UWM’s Complicated System for Refunding Adverse Market Fees Raises Questions

Mat Ishbia appears to be the odd man out when it comes to handling fees from customers the feds are no longer collecting. On July 16, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced it was ending the adverse market refinancing fee for loan deliveries effective August 1, 2021. The fee, designed to address risk from anticipated losses due to COVID-19, was always unpopular. Proposed by the Trump administration last summer, it was repeatedly delayed before going into effect in December. It was welcome news to the entire industry — data show a surge in mortgage applications in the week after the 50 basis point fee was lifted — but it may have been exceptionally good news for United Wholesale Mortgage…

Rocket Sees Big Gains as Parent Company Announces Foray Into Home Solar

Rocket Companies—the corporation whose mortgage division is the largest lender in the U.S.—saw a big jump in stocks on Monday after it announced a planned foray into the solar industry. The company said in a Monday press release that it was planning on “leveraging the same technology, data and client experience that has revolutionized the mortgage, real estate and personal lending spaces to help Americans make their home more energy efficient.” “Rocket Companies is uniquely positioned to build trust and education in solar energy, simplifying the entire process through our platform,” Rocket Vice Charmain and CEO Jay Farner said in the statement. “We have the technology and expertise to provide the best experience possible for homeowners who want to go…

Real Estate Company Aims to Make Homeownership ‘Fast, Transparent, and Low-Cost’

A new homeownership company is seeking to streamline the homebuying market to make the process less opaque and more accessible to buyers who feel intimidated by it. Better, based out of New York and recently expanded into Virginia, is “re-engineering the mortgage process” by helping homebuyers navigate shopping, and paying, for a home. The company touts itself as “redefining the homeownership process from the ground up” by using “technology to make it faster and more efficient, and humans to help make it friendly and enjoyable.” “We believe homeownership should be fast, transparent, and low-cost. For everyone,” the company states on its website. The company’s roots go back to 2014; originally serving the New York market, it now operates in Virginia,…

Housing Company Aims To Give Students ‘Truly Differentiated Living Experience’

A newly launched global housing company is hoping to give students a “truly differentiated” housing experience while they pursue their studies and colleges and universities. Yugo, which formed from the merger of several similar companies, is aiming to “enhance students’ overall experiences throughout and beyond university and college life” with housing that is “environmentally and socially conscious, emotionally supportive and safe,” the company said in a press release this week. The company’s “global portfolio” includes “95 properties (living spaces) in nine countries, with 45,000 beds in more than 75 of the top cities in the world for higher education,” the release said. The company’s housing process was not immediately clear from its press release or its website, though in the…

Major Rental Company Boosted Rents 8 Percent During Past Year’s White-Hot Market

A major nationwide rental company said it boosted rental rates by an average of about eight percent over the past year, reflecting the ongoing elevation of both rental and home prices throughout the country. Invitation Homes, which bills itself as facilitating “the worry-free leasing lifestyle,” said in a quarterly report this week that over the past year it had seen a “blended rent growth of 8.0%, up 470 basis points year over year.” The “blended” rate came from hikes of “new lease rent growth of 13.8%” as well as “renewal rent growth of 5.8%.” The company, which was founded nine years ago, said it saw revenue growth of nearly 10 percent year-over-year, with an average occupancy of nearly 100 percent,…

‘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.”…