The Chief Operating Officer at SingleSource Property Solutions said in a recent interview with The Mortgage Note that their mission is to protect neighborhoods.
Ed Austin has been working in the mortgage industry for 25 years on the vendor management side. He has been COO of SingleSource in Pennsylvania for seven years.
In August, the company celebrated its 20-year anniversary of the launch of home equity service offerings. The company’s second mortgage services are available in economical bundles and include valuations, title products, and online closings, according to a press release.
Austin said in a statement that with their specialized home equity bundles, lenders are significantly reducing the amount of time and expenses associated with closing a second lien transaction.
Editor Kimberley Haas sat down with Austin to learn more.
Haas: First of all, tell me about the products that you’re celebrating, and then we can get into why lenders might be interested in hopping on board with you folks.
Austin: Yeah, we’ve been doing our home equity services for over 20 years and in the market right now, we’ve seen a very high increase of our customers that are doing home equity loans. We’ve seen that the volume continues to increase. So we wanted to make sure folks know in our space what our home equity services and our goals for home equity are.
We offer bundled services, which really, it makes it really faster, cheaper, and compliant for them to be able to process more home equity loans at a faster rate.
Haas: When you say you’re bundling services, what services are you bundling for these lenders?
Austin: We can provide an array of valuations and/or property inspections with data reports. We also have a full line of title products that we can issue as well. So for us, we’re able to say to the lender based on whatever the loan amount is and whatever their risk profile is, we have all the different valuation and title products for them to be able to order in one place. And we have the closing piece to go along with that as well from a notary or an online closing standpoint, should they need it.
Haas: Do you think that this is kind of the future? I mean, you’ve been doing this for 20 years, have other people kind of caught up, and is this the direction that companies are going or is this something that you think you’ve really got that niche market and there’s nobody else that can compete?
Austin: No, there are definitely folks that compete.
The real difference for us is the fact that between the technology that we offer, the expertise of doing this for over 20 years, the fact that our title department has well over a hundred, probably 120 years worth of experience just in the management group, we offer a very efficient one-stop solution for lenders so that they don’t have to go to one place to get the title, one place to get a data product or a property inspection.
Haas: How do you explain what you do to a new hire, a new employee? What’s your mission as a company?
Austin: So, great question. Our mission as a company is to protect and preserve the vitality of neighborhoods. You know, we help open the door to home ownership.
We also let them know that what we do here are really those things based on the four divisions that we have. We do promote and protect neighborhoods.
We provide that in our property preservation and asset management programs. You know, keeping homes from the other side of originations.
We’re helping people refinance, we’re providing those services to help them refinance loans or purchase homes, or use the equity in their homes to make any type of property upgrades or potentially pay for college or whatever financial needs that their customers may have.
Austin said if the lender holds the first mortgage, they have a lot of information on the borrower and the risk profiles of those borrowers are much lower.
Austin: They know them, they trust them. So that minimizes their risk even further.
There’s really no need for the traditional full appraisal title for the home equity services.
Haas: But you still have to do an appraisal on the property, right? I mean, because property values change.
Austin: Well, you know, again, a lot of lenders, if they hold the first mortgage, a lot of times what they’ll do is they’ll do a property condition report. They’ll use an automated model to help give them an idea of where the property is currently from a value standpoint.
And then they’ll do a property inspection to make sure that there’s no damage or any type of deferred maintenance, so to speak, on the property.
Haas: What’s it been like in your space? Tell me what area of the country you’re focused on and talk about what you’re seeing locally on the ground.
Austin: We have seen a tremendous slow down in origination. Our refinance volume has really slowed down.
Purchases, they’ve slowed, but they’re still steady.
I think people are looking at rates and rates have gone up so much that trying to refinance to take cash out probably isn’t as attractive as it was six, eight, or 10 months ago.
Pittsburgh generally is a little bit different of a market, in my opinion. The property values have never gone crazy here.
I’m sure for local lenders it’s slow, but we’ve never had the ups and downs like some parts of the country.
I don’t think we’re ever gonna see anything like we did in the 2007, 2008 era.
I think the pandemic will increase what we’ll see in foreclosure activity in 2023. But, I think that the market will, I think in the long term, I think it’ll settle back down and we’ll get back into more of the cyclical business that origination goes hot for a while and then the servicing piece will pick up.
If you look, the cycles just continue to repeat themselves.
Haas: Of course, everything in life is cyclical. I tell a lot of people, especially young realtors who got into the market because they were like, ‘I’m gonna make so much money,’ I’m like, well, it’s just like the ocean. There’s high tide. And then there’s low tide. Most times it’s just a day at the beach but don’t think that it’s gonna be high tide for forever.
Austin: That’s a great analogy. Quite honestly. I love that. You’re right. There’s so many just days at the beach in there, but yeah, right now I would say on most sides of the business, the tides out.
Home equity is about the only thing we’ve seen where the tide’s coming in right now.
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