I certainly see “out of office” replies increase during the summer. But some people seem to take as little vacation as possible, sometimes making those who take time off feel guilty. A study by the Travel Association finds people cite the following as the primary reasons they did not take all of the vacation they were allotted: return to a mountain of work (37%), no one else can do the job (30%), I cannot financially afford a vacation (30%), taking time off is harder as you grow in the company (28%), want to show complete dedication (22%) and don’t want to be seen as replaceable (19%). I wonder if this politician, sentenced to mortgage fraud, took his share of vacay? And on whose buck?

The banking and lending landscape continues to evolve - typically through mergers, acquisitions, and companies exiting channels rather than new faces. For example, Bank of America reported they have cut their retail branch count by about 23% over the past 7 years to 4,690 now.

S&P Global Market Intelligence reports that through May 31, there were 16% fewer banking industry mergers compared to the same period last year (41 deals vs. 49 in 2015). Last week was relatively quiet on the M&A front, although WTFC announced its plans to acquire First Community Financial Corp. for $30.3mm, or about 1.4x tangible book.

In terms of lender changes, the commentary noted last week that New American Funding was transitioning its wholesale group to another lender at the end of July. Jeff Babcock, a Senior Partner with STRATMOR, observed, "NAF's decision to exit wholesale reflects an increasingly common attitude about the profitability challenge of the multi-channel business model. This lender appears to recognize the realities that ownership can build true enterprise value in the Retail channel, but not in the TPO channel. STRATMOR has not been engaged to conduct an acquisition search for a TPO lender in 'modern times.'"

That being said, there are companies introducing some new programs, making sizeable changes to old ones, or adjusting pricing.

For example, Triumph Mortgage Wholesale and Correspondent Division (Collierville, TN) released its TERM mortgage program to TPO customers. TERM stands for The Elite Rate Mortgage and is designed for a community banks' most creditworthy customers. The program rewards those customers by providing rates subject to no loan-level pricing adjustments for scenarios meeting the following criteria: 30 year fixed, 680 score or higher, primary residence, purchase or rate/term, 33/38 DTI, 80% LTV/95% CLTV. Skip Willcox, AE with Triumph Mortgage says, "We believe this program is a game-changer for community banks. It is going allow our customers to compete against larger mortgage banks pricing in the most price sensitive markets." For more information, please contact Skip or Pete Hodo.

Fifth Third offered up a down payment assistance program also the press greeted it with news of "no money down."

BancorpSouth's Right@Home, for purchases or refinances, now represent a substantial portion of BancorpSouth's total loans to low- to moderate-income (LMI) borrowers purchasing or refinancing a home (LMI: gross income is less than or equal to 50% of the Estimated Median Family Income for the area where they reside). BancorpSouth's Right@Home mortgage offers alternative sources for down payment and closing costs, a lower down payment, 100% maximum loan to value, a fully amortized 30-year fixed rate, no lender fees, no private mortgage insurance and a minimum contribution of $500.

California Mortgage Advisors, Inc., located in San Rafael, California, announce that they are now able to provide their clients with a reverse mortgage option of up to $6 million. "Our offering a reverse mortgage up to $6,000,000 for our California clients is unique to maybe two or three other companies in the United States," EVP Scott Baer noted.

Mortgage Solutions Financial has made changes to its Non-Conforming price adjusters. Please see Announcement 24-16W for more information. And MSF has made updates and changes to its guidelines:Announcement 18-16C.

Effective with Commitments issued on or after Wednesday, July 6 Caliber's loan amount price adjustments have been improved on applicable loan amount ranges for the Portfolio loan programs: Caliber Portfolio Homeowner Access, Caliber Portfolio Fresh Start, Caliber Portfolio Investment Property and Caliber Portfolio Foreign National.

Mountain West Financial (MWF) is now offering HomeStyle Energy for borrowers who wish to pay off their existing Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) or PACE-like energy loan as a limited cash-out refinance transaction. There are other features of HomeStyle Energy that MWF will implement at a later date. And MWF now has the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) loan programs available for wholesale brokers. CalHFA offers a variety of down payment and closing cost assistance to homebuyers in California. Please refer to the MWF CalHFA Wholesale Matrix for program details.

With the July 16th Fannie Mae HomeReady income limits simplification to 100% of area median income or no income limit (for low-income areas), the HomeReady income limit will now be 100% AMI for all locations. The exception for properties located in low-income census tracts (where no income limits apply) will remain the same. Mountain West Financial will follow suite with the policy implementation in DU the weekend of July 16 and will apply to all DU Version 9.3 loan files submitted (or resubmitted) on or after that date. Also noted, Effective June 11, FHA made several changes to the TOTAL Scorecard. These changes will affect some information provided on the AUS Underwriting Findings Report.

First Community Mortgage Wholesale made important changes to its underwriting guidelines.

Effective with new Best Efforts locks and Mandatory commitments created on and after June 20 Nationstar Mortgage updated the Best Efforts and Mandatory Rate Sheets, as well as Loan-Level Price Adjusters (LLPAs) in anticipation of an upcoming credit guideline expansion plan. This expansion plan will result in significant changes to our Best Efforts and Mandatory Rate Sheets as well as the associated LLPAs. 

NationStar's recent seller guide update is available and includes expanded credit offerings, simplified and streamlines product matrices, rate sheet and pricing, as well as In Focus: client performance management tools and resources. Click here to download the complete update.

On to bond market news! Looking back to Friday MBS closed out the week on a positive note with spreads tightening across "the stack" after the June payrolls report. Remember that the headline payrolls figure was stronger than expected while other parts of the report were more mixed. The treasury market initially sold off on the headline but then bounced back by the end of the day - helped by the NY Fed buying its usual billions of agency MBS.

But that was then and this is now, and this week's economic calendar is relatively busy from Wednesday onward with reports on retail sales, inflation, inventories, import prices, industrial production, and consumer sentiment in the US. Today we'll have, at 7AM PDT, the June Labor Markets Conditions Index and the Conference Board's Employment Trends Index - not expected to move rates.

Tomorrow are some wholesale inventory & trade numbers, and JOLTS Job Openings. Wednesday are the MBA's retail application figures for last week, import prices, and the Fed's Beige Book (yes, it is literally gray) discussing conditions in the various geographic districts.) Thursday we'll have Initial Jobless Claims and the Producer Price Index numbers. We finish off the week with all the Consumer Price Index numbers, Retail Sales, Empire Manufacturing, the Industrial Production & Capacity Utilization duo, and some University of Michigan stats.

As noted, by the time the dust settled on Friday interest rates were slightly better with the 10-year at 1.37% and MBS prices roughly unchanged. We've seen a slight shift this morning to "risk on" with stocks mildly improving and rates a shade higher, so we can expect rate sheets to worsen slightly since the 10-year is up to 1.40% with agency MBS prices worse .125.

Training and Events

Nations Direct Mortgage & Motive Lending are hosting a Grand Opening Networking Event at their new Dallas Operations Centers on Thursday, July 14th, from 4-8pm CDT. "If you're in the TPO origination space, you are encouraged to attend, even if you aren't necessarily ready to make a career change. Private meeting times will also be available upon request. Thanks to explosive growth nationwide this year, Nations & Motive are welcoming new members into their family to continue their skyrocketing success. There are openings for all operations and sales staff.  This is an opportunity to learn about the company and meet executives, including the CEO and COO!  The Grand Opening Event will be held at the office location of 14110 Dallas Pkwy, Suites 240/250, Dallas. Thompson Reuters recently named Nations Direct Mortgage & Motive Lending in the top 25 Wholesale FNMA and FHA issuers. For additional information, please contact AlexFalas, Recruiting Manager. 

With new rules being implemented to the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) on January 1st of 2018, Mortgage Builder is offering an upcoming webinar "HMDA - Who Reports What, When" which is the first in a series of 30 minute webinars running monthly. "HMDA -Who Reports What, When" will be taking place July 14th from 3:00PM-3:30PM EDT and will be conducted by Mortgage Builder's Director of Compliance Melissa Kozicki.

The Mortgage Collaborative's Summer Lender Member Conference will take place August 21-23 at the Four Seasons Hotel & Resort in Denver, CO.  The conference will feature a powerful agenda filled with presentations from top industry leaders, relevant educational breakout tracks, and a series of peer-to peer networking sessions and events.  For more information, contact Rich Swerbinsky.

Registrations for ACI's 21st National Forum on Residential Mortgage Litigation & Regulatory Enforcement is underway. This September 26-27th event in Dallas boasts its speaker faculty of federal and state regulatory and enforcement officials, senior in-house counsel, renowned federal and state judges, and leading outside counsel.

It's the "Right Place, Right Time" to register for MBAC's  61st Annual Convention October 4th-7th in Hilton Head.

Join ASCEND16, the CalyxSoftware First National Symposium & User Conference. To prepare for new regulations and changing industry dynamics with more than 30 sessions led by regulators, CalyxSoftware and industry experts October 5th-8th in New Orleans.

Jobs and Announcements

In job news Pacific Union Financial is growing and hiring top-notch industry professionals with solid mortgage experience.  We are seeking Retail Regional Vice Presidents in the West, including Southern California (San Diego), Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and New Mexico. Experienced Retail mortgage professionals should send resumes to Amy Gallow. "Pacific Union offers competitive salaries and benefits, plus a great work/life balance company culture. In May 2016, the company hit a corporate milestone of $2 billion in locked volume across the Distributed Retail, Wholesale and Correspondent channels. Now is a great time to join this exciting company."

California brokers should be aware that, "Many homeowners across California have lower utility bills through energy improvements, including solar panels, and have financed them with a P.A.C.E. (Property Assessed Clean Energy) lien, also known as a HERO lien.  However, P.A.C.E. (aka HERO) liens have kept thousands of homeowners from refinancing into historically low rates but Broadview Mortgage has come out with the PACEBuster loan, which allows homeowners to be green, save money on utilities AND refinance their mortgage. Falling under limited cash out guidelines, not cash out, it allows borrowers to include the P.A.C.E. (HERO) lien in the new loan up to 95% LTV.  For LTV's requiring Mortgage Insurance, Broadview has partnered with Mortgage Insuring leader MGIC. If you are a broker seeking cutting edge solutions like these, contact Andrew Ryan, SVP Wholesale Lending. Branch opportunities are also available and Joel Harrison, Business Development Manager, can help guide you."

Before going any further, please note that an Operation Manager position listed by String Real Estate Information Services had an incorrect link. ("String is among the fastest growing providers of outsourcing, technology & consulting services to the US real estate industry and is an Inc500 company and a SmartCEO Future50 honoree.") Interested candidates should send their resume to String's HR consultant Angela Wells."

Inlanta Mortgage spread the word that its continued growth, coupled with the increased activity of the spring/summer home buying season, has paved the way for the company to welcome 50+ new team members since January 2016. New hires include LOs, processors and various administrative positions at its corporate office as well as several branch offices. In fact, Inlanta Mortgage is the second largest mortgage financing provider in the greater Milwaukee area and as a result of growth will relocate its corporate office to the Jannsen Center in Pewaukee, Wis. to accommodate expanding operations and administrative staff.

Summer days are here, and we have our share of upcoming events.