(To listen to the audio version of today’s commentary, please click here.) Being home schooled was the goodest thing I ever did! Disparities in mortgage approval rates and higher student loan debt are contributing to a significant gap between Black and White home owners, according to the National Association of Realtors. Many ask, “How about lowering the cost of higher education rather than forgiving debt?” Others ask, “If you can’t trust a company named Libre with immigration detention at the Mexico/United States border, who can you trust?” The CFPB alleges Libre scammed those held in custody. Speaking of… Want to make a quarter million a year working for the CFPB? Here’s your chance. (Signing bonus availability unknown.) There is a lot of conjecture about the CFPB bearing its fangs, but if lenders and servicers are adhering to rules and regulations, is there anything to fear? (By the way, apologies to those of you who were unable to listen to yesterday's podcast, including an interview with BJ Necel, due to some issues with hosting provider now resolved.)

Lender Products and Services

The 2021 housing market is changing: Are you investing in the right areas for a profitable year? Lenders: Now is the time to reevaluate your strategy and spend as the lending cycle shifts, and we head into a purchase-heavy market. Luckily, leading digital mortgage platform Maxwell has pulled together market predictions and expert opinion to give you the top 6 business areas likely to produce outsized ROI this year. If you want to capitalize on opportunities available to lenders in the coming months, then consider making these timely investments in your company: You’ll thank yourself later. Click here to download Maxwell’s free new ebook Top 6 Areas Where Lenders Should Invest in 2021. 

So, Candor came out of nowhere?!? The website says Candor’s machine has underwritten more than 305,000 loans. A little detective work unveiled this HW article and this moderated discussion with AFN, APM, and loanDepot on Thursday which should shed more light on how Candor is providing such lift. Be there this Thursday, February 25th, at 1PM CT.

According to Inside Mortgage Finance, PennyMac was the nation’s fastest-growing wholesale lender in 2020. Talk about an impressive accomplishment: 485% growth from 2019 to 2020. How’d PennyMac do it? Since entering wholesale in 2018, PennyMac has had an unwavering commitment to the broker channel. Whether it’s condition accuracy, clean approvals, consistent underwriting or turn times, the focus is on service and on getting broker partners and their borrowers to the closing table as quickly and easily as possible. PennyMac’s experienced team strives to provide the highest level of engagement on every loan for every broker, every day. PennyMac is positioned to be an even greater lending partner in 2021. The timing couldn’t be better to check out all the reasons to become a broker partner or a Non-delegated Correspondent seller and grow at the speed of PennyMac.

Easily find your next vendor on Vendor Surf, showcasing the most innovative solutions and recognized brands, SEARCHERS can 'Find 'em Fast,' in real-time via specific filters… Nothing else like it. Not another static ‘directory.’ A quarter million page views, with over half of our traffic coming from Google. Even they recognize us as the ‘Vendor Authority.’ The premier destination for decision makers at lenders and credit unions, intelligently connecting to desired vendor partners. There's more! See the industry’s most complete Calendar of events, webinars, podcasts, and training, usually over 300 items. We post yours for FREE. Send them to Scott.

Synergy One Lending, home of The Modern Mortgage Experience™, in its latest webinar series, THE SHIFT, presents “Winning Big with FinTech” on March 3rd at 11am PST with Henry Cason, one of the foremost authorities on the digital mortgage landscape, former head of digital strategy at Fannie Mae and the Creator of Fannie Mae’s Day 1 Certainty Program. Cason, now CEO at FinLocker, addresses how fintech allows lenders to venture well beyond the mortgage transaction to meet the paradigm shift happening in consumer finance. Learn how top producers are positioning themselves with technology as they build highly engaged customers for life, especially in the Gen Z and Millennial segments. Click here to secure your spot today! Synergy One Lending is based in San Diego, CA, with Operational HUBS in Roseville, Boise, Denver, and Dallas. Contact Aaron Nemec or Ben Green to learn more about S1L.

Northpointe Bank Correspondent Lending recently launched its Streamline Jumbo Fixed & ARM program, with loan amounts up to $3,000,000, loan-to-value up to 85% and no mortgage insurance requirements. The Streamline Jumbo program includes cash out refinances with LTVs up to 80%; closely follows automated underwriting guidelines; and is available for owner occupied, second homes, and nonowner-occupied properties. Approved Northpointe Bank clients have access to best effort and mandatory delivery options, third-party origination and the program is eligible in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Northpointe Bank provides tailored solutions to maximize your profitably and help grow your business. View program details for more information or email correspondentsales@northpointe.com.

Don’t let the monthly extension of forbearance deadlines and foreclosure moratoriums create complacency! Find out what loss mitigation capabilities your servicing operations should have to meet the next phase of COVID-19 relief and workout alternatives in CLARIFIRE’s latest blog. Are your systems and personnel in a pandemic lull? From extended flexibilities and evolving regulation to nuanced default guidance, CLARIFIRE® is the premier process automation application designed to transcend the lull and tackle the chaos that began with the financial crisis, percolated during historic natural disaster levels, and is turning us upside down in the midst of a pandemic. We are ready to help you navigate what’s next in loss mitigation. Let us show you how you can future proof your organization today with CLARIFIRE®, truly BRIGHTER AUTOMATION®.

What makes one bulk program different, or better, than another… Besides the bids? At Plaza Home Mortgage, the answer is: competitive bids + insurance to protect correspondents against buybacks. Correspondents selling to Plaza’s National Correspondent Program are automatically covered by Plaza’s unique Certified Loan Program, which protects sellers against a range of underwriting defects, even COVID-19 related instances.  Looking for more from a correspondent lender? Look to Plaza National Correspondent at hereforyour@plazahomemortgage.com.

The Goal: Customer Satisfaction

STRATMOR Group congratulates the winners of the MortgageSAT Borrowers Satisfaction Program's 2020 Best-in-Class Lender Awards! The awards are presented annually and go to the top performing lenders by segment and in 10 performance categories including Overall Borrower Satisfaction, Net Promoter Score, Loan Officer, Loan Processor, Application Process, Products and Costs, Likelihood to Use Again and Online Tools. Winners this year include: Rocket Pro TPO, Residential Mortgage Services, Certainty Home Loans, Meridian Bank, Accunet, Guild Mortgage, PrimeLending, and Movement Mortgage. Visit the MortgageSAT page on the STRATMOR Group website to see the winners’ lists.

Ginnie Mae, FHA, and VA Always Moving 

For about a week there was a lot of talk about a potential for an FHA mortgage insurance premium (MIP) cut (and the corresponding impact on private mortgage insurers). Given the new Administration’s focus on affordable housing and homeowner diversification, despite the elevated level of seriously delinquent loans in its book. But really, given the lack of inventory out there, any lack of affordability is due to the low number of listings, not FHA mortgage insurance levels.

Beginning in February 2021, a new Single Family Pool Type, “RG” and a new Loan Purpose “5 – Re-performing” will be available in Ginnie Mae data. Ginnie Mae added "February 1, 2021 Notes and News" regarding the deadline extension to transfer BNYM to another document custodian.

FHA is expanding its relief efforts to assist homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages with updated guidance in Mortgagee Letter (ML) 2021-05. Updates include extensions of Single-Family Foreclosure and Eviction Moratorium, Start Date of COVID-19 Initial Forbearance, and Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) Extension Period; Expansion of COVID-19 Loss Mitigation Options.

Citi Correspondent Lending Bulletin 2021-02 topics include Income & VOE Requirements for FHA Loans, critical changes to Ability to Repay/Qualified Mortgage Rule, new version of HUD 92900-A, and clarification on DU Appraisal Waivers on Loans with Mortgage Insurance.

PennyMac will be making updates to the Government LLPAs effective for all Best Effort commitments taken on or after Tuesday, February 23, 2021, as follows: Update values on the Government ‘FICO Price Adjustments’ Grid and Update value on the FHA Streamline Price Adjustment. A sample of the updated rate sheet(s) is posted to the PennyMac Portal. 

Take advantage of the new FHA Express submission option from Plaza Home Mortgage to accelerate closings on qualifying core FHA loans. FHA Express is available for 

W-2 and fixed income borrowers, for purchase, rate/term, or cash-out refinances with Conforming or High Balance loan amounts. Qualifying loans receive expedited underwriting, are competitively priced and can often close in as little as 10 to 15 days.

News and Announcements from LoanStream Wholesale posted information on the redesigned Uniform Residential Loan Application, recent changes to SSA89 AND 4506-C forms,

Enhanced Government Guidelines regarding FHA Min FICO now 550 (90% LTV), VA Min FICO now 550 (100% LTV) and COVID-19 Updates.

PCF Wholesale has dropped FHA and VA down to 620 FICO, visit its website for information.

Skip 2 payments & offer your client 2.25% (3.039) on standard balance and 2.25% (1.773) on high balance VA IRRRLS. Find out details on the PCF Wholesale website.

Flagstar Lending Wholesale is updating the existing VA Cash-out>90% LTV LLPA from -5.000 to -3.000 on new locks, effective immediately.

It's FHA February at LoanStream Wholesale offering two new promotions. All FHA Loans get a 50 BPS Price Improvement effective immediately. *No Lender Fee (*LoanStream Underwriting Fee and Doc Fee) on FHA Streamlines (does not include VA) through February 28th. Lender fee waived for all FHA Streamline Loans locked 1/29/21 through 2/28. Terms and Conditions apply, this loan special subject to change at any time.

loanDepot Wholesale has made improvements to its VA IRRRL program, loanDepot to loanDepot loans with 680-719 credit scores. The 90% LTV restriction has been removed and AVMs are no longer required. Refer to the VA IRRRL Fixed/ARM matrix for program details.

Capital Markets

Depending on the product, the Great State of Texas is usually in the top five for production. The economy in Texas, which accounts for roughly 10 percent of GDP, saw widespread shutdowns due to loss of power, water, impassable roads and both residential and commercial flooding from burst pipes following a winter storm that crippled much of the state last week. This will likely impact data over the first quarter as supply chain disruptions will be felt nationwide; however there will be little disruption to employment.

Turning to last week’s data, retail sales spike 5.3 percent in January as the $900 billion stimulus made its way into the economy. While January saw increases in discretionary items such as autos, furniture and electronics, the winter recent winter storms may leave many consumers to pivot spending to increased utility payments in February. Wholesale energy prices drove producer prices up 1.3 percent in January and are expected to continue their rise in February. As we move towards spring, the year over year gains are expected to show larger increases due to both the weakness from last year as well as firming prices this year. Expectations for higher inflation have increased yields in both Treasuries and MBS and mortgage rates are continuing to trend higher.

Yesterday was a great example of why companies hedge locked mortgage pipelines with agency MBS securities and not Treasuries. Treasury prices were nearly unchanged but MBS prices were down/worse .375-.50. The 10-year Treasury yield pulled back to 1.39 percent in the morning hours before closing at 1.36 percent on the day due to a slow unwinding of the recovery. The movement came even before the bi market-moving events of this week: namely, Fed Chair Powell's semiannual monetary policy testimony and the quarterly refunding. While Treasuries pulled back in curve steepening fashion, MBS spreads were much wider by the close, which may spell the imminent end for the 1.5 percent coupon in the Fed’s buying rotation.

Though it had already been priced in by markets, a House panel yesterday advanced the $1.9 trillion stimulus legislation, meaning it could pass the full chamber by the end of the week. Not a single Republican voted in favor of the bill, which includes $1,400 stimulus checks, enhanced jobless benefits, a minimum wage increase, and vaccine funding. Elsewhere in Washington, the Mortgage Bankers Association’s latest Forbearance and Call Volume Survey revealed that the total number of loans now in forbearance decreased by 7 bps to 5.22 percent of servicers’ portfolio volume in the prior week as of February 14. According to MBA’s estimate, 2.6 million homeowners are in forbearance plans.

The likely highlight of today’s events is Fed Chair Powell’s appearance before the House Financial Services Committee. On the data front, we’ve already seen several regional Fed surveys, highlighted by Philadelphia Fed non-manufacturing for February (slight positive). Later this morning brings Richmond manufacturing and services for February, Dallas services for the same month, the Case-Shiller and FHFA home prices, both for December, and consumer confidence in February. The Desk of the Fed will conduct two operations targeting up to $5.3 billion, starting with $2 billion GNII 2 percent and 2.5 percent followed by $3.3 billion UMBS30 1.5 percent and 2 percent. We begin the day with Agency MBS prices unchanged and the 10-year yielding 1.36 percent as volatility takes a pause.



“If 2020’s record volumes left you feeling burnt out, it’s time to invest in yourself. Mid America Mortgage is hiring for both sales and operations, including Loan Officers, Branch Managers, Processors, Branch Support, Underwriters, Closers, and other corporate operational support roles. As a nationwide mortgage lender, Mid America is open to growth in any and all domestic geographic territories. We believe that work-life balance is important to the sustainability of long-term employees, and that mentality does not change based on demand. Our culture of putting employees first has earned us numerous Top Workplace honors, and by equipping our teams with best-in-class technology and support, Mid America ensures our employees are able to maximize their efficiency without burning the midnight oil. If you’re ready to make a change, Mid America is ready for you. Visit our Careers page, and contact Mid America’s HR Director Pacia Crawford to learn more.”

A deep-rooted, privately held mortgage lender, MiMutual Mortgage invites ambitious mortgage professionals seeking new opportunities to explore the positions currently available within its Sales and Operations teams. MiMutual is excited to continue the expansion of its well-established Wholesale Sales Team nationwide, seeking experienced Account Executives across the country. Within Operations, MiMutual is offering remote opportunities within Underwriting and Closing, specifically in search of an Underwriting Supervisor, FHA/VA certified Underwriters, and Sr. Closers. All interested candidates are encouraged to contact HR Generalist Karley Warwick (248-286-9490) for more information.