Joe Tyrrell Named Optimal Blue CEO

Former ICE Mortgage exec Joe Tyrrell has been named CEO of Optimal Blue. Tyrrell brings more than two decades of mortgage, finance, and technology experience to the position. He previously served as president of ICE Mortgage Technology and chief operating officer of Ellie Mae prior to its acquisition in 2020. His most recent position was CEO of Medallia, a customer and employee experience company. “I have always been attracted to companies that make their clients’ success their top priority, and that is especially true with Optimal Blue, the clear market leader in secondary marketing technology,” said Tyrrell.  “For the past year and a half, I have been delivering innovation and real generative AI capabilities to the largest and most trusted…

Purchase Locks Jumped YOY In April

Purchase mortgage lock counts rose year-over-year for the first since March 2022 in April, an encouraging sign in the tough homebuying environment. Optimal Blue’s April 2024 Originations Market Monitor report revealed that purchase locks were up 5% YOY last month, the first increase since the Central Bank hiked rates two years ago. Optimal Blue chalks the boost up to this year’s spring buying season. Total monthly rate locks rose 8.7%, driven by an 11% jump month-over-month. “Purchase lock counts are a key market indicator as they control for changes in home prices and more volatile refi activity, so the year-over-year increase in April is a particularly encouraging sign that mortgage production may be turning a corner,” said Brennan O’Connell, director…

Rick Allen Promoted To Optimal Blue COO

Rick Allen has been named Chief Operating Officer at Optimal Blue, the company announced in a press release. In his new position, he will focus on operational oversight across the company and work to enhance efficiencies and execution. “Our clients have long relied on our technology and data to operate profitably and efficiently, and our ability to serve them has always come from our own ability to operate with agility,” said Allen.  “It’s a privilege to step into this role and assume executive oversight of Optimal Blue’s operations so we can continue delivering the highest quality products and services to our customers and partners.” Allen was promoted from his position as Chief Administrative Officer. He brings nearly four decades of…

Homebuyer Credit Scores Hit Multi-Year High

Average homebuyer credit scores soared to their highest point since 2018 in March, according to Optimal Blue’s March 2024 Originations Market Report. The average score hit 737, an all-time high in Optimal Blue’s data, which dates back to January 2018. Scores for FHA borrowers also hit 6-year highs, clocking in at 677 in February and 676 in March. VA and conforming loan scores soared to highs not seen since 2021. “Driven by rising interest rates and home prices, we’re witnessing the highest average homebuyer credit scores in years,” said Brennan O’Connell, director of data solutions at Optimal Blue.  “This unprecedented level of creditworthiness among purchasers is largely a result of the affordability issues borrowers face in today’s housing market, with…

Marketing Pro Sara Holtz Joins Optimal Blue

Marketing veteran Sara Holtz has joined Optimal Blue as its Chief Marketing Officer, the company announced in a press release. Holtz brings more than two decades of experience to the position, including ten years specifically impacting the mortgage industry. In her new role, she will spearhead marketing and communications strategies to advance Optimal Blue’s industry influence. “As the only comprehensive capital markets solution in the mortgage industry, Optimal Blue helps lenders realize greater profitability and operational efficiency, which plays an essential role in making the dream of homeownership attainable for the American borrower,” said Holtz. “It’s an honor to join Optimal Blue – a company that’s been regarded for its innovation and expertise for decades. I am energized by the…

Purchase Locks Rose At The Start Of Spring Buying Season

Mortgage purchase locks increased at the start of the spring homebuying season despite ongoing challenges, setting the stage for more activity. Rate lock volume increased by 5% from January to February despite rising rates, leading to a net rise in origination activity, according to Optimal Blue’s latest Originations Market Monitor report. Purchase activity drove the surge, climbing 8.3% from January and buoying the numbers even as refinances tanked. Purchase lock counts were up 7% from the month prior but decreased 7% YOY. It is the smallest such decrease since the Federal Reserve began its inflation fight in March 2022. Rate/term refis were down 22.5% month-over-month, while cash-outs dipped by 3.1%. All in all, 86% of last month’s originations were purchase…

Rate Locks Set New Record Lows

Rate lock volumes took a beating in December as buyers and sellers remained on the sidelines. Black Knight’s December Originations Monitor Report found that typical seasonal patterns, together with continuing inflationary pressures and elevated rates, resulted in record lows for locks of all kinds. “Using Black Knight’s McDash mortgage performance data to provide comparative history, December saw the fewest purchase locks in a single month since early 2014, and the fewest overall rate locks on record dating back to January 2000 when Black Knight began reporting origination metrics,” said Kevin McMahon, president of Optimal Blue, a division of Black Knight. Rate lock dollar volumes fell by 19.4% in December, their lowest level in the five years Optimal Blue has tracked…

Purchase-Locks Fell 22% In November

Rate-lock volumes fell 21.5% in November despite 30-year rates dropping 48 bps over the course of the month, according to Optimal Blue’s Mortgage Market Indices from Black Knight. Rates are 3.3% higher YOY but have declined in recent weeks. But affordability struggle and continuing stock shortages have diminished buyer demand, pushing rate-locks down 39% in three months and 68% from the same time last year. Purchase locks fell 22%, while rate/term refis and cash-outs dropped 17% and 18%, respectively. Total refi locks accounted for only 15% of November’s activity. The Thanksgiving holiday and normal seasonal slowing also contributed to low lock volume, but Optimal Blue President Scott Happ noted that these cannot account for dwindling activity by themselves. “While we…

Loan Lock Volumes Fall Below Pre-Pandemic Norms For 3rd Month Straight

Lock volumes dipped almost 10% from August, bringing them down 30% in the last three months and 60% YOY, according to Black Knight’s latest Originations Market Monitor. Purchase locks are 10.2% below pre-pandemic levels. This is the third straight month of lock activity below pandemic norms. The decline in locks coincides with interest rates rising 91 basis points in September to 6.72%, their highest point in 15 years. Refinances made up only 16% of September’s lock activity, a new low. Of that, most were cash-out refis, though they are also down 26.2% from August and 78% YOY.  Rate/term locks remained basically unchanged. They are down 93.3% YOY, suggesting they’ve hit a floor now. Purchase lending accounted for most of September’s…

Market Indicator: Western Metros Experiencing Negative Home Price Appreciation

By ISAIAS PACHECO Information about the AEI Housing Market Indicator for the month of July was recapped during a recent meeting. Leaders at the organization went over their new Month-over-Month constant quality home price appreciation graphic, which shows that many of the largest Metros, especially western Metros, have begun experiencing negative M-O-M HPA. The overall goal is to monitor market stability through accurate real-time tracking to help avoid destructive housing booms and busts, they say. Key takeaways from the briefing on August 2:  Purchase rate lock volume and home price appreciation both continue to decelerate and confirm a strong trend reversal.April 2022 volume was down 13% from the same month in 2021 but up 8% from 2020.Based on Optimal Blue…