ICE: As rates drop, refis grow and lenders tighten credit

The January 2021 Origination Insight Report published by cloud-based, Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. affiliate ICE Mortgage Technology shows the decline in mortgage rates helped increase the percentage of refinance loans, which represented 67% of closed loans, up from 60% in December 2020.

Interest rates on all closed mortgage loans continued to decline, dropping to 2.88% from 2.93% in December 2020.

The loan origination platform reported lower rates on all loan types in January. The 30-year rate on conventional loans fell to 2.91% from December’s 2.96%; FHA loans fell to 2.86% from 2.94%; and VA loans, to 2.6% from 2.66% the previous month. 

“We’re continuing to keep an eye on average FICO scores as many lenders tighten credit during this time of rising loan volume,” said Joe Tyrrell, president of ICE Mortgage Technology. 

Average FICO scores on all loans — from a sampling of approximately 80% of all mortgage applications on Encompass underwritten by lenders nationwide — increased to 752 after dipping to 751 in December, as FICO scores on conventional refinance loans increased to an average of 764, up from 763 in December.

The average loan-to-value (LTV) for all closed first-lien mortgages, a key loan risk metric, was at 71 in January.

“We continue to see growth on our Encompass Lending Platform, indicating that our lenders are utilizing digital mortgage technology to serve their customers and close these record numbers of loans as quickly as possible,” he said. January data also show the time to close all loans remained at 58 days for both December and January.



Top of Mind promotes Nick Belenky to chief revenue officer

Nick Belenky, who joined Top of Mind Networks in January 2020 as EVP of sales, has become chief revenue officer in charge of leading the marketing, sales and customer experience teams.

Nick Belensky, Chief Revenue Officer, Top of Mind Networks

The Atlanta-based mortgage lending customer relationship management (CRM) fintech credits Belenky for an impressive list of milestones the company achieved in 2020. Examples include leading the expansion of the company’s sales team by 167% and the marketing team by 300%, and launching its multimedia customer success initiatives Mortgage Marketing University, Surefireside Chats and Inside the Lenders Studio.

Belenky reportedly helped bring increased attention to Top of Mind’s proprietary Surefire CRM, winner of 21 national and global creative marketing automation awards.

“Nick is an energetic, creative problem solver who has quickly brought immense value to Top of Mind and its customers,” said Bill Hayes, Top of Mind CEO. “His strategic, data-driven approach positions him for success as chief revenue officer. We are so proud to have Nick on the team.”

Before joining Top of Mind, Belenky was the director of sales at global Visa company CardinalCommerce for four years. During his tenure, he led his team to triple-digit sales growth, and oversaw new merchant sales and channel partnerships both globally and across North America.

Career highlights also include management roles at CEIA USA, a global manufacturer of security equipment, and at Edgerton Corporation, a developer of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems for the materials handling industry.

Western to acquire AmeriHome in $1B cash deal

Western Alliance Bancorporation announced a definitive agreement to acquire Aris Mortgage Holding Company, LLC, the parent of AmeriHome Mortgage Company, LLC for an estimated $1 billion in cash “subject to adjustments at closing.”

The Phoenix-based $35 billion assetparent ofWestern Alliance Bankalso announced its intention “to support the transaction and future growth,” by raising approximately $275 million of primary capital through a registered public offering of common stock, and close the transaction before the end of the second quarter of 2021.

Thousand Oaks, California-based, AmeriHome is the nation’s third largest correspondent mortgage acquirer. The company reportedly purchased approximately $65 billion in conventional conforming and government insured loans from its network of independent mortgage originators during 2020, and managed a $99 billion mortgage-servicing portfolio, as of December 31, 2020.

AmeriHome operates a business-to-business (B2B) mortgage ecosystem through relationships with over 700 independent correspondent mortgage-loan originators, including mortgage bankers, community and regional banks, and credit unions of all sizes, according to the company website.

The acquisition of AmeriHome expands and diversifies the Western Alliance national commercial businesses “with a complementary, low-risk national mortgage franchise” that has a history of profitable returns, according to a joint statement. The transaction “also markedly increases the contribution from non-interest income sources” and is expected to generate an estimated accretion of over 30% to earnings per share.

“We look forward to maximizing the strategic and financial opportunities created by partnering with AmeriHome, which has been a valued client of Western Alliance Bank for years,” said Ken Vecchione, president and CEO of Western Alliance. “Acquiring this differentiated, high-performing mortgage platform provides a powerful growth engine and expands mortgage offerings to existing clients.”

AmeriHome’s leadership team will leverage the Western Alliance liquidity and capital strength, market reach, complementary businesses and commercial customers, explained Vecchione. “This move meaningfully enhances our EPS baseline and growth, diversifies our revenue mix, and mitigates business cycle volatility with a firm that augments our commercial-focused portfolio.”

Post-closing, the company will operate as Western Alliance Bank subsidiary, AmeriHome led by Jim Furash, its current president and CEO.

AmeriHome’s unique business model proved to be a great match for Western Alliance Bank, “which has a history of growing by adding specialized financing groups that excel through differentiated B2B expertise,” said Furash. “Joining Western Alliance Bank is a terrific opportunity to accelerate our own strategic objectives and pathway to growth.”

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