"Total debt service payments as percentage of disposable income have fallen from a peak of 14.1% in 7/07 to just 10.6% today, a level last seen in 10/93; a decline of 25%. This is due to a combination of low interest rates, rising disposable income, and lots of mortgage defaults, which have reduced household debt from 100% of GDP in 4/09 to just 86% now." So writes economist Elliot F. Eisenberg, Ph.D. Maybe we'll arrive at the point where no one with good credit needs credit, or has debt payments?!

Lenders are continuing to expand, and due to growth, CUSO TruHome Solutions, LLC is currently hiring for a VP of Servicing to join their Executive Leadership team as part of its long-range plan to bolster its burgeoning business. This addition comes just after TruHome, one of the fastest growing companies in Kansas City, celebrated reaching the $1 billion mark in 2012 loan production. "We need someone with strategic and tactical experience to be responsible for leading all aspects of our growing servicing portfolio.  We are looking for someone who has an extensive servicing background, is a proven leader, and possesses exceptional communication skills."  If you or someone you know may be interested, please forward resume to Karen Steen at ksteen@cacu .com.

Peoples National Bank (a Federally Chartered Bank) is currently looking for experienced originators for their Castle Rock, CO and Downtown Denver, CO locations.  Peoples National Bank has multiple originators that rank nationally in production,  in-house operations, incredible pricing and a platform that takes solid producers to the next level.  Top originators are provided with all of the support needed to close their pipeline of business each month so they can focus on growing their business.  Contact Chris Hamler at chamler@epeoples .com for more information.

Everyone out there, it seems, is reaching for the brass ring: more purchases, less refi's. But is it practical? I received this note from an industry vet: "The entire mortgage world is expanding with the goal of increasing their volume and making sure purchases constitute over 70% of their volume by the end of 2013. None of them seem to realize that there may not be enough purchases to go around. We are solicited by mortgage banks constantly (for both wholesale and retail relationships) and when they invariably tell us about their '70% to 80% purchase goal,' it is sometimes hard to hold a straight face." That is indeed what I am hearing elsewhere. The huge deluge of properties coming onto the market has not materialized, and in fact in many communities there is a definite lack of properties for sale. And the ones that are for sale seem to be snatched up by all-cash buyers. So for the time-being, refi's are floating lots of boats. Yesterday I spoke to an established lender that, in its primary business line, is 85% purchase. That is very unusual these days.

Often mentioned as a key group lost in lending in recent years, self-employed borrowers will hopefully come back. As experienced LO's know, many self-employed borrowers can't obtain a loan, or refinance an existing high rate loan, yet are very good credit risks.  More

Let's turn to some agency, banking, and investor news. As always, it is best to read the actual bulletin for full details, but these will give you a flavor for the trends.

 Fannie Mae recognizes that in several states the sheriff's office performs some or all of the tasks associated with advertising, scheduling, and conducting the foreclosure sale. Foreclosure attorneys are required to work with the sheriffs in these states in order to complete the foreclosure sale; paying the sheriff's costs as part of the foreclosure, which may be by advance deposit or payment upon notification of the final costs by the sheriff's department. Fannie Mae is clarifying that when the servicer files a claim for reimbursement for sheriff's costs, Fannie Mae may require the servicer to include supporting documentation with its request. The preferable form of documentation evidencing the sheriff's cost breakdown is a cost sheet on the letterhead of the sheriff's office. Servicers must not decline to reimburse the attorney for those costs on the basis that the documentation is not on the letterhead of the sheriff's office. However, the servicer must be able to provide supporting documentation with its claim for reimbursement of sheriff's costs upon request by Fannie Mae. Servicers should not file a claim for reimbursement of sheriff's costs until the property has been liquidated (whether by foreclosure, short sale, or deed-in-lieu) or the file is otherwise closed and billed by the attorney. Servicers are encouraged to require attorneys to invoice sheriff's costs only after they have obtained the supporting documentation from the sheriff's office, even if that time frame does not otherwise conform to the servicer's typical invoicing timeline. If a significant delay for the attorneys in obtaining the appropriate documentation from the sheriff's office arises and the servicer's claim for reimbursement is therefore filed after the deadline, Fannie Mae will allow the claim for reimbursement to be considered, without penalty, as long as the servicer can provide a reasonable explanation justifying the delay.

Freddie has given notification about the end of the 5/2/5 caps on adjustable rate mortgages effective the middle of this year. (The logic given is consumer driven....the consumer should not bear the burden of a 5% increase at the end of their fixed rate term. Is this coming from Dodd-Frank or some other regulation?)

Westside Community Bank, University Place, Washington, was closed Friday by the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Sunwest Bank, Irvine, California, to assume all of the deposits of Westside Community Bank.

In an effort to facilitate Standard Short Sales, Freddie Mac has updated the Obtain Valuation function in Workout Prospector to make borrower evaluations more efficient.  New fields have been added to the Borrower Financials screen, and thanks to full delegated authority, users will no longer have to wait for Freddie to transmit the model back to them in order to complete the evaluation.  User can also request an estimated market value and minimum net proceeds amount for borrowers who are current or less than 31 days delinquent.  For more information, see the full users' guide.  Alternatively, sign up for a Standard Short Sale webinar or a training session on using Workout Prospector for non-modifications.

GMAC has adjusted its guidelines on DU Refi Plus products; see here for details.  Guideline changes are also in effect for High Risk Home Loans in Illinois; see here.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, SunWest has effected its disaster policy for all properties in Cuyahoga County, Ohio.  As per the policy, properties must have both their interior and exterior re-inspected prior to funding or purchase to ensure that they are in the same condition as before the storm.  Appraisers not licensed and certified by the state will not be acceptable.

Quicken has released its 2012 figures the other day, announcing that it closed over $70 billion, representing a 133% increase over the $30 billion of volume in 2011.  This makes Quicken the third largest retail lender in the country, not the mention the largest online lender.  Not only has the volume increased, so has the size of the company: there are more than 8000 offices in Detroit, Cleveland, and Scottsdale, and 900 of the employees are IT.  Quicken's servicing portfolio is off to a good start as well, having been valued at $80 billion at the end of the year, and predictions hold that the company is looking at another year of significant growth.

M&T Bank reminds lenders that, as per FHA guidelines, the Addendum to HUD-1 is required on FHA purchase transactions only-refinances are exempt.  Should a lender supply this for a refinance inadvertently, M&T won't audit it.

360 Mortgage has rolled out VA Interest Rate Reduction and FHA Non-Credit Qualifying Streamline refinance products, both of which are now available to borrowers.  The VA IRRRL requires the property to be owner-occupied, an LTV under 150%, and a minimum FICO of 680.  Borrowers must have had at least two years with their current employer and can't be self-employed.    The FHA product doesn't restrict LTV or require an appraisal but is subject to the same FICO and employment requirements. 

Bexil American Mortgage has updated its lock rate policy to state that it will distribute its rate sheet on a daily basis and that originators will receive a notification in the event of an Intra-Day Price Change resulting from market fluctuations.  Locks are available in 15, 30, 45, and 60-day increments, and in order to be locked all loans must be in Conditional Approval and had their prior-to-documents conditions approved by an underwriter (excluding Document Requests, final signed 1008 forms, and final DUs).  For the full details on the re-lock, extension, forward lock, re-negotiations, and product change policies, see http://www.amnetwholesale.com/UploadFiles/4803424765/BP_Rate_Lock_Policy.pdf.  The wholesale rate sheet has been updated as well and may be viewed at http://amnetwholesale.net/pdflib/Wholesale.pdf.

Bexil has acquired Castle Mortgage, a full service lender headquartered in Birmingham, AL approved in nine states in the Southeast.  This expands Bexil's reach to 17 states throughout the country.

Mortgage Harmony and LenderLive have partnered up to offer the new HarmonyLoan product, which is a consumer-initiated rate-resetting mortgage with a patented recurring compensation structure for loan officers.  The program allows qualified borrowers to reset their interest rate as often as every 120 days without going through the full refinancing process.

Axis Appraisal Management, in conjunction with MasterServ, is rolling out a new tool that utilizes an Appraisal Quality Management (AQM) system to produce an Appraisal Quality Index (AQI) that can identify any given property's strengths and elements of risk.  The system factors in property risk, market-based issues, how complete the appraisal report is, appraisal accuracy, and any risk associated with the collateral value and ultimately aims to reduce a lender's risk of repurchase.  At the moment, the program is scheduled to be offered publicly in early spring.

(I am loading up my Datsun B210 Hatchback and heading from Long Beach through San Francisco and up to Seattle during the next 24 hours. The markets aren't really open yet, but things seem very quiet overnight. The 10-yr closed at 1.83% and in the early going is nearly unchanged at 1.82% - one can expect agency MBS prices to behave roughly the same this morning.)

I bought some powdered water, but I didn't know what to add.

I put instant coffee in a microwave and almost went back in time.

I have an answering machine in my car. It says, "I'm home now, but leave a message and I'll call when I'm out."

I bought a house on a one-way dead-end road. I don't know how I got there.

I have a hobby. I have the world's largest collection of sea shells. I keep it scattered on beaches all over the world. Maybe you've seen some of it.

I Xeroxed a mirror. Now I have an extra Xerox machine.

Last week I forgot how to ride a bicycle.

My school colors were clear.

I stayed in a really old hotel last night. They sent me a wakeup letter.

I'm taking La maze classes. I'm not having a baby, I'm just having trouble breathing.