OnePipeline.com, a Salt Lake City technology company that helps real estate agents originate mortgages, raised $17 million in its second round of venture capital funding last week.
First Media OP Holdings LLC was the lead investor. Others included APV Technology Partners LP, Akers Capital LLC, and Thomvest Holdings Inc. APV and Thomvest were also investors in OnePipeline.com's $7 million first round of funding last fall. The Utah company intends to use the fresh $17 million to market its service more widely, said David F. Broadbent, chairman and chief executive.
The service, used by 6,000 Realtors and 40 lenders, acts as an online automated compliance officer. In the last three years the company has built a vast legal and regulatory database that tells users what must be done to comply with the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, state laws, and other regulations and helps them track whether they are satisfying all requirements. The service became available last February.
Real estate sales professionals have long been wary of getting more involved in mortgage originations for fear of violating the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. This law, enacted in 1974, prohibits kickbacks in exchange for referral of settlement service business, including origination services such as taking applications or verifying applicants' income.
The law permits lenders to pay agents and contractors for services actually performed. In early 1995 Nicolas P. Retsinas, then an assistant secretary of housing and urban development, interpreted the law as allowing anyone to provide such services and be compensated for them - so long as a host of conditions were met.
Mr. Retsinas, now director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, was appointed last month to OnePipeline.com's board. In addition to satisfying the federal law, a Realtors must comply with state laws, which vary greatly. For example, California prohibits originating loans without a Realtor license, Mr. Broadbent said, and in Virginia Realtors are explicitly barred from originating mortgages.
Brokering loans for lenders is a natural area for real estate salespeople, Mr. Broadbent said. "If you go to buy a car, you don't stop at the bank first to see if you'll be able" to finance the car, he said, because dealers can offer financing.