Money attracts criminal activity. I know that isn’t late-breaking news, but here’s a scam I hadn’t heard of involving, once again, real estate and appraisers. The good news is that when a landowner permanently protects pristine land from development, they’re eligible for a charitable deduction for the “conservation easement.” The bad news is that someone thought up syndicating the deal: A promoter buys the land, find an appraiser who’s willing to say it’s got enormous value if developed, and then sell stakes to wealthy investors. When that “incredibly valuable” land is then protected, all the rich investors get a juicy tax write-off on the hypothetical value of the land they were never going to develop as high as $4 for every $1 invested. The good news for those of us who don’t think this way is that the IRS announce it is escalating enforcement and launching criminal investigations, with over 80 tax court cases pending.

Lender Products and Services

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to 2020! If you’re in need of some new inspiration and guidance for your business, a new eBook from Maxwell, “2020 Mortgage Lending Resolutions”, is for you. It’s less an attempt to predict the future and more an exercise in setting our intention for the year ahead. It’s about setting goals that push us out of our comfort zone, and preparing to demonstrate our agility for what 2020 will surprise us with. A must-read for all lending professionals and managers, read your complimentary copy here (no form required).

As a Non-Delegated Correspondent Lender, you don't always specialize in some of the more unique tasks surrounding the closing of a mortgage. That's why ReadyPrice has directly with the industry's top fulfillment providers, making their services available through Mortgage.Exchange. Focus Fulfillment and Shanks & Associates are two of the first to integrate with ReadyPrice through the MX Community, driving NDC independence by making it even more efficient for NDC Lenders to manage documents and ensure compliance. Learn more today at Mortgage.Exchange.

Training and Events 

On January 9th the Puget Sound Mortgage Lenders Association is having its general dinner meeting in Fife, Washington. Yours truly will be there speaking about the economy, lending trends around the nation, and the importance of customer service.

Private morning insurance are good sources for training, as have been listed before in this commentary. National MI has its webinars, MGIC’s January 2020 webinars are currently posted here, and Genworth Mortgage Insurance provides complimentary courses: View the January Training Calendar.

FHA is providing a free online webinar, Wednesday January 8th on the Defect Taxonomy Version 2 Implementation. This webinar is scheduled from 2:30 PM — 4:00 PM (Eastern).

FAMC’s January 2020 Wholesale “Customer Training Calendar” offers a variety of training opportunities such as: Analyzing Appraisals, Working Virtually, How to Evaluate and Calculate Borrower Income – Focus on Base, Hourly, Overtime, Bonus and Commission, How to Create Your Perfect Presentation for Lunch and Learns and Detecting and Avoiding Fraud in Loan Files.

Plaza Home Mortgage is offering a new webinar on Monday, January 13th:  How to Evaluate and Calculate Borrower Income – Focus on Base, Hourly, Overtime, Bonus and Commission.

Check out Plaza’s January 2020 line-up of Webinars for additional training options.

Hudson Cook, LLP announced a monthly webinar series, CFPB Bites of the Month, beginning January 15.

On January 16th the California MBA is hosting a webinar: Hear from two top mortgage executives about a new mortgage origination strategy for 2020: digital origination only! “New Origination Strategy for a New Decade.”

Register for the CAMP-Silicon Valley Chapter’s Breakfast Meeting on January 17th. Guest Randy Warshawsky, EA will be addressing and explaining the new 2020 tax laws.

The PRMG University TPO Training Calendar for the month of January is currently available for viewing and registration on its January Live Webinars.

Collateral Risk Network has launched CRN as a non-profit with an ambitious agenda. The Compliance Roundtable on January 21 will focus on the new California “gig economy” law and the impact on the appraisal profession. There are also new data laws emerging that will impact lenders and AMCs. It looks like finally regulators and legislation has caught up to emerging technologies. Contact Karen to learn more.

From February 3-6, MBA’s Independent Mortgage Bankers Conference will be in New Orleans where IMB leadership and their management teams will hear the latest industry happenings and get new perspectives to position themselves competitively for 2020 and beyond.

The Mortgage Bankers Association of New Jersey in conjunction with the NJ Bankers Association and the NJ State Bar Association; will be having dinner with the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance, Marlene Caride, on February 6 at the Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick.

Register for FHA’s free, on-site Credit Underwriting Training in Denver on February 11 from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Receive an overview of FHA underwriting procedures and addresses various industry-related FAQs related to FHA’s Handbook 4000.1. This training will also take an in-depth look at a variety of topics including credit, income, and asset (CIA) documentation; manual underwriting; automated underwriting systems (AUS); endorsement protocols; Loan Review System (LRS); and more. 

The Americatalyst Conference is scheduled for February 11th-12th in Dallas. The conference will look at the future of mortgage banking, non-bank lending, technology and its influence, government policy and more. Find out more information by viewing the agenda.

Lace 'Em Up! The next FDCPA Boot Camp will be held February 10th-11th in Minneapolis. Registration is underway for this intensive, hands-on curriculum designed to help you launch your Plaintiff's FDCPA practice immediately.

On Wednesday, February 12th, join CAMP South L.A. for a free 2-hour event. From 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM at the University of Phoenix to hear guest speaker Nancy West, the Housing Program Officer for HUD. She will bring insightful information about FHA updates. Email to register.

On February 19th, in the evening, the Charlotte Regional Mortgage Lenders Association is having its monthly meeting. Come on by and say hello!

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University have organized Room to Grow: Housing for a New Economy. This one-day Conference in Dallas on February 21st provides industry analysts, economists and experts to learn about the latest trends affecting housing, and discover developments that promise to change home buying.

Capital Markets

Brexit and the U.S./China trade war will inevitably move markets soon, but the start of 2020 has been all about tensions in the Middle East. U.S. Treasuries began the first full week of 2020 rebounding slightly from Friday’s large rally. Risk tolerance improved slightly, though global investors remained concerned about the situation in the Middle East potentially escalating. President Trump and his aides spent the weekend arguing that the U.S. killing of Iranian General Soleimani made the world safer for Americans, despite Iran’s pledge to enact revenge.

U.S. allies haven’t thrown much support behind President Trump and there is confusion over U.S. policy in the region. While some people believe more U.S. troops will be sent to the Middle East, there are now reports America may be considering a withdrawal from Iraq (no decision has been made, one official said). After Iraq urged the U.S. to go, Trump threatened to sanction the ally and seek billions of dollars in reimbursement. He also repeated his threat to bomb Iranian cultural sites, widely condemned as a promise to commit a war crime.

Now, can we talk about Brexit and the trade war? The South China Morning Post reported that a Chinese trade delegation will travel to Washington D.C. on January 13 to sign the Phase One deal. Beijing had kept mum on the signing until that official report. And the British Parliament is expected to resume debating the withdrawal agreement this week.

Onto today as the economic calendar is already underway with the November trade deficit (narrowed to $43.1 billion, down to 2016 levels, as expected). Later this morning brings Redbook same store sales for the week ending January 4, December ISM non-manufacturing PMI, and November Factory Orders. Treasury conducts the first leg of this week’s mini-Refunding when they auction $38 billion 3-year notes just before noon ET. Additionally, the Desk will conduct a UMBS15 FedTrade operation targeting up to $200 million 2.5 percent ($99 million) and 3 percent ($101 million). We begin the day Agency MBS prices unchanged from Monday evening and the 10-year also unchanged yielding 1.81 percent.



Wyndham Capital Mortgage has promoted Ben Cowen to President and Josh Hankins to COO to kick off new decade. This move was made strategically to position Wyndham Capital for scalable growth in 2020. “In promoting Ben and Josh, plus the recent addition of Trey Rigdon as SVP of Marketing, we’re ready to build on a record year. We believe we’re positioned for explosive growth in 2020,” shares Jeff Douglas, Wyndham Capital’s CEO. Cowen played a crucial role in expanding Wyndham Capital’s footprint while Hankins is responsible for introducing programs like the WCM NexGen LO. This program is the future of modern lending and offers LO’s freedom and flexibility, operational support to close more loans than national average without sacrificing time, and marketing support to increase LO brand presence. Cowen and Hankins have also introduced efficiency gains with robotics and AI throughout Wyndham Capital’s lending process. Interested in joining Wyndham Capital?

Congrats to Rob Truitt who is the new CFO of Michigan’s Amerifirst Home Mortgage, a division of Amerifirst Financial Corporation, in charge of financial analysis, forecasting and budgeting, strategic growth planning, capital management, and capital markets for the over 700 employees in branches across a dozen states.