push for more mortgage eClosings

Second Century Ventures, the investment arm of the National Association of Realtors, announced it is investing in Notarize, a remote notary platform.

The announcement reaffirms a strong push in the industry toward remote eClosings.

Notarize recently helped pioneer remote notarizations into the mortgage industry, bringing complete end-to-end digital mortgages into reality.

Compared to the previous option that required either some in-person contact or a notary to eSign closing documents via a shared tablet, the company’s solution allows borrowers to FaceTime or Skype with the notary, making it a completely remote eClosing, with a notary not having to physically be present.

With the investment from the largest trade group representing Realtors, Notarize plans to scale these remote eClosings across the country.

According to a recent survey conducted in partnership with NAR members, more than 60% of Realtors said they experienced a closing last year that was delayed or cancelled due to one of the parties not being able to be physically present.

And, 30% of respondents said anywhere between 5-25% of their closings were delayed or cancelled

Nearly 90% of the members responded saying they believe online closings would be important for them and their clients.

This new partnership should help fix with these Realtor concerns. “A faster, more secure closing reduces stress and improves the overall experience, and we believe Notarize is the company that will make this a reality for agents across the country,” said Bob Goldberg, CEO of NAR.

The investment from NAR follows Notarize’s participation in the REach Accelerator program, a program that brings new technology companies into the real estate market.

Notarize is only one of 13 investments that NAR has ever made through its venture fund. 

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Trump picks Warren ally, former CFPB assistant director Rohit Chopra for FTC post

In what might seem like an unlikely move, President Donald Trump selected Rohit Chopra to serve as a member of the Federal Trade Commission.

Chopra’s selection comes as bit of surprise, considering that Chopra is a close ally of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a former member of Hillary Clinton’s transition team, a former Obama administration official, and a former assistant director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

But due to FTC rules, some bipartisanship is necessary among the FTC Commissioners.

The FTC is lead by five commissioners, which are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Each commissioner serves a seven-year term, and no more than three commissioners can come from the same political party.

There are currently two FTC commissioners – Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen and Terrell McSweeny. Ohlhausen took over as FTC chair when Edith Ramirez resigned in February.

According to an announcement from the White House, if confirmed, Chopra would serve the remainder of a term that expires on Sept. 25, 2019.

Chopra is currently a Senior Fellow at the Consumer Federation of America, where he focuses on consumer protection issues facing young people and military families, according to the bio provided by the White House.

Chopra worked at the CFPB from 2010-2015 as an assistant director, where he focused on student debt. Chopra also served as student loan ombudsman at the CFPB during his time with the bureau.

It was during that time that Chopra was particularly outspoken about the impact of student loan debt on the first-time homebuyer.

In October 2013, Chopra said, “We are already seeing signs of economic drag from student loan debt. The impact on the housing market is the most troubling part.”

Chopra has also been closely associated with Warren, the driving force behind the founding of the CFPB.

Two years ago, Warren reportedly lobbied New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and others in his office in an attempt to see Chopra named as the superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services, New York’s top financial regulator.

While Cuomo was in the process of selecting a replacement for Ben Lawsky as NYDFS superintendent, Warren spoke out in favor of Chopra getting the job.

“I’ve had a chance to work closely with Rohit Chopra at the new consumer agency and over the time since,” Warren posted on Facebook in June 2015. “He is smart as a whip, independent, hard-working, and loaded with integrity. The New York banking superintendent is an important overseer of Wall Street, and I think Rohit would be phenomenal in that role.”

Ultimately, Cuomo named Maria Vullo, a former staffer of Cuomo’s who served as Executive Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice when Cuomo was the New York State Attorney General, as the NYDFS superintendent.

Chopra instead joined the Department of Education as a senior adviser during the Obama administration, before leaving to serve as Senior Fellow at the Consumer Federation of America.

Now, he could be moving to the FTC, pending Senate approval, of course.

Trump also picked Joseph Simons, who is currently a partner and co-chair of the Antitrust Group at the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton Garrison, to serve as FTC chair.

Simons previously served at the FTC under President George W. Bush. During his first tour at the FTC, Simons was in charge of antitrust enforcement, serving as Director of the Bureau of Competition from 2001 to 2003.

If approved by the Senate, Simons would serve a seven-year term beginning Sept. 26, 2017.

Both Chopra and Simons would join the FTC at a time when the agency is investigating the massive data breach at Equifax that exposed the personal information of 145.5 million U.S. consumers to hackers.

Recently, sixteen Senate Democrats also asked the FTC to “immediately” review the data security at Equifax, Experian, and Transunion to ensure that consumers’ personal information is appropriately protected from hackers.

(Image above courtesy of Paul Brady Photography /

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