Greetings from wintry Chicago where mortgage rates, as they are across the nation, are back to May 2019 levels. Did you know that the name "Chicago" comes from either a Native American word for wild onion, or a striped skunk, depending on one’s mood. Here you don’t have to go too far for a wiener: There are more than 2,000 hot dog stands in the city of Chicago, more than the number of Burger Kings, McDonald's, and Wendy's restaurants in the city combined. Downtown Chicago has 160 million square feet of office space… What will become of it? The managers at lenders and vendors around our biz continue to make decisions about where their staffs work. While most financial institutions are pursuing a return to office work, government agencies including the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency are maintaining remote work, with the Securities and Exchange Commission setting June 6 as a provisional return date. CEOs at banks and other entities say a return to the office is important for firms' culture and ability to respond quickly to market conditions, and SIFMA President and CEO Kenneth E. Bentsen, Jr. says it is preferable for executives and regulators to be able to meet face to face when needed. (Today’s audio version of the commentary is available here and this week’s is brought to you by SimpleNexus, an nCino company and award-winning developer of mobile-first technology for the modern mortgage lender. Today listen to a wide-ranging interview with Polly Founder and CEO, Adam Carmel, on capital markets trends, margin compression across channels, and who he goes to for advice.)
Broker and Lender Services and Products
Vendor Surf clients know the difference between fishing and catching, especially now that the Refi Boom has ended and lenders are again re-evaluating vendor pools. Celebrating 4-years and nearly a half a million page views, still the only vendor search engine. Choose between annual subscription pricing and our newly released referral-based pricing, free to list your services, only pay when parties come to you. There's more! See the industry’s most complete Calendar of events, webinars, and podcasts, usually over 250 items. We post yours for free. Half of our traffic comes from Google (organic, no ads). If they trust us so much, we hope you will too.
“Mortgage Advisor Tools is continuing to drive attention to mortgage technology, services, and products to help lenders find the right resources to grow their business. How you ask? With the best content, marketing and advertising the mortgage industry has ever seen. Have you checked out our latest Lead Generation commercial? If not click here. You can find all our commercials on YouTube by simply searching mortgage advisor tools. Our goal is to provide unique insights into technology companies to help lenders understand every option and make the best decision. We will be a part of every lender’s buyer journey in 2022. In addition to our web listing platform, we are now offering our unique style of video advertising to mortgage technology companies. This includes writing, producing, shooting, editing, and distributing video content. If you are interested in separating your brand from your competitors, increasing awareness, and finding new customers please reach out to Steven Cooley.”
Audits continue to rise in Q1. “I need my portal!!” was the call from Compliance Teams. MortgageEducation.com delivers with our DashEMS. This portal eases the strain on Compliance/HR, Licensing, & Sales, cuts costs, and saves MLOs hours of redundant training. Launch Compliance (ex: AML, FL, Fraud) quarterly and gain credit toward federal NMLS CE, all tracked with the best Technology Solution in the Industry. Testimonials Contact Dave Olchek Don’t allow your MLOs to risk their licenses- ensure all are using a vetted NMLS Provider.
“By the time a prospective homebuyer contacts a lender to start a mortgage application, it may already be too late to capture their business. With the purchase market forecast to be at least 70% of business from Q2 2022 and homes in short supply, it’s essential to have a solution to connect and engage with prospective homebuyers early. FinLocker has purposefully built tools to address the actions that a homebuyer does as they begin their homeownership journey: understand their credit profile, get their finances in order, conduct a preliminary property search to develop a model of their ideal home, and calculate their mortgage payment and down payment. For lenders, the FinLocker product offers an innovative engagement tool to provide consumers with a compelling and all-in-one feature set personalized for their journey towards homeownership. Schedule a demo and we’ll send you our guide to Build a Successful Purchase Market Playbook.”
Asurity Introduces RegCheck for faster loan processing and real-time compliance with changing regulations. Asurity’s mortgage regulatory compliance solution, RegCheck®, enables loan officers and compliance specialists to accelerate loan closings with greater confidence and accuracy. Using innovative technology and deep domain expertise, RegCheck identifies root cause compliance failures in loan applications and pinpoints the specific data gaps that need to be addressed throughout the loan origination process, accelerating processing timelines, reducing errors, and making loans more serviceable and saleable. RegCheck rapidly identifies non-compliant elements of a loan and flags them for attention and correction. The mortgage compliance software provides built-in compliance testing and highly accurate methodologies that account for ever-changing regulations, while built-in APIs provide seamless integration with Loan Origination Systems. Finally, an interactive PDF compliance report and alert system points out data elements requiring attention and correction, reducing the time it takes to identify non-conforming aspects of a loan package. Schedule a demo to see how RegCheck is transforming the loan origination process.
Will the accounting resources you have today meet your needs tomorrow? Skilled mortgage accounting staff are getting harder to find and more expensive to hire. At times like these, it helps to have ways to outsource to a team of experienced mortgage accounting professionals. Richey May’s Client Accounting and Advisory Services (CAAS) provides a comprehensive mortgage accounting service that lets you outsource your accounting functions at will. It fills the gaps when internal accounting resources get stretched thin or the talent pipeline shrinks – or both. It also lets you turn fixed accounting costs into variable costs when volume drops or your needs change. The best part? Utilizing our CAAS team puts your finances in the hands of mortgage accounting experts and lightens your administrative load, so you can focus on making key business decisions. Contact us for details and learn more here.
“Selene Finance, a specialty loan servicer, is a proud sponsor of the MBA Servicing Conference and Expo in Orlando this month. Our executive sales and product teams will be taking meetings February 23-24 in the Bayhill 32 meeting room. High touch subservicing, a portfolio management approach to servicing loans, not a pooled approach, and an experienced management team with depth set Selene apart from other subservicers. Reach out to Robert McKinley to learn more on how Selene meets the needs of borrowers, clients, and shareholders.”
Are you attending the MBA servicing conference in Orlando next week? Would you like to see the industry’s first browser-based cloud servicing system? MortgageFlex Systems servicing system runs on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform providing a real-time, modern alternative to half-century-old batch mainframe systems. Clients have been using the system for more than four years. We recently released the industry’s first bilingual self-service mobile consumer portal. The numerous self-service features have significantly reduced the number of customer support calls. Lender and consumer feedback has exceeded our expectations, especially for customer adoption. If you are ready to try something new that won’t break the bank, stop by booth 521 or contact John McCrea, SVP Business Development.
Capital Markets Driven by Ukraine News
Events and trends in the secondary markets impact the rates borrowers see in the primary markets. An ICE Data Services index that tracks volatility in government debt has jumped to the highest point since March 2020, while a Bloomberg index shows liquidity has dropped to the lowest level since December, driven by concerns about the Russian-Ukrainian standoff, inflation, and the possibility the Federal Reserve will aggressively tighten monetary policy. Volatility in the Treasury and MBS markets might obstruct the Fed's plan to shrink its balance sheet, strategists say. The Federal Reserve is prepared to increase interest rates in March and might move more aggressively than previously thought to downsize its balance sheet, according to minutes from the January meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee. Committee members expressed concern inflation was spreading beyond industries affected by the pandemic and into the broader economy and discussed accelerating rate increases if inflation were to not subside.
Geopolitical jitters have sent investor money to safe havens, causing Treasuries and Agency MBS prices to rally yesterday. Whatever happens in Ukraine will dominate investor sentiment in the short term more than recent worries of inflation or the hawkishness of the Fed. And that is even with markets still trying to digest the Fed minutes that were released on Wednesday, signaling a likely balance sheet reduction starting in the 2nd half of the year. The Fed is still of the opinion that inflation will moderate as supply chain issues work themselves out. Events in Ukraine also overshadowed key economic releases from earlier this week, namely retail sales and industrial production beating expectations (though supply chain problems persist), producer-level inflation gaining momentum (while broadening to more categories), and an unexpected increase in jobless claims.
Yesterday we saw that housing starts disappointed yet again, coming in down 4.1 percent at 1.64 million versus the 1.71 million that was expected. New single-family housing permits rose 6.8 percent over the month to an annualized pace of 1.21 million, the fastest over the past year. Building Permits came in at 1.9 million, which was above expectations, even with materials remaining expensive. The disconnect between starts and permits is in large part due to temporary Covid-related factors causing labor shortages as well as materials and components production. On the bright side, new home construction seems to be resilient in light of rising mortgage rates and demand for new homes remains strong given the lack of existing inventory available for sale.
Economic releases on today’s calendar take place later this morning as existing home sales and leading indicators, both for January, are released. Today also sees several Fed appearances with Chicago’s Evans, Governor Waller, Fed Governor Brainard, and New York Fed President Williams all set to deliver remarks. The Desk will purchase up to $2.6 billion of conventional MBS before the long weekend. With the bond market closed on Monday, and any lender sending out rate sheets is making an estimate. Expect conservative pricing. We begin the day with Agency MBS prices unchanged from Thursday evening and the 10-year also unchanged yielding 1.97 percent.
Employment and New Hires
AmeriSave Mortgage Corporation, one of the fastest-growing privately-held mortgage lenders in the nation, today announced the hiring of Michael Ronchetti as Regional Vice President, Pacific Northwest. Ronchetti brings an impressive 30 years of mortgage industry experience to his new role at AmeriSave. Previously, Ronchetti was an Area Manager at Mutual of Omaha where he helped grow the residential lending platform in the Northwest Area for one of the Country’s most trusted brands. Prior to that, Michael worked as an executive at major home lending companies such as Citibank, Chase, Bank of America, Bank 34, and more. "We are excited to have someone with Michael's experience, expertise and influence leading our growth in the Pacific Northwest,” said Leif Boyd, Chief Production Officer, Retail Sales at AmeriSave. “Michael is an incredible motivator of talent and a true leader. Both our team and our customers will benefit from his vast wealth of knowledge.” To learn more about AmeriSave, please contact Peter Schwartz (916-770-0053).
Gateway Mortgage, a division of Gateway First Bank, ended 2021 with impressive growth in mortgage operations! The company funded approximately $10.1 billion in residential mortgage loans, assisting nearly 45,000 families with their home financing needs. In addition to high loan production, Gateway grew the reach of its mortgage operations across the United States to meet increased demand from local communities for home financing. Gateway opened 15 new mortgage centers in 2021 across 13 different states, bringing the total number of locations to 171. Gateway is one of the larger banks based in Oklahoma and one of the largest mortgage bank operations in the United States. To learn more about Gateway’s 20+-year tradition of success, visit Gateway. If you are interested in joining a team committed to supporting loan originators, contact Mary Ann Arbogast.
“Rents are up, Homebuilders are still waiting for needed materials to leave the docks, and Millennials, who are now having families, suddenly need more than a couch and coffee shop to live in. With so much going on the TPO space continues to look to Non-QM for answers. What you’ll find looking into Unite Mortgage is options. Lots of Non-QM options. DSCR, Bank Statement, Tax Return – W2 – 1099, Foreign National, Interest Only, more. Plus, our ‘12 Day Purchase Pledge’ offer will continue to benefit your business. If you’re an AE looking for a change for the better, Unite offers its sales team some of the most competitive Conventional, Government and Non-QM pricing in the industry today. A competitive compensation plan and company culture that is sales oriented as well. Schedule a confidential interview today! Email Unite Mortgage President James Hooper. Be sure to visit us and follow us on all our social channels. ‘Let’s Unite.’”
“Non-QM Account Executives: ClearEdge Lending is searching for Top Account Executives who want to earn up to 60 bps. ClearEdge Lending, a top nationwide non-QM lender known for customer service and incredible work environment, is looking for top Account Executives. We are planning to double our salesforce in 2022 and we have open territories across the country. You get dedicated training and fresh customer leads within your local territory to help penetrate and expand your markets. With an assigned Account Manager and direct access to underwriters, innovative valuation products and in-house bank statement analysis staff, you will close loans quickly. As an end-investor since 2015, ClearEdge has an extensive and innovative portfolio of non-QM and Jumbo loan products all supported by custom portal and pricing engines. View all open positions on our careers page or contact our local VPs of Sales directly - Matt Shaw, West Regional, Aron Thielen, Central Regional, John Burns, East Regional, or Gaby Winterburn, Recruiting.”
Plaza Home Mortgage announced several changes to the leadership of its Wholesale Lending team. Jeff Leinan, former EVP, National Wholesale Production, will assume the newly created role of President of Wholesale Production, and Allyson Foley has joined the team and will assume the role of EVP, Wholesale Operations.