"Why don't cannibals eat divorcees? They're bitter." The jumbo lending market in Florida sure is becoming less bitter for lenders.

Independent retail mortgage banker VITEK Mortgage Group is seeking a Vice President of Compliance for its Sacramento headquarters. The 25 year old purchase-focused company (VITEK), which has its GNMA seller/servicer approval, continues to grow through builder & realtor partners. The VP of Compliance will re-engineer and lead a compliance division, help with compliance and the oversight of our sub-servicer.  This role will also be responsible for all corporate contract review and monitoring of compliance with investors, agencies, regulatory bodies and vendors. The ideal candidate should have 7-10 years of mortgage banking experience along with either a JD or a BA degree in Business Administration or related field.  Candidates should send their resumes to Libby Feyh at hrd@teamvitek .com.

Yes, every once in a while a new lender comes along. In this case a newly formed company, Institutional Mortgage, which is in the capital raising stage, is looking to hire a Managing Director who will be responsible for managing all aspects of correspondent lending in the western U.S.  This person will be a member of a talented senior management team which was formed to create a unique business model for the funding of, and investing in, non-conforming mortgages.  Skills include the ability to manage origination relationships, the ability to translate market knowledge into new and enhanced mortgage products, have a general understanding of all contractual relationships between an originator and correspondent, and be open and curious to contributing to unique and cutting edge technology solutions in order to enhance liquidity in the secondary market. Interested parties should send their confidential resumes to me at rchrisman@robchrisman .com.

Investor demand, or lack thereof, helps to move rates and pricing. No investor wants to buy a pool of loans for a premium (price above par) if the loans are going to pay off in three months. So a recent prepayment study by Mountain View might be worth a gander, as I am occasionally asked about research on state-level prepayment speeds. Mountain View has posted the December 2012 state prepayment graphs on its research page at http://mvch.com/research/. (For more information contact Matt Maurer at mmaurer@mvcg .com.)

LOS (loan origination system/systems) providers have a lot more IT experience than I do. I saw a list the other day, and it makes us all realize that answering a question like, "Can't you just give me 2-3 of the popular systems?" is nearly impossible. Deep breath, here we go: Acris Technology - MortgageVCO, ASC - PowerLender, Blueberry - Relay, Blue Sage Solutions, Calyx - Point, Core Logic - Dorado, D+H Mortgagebot - EnterpriseLOS (formerly Avista -- Agile), Ellie Mae - Encompass360 Banker Edition, FICS - Loan Producer, FIS - LoanSoft/L.O.S., FiServ - Common Origination Platform, FiServ - EasyLender, Harland - E3, Genpact - QuantumLOS, IBM - imPACT, Integra - Destiny, ISGN - Catapult, ISGN - MORvision, LPS - Empower. NET, LPS - LendingSpace, LPS - PCLender, MeridianLink - LendingQB, Mortgage Builder , Mortgage Cadence - Orchestrator, MortgageFlex - Residential Lending System (RLS.net), Open Close, Wipro/Gallagher - Net Oxygen Cirrus. Whew! A big thanks is due to Len Tichy with the STRATMOR Group who helped put this list together for me, and actually specializes in helping companies select the appropriate LOS. As he put it, "Every one of these systems is like an iceberg, where a demo or an RFP response gives you a really great look - but just at the tip!" What's a mainstream mortgage banker to do? Len can be reached at Len.Tichy@Stratmorgroup .com.

Over the years Citi has gained a reputation for being in the market in a big way, and then out of the market in a big way. Is it Bank of America's turn for that? There has been a lot of press lately about expansion plans, adding loan officers and branches, and "getting back into the game." Certainly its platform is there on the retail side. But wouldn't it be interesting if BofA said, "Okay, those darned correspondent and wholesale investors out there are making a lot of money...we want some of that!"? Stranger things have happened, and in the meantime here is more concrete news about possible Bank of America expansion plans.

Last week the commentary mentioned a change in the SAFE testing. I received this note: "The test is usually the easiest part. It's the expense that hurts: trying to attract  potentially good MLOs when it costs $1,600-1,800 to roll the dice versus trying to hire someone with experience away from a bank, but needs to be completely retrained, is a tough management decision. I have talked to a number of young college grads but the expense for the licensing and 90 day salary without revenue is excessive for most small businesses. I guess this is why it had never had a SBREFA panel."

And on the rules on LO compensation, and the difference between non-depository and depository loan originators. "I have many concerns with the CFPB version of the MLO Comp Rule. The term 'contractor' on page 2 is very disconcerting.  The term 'loan originator' includes an employee, agent, or contractor of the creditor or loan originator organization if the employee, agent, or contractor meets this definition. If an NMLS number has to be assigned to a company and both have to do the attestation process, who would be a 'contractor.' I can only assume it's an unlicensed entity. Level playing field? This is of extreme disappointment to small business. 'The rule also sets uniform standards for qualifying and screening loan originators...The final rules generally require that the loan originators meet character, fitness, and financial responsibility reviews, be screened for felony convictions, and are required to undertake training to ensure they have the knowledge about the rules governing the types of loans they originate.'"

The writer continues. "The CFPB had a very unique opportunity to right a wrong, to fix the ills of the SAFE Act. CFPB opened up the SAFE Act in the MLO COMP SBREFA Panel meeting. Mortgage Brokers have been pushing for a SAFE type system since the early 1990's. The only stipulation is that it be level across the field. Sadly, SAFE has become an Anti-Small Business tools to benefit the larger institutions. I fully understand that the larger institutions also require that their LOs meet internal educational requirements; however, it's not 'identical.' The big institutions should not be required to go beyond, but meet a level field. The failure of CFPB to mandate all loan originators meet the EXACT Identical licensing requirements is a sham perpetrated upon the unsuspecting consumer.

"The Rule claims in the first line to 'set uniform standards' yet uniform is defined as; identical, without variations in detail, constant. What is identical about the SAFE Act? It is again/still bi-furcated and ambiguous. Who sets the bases for Character and Fitness? All this and we have yet to discuss the deviation of cost. Small Business MLOs pay almost 17x more to be licensed than Bank LOs, do not receive a separate designation, cannot place their license in a dormant state if they choose to be employed at a Bank institution for a period of their job history and are denied the option to offer the borrower dual compensation even when it is in the consumers interest.

"The rule also prohibits the loan officer or broker from being paid by both the consumer and another person such as the creditor, i.e. dual compensation. Why has the SAFE and MLO compensation rules not addressed the perception that when the borrower goes to the mortgage broker they expect the best rate, but they do not expect that when they go to the bank? But the LO has never paid been paid by both the lender and the consumer."

On to some bank, vendor, and investor updates!

On Friday 1st Regents Bank of Andover, MN, was closed and a purchase and assumption agreement was entered into with First Minnesota Bank, Minnetonka, MN.

Last week I mentioned that Platinum and Carrington were buying 203k loans. Impac also buys them, both standard and streamline (contact Matt Dismore at Matthew.Dismore@ImpacMail .com) and Stonegate is also buying 203k and Fannie Homestyle products.

Compass Analytics, LLC announced the successful production release of CompassPointTM 2.0.8, representing Compass's latest enhancements to its mortgage analytics suite. The release is headlined by new pool optimization algorithms which operate post best execution to optimize pool delivery decisions considering market payups and spreads, pool minimums and concentrations, and substitution possibilities to maximize total pooling economics.  Other enhancements include additional workflow efficiencies, client suggestions, mobile device formatting and interactivity in pooling, allocation, rate sheet, and hedge selection processes, all based on live pricing and within Compass's commercial grade analytics, and continues to be accessible via desktop, laptop or mobile devices. (For more information contact Kelly McCann at kmccann@compass-analytics .com.)

This market isn't doing much, which is fine by many folks out there. Broadly speaking, as data for the fourth quarter of 2012 rolls in, we are seeing evidence of an economy that can be described as "tentative but not stalled." That has been the case for quite some time, but now a key question is "how do shoppers feel right now, after taxes have been increased and more fiscal drag is likely to come from federal spending cuts?" Perhaps consumers will feel some support from the positive wealth effect of increasing home prices and increasing equity prices? They will feel comfortable utilizing credit, and they may pull down their saving rate to grow spending slightly despite a dip in real disposable income. ("Never underestimate the ability of the American consumer to continue to shop in the face of adversity.")

So rates go up a little, down a little. For fun and exciting scheduled economic news this week, the focus is, as it always seems to be these days, on housing. (Housing and jobs, jobs and housing.) Today we'll have Existing Home Sales, tomorrow is the MBA application numbers and the FHFA Housing Price Index, Thursday is Jobless Claims and Leading Economic Indicators, and Friday is New Home Sales. In the early going the 10-yr is worse/down by nearly .250 in prices, yielding around 1.86%, and MBS prices are down/worse maybe .125.

On the way home the farmer stopped at the hardware store and bought a bucket and a gallon of paint. He then stopped by the feed store and picked up a couple of chickens and a goose. However, struggling outside the store he now had a problem - how to carry his entire purchases home.
While he was scratching his head he was approached by a little old lady who told him she was lost. She asked, "Can you tell me how to get to 1603 Mockingbird Lane?"
The farmer said, "Well, as a matter of fact, my farm is very close to that house. I would walk you there but I can't carry this lot."
The old lady suggested, "Why don't you put the can of paint in the bucket. Carry the bucket in one hand, put a chicken under each arm and carry the goose in the other hand?"
"Why thank you very much," he said and proceeded to walk the old girl home.
On the way he says "Let's take my short cut and go down this alley. We'll be there in no time."
The little old lady looked over cautiously then said, "I am a lonely widow without a husband to defend me ... How do I know that when we get in the alley you won't hold me up against the wall, pull up my skirt, and have your way with me?"
The farmer said, "Holy smokes lady! I'm carrying a bucket, a gallon of paint, two chickens and a goose. How in the world could I possibly hold you up against the wall and do that?"
The old lady replied, "Set the goose down, cover him with the bucket, put the paint on top of the bucket, and I'll hold the chickens."