One should never stop learning. For example, I just began reading a great book: “How to Cook Crack and Clean a Crab.” Step One: Use commas. I learned that the Bill & Melinda Gates team is the largest farmland owner in the United States. Last year’s overall net farm income is projected to rise 43 percent to $119.6 billion, according to the Department of Agriculture, despite last year’s farm cash receipts being down 1 percent to $366.5 billion. But at the same timedirect federal aid accounted for literally 40 percent of total farm income after more than doubling over 2019 levels. Producers made $46.5 billion from the government, with direct federal aid up 107 percent from 2019. Plenty of lenders have learned about and utilize the USDA Rural Housing program, not to be confused with learning about the URLA (1003) changes ahead. More on the new URLA and processing 4506-C notes below.

Broker and Lender Products and Services

Axos Bank Wholesale and Correspondent Portfolio Lending continues to provide innovative products and enhanced super jumbo loan options. “Always a market leader in the Jumbo/Super Jumbo, Non-QM, and portfolio lending space, we offer creative solutions for today’s complex transactions. Maximize your origination opportunities with loan amounts up to $30MM, no cash-out limitations, 90% LTV with asset pledge, 100% financing with cross-collateralization, 12-month bank statements, asset depletion program, foreign national/non-permanent resident alien programs, plus bridge to sale and pledged asset lending. Email to learn more about how Axos Wholesale Lending is delivering exceptional products, service, and support to our mortgage brokers, mortgage bankers, and home builder partners during these uncertain times. Our warehouse lending program can help you maximize your revenue opportunities with our residential lines of $20MM to $150MM. Have a commercial real estate lending needs? Axos Commercial Lending offers financing solutions for Small Balance Commercial Real Estate, Commercial Real Estate Specialty Bridge and Constructions Lending.”

A quick Google search for “power couples” returns results such as Barack and Michelle Obama, Beyonce and Jay-Z, and George and Amal Clooney. Now, realtors and lenders can learn how to form their own power couple. Join Usherpa’s Paul Harrington, Sales Boomerang’s Alex Kutsishin and Eustis Mortgage’s Stephen Barton at 2 pm ET on February 3 for a webinar on creating data-driven harmony between realtors and lenders. Attendees will learn how creating an integrated system brings value to real estate relationships and maximizes relationships so all parties win. Save your seat.

Are these key servicing challenges keeping you up at night? Navigating a tightening regulatory environment under the new administration, ensuring transparency for investors and lenders, or enhancing borrower satisfaction while containing costs. Sourcepoint’s scalable servicing solutions help you flex your operations up/down to tackle changing capacity. Backed by our digital-first solutions and a national licensing footprint, our industry experts support your end-to-end servicing requirements, delivering on time, every time. Learn more about how our offerings combine Intelligent Automation with a human touch to help you streamline operations while boosting borrower experience, compliance, and transparency, all while reducing the cost of service.

Warning: URLA Changes Ahead, Other Processing and Underwriting Tidbits

The new Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA) and automated underwriting system (AUS) delivery specifications are mandatory for GSE (Freddie and Fannie) loans for all loan applications on or after March 1, 2021. This was announced in Fannie Mae Lender Letter 2020-10 and Freddie Mac Bulletin 2020-26. Many lenders and investors have already moved, but let’s check on the current status of this as wells as other processing changes.

Fannie Mae has been hosting “technical webinars” for its directly integrated customers regularly over the last year to prepare them. These are technical in nature and are targeted to the organizations that have a direct integration to DU. Fannie has two online/self-serve training sessions on its web page. (If you have specific questions of Fannie, email them.)

Not to be outdone, Freddie Mac has plenty of information on its website as well as training

First State Mortgage posted a guide announcement regarding the redesigned URLA.

Flagstar announced that it can accept both the redesigned URLA and corresponding AUS data specifications effective immediately. Read Memo 21003 for information on the criteria.

Caliber Home Loans began accepting the redesigned 1003 and associated automated underwriting system (AUS) specifications with loans delivered for purchase on or after Jan. 19, 2021. Loans must be delivered using the same version of the 1003 form that was used in the original submission to the AUS. Lenders may not change the 1003 version during the loan origination process. To register a loan with Caliber, “After the file is uploaded in the DU 3.2 or MISMO 3.4 format, the Select 1003 Version radio button will default to the applicable 1003. The Select 1003 Version radio button is editable for manual locks. The lender must ensure that the 1003 version is accurate before submitting the closed loan package to Caliber.”

Wells Fargo Funding will accept the 4506-T or the 4506-C on all Loans except Guaranteed Rural Housing (GRH), as USDA Rural Development does not yet allow use of the 4506-C.

FHA has not yet communicated its stance; follow FHA requirements and directives.

Plaza’s USDA Guaranteed Rural Housing program guidelines have been updated to align with HB-1-3555 in regards to validation of credit score (tradeline requirements). GUS Accept loans do not require credit score validation. GUS Refer, Refer with Caution, and Manual Underwrite loans require credit score validation.

PennyMac Correspondent Group posted Announcement 21-03: IRS Form 4506-C, IVES Request for Transcript of Tax Return.

PennyMac Correspondent Group posted information on Non-Delegated Updates to Self-Employed Borrower LTVs.

Flagstar Bank addresses 4506-C Authorization Form in Memo 21012.

Effective as of Wednesday, January 20th, Flagstar Bank reinstated the Doctor Loan program that had been temporarily suspended. View Memo 21010 for more information.

Plaza Home Mortgage® updated its program guidelines to reflect the previously announced change regarding the acceptance of the 4506-C.

Effective with Loans purchased on and after February 16, 2021, Wells Fargo Funding will suspend loans that require a request for tax return transcripts and do not include a completed and signed IRS Form 4506-C for each borrower on the Loan. An additional completed and signed IRS Form 4506-C is required for each business when business tax returns are used in the Loan decision and when the borrower has filed an extension for personal tax returns.

Mountain West Financial updated it policy regarding paid in full invoices for individual hazard and flood insurance policies on refinance transactions. Read Bulletin 21W-006 for details.

loanDepot Wholesale/Correspondent’s Weekly Announcement provides information on loanDepot Program Overlay Matrix, Louisiana Disaster Announcement, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac’s extension of COVID-19 Guidance, VA 2021 Loan Limits and Entitlement Calculations.

PRMG’s latest Product Profile Updates outlines several credit score enhancements on PRMG’s Government products. Also, information regarding the IRS shift from the 4506T to the 4506-C is covered in Product Update 21-04.

Capital Markets

Mortgage rates continue their “little bit up, little bit down” moves. Treasuries pulled back a couple basis points and the MBS basis closed yesterday mixed as a large batch of economic data was the talk of the day. Q4 GDP expanded at an annualized rate of 4.0 percent, which was weaker than expected following a 33.4 percent increase in Q3. While growth moderated, it held up well amongst a surge in coronavirus cases, the delayed passage of stimulus, and deterioration in the labor market. That should build some confidence in recovery potential as vaccination efforts improve and pent-up demand is released.

Initial jobless claims showed a larger than expected decrease though the overall level (847k) remains very high. Markets responded to this as an argument for more fiscal spending, aiding the retreat. Continuing claims remain at nearly 5 million. The December new home sales report showed a spike in median prices, but failed to meet expectations as the figure moderated for the second consecutive month due to higher sales prices. Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey revealed that fixed rates fell versus the prior week, though remain above recent lows. Finally, the market found support near Monday's levels after the completion of a strong $62 billion 7-year Treasury note auction.

According to Black Knight’s Flash Forbearance Tracker, the number of mortgages in active forbearance was up again this week, rising by 20k from last Tuesday. This continues the recurring trend of mid-and late month increases in active forbearance plans since the recovery has been underway. A 4k weekly decline in active GSE forbearance plans was more than offset by a 9k increase in FHA/VA forbearance plans along with a 15k increase among portfolio held and privately securitized loans. Just 41k homeowners left their plans this week, making it one of the three lowest weeks in terms of removals since the recovery began.

Today’s month-end calendar is already underway with personal income and spending for December (+.6 percent and -.2 percent, respectively, so people are putting their money in the bank and the savings rate is 13.7 percent), core PCE prices (.4 for the month, 1.3 percent higher for the year) and Q4 employment costs (+.7 percent). Later this morning brings January Chicago PMI, final January Michigan sentiment, and the Pending Home Sales Index for December. There are two Fed presidents, Dallas’ Kaplan and San Francisco’s Daly, speaking. The Desk of the NY Fed is scheduled to purchase up to $7.8 billion MBS across three operations on behalf of the Federal Reserve, over $6 billion of which is in UMBS30s. The Desk will release a new MBS purchase schedule for the first few weeks of February, expected to total $60 billion. Friday starts with the 7-year Treasury and Agency MBS prices worse/down .25 and the 10-year yielding 1.09 after closing yesterday at 1.06 percent after the strong releases this morning.


Jobs, Hiring, and Promotions

“The evolution of Nations Lending’s growth in the mortgage lending industry takes another huge step forward with the hiring of John Owens as its VP of Strategic Growth. Focused on building and leading teams over the past two decades, John’s blueprint for accelerated and sustained growth is among the best in the industry. ‘We’re very excited to bring someone of John’s caliber to Nations,’ said Corey Caster, EVP of National Production. ‘John is a true professional and brings a strong network that will make an immediate impact.’ Nations Lending projects its growth to surge in 2021, so to continue our mission of helping homeowners achieve their dream, we are looking for exceptional talent who want to make a difference in people’s lives and join a company on the rise. Contact John Owens to learn more about opportunities to help you grow as we grow the Nation.”

2020 proved to be a banner year for 100% employee-owned USA Mortgage, a top 60 mortgage loan originator according to Scotsman Guide. Overall loan volume skyrocketed from $1.7 billion in 2018 to $4.8+ billion in 2020 for the St. Louis based company. The growth was fueled by purchase loans: better than 55% of this year’s total volume, a 145% increase over 2019. Much to the delight of employee-owners, USA’s ESOP stock price soared an eye-popping 600%. For an inside look at the factors powering USA Mortgage, which is licensed in 42 States, employs 920 people, boasts 50 branch locations, and is increasingly renowned for its world-class marketing support of loan officers, click here.

“A mortgage and real estate CRM technology company is seeking an aggressive Sales Director who will be responsible for establishing and driving sales activities for our hosted CRM software solution throughout the country. You will be expected to lead a team of national sales representatives as well as participate in all sales and marketing efforts to drive customer acquisition efforts and company revenue targets. We are a software development company that creates and provides market leading solutions to the mortgage industry. You must have experience selling on-demand, SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions, subscription-based products to the residential Mortgage Industry, or online solutions specifically targeting Real Estate Agents. Sales management experience, planning, leading and knowledge of the mortgage and real estate verticals are critical to success. Position is based anywhere in the U.S.” To apply, please respond with a resume to Anjelica Nixt for forwarding.

Rapid underwriting/Ops turn times: close your loans and get paid more! Named among Top 5 Best Mortgage Companies to work for by National Mortgage News and Top Mortgage Employer by National Mortgage Professional Magazine, Geneva Financial, Home Loans Powered By Humans®, is filling 500 Branch Manager and Loan officer positions in 43 states. With the recent addition of a National Head of Underwriting focused on industry-leading turn-times, Geneva is committed to closing your deals while paying you more! Geneva is currently ranked a nationally fastest growing mortgage company by Grojo with no signs of slowing down and all forecasts point to another historic year in 2021. Explore Branch and Originator opportunities.

Guardian Mortgage, a division of Sunflower Bank, N.A., is pleased to announce the hiring of Hakan Wildcat as Mortgage Area Manager in the Lawrence, Kansas branch. He brings over 13 years of lending experience to the position. Hakan’s industry knowledge and calming presence take the stress out of a sometimes complex mortgage process. This might be why he was voted #1 Mortgage Originator in “Best of Lawrence” multiple times. As the Lawrence Area Manager, he sees tremendous opportunity ahead to serve its clients and make a difference in the community. He is excited to be able to help buyers in their journey to home ownership by providing valuable advice, education, and transparency.

SunWest Mortgage Company, an independent mortgage banker lending nationwide, announced the recent hire of a 30-year mortgage industry veteran, Paul Wyner, as a Director, Regional Manager over the Midwest distributed retail region.

Congratulations to Tara Healy who was promoted to chief compliance officer by Cherry Creek Mortgage. (Tara had been VP of compliance.)