First American Offers Solution to Support HARP 2.0

January 5, 2012

First American Title Insurance Co. announced the availability of Quick Start HARP, an advanced title, signing and settlement program that features proprietary technology designed to efficiently process refinance closings under the redefined Home Affordable Refinance Program, more commonly known as HARP 2.0.

Quick Start HARP is offered exclusively through the residential Mortgage Services division of First American Title Insurance Company, which specializes in developing automated process solutions that help mortgage lenders originate loans with greater speed, efficiency and accuracy. HARP 2.0 differs significantly from the previous version of HARP in that there is no limitation on loan-to-value (LTV) ratios, credit score requirements are lower and mortgage lenders can approach borrowers proactively, in accordance with the program guidelines. These program changes are expected to help lenders reach a previously untapped population of American homeowners, allowing those qualified to refinance into loans with lower interest rates and, in some cases, shorter terms.

First American's Quick Start HARP solution supports the revised program by helping mortgage lenders develop their own "push" or "pull" approach to soliciting homeowners. In a "push" version, the lender utilizes internal loan data and First American's proprietary title automation to proactively solicit homeowners who might benefit from HARP 2.0. The "pull" version is used when homeowners contact the lender to inquire about HARP 2.0. In both cases, First American's automated title technology delivers a title commitment to the lender in seconds, rather than a non-binding title "decision."

First American developed its original solution in early 2010, for use with the first version of HARP. In doing so, the company worked closely with mortgage lenders to design specialized workflows that improve pull-through and closing times. Quick Start HARP adds to these features with significantly reduced title premium rates and settlement costs for qualified refinances. This allows lenders to further assist homeowners by offering "no closing cost" loans that roll fees into the mortgage principal or into the new mortgage rate.

"Successful 'push' programs have the dual advantages of cost and time reduction for lenders and borrowers," said Patrick E. McLaughlin, president of First American’s Mortgage Services division. "Our experience and capacity will be advantageous to lenders who want to maximize their ability to bring HARP 2.0's benefits to qualifying borrowers."

HARP 2.0 transactions are prioritized for special handling within First American's settlement centers and follow streamlined curative guidelines. This results in closings that can be completed in as few as 14 business days. The program can be customized to include mobile notary signings or the use of First American's eSignSmart, a technology that allows homeowners to sign loan documents electronically on a mobile tablet or digital signing pad.

"Through advanced, accurate title automation and prioritized processes, we were able to achieve above-average results in speed to loan closings for the first version of HARP," said Robert Camerota, chief operating officer of First American's Mortgage Services division. "Our Quick Start HARP solution can be rapidly adapted to a lender's current or proposed workflow and supports a variety of refinance strategies, including lower interest rates, shorter-term mortgages, earlier rate locks and no closing cost loans."

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