When this commentary gig gets old, I think I’ll take up… throwing needles? But so far so good, putting this out six days a week. Yesterday I glanced at the calendar, and we’re 10 percent of the way through 2024 already! Still raining here in Northern California, and the flooding has caused a lot of concern in the mortgage industry, especially among companies servicing loans on any houses that are damaged, as well as owners of MBS with loans in them on any potentially damaged homes. At least the days are seeing more sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere. Daylight Savings kicks in on Sunday, March 10, just a little over a month away, and goes on until November. (Hawai’i, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and most of Arizona blow off this clock changing stuff.) Today’s Commentary podcast can be found here and this week’s is sponsored by Vesta, the new, modern Loan Origination System (LOS) which helps lenders reduce their costs to originate and improve their ability to integrate with new technologies in the ecosystem. Hear an interview with Vesta’s Mike Yu on LOS innovations and market demands for technology in a digitized space.

Lender and Broker Software, Products, and Services

Fair Lending: Get Ready for 2024! Fair Lending enforcement actions are at an all-time high and fair lending litigation is on the rise. Meanwhile, there’s been a slew of new guidance on AI, appraisal bias, immigration status, and other areas. In this latest webinar, Ncontracts discusses what financial institutions need to know about Fair Lending in 2024, including where regulators are focusing scrutiny, what new guidance means for your Fair Lending program, how Fair Lending has evolved over the past year, and how to prepare your lending compliance management program for 2024. Watch the full webinar for more.

Compliance Experts Report on 2024 Mortgage Servicing Outlook! Join ACES’ EVP of Compliance, Amanda Phillips, and Reid Herlihy of Ballard Spahr on February 14th at 11:00AM PDT as they discuss the most recent mortgage servicing news, CFPB Supervisory Highlights, and expectations and predictions for 2024 and beyond. Reserve your spot.

Make the ultimate connection with ICE + Black Knight at the MBA Servicing Solutions Conference & Expo. The ICE Mortgage Technology team will be on-site from Feb. 20-23 to help you unlock new efficiencies in your servicing operations. Stop by our meeting room to grab one-on-one time and learn about how our solutions can help bolster your business, then make sure to attend one of several informative sessions featuring ICE’s servicing experts. Whether you’re looking for the latest advancements in digital and automation or want to learn more about how we can help you address compliance requirements, ICE has you covered. Click here for the full conference schedule. We look forward to seeing you in Orlando.

Today’s lending environment is a tough market all around, not just for your production teams. Your marketing teams are also likely spread thinner, frequently asked to do more with less, with increased pressure to not only create compliant marketing, but content that is targeted, localized, and on-brand, all while meeting demanding deadlines. Thankfully, Usherpa is here to help! Partnering with Usherpa will give your sales team access to our award-winning Done-for-You automated content, while providing your marketing team with all the tools they need to efficiently help loan officers make the most of today’s market. Marketing teams can utilize Usherpa’s Launch Pad email engine to create and manage collateral aligned with your unique vision and brand strategies. And our boutique customer service is there every step of the way. What’s more, wouldn’t it be refreshing having monthly local content automatically deployed for your loan officers every month? Check out the current Local Housing Market Video. And schedule a demo today.

“Want to escape to old Havana, just for the night? Here's your chance at MBA Servicing! RSVP to the Covius Kickoff Reception at the Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar on Tuesday, Feb 20th. We're unwinding with hand-crafted cocktails, Cuban fare and Latin and Afro-Cuban rhythms. Join us there! Be sure to also schedule a meeting to talk with the Covius team while at the conference and stop by the Covius booth (#708) to learn more about our solutions designed to help servicers control risk and assure compliance, including default title, loss mitigation, title curative, REO & auction, doc prep, compliance solutions and more. While at the Covius booth, be sure to catch a demo of the newly redesigned and enhanced RealtyBid auction website or a demo of the Covius Technology Solutions team’s Low-Code Automation solution that interfaces easily with other industry standards and legacy systems.”

Broker and Correspondent TPO Products

Stairs Financial is the leading mortgage marketplace focused on 1st-time homebuyers, matching them with lenders who understand the unique needs of that borrower demographic. With a successful launch in Texas and having sent hundreds of first-time homebuyer leads to our lender partners, Stairs is excited to announce we are expanding to other states. We are actively seeking additional lender partners who are passionate about helping first-time buyers and supporting local, state, and national Down Payment Assistance (DPA) programs. Stairs specializes in connecting lenders with high-intent mortgage leads, many of which are CRA-eligible, that are ready to buy their first homes. Our platform is focused on the customer experience resulting in exceptionally high contact rates because of our approach. By partnering with Stairs, lenders can fill their pipelines with reliable leads that have the financial resources and intent to close quickly. Please reach out to Mike Romano.”

“For the fourteenth consecutive year, U.S. Bank has been recognized by Fortune magazine as one of the 2024 World’s Most Admired Companies, placing #1 in the Superregional Banks industry category. Additionally, U.S. Bank is pleased to announce the start of the migration of our Housing Finance Agencies (HFAs) and HFA lenders to our new technology platform, U.S. Bank Lender Portal that provides housing finance agencies and lenders with features to simplify loan delivery and funding, including pipeline, conditions, and document management, lender workflow, and user communications. By offering industry leading technology, U.S. Bank continues to demonstrate a continued investment in our business and in yours. Interested in partnering with U.S. Bank? Contact us for more information.”

People Like Lists

Can you “cut your way to prosperity”? Certainly distributed retail lenders are slicing and dicing regional manager positions, or at least moving their pay from basis points of production to basis points of profitability. But lenders and vendors can only cut so much, right? Would a lender rather do ten loans at breakeven, or one loan at a nice profit?

Mortgage banking, although people talk a lot about dollar volume, is a game of units, of which our industry funded roughly 4.5 million last year. Put another way, units keep companies busy, like three loans for $150k each or one loan for $450k. And would you rather do those three loans and breakeven on them or fund one profitable loan for the same total dollar amount?

With that in mind, here are the “Top 100” lenders in 2023 based on units. The data here shows who the actual lender is, e.g., these are the lenders of the money such as it is with HMDA. This data is a blend of deed data, HMDA data, NMLS consumer direct data, census data, and mix of other sources to create the accuracy of the data overall. A big thank you to InGenius CEO Jeff Walton for this information, and questions about the InGenius product should be addressed to him! So here you go, for bragging rights on the number of units in 2023.

(1) Quicken Loans/Rocket Mortgage (267k), United Wholesale Mortgage, CrossCountry Mortgage, Fairway Independent Mortgage, LoanDepot, Pennymac Loan Services, Mortgage Research Center, Guaranteed Rate, Movement Mortgage, DHI Mortgage, (11) JPMorgan Chase Bank, Navy FCU, Wells Fargo Bank, US Bank, Guild Mortgage, Lennar/Eagle Home Mortgage, CMG Mortgage, NewRez LLC, State Employees Credit Union, New American Funding, (21) Discover Bank, Nationstar Mortgage, Bank of America, The Huntington National Bank, TD Bank NA, Fifth Third Bank, Cardinal Financial, Citizens Bank, NA, American Pacific Mortgage, Primelending, (31) Prosperity Home Mortgage, Freedom Mortgage, “Other” Lenders, Union Home Mortgage, Paramount Residential Mortgage Group, Regions Bank, Mutual of Omaha Mortgage, Everett Financial, Pulte Mortgage, NFM Inc., (41) Academy Mortgage, Guaranteed Rate Affinity, PNC Bank, Truist Bank, Amerisave Mortgage, NVR Mortgage Finance, Ark-La-Tex Financial Services, Flagstar Bank, Citibank NA, Provident Funding (11k),

(51) Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group, Caliber Home Loans, Pentagon FCU, USAA Federal Savings Bank, American Financial Network, Carrington Mortgage Services, Flat Branch Home Loans, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Ameris Bank, Equity Prime Mortgage, (61) Primary Residential Mortgage, Bay Equity, The Federal Savings Bank, Northpointe Bank, Annie Mac, Plaza Home Mortgage, Morgan Stanley Private Bank, Cornerstone Home Lending, Gateway Mortgage Group, OCMB Inc., (71) Plains Commerce Bank, Kind Lending, KBHS Home Loans, Bell Bank, Homebridge Financial, Sierra Pacific Mortgage, AmCap Mortgage LTD, First National Bank of Pennsylvania, Luminate Home Loans, Wintrust Mortgage, (81) Change Lending, Taylor Morrison Home Funding, First Republic Bank, South State Bank, First Citizens Bank & Trust, PMAC Lending Services, First United Bank & Trust, VIP Mortgage Inc., Finance of America Reverse, Cadence Bank, (91) First Home Mortgage Corp., MERS, HomeAmerican Mortgage, First Horizon Bank, Bank of the West, BMO Harris Bank, East West Bank, Longbridge Financial, UBS Bank, and HSBC Bank (2k).

Capital Markets

The Fed’s policymakers are in less of a rush to cut rates than what you’re probably hoping for. Cleveland President Mester said the Fed will probably gain confidence to cut rates “later this year” if the economy performs as expected, while Minneapolis President Kashkari noted that the central bank has not yet reached its goal.

Despite the hawkish Fed rhetoric, markets yesterday took a breather following a selloff that began with Friday’s stronger than anticipated January payrolls report. Separately, the U.S. Treasury started this week's note and bond auction slate with a strong $54 billion 3-year note offering.

Today’s economic calendar kicked off with mortgage applications increasing 3.7 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending February 2. Yields were volatile during the reporting period following the latest FOMC decision as well as the stronger than expected January payrolls report. We've also received the December trade deficit ($63.2 billion previously). Later today brings consumer credit for December, Treasury auctions headlined by $42 billion 10-year notes, and several Fed speakers. We begin the day with Agency MBS prices worse about .125 from Tuesday night, the 10-year yielding 4.12 after closing yesterday at 4.09, and the 2-year yielding 4.42 percent.

Jobs and Transitions

New Jersey-based NJ Lenders Corp., a residential mortgage origination company, is seeking a full time individual to join its accounting department. Position can either be in the office or remote. The Candidate must have experience in Loan Vision and Encompass. Responsibilities include extensive accounts payable and general ledger expertise in the system.

Good communication skills and a working knowledge of Excel is a must. Confidential inquiries and resumes should be directed to Kathi Chudzik.

Tired of working for a jack of all trades, but master of none? Ready to elevate your mortgage origination career as an expert in the rapidly growing market for financing long- and short-term single-family rentals? Visio Lending, a trailblazer in the world of DSCR loans with over 10,000 DSCR loans funded, is on the lookout for passionate and driven Account Executives to join its outstanding team. Visio is built, top to bottom, to do one thing: provide real estate investors and their brokers an unparalleled experience financing their investment properties. Top performers earn upwards of $400k. Learn more here.

Embrace Home Loans has promoted Ryan “Buddy” Hardiman from senior vice president of retail and direct sales to president where he will oversee the company’s lending operations and fulfillment areas, as well as continue to head Embrace’s financial services division.

Northern California’s Summit Funding, Inc. announced the appointment of Thomas Yoon as the head of Lead+ Wholesale Lending. “With a storied career and a visionary approach, Yoon brings unparalleled expertise and a fresh perspective to Summit's dedicated non-QM division.”

Mortgage Cadence, a subsidiary of Accenture (NYSE: ACN), has announced that George Morales will join the company’s sales team and “will use not only his industry knowledge but the connections he has built to help the sales team bring Mortgage Cadence technology to new lenders.”