Is it just my imagination or do restaurants no longer have salt and pepper shakers on the tables after COVID? Is it just my imagination or do organizations with initials that begin with “N” have trouble keeping their leadership? In August of 2023 the chief of NAR resigned, last week it was the NRA, and this week it is NAR’s turn again, this time losing Tracy Kasper to blackmail!

Meanwhile, keeping on with real estate news, and realizing that anyone can sue anyone, news came out after Christmas that Zillow, which also owns Zillow Home Loans, is suing rivals over software that schedules property showings. 

Agency news

Freddie Mac (FHLMC) and Fannie Mae (FNMA) still have the lion’s share of the applications coming through lenders. What’s going on with their conventional conforming products?

Fannie Mae SVC-2023-06 December Servicing Guide update advises large non-depository sellers/servicers of updates to the frequency of financial reporting requirements and provides other miscellaneous updates.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are equipping lenders with updated resources for Uniform Loan Delivery Dataset (ULDD) Phase 5. Updates include an enhanced ULDD extension schema, featuring Phase 5 extension data points, and updated ULDD FAQs referencing the schema.

Fannie Mae posted the December Appraiser Quality Monitoring (AQM) list.

Pennymac Announcement 23-89 addresses Fannie Mae SEL-2023-09, Rental Income and Self-Employed Borrowers Update.

AmeriHome Mortgage Announcement 20231209-CL summarizes previously published changes made during December, additional changes made with the announcement, and recent Agency and regulatory news.

Mother Nature bats last

Yes, storms are a regular event around the world. For example, the storm hitting the Midwest and Southeast of the United States with blizzard conditions and potential flooding is “normal.”

What isn’t “normal” is 2023 being the hottest year on record, whether it is caused by man or part of a natural cycle over thousands of years. “Climate change deniers” can shrug it off, but when the increased likelihood of major storms, flooding, and forest fires impact mortgage pricing and insurance rates (if you can get insurance at all), and therefore your clients, it is a problem. Or if places like Honduras become unlivable due to the heat and lack of air conditioning, forcing shifts in where populations live, then it matters.

Tennessee Tornadoes: DR-4751-TN. and 4751-DR-TN Amendment 001.

On 12/28/2023, with Amendment No. 1 to DR-4751, FEMA declared federal disaster aid with individual assistance has been made available to three Tennessee counties, Cheatham, Gibson, and Stewart, affected by severe storms and tornadoes on 12/9/2023. See AmeriHome Mortgage Disaster Announcement 20231210-CL for inspection requirements.

Capital markets: pretty quiet out there

Economic data over the past week has highlighted the various effects tighter economic policy has had on different sectors of the economy. Interest rate sensitive areas remain the most strained, but 216k jobs were added during December and the unemployment rate remained at 3.7 percent, which shows labor markets have only moderated slightly. Most new jobs were concentrated in government, healthcare, and leisure and hospitality. November’s JOLTS report showed job openings continue to shrink as demand for labor slowly subsides and the quit rate fell below its pre-pandemic level.

December was also the 14th consecutive month of contraction in the manufacturing sector of the economy, according to the ISM Manufacturing Index. Spending on durable goods has fallen five of the last ten months compared to spending on services which has only dipped once in the past 40 months. However, demand for services is expected to moderate as the economy slows. Construction spending ticked up 0.4 percent in November though most spending was concentrated in single family housing. Multi-family construction spending has lost momentum as vacancy rates have risen.

After a lack of news to open the week (we learned that consumer credit increased by $23.7 billion in November), today’s economic calendar is already under way with the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index for December (91.9 versus 90.6, so a slight increase) and the November trade deficit ($63.2 billion, down from the prior month but little changed). Later today brings Redbook same store sales for the week ending January 6 and Treasury auctions headlined by $52 billion 3-year notes. Markets will also receive remarks from Fed Vice Chair of Supervision Barr. We begin the day with Agency MBS prices worse .125 from Monday’s close, the 10-year yielding 4.05 after closing yesterday at 4.00 percent, and the 2-year at 4.38.

Lender and broker services and software

Orion Lending slashed its annual expenses by $300,000 and boosted their conversion rate by 32 percent using Truv's income and employment verification solution. "Truv transformed our verification process, expanding our reach and cutting costs," asserts Richard Plummer, EVP of Operations at Orion Lending. Stop Overpaying. Contact TRUV today for your income, employment, insurance, and asset verifications.

“Wish you had a New Year’s resolution you could actually keep in 2024? How about 5? Contact PHH today and get on track to reduce delinquencies, shorten default timelines, resolve more loans in foreclosure, lower subservicing costs and increase customer satisfaction. No other servicer has been more highly decorated with top servicing awards from all three agencies (Fannie, Freddie, and HUD) over the past two years. We can onboard your portfolio (no matter the size) in 90 days or less, and a recent client saw a 70 percent reduction in complaints in the first 6 months after switching to PHH. What are you waiting for? Start 2024 by reaching out to Chris Sabbe today and let PHH help you reach your goals in the new year!”

Maximize your return on every loan with better secondary pricing and industry-leading technology. Now more than ever, lenders need solutions that allow scale while reducing operational costs and increasing revenue per loan. With Maxwell Capital, lenders can access competitive secondary market pricing on a wide array of products, including non-QM and jumbo, and full-service fulfillment support on both wholesale and mini correspondent offerings. Plus, Maxwell Capital customers gain access to Maxwell Point of Sale, a digital mortgage platform with built-in business intelligence to track and benchmark performance. Schedule a call with Maxwell today and start doing more for your bottom line.

“Processor & Underwriter Automation: Zoral’s automation platform delivers amazingly accurate results in record time! Improve processing and underwriting turn times from days to minutes. Zoral analyses, calculates, and compares LOS data to document data. Dynamic notifications and conditions provide your team with a concise roadmap of what is needed on every loan, at every milestone, all the way to CTC. Our engines accurately categorize, analyze, and calculate eligible income from all income sources, including 3rd party providers such as Account Check. Bank statements are analyzed to identify EMD, cash to close, large deposits, recurring debits, and credits etc. For the past 20 years, Zoral has been creating the most advanced, AI powered, automation solutions anywhere in the world. Our proprietary solutions are designed and built in-house and rapidly implemented. Stop messing with headcount at every turn of the market. Zoral’s automation platform will provide the elasticity to handle even the most unpredictable environments. To learn more about our automation solutions for mortgage, contact Peter Sandler.”

As we usher in the Year of the Wood Dragon, a mythical creature thought to signify unprecedented opportunities, the folks at Down Payment Resource (DPR) contend 2024 also will be the Year of Down Payment Assistance, with DPA offering unprecedented opportunities for lenders to qualify more homebuyers. DPR has been in the business since 2008, amassing a national database of 2,200+ verified DPA programs. As the original keepers of all things DPA, DPR makes it easy for lenders to match otherwise qualified applicants to assistance programs across the United States. DPA can help you qualify more buyers, especially LMI and minority buyers, reduce declined loan numbers and make you a strong contender for referrals and repeat business. That’s an unprecedented opportunity for 2024 you shouldn’t pass up. Need more info? Meet with Tani Lawrence at MBA IMB (Feb. 22-24) or schedule a virtual demo.

Partnering with the right subservicer can make the difference in growing your business and staying a step ahead of a dynamic mortgage market. LoanCare®, one of the nation’s top subservicers, can help you better manage and grow your portfolio in 2024 and beyond. We’ve serviced loans for banks, credit unions, independent mortgage companies, and portfolio investors for over 40 years with solutions for any servicing scenario. We’ll be at the MBA IMB Conference in New Orleans Jan. 22-24, contact us to learn why now is the right time to make LoanCare your servicing partner. And don’t miss Jerry McCoy, EVP, Performance Management at LoanCare speak on the conference panel, “Uncover the Hidden Financial Risks & Rewards in Your Servicing,” on Tuesday, January 23 at 1:30 p.m.

Broker & correspondent loan products

“Expanding your Non-QM products and liquidity options with eRESI Mortgage has never been easier. Come see what other eRESI correspondent partners tap into, whether it's our industry-leading pricing or fast turnaround times, all while gaining direct access to our long-term capital base. Our partners often rely on our experience as a seasoned loan investor with a highly experienced leadership team dedicated solely to your success. We provide access to a streamlined technology platform, a full suite of Non-QM products (including Full Doc, Bank Statement, and DSCR), and a credit team that understands individual needs. We are also thrilled to announce the launch of our Closed-End Second Lien product, allowing borrowers to access their equity without having to refinance their existing loan. To learn how we can help you grow your business, contact your eRESI representative or email our Business Development team to get started (Contact)!”

“Welcome 2024 with AFR Wholesale®, where we see a golden opportunity for prospective homeowners to achieve their dreams. We invite dedicated professionals like you to join us in expanding your business horizons. Why include AFR in your New Year's resolutions? 1. Empower Borrowers: Our comprehensive suite of services is designed to empower your borrowers, from flexible financing options to personalized support. 2. Grow Your Business: Partnering with AFR means tapping into a wealth of resources and expertise. Our collaborative approach is tailored to support your growth, ensuring you have the tools and support needed to reach new heights. 3. Optimism/Strategic Planning: Making AFR a part of your 2024 journey means joining a community dedicated to success, innovation, and excellence. Let's make 2024 extraordinary together! Happy New Year! Ready to partner with AFR? Visit, contact, or call 1-800- 375-6071 today.”

There is a signalman up in Shasta County, California. He really wants to get a promotion, so he sends a letter to Union Pacific, and they send up an assessor.

He asks him what he would do if two trains were barreling down a track at each other.

The signalman says he would put one train on a passing loop.

"But what if the points are jammed?"

"I would throw the emergency switch"

"But what if the switch is on fire?"

"I would run out and use the lever on the line to switch the train into the passing loop."

"But what if it was struck by lightning?"

"Then I'd get my uncle Frank."


"He's never seen a train crash!”