Is it against the law to live "off the grid"? It might be in Florida, as this widow is finding out - an interesting case for appraisers, processors, and investors, not to mention our civil liberties.

Brokers, and lenders who cater to those brokers in terms of wholesale or mini-correspondent relationships, are still ruminating on the impact of last week's CFPB address on the subject. Here's an interesting White Paper titled, "The Strange Case of the Shrinking Mini-Correspondent: A Primer on Forensics" by the president of Lenders Compliance Group Jonathan Fox.

My colleague Garth Graham at STRATMOR Group wrote a series of funny articles about his daughter's college admission process, and now has some interesting perspectives on the student loan debacle. Mortgage Bankers may think they will be sitting on the sidelines watching a student loan bubble burst, but Garth makes the point in article one about how similar to mortgage this bubble may be. There is concern about who actually owns the debt, and how well student loan servicers are dealing with it, and big concern about whether consumers should get refinance and modification options.  Sound familiar?  And he makes the point in article 2 about why we should care, pointing out that high monthly payments for student loans could drag down the first time home buyer market.

Student loan debt is the topic du jour; everyone's talking about it. Enter Senate Bill 2292. The Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act would establish separate refinancing programs for federal and private student loans. It would allow qualified borrowers to refinance their eligible loans at the same interest rates offered to borrowers who obtained new federal student loans for the 2013-2014 school year. If passed, the bill would allow federal undergraduate loans to be refinanced at an interest rate of 3.86%, graduate loans at 5.41%, and parent loans and consolidation loans at 6.41%. Private undergraduate loans would be refinanced at 3.86%, graduate loans at 5.41%, and any refinancing combining undergraduate loans and graduate loans would be at 6.41%.  For federal loans, there would be a 0.5% origination fee.  For private loans, the origination fee would equal the fee charged for Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans at the time of disbursement, currently 1.072%. But is 2292 even warranted? I realize student loan debt has come to the forefront of our consciousness, mainly due to the run-up topping $1 Trillion. However, the belief that student debt will become an issue comparable to mortgage debt, is a slight overreaction. The bill is currently stalled in the Senate, as it came up 4 votes short of the 60 needed to end debate and prevent a filibuster.

The charge that student loan debt is causing young adults to postpone home ownership has come from various quarters, including the CFPB.  Two new studies, one the subject of an article released earlier this year and the other the subject of a Brookings Institution report released this week, however, suggest those charges are overblown. Based on their review of the relevant data, the authors state that while finding "a very modest association between debt and home ownership, we find little evidence that student loan debt is a 'major culprit' of declining home ownership among young adults.  Instead, it is likely that declining home ownership among young adults-which predates the recent rise in student loan debt-is more responsive to structural changes in the economy and changes in the transition to adulthood."

The Brookings report included the following: roughly one-quarter of the increase in student debt since 1989 can be directly attributed to Americans obtaining more education, especially graduate degrees. While the average debt levels of borrowers with a graduate degree more than quadrupled ( from just under $10,000 to more than $40,000), the average debt levels of borrowers with only a bachelor's degree increased by a smaller margin ( from $6,000 to $16,000). Increases in the average lifetime incomes of college-educated Americans have more than kept pace with increases in debt loads. The monthly payment of student loan borrowers has stayed about the same or even lessened over the past two decades. Typical student loan borrowers are not worse off now than they were a generation ago, with the data showing no increase, and if anything, a decline, in the percentage of borrowers with high payment-to-income ratios.

FHA is providing multiple training opportunities. This includes free appraiser training - a course that is approved by the state of California, Bureau of Real Estate Appraisers (BREA) for 7 hours of Continuing Education Units/Credits (CEUs) for California licensed appraisers. For non-CA licensees, please contact your state's licensing board for credit eligibility. FHA representatives will be conducting 1-day instructor-led class where they will discuss how to complete residential appraisals under FHA protocols, and highlights of recent program changes. Completing Today's FHA Appraisal will be offered at 2 different locations: Wednesday, August 13 in Irvine, CA, and Wednesday, August 20 in Seattle, WA.

In a similar vein, FHA Lender Training is scheduled for Monday, August 18, and Tuesday August 19 in Seattle, WA. "FHA representatives from the Santa Ana Homeownership Center will conduct a 2-day live, instructor-led seminar where they will cover a wide range of topics including: Recent program changes, Mortgagee Letters, automated (AUS) vs. manual underwriting, and documentation requirements, Income & Assets calculations, Refinance Transactions, Post-Endorsement Technical Reviews that may lead to loan indemnification, Insuring deficiencies, highlights of underwriting the FHA appraisal and much more. Direct Endorsement underwriters, loan processors and other seasoned mortgage lending professionals will find this training highly beneficial.

In fact, the FHA offers many free online webinars. (A valid company email address and the FHA 5-digit Lender and/or Agency ID are required at the time of registration for all webinars.) Here is a partial list in upcoming months: Overview HUD Early Delinquency Activities and Loss Mitigation Program (HERE), HUD Loss Mitigation - Home Retention Options (HERE), HUD Loss Mitigation - Home Disposition Options (HERE), Neighborhood Watch System - Servicer Tools (HERE), and SFDMS - Reporting Basics (HERE).

A week from today you can take part in Loss Mitigation Training sponsored by HUD in Greensboro, NC.  On-line registration is required. Be sure to bring a calculator to class. No fee. This is classroom training for HUD-Approved Counseling Agencies, Servicing Lenders and Nonprofits. The training will provide information on FHA Loss Mitigation tools. It will cover the new changes with HAMP, Pre-forclosure Sale and Deed-in-lieu.

Loss Mitigation Training will be held Tuesday, August 5, in Louisville, KY. This is classroom training for HUD-Approved Counseling Agencies, Servicing Lenders and Nonprofits. The training will provide information on FHA Loss Mitigation tools. It will cover the new changes with HAMP, Pre-forclosure Sale and Deed-in-lieu. On-line registration is required. Be sure to bring a calculator to class. No fee - Register.

Manufactured Housing Free Webinar on Thursday, July 17, from 1:30-2:30 PM (Eastern). This online training session will provide guidance to lenders when underwriting loans on manufactured housing. This training may also be valuable to appraisers and industry partners who may be interested in obtaining additional knowledge on manufactured housing. Topics will include: property eligibility, manufactured vs. modular housing, permanent foundation requirements, the manufactured home appraisal report, additions or structural modifications, and new construction. On-line registration is required. Register

FHA announced FREE classroom Lender Training on July 22nd and 23rd at the Hilton Phoenix Airport FHA representatives from the Santa Ana Homeownership Center will conduct a two-day live, instructor-led seminar where they will cover a wide range of topics including: Recent program changes; Mortgagee Letters; Automated (AUS) vs. manual underwriting, and documentation requirements; Income & Assets calculations; Refinance Transactions; Post-Endorsement Technical Reviews that may lead to loan indemnification; Insuring deficiencies; Highlights of underwriting the FHA appraisal, and much more. Direct Endorsement underwriters, loan processors and other seasoned mortgage lending professionals may find this training highly beneficial: Lender Training Registration.

Fannie Mae has training opportunities available: HFI InDepth -- Assessing Income from Self Employment. In this course, you will learn the basics of how to evaluate self-employment income. In particular, you will learn Fannie Mae's guidelines for determining whether a borrower is self-employed and analyzing personal and business tax returns. You will also learn how to identify principal business structures, and perform a cash flow analysis and comparative income analysis. Cost is $250 per person. Five dates are available visit Assessing Income for registration information. And HFI InDepth -- Beyond Approve/Eligible: Interpreting the DU Underwriting Findings Report. This HFITM InDepth webinar will help you understand how to fully leverage the DU Underwriting Findings Report's features, such as Potential Red Flags, Verification Messages, Approval Conditions, and more. It will also address ways to deal with scenarios that don't seem to fit naturally into standard underwriting approaches. Cost is $250 per person. Four dates are available.

Looking at the markets, we did have some news Tuesday that caused some movement in rates. (For example, the 10-yr., which for lack of anything else quite as liquid is used as a proxy for MBS price movements, began the day at 2.53%, zoomed to 2.55%, and in the early going is back to 2.53%.) But once again, I am not going to waste your time.

But it is good to know what Fed Chair Yellen had to say about rates. The Fed's policy ultimately depended on how the economy was doing and how the committee assessed its progress based on various indicators. Based on the last Summary of Economic Projections, she said the first rate hikes should be in 2015 with the median projection of fed funds at 1% by the end of that year. She also noted that rates were expected to remain accommodative for quite some time. "The housing sector, however, has shown little recent progress. While this sector has recovered notably from its earlier trough, housing activity leveled off in the wake of last year's increase in mortgage rates, and readings this year have, overall, continued to be disappointing."

Today we've already had the MBA application index for last week - down 3.6% from the week before. Refis only fell 0.1% from the previous week, but purchase applications dropped 8%. Currently the refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 54% of total applications from 52% the previous week, and ARM volume accounted for 8% of total applications.

We also had the Producer Price Index: PPI for June was +.4%, higher than expected but the core rate was as expected +.2%. And versus a year ago, it was up less than 2% - about on target. Continuing at 9:15 a.m. are June Industrial Production (0.4 expected) and Capacity Utilization (79.3), while homebuilder sentiment for July (+1 to 50) rounds out the morning's data at 10 a.m. Finally, at 2 p.m. the Fed releases its Beige Book with economic anecdotes from the 12 Districts in preparation for the July 29-30 FOMC meeting. Fed Chair Yellen will repeat her testimony at 10AM EST before the House Financial Services Committee. (When will they take the quantum leap and combine the House and Senate testimonies?) Currently rates are, once again, roughly unchanged from Tuesday's closing levels.


A well-capitalized Asset Management firm is looking to acquire a small or medium sized FNMA, FHLMC and GNMA Direct Seller/Servicer/Issuer.  One, two, or all three of these agency approvals, along with numerous state licensing approvals, are optimal. A servicing platform is not required but would be welcomed. Contact Lawrence Holguin at for a confidential inquiry and/or discussion regarding valuation.

Financial Partners Credit Union has additional positions available now for seasoned mortgage loan originators in Southern California to meet the increasing demand of its purchase business. The credit union is also seeking an experienced Loan Operations Supervisor to help with the volume. Financial Partners offer Home Buyer Seminars every week with realtor partners and need presenters! Since 1937, FPCU has established itself as a financially strong institution and direct mortgage lender nationwide. "Stellar pricing and a full product suite that includes agency, portfolio and 2nds (i.e. jumbos to $3MM, the popular 5/5 ARM and the new 80-10-10). A second to none compensation plan, marketing support and exceptional benefits are offered to successful candidates." Contact Wendy Edralin or Todd Helmerson for more information.

Still on the jobs front, "is there a company out there that is a "Model Match" for the Six Core Components of your business (leadership, culture, business model, operations, technology, and geography?) that you don't know about yet? Hammerhouse, a national mortgage recruiting firm is looking for loan officers, branch managers, and other sales leadership to support its mortgage bank and bank clients nationally grow production nationally. Contact Steve Rennie in the west, Eric Levin in the east or fill out its Model Match Assessment tool.