Nearly two weeks into 2021 already? I was just getting used to saying “2020.” Now I have to add a syllable every time. “One.” There’s continued talk of companies likeFinance of America, loanDepot, SoFi, and Homepoint going public, and if Caliber and AmeriHome will after delaying things in October. Many experts are predicting another strong housing market in 2021. “Strong” can mean either lots of volume, or price appreciation. Or both. “They” are forecasting increased demand from buyers who delayed purchasing homes due to the pandemic, from existing homeowners who need larger spaces to accommodate parents working from home, children attending school virtually, and from condo owners who are seeking to escape multifamily buildings for single-family houses to mitigate exposure to the virus. The ability to tour homes and close on purchases virtually will make buying a home simpler in 2021. The virus? I told my wife how thankful I was to have someone I enjoyed being quarantined with. She replied, “It must be nice.”

Broker and Lender Products

Bad things happen when you don't have a borrower intelligence system in place. Stop getting responses such as, "I already took a loan," or "We already bought our house." 92% of borrowers will go with the first or second lender when they are ready. Sales Boomerang notifies mortgage lenders when someone in their database is ready for a loan. “Look at the opportunity cost you have by not having Sales Boomerang. Last year we closed over $72M in loans that we would have lost from not having Sale Boomerang.” (Stephen Barton, Eustis Mortgage). The numbers speak for themselves: 20X Avg ROI, $240 Avg Cost Per Acquired Loan, 20-40% Avg Lift to Loan Volume. Want to see exactly how much you lost this year? Request your report today. We will show you which competitor took your deal, the loan amount, type of loan, the term and much more.

Plaza Home Mortgage has extended its waiver of the 50bp Adverse Market Refinance Fee on all Agency Express refis to February 26. Available through Plaza’s Wholesale and Mini-Correspondent channels, Agency Express gives brokers faster turn times on core Fannie Mae® and Freddie Mac loans, with closings in as little as 10-15 days. Plaza developed Agency Express specifically for qualified borrowers with W-2 or fixed income who are purchasing or refinancing detached single-family residences and planned unit development (PUD) properties. Learn more about Agency Express by contacting your Plaza Account Executive.

Michael Brenning, AmeriSave’s President of Wholesale Lending, describes Capacity as a game-changer! “Capacity allows us to meet our customers wherever they want to be met from a customer service standpoint. By providing customers with a self-service platform they can access 24/7, we can differentiate our company.” Capacity correctly and instantly answers an average of 84% of all prospective and current borrower questions without any human intervention. Top lenders like AmeriSave, APM, and PRMG turn to Capacity to effortlessly tap into key systems to provide real-time access throughout the entire loan life cycle. Capacity allows you to take care of your borrowers with superior customer experience and 24/7 automated support, all through a mobile-friendly chat interface. Deploy within 30 days. Learn more about Capacity.

PollyEx, a provider of SaaS solutions for the mortgage industry, recently launched Version 3 of PollyPPE, its revolutionary product, pricing, and eligibility engine. While PollyEx has been focused on providing the industry with the most dynamic pricing and eligibility platform, it is also committed to providing clients with competitive and fair pricing. If your current PPE provider is increasing prices without added functionality you owe it to yourself to consider PollyEx. The PollyPPE allows lenders to configure rule logic, manage margin strategies and distribute pricing with ease on one, centralized and fully modern user interface. To learn more or schedule a demo email Jacob Gerson or visit

The industry may still be emerging from COVID, but Non-QM volumes and loan pricing are now back at pre-COVID levels, according to Verus Mortgage Capital, the largest issuer of securitizations backed by non-QM loans and the industry’s largest purchaser of these products. Verus reports that Non-QM guidelines are generally back to where they were before the pandemic and some product pricing is actually better. Demand is high, the company said, because Non-QM borrowers were ignored for much of last year and there are fewer Non-QM lenders in the market today. With agency refis expected to fade and profit margins high for these products, more mortgage bankers are looking to add them in 2021. When they do, they’ll find Verus ready to buy their production, underwriting Non-QM and Prime Jumbo Non-Delegated, and Delegated in days, not weeks like other firms. Learn more, email Jeff Schaefer, EVP – Correspondent Sales (202-534-1821).

Attend this Zoom event: Bridging the Gap in Black Homeownership on Thursday January 14th 3PM PST/6PM EST. Join keynote speaker Kristy Fercho, EVP, Head of Home Lending Wells Fargo, Gwen Garnett, Program Director Center for Financial Advancement, and Antoine Thompson, National Executive Director NAREB. New American Funding created its New American Dream initiative in 2016 to raise awareness and increase homeownership in the Black community. “We build consumer confidence fueled by homebuying education and accessibility to relevant loan programs. Join us to learn about Bridging the Gap in Black Homeownership and how to develop, enhance and promote mortgage industry best practices to reach the Black community.” Register today!

Inauguration day is next week: What can lenders expect from a brand-new administration? As Joe Biden moves into his role as President of the United States, the country anticipates change, and the mortgage industry is no exception. From economic shifts to policy reforms, mortgage professionals can undoubtedly anticipate a new industry outlook to accompany the incoming Biden administration. Navigating a new industry landscape will require some flexibility, but with proper knowhow, it’s possible to thrive in coming years. To educate yourself on how the new president could affect interest rates, regulations, and more, click here to read leading digital mortgage platform Maxwell’s latest blog post, “What Will the Incoming Biden Administration Mean for the Mortgage Industry?” 

Agency-Related Changes 

The appraisal industry is abuzz about the FHFA (the overseer of Freddie and Fannie) issuing an RFI (Request for Information, or “input”) on appraisal policies. The Federal Housing Finance Agency issued a request for input on appraisal-related policies, practices, and processes. The input received in response to the RFI will be used by FHFA to determine the necessary modifications needed to ensure Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) operate in a safe and sound manner.

“Modernizing the appraisal process has the potential to create a more streamlined and accurate collateral valuation process. But if modernization is not properly adopted, it could have negative unintended consequences... RFI will improve FHFA’s understanding of how the Enterprises can improve the appraisal process while at the same time ensuring they don’t take on unintended or inappropriate levels of risk. The comments we receive will inform how we will modernize appraisals to improve both loan quality and the origination process.”

If you like to sort things out, four areas are covered. Appraisal modernization, the Uniform Appraisal Dataset (UAD) and the design of appraisal forms, Automated Valuation Models (AVMs) and appraisal waivers, and valuation differences by borrower and neighborhood ethnic makeup. If you’d like to comment by February 26, here you go.

FHFA published the 2021 Underserved Markets Plans for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under the Duty to Serve (DTS) program. FHFA issued a final rule in 2016 that implemented the DTS provisions as mandated by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.  The statute requires the Enterprises to serve three specified underserved markets-manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation, and rural housing-by increasing the liquidity of mortgage financing for very low-, low-, and moderate-income families. FHFA published the Plans on its dedicated webpage,

Fannie Mae issued Lender Letter LL-2021-01, Appraisal Risk Management Policy Reminders and Resources. This Lender Letter reiterates lenders’ responsibilities for appraisal review and for compliance with Appraiser Independence Requirements; provides examples of appraisal findings and defects; suggests best practices for lenders’ appraisal-related underwriting and quality control processes; and points out resources to help lenders manage appraisal risk efficiently and effectively.

On the aggregator side, Wells Fargo Funding (the correspondent side of The Coach) has removed its overlay requiring pages 1 and 2 of the borrower’s federal individual income tax returns when self-employment income is not used for qualifying for conventional Conforming Loans.

Wells Fargo Funding announced that COVID-19 temporary flexibilities have been extended until further notice. Conventional Conforming Loans effective date for the previously communicated temporary additional requirements and flexibilities below align with Agencies’ date. Until further notice, it aligns with future extensions announced by the Agencies and will no longer communicate individual extensions.

Plaza Home Mortgage® has extended its waiver of the 50bps Adverse Market Refinance Fee on all Agency Express refi’s to February 26, 2021. Agency Express, available to its Wholesale and Mini-Correspondent channels, gives you faster turn times on core Fannie Mae® and Freddie Mac loans. Close in as little as 10-15 days. Learn More.

loanDepot’s announcement discusses the Property Section of its Conventional Lending Guide, HomeStyle Renovation Transactions in Texas, Home Possible Transactions Secured by 2-4 Units and FHA’s COVID-19 Temporary Guidance Extension.

Flagstar issued Memo 20119 regarding updates to FHA Single Family Handbook and New Construction Requirements and Memo 20064 regarding Temporary Eligibility Requirements for Conventional Purchase and Refinance Transactions.

PRMG’s Product Update 20-69 provides information on USDA and USDA Streamlined Assist private flood insurance clarification, various updates to Conventional products, and clarification that no irrevocable trusts, enhanced life estates, corporations, LLCs, etc. are allowed on any product.

Mountain West Financial Wholesale announced maximum loan limits have been increased for GSFA Open Doors loans locked on and after January 1, 2021. Loans locked prior to January 1st fall under the 2020 max loan limits. Additionally, maximum loan limits have been increased for CalHFA loans locked on and after January 1, 2021. A high balance loan limit fee will be required for Conventional and FHA loans with a loan amount exceeding $548,250. Loans locked prior to January 1st fall under the 2020 max loan limits. Refer to AMP inside BOLT for complete program details.

Capital Markets

Our economy moves with jobs and housing, and last week we learned that nonfarm employment fell by 140,000 in December and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7 percent as the record spikes in coronavirus infections and deaths weighed on economic activity and led to lockdowns in some parts of the country. Hardest hit remains the leisure and hospitality sectors as consumers pulled back from high-contact services and activities. Total employment in December was 9.8 million below February 2020’s level. Manufacturing activity reached a two and a half year high as producers are finally catching up on deliveries that saw extended turn times due to lockdowns, operating restrictions, and hiring challenges due to COVID. Additionally, interest rates moved higher as the prices paid index nearly hit a ten-year high due to a surge in commodity prices. The data renewed talks of inflation causing some forecasters to ask if we’ll see a faster increase to the Fed’s 2 percent target than previously assumed. Despite the inflation talk mortgage rates remain near record lows albeit not as low as a week ago, expectations for an unchanged fed funds rate for the first half of the year remain unchanged.

In the bond markets… Nothing much to report from yesterday. Treasuries continued to pull back, and the MBS basis closed wider, on no major headlines though the continued rise of Treasury yields certainly has folks paying attention. The day’s $58 billion 3-year note auction was met with decent demand ahead of today's $38 billion 10-year note reopening. Aside from that, the MBA’s latest Forbearance and Call Volume Survey revealed that the total number of loans now in forbearance decreased 7 bps to 5.46% of servicers’ portfolio volume in the prior week as of January 3, 2021. According to MBA’s estimate, 2.7 million homeowners are in forbearance plans.

Today’s economic calendar is already underway; the NFIB small business optimism index (worsening 5.5 to 95.9). Next up is Redbook same store sales for the week ending January 9, which will be followed by job openings from JOLTS. Markets also receive a heavy dose of Fed speakers: Atlanta’s Bostic, Governor Brainard, Dallas’ Kaplan, Cleveland's Mester, and Kansas City’s George. The Desk will conduct two operations targeting up to $4.3 billion 1.5% and 2% ($1.5 billion UMBS15s and $2.9 billion UMBS30). We begin today with Agency MBS prices down/worse .250 from Monday’s close and the 10-year yielding 1.16 after closing yesterday at 1.13 percent.


Jobs, Moves, and Promotions

“Founder and CEO Lucy Kereta-Block is thrilled to announce the Certified Credit team continues to grow and attract top talent to join our CCR family. Along with her friendly, customer-centric energy, Catelynn Johnson brings a wealth of knowledge and know-how from her 7+ years at CBC/FactualData as a National Account Manager and in management to our CCR Account Servicing team. After 20+ years with CBC and in the industry, Jeff Stewart joined the Certified team eager to engage customers with his insightful and consultative approach to sales partnerships, keeping the customer’s needs and a personal touch at the heart of every exchange. Our NAMMBA Visionary Ambassador, Nicole Mattiello, continues to focus our efforts on helping to grow the industry’s talent base with a goal of connecting over 50,000 undergraduates and graduates to careers in the mortgage industry. Are you looking to join a team truly committed to supporting each other and enhancing the customer experience? Contact Nicole Mattiello.”

“Mind Your Own Business. We’re looking for people who can handle taking charge and making decisions. If you’re a driven self-starter with a plan, Primary Residential Mortgage, Inc. (PRMI) is the place for you. You’re great at what you do, and you deserve a partner that will back you up without getting in your way. You handle your business, and we’ll handle ours. Join PRMI today to run your business your way. Visit our website or contact Amy Gallow, VP of Business Development, to learn more.”

Secure Insight announced a bevy of personnel moves, hiring Todd Hollosi as Chief Technology Officer, Mark Brenner has been retained as strategic partnership director and business growth leader, and Brett Nicholas & Scott Weikel have joined the SI Board of Directors.

Waterstone Mortgage announced the promotions of Brian Wesselhoff to VP, Information Technology, and Casey Seefeldt to AVP, Capital Markets. Congratulations!

FinLocker announced today that Henry Cason would be the company’s new CEO, succeeding co-founder and CEO Peter Esparrago who will become FinLocker’s Executive Chairman and will continue to lead key strategic business relationships. The appointment follows a year of significant developments for FinLocker including successfully closing its $20M+ Series A-1 financing round and announced a commercial partnership with, and equity investment by, TransUnion.

SLK Global Solutions, a leading provider of technology-enabled platform solutions for the financial services industry, has added Ken Fries as VP of Business Development.

And Nations Lending brought on Jennifer Verrilli as SVP of Underwriting, Credit Risk and Strategic Operations.