Me: “I want to travel.” Bank account: “Where? To work?” Think of people in their 20s and 30s. They’ve grown up with 9/11, the Financial Crisis, and now this coronavirus. (If all you cared about was the stock market, in 1990 the Dow Jones was around 5,000. It is now nearly 28,000, give or take.) Kids now? In March, and through the end of the school year, teachers have learned that, for children, being a digital consumer and a digital learner are two entirely different things and are grappling with that concept again as schools start up. In the residential mortgage biz, volumes continue to surge and continue to be controlled by raising margins, changing lock policies, eliminating complicated products, and encouraging service within the company to help others. Few require an application deposit, but some went to outsourcing, and others restricted refinance applications until approval. Lenders tell me their big concern is handling the volume and maintaining customer service, and preventing employee burnout.

Broker and Lender Products and Events

Home Point Financial, a top 15 national lender in the wholesale and correspondent channels, hosted a webinar with HousingWire focusing on the increasing market share wholesale brokers are currently seeing. While supporting both channels, Home Point took the opportunity to discuss the current market environment with three fast-growing wholesale brokerages, NEXA Mortgage, Gapital Mortgage, and United Financial Group. From 2021 rate predictions to building a lasting foundation that will continue post-pandemic, our expert panelists discussed everything you need to know about success in the wholesale channel. Couldn't make it? We've got you covered! Check out the recap and learn how brokerages are using today's mortgage boom to accelerate and scale growth.”

With record-low interest rates, sales pipelines are filling faster than they can be emptied. Subsequently, mortgage executives are reporting two major concerns: 1) staff burnout, and 2) how to maintain momentum once rates go up and refi's fall off. According to Top of Mind, today’s record-breaking refi numbers are the ticket to generating repeat and referral business that will fill your pipelines for years to come. They’ve supplied a case study that shows how Presidential Mortgage is winning more clients for life with SurefireCRM’s personalized “set it and forget it” campaigns. Because LOs don’t have to lift a finger to reel in referral clients, Presidential has seen a 97 percent adoption of SurefireCRM. Get the full details in this free case study download.

Discover how you can rapidly deliver the consumer experiences needed to acquire and retain loyal customers at Blend’s virtual summit on mastering digital agility, September 22-23. Hear actionable advice from industry leaders and Blend executives, and gain access to innovations that will allow you to quickly launch new products and stay ahead in today’s rapidly changing landscape. Save your spot.

Last week SimpleNexus launched a new eClosing feature that lets mortgage lenders conduct speedy and convenient hybrid closings for purchase loans and refis. Michigan-based, multi-state lender Mortgage 1 was among the first to pilot the feature, and CEO Mark Workens says his company is “already closing loans faster and knocking the socks off of customers.” SimpleNexus eClosing keeps physical closing appointments to a minimum and makes loan closings available in the same branded app Mortgage 1 customers use to search for a home, fill out an application, upload documents and sign disclosures. With remote online notarization (RON) and support for full eClosings coming later this year, it sounds like SimpleNexus is investing heavily in making loan closings simple in and out of quarantine. Request a demo to learn more.

Managing incentive compensation via spreadsheet is difficult whether you have 10 LOs or 10,000. Case in point, GreenState Credit Union’s desire to customize incentive compensation for 28 LOs. Elements like variable pay and volume tiers made it difficult to rely on spreadsheets and created a cascade of manual calculation labor. Luckily for them, no compensation structure is too complex for LBA Ware’s CompenSafe. Now, “all I have to do is press a button to export our payroll file for the pay period then upload it to our payroll system,” reports Senior Mortgage System Administrator Zach Davis. Download the free case study to see how CompenSafe has transformed compensation management at GreenState Credit Union.

Clarifire has been at the forefront of helping servicers address customer engagement challenges since the last financial crisis. Are you in front of your customers’ expectations through the COVID-19 pandemic? J.D. Power just released this year’s U.S. Primary Mortgage Servicer Satisfaction Study, offering sound insight into the customer experience for mortgage servicers. Jim Houston, director with J.D. Power, commented that COVID-19, “has really amplified the gaps in customer satisfaction, digital experience and call center experience.” With CLARIFIRE COMMUNITY, a feature of CLARIFIRE, servicers have the capabilities needed to quickly, effectively and affordably meet J.D. Power’s key findings: expand website functionality, ensure call center responsiveness, offer self-service/no contact options, and proactively communicate and say “thank you.” Read Clarifire’s blog to find out how you can automate customer requests through online accessibility and call center activities to beat the challenges of the pandemic. CLARIFIRE® is truly BRIGHTER AUTOMATION®.

Optimal Blue is proud to announce that its Social Media Marketing app is 100 percent FREE to properly licensed MLOs! Available on iTunes and Google Play, this intuitive app makes it easy for leading mortgage loan officers to post personalized content to all of today’s most popular social networking channels. In addition, MLOs can seamlessly connect to meaningful content and share RSS news feeds, reviews, and corporate-sponsored content with their prospective borrowers. Download your free social media productivity app today to better leverage the powerful business development capabilities on social media, grow your digital presence, turn engaged prospects into clients—and win more business.

Ginnie, FHA, and VA Changes

Do you use GinnieNet? Ginnie Mae has added "August 6, 2020 Notes and News". Yesterday Ginnie Mae announced that issuance of its mortgage-backed securities set an agency record of $70.04 billion in July, providing financing for more than 261,000 homeowners and renters. It includes $66.16 billion of Ginnie Mae II MBS (for which registered holders receive an aggregate principal and interest payment from a central paying agent) and $3.88 billion of Ginnie Mae I MBS (for which registered holders receive separate principal and interest payments on each of their certificates), which includes $3.69 billion of loans for multifamily housing. Ginnie Mae's total outstanding principal balance of $2.118 trillion is an increase from $2.080 trillion in July 2019.

Under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), published Federal Register (FR) Notice, Project Approval for Single Family Condominiums (Docket No. FR-7024-N-30) on July 31. This 30-day PRA notice includes comments received from the initial 60-day FR Notice published on January 31, 2020. This gives interested stakeholders another opportunity to provide public comment on the revision of data collection forms HUD-9991, FHA Condominium Loan Level/Single-Unit Approval Questionnaire, and HUD-9992, FHA Condominium Project Approval Questionnaire. These forms are necessary to determine eligibility status for FHA single-unit or condominium project approvals. Interested parties wishing to review the two forms and the corresponding instructions for completing them, can do so by visiting the Single-Family Housing Drafting Table. Additional comments on the forms will be accepted through the method outlined in the FR Notice not later than August 31, 2020.

FHA issued Mortgagee Letter (ML) 2020-24, which supersedes ML 2020-23, updates the effective date for the verification of business operations of self-employed borrowers and rental income guidance for case numbers assigned on or after August 12 through November 30, 2020. The effective date for the 203(k)-rehabilitation escrow account has not changed and is still effective as of July 28, 2020.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will resume Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) inspections of HUD multifamily and public housing properties and units under strict safety protocols during the national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. REAC will provide a listing on its website of low-risk counties 45 days prior to the start of physical inspections. At the end of the 45-day period, REAC will provide a 14-day notification to priority properties in that county to inform families that an inspection will take place. The first outreach from inspectors to properties will start no earlier than September 21.

loanDepot’s Weekly Announcement includes information on FHA’s Verification of Self Employment and Rental Income Government, Policy Clarification and Guidance Updates for VA IRRRLs Government and August Key Dates Calendar.

AmeriHome Product Announcement 20200801-CL  provides updates to the summary of temporary measures provided by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA, USDA, and the CFPB to address the impacts of COVID-19.

The PennyMac Correspondent Group posted two new announcements 20-45: Updates to Conventional Purchase Special LLPA and 20-46: Updates to Government LLPAs.

Illinois’ First State Mortgage sent out word regarding VA IRRRL loans and FHA rental income.

Flagstar posted an announcement detailing guidance, effective immediately, regarding VA’s published circular 26-19-22 Change 1 to revise the requirements for VA IRRRLs.

This Circular rescinds exhibit B of Circular 26-19-22 and is removed in its entirety. Additionally, FHA published temporary guidance for verification of self- employment, rental income and 203(k) rehabilitation escrow account. Flagstar posted these updates in Memo #20076.

Mountain West Financial Wholesale announced that CalHFA is reducing the interest rate on the MyHome down payment and closing cost program from 2.50 to 2.00 percent, effective with loans locked on and after August 3. MyHome can be layered with the CalPLUS Conventional or CalPLUS FHA 2 or 3 percent Zero Interest Program (ZIP), used for closing costs.

First Community Mortgage posted Correspondent Announcement 2020-33 and Wholesale Announcement 2020-35 describing updated temporary guidance from FHA.

FAMC Correspondent issued National Bulletin 2020-31 regarding COVID-19 Updates and IRRRL Reminder. Updated information on FHA Revised Effective Dates are provided in its National Bulletin 2020-32.

Caliber is aligning with VA regarding forbearance on VA purchase and refinance transactions. Caliber has included an overview of VA Circular 26-20-25 under the New Guideline section. Review the VA Handbook and Circular 26-20-25. And Caliber Home Loans Correspondent is updating its Conventional and Government COVID-19 Overlay Documents. Existing versus New Guidelines have been outlined, changes are shown in blue. Click here to review the new guidelines for both Government and Conventional COVID-19 Overlays.

Capital markets

July’s economic data continued to paint a positive picture of the U.S. economy despite a re-bound in positive coronavirus cases and an escalating death toll. The ISM Manufacturing and Services indices both increased in July. The caveat with both these reports is that they are surveys and rely heavily on the firms that are responding.

Regardless, the broad improvements in these surveys offer signs of resilience in the face of continued social restrictions due to the virus. July’s nonfarm payrolls repot beat expectations showing 1.763 million new jobs for the month, mostly in the hard-hit services sector. During the early months of the pandemic, the US economy shed 22 million jobs and has recovered 9.3 million to date. The number of unemployed is still roughly one million more than the peak of the last recession. The past week was also the first week since the enhanced unemployment benefits from the CARES Act expired. Congress continues to debate a replacement and although they appear to be at an impasse, they are expected to pass some form of new relief. The outlook for mortgage rates continues to remain unchanged with the Fed supporting the MBS market and the fed funds rate expected to remain near zero for the next year.

Yesterday saw minimal movement for MBS and Treasuries ahead of today’s record Quarterly Refunding. Despite President Trump signing an order over the weekend which extended unemployment benefits, the eviction moratorium, student loan relief, and deferred payroll taxes, the order was not only claimed as unconstitutional by Democrats, but (since this since this is a mortgage commentary) had little actual impact on mortgage rates, as markets half-expected it after little progress between Republicans and Democrats on stimulus negotiations last week. Neither Nancy Pelosi nor Steven Mnuchin have offered a firm date for more talks. All this bickering in Washington while families, businesses, and state and local governments are teetering on the edge of a financial abyss.

U.S./China tensions actually make me miss Brexit news. The latest reports say China will sanction 11 Americans in retaliation for similar measures imposed by the U.S. on Friday, which includes members of Congress, though the list doesn't include any members of the Trump administration. If that wasn’t enough, the U.S. sent a high-ranking delegation to Taiwan, further inflaming tensions. These acts come as China’s industrial output is recovering, evidenced by deflation easing at China’s factories in July, driven by pent-up demand, government assistance, and the resilience of exports. Longer dated Treasuries pulled back slightly to close the day.

Economic releases on the day continued after the release of this commentary. The Congressional Budget Office said that the budget deficit reached $2.8 trillion through the first ten months of Fiscal Year 20. Separately, job openings increased to 5.9 million in June, up from a revised 5.4 million in May. Finally, the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) latest Forbearance and Call Volume Survey revealed that the total number of loans now in forbearance decreased by 23 bps to 7.44 percent as of August 2. According to MBA’s estimate, 3.7 million homeowners are in forbearance plans. And President Trump said he is considering a tax cut on capital gains.

Today’s economic calendar is already underway with a trio of releases. The NFIB Small Business Optimism Survey for July fell 1.8 points to 98.8, July Producer Price Index (+.6 percent), and Core PPI (+.5 percent). In what should certainly have an impact on MBS and mortgage rates, the first leg of this week’s record $112 billion Quarterly Refunding begins with the Treasury selling $48 billion of 3-year notes along with $34 billion 1-year bills. There are also two scheduled Fed speakers, Richmond’s Barkin and San Francisco’s Daly. The Desk is scheduled to conduct two MBS FedTrade operations at later than usual times starting with $2.8 billion UMBS30 2 percent through 3 percent followed by $1.4 billion GNII 2.5 and 3 percent. We begin the day with Agency MBS prices worse/down .125 and the 10-year yielding .62 after closing yesterday at 0.57 percent based on some news from Russia about a vaccine.



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Gateway First Bank has appointed Jeff Weiner as its Chief Information Officer responsible for evaluating Gateway’s existing technologies and processes and advising on the best strategies to streamline all internal operations as well as external systems and platforms to improve the customer experience.