It's Friday, so why not throw in something unrelated to mortgages? Anyone in a really cold climate and even those not, will find this pretty neat: THE MOST FUN YOU CAN HAVE WITH BOILING WATER

The Jonas Brothers help lock down the top spot for an affluent neighborhood? AMERICA'S MOST AFFLUENT NEIGHBORHOODS

"I went to the butcher shop the other day and I bet him $50 he couldn't reach the meat off the top shelf. He said, 'No, the steaks are too high.'" The stakes/steaks are pretty high when it comes to compensation plans.

Companies around the country are spending countless man-hours working with consultants or setting up comp plans on their own. Caliber Funding sent out a survey: HERE IT IS

Wells Fargo sent their broker clients a link to a video focused on compensation and anti-steering. "Join Kathleen Vaughan, EVP, Wholesale Lending, to learn about Wells Fargo's consumer- and lender-paid compensation models, and what the new anti-steering rules will require." (please don't ask me for a login & password for accessing it.)

And here's Plaza's update on answers to frequently asked compensation questions: CHECK IT OUT

Bank of America, among many other things the #2 residential mortgage lender behind Wells Fargo and #1 loan servicer, reported a second straight quarterly loss, driven by write-downs in the value of its mortgage business. So far the purchases of Countrywide and Merrill Lynch are showing mixed results. In the fourth quarter, the bank recognized a $2 billion write-down in value of its mortgage business, and a $4.1 billion provision for future mortgage repurchase claims. Match that against BofA's global banking and markets unit, which includes Merrill Lynch's former investment bank operations, which reported profit of $724 million. The bank lost $1.57 billion, or 16 cents a share, compared with a loss of $5.2 billion, or 60 cents a share, a year earlier. Last year's results included a one-time TARP charge of $4 billion. Without the mortgage business write-down, the bank earned $756 million, or 4 cents per share.

READ MORE: BofA Settles GSE Buyback Requests for Pennies on the Dollar

Of course, on the street, analysts want to know if putback related costs are behind BoA. We covered that too. The answer is: NOT LIKELY. The loan buyback saga is far from over. FULL STORY

Yesterday Fifth Third sold $1.7 billion in shares to help repay funds the US Treasury lent it, a small piece of the $118.5 billion that is still outstanding and owed to the US Government in total by all banks. Four of the 19 banks that were subjected to government stress tests have not repaid funds to the Troubled Asset Relief Program: Fifth Third, KeyCorp, Regions Financial and SunTrust Financial. The money from the 5 3 share sale will be combined with a 5-year bond issue to repay $3.4 billion in government loans. This comes after Fifth Third reported that non-performing assets fell 8% to $4.2bn in the fourth quarter from a year ago, versus total assets of $111bn. Quarterly net income was $270m, versus a loss of $160m a year earlier, as the bank released $190m of reserve funds.

PNC Financial Services Group reported record income for 2010, even as its residential mortgage banking unit saw earnings drop more than 35% during the fourth quarter due to high foreclosure costs. PNC had net income of $3.4 billion, or $5.74 per share, compared with 2009 net income of $2.4 billion, or $4.36 per share. Revenue was $15.17 billion, down from $16.23 billion a year ago. PNC's residential mortgage banking unit earned $275 million for the full year compared with $435 million for 2009. The decline was driven by a "decrease in loan sales revenue from lower origination volumes and lower net hedging gains on mortgage servicing rights." Earnings for the residential mortgage unit were $3 million in the fourth quarter compared with $25 million in the fourth quarter of 2009. Earnings declined primarily due to higher foreclosure-related expenses and, when compared to the previous quarter, by lower net hedging gains on mortgage servicing rights.

SunTrust reported earnings this morning, beating expectations. (KeyCorp and Regions Financial, which has not had a profit since early 2009, are next week.) SunTrust reported better credit and asset quality, and for the year the allowance for loan losses was $3.0 billion, a decline of $112 million from the prior quarter. Net charge-offs for the year were $2.9 billion, down $384 million from 2009.

One area, in general, that certainly appears to be picking up is the commercial real estate bond sector. Driving around, I continue to see a large number of office buildings and retail spaces for sale or lease, but...READ THIS

In the servicing sector, the 50 state Attorney Generals (Attorneys General?) continue to work on a settlement with the top 5 mortgage servicers which may include a third-party "foreclosure monitor" to help ensure that servicers are abiding by the new guidelines. Recently the FDIC asked servicing companies to set up a BP-type of damages fund. Don't look for anything soon, given the huge scope that is being covered in these negotiations.

How about some investor updates?

Astoria Federal Savings, after eliminating its IO product quite some time ago, finally removed the IO price adjustments from its rate sheets for its Portfolio Fixed & ARMs product line(s).

Earlier this week GMAC's correspondent clients learned that GMAC ratcheted down some LLPA's on jumbo ARM and fixed rate products. "For Fixed rate, we are reducing the LLPA's on Loan amounts >1 Million and <=1.5 Million" by .125 in price, and by a like amount for ARM loans between $1-1.5 million. GMAC did, however, reduce the maximum price paid on all loan amounts by .125.

Wells told its brokers that 75 bps will be waived for conventional conforming detached condominiums with LTV's greater than 75%, starting Monday, once Underwriting confirms the requirements have been met. Wells also reminded brokers that the Federal Reserve Board is requiring the Truth‐in‐Lending (TIL) disclosure be revised to include a payment summary table to more clearly illustrate the borrower's mortgage payments, effective tomorrow for Wells.

PHH announced that the maximum LTV Increased to 97.00% for Conventional Fixed Rate Products, commencing today. "The maximum allowable LTV will be increased to 97.00% for conventional fixed rate products. Only new registrations receiving an Approve/Eligible response through DU 8.2 will be eligible for 95.01-97% LTV" with certain requirements like loan amounts less than $417k, purchase and rate term refinances, 35% MI coverage required, etc.

It was not a good day yesterday for anyone waiting to lock. Fixed-income prices dropped, and rates rose, on mostly favorable data (Initial Claims, LEI and Existing Home Sales) and a poor 10yr TIPS auction. The 10-year note closed down about 1 point at 3.46%, and MBS prices were worse about .625 for 4.5% securities (containing 4.75-5.125% mortgages). On the plus side, Existing Home Sales in December jumped 12.3% to 5.28mln units, much more than expected, and all regions of the country gained according to NAR.

There are no economic reports today, aside from continued earnings results which I noted above. But next week we have the FOMC's two-day meeting beginning Tuesday with the statement released Wednesday afternoon, the first look at Q4 GDP on Friday, and $99bln in 2s, 5s and 7s auctioned Tuesday through Thursday. The week's calendar also has several housing related reports including S&P Case-Shiller HPI, FHFA HPI, New Home Sales and Pending Home Sales Index. 

Russ and Sam, two aging friends, met in the park every day to feed the pigeons, watch the squirrels and discuss world problems.

One day Russ didn't show up. Sam didn't think much about it and figured maybe he had a cold or something. But after Russ hadn't shown up for a week or so, Sam really got worried. However, since the only time they ever got together was at the park, Sam didn't know where Russ lived, so he was unable to find out what had happened to him.

A month had passed, and Sam figured he had seen the last of Russ, but one day, Sam approached the park and-- lo and behold!--there sat Russ! Sam was very excited and happy to see him and told him so. Then he said, "For crying out loud Russ, what in the world happened to you?"

Russ replied, "I have been in jail."

"Jail!" cried Sam. "What in the world for?"

"Well," Russ said, "You know Sue, that cute little blonde waitress at the coffee shop where I sometimes go?"

"Yeah," said Sam, "I remember her. What about her?"

"Well, one day she filed rape charges against me; and, at 89 years old, I was so proud that when I got into court, I pled 'guilty'."

"The judge gave me 30 days for perjury."