As various parts of the nation are hunkered down due to weather, just think of “2.4 million.” That is a lot of anything, especially when that is how many additional people had their names & driver license number data exposed in the Equifax data breach. Remember that hackers accessed personal information of 145.5 million people, including names, Social Security numbers driver’s license numbers, and addresses.


Freddie and Fannie Changes Continue

One critical person asked me, “How long does it take Freddie to ‘re-imagine’ the mortgage process?” U.S. News & World Report reports that, “Without the GSEs, the mortgage market would not look radically different than it does today. Proponents argue that the GSEs lower mortgage rates, ensure the availability of the standard 30-year fixed rate mortgage, support home ownership and lend to people with lower incomes or weaker credit profiles ...

The Fannie Mae Servicing Guide has been updated with changes that: Identify the conditions in which Fannie Mae will approve a first lien charge-off and lien release for delinquent first lien mortgage loans to help maintain neighborhood conditions and home prices. Remove the requirement for servicers to include a Social Security number in REOgram or non-delegated workout submission to protect sensitive borrower data. Streamline the Sellingand Servicing Guides by removing certain topics from Servicing Guide Part A pertaining to compliance with laws and responsible, questionable, and prohibited lender practices. These topics will be updated and included in the Selling Guide on Feb. 27.

Fannie’s SEL-2018-02: Selling Guide has been updated with changes that expand the HomeStyle Renovation mortgage option, making it easier to purchase and renovate older homes, brings more flexibility to HomeStyle Energy, including allowing borrowers to use this product to make resiliency upgrades that will improve the home's ability to withstand environmental hazards, in addition to making their home more energy efficient, aligns the requirements for lender business continuity and disaster recovery plans with the requirements in the Servicing Guide, increases the allowable age of documents from 120 days to 180 days for properties located in a FEMA-declared disaster area, and aligns the Selling and Servicing Guides by including topics related to compliance with laws and responsible lending practices in the Selling Guide and removing duplicative content in the Servicing Guide.

“As announced, we'll now allow eligibility for manufactured housing, and we're increasing the maximum LTV ratio to 97% for certain kinds of loans, including HomeReady®, that are underwritten in DU. For HomeStyle Renovation, we're also significantly increasing the allowable renovation costs that may be financed. In addition, for HomeStyle Energy we'll now allow resiliency upgrades that will strengthen the home's ability to withstand disasters, and we'll waive the energy report requirement for solar and water efficiency devices.”

For the first time, homeowners who rent their primary residence on Airbnb can include their hosting income on mortgage applications when they refinance their existing loans with three lenders, including giant Quicken Loans. Fannie Mae has agreed to back the loans and, if all goes well after a 90-day trial with the three lenders, “make it broadly available,” said Jonathan Lawless, Fannie’s vice president of product development and affordable housing. This will be the first time that Fannie has considered income from a borrower’s home, rather than a separate rental property, on mortgage applications. It also represents a big step in recognizing income from the gig economy. “We’re not just a W-2 economy anymore,” said Bob Walters, president and chief operating officer of Quicken Loans. The loans cannot exceed Fannie’s loan limits, which range from $453,100 in most places to $679,650 in high-cost counties, including most of the Bay Area. Borrowers must meet other Fannie requirements, including a minimum credit score of 620. The other lenders in the pilot project are Citizens Bank and Better Mortgage.

Starting Monday, February 26, you can deliver Uniform Loan Delivery Dataset (ULDD) Phase 3 data to Freddie Mac through Loan Selling Advisor. As you prepare to deliver ULDD Phase 3 data, there are several critical updates and resources to consider. Read its Single-Family News Center article for more information.

Effective April 4, Fannie Mae's Investor Reporting system will be updated to accept more closed delinquency modifications under certain scenarios. This will result in reduced fatal edits for servicers. See the Feb. 20 release notes for additional information, and visit the Investor Reporting page for resources, including the Remitting Calendar.

Capital Markets

President Donald Trump's plans to levy tariffs on imported steel and aluminum have contributed to a drop in US equities. The announcement has also prompted concerns about a trade war. President Trump announced that, starting next week, a 10.0% tariff will be imposed on aluminum imports while steel imports will carry a 25.0% tariff, pushing U.S. Treasuries to record their second consecutive day of gains yesterday, including the 10-year to close above the 2.80% barrier for the first time since the second week in February. There is some discussion centering around if these tariffs will violate World Trade Organization rules, and in addition to fiery rhetoric, some retaliatory actions are expected from international trading partners.

The Personal Income and Spending report for January was in-line with expectations although those, and the other price measures released yesterday, are still short of the Fed’s 2% inflation target though it hasn’t changed market expectations of three fed funds rate hikes this year – especially when initial jobless claims are at the lowest level since the late 1960’s. At some point the tight labor markets should cause a pickup in wage inflation, but those opining on this sound like broken records at this point.

The ISM Manufacturing Index for February increased to 60.8, well ahead of expectations and above January’s reading. A 50.0 reading is the line between expansion and contraction, making this the 106th straight month with an increase, indicating manufacturing activity on a national level is quite robust. More importantly, the Prices Index hit its highest level since May 2011, stoking fears about manufacturers passing through higher input costs to their customers, supporting increased inflation expectations. Total construction spending continues to run at its slowest pace in six years, registering unchanged MoM in January, inhibiting stronger overall economic growth.

Fed Chair Powell’s had a largely uneventful visit to the Senate Banking Committee for his semi-annual testimony following Tuesday’s appearance before the House. The Fed Chair seemed to temper his comments, compared with Tuesday stressing the “gradual” nature of rate hikes with wage inflation still somewhat subdued. He told lawmakers the next two years will be “good” ones for the economy, which would see him at the helm for the longest current U.S. expansion on record. His testimony speaks to higher rates through year-end and continued muted MBS prepayment speeds – not a help to refi shops. A rate hike is a near certainty at the March 20/21 FOMC meeting.

With February payrolls not due to be released until next Friday, today sees just one economic release with the February University of Michigan Sentiment Index (expectations are for a modest increase). With the volatile stock markets as a backdrop overnight, we start Friday with the 10-year yielding 2.82% and agency MBS prices worse .125 versus last night’s close.

Jobs, Expanding Channels, Promotions, and Products

Equity Prime Mortgage, LLC an Independent Mortgage Banking Company headquartered in Atlanta, GA is excited and pleased to announce the following new hires in their TPO Sales Group:  Mike Jones -  Regional Sales Manager – West Region, John Manley – Account Executive, Carol Smith – Account Executive, Maria Rondas – Account Executive, and Brandi Green – Account Executive. “We welcome any wholesale originators or mini-correspondents to join our program nationwide. Please feel free to reach out to any of these individuals or contact Jim Sertl, Regional Sales Manager - Eastern Region, or Ed Abufaris, SVP of TPO for additional information.”

TMS is on a roll this year with its massive rebranding, sharp pricing on conventional loans, and leading technology. With production shooting up 30% YTD, TMS is seeking top talent to join its wholesale team to keep pace with the business growth. In addition, TMS is known for a unique corporate culture, led by Darius Mirshahzadeh, one of the highest-rated CEO’s on Glassdoor. Heck, the company has a pink unicorn as their mascot! Contact James Hooper to set up a confidential interview. And check out its website for more information.

Angel Oak Mortgage Solutions continues its expansion into the Correspondent marketplace. Since its Correspondent offering was introduced in 2017, Angel Oak has listened to their customer base and expanded their lending footprint, product offerings, warehouse take-out partners, as well as execution methods and tools. This coupled with the best operational platform backed by the pioneers in the fastest growing segment of the industry is already drawing incredible attention among lenders wishing to grow in a responsible manner. In order to do just that, please contact Sean Marr(404.978.0300).

Since 2010, DocProbe’s mission has been to guarantee peace of mind to lenders by ensuring that the Trailing/Final Documents on their loans, are retrieved, issue free and delivered to investors in time. Continuing its nationwide growth, DocProbe announced that Tani Lawrence has joined its ever-growing Business Development team, will now allow DocProbe to provide real value and make life easier for lenders throughout the West Coast. DocProbe, a division of Madison Commercial Real Estate Services, is the nation’s leading search and retrieval service for post-closing trailing documents. Our dedicated team, supported by our proprietary software, allow us to obtain, track, audit, image, warehouse and ship trailing documents, for lenders, servicers & investors. Our LOS integrations allow for beautiful system interaction. DocProbe manages this notoriously inefficient process – seamlessly and impeccably. We will be attending the LendersOne Conference in Scottsdale next week. To meet or learn more about us, contact Nick Erlanger.

“For the 2nd year in a row Caliber Home Loans, Inc. has been recognized by Victory Media as a Military Friendly Brand. This designation measures a company’s social and material investment in support of the military and veteran community. By receiving this award, Caliber has met or exceeded standards in the following categories: Community Investment & Partnership, Consumer Protection & Support, Transparency & Reporting, Policies & Governance, and Culture & Commitment. Caliber is more than a mortgage lender, we’re committed to assisting our active military and veterans in every way possible – from assistance with VA Loans to our community outreach initiatives. We’re looking for a few good loan officers to join the ranks of our sales organization! Contact Jeremy DeRosa or visit our website to learn more.”

Out of Natchitoches, Louisiana comes news that $400 million Bank of Montgomery has changed its name to BOM Bank. “The new name reflects the bank’s expansion, through growth and acquisitions, to 14 branches throughout its Louisiana markets.”

BOK Financial Mortgage, a division of BOK Financial, has named mortgage veteran Lee Wardlow to lead the company’s loan servicing business. Wardlow will lead all mortgage servicing functions for BOK including servicing, non-performing servicing, servicing administration, cash and investor accounting.