Once a week it is Wednesday… but this one is noteworthy. An equinox is the instant of time when the plane of Earth's equator passes through the geometric center of the Sun's disk. That’s today, and is the official move from summer into autumn in the northern hemisphere. Moving from astronomy to law, lawyers for two Ohio counties filed a Sept. 21 bench brief asking a federal judge to exclude 39 unvaccinated jurors from an Oct. 4 trial that seeks to hold several pharmacies accountable for the opioid crisis. "A significant number of potential jurors indicated on their questionnaires that they would not feel comfortable or safe serving on a jury with unvaccinated individuals," they wrote. How’s your staff’s return to the office going? Shifting back to lending, a borrower living in the UK they could obtain a home loan through Platform, the broker arm of the Co-operative Bank. Platform offers a 0.79 per cent two-year fixed rate loan. It has a fee of £1,499 and is available to borrowers with a 40 per cent deposit or equity in their home. (There is a fee-free version at 1.19 per cent.) In this country, U.S. Bancorp will acquire MUFG Union Bank (usbank.com). No newcomer to residential lending, last quarter, 65 percent of U.S. Bancorp’s loans were digital with an average FICO of 774. (The audio version of today’s commentary, available here, is sponsored by Reggora and features an interview with Reggora CEO Brian Zitin on disrupting the appraisal industry and how to improve the appraisal experience for borrowers.

Products and Services

The first recorded usage of ‘OMG’ dates back to 1917, when a self-confident British Navy admiral wrote to Winston Churchill asking that the statesman keep him in mind as a potential candidate for a newly created honorific. "I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis," he wrote. "O.M.G. (Oh! My God!) — Shower it on the Admiralty!" Speaking of gossip-worthy news, Surefire CRM (now a Black Knight company) just released a new eBook detailing proven strategies for reengaging existing contacts and converting them into borrowers for life. The Mortgage Marketing Automation Playbook Part 2: Safeguarding Existing Revenue covers how to segment contacts lists ripe for conversion, effective messaging for reinvigorating borrowers and much, much more. Download the free eBook now.

Zoral Group, a global leader in intelligent automation is disrupting the mortgage industry with the only complete automation platform that contains everything needed to begin your automation journey or significantly improve your current automation capabilities. Zoral’s automated processing of borrower documents and 3rdparty data from your POS or LOS will liberate LOs, processors, and underwriters from tedious manual data entry and countless hours of stare and compare. Zoral’s automation platform automagically delivers consistent interpretation, analysis and calculation of borrower income and assets directly to your LOS every time. Applying dynamic eligibility, condition, and condition resolution rule sets for conventional, government and Non-QM programs ensures all loans can be run through our system. Zoral’s partnership with Richey May allows us to collectively deliver deep expertise of intelligent automation to the marketplace. To schedule a demo or schedule time with us @ MBA San Diego, please contact Dan Sussman, COO.

PlainsCapital Bank National Warehouse Lending, a subsidiary of Hilltop Holdings (NYSE: HTH), understands the importance of efficiency when it comes to meeting our customers’ funding requests. ‘Express Funding’ is how we help our customers reduce the time needed to get their loans funded. Express Funding allows our customers to submit multiple loans for funding in one simple data upload, whether it is one loan or 100 loans. A growing list of 2,000+ closing agents with No Doc funding requirements and funding turn times averaging under 30 minutes. We believe in consistently providing service to exceed our customers’ expectations. Please contact Deric Barnett, EVP National Warehouse Lending.”

Considering a transition from best efforts to mandatory delivery? While there are many pieces to consider before taking the leap, developing a thorough transition plan can help you efficiently and successfully make the shift. As you begin assessing mandatory delivery strategies, Black Knight’s team of knowledgeable secondary marketing professionals stands ready to support your success. In its recent blog article about making the transition to mandatory delivery, Black Knight outlines the following key points: Evaluate Net Worth, Analyze Production Pipeline, Assess Investor Relationships, and Adjust Internal Processes. Additionally, Black Knight offers a complimentary informative training guide on pivoting from best efforts to mandatory – from roadmap preparation to transition. For additional information on shifting to mandatory delivery, and to learn how Black Knight’s suite of innovative solutions can help you manage your hedging operations post-transition, contact us.

Are you headed to MBA Annual next month? Looking for a long-term strategy on reducing costs and scaling your business? Stop by booth 405 to connect with our team to discuss how we are helping clients scale and reducing costs by combining Automation with BPO solutions. Many of you know Sutherland as a business process outsourcing partner, but 60% of our engagements are focused on Customer Engagement Management. With over 260 partners worldwide, Sutherland has built a Digital eco-system that can streamline your organization and automate your customer happiness. If you would like to schedule a meeting, contact Neil Armstrong. We look forward to seeing everyone there!”

Stearns Wholesale continues to invest in and expand its jumbo offerings! Not only does Stearns continue to lead the nation in jumbo rates, Stearns has also enhanced its jumbo products to make it faster and easier for clients to streamline requirements and submit a loan application. Recently, Stearns announced that its Garnet and Jade Jumbo Products are now equipped with AUS! These exciting improvements will allow for less income documentation and more flexibility with DTI. If you’d like to partner with Stearns or learn more, click HERE to be contacted.

Looking for solutions to add to your tech stack that can help streamline your mortgage process? Calyx has you covered. Check out our newest, cloud-based loan origination platform – Zenly. Zenly is designed for the broker who needs a simple origination software that can efficiently handle all the steps needed to complete a full mortgage app and deliver it with the accompanying docs to a wholesale lender. Stop by booth 828 at this year’s NAMB National and discover how Calyx’s full suite of innovative mortgage tech can help you cut through the clutter and connect with more borrowers, fast!

Training and Events

“Are you prepared for what’s coming in the market? FGMC wants to work together to set you and your team up for success! Our team is currently helping our broker and lender partners define a Q4 and 2022 strategy to stay ahead of market trends and expand their offerings now with Non-QM and Non-Agency products through Maverick Solutions. Take advantage of these free strategy sessions by reaching out to Tom Davis at tom.davis@fgmc.com to schedule a call. You can also join us TODAY at 11:00 a.m. CST for our Maverick Solutions Strategy Townhall for the upcoming quarter with a panel of Non-QM and Non-Agency experts. Register now at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/5271555040845759501! Want to talk strategy in person? Meet up with our Mortgage Maverick at the NAMB in Las Vegas, NV and the MBA Annual in San Diego, CA! Reach out to your Account Executive today to schedule a meeting.”

Join National Mortgage Professional Magazine for Today’s Borrowers and Their Credit: Findings from a New Research Study tomorrow, September 23rd at 1 pm ET / 10 am PT. CreditXpert recently fielded a major study of borrowers that recently purchased or refinanced a home. The study uncovered new insights into how consumers think about their credit, the mortgage origination process, and opportunities for improvements. In this session led by Mike Darne and Dan Green of CreditXpert you will hear what their study revealed about consumers, especially first-time buyers, and how they rely on their lender’s guidance on improving their credit score to obtain the best possible financing for their new home. They will focus on how to build and manage healthy pipelines and improve closing results by concentrating on credit scores early in the origination cycle. Learn how first-time, experienced, and refi borrowers consider financing options, choose a lender, what they think about credit improvement potential and weigh tradeoffs of closing fast vs. getting the best rate and terms.

Capital Markets

Fannie’s trading desk let clients know that, in response to FHFA’s announcement on September 14, Fannie Mae is rescinding any previously communicated directions on all whole loans secured by investment properties being purchased against the Investment Property commitments in Pricing & Execution-Whole Loan®.  Investment Property loans can now be delivered against a standard 30YR Commitment (or other eligible specified commitments), as was permitted before the PSPA related changes.  The restriction has also been lifted on existing open whole loan commitments.

Blue Loans has released the first episode in its video series titled “Reduce Your Hedge Cost or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Cash Window”. (Blue Loans provides a full array of secondary services to mortgage originators.)

Despite the increase in COVID cases due to the delta variant throughout much of August, if you look back over the last few weeks of economic data, it remains solid as both businesses and consumers continue to adjust to a new normal. Inflation remains the main story of the recovery and 49 percent of respondents in the NFIB’s small business optimism survey said they have raised prices and 44 percent expect to raise prices over the next quarter. Officially, consumer inflation slowed in August in what many hope is a sign that prices are beginning to moderate though the degree of moderation remains to be seen. 

But there are still many supply chain issues that need to be resolved. And if you can’t buy it, that won’t help the economy. The pace of manufacturing growth will be held in check until staffing challenges and the lack of key production inputs wane. Back to school shopping helped to bump retail sales by 0.7 percent in August, however economists expect consumer spending to pull back a little this fall. Everyone’s pretty happy, though, that there hasn’t been much news to significantly move mortgage rates, which have been relatively flat over the last month. The FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) ends its get-together today and markets will be waiting for direction as to the timing of the Fed’s balance sheet reduction.

Yes, it's Fed decision day. Investors are betting that FOMC policy makers will signal a taper this year, though with inflation forecasts moving higher, markets will be more concerned about the dot plot and if any more officials have joined the camp calling for rate hikes next year. Before we get there, let’s touch on a couple economic releases. We saw yesterday that total housing starts increased 3.9 percent month-over-month in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.615 million while permits rose 6.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.728 million. Both beat expectations.

Today, MBA reported that mortgage applications increased 4.9 percent from one week earlier, for the week ending September 17, though the previous week’s results included an adjustment for the Labor Day holiday. Black Knight reported that with the foreclosure moratoria on federally backed mortgages lifted as of the end of July, there was a slight increase in foreclosure activity in August. Fortunately, there was improvement in the national delinquency rate to the lowest it’s been since pandemic-related impacts first caused mortgage delinquencies to spike early last year. This afternoon brings the conclusion of the two-day FOMC meeting with release of the Statement and updated SEP and dot plot followed by Fed Chair Powell’s press conference. The only other release on the economic calendar is existing home sales for August later this morning. We begin the day with Agency MBS prices down/worse a few ticks and the 10-year yielding 1.33 after closing yesterday at 1.32 percent on no substantive news.


Jobs and New Hires

MBA Education is currently seeking an Associate Director of Career Development Programming. The individual will be responsible for the management and overall success of MBA’s seven certification and designation programs, which includes the Certified Mortgage Banker (CMB) designation. This is a great opportunity for those interested in helping thousands of single-family and CREF mortgage finance professionals grow in their careers. The position is eligible to be 100% remote and candidates from around the country are encouraged to apply. For more information, please feel free to contact David Upbin.

First Community Mortgage is expanding its Delegated Correspondent Lending Division! This award-winning company is looking for AEs in the North, South, East, West, and all parts in between “to develop and deepen business partner relationships in our growing Correspondent channel. We offer ‘best efforts’ execution with unparalleled service and support to our AEs and business partners alike. As a relationship lender with a penchant for service, FCM recognizes that people are the key to successful partnerships! Come be a part of this exceptional team as we seek to broaden our reach into all markets across the US. If you are interested in learning more about FCM’s Correspondent Lending division and our ‘best in class’ operations team, please contact Brandon Sandefur, EVP Del-Corr.”

What’s the recipe for success in the mortgage industry? It’s simple: cutting edge technology and first-class customer service. And Embrace Home Loans has both. Embrace is known for its state-of-the art technology, its innovative loan operation system (LOS) and its groundbreaking digital applications. Combine all three with Embrace’s outstanding loan fulfillment teams and terrific culture, and you have a winning formula. It’s no wonder Embrace customers are raving fans! Embrace has an average rating of 4.97 out of 5 stars from nearly 3,000 Zillow reviews, as well as an average 5-star rating on Social Survey and Google. Mortgage professionals looking for a place where they have all the tools to succeed are in luck, as Embrace Home Loans continues to grow and is looking for high-performing loan experts who care deeply about customer satisfaction. Interested in joining a winning team? Reach out to Steve Adamo or call him at 401-524-5733.

Plaza Home Mortgage, Inc. announced that Mike Wilson has joined the company as Chief Information Officer responsible for strategic planning, oversight, and the continuous improvement of Plaza’s technology activities, along with overseeing Plaza’s data center, drive development and implementation of new systems and applications, ensure that Plaza’s hardware, software, and web systems are efficient and secure and oversee IT.

Hamilton Home Loans appointed Christopher Cash as SVP, National Operations, and will be executing the company’s overall vision and strategy to position Hamilton as a leading residential mortgage lender with a seamless customer experience through overseeing processing, underwriting, and closing.