Mets’ stunner: Yoenis Cespedes fractures ankle in accident at his Florida ranch

NEW YORK — You can’t make this stuff up. In a stunner — even for the New York Mets — GM Brodie Van Wagenen revealed Monday that outfielder Yoenis Cespedes sustained multiple More »

MBS RECAP: Bonds Skittish After Stocks Find Bottom

Both stocks and bonds have been edging back into less panicked territory after trade war drama fizzled out last week.  In other words, stock prices and bond yields were moving higher together.  More »

State: Man in church shooting aimed to kill 10 white people

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A prosecutor said Monday that a black man charged with fatally shooting a woman and wounding seven people at a Nashville church aimed to kill at least 10 white More »

Kim Kardashian slams major fast food chain on Twitter: ‘I have a serious complaint’

Hell hath no fury like a Kardashian scorned — especially when fries are involved! On Monday, Kim Kardashian-West took to Twitter to call out popular fast-food chain Jack in the Box for More »

Training, Reno, Appraisal Products; Compliance Warning; FHFA, Fannie, Freddie News

Tony H. sent, “A conference is a gathering of people who singly can do nothing, but together can decide that nothing can be done.” Not at this MBA event, right!? Here in More »

3 handwritten wills found in Aretha Franklin’s home

PONTIAC, Mich. — Three handwritten wills have been found in the suburban Detroit home of Aretha Franklin, months after the death of the “Queen of Soul,” including one that was discovered under cushions in the living room, a lawyer said Monday.

The latest one is dated March 2014 and appears to give the famous singer’s assets to family members. Some writing is extremely hard to decipher, however, and the four pages have words scratched out and phrases in the margins.

Franklin was 76 when she died last August of pancreatic cancer. Lawyers and family members said at the time that she had no will, but three handwritten versions were discovered earlier this month. Two from 2010 were found in a locked cabinet after a key was located.

The 2014 version was inside a spiral notebook under cushions, said an attorney for Franklin’s estate, David Bennett.

Bennett, who was Franklin’s lawyer for more than 40 years, filed the wills on Monday. He told a judge that he’s not sure if they’re legal under Michigan law. A hearing is scheduled for June 12.

Bennett said the wills were shared with Franklin’s four sons or their lawyers, but that a deal wasn’t reached on whether any should be considered valid. A statement from the estate said two sons object to the wills.

Sabrina Owens, an administrator at the University of Michigan, will continue to serve as personal representative of the estate.

“She remains neutral and wishes that all parties involved make wise choices on behalf of their mother, her rich legacy, the family and the Aretha Franklin estate,” the statement said.

In a separate court filing, son Kecalf Franklin said Aretha Franklin wanted him to serve as representative of the estate in the 2014 will. He is objecting to plans to sell a piece of land next to his mother’s Oakland County home for $325,000.

Judge Jennifer Callaghan in April approved the hiring of experts to appraise Franklin’s assets and personal belongings, including memorabilia, concert gowns and household goods. The Internal Revenue Service is auditing many years of Franklin’s tax returns, according to the estate. It filed a claim in December for more than $6 million in taxes.

Franklin’s star, meanwhile, hasn’t faded since her death. She was awarded an honorary Pulitzer Prize in April, cited posthumously for her extraordinary career. A 1972 concert film, “Amazing Grace,” was released with much praise from critics.

The estate is involved in “many continuing projects … including various television and movie proposals, as well as dealing with various creditor claims and resulting litigation,” Bennett said.


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Hilltop Cybersecurity Inc. (CYBXF: OTCQB) | Management Discussion and Analysis

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Want to make more money selling your home? Don’t move out

America’s vacant homes are not only selling for less money, but they are also spending more time on the market, according to a recent analysis from Redfin.

The average vacant home sells for $11,306 less and spends six more days on the market than comparable occupied homes, revealed the analysis, which compared the sale prices and time spent on the market of home listings marked as vacant with those marked non-vacant.

According to the report’s findings, less than 3% of homes included in the analysis started out occupied and became vacant while on the market.

“Although vacant homes are easy for buyers to tour at their convenience, the fact that the sellers have already moved on is often a signal to buyers that they can take their time making an offer,” Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather said. “It’s also likely that sellers who are in a comfortable enough financial situation to own a property that’s sitting empty aren’t as motivated to get the highest possible price for their home as sellers who need the cash from their first home in order to buy the next one.”

Although Redfin determined that vacant homes sell for less money in every housing market included in its analysis, the company revealed the amount varies by location.

In fact, Redfin discovered that vacant homes come with the biggest discount in relatively affordable inland areas. Additionally, while the price differential is smaller in expensive West Coast markets, vacant homes are still selling for less.

“In both Omaha, Nebraska and Greenville, South Carolina, where vacant homes are associated with the biggest discount, vacant homes sell for 7.2%, or about $15,000, less on average than occupied homes,” Redfin writes. “Next comes El Paso, Texas, where the average vacant home sells for 6.6% – about $10,000 – less than comparable occupied homes.”

However, Redfin highlights that in San Jose’s housing market, buyers get the smallest discount on vacant homes. According to the company’s data, San Jose buyers save about 0.9% when purchasing a vacant home instead of an occupied one.

“When the Bay Area real estate market is ultra-competitive like it was in 2018, vacant homes tend to sell faster than the ones occupied by their owners or tenants,” Redfin Agent Chad Eng said. “Vacant homes are accessible 24/7, which means homebuyers can see them and put in an offer quickly in hopes of beating out other potential buyers.”

NOTE: Redfin utilized linear regression to predict the sale price of homes sold in 2018 for each housing market the company tracks. Redfin reviewed local MLS commentary in order to determine whether or not a home was listed as vacant or occupied.

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Mortgage Tech Rundown: Calyx Software, Finastra and Optimal Blue

Mortgage Tech Rundown looks at the latest news in mortgage technology, featuring new product updates, integrations and announcements.

Calyx Software announced a new brand identity, website and enhanced service options for customers.

The company explained in a press release that the revamp was designed to embody its mission to unify behind one single brand: Calyx.

“These exciting updates more closely align with the characteristics our customers associate with the Calyx name: easy-to-use, accessible, reliable and customer-focused,” Calyx Executive Vice President of Business Development Bob Dougherty said. “Our new branding is designed to convey our historical success while simultaneously fully representing our key differentiators.”

Along with these new visual changes, Calyx has also introduced a new customer portal.

“We are deeply committed to customer service and providing free training options for our customers,” Dougherty said. “Our new online tool is an on-demand centralized portal where our customers can access training tools, register for webinars, download product resources and more.”


FInastra unveiled the latest developments to its open banking platform,, which aim to accelerate innovation and collaboration among financial institutions and fintech companies.

These new improvements include the launching of 61 new APIs, as well as the creation of select solutions on top of Microsoft Power BI, Microsoft PowerApps and Microsoft Dynamics 365, according to the Finastra.

“What we are seeing today is an unprecedented shift in the way financial services businesses from across the globe collaborate, innovate and compete, with half of UK and US financial institutions looking to collaborate in the cloud,” Finastra CEO Simon Paris said. “ brings together banks, fintechs and SMEs onto a single open platform, allowing advanced technologies such as facial recognition, AI, machine learning and voice interaction apps to be created, deployed and monetized in the same ecosystem. The updates we are unveiling here are very much part of our goal to encourage collaboration in the financial services ecosystem and unlock limitless potential for innovation.” 


Secondary marketing automation servicer Optimal Blue announced the completion of a “lights-out” integration between its comprehensive hedge advisory and loan trading platforms.

The real-time integration utilizes a library of proprietary APIs to seamlessly automate vital functions within the secondary marketing process, according to the company.

“We are thrilled to deliver this next generation of automation to our clients,” Optimal Blue Vice President of Resitrader John Ardy said. “More than half of our clients have already transitioned to the integrated platform and those that remain will be migrated over the next several months.”

The company also announced plans to expand axe posting for CRA, non-QM and Jumbo transactions.

“There is considerable value in a unified technology platform,” Optimal Blue CEO Scott Happ said. “This integration provides further transparency into whole loan transactions and delivers the connectivity, efficiency, and liquidity necessary to thrive in today’s competitive environment.”

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Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are refinancing fewer mortgages than at any point since the crisis

Recently released data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data revealed that the first quarter of this year was the mortgage business’ worst quarter in more than four years, but a deeper dive into the data shows that on the refinance side of things, it may have been the worst quarter since the financial crisis.

The Fed report, which looks at mortgage originations as appearances of new mortgage balances on consumer credit reports and includes refinances, showed that the first quarter had the lowest dollar amount of mortgage originations in any quarter since the third quarter of 2014.

That news came as a bit of shock, especially considering that mortgage interest rates fell throughout the first quarter, leading some to predict that there may be a rise in refinances.

But as foretold by the Fed data, it appears the exact opposite happened, at least on mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In fact, according to a new report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Fannie and Freddie refinanced fewer mortgages in the first quarter than they have in any quarter since at least 2008.

According to the FHFA report, Fannie and Freddie refinanced a total of 234,716 mortgages in the first quarter of this year.

And a review of 10 years worth of data from the FHFA shows that that is the fewest number of refinances completed by the government-sponsored enterprises in any quarter since the financial crisis.

The number of refinances completed by the GSEs has decreased fairly steadily since 2016, with minor jumps during several quarters. But overall, the number of refis from the GSEs has declined for the last several years.

And that trend led to the lowest level of refis since the crisis.

According to the FHFA report, Fannie and Freddie refinanced 245,619 mortgages in the fourth quarter, which was the previous low over the last 10+ years.

In the first quarter of 2018, the GSEs refinanced 356,001 mortgages, more than 120,000 refinances above the first quarter of this year.

Two years ago, the GSEs refinanced twice as many mortgages (510,075 in 2017) in the first quarter as they did in 2019.

For a real shock, consider what happened in the first quarter of 2013 when the GSEs refinanced 1,395,383 mortgages in a three-month period.

That spike coincided with historically low interest rates. Back in November 2012, interest rates fell to approximately 3.35% and stayed near that level for several months, leading to the massive total of refinances in the first quarter of 2013.

And that’s really the bottom line here. It’s possible that there just aren’t that many refinance opportunities left out there. Even with interest rates recently falling to nearly 4%, there just isn’t that much financial incentive for many borrowers to refinance if they haven’t already, or if they got a mortgage in the last few years.

Although it should be noted that earlier this year when mortgage rates saw largest single-week decline in 10 years, a report from Black Knight suggested that 4.9 million homeowners with a mortgage could reduce their interest rate by at least 0.75% by refinancing.

Now, it’s possible that there could still be a refi surge. In fact, the FHFA report notes that refis actually rose in March, just as mortgage rates were experiencing that historic drop.

And the mortgage industry could really use a refi boom, considering, as Black Knight noted, that 2018 saw the lowest refi volume since 2000.

But as you can see in the graph below, that increase in March was small, in relative terms.

FHFA report on refi activity May 2019

(Click to enlarge. Image courtesy of the FHFA)

Only time will tell if that increase was a harbinger of a refi explosion or a mere mirage.

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Calabria: Ending the net worth sweep is step one of GSE reform, IPOs are an option

The much-anticipated session with Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria at the MBA Secondary Conference in Manhattan Monday did not disappoint. No, he didn’t reveal a timeline for releasing the GSEs from conservatorship, but his mission and intense focus were clear: The status quo isn’t an option.

Calabria emphasized that the time for housing finance reform was now, while the economy and the housing market are strong. Calabria said he is awaiting a report from President Donald Trump, which will help him develop a roadmap for reform.

He said he anticipates collaborating with the Treasury Department and working with Congress, but “the centerpiece of this plan has to be a strategy to end conservatorship of Fannie and Freddie. I want to move to a new reform structure, one that’s more competitive and works for taxpayers and supports financial stability.”

Calabria said the GSEs would exit conservatorship when they have “an excess of capital.” To gain that capital requires a suspension of the net worth sweep, which Calabria said is “step one.” But building capital through retained earnings alone would be too slow, and Calabria suggested that the GSEs could raise capital through initial public offerings.

Calabria recognized that some of what he sees as his responsibility is outside his current power to accomplish and said he is seeking the same power other regulators already have. He noted that the FDIC did not have to ask Congress to move banks out of conservatorship.

“The perspective in the past that we must wait on Congress is not one I share. There are a number of things I can’t do, where we need congressional authority. But there are a number of things I can do,” Calabria said.

While Calabria said he wants to empower the GSEs to regain their financial footing, he also wants to increase competition within the secondary market.

“I’m a big believer in competition…If we have a large number of players, any one of them doesn’t become too big to fail,” Calabria said.

He is calling on Congress to give him the power to grant charters so that anyone who meets the requirements can get one and he can “open up the market to competition so new players can enter the market.”

“One of the responsibilities of the [FHFA] director is to help create a competitive mortgage market, in which all the regulated entities operate under the same set of rules. They should be successful because they are the best, not because the rules are in their favor. [In order] to be fair, my objective is to make sure there are no special favors, and I am taking administrative action to make sure everyone is playing by the same rules,” Calabria said.

Calabria, who previously served as Vice President Mike Pence’s chief economist, has given a number of interviews over the past several days, but the session at the Secondary Conference was his first address to the mortgage industry.

When Calabria was sworn into his office, he expressed his support for President Trump’s call to end the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and reform the country’s housing finance system.

“The recently signed Presidential Memo lays out a constructive path for mortgage finance reform,” Calabria said. “I look forward to working with the administration on this issue.”

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Ellie Mae announces layoffs of 10% of its staff

Ellie Mae recently completed restructuring its team after its acquisition by Thoma Bravo, a restructuring that includes the layoff of about 10% of its staff.

“Last week we completed a restructuring of our team so that we can ensure Ellie Mae will continue to grow and achieve our goal of automating the residential real estate finance industry,” Ellie Mae said in a statement to HousingWire.

Back in mid April, private equity firm Thoma Bravo completed its all-cash $3.7 billion purchase of Ellie Mae.

The private equity investment firm acquired the loan origination software provider at an aggregate equity value of approximately $3.7 billion. And in doing so, the company took Ellie Mae private, ending the golden era on one of the most impressive stock performances of any company in the mortgage finance space.

“With the investment and support from Thoma Bravo, we will remain committed to our customers’ success, innovation and growth of the Encompass Digital Lending Platform while maintaining our position as a best place to work,” Ellie Mae Jonathan Corr said at the time.

But now, as part of the acquisition, Thoma Bravo is making some internal changes.

“Since the Thoma Bravo acquisition announcement in February, our leaders have been working on a plan with Thoma Bravo that enables us to continue to execute our strategy and maintain our leadership position in the market and profitability,” Ellie Mae told HousingWire. “While our strategy is the same, we now move forward as a private company, which required some restructuring in order to both achieve our financial goals, as well as to improve our ability to deliver on all of these critical initiatives.”

Those let go are being offered severance packages to help with the transition.

“As part of this restructuring, we have made a very difficult decision to inform a little over 10% of our population from across the company that they will no longer be Ellie Mae teammates,” the company told HousingWire. “These are not changes we take lightly. We will ensure our impacted teammates are treated with dignity and respect and they will be offered a package to assist them through this transition.”

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CFPB’s partner coercion arch resigns: Sources

Kristen Donoghue, a partner executive for coercion during a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has resigned, sources said.

Donoghue was one of a few remaining comparison coercion managers hired by former Director Richard Cordray. She assimilated a CFPB in 2011 and early on worked alongside now-Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who initial due and helped determined a agency.

Donoghue’s abdication comes reduction than a week after Eric Blankenstein — a CFPB’s process executive for supervision, coercion and satisfactory lending — also resigned.

Cara Petersen, a principal emissary to a partner executive for enforcement, was named behaving executive of enforcement, according to sources informed with a matter. Jeff Ehrlich, a stream emissary coercion director, will turn principal emissary for enforcement.

Donoghue has hold several positions during a CFPB including principal emissary coercion director, partner lawsuit emissary and emissary coercion executive for process and strategy. Donoghue had been a lawsuit profession during Hogan Lovells for some-more than a decade before fasten a CFPB.

Her abdication presents a plea for CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger. It is misleading nonetheless if Kraninger skeleton to follow in a footsteps of former behaving CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney, by stuffing tip care positions with domestic appointees.

Donoghue became a second comparison personality during a CFPB to doubt because her boss, Blankenstein, remained a conduct of supervision, coercion and satisfactory lending given that he had suggested in past papers that many hatred crimes were “hoaxes.”

“The denunciation used, and sentiments expressed, are totally unsuitable and call into doubt Eric’s ability to lead a satisfactory lending module specifically, and a multiplication generally,” Donoghue wrote in an email to staff final year.

At a time, Donoghue pronounced her feelings were common by a whole coercion multiplication of roughly 100 attorneys.

Kate Berry

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Exclusive: Elliott Management opposes airline Azul on Avianca Brasil bankruptcy plan

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – U.S. hedge fund Elliott Management is opposing a new plan by Brazilian airline Azul SA to purchase some of the routes operated by financially troubled rival Avianca Brasil for $145 million, according to a legal document seen by Reuters.

Elliott, known in Latin America for forcing Argentina into bigger repayments on defaulted bonds, is Avianca Brasil’s largest creditor by a wide margin, with claims totaling almost $490 million.

Avianca Brasil filed for bankruptcy protection in December, setting off a dispute for its routes among Brazil’s top three airlines. The fight underscores how the routes of Avianca Brasil, which is controlled by the same holding company as publicly traded Colombia-based Avianca Holdings SA, have become fiercely sought after despite the financial woes that sent it into bankruptcy protection.

Behind the scenes, Elliott has used its dominance as a creditor to influence the dispute over the routes. Legal documents show that Elliott crafted the current bankruptcy reorganization plan, which Azul has countered with its own new proposal this month.

Although the final verdict is in the hands of a judge, the hedge fund is asking the court to dismiss Azul’s proposal and keep its own plan intact, which would benefit Azul’s two larger Brazilian rivals: Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA and LATAM Airlines Group. Gol and LATAM have signed agreements with Elliott to pay the hedge fund a combined $70 million.

Elliott’s influence in the bankruptcy process has raised questions among creditors regarding the origin of its loans, including by airport handling operator Swissport International AG, which Elliott now accuses of working to further Azul’s agenda.

Documents show Elliott has not lent money directly to Avianca Brasil, but instead to companies controlled by the same holding group, including a palm oil field in Colombia and a shipyard based in Rio de Janeiro.

While Azul has previously accused Elliott of engaging in “spurious” deals meant to harm the competing airline’s business, the hedge fund said in response that Azul’s claims were “clumsy – typical of someone frustrated with their own failure.”

Avianca Brasil itself has yet to weigh in on Azul’s plan and declined to comment on Monday.

A union representing some of its aircraft workers, however, has endorsed Azul’s plan as superior to Elliott’s. The union carried out a strike over the weekend alleging that the airline has fallen behind in its payroll.

Azul said in a statement on Monday that its plan offers Avianca Brasil’s workers, clients and creditors a “superior option” to Elliott.

“Elliott is against Azul’s proposal because the hedge fund has already received payment, contrary to the thousands of workers of Avianca Brasil.”

Gol also opposes Azul’s plan. LATAM has yet to give an opinion.


Azul first made an offer to buy Avianca Brasil’s routes back in March, offering $105 million and signing a tentative deal with the carrier. In particular, it wanted to break in to the lucrative Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro air shuttle business.

But after Azul closed the preliminary deal, Elliott contacted rivals Gol and LATAM and obtained higher bids from them totaling $140 million.

At a creditors meeting in April, Elliott’s plan was approved and a bankruptcy auction was scheduled, sidelining Azul.

Earlier this month, Azul upped its bid to $145 million and asked a judge to approve its plan over Elliott’s. That decision is still pending.

The Elliott-Azul dispute has pulled in a third company, airport handling operator Swissport, which recently obtained an injunction that suspended the bankruptcy auction at the eleventh hour.

Elliott said in its legal filing that Azul and Swissport International worked “in apparent coordination” to undermine the hedge fund and other creditors.

Swissport did not respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun in Sao Paulo; Editing by Christian Plumb and Matthew Lewis

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KSL taps CMBS to financial Margaritaville review mortgage

KSL Capital Partners is sponsoring a $161.5 million blurb mortgage-backed securitization for a Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, a oppulance Florida review raid by squabbling between a city and a strange developers.

The Denver-based private equity firm’s deal, dubbed Margaritaville Beach Resort Trust 2019-MARG, will embody a $49.3 million cash-out equity interest for KSL, or about one-fourth of a strange debt stemming from a Apr 2018 merger of a Jimmy Buffett-themed hotel located on a 2.5-mile boardwalk in Hollywood Beach.

The single-loan, single-borrower transaction includes a Class A senior-note charity of usually $49.9 million, or reduction than half a distance of a total subordinate tranches ($99.1 million) and $12.5 million in plane risk-retention stakes, according to a Fitch Ratings presale news published Monday.

Fitch has reserved an approaching AAA rating to a Class A notes, along with investment category ratings of AA- for a $11 million in Class B notes, A- for a $7.9 million Class C tranche and BBB- for a $12.2 million in Class D notes. Fitch is not rating a Class E records ($30 million), a Class F records ($23 million), nor a $$15 million in Class G bonds.

Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort

Fitch also reserved BBB ratings to $81 million in dual category of interest-only notes.

The transaction will be cumulative by a leasehold interests in a singular two-year, floating-rate interest-only debt loan released by JPMorgan Chase. The loan includes 3 discretionary one-year extensions. JPMorgan is a lead manager and bookrunner for a CMBS deal, with Deutsche Bank portion as co-manager.

Although recently built, in 2015, a 17-story hotel will bear $1.8 million in restoration financing that will supplement 20 additional bedrooms to a existent 349-room count. Those renovations engage reconfiguring a combined space from dual vast oppulance apartment offerings, including centerpiece Jimmy Buffett Suite. (Another apartment will be renamed for a musician, whose 1977 strike strain is a impulse for a hotel’s name.)

Fitch records that skill has had improving income given opening 4 years ago. The four-diamond rated skill (by AAA) had a trailing 12-month revenue-per-average-room (RevPAR) nightly rate of $232.03 as of Mar 2019, compared to $196.45 RevPAR for 6 competing full-service oppulance hotels in Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale.

Fitch estimates a debt use coverage ratio of 0.81% and an LTV of 129.5% for a mortgage, not including $18.5 million in passageway financing hold outward a trust.

“The review has benefited from new government and doing of cost assets initiatives following a sponsor’s 2018 merger of a property,” Fitch’s news stated.

KSL Capital Partners acquired a review in Apr 2018 for $194 million from a corner try helmed by internal genuine estate developer Lon Tabatchnick (the Lojeta Group) and Starwood Capital Group of Greenwich, Conn.

The sale became quarrelsome final year, as a city of Hollywood claimed a strange developers due a municipality $1.71 million from a deduction of a KSL sale, as partial of a profit-sharing agreement on a sale of a resort. (The hotel land skill is owned by a city, that binds a 99-year franchise agreement with Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort.)

Last November, Tabatchnick filed a lawsuit opposite a city’s claim, saying a skill sale resulted in no distinction for a corner try between Tabatchnick and Starwood, according to published reports.

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