Today I am in transit to Virginia Beach for the VMLA Annual Convention, October 1-2. How did we end up in October already? Certainly the seasons are in transit: Anchorage, Alaska, where snows are already happening, is losing over 5 minutes of daylight per day (versus Miami only losing about 1 ½ minutes of daylight.) Most of the nation doesn't turn the clocks back this year until the day after Halloween, and once again petitions will circulate to do away with changing of clocks and ending daylight savings time.

Yesterday the commentary discussed the ramp-up of Hispanic influence on the housing markets. I was reminded, however, that, per a Pew Study, Asian immigration has actually overtaken Hispanic immigration. "Since 2000, Asian Americans have been the fastest growing group in the United States with the highest household income in the country. Nearly two thirds of the Asian American population is foreign born and the demand for culturally relevant products is strong. Within the next two years, Asian American purchasing power will top $1 trillion."

Speaking of which the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) has entered into a two-year exclusive partnership with Radian Guaranty Inc., the mortgage insurance subsidiary of Radian Group Inc. (NYSE:RDN).  Through this partnership, Radian and AREAA will focus on creating broader lending options for Asian American consumers, including the association's 14,000 members.  Carmen Chong, 2015 Chairman of AREAA observed, "In order to better serve the Asian American community more effectively, we need to educate real estate professionals about various mortgage options as well as continue to develop relevant mortgage products. AREAA is proud to partner with Radian to make this important effort possible." Under the agreement, Radian is working with AREAA and its local leaders to educate AREAA members on the benefits of mortgage insurance and to create tools to help Asian American consumers make the best mortgage decisions.

And while we're on agreements the North American Title Group (ATG) has entered into an agreement with Secure Insight to conduct independent risk evaluation, rating, and monitoring of its 120 title and settlement offices throughout the United States. "The process will be utilized to enhance NATG's ongoing efforts to implement best practices and provide NATG's customers with another layer of risk management for quality assurance and consumer protection. Kimberly Sledd, Legal & Regulatory Compliance Specialist at NATG said, "We have always employed a comprehensive and effective risk management program to ensure our customers are protected and our business is reliable.  We decided to engage Secure Insight as a further enhancement to our process, allowing for third-party verification and management of our controls to elevate our settlement and title service best practices to an even higher level."

With well over 1,000 associates and a vast network of branches from coast to coast, NATG is among the largest real estate settlement service providers in the United States. Consisting of both agent and underwriter operations, NATG reported annual net revenues in fiscal 2014 of $189 million. The company also has the resources and stability of a wholly owned subsidiary of an S&P 500 company with over $12.9 billion in assets (fiscal quarter ending Nov. 30, 2014). Click here to learn more about NATG."

In the "why the heck did Rob write about this" category, according to the Law Offices of California's Peter N. Brewer, if a city-owned tree falls on your home, you may be reimbursed for damages. According to a court case where a city-owned tree fell on a private residence during a windstorm, resulting in damages, the insurer for the homeowner paid benefits to the homeowner but then sued the City for inverse condemnation and nuisance based on the damages caused by the tree. The court cited that the tree was not a work of public improvement and the insurer failed to submit evidence establishing negligence by the city. Evidence indicated that the tree was a street tree to enhance the residents' and visitors' quality of life and the city did not meet its burden to establish that it had fulfilled its duty of care. Therefore, the burden did not shift to the insurer. The court ruled in favor of the insurer and in an inverse indemnification case the prevailing party may be awarded their attorney fees. The full story can be found here.

We hear it all the time and maybe some of us even write about it....but what exactly is Case-Schiller and why is it so important? Case-Schiller is named after, and refers to the work of two noted economist, Karl Case and Robert Schiller....along with their partner Allan Weiss (to a certain extent, I mean, if you're left off the letter head I don't know what that says). Expanding on the housing research Case and Schiller created in the late 1980's, the three started a firm (Case, Schiller, Weiss Inc), and began producing the Case-Schiller Index back in the early 1990's (now owned by CoreLogic). The Standard & Poor's Case-Schiller Home Price Indices (which the majority of interest is in this number) is simply an indexed number which is calculated from data on repeat sales of single-family homes, and ultimately allows for an historical analysis of home pricing trends. For those who can't remember what they did last weekend, let alone Econ 2A, an indexed number is simply a way to compare apples-to-apples (usually in terms of pricing) across a certain time frame, say 1980--Present. Interpreting an index number is pretty straight forward as well. The base is set to equal 100 (usually, and can be thought of as a par value) and the index number is usually expressed as 100 times the ratio to the base value. Example: if the same home doubled in price from 1980 to 1990, the indexed number would be 200 relative 1980. Anyway, here's some extra credit for those interested in current numbers.

"Rob, when you have a moment can you mention 2015 YTD agency issuance in the commentary? I'm curious to see how the "experts" have done in their predictions." Yes, let's get this out of the way before we hit the end of the year, when all the 2016 predictions come flooding our way. I recently received YTD estimates of MBS, in August, which will be around $110B (gross) and $20B (net) respectively. This is slightly down MoM versus $128B and $36B in July. These issuance numbers should bring the cumulative YTD net issuance of agency MBS to $90B. The volume of agency MBS issuance backed by purchase mortgages from June to August of this year was about 17% higher than the corresponding issuance numbers in 2013 and 2014.  Because the issuance of MBS backed by purchase mortgages had gone higher, the GNMA MBS issuance has been very strong recently both in terms of monthly issuance volumes and as a percentage of total agency MBS issuance. So where does this leave us at the end of 2015? Issuance experts say, "We expect the gross issuance of agency MBS to decline to $100bn in September and remain in the range of $90-100bn per month over the next four months (i.e., September to December). The total gross issuance in 2015 is likely to total $1.24 trillion."

In spite of the supposed impending rate increase some time this year longer term rates are staying low. In fact they've been low most of 2015. Sure they go up a little and down a little, but volatility has quieted down - for now. Wednesday was no exception although we saw the front end (and "belly") of the yield curve improve while the long end lagged. The only news yesterday was the Chicago PMI (weak) and the ADP Employment Change (as expected).

Today we've seen September's Challenger Job Cuts (59k) and Initial Jobless Claims (+10k to 277k); the September ISM Index and August Construction Spending are still ahead. We closed the 10-year Wednesday at 2.06% and we're currently at 2.03% with agency MBS prices better nearly .125 - but not quite as they seem to be lagging.

Jobs and Announcements

In job news LenderLive Correspondent Lending is actively seeking experienced regional account executives in Southern California, Colorado, Texas and the mid-Atlantic region. "LenderLive provides private-label, end-to-end mortgage services, from origination through default. LenderLive's correspondent program is a fast-growing, FNMA, FHLMC, GNMA seller/servicer providing a full product suite that includes non-QM. Its correspondent program offers a truly distinctive value proposition, including a Fast Track seller approval that activates clients in days rather than weeks. In addition, it is also the ICBA Mortgage exclusive correspondent lending partner, with access to nearly 4,000 community banks nationwide. In addition to their compensation plan, LenderLive correspondent account executives have the ability to earn additional income cross-selling affiliate services." Contact Bob Kallio for more information. 

And talented AEs thinking about exploring a new channel are encouraged to contact Southwest Bank. Southwest Bank is seeking to add another National Account Executive to its Emerging Correspondent Warehouse Lending Program. "The ideal candidate will have a keen eye on the mortgage market, have 5 years' experience in wholesale or correspondent lending, and have a proven track record of building quality relationships. This is a high-profile position with extensive travel and the opportunity to build a national reputation for oneself, and candidates should expect to be based in Dallas, Texas...where the finest warehouse programs bloom!   Southwest Bank is FDIC Insured/EOE and EOE of Vets and IWD."  For more information, contact the program's President, David Frase, CMB (972.243.7900).

And on the retail side Castle & Cooke Mortgage is expanding in Idaho. "Are you a Branch Manager or a Loan Originator wanting to take your career to the next level? Now is the time to join the Castle & Cooke Mortgage platform.  At Castle & Cooke Mortgage, we believe our employees are our greatest asset. This belief makes us unique and paves the way for a long and successful career when you join our team.  We provide an extensive loan platform, cutting edge technology, corporate sponsored marketing support, consistent 24-hour underwriting turnaround times and more individualized support to help loan officers build their businesses - their way. The median home value in Idaho is on the rise and the state is spending millions to attract highly skilled professionals (software developers and civil engineers) to further boost the economy and invest in the state's infrastructure, thus further increasing the quality of life. This also indicates an increase in the demand for housing. And Castle & Cooke Mortgage is at the ready to provide Idaho clients with exceptional service and the loan options they need to take advantage of all Idaho has to offer." Contact Talent Manager Heidi Iverson (801.461.7164).

In personnel & product news Mortgage Quality Management & Research, LLC (MQMR) announced that Tim Cox has joined as the Chief Strategy Officer. Most recently, Tim Cox was the National Programs Manager at Lenders One where he managed vendor due diligence, business development and the strategic growth of Lenders One's preferred provider relationships. In his new role, Tim Cox will oversee national sales, marketing/branding, and product development for MQMR, HQ Vendor Management, and Subsequent QC, MQMR's servicing QC division.  Cox will manage the formulation and execution of strategy across all three business channels, with an initial focus on supporting lenders and vendors in meeting their vendor management oversight requirements.  For lenders or vendors looking for vendor management solutions, or to meet at the San Diego MBA Conference, reach out to Tim Cox.

Guaranteed Rate, the eighth largest retail mortgage lender, announced the addition of Fred Quick as senior vice president of consumer direct sales. Quick will lead all revenue generation activities in Irvine, Calif., and implement best practices across Guaranteed Rate's entire call service environment.

But Guaranteed Rate has been making news on the other side of the personnel ledger. A few months ago David Wind left Guaranteed Rate and is now with California's SoFi. Retail lender 1st Advantage has hired John Elias as President, and John is the former COO of Guaranteed Rate. And earlier this month Silverton Mortgage added Tony Thompson, another ex-Guaranteed Rate employee, as its VP of Growth and Strategy. As readers probably recall earlier this month Guaranteed Rate added 75 former Discover Home Loans employees as well as the Irvine, Calif., call center facility where they worked.

San Francisco's SoFi, which began by refinancing student debt but also has a mortgage banking arm, just raised another $1 billion led by SoftBank.