In my travels I’ve eaten some unusual foods, although maybe not this unusual, but here in Boise the talk is about how unusual it is that applications and locks have suddenly shot up in the last several business days. It is nice to hear and see the hustle and perseverance from originators pay off some. Taking a look at the big picture, per the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 40 percent of all homeowners own their homes free and clear, or 33.4 million mortgage-free, single-family homes and condos. And some percentage of those have credit card debt that is 25 or 30 percent, so a tax-deductible loan at 7 percent can be pretty attractive. Sure enough, refis are hitting the numbers: as reported last month, 89 percent of people with mortgages have an interest rate below 6 percent, down from a record 93 percent in 2022. (Today’s Commentary podcast can be found here and this week’s is sponsored by Lender Toolkit and its AI-powered AI Underwriter and Prism borrower income automation tools. By providing lightning-fast underwriting decisions, your market reputation with borrowers and Realtors will soar, which means more repeat and referral business. Hear an interview with Stavvy’s Angel Hernandez on industry and regulatory affairs, and the state of loss mitigation solutions.)

Lender and Broker Services, Products, and Software

Ready to sprint? After successfully automating the front end of the mortgage loan process, is the industry ready to conquer what remains? To those with the vision of responsible innovation, the answer is ‘yes.’ Much of the mortgage lifecycle is still reliant on outmoded, labor-intensive processes and fragmented legacy technology. To address this disconnect, FHFA convened industry participants to explore data digitization as the vehicle for change. Clarifire’s current blog, “Responsible Innovation – A Future Vision for the Mortgage Industry,” looks at the five correlating challenges that continue to impact lenders, vendors, and regulators. It’s time to implement responsible automation with CLARIFIRE® promoting borrower engagement, 24/7 self-serve access, dynamic automated rapid results, operational efficiencies, and meaningful cost savings. Meet us at MBA’s Servicing Solutions Conference & Expo and learn how to deliver cohesive innovation with a better approach, better results, and better software. CLARIFIRE®, truly BRIGHTER AUTOMATION®.

“When it comes to delivering a seamless mortgage experience, 2024 borrowers are looking for a swift, accurate and modern approach. How can you deliver on all three? That’s where automation comes in. In this new article from ICE Mortgage Technology®, we uncover common automation misconceptions and share the steps lenders can take to transform their mortgage processes and meet today’s borrowers where they are. Read the full article to learn how leveraging ICE Data and Document Automation™ in Encompass® can help lenders reduce manual efforts so they can reignite, reinvent, and refocus their business strategy to ensure its future-proof.”

Make your general ledger profitable and run your business more efficiently with Loan Vision and LV-PAM. Instead of “staying alive until ‘25”, with Loan Vision, a software built by the mortgage industry for the mortgage industry, you can “produce more in 24!” Customers on Loan Vision see improvements of 30 percent+ decrease in days to close the books, 20 percent+ reduction in accounting headcount, complete LOS to G/L automation, and improved reporting and visibility. Interested in learning how Loan Vision can help you run a more efficient and profitable company? Contact Carl Wooloff to schedule a call today.

Managing incoming referrals from a branch network is a pain… but not with LiteSpeed by LenderLogix! With LiteSpeed, each branch can have its own online loan application that seamlessly integrates into Encompass® by ICE Mortgage Technology™. All the tracking you need to make sure you’re getting the most out of your branch network. See why banks and credit unions are making the switch to LenderLogix.

TPO Products for Brokers and Correspondents

Button Finance is excited to launch our new home equity loan offerings tailored for investor properties and those qualifying via bank statements, exclusively for our broker partners. We're extending loans up to $500k with competitive CLTVs, up to 80 CLTV for investor properties and 85 CLTV for bank statement loans. Our flexible terms accommodate up to 50 percent DTI and extend up to 30 years, ensuring a fit for a wide range of financial situations. Importantly, these additions come without any changes to our existing programs, which continue to offer rates as low as 8 percent, with correspondents earning up to 7.85 percent of the loan balance. Please email us for more information or to sign up!”

Renovation lending fuels loan production, boosts profits, and fortifies housing inventory in competitive markets. Explore the rising demand for renovation loans with Planet Home Lending’s Guide to Renovation lending, tailored for correspondent lenders. From seizing opportunities to fostering robust partnerships, it offers a step-by-step roadmap. Request your exclusive copy today.

AmeriHome Mortgage, the 2nd largest correspondent investor in the country, is officially the #4 Overall Lender according to Inside Mortgage Finance! Backed by the strength of Western Alliance Bank, AmeriHome wants to speak to you about how a relationship with it will help you navigate and succeed in this ever-changing industry. By combining Western Alliance Bank’s Warehouse Lending and MSR and Note Financing tools, as well as its Treasury Management expertise, with AmeriHome’s industry leading loan purchase platform, this is a “must-have” relationship for mortgage bankers of all shapes and sizes. AmeriHome recently enhanced key overlays, including removal of their max cash out overlay on VA loans and their Best Efforts Relock policy… Connect with your sales rep for details. Don’t miss AmeriHome in Houston for TMBA Southern Secondary later this month as well as MCT Exchange in March! Check Upcoming Events for details, find your sales rep here, or send them an email to learn more about partnering with AmeriHome!

“Citibank N.A. remains committed to sustainable growth and responsible expansion of the Correspondent Lending channel. One of the elements we’re focused on is building new and existing relationships with Non-Delegated, Best-Efforts lenders who have a passion for supporting consumers in underserved markets. Following a significant investment in our Non-Delegated platform featuring enhanced capabilities and increased capacity, Citi Correspondent Lending is working to create opportunities for smaller mortgage bankers wanting to make a sustainable impact in their local communities. We offer a robust set of Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) pricing incentives (available at point of sale through Optimal Blue and ICE’s EPPS pricing engines) as well as a growing suite of community lending-focused programs. To learn more about these and all that Citi Correspondent Lending has in flight, contact us or complete and return our Prospective Correspondent Questionnaire.”

Demographics for Originators

The U.S. Census Bureau projected that the U.S. population has increased 1,759,535 (0.53 percent) from Jan. 1, 2023, and 4,443,957 (1.34 percent) from Census Day (April 1) 2020. In January 2024, the United States is expected to experience one birth every 9.0 seconds and one death every 9.5 seconds. Meanwhile, net international migration is expected to add one person to the U.S. population every 28.3 seconds. The combination of births, deaths and net international migration increases the U.S. population by one person every 24.2 seconds. The projected world population on Jan. 1, 2024, was 8,019,876,189, an increase of 75,162,541 (0.95 percent) from New Year’s Day 2023. During January 2024, 4.3 births and 2.0 deaths are expected worldwide every second.

The 2024 NextGen Homebuyer Report, a research project developed in partnership with National MI to provide practical insights into the behavior and preferences of the next generation of homebuyers, is out. “In partnership with National MI, Kristin Messerli has surveyed over 5,000 NextGen homebuyers over the past 4 years to bring fresh insights to the mortgage industry.

The 2024 report analyzes data from a January survey of 1,000 Gen Z and Millennial respondents to gain a deeper understanding of NextGen homebuyers’ challenges, motivations, and behaviors. Common themes of this report include skepticism about the market, lack of confidence in experts, and a desire for education.”

Per the survey, over half of Gen Z and Millennials are not confident homeownership will be accessible to the next generation. 51 percent of them are not confident in their knowledge of homebuying, and 54 do not trust lenders to help them make smart decisions about their future. So, if you’re a lender, you know where to put some resources!

Conventional Conforming Updates

Yesterday Freddie Mac announced its earnings, and today it was Fannie Mae’s turn. Fannie saw $17.4 billion in annual net income for 2023 and $3.9 billion in fourth quarter 2023 net income, with net worth reaching $77.7 billion as of December 31. Net income increased $4.5 billion in 2023 compared with 2022, primarily driven by a $7.9 billion shift to a benefit for credit losses in 2023 from provision for credit losses in 2022.

Freddie Mac announced that Eric Wilson and Jonathan Kunkle have been named vice presidents of Seller Engagement for the Single-Family Division. In their roles, Eric will oversee Eastern Regions of the country and Jonathan will lead Western Regions. Both will establish strategic direction and provide the primary source of market intelligence and seller business perspective within Freddie Mac for their regions.

Fannie Mae February Selling Guide SEL-2024-01 includes multiple topics such as expanding the value acceptance + property data offering to include condos, clarifies the qualifying rate for 7- and 10-year ARMS, allows cash-out refinances for manufactured homes with terms up to 30 years, updates eligible types of nontraditional credit references, clarifies policies for the use of business income, clarifies property insurance coverage requirements, updates mortgage origination definitions, and includes other miscellaneous updates.

Effective March 28, the process for submitting contribution credits with capitalized modification expenses with Fannie Mae will change. The new line-item Contribution to Cap Advances must be used for this type of contribution. In the interim, servicers may utilize the Escrow Balance line item. Fannie Mae’s Servicer Expense Reimbursement team offers fast and efficient reimbursement of expenses incurred while servicing Fannie Mae loans.

With AmeriHome Mortgage Announcement Number 20240204-CL, AmeriHome clarified that Texas Section 50(a)(6) loans are not eligible for temporary interest rate buydowns with Fannie Mae loan programs.

Capital Markets

Are you looking for tools to improve profitability and efficiency in your mortgage loan sale process? In a recent case study, Vellum Mortgage describes how they were able to save $50,000 through AOTs, add three new investors, and save twelve hours a month with MCT. “I always send my bid tapes out to my approved and unapproved investors in MCT Marketplace,” said Ashley Puckett, Senior Capital Markets Analyst at Vellum Mortgage. “It’s great to see those shadow bids come in and then decide if we want to sign up with a certain investor because their executions have been strong lately.” Vellum Mortgage was able to leverage MCT’s software and expertise to achieve their goals after switching from their previous hedge advisor. Read the full case study or join MCT’s newsletter for information on how MCT is helping clients achieve their goals.

Investors hoping for early and aggressive Fed rate cuts in 2024 sit disappointed, with the hotter than expected reading for both the headline and core inflation numbers forcing those investors to once again reconcile with a higher for longer interest rate environment.

Mortgage rates are on the rise, and now sit at a two-month high after a CPI-inspired selloff for risk assets earlier this week. Blame investor (over)optimism or blame the Fed, but the true blame lies with sticky inflation. The core inflation rate has been steadily rising on a month-over-month basis since the summer. Pricing in Fed Fund futures now implies between three and four 25 basis point cuts for the year, beginning in June, a significant departure from the seven rate cuts that were priced in just a month ago. The risk now is that inflation continues to accelerate, sending bond prices lower.

Bonds rebounded somewhat yesterday from the sell-off triggered by Tuesday’s inflation data and reset in Fed rate cut expectations. It’s much needed after U.S. mortgage rates rose last week to a two-month high. You may be asking yourself what is giving the Fed pause before it is willing to cut rates? There are a few key points of uncertainty for policymakers: A hot economy, geopolitical risk, and financial decisions. Fed Governor Barr said yesterday that the Fed needs to see more data indicating inflation is approaching 2 percent before it begins easing, supporting Fed Chair Powell's cautious approach. Chicago Fed President Goolsbee said a few months of slightly higher prices would still be consistent with a path back to target. There was some assistance in bond pricing yesterday after the Bureau of Labor Statistics' downward revision to December PPI to -0.2 percent from -0.1 percent.

Today’s economic calendar is jam-packed with data, including some of the “first-tier” variety. It is already under way with retail sales for January (-.8 percent, worse than expected, ex-auto -.6). Sales were expected to slip 0.1 percent month-over-month versus 0.6 percent previously in December. We’ve also received Empire manufacturing for February (-2.2 percent), import and export prices for January (), Philadelphia Fed manufacturing for February (5.2 percent, higher than expected), and weekly jobless claims (212k, down from 220k). Later today brings industrial production and capacity utilization for January, December business inventories, the NAHB Housing Market Index for February, various Treasury auctions headlined by 20-year bonds, 30-year TIPS, and reopened 2-year FRNs, and Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey. Two Fed speakers are scheduled, Governor Waller and Atlanta President Bostic. We begin the day with Agency MBS prices better by about .125 and the 10-year yielding 4.21 after closing yesterday at 4.27 percent. The 2-year is at 4.53.


Spring EQ’s Retail & TPO divisions continue to experience rapid growth as demand for home equity solutions accelerates. To meet this demand, Spring EQ is hiring licensed MLOs in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Ohio for its retail channel and remote Senior Account Executives for its Wholesale and Correspondent channels. 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. Don’t wait, start the application process today!

In the Northwest and California, Banner Bank is searching for Mortgage Loan Officers looking to create lasting Realtor and builder relationships at a bank focused on the market today. Banner has opportunities for lenders looking for local decision making with FHA, VA, USDA, state bond and true Portfolio lending opportunities along with servicing retained Fannie and Freddie loans to assist in client retention. Additional highlighted products cover CRA lending with private label no payment down payment assistance to help assist all borrowers with the right opportunity. Banner is the right fit for an established team, or the individual looking to grow their business and take the next step in their career. Please send resumes to Aaron Miller.