While in captivity sometimes it is difficult social distancing. Working from home, and having video meetings, takes some getting used to. I was telling my cat Myrtle about a service that inserts a goat or llama into your Zoom call for $100. As I was placing her line-caught halibut cheeks into her bowl, I thought, I should do this at half that price, until I remembered that “she has a face for radio.” Dana DiVecchio with Pittsburgh’s Holland Mortgage Advisors sent along a collage of some of Holland’s employees ‘home’ workstations. Lots of people are wearing facemasks with varying effectiveness, and social/physical distancing is the norm… Even in Florida, the scene of the now infamous Spring Break gathering last month. Yup, I don't think anyone expected that when we changed the clocks, we'd go from Standard Time to the Twilight Zone. But news can still travel at the speed of light, like March 1, 2021.

Lender Services and Products

Regulators and government agencies are moving faster than ever to mitigate the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, and mortgage companies find themselves expending substantial time and resources to stay on top of the evolving guidance. Buckley LLP has moved quickly to address this need with its Covid-19 Regulatory Tracker: an interactive, web-based repository that catalogs new regulatory requirements and expectations. Attorneys and legal professionals from Buckley, a national leader in legal services for the financial services industry, monitor lengthy issuances from federal and state agencies, distilling them into concise summaries that are tagged and uploaded daily into a proprietary online database. The intuitive interface allows users to quickly search, filter, and yield results tailored to their organizations’ needs, saving time by filtering the hundreds of notices and alerts, and providing peace of mind that they have a comprehensive view of the latest obligations and expectations. Learn more here.

How are appraisals getting done in this new era of “shelter-in-place” and “social distancing”? Triserv (a 50-state AMC offering unparalleled service) is sharing key information with lenders about the impact of COVID-19 on appraisals. You are invited to check out these new resources (free and ungated) on what desktop appraisals include, best practices for dealing with appraisal inspections, and the real-world appraiser climate during shelter-in-place. This week’s topic is all about Desktop Appraisals: what they are, what they include, what they cost, and how they differ from “drive-by” appraisals. Click here to read more, and please return for additional resources Triserv will be sharing with the lender community on an ongoing basis during the current pandemic. Contact Triserv at learnmore@triservllc.com.

Black Knight Empower Loan Origination System (LOS) users can now directly submit appraisal orders into the Connexions platform thanks to a powerful new integration via Black Knight Exchange. Through the integration, lenders can easily and efficiently manage appraisal orders and vendor communication. Connexions, the premier appraisal management platform, delivers best-in-class appraisal automation, data, analytics and integration to real estate valuations, and works with more than 150 AMCs and 13,000 independent appraisers. Click here to learn more or contact us for more information.

Stearns recognizes that first responders are on the front lines of providing support to their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. To express gratitude and offer support, Stearns Wholesale will be reducing administration/underwriting fees to all first responders who apply for a loan. Now is the time to come together as a mortgage community and offer our clients relief where we can. click HERE to be contacted by a Wholesale Account Executive for details.

With the Coronavirus dominating our lives and our new social hour with Zoom meetings seem to be our new normal but we must continue to keep a positive attitude! The equity markets are coming back and the 10-year bond at .075 bps the refinance activity is here to stay and volume is soaring. Margin calls and Non-QM trades that didn’t go off are on the minds of many but have you thought about your construction projects that have stopped? Are you sure your asset is secure and safe? Let CFSI help you quickly evaluate your project. CFSI Loan Management is a full-service construction risk mitigation company, helping lenders manage the construction process from beginning to end. Let Lenders manage credit risk, CFSI manages construction risk. Let CFSI Loan Management help you audit your portfolio and enhance your construction loan program. Please contact President Brian Mingham for information. 

QLMS remains a refuge of stability for the broker community. Its rock-solid foundation allows brokers to continue building on their successes from 2019 and early 2020. QLMS has taken the steps needed to ensure its partners are not blindsided by massive changes to VOE or canceled commission because of forbearance. You don’t need to believe lenders who are spinning a tale that the entire industry is tightening or scare tactics saying you need to hit pause on your business. Brokers should use their superpower, choice, to find a lender who can provide their clients what they need in the best way possible. Click HERE if you are a broker who wants to become Stronger Together in the face of adversity.

New circumstances are creating new challenges. In the COVID-19 environment, it’s more difficult than ever to find qualified customers and keep your portfolio on track. Luckily, with the right data and expertise, lenders can still manage their risk, retain customers, and keep filling their pipeline. Customer acquisition is on everyone’s mind, but it’s crucial to work with the most up-to-date marketing and prescreen credit data to ensure that you can adjust to the ever-changing market conditions.  With advanced analytics and data, IR Data Solutions can provide custom modeling so lenders can target their perfect audience at the right time. Among other benefits, lenders can also receive personalized alerts to make sure they keep up with their current customer base and lists. Reach out now to help your business grow, keep your portfolio healthy, and maintain your bottom line.

Corona-Driven News and Events

Yesterday the commentary noted, “CIT closed on its deal to buy Mutual of Omaha a few months ago. ‘MOOB’ is being wound down, and loans must fund by the end of June.” For clarity, readers know that CIT Bank did not buy Mutual of Omaha, CIT Bank bought Mutual of Omaha Bank. The mortgage division of Mutual of Omaha insurance is alive and well, growing, had a record month last month closing over $500 million, and is still adding personnel. Mutual of Omaha has a $50 billion dollar balance sheet; keep in mind that the bank and mortgage division have separated.

loanDepot is also alive and well, with plans to hire 3,000 by year end. FHA and VA have published temporary guidance in response to COVID-19 on Employment Verification and Appraisals. loanDepot Wholesale is adhering to this guidance effective immediately. Click on each individual announcement details. FHA Employment and Appraisal Flexibility; VA Employment and Underwriting Guidance; VA Appraisal Valuation Practices 

Yesterday the commentary mentioned, “Caliber Home Loans is temporarily suspending its renovation products effective with Commitment Confirmations issued on or after April 5, 2020. New submissions for renovation loans will not be accepted as of April 5, 2020. The suspension is effective for all renovation products including FHA 203(K) and FNMA Homestyle.” This is for Caliber Home Loans’ Correspondent Channel only. CHL’s Retail Channel continues to offer Renovation Products. 

The Mortgage 2020 Virtual Conference is today and tomorrow! Reserve your seat (on the living room couch) now for this must-see event by clicking here.

Lenders Compliance Group is offering “Navigating the Checklist & Workbook, Business Continuity Plan, COVID-19 Pandemic Response” tomorrow, April 16, from 1-2PM ET.

NAMMBA is hosting a Town Hall event and virtual conference on Friday, April 24, from 1-4PM ET. The agenda is being worked on, but includes a session with Dave Stevens, Mitch Kider, and Rob Chrisman (who?). The event will bring together industry stakeholders, policy makers, and CEOs to discuss the current state of the mortgage industry. These sessions will be 30 - 45 minutes in length and feature a "fireside" chat conversation.

Jennie Ensunsa with AD Mortgage wrote to say that AD is “bringing back” non-QM. Brokers should write to Jennie and ask for programs & rates.

In appraisal news, a Rule was announced that doesn’t impact a huge portion of the mortgage market, namely mortgage bankers. Are you wondering how an investor would feel if, in four months, the appraisal comes in $50k under the refi loan amount? “Transactions involving acquisition, development, and construction of real estate are excluded from this interim rule… The federal banking agencies issued new federal banking guidance on appraisals via an interim final rule to temporarily defer real estate-related appraisals and evaluations under the agencies' interagency appraisal regulations. The Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency are providing this temporary relief to allow regulated institutions to extend financing to creditworthy households and businesses quickly in the wake of the national emergency declared in connection with COVID-19. The agencies are deferring certain appraisals and evaluations for up to 120 days after closing of residential or commercial real estate loan transactions. The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) will consider a similar proposal on Thursday, April 16.”

Michael Simmons, Co-President of AXIS AMC, opined, “The Interagency statement is not about lenders, it’s about regulated financial institutions, specifically banks and credit unions. The OCC, FRB, FDIC and NCUA are agencies that regulate banks and credit unions, and they gave them the ability to (temporarily) close a mortgage loan for refinance purposes without obtaining an appraisal. They didn’t actually waive the appraisal, they just deferred it. It will have to be completed within 120 days from the date of closing. They also loosened a couple of other constraints allowing similar deferrals for commercial real estate loans. This is a bit reminiscent of 2008 when the big banks got even bigger in what in hindsight seemed to have been a ploy to overcome the too big to fail syndrome by making them even bigger still.

“The largest segment of the lending space is occupied by mortgage bankers and mortgage brokers. None of them are eligible under this interim rule to avail themselves of these changes. I’m sure there are any number of reasons why the Agencies may have elected to do this. Perhaps the primary reason being that banks have reserves to backstop losses that mortgage bankers don’t have. Just how willing will a bank be to fund a refinance loan without an appraisal? Will you get a conservative value? Will the rate be competitive with the rest of the market? This interim rule doesn’t impact a huge portion of the mortgage market. Mortgage bankers and mortgage brokers live to compete, and I believe they’ll do just that. It’s likely that appraisers aren’t in for much of a furlough after all – and borrower’s needs will still be served no matter who’s behind the stove.”

Capital Markets

This morning we have oil prices below $20 per barrel and global equity markets sliding. But last week hopeful news from many countries regarding the pace of new coronavirus cases juxtaposed with worse economic data which continues to catch up to the present reality. The conversation in Washington shifted from shelter in place to restart as signs point to a flattening of the curve. This will depend on the level of improvement through the remainder of April into May however it may take more than two years before total GDP reaches pre-coronavirus levels.  The Fed announced $2.3 trillion credit package to backstop financial markets and add liquidity to small and medium size firms. There are even rumors of another round of fiscal stimulus from the government that would presumably go towards significant infrastructure spending. The economic legacy of the coronavirus will be one of immense sovereign and private debt and the attitudes towards repayment in the face of decreasing tax revenues due to the slowdown in business activity and resulting unemployment. Credit markets will need to adjust for the increased risks and ratings agencies will need to make adjustments to their ratings models.

A couple months ago, I grew tired of reporting the same market moves (or lack thereof) each day due to Brexit and the U.S.–China trade war. As I mentioned yesterday, volatility in the mortgage market has died down, and I now find myself regurgitating the same coronavirus-related headlines: Treasuries displayed little movement as the curve steepened slightly (the 10-year yield closed unchanged at 0.75 percent) due to improving risk sentiment surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. The Fed continued to do its part with the largest share of the tentative maximum MBS purchases in over a week.

Today’s economic calendar began with a 7.3 percent increase MBA Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending April 10. Thanks to $446 billion in MBS buying (from March 16 to April 3) by the Fed, mortgage rates have continued to edge lower, though still not quite as low as those seen in early March. We’ve also had March retail sales (-8.7 percent, -4.5 percent ex-auto) and April NY Fed manufacturing (-78.2). Today’s busy calendar rolls on with Industrial production and capacity utilization for March, Business inventories for February, and the NAHB Housing Market Index later this morning. The afternoon brings the lone scheduled Fed speaker, Atlanta’s Bostic, as well as the latest Beige Book from the Fed. We begin the day with Agency MBS prices up .125 and the 10-year yielding .67 percent.



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