As our nation prepares to begin the new year, the U.S. Census Bureau today projected that on Jan. 1, 2013, the total United States population will be 315,091,138. This represents an increase of 2,272,462, or 0.73%, from New Year's Day 2012. We are currently seeing a rate of one birth every eight seconds in the United States and one death every 12 seconds. And you heard this "who cares?" news here first: Kim Kardashian is pregnant with Kanye West's baby. But we digress...

Lenders continue to expand! As previously mentioned in this column, iServe is a growing national GNMA approved issuer and a "one-stop shop focused upon speed and quality of service." iServe is hiring NMLS licensed Originators, Branch Managers and Regional Managers in key markets throughout the United States. Check its website for all 22 of the licensed states at or email joiniserve@iservelending .com. For Regional Manager opportunities email Ken Michael at kmichael@iservelending .com. All inquiries are held in strict confidence.

And speaking of expansion, Colorado State Bank & Trust Mortgage Group is hiring several Mortgage Loan Originators and Sales Managers for various offices throughout Colorado. CSBT is a subsidiary of BOK Financial Corporation (NASDAQ symbol: BOKF) a $27 billion financial holding company, and CSBT itself dates back to 1908.  "We're proud of our heritage and pleased at our long-time role in the Colorado banking community. CSBT's Loan Originators can expect an aggressive commission structure, competitive pricing, niche products including 100% LTV's with no MI, 80/10/10s & 97% LPMI, and local processing, underwriting and closing teams to support you and all of your sales efforts."  Interested applicants should SVP, Gary Tackett at gtackett@csbt .com or visit the website.

Loan officer compensation technicalities aside, there aren't too many in the mortgage business who are only earning minimum wage. But the minimum wage is slated to rise tomorrow in several states, and an estimated 855,000 workers will be directly affected by the wage changes while another 140,000 are projected to be indirectly affected by the changes as employers readjust their pay scales to accommodate the new minimum. The new hourly rates will range between $7.35 in Missouri and $9.19 in Washington State (which has the highest minimum wage in the nation). States must pay at least the same as the federal minimum wage, which has been set at $7.25 an hour since 2009 and is not indexed to inflation. That works out to an annual income of about $15,000. In 2013, 19 states and the District of Columbia will have rates above the federal level. More information

How about our very own Ginnie Mae? There is a lag in reporting numbers, but in October Ginnie guaranteed $36.80 billion in MBS. I've been in this business so long that I remember when Ginnie I's were the dominant security, but in October issuance for Ginnie Mae II single-family pools led the way with almost $31 billion, while Ginnie Mae I single-family pools totaled roughly $4 billion. Issuance for the Ginnie Mae Home Equity Conversion Mortgage-Backed Security (HMBS), included in Ginnie Mae II single-family pools, was $707 million. Total single-family issuance for October was $34.79 billion. In addition, Ginnie Mae's multifamily MBS issuance reached $2.011 billion for the month. As a quick reminder, Ginnie Mae finances housing mortgage programs run by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH), and the Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Housing and Community Facilities Program (RD).

Ginnie is usually lumped in with Fannie and Freddie under the term "the agencies", and many originators have begun the process of shifting from selling all loans on a correspondent basis to selling direct to the GSEs. Companies are rushing to obtain approvals from the GSEs in order to sell direct and retain or sell servicing through bifurcation programs. Companies realize they can increase production and profitability, better manage liquidity and reduce exposure to investor overlays. Some companies may not have the knowledge or experience to sell loans directly to the GSEs. In addition, production volumes and capacity issues may make it more challenging for companies to fast track the delivery processes. Affiliated Consulting Services specializes in working with mortgage companies, banks and credit unions upon approval to establish processes and procedures necessary to deliver to the GSEs. Affiliated Consulting Services is comprised of seasoned professionals with deep subject matter expertise in mortgage originations, compliance, capital markets and secondary marketing, servicing and sub-servicing, accounting and business analytics. For more information about the company, please visit (And no, this was not a paid ad.)

On to some very recent agency and investor updates. As always, it is best to read the actual bulletin for full details, but this will give you a sense of the trends out there.

As we mentioned a month ago, but as a reminder by now we all know that the FHFA has announced that its 2013 Conventional Conforming loan limits will remain unchanged from what they were in 2012, while the VA has published the county limits that it uses to calculate the maximum of guaranty.  The county loan limits will increase in 33 counties, decrease in 63, and remain the same in 46; see for the full list.

As DU is scheduled for an update over the weekend of January 12, 2013, loans submitted prior to that date will be subject to the current 2012 county loan limits, while the 2013 limits will apply to those submitted after that weekend.  The FHA loan limits, both minimum and maximum, will stay at existing levels in 2013 (for one-unit properties, this means that the $271,050 floor and $729,750 ceiling will remain).  The list of high cost areas will also remain in effect throughout 2013 with the exception of Aleutians West, Anchorage, Haines, Kodiak Island, Matanuska-Susit, North Slope, Petersburg Cens, Valdez-Cordova, and Yakutat City Counties in Alaska and Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, San Jacinto, and Waller Counties in Texas, which are subject to an increase.  The new loan limits will apply to all case numbers issued from January 1st.

The FHA reminds lenders that they will not be able to receive case numbers after January 28th if the loan officer name and NMLS number are entered incorrectly upon case number assignment.  Lenders registering a new TPO in the FHAC Sponsored Originator Registry are also required to include the TPO's NMLS ID, its full corporate address, and its EIN number.  For state-specific NMLS information, see

The State of Washington has officially recognized marriage as a civil contract between two persons, replacing its previous definition of marriage as a civil contract between a male and a female.  This means that all Washington state law that references gender specific terms are now to be construed as gender-neutral.  All couples previously registered as domestic partners will automatically have the partnership merged into a marriage by June 30, 2014 unless one of the parties is 62 or over.  The States of Maine and Maryland have also revised its Marriage Act to define marriage as the legally recognized union of two people; the same assumed gender neutrality applies to the respective state laws, and various lenders have updated their guidance accordingly.

In conjunction with Wolters Kluwer, Fifth Third has announced plans to implement a new web-based document delivery portal that will replace the current submission protocol for underwriting, appraisal, funding, and post-closing documents.  Eligible lenders will receive an invitation to use the service from Fifth Third.

Franklin American has clarified its policy on Jumbo VA loans and now requires evidence that the loan has been insured by the VA prior to purchase.

Mountain West Financial has updated its escrow policies and now allows borrowers who are refinancing loans currently serviced by MWF to transfer their balance from the existing loan to the new one at closing.  Originators can notify post closing by sending an email to with the state in which the borrower is requesting a transfer, the borrower's existing MWF loan number, the borrower's name, the anticipated closing date, and the originator name, phone number, and tax number.

As per the changes announced back in September, US Bank Relief Refinance Open Access mortgages will be subject to Freddie Mac's $250 cash-out maximum, which applies to all borrowers whose applications are dated November 19, 2012 and after regardless of LTV.

Pinnacle has updated guidance for its Cascade Jumbo products that lowers the maximum loan amount to $1 million.   Guidance has also been added for conforming loans where 401(k)s are excluded from DTI calculations and FHA Streamlines without appraisals, for which monthly mortgage insurance premiums may be included as indicated on the payoff of the outstanding loan.  For Enhanced DU Refi Plus loans, all references to the previous 1007 requirement have been removed.

Quicken has announced that it is now allowing LTVs up to 200% for DU Refi Plus products provided that the borrower has a credit score of 640 or over, no late payments in the last 12 months, and a DTI of 50% or under.  Transactions where the LTV exceeds 125% are subject to a price adjuster of +.375, and if the borrower opts for Quicken as the title company, all title services are required to be performed by Title Source.  MI transfers are still permitted amongst PMI, MGIC, RMIC, Genworth, and Radian, and appraisals are permitted only if the Quicken findings do not issue an Appraisal Waiver.  A webinar discussing the full details of the new product will be available on January 4th; those interested should register at

Switching to the markets, Friday did not see a lot of price movement versus Thursday's close, but what we did see was slightly worse.  Mortgage-backed securities (MBS) prices were impacted by a reported $2 billion in originations. The news Friday was not very compelling as both Chicago PMI (51.6) and Pending Home sales (+1.7 percent) were at or close to consensus estimates.

We have a new week, with the same fiscal cliff blather, but we do have quite a bit of economic news starting Wednesday. (Today is an early close in the bond market - look for investor rate sheets to be a little conservative.) Some of it will move rates, some of it merely for general information. Wednesday we'll have the MBA application index (first one in a couple weeks). We'll also have the ISM Index and Construction Spending for November. On the 3rd we'll see the Challenger and ADP employment numbers and Initial Jobless Claims, and then on Friday we'll have the usual slate of Nonfarm Payroll numbers, along with Factory Orders and another ISM number. The 10-yr closed Friday at a yield of 1.71%, and this morning we find it nearly unchanged at 1.70% - as are MBS prices.

To Maintain A Healthy Level Of Insanity:

1. In the Memo Field Of All Your Checks, Write 'For Marijuana'.
2. Order a Diet Water whenever you go out to eat, with a serious face.
3. Specify That Your Drive-through Order Is 'To Go'.
4. Sing Along At The Opera.
5. Five Days In Advance, Tell Your Friends You Can't Attend Their Party Because You have a headache.
6. When Leaving the Zoo, Start Running towards the Parking lot, Yelling 'Run For Your Lives! They're Loose!'
7. Tell Your Children Over Dinner, 'Due To The Economy, We Are Going To Have To Let One Of You Go.'
And The Final Way To Keep A Healthy Level Of Insanity
8. Pick up a box of condoms at the pharmacy, go to the counter, and ask where the fitting room is.