Tech Rundown: Black Knight, Blend and Evolve Mortgage

Partnerships, acquisitions and streamlined tech finish the year off in mortgage tech

With 2020 finally coming to a close, several companies wrapped up this unprecedented year for housing with some brand-new mortgage tech for 2021.

Data and analytics giant Black Knight made moves in the secondary mortgage market again, launching its Mandatory Analytics dashboard that will allow investors to analyze and benchmark their actions on the secondary market.

According to Black Knight, investors will be able to compare pricing on all potential and actual investments and review competitive market trends at the monthly, weekly or daily level through the program.

“Mandatory Analytics provides our investor clients with transparency, allowing them to identify where execution efforts are succeeding, where they are losing to the market, and why,” said Scott Happ, president, Black Knight secondary mortgage marketing technologies. “Ultimately, Mandatory Analytics delivers the kind of actionable intelligence needed to make informed execution strategy shifts that result in greater returns.”

Black Knight has dipped its toes into software for the secondary market before, acquiring Optimal Blue in July and gaining access to the company’s pricing and eligibility (PPE) engine – a tool used to streamline the origination process for lenders by aggregating pricing and product guidelines from investors.  With that aggregation, Optimal Blue said lenders can more efficiently price and originate mortgage products that can be sold on the secondary market.

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Earlier this month, Black Knight announced the PPE had been enhanced to fully support the pricing of Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs) for the secondary mortgage market, including search capabilities for first- and second-lien HELOC products.

“Today’s secondary mortgage market is one marked by intense volatility and fierce competition,” said Happ. “One of the best tools that mandatory investors have at their disposal is access to precise, accurate and timely data.”

Fifth Third Bank announced its own strategic partnership this month with digital mortgage platformer Blend under the intent to create the highly sought-after end-to-end mortgage experience.

“Customers want a simple way to apply for a mortgage online, yet they also don’t want to go it completely alone,” said Chris Shroat, head of mortgage for Fifth Third.

“Partnering with Blend allows us to offer a simple, seamless online home financing experience. And our mortgage loan originators are there to shepherd the process to help ensure our customers are confident as they make what likely is the biggest purchase of their lives,” Shroat said.

Blend has digitized lending for more than 250 companies before, including Wells Fargo and U.S Bank and integrated with CoreLogic in 2019 for an easier access line to borrowers credit. The San Francisco based mortgage tech startup also achieved unicorn status in August of this year after a $75 million Series F seed round bumped its valuation to $1.7 billion.

After a historic year for refinancing, Evolve Mortgage announced it acquired the appraisal assets of Veptas Technology Solutions from Veptas Holdings to offset its severe shortage of underwriters.

With the platform integration, Evolve Mortgage said it can now hasten the appraisal process as well as perform quality assurance and quality control functions typically handled by underwriters.

“The historic refinance wave that the mortgage industry is experiencing has put a significant strain on limited underwriting resources and created a massive bottleneck in the loan production process,” Evolve Mortgage CEO Paul Anselmo said. “Evolve has made great strides in reducing the bottleneck through automation and by bifurcating the underwriting process and moving some functions to other skilled professionals in the process.”

Terms of the asset sale were not disclosed, however, Bill Reese, the head of operations at Veptas Technology Solutions, joined Evolve as part of the deal.

Evolve had previously attempted to counter the shortage in September after opening 100 permanent underwriter positions for agency and non-QM loans.

Fintech software company Total Expert grew some new legs in the wholesale channel this month after launching its latest mortgage tech platform Total Expert for Wholesale.

Known for its CRM functions and multi-channel marketing, Total Expert’s latest mortgage tech looks to boost customer retention for brokers and wholesalers.

“With wholesale market share growing 40% in the last five years, lenders can now diversify into this channel faster with Total Expert,” said Total Expert Founder and CEO Joe Welu. “Wholesale lenders use Total Expert to build stickier broker partnerships, empower brokers to close more loans, and foster customer relationships that last a lifetime.”

Also, in case you missed it…

LoanDepot and Brookfield Residential announced the creation of a joint ventureBRP Home Mortgage that will allow prospective homebuyers in new home communities located in California, Colorado, Delaware, Texas, Virginia and Washington D.C. access to loanDepot’s proprietary mortgage originations platform.

Digital closing firm Qualia announced on that it was now valued at more than $1 billion thanks to a $65 million Series D funding round. Qualia also revealed it had acquired creator of ResWare, Adeptive Software, for an undisclosed price.

Ohio-based software startup Homebuyer snagged $1.4 million in a seed round from private investors it will use towards its mission of offering digital mortgages to first-time home buyers. One of the most recent investors was Techstars – an entrepreneurial program that Homebuyer was selected for in Austin this year.

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