‘Rent-to-Own’ Firm Gets Major Cash Infusion From Celebrities Will Smith, Jay Z

A company seeking to help bridge the gap between aspiring homeowners and actual homeownership is getting a substantial cash investment from A-list celebrities Will Smith and Jay Z. Landis Technologies will receive a $165 million investment from several firms, two of which are owned, respectively, by Smith and Jay-Z. The company on its website says that participants can apply for Landis to purchase their “dream home,” after which the aspiring homeowner will rent the home from the company for up to two years, with part of the rental money going toward a down payment. “All closing costs are covered by the down payment fund,” the company tells buyers, “so you can stay in your home and easily transition to just…

CEO of Lending Group Argues for ‘Looking Beyond’ Race and Gender, Focusing on ‘Character’

The chief executive officer of a California lending group is urging industry leaders to ignore policy initiatives that target individuals based on race and sex, dismissing such measures as “baloney” and stressing the need to focus on individual character. William Tessar, the CEO of Civic Lending Services, told Mortgage Professional America this week that his company has achieved “diversity targets” not by specifically setting out to fill them but by following a philosophy of “get[ting] the best people” when they’re needed. “You’d better look beyond all the other baloney about ethnicity and gender and age, and just focus on the character of the person and the qualities they bring to the organization,” he said, arguing that “it’s actually rather easy and it’s…

How One Bank is Attempting to Increase Affordable Housing Nationwide

Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank is among the rare major institutions actively working to drive up the stock of affordable housing across the country. The bank “has been investing in affordable housing for around 20 years,” a company executive told news media, with the institution over the years “buying some properties as their rent restrictions were about to expire” and working to “harness government programs that can help it to keep rents modest.” The company’s “nationwide strategy to preserve affordable housing” tries to utilize tax breaks and other public policy measures to ensure a continuity of low-cost housing around the U.S. The bank’s profit concerns are “balanced against the equally important goal of preserving long-term contractual affordability and keeping the existing tenants…

Rocket Drops Refi Fee; Will Others Follow Suit?

The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced it is dropping the COVID-era Adverse Market Refinance Fee beginning August 1. But what does that mean for borrowers who were already in the process of refinancing loans? That depends on the lender. Rocket Mortgage notified brokers last week that it is dropping the fee immediately for loans in progress. Others haven’t publicly committed to removing the fee – or did not respond to Mortgage Note requests for comment. “As you know, we already repriced earlier today, instantly passing the savings along to your borrowers on all new registrations and your entire floating pipeline,” Rocket said in an email to brokers. “We’re also in the process of applying the 50 bps credit to your…

‘Peer-to-Peer’ Real Estate Model Sees Major Success in First Year

A startup seeking to redefine how homebuyers purchase new homes has seen significant success in its first year of business in Cincinnati. “Homeshake” has “reached $10 million in sales volume in its first year,” Cincy Inno reports, with plans to expand to other cities and eventually other states. The “peer-to-peer” service advertises itself as one that “simplif[ies] everything from start to finish” by removing much of the middlemen from real estate transactions, eliminating many fees in the process. “People are ready for this,” company CEO Nick Rabin told Cincy Inno, stating that “with the right tools and support, buying or selling a home has never been easier.”…

The Three Biggest Challenges Facing Smaller Mortgage Lenders

Smaller mortgage lenders competing with large firms face three major hurdles, according to industry experts: Automation, a labor shortage and competition from direct Internet mortgage lenders. “Significant labor shortages,” “business process streamlining” and “consumer-facing technology” are among the biggest obstacles facing smaller lenders, according to Mortgage Professional America. Fannie Mae Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist Mark Palim told MPA that “small businesses are having a hard time finding workers, so the need to retain talent is a top consideration for lenders.” Online lender-to-consumer organizations were also cited by many lenders as a source of competition, though Palim argued that the mortgage lending industry is “not all going to go online,” citing younger customers who often prefer a face-to-face interaction…

Florida Company Sues Over UWM’s Broker Ban

A Florida real estate broker filed a federal lawsuit against United Wholesale Mortgage’s parent company and CEO Mat Ishbia over the launching the Broker Wars, in which Ishbia forbade brokers from doing business with two competitors if it wanted to continue to work with UWM. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Jacksonville, alleges UWM issued its ultimatum “in a desperate attempt to stifle competition” and to “mitigate its acknowledged risk of losing market share.” UWM announced in April that it would force brokers to sign an agreement that they will not work with Rocket Mortgage or Fairway Independent Mortgage – or else be banned from work with UWM, the largest wholesale mortgage lender. Ishbia charged the two companies…

Best Places To Work: Rocket, Zillow Make List

Fortune released its Top 100 Places to Work list Monday, with four mortgage/real estate companies making the list – led by Rocket Companies at No. 5. Here are the four companies that made the list (Cisco was No. 1): 5. Rocket Companies 8. Camden Property Trust 22. Bank of America 47. Zillow Group “Everything we do is framed by our culture and by our ISMs. Over the past year, we have been guided by the ISM ‘We’ll Figure it Out’ as we navigated the challenges introduced by the pandemic while still creating the best possible experience for our team members,” said Jay Farner, Rocket Companies’ CEO and Vice Chairman. “When COVID-19 began spreading across the country in the U.S., we rapidly launched…

Zillow, RE/MAX: This Is How Twitter Wars Start

It started innocently enough: I look at Zillow like it’s my social media. 🤷🏻‍♀️🏡— Whitney Ortiz (@OrtizWhit) March 30, 2021 Which Zillow appreciated: We like to think of it as research 😎— Zillow (@zillow) March 30, 2021 But then RE/MAX had something to say: You might want to try a more trusted site. 😉— RE/MAX (@remax) March 30, 2021 We’ll update you with any developments in the burgeoning Twitter war.…

Miami Marlins Home Renamed loanDepot Park

The Miami Marlins have joined the growing trend of selling naming rights to banks or mortgage companies, as media reports say the Marlins ballpark will be known as loanDepot Park beginning Wednesday – just in time for Opening Day. Details have not been announced. The ballpark has been named Marlins Park since its opening in 2012. The Marlins joining the White Sox and Guaranteed Rate Field with mortgage-related naming rights. In other banking-related deals, the Braves play at SunTrust Park, the Mets at Citi Field, the Pirates at PNC Park, the Tigers at Comerica Park and the Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Earlier this month, MLB announced that loanDepot – “the Official Mortgage Provider of MLB” – was named the presenting…