Things can be misleading out there, and occasionally non-depository mortgage bankers wonder about becoming licensed in other states. The best source that I have found for figuring out requirements is this. As of January 18 the SAFE MLO National Test with Uniform State Content reflected the recent CFPB mortgage rules.  For candidates taking the test on or after January 18 they will need to prepare using the new version of the outline with the Effective Date of January 18, 2014. The Testing Page of the NMLS Resource Center includes both versions, and can be accessed here. And they have updated the NMLS Reference Guide: Citing Sources and Regulations in Course Materials and included a one page Quick Reference Guide.


The U.S. Post Office could offer banking. Huh? Would it be a great idea, and make life easier for consumers, or is it only an effort to "save the struggling government agency from bankruptcy and taxpayer-funded bailouts"? Read all about it.

For anyone whose livelihood depends on residential real estate, the bad news is that there is not much inventory out there, impacting lenders and Realtors alike. The good news is that it may be changing.

"Rob, what's the scoop on the Wells-Ocwen deal that was blocked by a bank regulator in New York?" I think that many agree that if the regulators continue to shoot down these deals, the banks won't be in a hurry to expand their mortgage lending capabilities. And when you combine that with QM, Basel III constraints, and the cost of compliance, at some point borrowers (and thus the housing market) are impacted. Sure, $39 billion represents less than 2% of Wells' portfolio, and the loans had not been originated by Wells, but still, the industry wonders if it will put a crimp in servicing values for everyone.

Speaking of large servicing deals, it is industry scuttlebutt that some servicers & sub-servicers have a problem in "capturing" large pools of loans at once, indexing them, reviewing for missing or required documents in a timely manner. Does it really take 2-6 weeks to go through 1000+ loans? An entire cottage business has sprung up around these transfers, with companies such as Capsilon streamlining the process. And others assist with other functions - fascinating.

According to STRATMOR Group's annual compensation survey, STRATMOR Compensation Connection, underwriter compensation increased 15% from 2011 to 2012 and we expect that 2013 will have seen even bigger increases.  In this market it is critical to pay the right amount to the right employee at the right time, and the STRATMOR Compensation Connection is "your company's link to gain valuable insights on the market as well as provide insight into what your competitors are paying for critical positions and how their compensation is structured. Its unique approach to gathering and separating data into useful profiles and relevant categories enables STRATMOR to offer surveys based on the following modules - Executive Management, Retail Sales Retail Fulfillment, Consumer Direct Sales, Consumer Direct Fulfillment, TPO Sales, TPO Fulfillment - thereby allowing you to choose your level of participation. By participating in the survey, you will receive a comprehensive report detailing your responses versus the survey averages as well as segmented analysis based on key company differences and characteristics." For more information about participating in the compensation survey, visit the program website or contact Nicole Yung at

Appraisals are still a sticky point for some. And when the acronym "AMC" makes it to the mainstream newspapers, you know something is up.

But the overseer of Freddie & Fannie (the FHFA) shed some light on things with the release of the "FHFA's Oversight of the Enterprises' Use of Appraisal Data Before They Buy Single-Family Mortgages." 

(Read More:OIG Finds GSEs Ignored Warnings about Appraisal Deficiencies)

Peter Gallo, VP of the National Association of Independent Housing Professionals, writes, "Rob, I noticed that you have quoted many AMCs on the appraisal issue. The bottom line is that they are trying to do what appraisers and lenders can already do on their own. Lenders can already figure out who the good appraisers are and include them on an in-house rotation. Appraisers understand appraisal issues and can advise their clients on these issues in ways that do not violate Appraisal Independence Guidelines. Appraisers are certified experts. They understand what the CFPB is, what the guidelines are and have the education and the license to prove it.  AMCs serve a purpose for some and many do it very well. The bottom line is that if you want a good appraiser, go out and find one and pay him/her their fee.  An AMC is not REQUIRED to comply with any rules that are out there."

(It was nearly a month ago that the officers of three contiguous, grass root appraisal organizations met to discuss the common goals and concerns facing the profession. Representatives of The Virginia Coalition of Appraisal Professionals (VACAP), The South Carolina Professional Appraisal Coalition (SCPAC) and The North Carolina Real Estate Appraiser Association (NCREAA) met in Greensboro, North Carolina and discussed topics ranging from Fannie Mae's activities regarding appraisers to the focus of The Appraisal Foundation on the profession and the day to day business of appraising.)

On Friday the MBA's Dave Stevens let the troops know that, "Some of you have been asking about the HMDA data announcement from CFPB... today's announcement was a stage before a proposed rule. The CFPB is convening a small business review panel to review aspects/issues they are considering for a proposed rule. (CFPB went through a similar exercise for the LO Compensation rule.) We have three MBA members who will be participating in the panel sessions. Pete Mills and Steve O'Connor will be working with other MBA staff on a plan to get our MBA participants prepared and briefed for the panels, and Ken Markison at MBA is our lead subject matter expert on this issue."

What Mr. Stevens is discussing is the story "CFPB Begins HMDA Revision and Expansion Process Today," and the CFPB announced the beginning of the rulemaking process to revise the required reporting elements, and possibly the accompanying rules, under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA). Accordingly, the Bureau announced it will convene a panel in early March under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) to discuss the proposed changes and obtain their views on the impact from small business representatives. The fact sheet found here which provides greater detail on what the CFPB is considering.

Switching over to some investor, agency, and vendor news, first a correction. Friday I noted some information about CMG's Correspondent Lending VA IRRRL Program. The appraisal information is not accurate and it should have been, "...the alternative to the AVM is the 2055 appraisal form." (Not the 2075)

Donna Beinfeld writes, "I'm not sure if you've covered this issue or not, but HUD is basically shutting down their application submission process as of March 1, 2014. This is because they are transitioning from the paper to an on-line (electronic) application process. Their cut-off date is 3/1 for receiving applications. Because they will be working on their system, they will not accept or process any applications received in the mail until their new system is in place. The date for accepting online Applications is May 1. This means no one can submit, be approved or have an application processed for 60 days: . On HUD's site page above, the following statement appears: 'Lenders currently preparing or planning to apply for FHA approval in the near future may contact the FHA Resource Center with questions at or 1-800-225-5342. Please include the words "New Applicant" in the subject line and include a contact person and phone number in the email body so that a Lender Approval representative may contact you on how to become an FHA-Approved Lender.'" Thank you Donna!

MGIC told clients, "You may have heard about or read Fannie Mae's recent lender letter, but we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the good news from MGIC's point of view. Because of MGIC's improved financial strength, we stopped issuing insurance through MGIC Indemnity Corporation (MIC) in September of last year. MIC is a wholly owned subsidiary of MGIC, formed to provide uninterrupted customer service if our risk-to-capital ratio exceeded any state requirements. The good news is that, since the first quarter of last year, MGIC has been in compliance with all required state capital standards. We expect to maintain compliance going forward.   To be clear, MIC is no longer listed as an eligible insurer because it is no longer needed - not because Fannie Mae has concerns about our claim-paying ability. As of December 31, 2013 MGIC's preliminary risk-to-capital was 15.8:1...well below the current state requirements. MGIC remains an eligible insurer for both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."

Overland Park-based CapWest Mortgage, a division of Farmers Bank & Trust, announced it is adding fixed second mortgages and home equity lines of credit (HELOC) to its loan product offering for all third party origination (TPO) clients. "People need access to cash for a variety of reasons and most would prefer not to disturb the low fixed rate on their first mortgage," said Monte Robbins, President & CEO of CapWest Mortgage. "That is why it's so important for our third party origination partners to be able to offer equity to their customers through a home equity product offering." In addition to stand-alone fixed second mortgages, CapWest will also offer a simultaneous fixed second up to 90 percent CLTV in conjunction with a purchase transaction as long as the TPO client delivers the first mortgage to CapWest. A piggyback HELOC and first mortgage product will also be available to CapWest's TPO clients. CapWest reminded clients that it offers bank referral, wholesale and correspondent services, which include on-site sales and operations training in addition to marketing consultation. To inquire about any of these programs, please visit or contact Jake Stadler, Account Executive for CapWest Mortgage, at

Up a little, down a little, so go rates. If the employment data from Friday is any indication of the strength of the U.S. economy, maybe rates won't be in a big hurry to head higher. Employers added far fewer jobs (113k) than expected in January with the prior month barely revised up. In an interesting twist, construction added the largest increase in jobs in almost seven years indicating the recent storm may not be as impactful as previously thought, and the private sector accounted for all the hiring as government payrolls fell 20,000. The unemployment rate (6.6%) is now at a five-year low as market participation increased to 63 percent. Additionally, policy makers have made it clear that they will not be raising rates anytime soon even if the unemployment benchmark is met.

But it is a new and exciting week! Janet Yellen, the new Fed chair, will testify before Congress on Tuesday and Thursday. Thursday we'll also have Retail Sales & Jobless Claims, and on Friday is the Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization duo, along with Import Prices, and Consumer Sentiment. In addition, there will be Treasury auctions on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Our beloved benchmark 10-yr T-note closed Friday with a yield of 2.67%; this morning it is sitting around 2.67% and MBS prices are roughly unchanged.

"Athlete Without Compelling Personal Drama Expelled From Olympics"


SOCHI - A member of the U.S. men's ski team was disqualified from the Olympics today when it was learned that he did not have a sufficiently compelling human story line to exploit on the NBC telecast of the worldwide sporting event. Tracy Klujian, the expelled skier, was not raised by a single mother, never had a career-threatening injury, and did not overcome a personal tragedy of any kind before making the Olympic ski team, U.S. Olympic officials revealed today. According to the officials, the skier had concealed the fact that he comes from an intact, middle-class family that never lost its home to a flood, tornado or typhoon. "We do our best to check out all of the athletes to make sure that their backgrounds are full of riveting human drama, but we can't catch everything," said NBC Olympics chief Gary Zenkel. "This is a case of one bad guy exploiting the system."