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The Promise of Digital Mortgage is a Reality

MBA Tech 2019: The Promise of Digital Mortgage is a Reality

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Last week, the eOriginal team was out in force at MBA Tech 2019. We enjoyed seeing old friends, making new friends, discussing digital best practices and learning what is top of mind when it comes to mortgage technology adoption.

The conference opened with a riveting discussion on the biggest tech innovators and disruptors, featuring George Blankenship, a former executive at Apple Computer, Tesla Motors and Gap, Inc. In his entertaining speech, Blankenship noted, “Do something that is going to impact your industry forever.”

Do something that is going to impact your industry forever.

This resonated with me as it largely aligns with the current state of the industry. Digital mortgage technology is not just about gaining one benefit. It’s about the myriad of benefits that come with an end-to-end digital mortgage process. Fortunately, the ongoing adoption of digital processes that is taking place today will have a lasting impact on the mortgage ecosystem.

Tech Talks: Digital without the Disruption

Shifting gears, a highlight of the conference was eOriginal’s demo in the Tech Showcase. Last year at MBA Tech 2018 in Detroit, we demonstrated what we were bringing to the market. This year, we highlighted the evolution of the market and proved that the promise of digital mortgage is in fact a reality. To do this, we focused on a real-life scenario that recently took place—a digital closing in Texas.

Dennis Pospisil is Senior Vice President at Republic Title of Texas, the settlement agent that conducted the digital closing. He joined eOriginal’s Chief Product Officer, Simon Moir, and Senior Product Manager, Alex Tepe, on stage for a six-minute Q&A-style presentation. Moir and Tepe asked Pospisil about his experience with the digital closing as well as what he had to do to prepare for a paperless settlement.

Believe it or not, Pospisil found out that the closing would be digital just 24-hours ahead of time. Throughout the conversation, he emphasized how easy the process was—it required no training, no contract, and no fees. An iPad was used for the closing, but any type of connected device with a browser and sufficient screen capacity could have been utilized. DocsDirect, the document prep provider, delivered the lender docs, as well as a one-page training document for Republic Title of Texas. A bonus highlighted by Pospisil was the borrower’s excitement over the ease and convenience of a digital closing. Clearly, all parties involved were more than satisfied with the experience.

eNote Volumes on the Rise

So why are electronic notes important to digital adoption? An eNote is an electronic version of what has traditionally been a paper document. Since it is electronic, it needs to be created, signed, and managed in a specific way to ensure that it has the same legal enforceability as paper. This is the most critical document for all parties in the mortgage ecosystem, including lenders, originators, warehouse lenders, custodians, investors, and servicers, as its validity is essential for the downstream life of the loan on the secondary market. eNotes allow tech-forward lenders to maintain agile operations and achieve greater liquidity than they can achieve through traditional paper processes. As of April 1, 2019, 376,618 unique eNotes have been registered on the MERS® eRegistry.  The mortgage industry can continue to expect exponential growth of eNote production in 2019.

Until Next Year, MBA Tech

As the Dallas skyline faded into the distance, I spent some time on the flight reflecting on my experience at the conference. The acceleration of the mortgage industry’s digital transformation comes from all sides. Adoption by originators, custodians, settlement and title agents, doc prep providers, warehouse lenders, servicers, the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), and MERS is crucial for its success.

During MBA Tech 2019, it became abundantly clear that digital mortgage isn’t just a promise for the future. It’s a reality today.


Christmas tree, gifts, stockings hanging from mantel by blazing fire in fireplace. Christmas eve.

How to Decorate Your Home for the Holidays Without Hurting a Sale

Selling your home with the holidays on deck means you may need a crash course in how to decorate your home for the holidays without turning off buyers.

Unless you’re a total Scrooge, it’s hard to argue with the fact that glitter lights and colorful accents make a home look more cheerful and inviting. But you also probably know that if you’re trying to sell your home, buyers need to have an easy time imagining themselves (and their own holiday traditions) in your home.

You don’t have to ditch the holiday decorations altogether. But you shouldn’t hang all the boughs of holly, Christmas lights, Hanukkah menorahs, and every holiday card you receive, either.

So how do you walk the line during these merry months and let the holiday spirit flow without turning off buyers? Hey, we’ve got some tips—an early secret Santa gift from us to you!

1. Depersonalize the decorations

“It’s important the design appeals to as many different home buyers and tastes as possible,” says Erika Dalager, marketing manager at roOomy, a virtual home staging site. “The seller’s personal life should not be prominently featured throughout the home.”

  • “Best Mom” tree ornaments your kids made in preschool
  • Named Christmas stockings
  • Religious tokens and symbols
  • A ton of holiday cards
  • Photos of your baby’s first Christmas

Hope Mazzola, a real estate broker with William Raveis in Katonah, NY, says glitzing a home with over-the-top decorations is like wrapping a house in an “ugly holiday sweater.”

“Less is definitely more when it comes to holiday decorations while selling your home,” Mazzola says. “Enhancing the features of the home versus adding all the bells and whistles will keep buyers on track.”

2. Consider the neighborhood

But if your neighborhood is ablaze with holidays lights, which herald the block’s values and attract like-minded buyers, then you don’t want to be your block’s resident Grinch, says Tori Toth, a New York City home stager.

“If your neighborhood is festive during Christmas, then a buyer would expect Christmas decorations at your home,” Toth says. “On the other hand, if you live in a politically correct neighborhood with a mix of religious beliefs, use more generic decorations to promote season’s greetings rather than your specific holiday.”

Some real estate pros, however, say you should forgo the decorations regardless of what your neighbors are doing.

“Putting up decorations while your home is on the market poses more risk than it offers reward,” says Sam Pawlitzki, a Los Angeles Realtor. “I recommend that sellers stick to the rule of keeping their house impersonal.”

3. If you must add some holiday flair, here’s how to decorate your home …

Here’s how to decorate your home while it’s for sale during the holidays:

Avoid the kitsch: Inflatable snowmen,  reindeer on the roof, a gazillion angels flapping their wings, or life-size Mike Pence mannequins can seem in poor taste and turn off potential buyers.

Classic is always best: Hang an elegant wreath on the front door, rather than a “Santa stops here!” sign, says Jamie Novak, author of “Keep This, Toss That.”

Don’t overdo lights: Simple white lights can add a festive touch without blinding buyers during walk-throughs.

Skip the tree: You can’t win with a tree. If it’s too big, it distracts viewers and can make the room seem small. It can also block the flow and make the space seem crowded. And if it’s tiny, it’s depressing and sad. Decorate a tree only if you have a great room and you want to show off a high ceiling.

Box up the greeting cards: Holiday cards on tables make the room look messy. Stick them in a drawer.

Protect presents: Don’t stack gifts under a tree or put them on display. The last thing you want this holiday is for a stranger with sticky fingers to walk away with a present. Lock the presents in your car trunk, especially during an open house.

Choose scents over scenes: The smell of simmering cider or baked cookies will delight the senses more than garlands strung over everything that doesn’t move.

Light a fire: A roaring fireplace during a weekday showing is a cozy way to celebrate the winter and warm visitors as well.

Pump up powder rooms: Place peppermint-scented soaps and candles in the bathrooms along with a few tasteful, holiday-themed towels. They give the rooms some spirit and interest.

Celebrate your tradition with color: This may not be the year you display the religious symbols of your holidays, but you don’t have to forsake them altogether. If you celebrate Hanukkah, hang a wreath with shades of blue. For Christmas, your wreath can be made of evergreen boughs and pine cones. For Kwanzaa, add red berries to a green wreath.

In the end, the most important holiday decision you’ll make is whether to keep your home on the market during Yuletide: You’ll have fewer house hunters, but more motivated buyers. Ask your Realtor whether you should consider delisting your home for the holiday season, and starting fresh after the new year.



The Easy Guide to Real Estate Video Content Marketing

We have all noticed that video is one of the best ways to get your name out there and in front of your customer. Here is a great video guide from Tom Ferry that gives you great suggestions and ideas for video content. Let’s learn from the best.  If you don’t already follow Tom Ferry, you should! 

Holiday decorated home at evening with Christmas lighting, fluffy snow.

How to Sell Your Home During the Holidays

Wondering how to sell your home during the holidays? While putting your home on the market between winter celebrations, school vacations, and looming family visits might seem like miserable timing, sellers could actually benefit by using this period strategically to show and possibly even sell their place.

Here’s why: Many home sellers take a holiday hiatus until the New Year—and that could mean that your house may suddenly become a hot commodity. Plus, if buyers are truly squeezing in home showings between shopping trips and holiday recitals, you know they must be serious.

So if you’re ready to put up a “For Sale” sign under the cheery glow of your holiday lights, go right ahead! Here’s some advice on how to sell your home during the holidays.

Deck your halls…

A little mistletoe will likely help rather than hurt.

“You should be festive and decorate,” suggests Jen Teague, a Realtor® with Keller Williams in Ellis County, TX. “It’s when your home looks the best and you take the most pride in it, so it will show better and most likely net more.”

… but don’t go overboard

“Go easy on decorations,” cautions Samuel Pawlitzki with Beach Cities Real Estate in Malibu, CA. Christmas lights and a tree in the living room are OK, he clarifies, “but I wouldn’t suggest staging a nativity scene in the front yard. Going berserk on decorations can scare off potential buyers.” And, well, everyone else.

Throw a party

“This can be a great way to showcase your house to friends, family, and neighbors,” Pawlitzki notes. “Chances are that at least one person at the party is looking for a new home, or knows someone who is.”

Preheat your oven

“It’s wonderful for potential buyers to walk into a home that smells of fresh-baked cookies, sweets, and holiday cakes,” says Joan Suzio, an interior decorator in Libertyville, IL. Sweeten them up a tad more by leaving a plate of treats out for them to enjoy.

Don’t encourage thieves

Although most people are wishing peace on Earth and goodwill, not everybody will take that message to heart. So, play it safe and don’t leave gifts (particularly expensive ones) under a holiday tree during a showing. Consider leaving empty decorative boxes instead.

Let your house shine

The days have never been darker or shorter, so to ensure your house gives off a warm, comfy vibe, “replace some of your lights with brighter bulbs to add more light for evening showings,” suggests Nathan Garrett, owner of Garretts Realty in Louisville, KY.

Give a little

As in, give a little more time than you might if you were selling at a different, less frenetic time of year.

“Be prepared to let people into your home even when it’s not convenient for you,” advises Janine Acquafredda, associate broker at House n Key Realty in Brooklyn, NY. “Not everyone celebrates the same holidays, so you may be asked to show on days you normally wouldn’t want to.”

Use bad weather in your favor

Live in a part of the country that’s hit with snow and ice storms this time of year? Make sure your pathways and sidewalks are cleanly shoveled and your house temperature is comfortable, suggests Valerie Post, a real estate adviser at Engel & Völkers Boston.

If it’s raining, have umbrellas handy for people to look at outside areas. (Boot covers by the front door are a nice touch.) “This is the time to accentuate heated driveways, attached garages, updated heating systems, newer roofs, and fireplaces,” Post adds.

Pour yourself a glass of eggnog and relax

A few years ago, Andrew Sandholm, a licensed real estate salesperson with BOND New York Properties, was working with a client looking to buy in Manhattan around the holiday season. The perfect condo went on the market a few days before Christmas. Sandholm immediately notified his buyer, who made an all-cash offer at full asking price the next day. The offer was accepted and on Christmas Eve, when most people were hanging stockings by their mantels with care, the seller and his buyer began work on the contract. They closed a few weeks after the new year.

What’s the point of this holiday tale?

“There is no good or bad time to list your home,” Sandholm says. “Hire the right agent, and you will get offers, whether it’s the holidays or not.”


Residential neighborhood, aerial view, Baden Wurttemberg, Germany.

HUD Looks to Eliminate Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing

The Department of Housing and Urban Development published a request for information to dig into how regulations could be creating barriers to affordable housing.

The RFI is seeking public comment on federal, state, local and tribal laws, regulations, land use requirements and administrative practices that raise the cost of affordable housing and contribute to housing shortages.

“Owning a home is an essential component of the American Dream,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said. “It is imperative that we remove regulatory barriers that prevent that dream from becoming a reality.”

“Through this request, communities across the country will have the opportunity to identify roadblocks to affordable housing and work with state, federal, and local leaders to remove them,” Carson continued.

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump signed Executive Order 13878, “Establishing a White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing,” saying that, for many Americans, the supply of available housing has not kept pace with the demand for housing by prospective renters and homebuyers, driving up housing costs.

Now, HUD is looking for the following information points:

  • Specific HUD regulations, statutes, programs, and practices that directly or indirectly restrict the supply of housing or increase the cost of housing
  • Policy interventions, solutions, or strategies available to State, local, and Federal decision makers to incentivize State and local governments to review their regulatory environment or aid them in streamlining, reducing or eliminating the negative impact of State and local laws, regulations and administrative practices
  • Ways that State-level laws, practices, and programs contribute to delays in the construction industry and specific laws, practices, and programs that could be reviewed
  • Common motivations or factors that underlie local governments’ adoption of laws, regulations, and practices that demonstrably raise the cost of housing development, and whether such factors vary geographically
  • Peer-reviewed research and/or representative surveys that provide quantitative analyses on the impact of regulations on the cost of affordable housing development
  • Performance measures, quantitative and/or qualitative, the Council should consider in assessing the reduction of barriers nationally or regionally and advantages and disadvantages of each measure
  • Recommendations on how to best utilize HUD’s Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse for States, local governments, researchers and policy analysts who are tracking reform activity across the country

This RFI is a part of the work Carson is undertaking as the chair of the White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing. The Council’s eight federal member agencies are engaging with governments at all levels—state, local and tribal—and other private-sector stakeholders on ways to increase the housing supply.


Deep snow has been shoveled, cleared and piled along the sides of the front yard footpath of this colonial style home. Two small holiday Christmas trees at the end of the walkway are decorated with Christmas ornaments and wide, bright red ribbon Christmas bows. Heavy blizzard snow continues to come down hard and blow around in all directions - already starting to re-coat the slippery surface and cover the fresh footprints. Nothing surprising here - just another early January winter snow storm in a rural suburban residential district neighborhood near Rochester, New York.

Tips for Winterizing Your Home

Winter is coming! See below for a list of top tips for winterizing your home.


  • Inspect exterior for crevice cracks and exposed entry points around pipes; seal them.
  • Use weather stripping around doors to prevent cold air from entering the home and caulk windows.
  • Replace cracked glass in windows and, if you end up replacing the entire window, prime and paint exposed wood.


  • Get your HVAC system serviced, and have your duct work checked to be sure the air flow is uninterrupted and free of holes from pests.
  • Reverse all ceiling fans in the house.  This will help push warm air downward and force it to recirculate.
  • Change the air filters in your home.
  • Check the cold air return vents and make sure they are not blocked by furniture.  Your furnace needs these to operate at high efficiency.


  • Rake away all debris and vegetation from the foundation.
  • Seal up entry points to keep small animals from crawling under the house.
  • Tuckpoint or seal foundation cracks. Mice can slip through space as thin as a dime.
  • Inspect sill plates for dry rot or pest infestation.
  • Secure crawlspace entrances.


  • Install a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace and/or water heater.
  • Replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • After replacing batteries, test all detectors to make sure they work.
  • Buy a fire extinguisher or replace your existing one if it is older than 10 years.


  • Locate your water main in the event you need to shut it off in an emergency.
  • Shut off the water to your hose bibs inside your house (via turnoff valve), and drain the lines. Then  insulate the spigot itself.
  • Insulate exposed plumbing pipes that pass through unheated areas of your home, like the garage for instance.
  • Flush your water heater to remove built-up sediment.
  • If you do go on vacation, leave the heat on, set to at least 55 degrees.


  • Cap or screen the top of the chimney to keep out rodents and birds.
  • If the chimney hasn’t been cleaned for a while, call a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote.
  • Buy firewood or chop wood. Store it in a dry place away from the exterior of your home.
  • Inspect the fireplace damper for proper opening and closing.
  • Check the mortar between bricks and tuckpoint, if necessary.


  • Trim trees if branches hang too close to the house or electrical wires.
  • Turn off your sprinkler system.
  • Clear the gutters of fallen leaves and debris.
  • Ask a gardener when your trees should be pruned to prevent winter injury.
  • Plant spring flower bulbs and lift bulbs that cannot winter over such as dahlias in areas where the ground freezes.
  • Seal driveways, brick patios and wood decks.
  • Move sensitive potted plants indoors or to a sheltered area.

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