I continue to see lenders and vendors who are trying to help their clients in the best ways they know how in spite of the labyrinth of weighty, and often conflicting, regulations. Most realize that the current regulatory environment is a result of past excesses, but most will also say that borrowers are being negatively impacted and that the process of lending money to deserving clients has never been more difficult. Yet plenty of very smart lenders continue to make a go of it with varying degrees of success. Good for them!

Various groups around the nation are echoing the MBA's bulletin about a bill that Congress is considering. "...the House Financial Services Committee intends to hold a markup next Wednesday, March 2, on a number of bills, including one of MBA's top priorities, H.R. 2121, the SAFE Transitional Licensing Act of 2015.

"H.R. 2121 is an important bill for the mortgage industry that would provide transitional authority to originate mortgages for individuals who move from a federally-insured institution to a non-bank lender while they work to meet the SAFE Act's licensing and testing requirements. Transitional authority would be available to MLOs that have a clean history as an originator (e.g., no license denials, revocations or suspensions, no cease and desist orders, and no felonies that preclude licensing).

"The language of the bill...would be a narrow and simple solution to allow individuals to continue working and underwriting loans, while in no way weakening the important consumer protections of the SAFE Act.

"The Mortgage Action Alliance (MAA) will be sending out a Call-to-Action to its members in the days ahead, encouraging them to write to their legislators in support of H.R. 2121. If you are not a current MAA member, please click here to sign up and ensure that you do not miss the call-to-action email."

While I am yammering about licensing, Colorado posted new PE requirement and education notices, effective March 1st. Colorado will require 2 hours of NMLS approved state-specific PE and 1 hour of state-specific CE. The new requirement is a result of Colorado adopting the Uniform State Test (UST).

In a series of announcements distributed on December 2ndDecember 3rd and December 8th, the North Carolina Division of Banks informed federally registered mortgage loan originators (MLOs) that hold North Carolina loan originator licenses (categorized as "approved inactive" status) that they would not be allowed to maintain their licenses in inactive status going forward.  MBA and the MBA of the Carolinas (MBAC) opposed this decision, and MBAC emphasized to Division leadership that if federal MLOs were not allowed to renew their licenses it would discourage federal LOs from taking continuing education and make it harder for them to work for a state-regulated company in the future. Because NC law limits the validity of prior education and test results, the new policy would also require many federal MLOs to repeat education and testing requirements in order to move back to a nonbank lender. After considering the industry's point of view, the Commissioner of Banks sent a notice to MBAC, indicating that the Division intended to mitigate the potential consequences of the December memoranda. Specifically, for those federally registered MLOs affected: through 12/31/20, the Division will accept a passing test score from a test taken prior to 1/1/16; and through 12/31/18, it will accept pre-licensing education credits completed at any time prior to 1/1/16. While not perfect, this is a positive result thanks to the efforts of MBAC. 

While we're on the Carolinas, thanks a while back to Scott R. who sent along, "Big news in North Carolina. I was in my Continuing Education class for the SAFE Act, when one of my classmates told us about a letter she received. It stated since she worked for a federally regulated bank (Top 20 bank),and she held her SAFE Act license, she needed to surrender her SAFE Act license. Here is the letter from Pat McCrory. Shocking to read the letter.  There was plenty of uproar in our SAFE Act CE class."

New Jersey has passed escrow agent and foreclosure legislation, to now make it illegal for an escrow agent evaluation service to prepare a report used by a mortgage lender in evaluating the capacity of an escrow agent to perform real estate settlement services, in exchange for a fee charged to that escrow agent. The fine for the unlawful practice is $10,000 for the first offense and $20,000 for any offense thereafter. Regarding foreclosure of a mortgage, the new provision provides established holders of a mortgage to take action to foreclose. An "established holder of a mortgage" is defined as a record holder of the mortgage as established by the latest record of assignment or by the original mortgage recording in the records of the county clerk or the register of deeds and mortgages, or holder of the mortgage in a civil action joining as defendants the record holder of the mortgage. Failure to cancel the mortgage record within the 15 day period will result in the mortgagee being liable to either the mortgagor or purchaser for the greater of actual damages or the sum of $1,000, less any fines recovered.

A while back Illinois has amended its Code of Civil Procedure Section 15-1507.1, the changes include the repeal date from March 2, 2016 to March 2, 2017 and the inoperative date of Subsections 15-1507.1 (a) and (b) is changed from January 1, 2016 to January 1, 2017.  Section 15-1507.1 requires the purchaser of residential real estate to pay a fee for deposit into the Abandoned Residential Property Municipality. Relief Fund: the fee is 0.1 percent of the purchase amount but cannot surpass $300.

And in New York state-specific education notices have been updated for NY-DFS, which now includes a course content outline for the 3 hours of PE.

If you were around in 2008 I'll bet you can remember all the finger pointing when the marketplace started to contract (heck, I guess I could say the same thing for 2015, too); you probably can also remember that the rating agencies (S&P, Fitch, Moodys) received their fair share of liquidation demands by everyone from bankers to investors. Over Christmas I was sent this article by a Secondary Marketing guy I know, with the comment, "Glad to see Congress' initiatives to make the ratings marketplace more competitive is working out."

According to Bloomberg, "Of the $5.9 billion in revenue generated by 10 rating firms recognized by the government in 2014, the most recent data available, 94.3 percent was pulled in by the Big Three, according to an annual SEC review. That's slightly higher than in 2011, a year after Congress voted for policies designed to open up the market to smaller competitors. S&P, Moody's and Fitch issued 95.8 percent of ratings outstanding as of December 2014, the SEC said in its review. That compares with 98.8 percent in 2007." And that's just in domestic business. In Europe, according to the European Securities and Markets Authority, Moody's, Fitch and S&P competed against more than two dozen other ratings firms, but managed to generate 92% of market share. In my expert opinion, which consists of tea leaves and my trusty Magic 8 Ball, I believe the big three are going nowhere. 

As if to remind us that sometimes U.S. economic news means little, Treasuries traded higher today (and rates dropped) despite a very positive surprise from always-volatile durable goods orders data for January and stocks and oil pushing higher. The 7-year Treasury note auction was postponed until Friday due to "technical difficulties" - given our reliance on computers and what can go wrong with them it is surprising this doesn't happen more often. Aside from that it was pretty much a normal day with small intra-day price movements, various coupons of various MBS securities doing various things, and lenders looking forward to a great March given the swollen pipelines.

Today we've already had the major news of the day. The second estimate of the fourth quarter GDP and GDP Deflator came out (+1.0%, stronger than expected); the trade deficit widened to $62.2 billion. After this initial round of numbers the yield on the 10-year, which closed Thursday at 1.70%, is at 1.77% and agency MBS prices are worse about .250.


The Quotes of Steven Wright, part 3 of 3.

25 - If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.

26 - A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

27 - Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

28 - The hardness of the butter is proportional to the softness of the bread.

29 - To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.

30 - The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.

31 - The sooner you fall behind, the more time you'll have to catch up.

32 - The colder the x-ray table, the more of your body is required to be on it.

33 - Everyone has a photographic memory; some just don't have film.

34 - If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.

35 - If your car could travel at the speed of light, would your headlights work?

36 - Kevin C. contributed, "I just got back from vacation and found that someone had broken into my apartment, stolen everything, and replaced it with an exact replica."

Jobs and Announcements

In jobs news, if you are an experienced wholesale or correspondent Account Executive and you are looking for the opportunity to sell in both the wholesale and correspondent channels, then Banc Home Loans may be the right fit for you. "Banc Home Loans provides you with the opportunity to work with one of the fastest-growing home lenders in the country. Backed by a financially secure, publically owned Bank, Banc Home Loans will give you all the tools to take your career to the next level. We are currently interviewing experienced, successful AEs throughout the country in most major metropolitan markets." If you are interested in learning more, please forward your resume to Ryan Zaro, Sr. Talent Acquisition Partner, or Greg Armstrong, Senior Vice President of Third Party Originations. For immediate assistance contact Ryan Zaro at (949)-265-4016.

Are you looking for a new opportunity or career change?  A very successful warehouse division for a publically traded bank is looking for energetic, self-motivated individuals.  The right candidates will have mortgage-related experience and a desire to work in warehouse lending. Proven marketing and sales skills with a drive to succeed are required. The primary responsibility will be to develop new warehouse relationships and manage your own portfolio. Target market is the mid-west and east coast. If you have contacts in these areas and believe you can build a warehouse portfolio of mid-sized, experienced mortgage bankers, please send your resume to me at rchrisman@robchrisman. com for confidential consideration.

And Stonegate Mortgage is on the move and growing. Stonegate is currently seeking talented mortgage professionals for TPO Account Executive positions nationally with the unique opportunity to sell products in all three TPO channels - broker, non-delegated and correspondent (including bulk mandatory).  Mortgage Advisors for distributed retail and direct-to-consumer lending in the Midwest; Operationally Stonegate is looking for client relationship specialists; closers; funders; and underwriters across the country.  As a publicly-traded company (NYSE:SGM) Stonegate Mortgage has been committed to making the dream of homeownership a reality and providing its associates the resources they need to succeed.  To learn more about Stonegate Mortgage visit Stonegate; qualified candidates should email their resumes to HR Specialist Adrienne Camarata.

Mr. Cooper? What the heck Nationstar?!

In personnel news First Community Mortgage announced that 35-year veteran Mark Jones is its new Regional Vice President in the Southeast.

Congrats to Justin Bustamante who was recently brought on as an AE by Platinum Home Mortgage Corporation. Justin will report directly to Jim Bopp, national correspondent sales manager, and run the Central US (Texas north) and over to the West region.

And Flagstar Bancorp, Inc. (NYSE: FBC) announced it has named Flagstar first vice president, Don Bleuenstein, to the position of Home Lending Eastern U.S. Division sales director. Additionally, Jens Lovell has joined Flagstar from BBVA Compass Bank as Flagstar's Home Lending Western U.S. Division sales director. (As part of its expansion, Flagstar has opened 12 new home loan centers in 10 states, bringing the total in its two regions to 26 retail home loan centers in 19 states, with more in the pipeline.)