While in captivity it is important to have good communication. (Early anecdotal chatter indicates that the remote workforce has signs of improved productivity!) In the Northwest, Banner Bank’s mortgage group celebrated working from home with a short YouTube video of everyone’s home office (one is in the garage – bumper to bumper every day!) Thank you to Kris van Beever who sent along these cybersecurity tips for working from home to keep communication safe. Communicating with politicians in this crisis is critical. “Rob, do politicians understand that one year’s worth of forbearance would basically put every lender who services loans out of business?” I dunno. At this point the MBA, state, and industry organizations are working overtime on making sure they know. Fronting monthly payments would be a huge amount of cash coming out of servicers to the end-investors. The Treasury has the resources, but it is a matter of how they are deployed. Much more on the Bill’s impact on our industry below.

Lender Services and Products

An Exciting New Partnership for Volly & FundingShield. Volly’s new integration partnership with FundingShield will allow lenders to utilize FundingShield’s wire fraud and settlement risk management technology through the Volly POS. This exciting integration will give lenders and borrowers alike a more secure loan closing experience. Click here to schedule a demo.

With refinances at record highs, chances are your team is under immense pressure to keep your pipeline moving during the COVID-19 crisis. And with social distancing guidelines at top of mind, it’s important to keep your borrowers safe, while obtaining the equity lending appraisal data you need. Don’t miss Data Facts’ next webinar: COVID-19, Interior Appraisal Inspections, and Possible Alternatives on Wednesday April 1stat 10:00 CST, where we’ll discuss alternatives to traditional interior appraisal inspections that are suitable for the current state of affairs. You can register here

COVID-19 may force more branch office teams to start working from home as a general practice. Unprepared teams will struggle to service high demand for refis and new loans. LOs and processors are at risk of becoming less productive and unable to capitalize on the boom. How can branch offices meet demand if they must work from home? This case study may provide an answer and the results are impressive. The case study profiles Equity Mortgage Group, a division of American Pacific Mortgage. EMG’s team generally works remotely. But, after moving to a simple process management platform, TeamworkIQ, they became far more productive doing so. “We scaled up production and revenues by 280% in 10 days with $0 added headcount,” said Charlie Christensen, Branch Manager and Sr. Loan Officer. TeamworkIQ is easy to set up, simple, very affordable, online process management for teams. View the case study here.

The Association of Independent Mortgage Experts is extending the submission deadline for the inaugural AIME Broker Rankings to March 31. The rankings are the first in the industry to feature lists based on data from independent mortgage brokerages and loan originators who are working solely in the wholesale channel. AIME Broker Rankings will recognize the top-producing, fastest-growing and most accomplished independent mortgage brokers and brokerages. Those that qualify and are confirmed as part of the final AIME Broker Rankings will receive a digital recognition badge that individuals can use on their websites and social media. The AIME Broker Rankings are part of AIME’s commitment to increasing the visibility of the independent mortgage broker community by highlighting the achievements of the men and women working in their own communities to bring the best mortgage options to their clients. Click here for more information about the rankings.

“During this time of great uncertainty, some lenders are experiencing record-setting business while others are seeing a drop off. Both are challenges that can be hard to manage, even in a normal environment. But with the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s greater anxiety and even more obstacles to overcome. Credit Plus appreciates your business and is here to assist you during this unprecedented time. We’re committed to helping you by offering time-saving tips, additional training and personalized solutions to meet your unique concerns. Consider Credit Plus your dependable verifications partner and know you can reach out to us for assistance whenever the need arises. Just contact info@creditplus.com (800.258.3488). We are confident that by working together, we’ll get through this tough time and emerge stronger than ever.”

QLMS continues its explosive growth. And the mortgage community has noticed. QLMS just reached another major milestone. As of March 25th, 7,000 mortgage brokers, regional banks and credit unions have chosen to partner with QLMS. It took 7 years for QLMS to reach 1,000 partners. It took another 2 years to get to 2,000 partners. But it only took 18 months to add 5,000 additional partners to get to 7,000. The mortgage community interest in QLMS is overwhelming. In fact, it took just a mere 100 days to go from 6,000 to 7,000 partners! In turbulent times, mortgage professionals are seeking the strength and reliability QLMS provides. To learn more about the value recognized by 7,000 of the very best mortgage companies, click here and become Stronger Together with QLMS.

While we all are dealing with this virus situation, Caliber Home Loans, Inc. continues to help customers to the best of our capacity. “We’re officially in Spring and that means customers need to purchase homes. While showings may be more virtual in nature right now, the reality of Open Houses and closing selfies will be here before we know it! Caliber stands ready to deliver the American Dream in all seasons with marketing resources in CaliberPRO, Regional Operations Centers that know your area, and seasoned Account Executives that get deals done. Plan for purchase success with your Caliber Account Executive today. If you’re not yet approved with Caliber Wholesale, contact Tony Kottenbrock.”

Corona-Driven Changes

In its just released March Insights Report, STRATMOR Group examines several areas affecting lenders as rates drop and coronavirus infections rise. In “Pipelines and Pandemic: Managing Through the Virus-Driven Storm,” STRATMOR offers insight into Capital Markets, MSRs, remote work, outsourcing and the customer experience. In a second article in this issue, “COVID-19 and the Customer Experience,” STRATMOR MortgageSAT Director Mike Seminari offers lenders four ideas to help sustain communications with borrowers during these uncertain times. Check out the March Insights Report.

National MI rolled out its response to Freddie and Fannie’s changes earlier this week.

AmeriHome sent out, “Effective for new locks taken on and after Friday, April 3, 2020, the minimum decision credit score for all government loans will be the greater of the program guide requirement or 640.” (As perspective, Wells Fargo’s is 680.)

The IRS has been busy. “The IRS is temporarily suspending acceptance of new IVES work at this time as we adjust to the impact of state and local shelter in place orders. We will keep all participants posted.  We appreciate your patience as we navigate through numerous different challenges in this very rapidly changing environment.” Sandra James with 4506-Transcripts.com checked in with her thoughts. “This is definitely an unprecedented time we are all experiencing and things are changing fast! The IRS told us this morning that they were at 4-9-day turnaround time due to staff shortages and closed offices. At noon we received the IVES suspension notice. But we are continuing to help lenders, so they should not hesitate to reach out to us as we are still able to complete manual VOE’s quickly!”

Lenders and investors acted swiftly. For example, “Effective immediately, PennyMac is temporarily suspending the PennyMac requirement for tax transcripts. Note that USDA transactions require tax transcripts. Correspondents remain responsible for complying with all USDA requirements. An announcement will be released when the tax transcript requirement is reinstated. Please note that PennyMac will continue to require signed 4506-T according to current guidelines.”

From Bedford Andy Cadorette, Senior Manager, Business Development, informed me that New Hampshire Housing is open for business and once again taking loan reservations.

Wells Fargo Funding “remains committed to purchasing your Non-Conforming Loans. However, due to unprecedented market conditions, we’re making the changes outlined below, effective with Registrations, Locks, relocks, and renegotiations on and after March 27, 2020, to help ensure the long-term viability of our Non-Conforming program. The following transactions will be ineligible under our Non-Conforming program: Cash-out refinances, Investment properties, LTV/CLTVs >80%. We’re worsening FICO/LTV adjusters for Non-Conforming Loans.”

With Wells Fargo’s retail group eliminating the requirement for interior photos for existing construction (still required for new construction), the industry is reacting. For example, Kim Perotti, co-president of AXIS AMC, sent, “At AXIS, we are focusing on training and support for our appraisers as we begin ordering Desktops and Exteriors. Although appraisers are using the same forms to complete these assignments, they are developing their opinion of values without the benefit of the data they typically gather when inspecting the interior of the home. Now, they need to expand data sources to still complete every field on the form and as a result, data collection and analysis has new challenges as well as new opportunities. AXIS is here to help them rise to that challenge.”

TD Bank Correspondent Lending will auto-extend all commitments retroactive to 3/15/20 for 30 days, without cost, from the current expiration date. Any extensions previously made to loans that fall under these parameters will be provided a rebate back for extension fees incurred. These free extensions will be completed in the system by 3/31/20. Additionally, TD Bank Correspondent Lending will provide automatic extensions for 30 days, without cost, for new purchase money locks through locks received 4/30/2020. (*Note: Loans must be locked with TD Bank through the closing and funding dates. This includes the three (3) day right of rescission required on refinance transactions.)

All eyes are on the House of Representatives voting on the corona stimulus bill, probably today. The MBA sent out, “As it relates to mortgage forbearance, the most important language in the bill is on pages 567-570 (single-family) and 570-574 (commercial/multifamily). $454 billion for loans, loan guarantees, and investments in programs or facilities established by the Federal Reserve for the purposes of providing liquidity to the financial system that supports lending to eligible businesses, states, or municipalities. This funding would enable Treasury and the Fed to establish a liquidity facility for loan servicers to access for advancing payments, and we continue to press hard on all fronts for a speedy announcement of such a facility.

Consumer Right to Request Forbearance: Applies to federally backed mortgage loans (Fannie/Freddie/FHA/VA/USDA) for those directly or indirectly impacted by the COVID-19 virus (if the borrower requests and affirms hardship). No signature or documentation is required, and the initial period is up to 180 days initially, with the option to extend for up to an additional 180 days. This broadly mimics the programs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have already announced.

Moratorium on Evictions: For 120 days after date of enactment, applies to single-family and multifamily properties that participate in federal housing, homelessness, rural programs, or properties financed by federally insured, guaranteed, supplemented, or assisted mortgages, including mortgages purchased or securitized by the GSEs.

Small-Business Assistance: $349 billion for SBA loans to help small businesses make payroll and pay rent and mortgage payments, with loans of up to $10 million. Proceeds may be used for payroll, rent, payment of mortgage interest (not principal), and utilities.”

RON (Remote Online Notarization)

Every lender knows that mortgage closings are at risk as coronavirus shutters title and recording offices. State, county and local governments have shut down or are limiting the number of people who may enter their offices, including property recording centers. Currently, nearly 2,100 counties provide some electronic access to their property records, but about a third of the jurisdictions still don’t have the ability to accept digital documents. Sens. Kevin Cramer and Mark Warner introduced Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020.

MISMO introduced the Digital Mortgage Resource Center web page to provide information on digital mortgage resources. The first posting includes a list of Remote Online Notarization (RON) Providers. If you believe your organization should be included on the list below, please contact MISMO at info@mismo.org. Included are Digital Delivery, Inc., DocMagic, DocuTech, DocVerify, eNotaryLog, Notarize, NotaryCam, Nexsys, Pavaso, SafeDocs, Signix, and SimplySecureSign.

Harry Gardner, EVP of eStrategies at Docutech and chair of the Electronic Signature and Records Association (ESRA), shot over a note. “On March 20 Sens. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., and Mark Warner, D-Va., introduced the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic (SECURE) Notarization Act of 2020. It permits immediate nationwide use of Remote Online Notarization (RON), a type of electronic notarization where the notary and signer are in different physical locations. The Act builds on the traditional interstate recognition of notarial acts on paper and expands that to remote online notarial acts.

“The primary benefit is that, if passed, the bill would allow nationwide use of RON immediately (with a set of minimum standards), which provides certainty for interstate recognition for title insurance providers and expands the market for loan originators and investors. This would let lenders offer many more borrowers a new option for closing their mortgage loans while remaining safely at home during pandemic social distancing orders and guidelines. Many states have already seen the value in such a service and have taken action to temporarily allow the process within their borders. New York, Connecticut, Florida, New Hampshire and others have issued executive orders allowing remote notarization in a variety of forms. New Jersey accelerated the passing of their full RON bill to give a full spread of capabilities to borrowers.

Docutech’s Solex eClosing will feature RON capabilities in the product’s April release. For more info, visit the website here to download the solution brief.”

Yes, Docutech put out a write up on, “Ramping up Support for RON.”

From Secure Insight, Andrew Liput sent, “We are in the process of supplementing our 80,000 strong nationwide database identifying attorneys, title agents, mobile notaries, and escrow officers who have eNotary and eClosing experience. Lenders nationwide are seeking trained professionals and we are fielding thousands of your emails and calls to verify and then update your profiles in our system to recognize your talents. We are also launching an online training program Friday, March 27th, in conjunction with the My Professional Educator online training academy, to help bring the basics of eMortgages and eClosings to anyone interested. The post-COVID-19 world for mortgage lending must embrace electronic transactions and we are doing our part to be innovative and lead when it comes to lenders and their closing professional partners.”

Capital Markets

U.S. Treasuries rallied yesterday on continued pandemic fears. As expected, initial claims posted the highest ever number recorded, registering over 3 million when the prior record was just under 700k in October 1982. Both initial and continuing claims are expected to increase from here. The report should help provide some context for just how dire the market situation currently is. The third estimate for Q4 GDP showed a 2.1 percent annualized rate of growth, in line with the second estimate, though the report is inconsequential at this juncture. The U.S. 10-year Treasury yield closed the day -5 bps to 0.81 percent.

Internationally, it was reported Japan's government is planning a JPY56 trillion stimulus package that would include direct payments to citizens. The European Central Bank announced that it began purchasing assets under its pandemic emergency purchase program (PEPP) today. Assets eligible for purchase include Greek debt, non-financial commercial paper, and all assets that can be purchased under the existing quantitative easing program. The Bank of England made no changes to its policy stance. Austrian officials opposed the issuance of joint euro debt. Finally Banxico lowered its target rate by 50 bps.

For the day, the Desk purchased $35.804 billion MBS of the estimated $50 billion, or 71.6 percent of the expected planned purchases. Total purchases since the Fed restarted QE purchases are now over the initial $200 billion announced, at $209.9 billion. The Desk will again conduct a total of $50 billion in MBS FedTrade operations today. Additionally, the Desk will kick off its buying in agency CMBS today, purchasing up to $1 billion FNMA DUS pools with a 10-year loan term (with maintenance protection term of 9.5-year) with an average life of at least 7-years.

If anyone cares, today’s economic calendar is already under way with February Personal Income and Spending (+.6 percent and +.2 percent), PCE Prices. Later this morning brings Final March Michigan Consumer Sentiment Survey. We begin the day with Agency MBS prices better by .125-.250 and the 10-year yielding .77 percent.



Carrington Mortgage Services, a national top 10 wholesale lender, is seeking mortgage underwriters for the following locations:  Anaheim & Scottsdale, AZ. If interested please send resumes to John Cervantes.

Earlier in the year, “Thrive Mortgage posted about our relationship with a Veteran-focused organization named Defenders of Freedom. Although many of us are blessed with record-breaking months, aided by incredible technology, other industries and organizations are not. Thrive is proud of our partnership with Defenders of Freedom, and we draw attention to these true heroes, their families, and their needs more than anything else. Please visit their pages and see how you might be able to also positively impact the lives of the valiant soldiers who have risked so much. Additionally, many in the industry have reached out to us seeking assistance or guidance regarding much of the technology we employ. If we can be of service to you regarding any similar request, contact us at info@thrivemortgage.com. We may be competitors, but we’re colleagues first with a common goal of moving our industry forward. Stay safe and stay healthy!”

Paul Conway of Conway & Greenwood executive search is retained by San Francisco wholesaler’s Parkside Lending for its EVP, Operations search. The EVP, Operations can work remotely and central to western time zones are preferred.

FirstClose has tapped Joe Dahleen as the company’s SVP of strategy and sales responsible for working with the company’s enterprise sales and product development.