From new appointments and partnerships to the latest digital initiatives, catch the latest buzz on the mortgage business in this weekly update.
Freddie Mac  has appointed Sam Khater, a housing and economics expert with over 20 years’ experience as VP and Chief Economist at the GSE, that provides mortgage capital to lenders. Khater brings extensive housing finance research and economic forecasting expertise to his new role at Freddie Mac. As Chief Economist, he will lead a team of researchers in providing insights and analysis on economic trends and policy issues affecting Freddie Mac and the housing market. “Sam is a leading voice in the housing finance industry and his extensive knowledge will help Freddie Mac deliver valuable research to our business units, customers, and the industry,” said Jerry Weiss, EVP and Chief Administrative Officer at Freddie Mac. “Under Sam’s leadership, we are well-positioned to further leverage our economics team in ways that will strengthen our commitment to building a better housing finance system.” Khater arrives at Freddie Mac after 11 years at CoreLogic, where he most recently served as VP of research and Deputy Chief Economist. His responsibilities included producing original research and advising clients, regulators, policymakers, and investors on real estate and mortgage market trends.
Richmond, Virginia-based Genworth Mortgage Insurance , has announced an enhanced integration with Ellie Mae’s Encompass digital mortgage solution to include a new functionality for contract underwriting services. The enhancement allows lenders to submit loan applications directly through the Encompass interface for contract underwriting with or without mortgage insurance, adding a new offering for customers who use both the Genworth and Encompass solutions. “Integrating contract underwriting into the Genworth-Encompass workflow expands our multi-solution offering and extends our expertise in another key area to all our customer segments,” said Erika Martin, Director, Customer Experience and Segment Marketing, Genworth Mortgage Insurance. “This expanded partnership, against the backdrop of our best-in-class underwriting capabilities, advances our goal of driving innovation to facilitate homeownership opportunities for new and existing homeowners.”
National General Lender Services (National General), a Mesa, Arizona-based provider of mortgage lender-placed insurance protection solutions, insurance products, and risk management services, has announced that insurance and mortgage industry veterans, Jody Gunderson and Greg Giammario, have been named as EVPs of the company. They will be focused on furthering National General Lender Services’ growth through promotion of the company’s focus on exceptional service, compliance, and strong performance. “National General has invested significantly in technology, integrated solutions, and facilities to support the Lender Services operation and our continued growth,” said Art Castner, president of National General Lender Services. “The addition of Jody and Greg enhances our leadership team, and their combined expertise and industry experience will add great value to our company and clients. It is an opportune time for servicers to enhance their insurance tracking program and partner with National General.” Gunderson and Giammario each bring more than 30 years’ experience in specialized insurance products and services to their new role.
West Palm Beach, Florida-headquartered OpenClose , a multi-channel loan origination system (LOS) and mortgage fintech provider, has announced that Ascend Federal Credit Union  (Ascend) is leveraging its LenderAssist LOS platform and DecisionAssist product and pricing engine (PPE). OpenClose’s browser-based solution has delivered additional efficiencies and heightened service levels for the credit union’s growing mortgage lending division. Ascend engaged with OpenClose to provide the credit union with a robust LOS that will simplify its mortgage processes, ensure compliance, improve efficiencies, maximize productivity, and reduce costs without the time and expense of implementing and maintaining a legacy system. LenderAssist is configured to support Ascend’s specific business processes and automate the lending workflow from start to finish. The entire platform was implemented in less than 60 days.
United Wholesale Mortgage  (UWM), a Troy, Michigan-based wholesale lender, has announced the hire of Alex Elezaj as its Chief Strategy Officer. Elezaj most recently served as CEO of Class Appraisal, a nationally recognized leader in residential real estate appraisal management. “We are thrilled to have such an amazing leader join our team, and his main focus will be aligned with UWM’s which is to help our mortgage broker partners grow,” said Mat Ishbia, President, and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage. “He is in total lockstep with our company from a leadership vision and culture standpoint, as he believes mortgage brokers are the best place for loan originators to work and for borrowers to get a mortgage.” Under Elezaj’s three-year tenure as CEO of Class Appraisal, the company more than tripled its annual revenue and built strategic business partnerships with more than 300 mortgage lenders and over a thousand of the nation’s top-performing appraisers. Elezaj has received several industry awards, including distinction as one of National Mortgage Professional’s “40 Under 40” honorees and Mortgage Professional America’s “Hot 100” selection.