I saw a sign recently: “Psychic Fair Cancelled Due to Unforeseen Circumstances.” No one can see into the future, or can read minds, and communication is always a good thing. But if I had to predict something, mortgage-related fees (what is disclosed, and how, at closing) will be something in which the CFPB would become increasingly interested. The CFPB believes that “junk” fees are driving up housing costs, and wants to hear from you. Regarding costs, many lenders are wondering about the proposed NAR settlement, its costs, and even dual licensing. Will we see an increase in the number of dual licenses with the recent NAR settlement, and what about the states that do not allow a person to maintain both NMLS licenses and Realtor Licenses simultaneously? Attorney Brian Levy addressed dual compensation in one of his Musings. (Found here, this week’s podcast is sponsored by Visio Lending. Visio is the nation's premier lender for buy and hold investors with over 2.5 billion closed loans for single-family rental properties, including vacation rentals. Today’s has a roundtable discussion from the ICE conference in Vegas with Brett Brumley, Matt Kovac, Justin Demola, and Rob Chrisman on automation and its benefits to lenders and vendors.)

Lender and Broker Services, Products, and Software

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With the recent commissions’ settlement, loan officers must now reevaluate their engagement strategies with their agent network. The key ingredient in long-term success boils down to something so simple, yet very impactful: building closer relationships with homeowners. That’s why loan officers are turning to the Milestones “Super App,” a powerful platform that delivers white-labeled portals to manage the home, build wealth, and everything in between. The value loan officers can bring to homeowners NOW, in close partnership with their agent network, can help them build profitable, long-term relationships for years. Want to start serving your homeowners better? Talk to Sales.

STRATMOR on Customer Experience

When it comes to customer experience, STRATMOR Group covered all angles this week at ICE Experience 24 in Las Vegas. STRATMOR advisors were a common sight on the conference stages, with Brett McCracken sharing his characteristic bombshell secret shopping insights, Mike Seminari revealing some eye-opening truths about the critical importance of having a clean and simple loan process, Sue Woodard challenging tech vendors to look for ways to add value not only to the lender, but the borrower as well, and Garth Graham encouraging lenders to take a hard look at their compensation models to make sure they “get what they pay for.” Looking to refine your organization’s strategies? Contact STRATMOR today.

MBA's Role in NAR Settlement

No one wants to harm the fragile first-time home buyer, or further dampen the activity in real estate sales and inventory. The Mortgage Bankers Association weighed in on last week’s announced proposed National Association of Realtors’ settlement. Remember that, despite the furor of news and conjecture, the Settlement is subject to court approval although the MBA states we’re likely see changes to go into effect mid-July 2024. “There is also a possibility that the Department of Justice may weigh in on whether the settlement goes far enough, which could result in changes, delays, or abandonment of the settlement. NAR will continue to update its site with the latest information.

“The MBA will work with NAR and other trade associations to limit possible disruption from the settlement and ensure that its provisions are not overly disruptive to home financing. It is important to understand how a change to buyer paid commissions might impact seller contribution limits and we have already advocated for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to lift its prohibition on veterans’ payment for the buyer side agent.

“The proposed nationwide class of home sellers has reached a $418 million joint settlement with NAR that will resolve claims in some of the antitrust class actions against NAR. The Settlement with NAR is in addition to prior settlements (totaling $208.5 million) reached with defendants Anywhere Real Estate, RE/MAX, and Keller Williams.

“Under the terms of the Settlement, NAR will be responsible for paying $418 million in four annual installments along with interest, for the benefit of home sellers across the United States, as well as $3 million toward settlement notices. It also provides for far-reaching changes to NAR’s rules governing real estate broker compensation and the MLS system.

“NAR’s release does not cover agents affiliated with HomeServices of America and its related companies as they are still litigating. And firms that have a total transaction volume of $2 billion or above are not covered by the Settlement. However, the Settlement creates a framework for these larger firms to opt-in to the Settlement to resolve actual or potential claims against them. A firm that wishes to opt-in to the settlement route must deposit into an escrow account an amount equal to 0.0025 multiplied by its average annual ‘Total Transaction Volume’ over the most recent four calendar years and agree to not to engage in the certain prohibited practices. It is unclear at this stage whether the larger firms will in fact opt-in to the Settlement. A similar opt- in provision exists for independent MLS, with the payment being 100 multiplied by their 2023 subscribers.

“In the Settlement, NAR has agreed to various practice changes which are to begin 120 days after the plaintiffs seek preliminary approval of the Settlement. It will eliminate and prohibit any requirement by NAR and NAR MLSs that listing brokers or sellers must make offers of compensation to cooperating brokers or other buyer representatives, and prohibit and eliminate any requirement that such offers, if made, must be blanket, unconditional or unilateral (effectively, eliminating its rules requiring “cooperative” commissions as a condition of listing a home on the MLS).

“It requires MLS participants working with a buyer enter into a written agreement before the buyer tours a home with the following: (a) specify and conspicuously disclose the amount or rate of compensation to be received or how the amount will be determined, (b) the amount of compensation must be objectively ascertainable... It cannot be open-ended such as ‘buyer broker compensation shall be whatever amount the seller is offering to the buyer,’ (c) MLS participants may not receive compensation for brokerage services from any source that exceeds the amount or rate agreed to in the agreement with the buyer.”

The language, “Prohibits NAR MLS participants, subscribers, other real estate brokers, other real estate agents, and sellers from making offers of compensation on the multiple listing service to cooperating brokers or other buyer representatives (either directly or through buyers) or disclosing on the multiple listing service listing broker compensation or total brokerage compensation. It eliminates and prohibits any requirements conditioning participation or membership in a NAR MLS on offering or accepting offers of cooperative compensation.

“Agree not to create, facilitate, or support any non-MLS mechanism for listing brokers or sellers to make offers of compensation to cooperating brokers or other buyer representatives. Require NAR MLS participants acting for sellers to conspicuously disclose to sellers and obtain seller approval for any payment or offer of payment that the listing broker or seller will make to another broker, agent, or other representative acting for buyers. And require MLS participants to disclose to prospective sellers and buyers in conspicuous language that broker commissions are not set by law and are fully negotiable.”

The MBA warned that cooperative commission is not banned; listing brokers and sellers can continue to offer compensation for buyer broker services, just not through the MLS. And the Settlement does not prevent sellers from offering seller concessions through the MLS (e.g., for general buyer closing costs), so long as such concessions are not limited to or conditioned on the use of or payment to a buyer broker.”

The settlement does nothing, unfortunately, to address incompetent, inexperienced real estate agents that do little to promote professionalism, often a complaint from the agent representing the opposite side of the transaction.

Capital Markets

As we mark four years since the big shake-ups caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the mortgage industry continues to navigate its aftermath, especially in the MBS market. Despite the challenges, there's been remarkable progress and resilience shown. Vice Capital Markets is one company that has stood firm in the face of adversity, consistently providing steadfast support and innovative strategies to its clients throughout these uncertain times. The company recently shared this video reflecting on the tremendous impact of the pandemic on our industry. If, like me, you’ll be on-site next week at TMC’s The Mane Event in Louisville, Vice Capital President Troy Baars will be on hand to chat about all things capital markets. Drop him a line if you’d like to meet.

Yesterday granted market participants more time to digest the results of this week’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting. As a reminder, the Fed maintained the fed funds rate at current levels and signaled that it would begin cutting this year, which kicked off a post-meeting rally in markets. There’s now more confidence that rate cuts are coming in the second half of the year than there was prior to the meeting. The revised “dot-plot” continues to show the majority of the committee believes that three 25 basis point cuts is the most likely outcome before we close the books on 2024. That said, there were more votes for two 2024 cuts than there were in December.

As far as economic releases, yesterday’s release of flash Manufacturing and Services PMI reading from major economies showed that most pointing to a continued contraction in both sectors. The U.S. was an outlier as both Manufacturing and Services PMI readings indicated an ongoing expansion. Those reports contributed to the early pressure, as did another solid jobless claims reading and a strong existing home sales report.

But existing home sales easily beat expectations and rose 9.5 percent during February. Although historically slow, the 4.38-million-unit pace marks the strongest pace since February 2023, and is likely due to the dip in mortgage rates that occurred at the beginning of the year. Inventory remains tight, but a small swell of new supply hitting the market was another factor driving the faster sales pace.

There is no notable data scheduled for release today but plenty of Fed speakers no doubt reinforcing the message from earlier this week: Chair Powell, Governor Bowman, Fed Vice Chair Jefferson, Fed Vice Chair for Supervision Barr, and Atlanta Fed President Bostic are all scheduled to deliver remarks. We begin the day with Agency MBS prices better .125-.250 than Thursday night, the 10-year yielding 4.22 after closing yesterday at 4.27 percent, and the 2-year at 4.60.


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As mentioned in yesterday’s Commentary, AmeriHome’s Chief Operating Officer John Hedlund is leaving the company. Also effective April 7, Chief Risk Officer Mark Miller, and Chief Information Officer Dave Andersen, will also be leaving AmeriHome. AmeriHome (the nation’s largest bank-owned correspondent investor) has promoted the following, effective today: Anthony Ho, Managing Director, Chief Credit Officer, Greg McElroy, Managing Director, Chief Operations Officer, Steve Kolker, Managing Director, Correspondent Sales, and Peter Roeske, Managing Director, Retail Lending. AmeriHome Mortgage is a Western Alliance Bank company.