Our Federal Reserve doesn’t control events around the world, like a ship being stuck in the Suez Canal, or the current Red Sea geopolitical aggression, which can impact our inflation rate or how much money companies or individuals earn. The world changes. What was it like going to a concert 60 years ago? This will give you an idea. Concerts have become huge moneymakers. Along those lines, but in a different industry, the Financial Times reports that JPMorgan took almost a fifth of total US bank profits in the first nine months of 2023! Too big to fail? For those playing along at home, the ten largest banks, when that concert was filmed, were Bank of America, Chase Manhattan Bank, First National City Bank of New York, Chemical Bank New York Trust Company, Morgan Guaranty Trust Company, Manufacturer’s Hanover Trust Company, Bank of California, Security First National Bank, Banker’s Trust Company, and First National Bank of Chicago. Now the list is JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citi Bank, Wells Fargo, US Bank, Truist, PNC, Goldman Sachs, Capital One, and TD Bank. Whether it is banking or mortgage lending, the landscape is always in flux! Today’s podcast can be found here, and this week’s is sponsored by the STRATMOR Group, the data-driven mortgage advisory. At STRATMOR, insights and knowledge are applied to guide mortgage clients to make sound strategic decisions and take actions that improve their success. I go on the podcast to put a wrap on 2023 and look ahead to 2024 for the mortgage industry.

Broker and Lender Software, Products, and Programs

A Greater Town has built a robust real estate portal into its national hyperlocal marketing site and is looking for one mortgage lender (or a few select mortgage lenders) to "own" it, similar to having your own Zillow or Rocket Homes. About 600 MLS associations are represented with over 1,100,000 listings & 750,000 real estate agents & brokers. A comprehensive directory of every mortgage lender & MLO in the country is in construction as well. It's the ideal environment for a national lender to set up shop. Examples include Editors Picks, Sally Forster Jones, Founder & CEO of the Sally Forster Jones Group at Compass, and Jerry & Lisa String, Listing & Buyer Agents at Realty ONE Group DocksideSouth. For further information, please contact Drew Knapp, CEO of A Greater Town, (973-477-7154).

The Knowledge Coop's new membership platform offers all state and federal Continuing Education courses in an engaging and exciting video format that you're sure to actually enjoy. Want to give yourself a sharper competitive edge? They also offer in-depth training on specific topics like VA Loans and FHA within their Coop Academy. Get access to industry experts and connect with other mortgage professionals all in one space. Use Code Chrisman10 for 10 percent off your first year of membership here.

First American: Still on the Hotseat

A cyberattack shutting down First American is a reminder to every lender and vendor just how critical their computer systems are. Plenty of owners and managers are hearing, “See, I told you!” from their IT staffs as recommendations go out about testing, testing, and more testing. With originators and branches changing companies, is a lender exposed to attack? As a lender, do you even have an IT policy about on-boarding? How often do you require employees to change passwords? How vigilant are you regarding third-party outside vendors’ systems? And even if your internal systems are up to snuff, what policies do you have regarding sending texts?

The First American cybersecurity “incident” a few days before Christmas partially obstructed thousands of lenders. For example, Citi Correspondent Lending's loan review process was impacted. “An announcement has been issued providing details around the impacts. Click here to view the complete announcement. This has also been posted on the Correspondent Lending Portal's Resources / Correspondent Resources / Communication tab.”

First American has filed an update with the Securities and Exchange Commission available at the SEC's website at www.SEC.gov.

“As disclosed in the Original Report, the Company recently identified unauthorized activity on certain of its information technology systems. Upon detection of the unauthorized activity, the Company took steps in an effort to contain, assess and remediate the incident. On December 20, 2023, the Company elected to isolate systems from the Internet. The Company has retained leading experts, worked with law enforcement, and notified certain regulatory authorities. As of the date of this filing, the Company believes it has contained the incident. The Company is in the process of restoring access to its systems and resuming normal business operations. Though the incident is still under investigation, the Company believes the perpetrator of the activity accessed certain Company systems, exfiltrated data and encrypted data on certain non-production systems.”

Leading up to New Years’ weekend there was some good news:

“First American's PRISM (opens in a new tab/window) marketing and automation toolkit for title agents is back online.

“First American's AgentNet (opens in a new tab/window) platform for title agents is back online.

“First American's ACI (opens in a new tab/window) appraisal system, Charles Jones (opens in a new tab/window) public records search, and the FraudGuard (opens in a new tab/window) loan quality assurance platform are back online.

DataTree (opens in a new tab/window) and DataTrace (opens in a new tab/window), First American’s title data and property records research tools are back online.

First American Home Warranty’s (opens in a new tab/window) site has been restored for all service and sales needs.

FirstAm.com has been restored (with some limits to functionality). We will continue to post updates on this page as we return to normal business operations.

“Our bank, First American Trust, continues to accept incoming wires, and all funds at First American Trust and our third-party partner banks remain secure.”

Webinars, Training, and In-Person Events to Start 2024

Yes, applications picked up for everyone in November, helping December closings, but now what? No one’s business is “through the roof” so you may-as-well do some learnin’! (A good place for longer term conference planning is to start is here, and click on “events” for conferences in the future.)

Wednesday the 3rd, looking for more in-depth commentary on weekly mortgage news? Register here for "Mortgage Matters: The Weekly Roundup” presented by Lenders One. Every Wednesday at 2:00 PM EST/11:00 AM PT is a dive into a range of mortgage-related topics, including market trends, interest rate fluctuations, innovative mortgage products, and industry advancements. Listen to a unique mix of age perspective, expertise, and charisma to the screen, ensuring that the information is not only educational but also entertaining. Hear from Kevin Peranio with PRMG!

Bringing together leading mortgage professionals to forecast the trends and transformations in the mortgage industry for the year 2024, register for the A&D Mortgage webinar, "Mortgage Horizons 2024: Industry Experts' Outlook", scheduled for January 4, 2024, at 1 PM EST. Engage with experts as they share insights, analyze market dynamics, and discuss strategies for navigating the evolving landscape of mortgage lending. Ideal for lenders, brokers, and financial advisors seeking a deeper understanding of what the future holds in mortgage finance.

Friday, January 5th, is this week’s episode of The Mortgage Collaborative’s Rundown covering current events in the mortgage market for 30-45 minutes starting at noon PT, 3PM ET, in “The Rundown”. Listen in to Beth Eller!

Join MISOMO’s upcoming Winter Summit, Monday, January 8th – Thursday, January 11th and learn what's hot in mortgage standards. Special session: Celebrating 25 Years of Industry Collaboration and Standards Development with David Coleman, President, MISMO; Harry Garder, Director of Digital Services, ICE Mortgage Technology; Gabe Minton, Executive Vice President & Chief Information Officer, Mortgage Connect, LP; and Rick Hill, Vice President Industry Technology, MBA, GSE and Housing Agency Updates, Artificial Intelligence: Mortgage Industry Vignettes, Paperless Technology, and Upcoming Credit Score Changes. Click Here for the Event Schedule and Full List of Speakers.

Join NYMBA as they unlock the complexities of marketing agreements in the mortgage sector, Wednesday, January 10th, 12-1PM (EST). Mitchell Sandler’s Daniella Casseres and Ari Karen will dive into the ever-evolving regulatory framework, covering key federal laws. Explore the intricacies of anti-kickback provisions and learn how to structure agreements that align with federal guidelines.

As the inventory of homes for sale continues to decline, more Americans are looking to achieve their dream of homeownership with new construction. Learn more about USDA’s Combination Construction-to-Permanent (Single Close) financing program, Wednesday, January 10, 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. ET., in a live, virtual training for all USDA lenders and real estate agents.

In Minnesota, join the MMA leadership, members, and industry professionals to learn about the past year, the coming year, and how it will impact the MMA. Have a wonderful morning networking, celebrating 2023, hearing a forecast for 2024, and preparing for another successful year! MMA 2024 Annual Meeting, January 11th, 8:00-10:30 at the Mendakota Country Club.

Start 2024 off with a BANG (and many laughs) as Dr. Eisenberg, The Bowtie Economist, updates us on what housing and real estate looks like for the coming year. Register for this CoAMP Event Thursday, January 11th 1:00-3:00 PM at Comedy Works in Greenwood Village, lunch is included in registration fee.

Beat the Post-Holiday Blues by Training for Success in January, Register for one of Arch MI’s upcoming featured or live webinars.

Arch Mortgage Insurance January Webinars! Loan Processing Using the Redesigned URLA/Form 1003 - Tuesday, January 9 at 1 p.m. ET | Noon CT | 11 a.m. MT | 10 a.m. PT. Income Fundamentals 101 The First Step in Understanding Acceptable Qualifying Income -

Wednesday, January 10 at 3 p.m. ET | 2 p.m. CT | 1 p.m. MT | Noon PT. Analyzing Appraisals for Single-Family Residences Identifying the Key Areas of the Uniform Residential Appraisal Report – Thursday, January 11 at 1 p.m. ET | Noon CT | 11 a.m. MT | 10 a.m. PT.

National MI’s January 2024 webinar sessions offers multiple topics. Mortgage Fraud - Don't Be a Victim with Marianne Collins - January 4th at 1pm ET. Mastering LinkedIn for Mortgage Professionals – Session One with Brynne Tillman – January 9th at 3pm ET. The 3 Roles of a Leader ​​​​​with Andrew Oxley - January 11th at 2pm ET.

Are you a real estate or mortgage professional looking to elevate your growth mindset and achieve new levels of success? Look no further than the highly anticipated "Kind Mindset" event, presented by Kind Lending. Taking place on January 16th, 2024, at The Buckhead Club in Atlanta, GA, this immersive event is designed to empower attendees with valuable insights on growth, success, and mindset. With an impressive lineup of speakers, including Kind Lending's CEO/Founder, Glenn Stearns, this event promises to be a transformative experience. Get ready to cultivate a "Kind Mindset" and embark on a journey of transformation and success. Register today.

Join San Diego CAMP on Wednesday, January 17th from 4 to 7. “Join us for a fun-filled in person event at the Bernardo Heights Clubhouse in sunny Rancho Bernardo! Get ready to kick off the CAMP San Diego Chapter 2024 with a new year economic update and happy hour. Guest speaker Rob Chrisman will share economic insights for 2024 to help you make the most of the coming year.”

Capital Markets

We ended 2023 with bond yields falling following a dovish pivot from the Fed at its final meeting of the year. Investors positioned balance sheets for expectations that inflation will continue to soften and that the economy will avoid falling into a deep recession. Quite the departure from the start of the year when all the predictions were for a U.S. recession and stock market slump. That, of course, didn’t play out as the U.S. Federal Reserve seems to have engineered an elusive soft-landing.

Now, the outlook is moving beyond monetary policy to disruption by things like attacks on Red Sea shipping, corporate earnings, and the U.S. presidential election. There’s always something to talk about: Remember Brexit? The U.S. - China Trade Deal? Etc. With the Federal Reserve signaling that it’s likely done raising interest rates to tame inflation, 2024 begins with traders ramping up expectations that central banks everywhere will slash interest rates this year. The fed funds futures market is projecting 75 basis points worth of rate cuts by the June FOMC meeting with an equal number of cuts expected in the second half of 2024.

Looming at the end of the month is another Fed meeting with the statement and post-meeting press conference on January 31. Of note, the new 2024 voting members are Atlanta’s Bostic, Cleveland’s Mester, Richmond’s Barkin, and San Francisco’s Daly replacing Chicago’s Goolsbee, Dallas’ Logan, Minneapolis’ Kashkari, and Philadelphia’s Harker. It's a slightly more hawkish voting roster.

The narrative of "higher-for-longer" rates dominated much of 2023, driving mortgage rates to levels not seen in 20 years. That narrative also lifted the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield to the 5 percent mark in late October, but a strong rally over the next ten weeks helped to drive the benchmark yield to unchanged for the year on aggregate as the market began pricing in the likelihood of multiple rate cuts in 2024. Even after the rate rally we've enjoyed, it has not brought a material change in the percentage of American homeowners who have incentive to refinance. Only 2 percent of the mortgage universe is currently in the money to refinance. If rates decline by 100 basis points, that number would only increase to 9 percent, still not much for anyone hoping for refinances to pick up.

2024 opens with a modest calendar that begins later this morning with final December S&P Global manufacturing PMI followed by construction spending for November. Risk events ramp up over the remainder of the week and include ISM manufacturing for December, JOLTS for November, minutes from the FOMC’s December 12-13 meeting, December ADP, and the all-important BLS Employment Situation for December to close the week. Investors won’t have much time to catch their breath as the following week includes the mini-Refunding, CPI, PPI, preliminary January consumer sentiment, and the start of earnings season with JPM, Citi, Wells Fargo, and BoA all reporting.

We begin 2024 with Agency MBS prices worse .250-.375 versus last Friday’s close, the 10-year yielding 3.95 after closing 2023 at 3.88 percent, and the 2-year at 4.32.


Don’t forget that anyone can post a resume, for free, at www.lendernews.com for potential employers to view for a nominal charge of $75 for several months.

Logan Finance Bucks Mortgage Industry Trends with Strong Q4 Growth! As the year-end fast approaches, Logan Finance finds itself in a thriving environment sparking growth that has more than doubled over the last two years. “There’s a great need for Non-QM lending and we are positioned well to handle the influx of new business,” says Aaron Samples, Logan’s Chief Revenue Officer. TPO partners, if you missed the year-end pricing special announcement, see our LinkedIn profile at Logan Finance Corporation. Mortgage broker clients can get rate discounts of up to .375 on select loan products through the end of December, so bring your deals to Logan! Logan’s growth is also fueling several new hires including Wholesale and Correspondent industry veterans Nick Pabarcus and Dave Weatherford, who will focus on recruiting and growing our network. And speaking of hiring, Logan Finance is looking for Non-QM superstar AEs, so contact Aaron Samples for hiring information. Learn more about Logan’s growth at Loganwholesale.com and Logancorrespondent.com.

“Spring EQ’s TPO division continues to experience rapid growth as demand for home equity solutions accelerates. To meet this demand, Spring EQ is excited to announce a new second lien program designed for Correspondent partners. Eligible delegated and non-delegated sellers will now have the opportunity to take advantage of Spring EQ’s competitive suite of products, including fixed-rate second mortgages and adjustable-rate HELOCs. Explore Spring EQ job postings and come join our growing team of fun and experienced mortgage professionals! At Spring EQ our primary focus is second mortgages. So, think of us first for all your seconds. Want to become a Spring EQ Correspondent partner? Click here to get started.”

Don’t forget that private mortgage insurance companies are hiring: MGIC, National MI, Arch MI, Radian, Essent, and Enact (in no particular order). And while’s we’re at it, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And my cat Myrtle’s friend the CFPB has career opportunities.