Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Trend: Cashing in on default servicing

Some say you can gage a society by studying their television viewing habits. What they watch is a reflection of who they are, so the axiom goes. We are what we watch or art imitating life. Maybe, I think you'll get a better idea of what makes a society tick today by looking at their e-mail Spam.

Two years ago, I got three mortgage offers for every personal augmentation or pharmaceutical offer in my e-mail in box. That's not happening today. Sure, I still get a few excited responses to my imaginary loan applications, but that's not what's selling online today, apparently.

Today, I got a piece of Spam from a company selling post cards that I can send to borrowers facing foreclosure. I can get to these borrowers first and rewrite their mortgage, I was told, by sending them this cute card with a big cat trapping a little mouse.

The mainstream media can cry the sky is falling until they are sky blue in the face and it won't mean much to me. I've been covering this industry a lot longer than those kids have and I've been through the cycle. But when Spam marketers start selling tools to help me market to borrowers in default, that's when I start thinking the industry may really be entering the dark part of the mortgage lending cycle.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Conference: Live from ALTA Tech

The American Land Title Association, an organization that celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, kicked off its 2007 Technology Forum in Denver today.

The exhibit hall is well stocked with technology vendors offering a host of solutions. At first glance, and I'll be spending the rest of today and part of tomorrow here, most companies are offering either title software, imaging software or data services.

I'll be moderating a panel later this afternoon. I'll let you know how it goes.

Fidelity: reaches milestone for MLS

Fidelity National Financial, Jacksonville, FL, has announced that its MLS Systems and Solutions Division has signed its 200th contract for its Paragon MLS.

Southeast Alaska MLS, a 35-year-old MLS organization based in Juneau, Alaska with more than 100 member offices, recently made the decision to make Paragon 3 its system of choice, making it the 200th MLS organization to integrate the platform into its operation.

Fidelity says its Paragon 3 platform currently handles over half of the nation's real estate listings.

These listings are a prime source of lead generation for mortgage lenders, but typically lenders have no access to this information. That's why brokers work so hard to build referral relationships with real estate professionals. With the market for mortgage loans continuing to tighten, news about real estate listings and new ways of accessing that information is likely to be well received by originators.

For some time now, there have been rumors that a new type of property listing technology could make these leads more accessible to lenders. We'll keep you posted on that.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

DSI: Open Source PCL Viewer

Document Systems Inc. has released a new PCL viewer that will allow users to view the printer control language that computers use to send documents to print. In the past, the only way to view these files was to buy a commercial PCL viewer. SwiftView has been the industry leader in this technology.

The DSI viewer is being distributed for free as open source software and is available through DSI or through SourceForge, an online community of open source programmers. Open source means that not only can anyone have the software for free, but DSI is making the source code available to anyone who wants to use it.

Don Iannitti, CEO of DSI, expects makers of other technologies to integrate the PCL viewer into their technologies in the future.

Find out more at the software's website.

Kaleidico: Leveraging the widget for leads

Want to buy a mortgage lead that will actually result in a closed loan? I bet you do. And because Kaleidico, an industry lead-management firm, knows this too, they launched a new widget on their website home page that ranks lead providers in order of their conversion of leads into loan applications. Brilliant!

Widgets will be huge in the days ahead and companies that learn how to leverage them will be first in line to command market attention.

The Kaleidico widget reflects the total of all leads in the icoSales system.

RMS: new loan servicing technology

For some time now, companies like Fiserv and Fidelity have been preaching that one mortgage loan servicing platform can handle multiple loan types. I'm convinced that with today's business rules engines that is correct. But reverse mortgages are a different animal altogether.

Today, Reverse Mortgage Solutions, Inc. (RMS), Houston, announced that it will begin offering a new servicing technology specifically for reverse mortgages, thanks to an $7 million investment by JAM Equity Partners, LLC. The new tool is called RM Navigator™ and is reportedly capable of handling the unique reporting and cash distribution characteristics required in the servicing of reverse mortgages.

The company’s founders include: Bob Yeary, Chief Executive Officer; Ken Austin, President; and Marc Helm, Chief Operating Officer. Together, the management team has more than 100 years of collective mortgage banking and servicing experience.

Federally insured reverse mortgages grew by 77 percent in fiscal year 2006, according to the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association, which should surprise no one who knows anything about demographics. The Federal Housing Administration insured 76,351 Home Equity Conversion Mortgages in fiscal 2006 (ended Sept. 30), compared with 43,131 the year before.

It's smart to roll out technology in areas where the business is growing and likely to continue to do so. The reverse mortgage business is likely to continue growing for some time. If the software helps servicers do a better job of handling these deals, the company could be well positioned for success.

In addition to the tool, the company plans to offer specialty servicing capabilities for forward mortgages, which executives hope will be in high demand as the mortgage industry begins to suffer from high defaults and losses. The demand is likely to be there, but default servicing is a very specialized field. There was no information in the company's announcement to tell us what experience the executive team has in this area.