“Horses have lower divorce rates. It's because they are in stable relationships.” Here on the Central Coast of California, there are plenty of horses but few disasters, wars, or big insurance claims. But in Ukraine there have been 566,000 property damage reports, and the government has launched eRecovery, an app based on the government’s digital platform Diia that may provide a template for future recovery efforts worldwide. It has already processed 83,000 compensation claims for damaged or destroyed property and has paid out over 45,000 claims, with 566,000 property damage reports filed through December. Volume isn’t a disaster for lenders, but it isn’t stellar either, and today’s TMC Rundown features Femi Ayi, VP Branching Operations at Revolution Mortgage, discusses using technology to make some tough choices. Curinos tells us that February 2024 funded mortgage volume increased 5 percent YoY and increased 14 percent MoM. The average 30-year conforming retail funded rate in February 2024 was 6.79, a shade lower than January but 62 basis points higher than the same month last year. (Found here, this week’s podcast is sponsored by Richey May, a recognized leader in providing specialized advisory, audit, tax, technology and other services to the mortgage industry for almost four decades. Hear an interview with the STRATMOR Group’s Jim Cameron on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as it pertains to mortgage companies.)

Lender Broker Services, Products, and Software

“How much are you spending on Agency LLPAs? The Conforming product for NOO and second homes can add upwards of 4 percent to your cost and prevent you from accessing the deepest possible pool of borrowers. More than 160 sellers on the MAXEX platform have eliminated their spend on Agency LLPAs for investment properties and second homes by utilizing our mandatory bulk, and best-efforts flow, Conforming program. Access multiple securitization and portfolio investors with a single contract and no LLPAs on NOO and Second-home properties using the same Agency guidelines you’re used to, without the fees. High Balance loans also available. Schedule time with our team today to learn more.”

As the U.S. prepares to spring forward this weekend, the long-awaited spring market has finally arrived, marked by March '23 showcasing peak LO activity with $129B in volume. As 2024 is predicted to bring $2 trillion in mortgage origination volume, now is the time to prepare for new business opportunities by cultivating and reinforcing your real estate agent referral partnerships. Unsure of where to begin? Mobility Market Intelligence (MMI) offers full visibility into any agent's activity, including instant new listing alerts. Learn more here.

TPO, Broker, and Correspondent Product News

Luxury Mortgage Corp. is thrilled to announce that we've recently enhanced and expanded over 100 facets of our Non-QM underwriting guidelines within the past two weeks. We're eager to share these exciting updates with you! These enhancements include improvements for allowing certain borrowers to exclude the PITIA from their departing residence. We've expanded the eligibility criteria for non-occupant co-applicants, allowing blended income and assets up to 90 percent LTV. Additionally, our Bank Statement qualification options have been widened to encompass five (5) methods, one of which allows for a 1-year P&L supported by only two months of bank statements. To learn more about these updates, we invite you to explore a list of key improvements by clicking here. If you are not an approved broker, now is the perfect time to become one. Click here to initiate the process of becoming an approved wholesale broker and prepare to take your production to the next level.

Attribution: Yesterday’s Commentary reported that, “The real estate investment trust affiliated with Angel Oak Companies posted a $28.6 million profit in the fourth quarter. For the full year of 2023, the REIT generated a profit of $33.7 million; all but forgotten is 2022’s reported loss of $187.8 million….” This information and story came from Inside Mortgage Finance, and we apologize for not noting this yesterday.

President Biden and… Closing Costs?

Anyone in our business knows that “housing costs” are complex and dependent on a myriad of factors, including supply and demand, demographics, local and state zoning and permit costs, construction demographics, builder choices, etc.

“President Biden believes housing costs are too high, and significant investments are needed to address the large shortage of affordable homes inherited from his predecessor and that has been growing for more than a decade. During his State of the Union Address, President Biden will call on Congressional Republicans to end years of inaction and pass legislation to lower costs by providing a $10,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers and people who sell their starter homes; build and renovate more than 2 million homes; and lower rental costs. President Biden also announced new steps to lower homebuying and refinancing closing costs and crack down on corporate actions that rip off renters.”

Webinars, Podcasts, and Training Next Week

It’s hard to believe a woman couldn’t get mortgage without a co-signer until 1974! In celebration of Women’s History Month, join MGIC for The Remarkable Rise of Women in the Mortgage Industry webinar on Wednesday, March 13. Hear guest speaker Patty Arvielo, CEO of New American Funding, discuss co-founding one of the largest independent mortgage lenders in the nation while fostering growth for women. MGIC’s Paula Maggio, EVP – General Counsel & Secretary, will lead the moderated discussion. Register now!

(A good place for longer term conference planning is to start is here, and click on “Conference List” for in-person events in the future.)

Today, Friday, March 8, is this week’s episode of The Mortgage Collaborative’s Rundown covering current events in the mortgage market for 30-45 minutes starting at noon PT, 3PM ET, in “The Rundown”. Today’s is co-hosted by Femi Ayi, VP Branching Operations at Revolution Mortgage.

Come see another industry first product by Insellerate with its new AI assistant. See how you can leverage AI now to create better customer experiences, drastically increase conversion, increase loan officer efficiency, market in new ways, and have insights into your customer like never before. On Tuesday March 12th Insellerate will be hosting a free webinar that will show case an industry first AI product.

National MI University's March Webinars! Mastering LinkedIn for Mortgage Professionals – Session Three ​​​​​​​​​​with Brynne Tillman – March 12th at 3pm ET. Top Loan Officer Strategies to Win NextGen Homebuyers ​​​​​​with Kristin Messerli – March 13th at 2pm ET. Your Leadership DNA ​​​​​​​​​​with Andrew Oxley - March 14th at 2pm ET. The Psychology of Sales ​​​​​with Rebecca Lorenz - March 26th at 2pm ET.

Looking for more in-depth commentary on weekly mortgage news? Register here for "Mortgage Matters: The Weekly Roundup” presented by Lenders One. Every Wednesday at 2:00 PM EST/11:00 AM PT is a dive into a range of mortgage-related topics, including market trends, interest rate fluctuations, innovative mortgage products, and industry advancements. Next week watch attorney James Brody field questions on repurchases and compliance issues.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced it will host the next session in its series of property insurance symposiums on March 13.

Optimal Blue’s Hedging 101 webinar is back on March 14, Noon CT. Whether you’re considering a transition to mandatory or you’re already hedging, you won’t want to miss this highly informative and directional webinar.

Free, Live, virtual training for all USDA lenders and real estate agents, Top Tips for Confident Credit Underwriting. Watch this live training event in Microsoft Teams on Thursday, March 14, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm ET.

Partner with the pioneer in non-QM wholesale lending to elevate your brokerage. Don't miss Angel Oak's March webinars crafted exclusively for broker originators. March 14th, 1PM EST, a Non-QM Webinar on DSCR Loans, March 21st, 1PM EST, a Non-QM Webinar on Bank Statement Loans.

Register for the Independent Community Bankers of America’s (ICBA) national convention, Thursday, March 14 through Sunday, March 17 at Orlando World Center Marriott.

The largest, most comprehensive educational and networking event for the nation’s community bankers. Attendees will explore industry trends and best practices while tackling top-of-mind community banking issues through dynamic general sessions; learning lab sessions, roundtables, and panels; and view demos featuring the latest innovation developments during the ICBA ThinkTECH Showcase and Expo Hall featuring more than two hundred vendors.

Capital Markets

Ginnie Mae’s mortgage-backed securities (MBS) portfolio outstanding grew to $2.54 trillion in February, including $30.9 billion of total MBS issuance, leading to $11.4 billion of net growth. February’s new MBS issuance supports the financing of more than 96,000 households, including more than 44,000 first-time homebuyers. Approximately 69.8 percent of the February MBS issuance reflects new mortgages that support home purchases. The February issuance includes $30 billion of Ginnie Mae II MBS and nearly $894 million of Ginnie Mae I MBS, including nearly $816 million in loans for multifamily housing. For the 2024 calendar year to date, Ginnie Mae has supported the pooling and securitization of more than 91,000 first-time homebuyer loans.

Turning to the overall fixed-income markets, the yield curve is moving toward “normal convexity” as dovish rhetoric from Federal Reserve officials this week has buoyed investor sentiment. The Fed may cut interest rates three times this year. Or twice. Or once. Or maybe not at all. Day two of Fed Chair Powell’s congressional testimony yesterday brought him before the Senate Banking Committee, where he reiterated that the Fed is close to the necessary confidence that will make it appropriate to begin dialing back the level of restriction.

But the FOMC is in no rush: Stronger than expected economic data in the first two months of the year has given the Fed ample breathing room to wait for further evidence that inflation is returning to the 2 percent target. Powell also confirmed policymakers are well aware of the risks of cutting too late. Cleveland Fed President Mester echoed Chairman Powell's view that the FOMC will likely be in position to lower rates this year.

Improved TBA (“to be announced” MBS, used for hedging pipelines) pricing yesterday was primarily a result of the ECB's adjusted inflation forecasts despite no change in rates. ECB President Lagarde's remarks after maintaining current rates for the fourth consecutive meeting raised speculation that a rate cut could be on the horizon for June. Domestically, continuing jobless claims came in slightly lower than expected, which contributed to favorable bond market pricing.

What’s the rate & term refi possibility? We’ve seen a reduction in mortgage rates from nearly 8 percent at the end of October to slightly under 7 percent currently. The total percentage of American homeowners that currently have refi incentive of at least 50 basis points has risen from 0.03 percent to just 2.1 percent ($102.2 billion out of about $4.97 trillion in UPB).

Today brought the February payrolls report. Nonfarm payrolls increased 275k versus 190k expectated and 353k previously. The unemployment rate was 3.9 percent when it was seen holding steady at 3.7 percent. Average hourly earnings were tame at +.1 percent (+4.3 year-over-year) versus expectations of increasing 0.3 percent month-over-month and 4.5 percent year-over-year versus 0.6 percent and 4.5 percent in January. Later today brings remarks from New York Fed President Williams, the only scheduled Fed speaker. After the employment data Agency MBS prices and the 10-year yielding 4.04 after closing yesterday at 4.09 percent. The 2-year is at 4.44.

Employment and Transitions

Ross Mortgage Corporation, celebrating 75 years as a trusted lender, invites you to join a legacy where success, innovation, and an unparalleled customer experience are the foundation of everything we do. With our unmatched support system, including personalized marketing strategies and tools to highlight your achievements and community impact, you'll have everything you need to succeed. We are a sales organization led by a salesperson, where our President understands the challenges you face and is there every step of the way along with our caring team to support your growth and success. Ross is large enough to provide a state-of-the-art technology stack, but small enough where your voice is always heard. If you are a Loan Officer or Branch Manager who would like to learn about joining our winning team, please reach out to our President, Tim Pascarella at 248-259-4614. Licensed in AL, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, MD, MI, MN, NC, OH, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WI, and the District of Columbia.”

It’s difficult to imagine a mortgage company remaining stable and debt-free for 32 years, especially in today’s market. But that’s exactly what Churchill Mortgage has achieved. Founder and CEO, Mike Hardwick believes a key component of running a successful business is doing what’s right for its people. In 2013, Mike transformed Churchill Mortgage into an Employee-Owned company, and as such, the team has navigated challenges together and emerged even stronger through the last few years. This year, Mike has promoted Matt Clarke to President as a natural next step to support continued growth. “I am excited and proud to promote Matt to President and Chief Operating Officer of Churchill Mortgage. He is an extraordinarily gifted thinker who has a unique ability to pull people together and make them stronger as a team,” said Hardwick. “I am honored to step into the role as President. Churchill’s people inspire me to keep growing and that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re pushing ourselves to never stop improving and evolving. I’m excited to see what we achieve in the next 32 years,” said Clarke.

In Montana, Evergreen Home Loans is excited to introduce our new leadership team, reinforcing our dedication to serving the local community with unparalleled mortgage solutions. Leading the charge is Pete Edgecomb as Regional Manager, bringing a strategic vision and robust market acumen. Brett Evertz steps in as Area Manager, ready to foster growth and enhance our service offerings. At the branch level, Kelly Duray and Crystal Eckerson assume the roles of Branch Managers, combining their deep industry knowledge and local insights to deliver personalized client experiences. Evergreen is committed to empowering homeownership with a suite of innovative products. Our focus on local decision-making and comprehensive product offerings positions Evergreen as the premier choice for both seasoned teams and individuals aiming to advance their careers in the Montana market. Join us in shaping the future of home financing. To see all job listings visit: Mortgage Careers

AmeriHome wired out the news that Jim Furash, CEO of AmeriHome, has decided to retire from the company as of March 1st and that Josh Adler, Chief Investment Officer, has been promoted to CEO of AmeriHome. In addition to Josh’s new role as CEO, the company also announced that Dan Blanding, EVP Capital Markets, has been promoted to Chief Investment Officer. Congratulations all the way around!