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Voxtur Analytics Corp., a data analytics company that’s ruffling feathers by offering mortgage lenders an alternative to traditional title insurance, has named mortgage finance industry veteran Nick Smith to its board of directors.
Smith, who founded Minneapolis-based Rice Park Capital in 2019 and serves as its managing partner and CEO, is a veteran of The Blackstone Group, Two Harbors Investment Corp., Green Tree Investment Management and GMAC ResCap.
Rice Park Capital managed a fund that was the largest equity investor in Blue Water Financial Technologies, which Voxtur acquired in September. Smith also serves on the boards of Sitekick, AI Software LLC (dba Capacity), Realized Holdings Inc. and Brass Ring Capital.
“Voxtur is an innovative company with a platform that delivers products that have the potential to improve home ownership access and reduce borrowing costs by digitizing the home buying and mortgage experience from beginning to end,” Smith said in a statement Wednesday. “I am excited to join the board, and alongside my fellow board members, help support the company as it pursues its ambitious growth objectives.”
Smith replaces Mark Volosov on Voxtur’s board. Volosov, CEO of asset manager Sage Residential Management LLC, was elected to a second 12-month term on Voxtur’s board in June but resigned effective Dec. 13, 2022.
A spokesperson for Voxtur told Inman via email that Volosov and Smith “have some competitive aspects to their (respective) businesses that they run independent of Voxtur and therefore (Volosov) felt he may be conflicted in his duties to provide value back to Voxtur in our initiatives.”
Pioneer in attorney title opinion letters
Looking for ways to make homeownership more affordable, mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac this year updated their rules allowing lenders to obtain attorney title opinions instead of title insurance policies.
A title insurance industry trade group, the American Land Title Association (ALTA), has sounded the alarm about what it sees as risks “alternative title insurance products” including “certain attorney opinion letters” pose to lenders and consumers.
ALTA’s position is that it is “misguided for lenders to offer title insurance alternatives that provide less coverage but introduce more risk to lenders and consumers.”
But the nation’s largest mortgage lender, United Wholesale Mortgage, quickly embraced the option of using attorney opinion letters in lieu of traditional title insurance, saying it expects “significant savings” for borrowers thanks to a cheaper title review process.
Voxtur says its attorney opinion letter product, Voxtur AOL, “provides full coverage for both the lender and consumer at a reduced cost,” pairing data analysis with a legal opinion that’s also backed by transactional liability insurance.
In September, the company announced the rollout of Voxtur AOL with multiple lenders, “including at least one top-tier bank and several mid-sized national lenders.”
“We are thrilled to see more lenders offering the Voxtur AOL as an option to consumers as home prices and rates continue to rise, creating a cost prohibitive housing environment,” Voxtur CEO Jim Albertelli said at the time. “Working with large and mid-sized lenders on a national scale allows us to provide immediate savings to more consumers, making homeownership more accessible.”
Blue Water acquisition
Voxtur — which is based in Toronto, Canada and Tampa, Florida — announced on Sept. 22 it had closed a $101 million acquisition of Blue Water Financial Technologies Holding Company LLC. Blue Water’s largest equity holder, RPC Ventures Fund I LP, is managed by Rice Park Capital.
Blue Water provides services to mortgage lenders and investors in mortgage servicing rights (MSRs), including asset valuation, MSR distribution and MSR hedging.
“By fusing Blue Water’s digital asset capabilities with Voxtur’s data repository and analytic solutions, we are creating a powerful and sophisticated new platform to streamline mortgage trading,” Albertelli said at the time. “This acquisition allows Voxtur to diversify and expand existing revenue streams from the primary mortgage market, while adding new revenue streams in the secondary market.”
On Dec. 22, Voxtur announced that its capital markets division, Blue Water Financial Technologies, had signed an exclusive strategic partnership with an unnamed mortgage servicing aggregator representing multiple loan originators.
Blue Water will provide tools “to facilitate mortgage asset pricing, commitment, transfer, underwriting, and due diligence, as well as rep and warrant protection,” streamlining the process of transferring mortgage servicing rights from originators to downstream investors, Voxtur said.
Voxtur, which paid $30 million in cash and issued 170 million shares of common stock to close the Blue Water acquisition, announced that it was expanding its existing credit facilities with Bank of Montreal’s Technology & Innovation Banking Group by $30 million in conjunction with the acquisition.
Voxtur also announced a convertible preferred share offering in which BMO Capital Partners paid $4 million (Canadian) for 4.08 million preferred shares in Voxtur.
BMO Capital Partners, a private equity arm of Bank of Montreal, is also an investor in nesto, a Montreal-based digital mortgage lending platform that announced an $80 million Series C funding round on Dec. 13.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include a comment from Voxtur on Nick Smith replacing Mark Volosov on Voxtur’s board of directors.