While the musical world mourns the loss of Gary Rossington, the last original Lynyrd Skynyrd band member, and I head to San Diego this morning for the TMC event, but I’ve heard through channels that my cat Myrtle is thinking about copywriting her trill after hearing the news that the Toblerone candy company is removing the Matterhorn from its label due to pressure from Swiss authorities: 80 percent of raw materials must come from Switzerland, so it’s a numbers game. Being a loan officer is a numbers game: so many calls and emails per day, yield so many call backs, yield so many applications, yield so many eventual closings. Day after day, and it is not glamorous. There’s a dog team race that is also a numbers game. The 1,000-mile Iditarod kicked off in Willow, Alaska, 70 miles north of Anchorage, with a finish line in Nome. This year there are only 33 mushers, a record low since the first race in 1973. The average number of starts in the first 50 races was 63 contenders, but only 823 mushers have reached the finish line and in the past 50 years only 24 individual people were on the teams of dogs that have won it. (Today’s podcast can be found here and this week is sponsored by SimpleNexus, an nCino company and homeownership platform that unites the people, systems, and stages of the mortgage process into one seamless, end-to-end solution that spans engagement, origination, closing, incentive compensation, and business intelligence. Todays has an interview with Change Wholesale’s Ryan Carry on what it means to be a CDFI and how that helps the communities Change serves.)

Broker and Lender Products, Software, and Services

Any mortgage veteran can sense the health of their portfolios but in a data-driven age, it’s necessary to supplement veteran instinct with up-to-the-minute, actionable data. That’s why TMS developed SIME (Servicing Intelligence Made Easy), a proprietary servicing platform that gives lenders on-demand access to a fully transparent, data rich view into their portfolios. Here’s what Dennis Lauria, Division VP at Premier Mortgage Resources, had to say about SIME: “SIME is user-friendly and allows easy access to customer data, transaction reviews, and reporting for portfolio metrics and analysis. It allows for timely access to one’s portfolio in real time.” Curious to learn more about all TMS has to offer? Check out TMS Subservicing today.

What do borrowers want? ICE has the answers. Rates are up. Volume is down. Winning every potential borrower is more important than ever. But how do you know what they really want? ICE Mortgage Technology® sponsored research to identify how lenders can win more business and stay ahead of the competition. Get a sneak peek of the data and sign up here to be one of the first to receive the full “What borrowers want” eBook.

72.1 percent of Service First credit supplements were completed in 24hrs. 86.7 percent in 48. S1 is passionate that every loan app and every opportunity counts for our clients. Here’s your industry rundown for Tuesday, March 7: pre-purchase portfolio review is hot; is the IRS going consumer direct for transcripts soon?!; yes Virginia, in 2 years you better be more than half prepared for dual merge/dual score credit report; you can protect your prospect from competitor’s trigger leads; and pre-Qual credit reports are the rage. Be in the know and let’s make 2023 a better year for your team. Contact S1 today and let’s talk through these topics and more that are important to you.

“Need to generate more revenue and stand out from competitors? Matic, an embedded home insurance platform built for the mortgage industry, has helped top lenders and servicers add a new revenue stream. Unlike most tech solutions, we add revenue to your bottom line, give borrowers an amazing experience with personalized insurance offers from 40+ names you know, like Progressive, Travelers, Nationwide and more, and automate the home insurance process, meaning faster closings and less headaches for your loan teams. Book a quick demo with our team of mortgage experts to learn more about partnerships.”

“Learn how to unlock the ROI in your data! Automation is often seen as the answer for delivering flexibility, cost savings, and consumer value. But how can lending organizations maximize the return on their investments in these automated technology solutions? The answer lies in your data. Quality data is essential to support the loan manufacturing process, but it's a challenge for most lenders to align their need for clean, trusted data with loan volumes and throughput. Join our TRUE team on Wednesday, March 15th at 1:00pm EST for an in-depth discussion on the role data plays in unlocking the full potential within operations, product, and technology functions. Register today to be a part of the conversation.

“Pricing update! AFR Wholesale® recently drastically improved pricing on all programs for Delegated Correspondent clients looking to sell whole loans through mandatory bulk bids. With quick turn times and aggressive pricing, now is the time to send us your bid! Just turn on AFR in your bulk bid pricing engine or email us your bid tape directly! We want to make it easier to bring even more families home. Not signed up with AFR yet? That’s ok! AFR Wholesale can quickly review, approve, and onboard any new clients. It’s our pride and pleasure to help clients through the onboarding process and we look forward to a long and prosperous business relationship! From our home to yours: Contact us today by going here or call 1-800-375-6071.”

New report: How to connect with Hispanic American borrowers, set to represent 56 percent of all new homeowners by 2030. Increasingly, today’s homebuyers are diverse, with native Spanish speakers growing in presence nationwide. According to Freddie Mac, the Hispanic American homebuyer segment has increased by 25 percent in the last decade. Still, Spanish-speaking borrowers often don’t find the home-buying process easy or accessible. To help lenders better serve this demographic, Maxwell conducted a study of Spanish-speaking borrowers, surveying over 1,100 Hispanic American home buyers who completed the mortgage process in the past six months. The findings are eye-opening: For instance, a whopping 96 percent opted for a national or local lender rather than an online-based option. Want to learn how to become the go-to lender for this rapidly growing borrower segment? Click here to download your free copy of Maxwell’s 2023 Hispanic American Borrower Report.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The average cyberattack on a small to mid-sized business might net as little as $120,000, according to recent studies from the Ponemon Institute. But once they start, the losses from subsequent incidents can climb much higher with far less effort. In fact, the average cost of a data breach reached an all-time high of $4.35 million in 2022. Now consider the hidden costs: stress, transition of work duties, lost opportunities, legal, regulatory, and reputational damage. If you’re like many mortgage company owners, you’ve built a successful company, which makes up a significant portion of your net worth. Why put your company at risk by leaving yourself exposed from a cybersecurity standpoint? The old adage applies: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Take steps now, if you haven't already, to protect your business. Talk to Richey May’s cybersecurity experts today.

Retail Mergers and Acquisitions

California’s CMG Mortgage, Inc. ($19 billion in 2022) announced its asset acquisition of the retail division of Homebridge Financial Services, a mortgage company based in Iselin, NJ, that originated $12 billion in the same year. “Over the last 30 years, Homebridge Financial Services has grown to become one of the largest privately held, non-bank lenders in the United States. Homebridge has more than 1,600 associates throughout the United States, more than 180 retail branches, and 2 wholesale divisions: Homebridge Wholesale and REMN Wholesale… Homebridge will retain its wholesale division, focusing on excellence in wholesale mortgage lending. Peter Norden will act as Executive Advisor to CMG's retail division to ensure a successful transition.”

But that is retail, not wholesale! “While Homebridge has made a strategic decision to exit the retail space, our commitment to the wholesale channel has never been stronger. It’s business as usual for both our wholesale divisions. Homebridge Wholesale and REMN Wholesale will remain dedicated to delivering the customer-centric experience the industry has come to expect, while pursuing additions to our already robust product suite. Homebridge’s Executive Team will remain in place, and along with the leadership of the wholesale business units, will be focused on the continued success and growth of our wholesale lending business.”

Wholesale News and Tidbits

You can now run both Desktop Underwriter (DU) and Loan Product Advisor (LPA) simultaneously in the Freedom Mortgage Wholesale Client Portal using Dual AUS in the left navigation. View VA, FHA and Conventional finding reports from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac side by side and compare results. Click here for a quick training video or to view the full job aid, click here.

LoanStream Mortgage newly approved brokers Take Advantage of two Great Specials for March! Valid for eligible loans locked starting on January 23, 2023, through March 31st, 2023. Get Appraisal Credit Up to $400 on eligible loans. FHA Smart Choice Special 35 BPS Price Improvement on FHA loans for eligible loans locked from March 1 - 31, 2023. Restrictions apply.

From helping a Marine veteran retire and pursue a hobby of volunteering to providing financial assistance allowing a couple to keep their lakefront home, these real-life borrower success stories share how a HECM has improved their lifestyle. Share with your senior homeowners and their families who may be considering a reverse mortgage. Find out more about reverse mortgage options on the Plaza Home Mortgage® website, or reach out to Reverse@plazahomemortgage.com and explore adding this strategy as another option for your borrowers and your business.

Capital Markets

Math wizzes take the MBA’s estimate of $2 trillion for 2023 and divide that by 250 working days. The figure is $8 billion a day of mortgage production. So, it raises eyebrows when a trader tells me, “Supply closed at $1.4 billion on Friday, a dramatic drop from the 5-day average of $2.2 billion we have been seeing over the last 2 weeks.” And jumbo and other non-Agency loans won’t get to $8 billion. “5.5s and 6s were the hedging coupons of choice for originators with current rate levels. The sharp decline in TBA selling indicates that the few days of heavy supply in the middle of last week were triggered due to LOs panic-locking consumers. Unlike changes in pull through rates, an increase in these ‘panic locks’ usually results in a few light days of supply on the follow while pipelines recover. We expect the moving average to settle at $2 billion going forward, down ~10 percent from mid-February levels.”

Between Fed Chairman Powell's semi-annual testimony to Congress taking place today and tomorrow, and the release of the February jobs report on Friday, the week ahead should be relatively eventful. Congress is more likely to praise the strong labor market rather than give the Fed Chair too much stick for potentially overshooting the terminal fed funds rate. The stronger than expected jobs market and persistently high inflation has pushed out expectations for the anticipated pause in the current monetary tightening cycle and driven mortgage rates higher.

We learned last week that increasing inventories and a narrower trade gap made up two thirds of the 2.7 percent annualized growth in the fourth quarter. As those two inputs move in the other direction they will act as a drag on GDP in the first part of the year. Wholesale inventories were down 0.4 percent and retail inventories were up 0.3 percent in January. The trade deficit widened to $91.5 billion in January despite a 4.2 percent increase in exports. Manufacturing data remains weak as the ISM Manufacturing PMI in February posted the fourth consecutive month of contraction. Prices paid by manufacturers increased for the first time since September. Meanwhile, the ISM Services PMI inched up to 55.1 and new orders and employment expectations were strong. This sector of the economy is poised for further growth in the early part of the year.

Today’s highlight is Fed Chair Powell’s visit to Capitol Hill when he testifies on the semiannual Monetary Policy Report before the Senate Banking Committee. Data gets under way here shortly with the non-market moving January wholesale inventories and sales, before the Treasury auctions $40 billion 3-year notes and Consumer credit for January is released. We begin Tuesday with the 2-year yielding 4.87, Agency MBS prices better by .125, and the 10-year yielding 3.94 after closing yesterday at 3.98 percent.

Employment and Transitions

Building a recruitment marketing plan from the ground up can take months and requires the right messaging to get the desired results. Ever had a recruitment campaign fall flat, or alternatively, generate interest, but not the kind you want? Surefire CRM and Mortgage Marketing Engine by Black Knight can help you sidestep the most common pain points of loan officer recruiting with its comprehensive recruitment marketing guide. Download the free eBook for proven tips on how to grow your mortgage team.

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.

Fairway Wholesale Lending is excited to announce that Kathryn (Katie) Plezia has joined the company as a Regional Account Executive. Katie is based in New York and will help expand Fairway’s wholesale and non-delegated correspondent business in the Northeast market. If you are in New York and not working with Fairway, reach out to Katie (631.624.0128).