Say it ain’t so! Fannie is being bought by an Italian company?! Sure enough, Italy’s Ferrero International SA is buying U.S.-based Fannie May Confections Brands for $115 million. Ferrero already owns Nutella and Tic Tacs. Founded in 1920, Fannie May is 18 years older than housing’s Fannie, and is owned by 1-800-Flowers.com - hard to know who owns who these days.
The Zillow saga continues...
Does the CFPB consider co-marketing with real estate agents on Zillow a RESPA violation, as purported by this video? An attorney weighed in saying that the video is hearsay and sensationalist, and that there is no firm evidence or written documents in circulation that regulators interpret Zillow co-marketing as a violation of RESPA. The attorney pointed out that the argument in the video is weak since co-marketing is legal. If Zillow co-marketing is considered a violation because it's viewed as an "endorsement," then all co-marketing would be viewed the same way There is nothing unique to Zillow that makes it somehow different than other co-marketing. Of course, there are ways to use Zillow that would be in violation of RESPA (just like all co-marketing), for example, if the realtor or the lender weren't paying a pro rata share.
Zillow has an official response to the video's claims. "The practice of agents and lenders advertising together has long been a focus of the CFPB, and we, like the rest of the real estate industry, are very focused on this issue. We take into careful consideration all applicable laws and regulations when designing our products. We always evolve our products as the regulatory environment changes to provide the best experience for our real estate industry partners.
"We are always evolving our products to respond to changes in the technology, real estate and regulatory landscapes. As you know, we're constantly testing and learning, and rolling out new features. For example, in Long Form we recently changed the final page of the experience to respond to lender feedback and to give us flexibility to introduce new product innovations like broadcasting contacts to multiple lenders."
Zillow wrapped up with, "The CFPB has been very focused on agents and lenders advertising together. You should talk to your compliance officer, and you can find more information about co-marketing here. If you have questions about our other mortgage products, please go here."
Lenders know that, like any co-marketing, it can be used correctly or incorrectly. And attorneys will tell a LO that if you pay more than your fair share of the leads, it could be a problem, or if you have secondary agreements to refer business or qualify leads for the realtors then of course such arrangements could be problematic. Is Zillow a problem because it is a referral and not a lead source? Probably not. Indeed, if simply having a name in conjunction with a real estate agent was a referral, there would literally be no way to do any co-marketing without running afoul of RESPA. Moreover, how could anyone be in a position to "refer" business when they themselves have literally no relationship with the consumer and no contact with the consumer? The entire point of Zillow is to provide first contact; hence, the real estate agent is a complete stranger whose referral would be meaningless to begin with.
Yet I received this last week from one industry vet. "I can confirm that Zillow itself is under investigation by the CFPB. The first CIDs (Civil Investigative Demand) went out last summer to LOs, lenders, real estate agents, brokers, and to Zillow itself. It is rumored that the CFPB has been strongly considering, or is bringing, a UDAAP charge against Zillow for providing 'substantial assistance' in allowing real estate agents/loan officers to knowingly violate RESPA. Many believe that we can expect a large lead generation website portal enforcement action to come down soon.
"The problem is with the premier agent and premier lender programs, and if a lender allows their LOs to participate in these two programs they will soon be shocked to learn that Zillow has been collecting statistical relationship information on every single co-lead sharing relationship between LOs and real estate agents. The CFPB has these statistical reports in their hands and is one of the tools purportedly being used as evidence to prove the RESPA violations and Zillow's knowledge & tacit refusal to make sure their vendors aren't violating the law.
"Zillow also has publicly facing advertisements which tout to real estate agents that they can have as many as 3 lenders (or as Zillow internally categorizes them 'PALs') who can pay for up to 90% of the Zillow Premier Agent costs. It is rumored that internally Zillow has other documents which show the fair market value for "all" lender contributions can't more than 1/3 of the total Premier Agent program and then there are others with even lower or higher numbers. Zillow tracks the Percent funded by each participating LO.
"So, by paying the real estate agent's Zillow invoice, in exchange for customers (even, I suppose, potential ones), a mortgage loan originator could violate RESPA. In response, most companies that engage in this or allow their folks to do it on their own instruct employees to split the cost based on the amount of advertising - 1 agent and 1 loan officer would split 50/50. 1 agent and 3 loan officers may split it 25/25/25/25.
The capital markets - keep on keepin' on.
The bonds markets, and thus interest rates, seem content with treading water, and being stuck in the range we've been in for quite some time. But Friday U.S. Treasuries, and MBS prices, gained some ground Friday after industrial production data for February came out mostly in line with estimates and the Michigan consumer survey showed that long-term inflation expectations fell to an all-time low of 2.2% in March and that could eventually concern Fed policymakers. (The headline index of sentiment, however, improved more than expected.) The 10-year yield closed at 2.50% with the curve reversing some of the post-Fed steepening, in a continuation of the late Thursday trade with the bond outperforming on the curve early in the session on light volume.
This week's economic calendar is relatively light in terms of data with some updates on housing while the "Fedspeak" is expected to ramp up again following this week's Fed decision. This morning we've had all we're going to see with the Chicago Fed's National Activity Index. Tomorrow is the Q4 Current Account Balance, whatever that tells us. Wednesday the MBA releases the tally of retail apps from last week, and we'll also have the January FHFA Housing Price Index and February Existing Home Sales. For grins and giggles on Thursday are Initial Jobless Claims and February New Home Sales. Friday is February's Durable Goods. We begin the week with the 10-year at 2.51% and agency MBS prices roughly unchanged versus Friday's close.
Training and Events
While we're on the subject, here are some upcoming events & webinars!
Michigan Mutual Inc.'s first ever 203k Training Extravaganza is going live TODAY at 12 PM (EST)! Director of Wholesale Lending, Greg Campbell, will offer his expertise as he takes you step by step through his 203k process. Please join us at the Westin Hotel (Southfield, MI), or tune into the presentation live from your computer. For those of you attending the event, lunch will be served at 11 a.m. and the presentation will take place from 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. We hope to see you all there! RSVP here. Michigan Mutual is an agency direct/seller/servicer/issuer established in 1992 and based in Port Huron, Michigan.
LoanScorecard, a leading provider of automated pricing, underwriting and compliance solutions, will be hosting a complimentary webinar, Fair Lending in a New HMDA World, on March 21st at 11AM CT and March 22nd at 2PM CT. This webinar, presented by LoanScorecard Executive Director Ben Wu, will examine the significance of the new HMDA regulations; the Fair Lending implications, particularly for portfolio loans; and best practices for implementing compliant processes and technology well before the HMDA rule goes into effect. To learn more about this webinar or to register, click here.
Stop losing loans to competitors because your rates or fees are a little higher. In just 3 days on Thursday, March 23rd at 1 p.m. EDT Ron Vaimberg, nmpU President and Head Coach and one of the nation's leading loan officer success trainers, will be showing to a private online audience exactly How to Win the Rate Battle Against Your Competition. This is a live stream broadcast, not a webinar, and is sponsored by REMN Wholesale and can be viewed by you or your entire office for one discounted site license. In just 90 minutes learn everything you need to know to master a powerful client presentation that reduces or eliminates rate objections and stops borrowers from continuing to shop you. Use discount code "Chrisman" and Save $100. Click Here for Details
Join XINNIX CEO Casey Cunningham in a complimentary Leadership Lessons webinar on the 6 Essential Skills of a Leader on Thursday, March 23rd from 2:00 - 3:00 PM ET. This webinar will equip you with powerful strategies to become a more effective leader and guide your team to higher performance. Click here to register now!
The AMLG and the Mortgage Collaborative are offering a March 21st complementary webinar on the loan originator compensation rule 2017 updates and developments. Register now to take advantage of this training opportunity.
Join California MBA on March 23rd via webinar to hear the latest on QC hot topics including Day 1 Certainty, Freddie and Fannie audits.
Learn about Plaza's FHA 203(k) Standard and Limited loan programs in a 1-hour live webinar on March 23rd.
On March 29th, Zillow is providing Mortgage Lenders with insight into the world of millennial buyers with specific tips on how to penetrate this market. Registration is available now.
The first MAA Quarterly Advocacy Update Webinar of 2017 will be held Thursday, March 23 at 2:00 p.m. EST. Senior MBA staff will provide attendees with an update on potential public policy actions by the new administration and Congress and their implications for the real estate finance industry in the coming months. This webinar is free for MAA members. Please contact Peter Shapiro at firstname.lastname@example.org for the promo code for free registration.
FHA is offering a free, on-site appraiser training that covers FHA appraisal requirements, April 4th in Baton Rouge. And register for FHA's free, on-site underwriting training on April 5th in Baton Rouge. This training will provide an overview of FHA underwriting procedures and addresses several industry-related frequently asked questions.
I will be speaking at the NYMBA's 3rd Annual Conference, "Great by Choice", being held in Albany at the Desmond Hotel, April 3rd thru April 5th. Other speakers include: MBA Chairman, Rodrigo Lopez; Lykken on Lending's, David Lykken; Hispanic Market Specialist, Maria Zywiciel; HUD Philadelphia HOC Director, Julie Shaffer; Stewart Title's Chief Economist, Dr. Ted Jones; Essent Guaranty's VP of Government Affairs, Matt Tully; Genworth's National Sales Training Executive, Steve Richman; Weiner Brodsky Kider's Jack Konyk; Offit Kurman's Daniella Casseres; and Gross Polowy's Adam Gross. Register by visiting www.nymba.org.
In North Carolina the American Mortgage Conference is in mid-May.
Jobs and Announcements
Brokers should know that the wholesale division of Carrington Mortgage Services has launched its "On Time Close Promise" for purchase loans. "Carrington is so confident in its operations and processes to help you close when others can't that they are putting their money where their mouth is - to close on-time, every time for brokers' purchase loans. Management promises to meet the on time closing date identified as the Close of Escrow date or will pay $1,500 in closing cost credit. Applies to purchase loans only and restrictions apply. Visit www.CarringtonWholesale.com or talk to your AE for more details. Don't forget, Carrington kicked off March with reduced LLPAs on FICO < 600 on Streamlines (FHA and VA IRRRLS) are available for all loans locked through March 31st. These promotions and recent guideline changes are just a few of the changes made recently in its ongoing effort to become easier to use and with a commitment to Carrington's 'under-served' strategy!"
National MI spread the word that, "We are pleased to announce that the National Mortgage Insurance Company has been added as an approved primary mortgage insurance provider for mortgages eligible for purchase by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston as part of the Mortgage Partnership Finance (MPF) program. Here is the Addendum to Master Commitment (Addition of MPF Program Requirement for FHLB Boston PFIs) for your reference. Please contact me or your MPF secondary market sales manager with any questions. And if you're in Northern California on April 7 National MI is hosting the Mortgage Leadership Roundtable at the Wente Vineyards Event Center from 9-3:30PM. Check out the agenda here. Please RSVP by March 27th to Tracy Berry.