Starting January 31, the Federal Trade Commission has banned consulting firms from charging up-front fees for negotiating modifications of residential mortgage loans. In Nevada, the Mortgage Lending Commissioner said the constraints of the federal rule "will have substantial impact" on the number of licensed consultants for mortgage loan modifications. His office counts 39 licensed loan modification firms with 185 licensed associates in Nevada. Critics say that the ruling favors large banks, which don't want advocates representing homeowners. As one would suspect, unethical mortgage modification firms often fail to do any work after collecting fees, and the FTC rule will prohibit mortgage modification firms from being paid in advance. FTC PRESSER

It took me a few months, but I finally tabulated the 3rd quarter mortgage origination statistics.*

Wells clocked in at #1 (for the 4th consecutive quarter) at $103 billion for the retail, wholesale, and correspondent channels. That gives them a 23% market share. #2 was Bank of America with a 17% market share, followed by the usual suspects: Chase, CitiMortgage, Ally/GMAC/RFC, US Bank, PHH, Quicken, SunTrust, and Flagstar with $7.6 billion. Wells and BofA combined for a 40% market share, more than the next 8 combined. In fact, Wells alone did more than Citi, Ally, USB, PHH, Quicken, SunTrust, and Flagstar combined!

*I actually didn't do this. And of course I have no idea if Quicken, for example, funds a loan in its name and then sells the loan to Chase, for example, if the loan is double counted. The last time I checked, it was, similar to volumes Realtors claim (when two competing firms claim the volume when one does the "sell" and the other the "buy). The production numbers comes from

Speaking of statistics, here is some of the latest housing research reporting from the Fed - worth a gander for anyone looking for material for presentations. CHECK IT OUT

Here's one list that loan agents probably want to find themselves and their companies on:

According to the Miami Herald, "There are nearly 43,000 mortgage brokers in Florida licensed under existing rules. So far, only about 14,000 have applied under the new system." Wow - there go 29,000 of my readers! But wait - mortgage industry professionals in Florida will have three more months to complete license applications initiated by Friday under a new, tougher screening system, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation announced. Applications were originally due this week, and anyone who hadn't completed one had to stop working on mortgages after that. Now, anyone who gets started on an application by Friday and pays application fees can keep working until March 31. They have until then to complete other requirements, including a state and federal background check, required education and testing and a credit report. If their applications aren't complete by March 31, applicants will have to stop working in the mortgage business. HERE is the actual announcement.

One agent wrote, "I am one of those caught in the DRE log jam which is primarily occurring in the sponsorship link between the NMLS registered Owner/Broker company and the individual loan originator. Supposedly, those Owner/Brokers who submitted their originators' registration information before September 15 were guaranteed approval before January 1, but it has not happened for me yet and I don't expect it to in spite of our filing long before the deadline. So when you look me up on the DRE website and click on the NMLS link you'll still find a big "NO" in the box labeled "Authorized to do Business". This is classic government creation of a monster to solve a mythical problem and then being unable to manage it."

Another industry vet wrote, summing up several responses that I received: "For NMLS, I would add that most LO's who are having issues waited until the last minute.  This was all supposed to be done by September, but the DRE extended to give the dead beats time to complete.  The LO's who view their jobs as "professionals" got their licensing out of the way by the end of summer, are in possession of their MLO, and are ready to tackle 2011. I continue to be amazed by the way some LO's ignored the licensing all year, waited to the last minute, and are now blaming their employer, the NMLS, or the DRE for their situation - it is entirely their fault.   Our experience with dealing with the people at NMLS and the DRE has been nothing but positive.  They are very helpful and sympathetic, but can only do so much for the lazy LO who did not get their requirements completed early on.  In fact, there have been thousands of emails from every aspect of the industry warning LO's all year that they need to get this handled early - it is just embarrassing that some of our LO's did not take their profession seriously."

"The issue that California is having, we have seen nationwide with most states outside of PA .  Whether it is a renewal and or just a simple 'transfer,' the average state seems to be back up at least 60 days.  Technically the LO's can't conduct business until fully processed by the state and or the NMLS.  This is a huge issue that the state governments must address and most mortgage banks are out of compliance in one fashion or the other. Some have adopted a "State Desk" concept but as we know technically that function is also out of compliance."

EverBank, for one, sent out a note to brokers, "Please note that we are no longer taking loans in UNLESS you have been set up with NMLS... We Understand the NMLS Rules say by 1/1/11, but we are trying to avoid any issues going forward and are also trying to avoid the rush of loans that may come in with NO NMLS #."

Yesterday I had a primer on reverse mortgages. One reader wrote, "I've heard that FHA is sitting on a huge pile of unrealized losses that no one is discussing. During the boom years, a large number of reverse mortgages were done, especially in Florida where there are a lot of seniors. As you mention below, the mortgage is based on the value of the house. A large percentage of those homes have fallen in value. So, when the borrower passes away, and FHA goes to sell the house, they aren't going to be able to get their money back out of it. Effectively, those who did reverses were able to short their housing market."

Wells Fargo's broker clients were reminded to check the NMLS website that I listed near the top to "verify that both your NMLS Company Originator ID and Loan Originator ID are listed in the database. With loans registered on or after Jan. 3, 2011, the Company Originator ID (associated with the broker's name) and the Loan Originator ID (of the Loan Officer signing the 1003) needs to match the information in the NMLS Consumer Access website. Beginning with loans registered on or after Jan. 3, 2011, Wells Fargo will validate that the NMLS Company Originator ID and Loan Originator ID are listed in the NMLS Consumer Access website. If either of the numbers is not listed in the database, then the loan will be suspended."

Chase Correspondent recently improved its price adjustment for Agency Amortizing Fixed Rate Conforming loans with a 10-year loan term by .375.

Regarding condos, SunTrust reminded its correspondent clients that after Friday "if the condominium project does not appear on the FHA Connections website as approved, the Direct Endorsement Correspondent client must follow the steps below in order to get a recertification or re-approval: Projects that received HUD approval prior to January 1, 2000 will require a full review and re-approval after December 31, 2010. Project re-approval can be processed using the HRAP or DELRAP option. Projects that received HUD approval after January 1, 2000, are eligible for the HUD recertification process. Project recertification can be processed using the HRAP or DELRAP option. Not all condominium projects in this group will expire on December 31, 2010. Correspondent clients are encouraged to check the expiration date of the project."

And while we're talking about condos, one can always find Fannie's list of approved projects at

Wells Fargo correspondent clients learned that Wells will be following the FHA's recently issued extensions on the deadlines for obtaining unconditional DE approval to 7/1 (which applies to the rule change that Principal-Authorized Agent relationship originations require that both lenders possess unconditional direct endorsement approval), and "Temporary and Narrow Extension of FHA-Approval for Loan Correspondents - Extended to March 31, 2011, with conditions."

PHH let its clients know that "Tier 6 clients who are no longer able to close loans as a lender under the FHA Reform were notified that their current FHA pipeline with PHH must be closed by December 31. Recently, clients may have become aware that the FHA extended this deadline to March 31, 2011. It is important to remember that, although the closing deadline has been extended, all loans are required to be final approved by the DE underwriter by December 31, 2010. This includes approval of the appraisal by the DE Underwriter as well."

One trader said that "this market is harder to understand than Mick Jagger's lyrics." Things improved Monday after the Treasury auction, sold off Tuesday after the Treasury auction (with the 10-yr hitting 3.49%), then rallied yesterday after the Treasury auction. After the $29 billion 7-yr note auction yesterday went well, the 10-yr improved a point taking the yield back down to 3.34%. (Of course, in early November the 10-yr was below 2.50 %.) MBS prices improved by .875-1.125, depending on the coupon.

I've just heard from a friend in South Jersey.

She says it has been snowing heavily for three days now.

Her husband has done nothing but stare through the window.

If it doesn't stop soon she'll probably have to let him in.