Yes, we change our clocks this weekend, losing an hour, although some states have escaped this ordeal by not using Daylight Savings Time. Different states do things differently. As it turns out, unfortunately, there are certain states that have better (and worse) reputations for living standards for women. Since baby boomers like lists, here you go.

The lion's share of current loan production is heading toward Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the form of conventional conforming loans. Let's see what tweaks to underwriting and policies lenders and investors have been doing lately.

To begin with, many firmly believe that America needs a public option for mortgages - maybe not both Freddie and Fannie. We all know that in 2008 they were placed into receivership by the U.S. government, and everyone agreed they needed to be wound down. Yet today, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are still alive and kicking through the conservatorship mechanism under the FHFA. Yet Warren Buffett believes government-backed mortgages are important to the U.S. economy, but Fannie and Freddie are not. "I think the problem comes when you try to mix up the private sector with the government because serving two masters is tough," Buffett said of Fannie and Freddie.

Fannie & Freddie? Yup - next year it will have been ten years since they were put into conservatorship. Time flies, and over the years there has been plenty of chatter, of varying degrees of authority and intelligence, about what to do with them. The employees of F&F are not allowed to conjecture about their fate, but they may be heading toward becoming private. It is generally accepted that private companies can be more innovative than government agencies (who are backed by tax payer money). They might compete more; customer service might increase. Perhaps they'll buy more types of loans. Why not jumbos?

But without a government guarantee, will investors still want to own F&F securities? Investors around the world rely on the liquidity of their securities; without that, rates would go up, right? If you think that the gyrations caused by the FHA MIP reversal last month were tough to deal with, just see what happens to conventional conforming rates if the U.S. government doesn't back those securities in some form. We can expect to hear a lot about risk sharing, adequate capitalization, lenders of different sizes being impacted differently by any proposed solution, and so on.

Fannie Mae has issued a Selling Notice regarding future changes to the use of Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS) for properties in the state of Maine. Please view the Selling Notice for details.

Fannie Mae posted a FAQ and answer about Day 1 Certainty: Q. Is there a cost associated with using the DU validation service? A. Fannie Mae does not charge a fee for using the DU validation service. Lenders should contact the vendor(s) of their choice to discuss their product pricing. (See the Current Data Vendor List for report vendors.)

Wells Fargo Funding has removed its overlay for mine subsidence now aligning with Fannie or Freddie requirements for conventional conforming loans. "Mine subsidence insurance is provided to cover a loss suffered when the land on which improvements are located 'subsides' due to the collapse of mining tunnels below the surface."

AmeriHome announced that Fannie Mae loan transactions have been updated and tax transcripts are not required for income sources validated through the DU Validation Service. AmeriHome will accept "Validated" income findings without overlay.

Plaza's Freddie Mac eligible programs have been updated to align with Freddie Mac's revised income qualification requirements as announced in Bulletin 2016-19. One change worth noting is the updated documentation requirement to base the number of years of tax returns required (business and personal) on the number of years the business has been in existence.

Freddie Mac announced 2016 top regional multifamily lenders. The Top conventional seller offices by Freddie Mac Multifamily Region: Western Region: Berkadia Commercial Mortgage, Los Angeles, Central Region: CBRE Capital Markets, Inc., Dallas, Southeast Region: Walker & Dunlop, LLC, New Orleans, Northeast Region: Capital One Multifamily Finance, New York.

The Top Sellers by Freddie Mac Multifamily Product include Top Targeted Affordable Housing Seller: Jones Lang LaSalle Multifamily, LLC, Top Small Balance Loans Seller: Arbor Agency Lending, LLC, Top Seniors Housing Seller: Walker & Dunlop, LLC, Top Conventional Structured Transactions Seller: Holliday Fenoglio Fowler, L.P., Top Manufactured Housing Community Seller: PNC Multifamily Mortgage LLC

Certainly a part of Freddie & Fannie's world is mortgage insurance companies. As of March 1stArch MI and United Guaranty have combined their underwriting requirements into a single Underwriting Manual to be used by all customers. Please read the complete details of the changes in Credit Risk Bulletin #1-17-NR. The new Manual will have expansions and changes to the underwriting requirements in a variety of areas. For the Down Payment Assistance/Housing Finance Agency Program, the maximum Combined Loan-to-Value (CLTV) will remain 105%. All underwriting changes were detailed in a Credit Risk Bulletin.

The discussion of F&F goes back years, as does the impact of loan limit changes. For example, going back to last summer, Black Knight Financial Services' Home Price Index (for August 2016) reported home price appreciation of 5.3 percent over-the-year and a median price of $266,000, up 33 percent from the market's bottom and just 0.7 percent from a new national peak. This data is important when it comes to the discussion surrounding the GSEs' conforming loan limits, which determine the maximum size of a mortgage that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can guarantee. Aside from 234 "high cost" counties so designated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the GSEs' regulator, the national conforming loan limit had remained at $417,000 for the last 10 years. The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 mandated that the "baseline loan limit cannot rise again until home prices return to pre-decline levels," per the FHFA.

Sure enough, in late November, in most of the country, the 2017 maximum loan limit for one-unit properties will be $424,100, an increase from $417,000. With home prices less than a percentage point off of a new national peak and home values having reached pre-crisis levels by multiple measures, the FHFA decided that raising the conforming loan limit for F&F was warranted.

When the FHFA raised the GSEs' conforming loan limit level to $424,100 from $417,000, what effect did it have on mortgage originations? An official from Black Knight at that point stated, "Our analysis shows that there are approximately 17 times as many originations-roughly 100,000 in total over the past 12 months-right at the conforming limit compared to preceding dollar amount buckets, and that originations drop off by about 70 percent immediately above the limit. In addition, the data shows that a GSE loan originated right at the conforming limit is nine times more likely to carry a second lien than one that is not. One example scenario shows that, with all else being equal, raising the conforming loan limit by $10,000 could result in a one percent increase in originations-approximately 40,000 new loans and $20 billion in new loan balances."

Black Knight's data shows that the share of originations with second liens begins to rise roughly $15,000 before the conforming limit and then spikes right at the conforming limit. Approximately one-quarter of GSE-owned loans originated at the limit since 2012 carrying second liens. The data also showed that borrowers are bringing their own money to the table to drop first lien balances down to the conforming limit; CLTV ratios are lower right at the conforming limit than they are immediately below the limit, which shows that there is a demand for conforming loans above the current limit of $417,000, per Black Knight.

Capital Markets

Many are watching the path of Paul Ryan's ACA (Affordable Care Act) replacement bill and the initial rollout didn't go well with the legislation encountering fierce opposition within the Republican party. The thinking is that if healthcare gets bogged down it will imperil the chances for tax reform, which in turn will dampen things.

But for now it is nearly impossible to argue that the U.S. economy is not doing well, which could certainly help wages and therefore, perhaps, more people will qualify for loans. The FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) knows this. Data on the labor market, inflation, and financial conditions have presented the Committee with a compelling case for a hike at its March meeting a week from today. Markets will be keenly focused on how the Fed messages the path beyond, and "the smartest guys in the room" think a more hawkish path is in store. Financial conditions have eased substantially since the December meeting, which we expect will lead more policymakers to join the "three" camp: three hikes in 2017.

Rates slightly worsened Tuesday, although aside from some minor fluctuations between coupons and securities didn't move much. The MBS basis largely repeated Monday's session with spreads tighter vs. treasuries, which sold off modestly: the 10-year worsened about .125 in price after a disappointing 3-year note auction.

This morning we've had the mortgage app activity from the MBA (+3.3% last week although it is 18% lower than a year ago; ARM percentage is the highest it's been since 2014). February ADP was also released (strong at +298k), along with Q4 (final) Productivity and Unit Labor Costs (+1.3% and +1.7%, roughly as expected); coming up are Wholesale inventories and sales and a $20 billion 10-year note sale. With all this going on we find the rates higher versus Tuesday evening with the 10-year at 2.57% and agency MBS prices worse a solid .250.

Jobs and Announcements

This week, SocialSurvey welcomes 3 new partners, Bay Capital, Mason McDuffie, and Service First Mortgage. Additionally, Freedom Mortgage has expanded their partnership to include their North and South Regions. SocialSurvey provides a platform for mortgage lenders to collect and share customer feedback and its customers are averaging a 50% response rate and sharing each review 7-9 times online. SocialSurvey turns reviews into a profit center and a digital transformation for your business. If you want to learn how to get control of your online reputation, email

Has the refi bubble burst in your market yet? In many markets, it either has popped, or will be doing so soon, and many are unprepared for the dramatic downturn in business that will come. If you're concerned about this, then mark Thursday, March 9 down on your calendar. REMN strives to be the ultimate wholesale partner for brokers and bankers in the industry. In line with that, REMN is hosting the "5 High Impact Purchase Business Generators" webinar to help industry colleagues develop strategies and solutions that can rebuild and increase their purchase business. The free, 45-minute webinar will showcase some proven and unique tactics that industry professionals can leverage to quickly increase their purchase business. Space is limited and attendees must register in advance here. As REMN continues to grow, it is looking to hire experienced, customer-focused account executives in all regions coast to coast. Interested applicants should send their resumes to

In retail job news, there will be two unique Mortgage Originator Career Fairs offered by JBSA in March, the 15-17 in Denver and the 20-22 in San Antonio. The event offers Loan Officers and Branch Managers the opportunity, in a casual environment, to meet with Jeff Bombich (LinkedIn link) with the goal of matching them up with a specific lender to find the best possible employment match. Originators should be prepared to discuss what they want in their next employer, their cultural desires, wants and needs for products, marketing, compensation, etc. in a confidential manner. For more detailed information, either for lenders seeking a recruiter or for originators seeking to attend, contact JBSA's president Jeff Bombich.

In broker product news, "The sizzling spring purchase market is just around the corner and Western Bancorp is ready to partner with you and your borrowers! With a combined 50 years of FHA underwriting experience, Western Bancorp's FHA Programs are what you need to get your credit approval done and make sure that non-contingent offer gets accepted. Western Bancorp's FHA Programs offers a lot of flexibility; with higher DTI's, FICOs as low as 580 and manual underwriting (and we aren't afraid of those!) Check out our unbeatable rates and guidelines: WBC loves 580."