Life is a matter of perspective, and LOs and vendors don’t need some momentous weekly or monthly numbers to garner a piece of the $1.5-$2 trillion residential mortgage market. Even bikes see possible change. Many lenders and vendors are working to “make the ordinary extraordinary.” Are drug stores and gas stations boring? Not according to Wall Drug and Buc-ee’s. What is the current mortgage rate situation for borrowers who have home loans? Below 6 percent? 92 percent of U.S. mortgaged homeowners. Below 5 percent? 82 percent. Below 4 percent? 62 percent. Below 3 percent? 24 percent. Yet about 1/3 of applications coming into lenders, per the MBA, are refinances! (Today’s podcast can be found here and this week’s is brought to you LoanCare, successfully navigating clients and homeowners through market change for 40 years. The mortgage subservicer delivers superior customer experience through personalization and convenience via its portfolio management tool, LoanCare Analytics™, supporting MSR investors with a focus on customer engagement, liquidity, and credit risk.)
Disaster News and Program Updates
What would life be like in the United States without disasters? The U.S. is prone to tornadoes, earthquakes, flooding, hurricanes, storms, volcanoes, and fires. FEMA is the official source of disaster declarations and when FEMA publishes them, lender and investor policies and procedures are triggered. From hurricanes to forest fires, the environmental impacts of climate change are becoming more pressing with each passing year. 90 percent of natural disasters involve some degree of flooding. Flood damage has cost Americans over $50 billion throughout the last decade.
Of course, the major Agencies post disaster assistance for their borrowers, although it is questionable whether the average borrower even knows what type of loan theirs is, or where their loan was sold. Fannie, Freddie, FHA, and the VA all have something. I mention this because…
On 1/7/2023, with DR-4753, FEMA declared federal disaster aid with individual assistance has been made available to Providence County affected by severe storms, floods, and tornadoes from 9/10/2023 to 9/13/2023. See AmeriHome Disaster Announcement 20240106-CL for details.
The main headline for markets to digest yesterday was that, thanks to the consumer, the U.S. economy grew 3.3 percent year-over-year in Q4 of 2023 as underlying inflation slowed, trouncing 2.0 percent forecasts. Last year defied recession calls, and also ended with an unexpected bump in the economy’s main growth engine, personal consumption (2.8 percent actual versus 2.5 percent expected). Business investment and housing also helped fuel the larger-than-expected advance in GDP. The Core PCE Price Index (Personal Consumption Expenditure) registered 2.0 percent, as expected.
Even with the stronger-than-expected increase in real GDP, the data overall was positive for the Fed’s fight against inflation due to the muted rise in the core PCE deflator. Inflation now sits at the lowest level since October 2020, indicating the Fed's tightening policy is working, good news ahead of the Fed’s upcoming meeting next week.
The U.S. economy’s ascent out of the pandemic recession and its inflationary aftermath, evidenced by stronger than expected economic data, strong consumer spending, and low unemployment, has investors paring bets on early 2024 rate cuts. The implied likelihood of a rate cut at the March FOMC meeting sits at just less than 50 percent, implying that a pause at the March FOMC meeting is the most likely outcome. Pricing is now a coin-toss between 125 and 150 basis points of total easing by year end. Additionally, the odds of a recession in the year ahead look considerably lower than they seemed at this point last year. Expectations are still that the economy will slow this year, but strong momentum in Q4 makes a rapid decline less likely.
We also learned yesterday that new home sales jumped 8.0 percent month-over-month in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 664k units, rebounding from November's surprise negative 9.0 percent reading. On a year-over-year basis, new home sales were up 4.4 percent. New home sales activity was bolstered by a drop in mortgage rates and a sizable drop in selling prices. Additionally, increasing inventory contributed to the upswing in sales as the new home market continued to show resilience in the face of the broader housing market slump. Keep in mind that existing home sales, which make up the vast majority of the market (this millennium has averaged about 7.5 times more existing home sales compared to new home sales), are trending close to their lowest level since summer 2010,
Today’s economic calendar kicked off with Fed favorite PCE for December (+2.6 percent year over year), along with personal income (+.3 percent, down slightly) and spending (+.7 percent, stronger than expected). Expectations were for increases of 0.4 percent on both personal income and spending, versus 0.4 percent and 0.2 percent previously. The core PCE Price Index was seen rising 0.2 percent month-over-month and 3.0 percent year-over-year; it actually came in at +2.9 percent year over year. Later today brings the Pending Home Sales Index for December, expected to increase 1.5 percent versus unchanged in November. We begin the day with Agency MBS prices roughly unchanged from Thursday night, the 10-year yielding 4.14 after closing yesterday at 4.13 percent, and the 2-year at 4.33.
Jobs and Transitions
“Join the dynamic team at Button Finance, a leader in the Home Equity market! We're looking for a driven Account Executive who is eager to contribute to our rapid growth. With Button Finance, you can sell a highly sought-after product backed by our industry-leading pricing portal and efficient operations team. In Q4, our correspondent partners earned an average of $7.9k per closed loan. We offer competitive compensation, including salary, equity, and up to 45bps commission. If you have a strong network of broker relationships and are ready to excel with us, send your resume to Rose King. We're also looking for a pipeline manager.”
Highlands Residential Mortgage, headquartered in the greater Dallas Area, is excited to announce the addition of Corey Caster to its veteran leadership team. Corey joins Highlands as EVP-Chief Production Officer and will be responsible for recruiting, growth, and oversight of the national production group. As a long time, proven and respected production leader in the mortgage banking industry, Corey joins forces with the award-winning Highlands team and will be instrumental in leading the company’s expansion efforts across the country. “We are very fortunate and thrilled to welcome Corey Caster to the Highlands family. Corey’s track record of success growing and leading quality sales teams in our industry fits perfectly with our continued expansion plans at Highlands Residential Mortgage.” said Brian Bennett, President.
“Evergreen Home Loans is on a mission to redefine the home buying experience. Our Unique Selling Proposition is centered around offering affordable strategies to buy homes and making winning offers, setting us apart in the real estate finance industry. We're looking for team members who are passionate about empowering clients to achieve homeownership, thereby fostering stability and creating generational wealth. Our approach is not just about processing loans; it's about crafting personalized, innovative solutions that turn the dream of homeownership into reality. If you're driven by the impact of helping families secure their future and want to be part of a transformative journey, join us. Together, we'll continue to innovate, inspire, and lead in making homeownership accessible and rewarding. To hear what our team is saying visit: Why I Chose Evergreen. To see all available position visit: Careers | Evergreen Home Loans.”
Samuel Bjelac has returned to Carrington Mortgage Services to lead the third-party origination Lending teams. “Bjelac, who previously served as Divisional Vice President of the CMS Wholesale Lending team, has rejoined CMS as SVP, National Sales, TPO (third-party origination).” Congratulations!
“Primis Mortgage was born out of a belief that we, as an industry, can do better. We decided that to do this, we needed to act like an Independent Mortgage Bank, but leverage the stability and resources of a traditional bank. And the results speak for themselves. We saw a 107 percent increase in funded loans from 2022 to 2023, and while most companies were cutting back, we decided to step up: increasing our sales staff by 160 percent in that same time period. Primis Mortgage is a place where proven all-stars come to win. Our in-house support staff averages just 22 days from ITP to Docs Out, and leadership constantly motivates and educates our loan officers to strive for continued growth. If you’re a highly-successful loan officer ready to take your career to the next level, reach out to Chris Blevins, National Sales Director.”
Sales and Operations leadership from both the Lower and Thrive Mortgage teams got together in Columbus, OH to collaborate and discuss the way forward. Not just for the merger between the two entities, but what they see for the industry. After two days together, the response was clear… this is a powerful move for both companies. The game-planning, engagement with new colleagues, and enthusiasm continues to grow as each side returned to share what they’d learned. Above all else, the most commonly referenced statement was, “It felt like we’ve known each other for years.” Ready to find out what the insiders already know? Let’s talk about how you can Thrive with Lower.
A well-capitalized IMB, based in the NJ/PA tri- state market, is seeking Loan Officers, Sales Teams, or possible acquisition opportunities of small to midsize IMBs in NJ, NY, CT, FL, PA, while expanding in MD, DC, VA, NC and SC. The IMB’s focus is a highly personable and high touch experience for LOs and Realtors. Organizationally lean, very competitive pricing, a wide array of products, and much higher LO Comp than what is offered by other larger IMBs. The focus is to attract serious loan officers who want an unparalleled service, where your voice matters and you have a seat at the table in growth. If interested, message Chrisman LLC’s Anjelica Nixt for a confidential discussion.