Valentine's Day...Opinions differ as to who was the original Valentine but the most popular theory is that he was a clergyman who was executed for secretly marrying couples in ancient Rome.

In A.D. 496, Pope Gelasius I declared Feb. 14 as Valentine Day. Through the centuries, the Christian holiday became a time to exchange love messages, and St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers. Esther Howland, a native of Massachusetts, is given credit for selling the first mass-produced valentine cards in the 1840s, and often candy and flowers are given. According to the census bureau, 24 pounds was the per capita consumption of candy by Americans in 2009. And for flowers, USDA stats show that $359 million was the combined wholesale value of domestically produced cut flowers in 2009 for all flower-producing operations with $100,000 or more in sales. Among states, California was the leading producer, alone accounting for about three-quarters of this amount ($269 million).

And while we're talking about sweet things, AmeriSave Institutional Lending is recruiting account executives for its West and Midwest Regions. The company, given its focus on technology, is well known for providing both wholesale and correspondent lending to community banks and credit unions - exclusively FDIC and NCUA insured institutions.  AmeriSave has a full range of secondary market mortgage products and a national Full Eagle Direct Endorsement with FHA. Experienced folks with a sales background in wholesale/correspondent lending, mortgage Insurance or agency work should check out THIS LINK.

Maybe some of the folks that Wells Fargo just laid off can apply. 142 temporary employees in Des Moines, who were hired to handle mortgage refinancing, were laid off. It is a sign of the times that other mortgage companies are doing the same thing. The number is small relative to the 13,000 employed there. Indicative of other mortgage originators, Wells reported that during the fourth quarter of 2010, mortgage applications in the pipeline were down 27% from the third quarter, and that refinancing represented about 70% of Wells Fargo's mortgage business in the fourth quarter of 2010. And the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that another 200 WFHM employees were laid off in St. Louis. Once again, the workers were temporary employees, specializing in the bank's Home Affordable Refinance Program.

"A former chief executive of IndyMac Bancorp and two former chief financial officers were accused of securities fraud for concealing the bank's financial condition." So the SEC stated in one lawsuit versus IndyMac. FULL STORY

On the other side of the country, Chase has tapped someone new to run its mortgage operation. THIS GUY

Any company, or originator, doing business in Oregon has probably seen this proposed law. It seems that the state legislators are considering a bill that would prevent the sale or transfer of the loan or the servicing by anyone but a bank - it "states mortgage banker, broker, originator," etc. but leaves out banks. READ MORE

Here is an article that a few folks have sent to me which presents one opinion about the originator compensation issue. Whether or not the large investors subscribe to this opinion remains to be seen, but it is worth a look: SCOTSMAN GUIDE

The much anticipated 31-page "White Paper" on the GSEs was released and held few surprises after being leaked earlier in the week. The three basic options are 1) A privatized system with very limited government backing and a focus on low to moderate income households; 2) A privatized system with a "springing guarantee" that increases government support in times of crisis; and 3) A reduced structure whereby the government only participates in catastrophic reinsurance. The FHA may return to its role as a lender for affordable mortgages, rather than a subprime alternative as many believe has happened.

There is plenty of fodder filling the internet with analysis, opinions, predictions, forecasts, etc. The goals of the government's plan are to ensure minimal housing & mortgage market disruption, have Congress actually determine the plan, and minimize the impact to the taxpayer while minimizing government subsidization. One of the main concepts will be to replace much of the money from government programs with money from private investors. At this point it is unclear whether or not this will increase rates, relative to where they are now, but most analysts believe that rates will probably be slightly higher, but that down payments may also go up. The effect of increasing the down payment would actually make pools of mortgages safer for investors, and therefore actually serve to push rates down. The proposal also recommends increasing guarantee/guarantor fees, and lowering the maximum loan amount. Decreasing the maximum convention loan from $729k to $625k in high cost areas will impact a certain portion of borrowers. Overall, from an investor's point of view, the prospects of a decreasing loan size, increasing some fees, and possibly reducing the supply somewhat may actually help rates. FULL RECAP

For example, the Community Mortgage Bankers Project believes that the proposal fails to address the current, and growing, market share concentration among a handful of too‐big‐to‐fail, FDIC-insured banks. But the report was useful in providing a road map for how the GSEs will be steered over the next few years - and it will indeed take years although many of the provisions will not require Congressional approval, and so are highly likely to be implemented in the near future. Importantly for investors, the Treasury reiterates several times that it is committed to keeping GSE debt and MBS obligations performing. One report said, "The prospects of a decreasing loan size, increasing guarantee fees, and reduced net supply should all be positive developments for (MBS pricing).

The MBA released a letter that they sent to FHFA recommending the extension of the HARP program deadline from June 30, 2011 to December 31, 2012.  Along with the extension of the program they recommended a number of changes, which include changing the cutoff date, increasing or removing the LTV limits, and reducing or dropping LLPA for HARP refinancing. Most believe that the program will be extended, and maybe the cutoff dates changes, but don't bet on the other suggestions being adopted. HERE IS THE LETTER

MIAC announced that it has entered into a "strategic partnership" with SettlementOne. SettlementOne is a provider of data and appraisal services to financial lending institutions nationwide. The release said, "This alliance will provide MIAC customers with integrated credit, tax, and data service solutions, along with quality, fully compliant appraisal services, all within a centralized ordering platform."

The investor changes continue. Here we have yet another unintended consequence of the Fed trying to repair the credit crisis. Are temporary buydown loans really part of the meltdown? Probably not. But investors from BofA to Wells have suspended them. In Franklin American's case, "FAMC must suspend the purchase of all temporary buydowns until the Federal Reserve Board clarifies the process for proper disclosure of temporary buydowns on the updated Truth in Lending disclosure."

"This Notice affects existing and future mediation, foreclosure, bankruptcy, and litigation referrals of mortgage loans in the State of Florida. Fannie Mae has terminated its relationship with Ben-Ezra & Katz. Servicers may not refer any future Fannie Mae matters to the Ben-Ezra Firm. Servicers that have existing Fannie Mae matters at the Ben-Ezra Firm must take immediate action to transfer those matters to other firms in the Fannie Mae Retained Attorney Network in Florida - go to

Affiliated Mortgage updated its VA IRRRLs product lines, and Flagstar Correspondent has posted an update to its rate sheet which applies to its Government product lines. Flagstar also got the word out to its brokers about Florida attached properties, conflict of interest, & Chinese Drywall. The company also sent out news on FHA & VA's "Property Flipping Waiver Extension," discussed enforcement of signature requirements for FHA Sponsored Originators, VA prior approval brokers, etc. Flagstar also, over the weekend, implemented a price adjustment on Government loans without a FICO score. "The price adjustment will be the same as the current adjustment for loans with a FICO of 620-639."

Mortgage Services III recently announced changes in the age of appraisals for its Conventional High Balance loans, a temporary ban on loans with Temporary Buy Downs, a change in its extension policy, a change to its "No Cash Out Refinance Seasoning" requirement, and a change in the eligible borrowers for MSI Freddie Mac Relief Refinance.

NYCB Mortgage Company adjusted its condominium/PUD Project Questionnaire, noting it "will be required for all condominium loans that receive a Property Inspection Waiver (PIW) finding." (The following project types are ineligible: new converted, non-gut rehabilitation condominium projects; hotel or motel condominium conversions; and new condominium projects that contain one or more units with less than 400 square feet of space.)

On to something simple - like rates. Friday we were done with the auctions, and the GSE Reform information was released, and it seemed like the markets breathed a sigh of relief. Mortgages did well relative to Treasuries. MBS prices improved between 0.500-0.625, and it seemed like sellers sat on the sidelines: Tradeweb volume averaged just 74% of the 30-day average. The new 10-yr T-note improved by .5 in price and closed at 3.65%.

Unlike last week, this week is filled with economic news upon which to chew. Today is pretty clear, which is good since lots of guys have to run out and obtain last-minute Valentine's Day items. Tomorrow we have the Empire State Manufacturing Index, along with Retail Sales and Import & Export prices. Wednesday is Housing Starts & Building Permits, the Producer Price Index (PPI), and Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization. Thursday brings us Jobless Claims, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), Leading Economic Indicators, and the Philly Fed index. Early on we find the 10-yrat 3.66% and MBS nearly unchanged.


Since seniors are texting and tweeting more and more there appears to be a need for a STC (Senior Texting Code). If you qualify for Senior Discounts this is the code for you.

ATD ~ At The Doctor's
BFF ~ Best Friend Farted
BTW ~ Bring The Wheelchair
CBM ~ Covered By Medicare
CUATSC ~ See You At The Senior Center
DWI ~ Driving While Incontinent
FWIW ~ Forgot Where I Was
FYI ~ Found Your Insulin
GHA ~ Got Heartburn Again
HGBM ~ Had Good Bowel Movement
LOL ~ Living On Lipitor
LWO ~ Lawrence Welk's On
OMMR ~ On My Massage Recliner
ROFL-CGU ~ Rolling On The Floor Laughing-Can't Get Up
SGGP ~ Sorry, Gotta Go Poop
TTYL ~ Talk To You Louder
WAITT ~ Who Am I Talking To?
GGLKI ~ Gotta Go, Laxative Kicking In