Studies find it takes 2,000 times more energy to produce and ship bottled water than tap water and it costs 10,000 times more per gallon. It also takes 17 million barrels of oil to produce the plastic used to create all of the water bottles - about the same amount used to fuel 1 million cars for a full year. Finally, the suggested 8 glasses of water per day costs $1,400 per year for bottled, compared to only 49 cents for the tap. Need I repeat that last sentence or it is obvious?

Speaking of obvious things, no one is claiming that industry-wide, mortgage related employment is increasing. The latest example comes from Colorado, where a Denver Post article points out, "There were just more than 2,000 mortgage brokers in Colorado in 2009, down from a peak of about 5,300 in 2003, a 61 percent drop. ColoradoBrokers

But there are indeed residential firms that are expanding. For example,  WestStar Mortgage is expanding its retail platform in its 45 branch locations in the North and South East, as well as its headquarters in Woodbridge, VA: WestStarMortgage. For products, the residential lender is offering a variety mortgage products down to a 600 FICO score, 100% VA cash out, VA IRRRLs without an appraisal, and the FHA 203k rehabilitation loans. WestStar is a GNMA issuer and FNMA seller-servicer which "allow the firm to eliminate many of the secondary overlays imposed by the large aggregators." For opportunities throughout the branch system please contact Kathy Zimpel ( or Bill Reichel (

West of the Rockies, more mortgage hiring continues. Republic Mortgage and its wholesale channel, New Line Mortgage is looking for traditional retail branches and seasoned wholesale AE's.  Republic is  a privately owned Mortgage Banker headquartered in Salt Lake City  conducting business in 11 western states offering a full menu of FHA,VA, Conventional and Rural Development product lines.  Anyone interested in more information should contact Terry Mott, or Gary Nielson, for Retail Branch opportunities, or Shauna Reimann, for wholesale AE opportunities.

And back on the retail side, Kinecta Federal Credit Union is growing its business and is hiring Retail Mortgage Loan Consultants throughout Southern California. Kinecta has more than $3.5 billion in assets and serving over 220,000 member-owners across the country, and "offers a competitive compensation and benefits package in addition to a dynamic culture and a large product line."  If you are interested in speaking to them, please send a resume to Sue Anne Smith at

Wells Fargo's correspondent group recently spooked the MI underwriting herd. "The clerical and support duty exemption to licensing under the S.A.F.E Act (and other proposed regulations) for loan processors or underwriters who are employees taking direction and subject to the supervision and instruction of licensed persons, does not apply to contract underwriters. For all underwriters who do not qualify for the exemption to licensing, including contract underwriters, compliance requires that anyone who is performing credit underwriting in connection with a residential mortgage loan be licensed as a mortgage loan originator. If Sellers or Third Party Originators (TPOs) that Sellers conduct business with utilize any independent contractors or third parties to perform credit underwriting tasks, each individual independent underwriter must have the applicable state license...As a result, effective July 5, 2011, Wells Fargo will no longer purchase mortgage Loans that have been credit underwritten by a mortgage insurance company contract underwriter on Wells Fargo's behalf, or on behalf of a Correspondent's delegated underwriting authority."

We have 4 days until the end of the comment period for Qualified Residential Mortgages. What is the latest? According to the National Association of Federal Credit Unions, "The proposed rule doesn't directly apply to credit unions, but it has market implications that NAFCU is closely monitoring": NAFCU-QRM. And here are some of the latest QRM-related comments: QRMOpinions.

But still, few loan agents out there are complaining about rates - but are there loans left to refi? Of course there are: over the past 3-4 months, as the 30-year mortgage rate rallied by more than 50 basis points to 4.5%, the percentage of the 30-year agency MBS universe that is marginally "refinceable" had increased only marginally from 18% to 37%. However, if rates drop another 25 basis points, the agency MBS universe that is refinanceable increases sharply. One analyst calculated that the percentage of the 30-year mortgage universe that is marginally refinceable increases to 72% from 37%!

A quick skim through rate sheets show that originators seem to be offering a 1-point 30-year mortgage rate of 4.50% and a no-point mortgage rate of 4.75%. Historically the agency mortgage market assumed that borrowers need about a .25% drop in rates for them to start thinking about refinancing ("marginally refinanceable") and about .50% to be fully refinanceable. But now borrowers have higher closing costs, additional documentation requirements, the lack of cash-out refi opportunities, and the inability of some borrowers to roll closing costs into their mortgage. Those factors have led analysts to suggest that borrowers now need a .5% drop in rates to think about refinancing and a .75% drop in many cases for it to actually make sense - assuming no drop in property values.

From a year ago, the percentage of the 30-year Fannie Mae universe with mortgage rates greater than 5.25% has declined from 59% to 37% while the percentage of the universe with mortgage rates >5.50% has declined from 51% to 30%. So currently the percentage of the refinceable 30-year mortgage universe is only about 60% of what it was one year ago. The MBA's numbers show that the refi index last month was about 62% of what it was in July 2010 when mortgage rates were at similar levels, which analysts say is due to the decline in the refinanceability of the agency MBS universe. Freddie Mac's numbers show a smaller pool of refinanceable loans, and things become more complicated when adding in higher LTV loans or borrowers with lower credit scores - but you get the picture: the last drop of .25% was good, but if we go another .25%, volumes could really pick up.

We only saw on bank closure Friday: Atlantic Bank and Trust, Charleston, South Carolina, was shut down by the OTS, who worked through the FDIC to find First Citizens Bank and Trust Company (also of SC) to assume all of the deposits.

Friday's unemployment data could not be sugarcoated. Housing and jobs, housing and jobs...and their impact on the economy. Barclays was quick to revise down its US GDP forecast. "We now look for Q2 11 growth of 2.0% (down from 3.5%) and Q3 11 growth of 3.0% (down from 3.5%). The surge in headline inflation over the December-April period has clearly hurt consumer purchasing power and consumer spending..." It has been nearly two years since the economic "recovery" began by some measures, but many are beginning to have renewed doubts about the sustainability of the recovery: virtually all the early data for May have been disappointing, hurting stocks but helping interest rates drop. The Japanese earthquake & tsunami damage impacted economies, as has the string of tornados and higher gasoline prices that hit the US.

In spite of the poor jobs number Friday, pushing the 10-yr yield down to 2.95%, and the other soft economic indicators, smarter minds than mine believe that they will not necessarily lead the Federal Reserve to do more quantitative easing, but will further delay the Fed's exit from its accommodative monetary policy. All this may help rates, but it is not going to help borrowers.

This week is pretty light for news, so perhaps volatility will settle down a little. We got nothin' today or tomorrow and nothin' on Wednesday until the release of the Fed's Beige Book. Thursday is Jobless Claims and some Trade Balance figures which normally don't rattle interest rates too much. And on Friday we'll see some import and export price numbers, along with wholesale inventories. The Treasury will sell government debt ($32 billion of three-year notes, $21 billion of 10-year debt and $13 billion of 30-year bonds), but in some other government building the Fed continues to buy US government debt as part of the $600 billion program "QE2" that expires this month. I wish I was smart enough to figure out how that works... FULL ECON CALENDAR

On the first day, God created the dog and said, "Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of twenty years."

The dog said: "That's a long time to be barking. How about only ten years and I'll give you back the other ten?"

So God agreed.

On the second day, God created the monkey and said, "Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I'll give you a twenty-year life span."

The monkey said: "Monkey tricks for twenty years? That's a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the dog did?"

And God agreed.

On the third day, God created the cow and said, "You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer's family. For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years."

The cow said: "That's kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I'll give back the other forty?"

And God agreed again.

On the fourth day, God created man and said: "Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I'll give you twenty years."

But man said: "Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?"

"Okay," said God, "You asked for it."

So that is why for our first twenty years we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the last ten years we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.

Life has now been explained to you. 



If you're interested, visit my twice-a-month blog at the STRATMOR Group web site located at . The current blog is new and takes a look at the opinions on QRM's impact on our industry. If you have both the time and inclination make a comment on what I have written, or on other comments so that folks can learn what's going on out there from the other readers.