Our Legacy

In 1988 Silicon Valley was just beginning to boom with the innovation of desktop computing. Companies like Apple, IBM, and Intel were dominating the imagination of everyone, including our CEO Rick Soukoulis. His company America’s Funding Source (AFS) began to create software to manage mortgage loan pricing. This kind of system is known today as “Product Pricing Eligibility” or PPE.

Take a look at some of the article and photos in this section. It’s a little like watching a 1960’s episode of the The Jetsons.

AFS’s PPE was decades ahead of its time, and as such, experienced regional success by 1991. Rick had gathered a great team around his vision of automating mortgage pricing and processes. System innovations and enhancements were based on two simple premises “Automate to improve processes and focus on what customers will want next”. From this dynamic incubating environment, the first “Loan Origination System” (LOS) built around a PPE was born. AFS branded their new system EMC (electronic mortgage clearinghouse). Real estate offices were determined to be the best place to deploy the system. By 1994 EMC and Loan originators were operating in 33 real estate office in California, which increased to 165 originators by 1995. Consumers flocked to these locations after learning that they could now locate the best available rate and obtain a loan with greater ease than ever before.

Rick’s continued innovation help propel AFS’s wildly successful EMC product to become the Realtor’s “in-house lending program” of choice. In 1994, Rick ventured into the virtual world by creating the industry’s first Video Conferencing Systems for mortgages within EMC. The system was designed to allow for the sharing of the EMC application during a video call. Take a look at Jim Goldman’s Silicon Valley news reports from 1994. This was all accomplished 10 years before the launch of GoToMeeting and other streaming video conferencing systems for the masses.

AFS caught the attention of Charles Schwab and Company in 1995. Together the two companies created “Charles Schwab’s Personal Mortgage Broker” (PMB). This product allowed consumers to complete a mortgage loan application from their home PC through access to EMC. Advanced algorithms were added to EMC which allowed customers to decide what loan was right for their personal needs. PMB operated much like Charles Schwab’s current “robo-advisors” for ETF investing. PMB’s pre-internet era pilot was successfully launched in Northern California to Schwab’s customers in 1996. Several years later in Palo Alto, E-Loan launched one of the mortgage industry’s first venture capital backed consumer direct websites based on the identical concept which was test marketed by PMB.

2000 – Today and Beyond

Rick’s aspirations to take his software to the entire industry was the genesis of LoanCity in December of 1999. Rick’s vision was to provide mortgage brokers internet access to EMC, enabling them to compete with newly launched and well-funded consumer direct entrants in the mortgage market like E-loan, mortgage.com and Home Shark (yes they really call their company Home Shark). In addition, LoanCity provided software that allowed brokers access to a secondary market while it acted as a single point of loan delivery, a clearinghouse. In late 1999 and early 2000 E*Trade, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Century Capital Partners, New Enterprise Associates, Marsh & McLennan Capital, InterWest Partners and Insight Capital Partners all bought into the vision and provided $45 million in new capital in support of the endeavor. Rick brought his technology and industry insight to every state by the end of 2001. By 2006, LoanCity was the 10th largest wholesale lender in the United States with its software widely used by tens of thousands of mortgage originators.

Banc America Securities entered the picture in 2002 and purchased a controlling interest in LoanCity.  Additional capital allowed for the capacity to fund as much as $1.5 billion in loans per month. LoanCity was soon closing 7,000 loans per month.  Rick Soukoulis remained in his role as CEO and continued with his tradition of innovation.  Rick and his team built one of the first integrations to Fannie Mae’s Desktop Underwriter (DU) as well as Customized Desktop underwriter (CDU). These integrations combined with LoanCity’s EMC made for an unbeatable product now simply called LoanCity.  In 2002, LoanCity added document imaging to its technology arsenal, completing the first all-digital platform.  By 2005, his customers received a formal online approval and digital delivery, making LoanCity the first end to end digital platform.  These services were available for all loan products.  LoanCity was leading the industry in automation and innovation and was constantly ranked in the top 10 of nationally ranked wholesale lenders.  In early 2007 at the onset of the financial crisis Banc of America securities decide to conduct an orderly shutdown of LoanCity before the collapse of the mortgage market.

Rick wasn’t done in the mortgage industry, and in late 2008 Western Bancorp began operations. Western Bancorp was formed in partnership with the owners of Intero Real Estate in Northern California and quickly ramped up mortgage lending operations.  In 2014, Rick’s partners sold their ownership in Intero Real Estate to Berkshire Hathaway as well as selling their interest in Western Bancorp to Rick.  With sole ownership of  Western Bancorp, Rick has returned to his wholesale roots.  In late 2015, all of the LoanCity technology was purchased from Banc of America Securities and today is owned and controlled by Western Bancorp’s sister company ReadyPrice, which is the engine of innovation for Western Bancorp.

So what’s coming next? Stay tuned to see one of Ricks biggest ideas ever!!