For anyone who likes numbers, the U.S. Census Bureau projected the United States population was 322,762,018 on Jan. 1. This is an increase of 2,472,745, or 0.77 percent, from New Year's Day 2015. In 2016, the United States is expected to experience one birth every eight seconds and one death every ten seconds. Meanwhile, net international migration is expected to add one person to the U.S. population every 29 seconds. The combination of births, deaths and net international migration increases the U.S. population by one person every 17 seconds. (The projected world population on Jan. 1 was about 7.3 billion, an increase of 1.08% during the year.)

Quicken Loans has been in the news in the last few months with its Rocket Loan, but also with the industry watching its comments about FHA lending and its legal battles with various parts of the U.S. Government. Last week a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by Quicken Loans Inc against the U.S. Justice Department that alleged the company was being forced to make a big settlement over its mortgage lending and underwriting practices. As NMP Daily put it, "It was an ignoble end to Quicken Loans' attempt to preemptively sue the federal government ahead of Washington's legal challenge to the Detroit-based lender."

Recently the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) issued Mortgagee Letter 2015-26, Extension of Certain Timeframes in Mortgagee Letter 2015-11, Loss Mitigation Guidance for Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs) in Default due to Unpaid Property Charges. The purpose of this Mortgagee Letter is to provide mortgagees with an extension through January 18, 2016 to the timeframes provided in ML 2015-11 to submit a due and payable request and to the timeframe to take First Legal Action where the mortgagee is actively reviewing the borrower for loss mitigation in accordance with ML 2015-11. All other provisions in Mortgagee Letter 2015-11 became effective April 23, 2015, and remain in effect.

Onboarding to the FHA's Electronic Appraisal Delivery (EAD) portal is well underway. A web-based technology that enables mortgagees to electronically transmit appraisal data and reports to FHA prior to loan endorsement, the EAD portal promotes quality up-front appraisal data. Mortgagees should register now for their chosen onboarding phase, even if it is later in the schedule or if their chosen phase is tentative. If plans change, mortgagees can easily reschedule their onboarding to a different available phase using the instructions in FHA Connection's (FHAC) Electronic Appraisal Delivery Sign Up screen. Get more information and view the onboarding schedule on FHA's EAD portal Mortgagee Onboarding Process web page.

Yes, FHA's Electronic Appraisal Delivery (EAD) portal onboarding continues. The third onboarding phase closes to new participants on December 15, 2015, leaving four remaining onboarding phases before the portal's June 27, 2016 mandatory use date. EAD migration details can be found here.

The FHA Resource Center has been experiencing a larger than normal volume of inquiries through both its telephone and email channels. If immediate answers to FHA Single Family policy, program, technology, or other questions are needed, FHA is encouraging lenders to consider accessing the Resource Center's online Frequently Asked Questions site. Available 24/7, this online knowledge base at contains over 1,500 searchable Frequently Asked Questions.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) published Mortgagee Letter 2015-30: 2016 Nationwide Forward Mortgage Limits, which provides the maximum mortgage limits for FHA-insured mortgages. 

VA's has posted its circular announcing the Department of Veterans Affairs Loan Limits for closed loans on or after January 1, 2016.

"Another great group that supports the Veterans is the VA Home Loan Network.  This group was created to bring together people who have a common goal to support the VA home loan program and Veterans. The VA home loan program helps Servicemembers, Veterans, and eligible surviving spouses to become homeowners."

Kinecta will adjust administration fees, effective for new applications dated January 1, 2016 and later. Non-California loans including will be $795. California state Agency, FHA and Jumbo loans administration fee will be $995.00 Piggy back HELOC Fixed Second loans will cost $250 for all states.

Chase Correspondent has suspended its FHA Streamline - Different Servicer product line(s). As a result, these products will no longer be offered in the Optimal Blue system, but will be available to Secondary Users until February 3, 2016.  Loans must be locked on or before January 3, 2016.

Mountain West Financial announced it will follow FHA's 4000.1 guidance in regards to a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy (liquidation) does not disqualify a Borrower from obtaining an FHA insured mortgage if, at the time of case number assignment, at least two years have elapsed since the date of the bankruptcy discharge.  During this time, the Borrower must have either re-established good credit; or chosen not to incur new credit obligations. Additional details are available in this announcement.

In reference to FHA Streamline Refinances, M&T Bank has updated its product page to reflect net tangible benefit requirements. At least one NTB must be documented from the three available options: a reduced combined rate, a reduced term and/or change from ARM to fixed rate loan.

Language on the M&T Product Page has been corrected to clarify that the permitted 50% initial release at closing on a Limited 203(k) is 50% of labor & materials.  This release is only allowed on a Limited 203(k) when the contractor(s) are either unwilling to wait for payment due to business reasons, or require funds upfront to pay for materials and/or as a deposit for labor costs.  Also, The FHA Streamline Refi product pages are being updated to clarify that adding a new borrower to the Note is not permitted, and the loan must be switched to a rate/ term refinance. 

Freedom Mortgage posted data entry requirements unique to each scenario which included the FHA Non-Credit Qualifying Streamline Refinances and the new Freedom First Program. Regarding its FHA Non-Credit Qualifying Streamline Refinances, as credit scores are not required to be pulled or disclosed, when entering into the system use '200' as a placeholder where the credit score would normally be entered. When a credit report is pulled on its Freedom First Program and the Borrower does not have sufficient trade-lines to generate a score, use '100' as a placeholder where the credit score would normally be entered. 

Per FHA's published 2016 Calendar Year Maximum Loan Limits, Impac Mortgage is requiring the new limits effective for case numbers assigned on or after January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016. Although there were no counties limit decreases, 188 counties had loan limit increases. Click the link to view the FHA 2016 loan limit details.

VA has posted a correction to the fee schedule for appraisers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas, effective January 1, 2016. The correction is for fees concerning triplex and 4-plex appraisals in the Texas-Houston and Texas-Waco areas.  All other fees remain unchanged. The corrected current fee schedule, as well as the new one which will be posted January 1, 2016 is available here.

Per current policy, there is a VA QM requirement for IRRL transaction that the veteran recoup the costs and fee associated with the new IRRL within 36 months to be QM compliant. M&T Bank received clarification that the calculation to measure this is as follows: Subtract the new P&I from the old P&I to calculate the monthly savings (not PITI). Divide the current closing/prepaids by the monthly savings amount to determine how many months recoupment will take if <36, the IRRL meets this QM test. If >36m, the IRRL must be credit qualified. M&T's Form 2440 "VA IRRL Comparison" may be used to perform calculation. This guidance is effective immediately for both pipeline loans and new registrations.

Turning to the bond market and interest rates...

No, it wasn't a dream: our Fed really did raise short term rates, and yet our long term rates - which include 15 & 30 year mortgage rates - haven't done much. This was not a surprise to anyone in capital markets. What was more interesting was what happened heading into yesterday: Treasuries rallied as China's Caixan purchasing managers' index missed forecasts and set off a wave of risk aversion in global markets to start 2016. Chinese stocks had stabilized late in 2015 after seeing panic selling in August, but China's transition to a service-oriented economy continues to hit bumps on the road. Also noted was the ISM manufacturing index which fell to "48.2" in December from 48.6 in November. That was the first time the ISM Index has been below 50.0 in two consecutive months since June-July 2009.

Data out today We closed Monday with the 10-year at 2.25%. In the early going today we're at 2.24% with agency MBS prices better by a "tad" - a highly technical term roughly equaling a "shade" or "a little".

Jobs and Announcements

Job-wise in Ops news, First California Mortgage Company is continuing its nationwide expansion and is looking for Government Underwriters to join its team.  The Company is a FNMA & FHLMC Seller/Servicer, GNMA I&II Issuer, and jumbo and non-QM lender operating across multiple platforms: Retail, Wholesale, Consumer Direct and Affinity.  First California Mortgage Company has been voted as one of Mortgage Executive best places to work, Inc 5000 fastest growing, and Mortgage Executive Top 100. The ideal candidate will have a minimum of five to six years mortgage experience as a conventional underwriter and 2 years recent FHA/VA experience as a DE FHA or VA LAPP SAR Underwriter. All geographic locations will be considered, based upon individual candidates. Please send inquires & resumes to Director of HR Shannon Thomson.

On the retail side, Freedom Mortgage is expanding its Retail presence in the Central United States under the leadership of Marty Garrity. "Garrity has been a staple of leadership in large mortgage depositories across the Midwest and Central states over the past 25 years. His team is seeking both state Regional Managers and Branch Managers in OH, IL, MI, IN, WI, IA, MN, WV, NE, ND and SD. Founded in 1990, Freedom Mortgage is a privately held, full service residential mortgage lender. We are one of the largest and fastest-growing privately held mortgage companies in the country. This is a great time to join Freedom!  Contact Marty Garrity regarding this opportunity (216.396.3214).

And Jordan Capital Finance is hiring a Senior Vice President, Business Development. The focus is generating business from third party channels, primarily mortgage bankers and brokers. JCF provides private money financing for investors who buy, renovate, sell, and rent residential real estate. "We offer lines of credit up to $7.5M in 40 states. We do not lend to home owners. JCF is extremely well funded by Garrison Partners, a premier New York private equity firm, and is on an aggressive growth path. We are a top 5 lender in our industry. Our management has closed $150 billion in mortgage volume. The SVP must have extensive experience and exceptional sales success with mortgage bankers. The candidate must have a degree from a top 4-year college, and a very strong work ethic (including travel). The SVP will receive a competitive salary, but a very substantial portion of compensation is performance based. Candidates must live in Chicago, East Coast or Texas and will report to the CEO. For consideration, send resume and salary history to Magdalena Pyclik.

Please take 5 minutes right now to complete the survey that National Mortgage Professional Magazine has put together to help them develop future stories and help shape the way wholesale lenders can provide a better experience for brokers. For completing this survey, you will have the chance to win one of four $500 Visa gift cards:  click here to take the survey.

Plenty of small companies love recruiting against larger lenders, especially lenders owned by even larger money managers. We saw what can happen when a money management firm decides to exit a business or channel (e.g., Nationstar selling its wholesale group to Stonegate) and on New Year's Eve we saw it again: "After careful consideration, Finance of America Mortgage, a Blackstone Company, has made the difficult decision to exit the correspondent lending business. Finance of America Mortgage will focus on retail distribution for its mortgage products and services. Effective immediately, Finance of America Mortgage Correspondent will no longer be accepting new locks. All loans in the pipeline with a valid lock will be honored.  The last day to extend existing locks (for a max of 15 days) is February 5th. The last day to fund is February 29th. If you have any questions, please reach out to your Account Executive directly or email us at"