For those attending the Western Secondary, remember, it never rains in Southern California. Except for now. Here’s one person who won’t be seeing So Cal any time soon, and dare I say, every honest person in our biz is happy when this happens. Daniela Rendon, 31, was a Miami real estate broker but was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for stealing $381,000 in COVID relief funds, wire fraud, money laundering, and identity theft. Rendon probably won’t care too much about what the Federal Reserve does while she’s working in the laundry room or serving up oatmeal, but the Fed will probably restate, through Chairperson Powell speaking at the end of the week, its intent to keep interest rates high for an extended period to make sure inflation does not flare up again. In other legal and compliance news, Freedom Mortgage’s RESPA Consent Order with the CFPB is getting some attention from Mortgage Musings author and attorney Brian Levy. (Today’s podcast can be found here and this week’s is sponsored by PHH Mortgage. For over 30 years, PHH Mortgage has provided industry-leading mortgage services and helped countless homebuyers and homeowners find financing solutions to meet their needs. Hear an interview with Arrive Home’s Matt Pettit on down payment assistance programs and the push for more affordable housing.)

Lender and Broker Software and Services

If you’re in Dana Point for CMBA Western Secondary, you may be able to spot a blue whale lobtailing or a playful pod of dolphins on the water. But inside the Waldorf Astoria, there is ample opportunity for a type of spectating to help you run your business better. On Wednesday at 11 am PT, grab a seat for the engaging session, “How is Technology Providing Efficiencies in the Secondary Market.” Jay Arneja of SimpleNexus, an nCino company, will be weighing in on a wide range of technology options that can make your firm nimbler during a time of market volatility. If you can’t make the show, check out this blog on how different types of eClosings can save you $160-$440 per loan.

Nationwide Appraisal Network (NAN) is thrilled to announce that it has made the 2023 Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in America for the fifth time. This accomplishment is a testament to its sustained commitment to excellence and growth. The Inc. 5000 recognition underscores NAN’s dedication to providing top-notch appraisal services and fostering innovation in the industry. Through its unwavering commitment to client satisfaction and technological advancement, the company is proud to have achieved this milestone for three consecutive years, demonstrating resilience and adaptability in a dynamic market landscape. “We are honored to once again be recognized on the Inc. 5000 list as we continue to grow at an extraordinary pace, even after 19 years in business. This achievement reflects the hard work of our team, and their commitment to deliver concierge-level service for our valued clients on every order" said Steve Sussman, Chief Business Development Officer.

It’s been an impressive year for Flagstar Bank, a business that now has nearly $119 billion in assets, thanks to the merger with New York Community Bank and acquisition of certain lines of business from Signature Bank. Flagstar continues to expand their products and services for their customers, further highlighting that their commitment to the mortgage space is just as strong as it has been for the last 35 years. The newest addition to the Flagstar mortgage family is the Specialized Mortgage Banking Solutions (SMBS) group. This team of seasoned financial professionals focuses on deposit gathering and customized treasury management services and products for all types of businesses connected to mortgage loans. Structured Cash Management Services from SMBS is designed to simplify and streamline operational costs and improve your cash position. At Western Secondary this week? Be sure to connect with a Flagstar team member to learn how their many offerings can help your business thrive in today’s market.

Free report: These growing borrower segments present opportunities for new business in 2023’s market. Wondering how to fill your pipeline when loan volume is scarce? New data from Maxwell gives lenders an exclusive look into home buyer groups taking on higher rates head-on. Did you know, for instance, that the share of 18 to 24-year-old borrowers has increased by 18 percent year-over-year? Now is the time to cater to these rising home buyers. For exclusive data and actionable takeaways, click here to download Maxwell’s Q2 Mortgage Lending Report.

Take Advantage of LoanStream’s Summer Specials to help you Grow that Pipeline! NON-QM Special for Purchase, Refinance & Cash-Out Programs. 50 BPS Price Improvement on all 740+ FICO Non-QM Programs (Special may not be combined with Select Non-QM Programs). Only Non-QM Special available for Correspondent. Prime Special: 35 BPS Price Improvement on Government Purchase Loans, 35 BPS Price Improvement on Government and Conventional High-Balance Purchase, Refinance and Cash-Out Loans (Specials are not available for use with DPA loans and cannot be combined together or with Select Loan Promotions. Restrictions apply. For loans locked 8/1/2023 through 8/31/2023. Visit LoanStream for more information or speak with your Account Executive.

“In this market, hustle is everything. You can’t afford to waste a single dealor a single minute. That’s why ReadyPrice has launched its innovating new Shop, Lock, & Deliver loan exchange platform, designed to help independent mortgage brokers like you save time and money. Now you can shop competitive loan offerings from multiple lenders, get rate lock guarantees in real time, receive underwriting findings, and deliver the borrower’s complete loan file to lenders and all on a single platform, at no cost to brokers. It’s the industry’s most powerful universal delivery portal, and it’s already helping brokers around the country thrive and compete in even the toughest market environments. Multiple lenders. One platform. Zero b.s. Check us out today.

STRATMOR on Employee Culture

Have you visited a Chick fil A restaurant lately? When the employes say, “It’s my pleasure,” and not just “you’re welcome,” you believe them. They seem genuinely happy to serve their customers, and their happiness makes their customers smile. Maybe the mortgage industry can learn something from this fast-food giant’s approach to employee engagement. In his August Customer Experience Tip, STRATMOR Group’s MortgageCX Director Mike Seminari addresses how lenders can build a vibrant, positive employee culture that begets a world-class customer experience. He suggests three steps lenders can take to foster an employee-prized culture that can’t help but make for a better customer experience. Check out the new Customer Experience Tip, “Happy Employees, Happy Customers: A Page From a Fast-Food Giant’s Playbook.”

Capital Markets

Stocks and bonds both fell last week as healthy economic data drove the narrative that the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates higher for longer, though prices stabilized on Friday. After settling Thursday at its highest level since November 2007, the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield fell back below 4.3 percent but still logged its fifth straight week of higher rates, once again proving that rate predictions should be taken with a grain of salt.

The steady rise in yields is making investors nervous because past surges have at times proved destabilizing for markets. With the 10-year yield still well below the level of short-term rates set by the Fed, some analysts see room for the benchmark rate to keep climbing. Bond yields continued to rise across the board, extending an upswing that began nearly three months ago at the beginning of the summer. The latest FOMC minutes, which stressed that additional interest rate hikes might be needed, nudged rates even higher. Investors are still sizing up how rising yields compare with stock valuations, but the immediate consequences might be more apparent in the housing market. LOs everywhere know that 30-year fixed-rate mortgages solidly topped 7 percent on the latest developments, marking the highest level seen in more than 20 years.

Fed Chair Powell speaks at the end of the week, and is expected to highlight some of the progress made in combating inflation but stay on script with his most recent commentary about the need to stay vigilant. Some think Powell leaves enough of a hawkish edge that the door remains open to more rate hikes. Certainly, he is likely to reiterate the Fed's commitment to its 2 percent inflation target and to push back (implicitly or explicitly) against the degree of rate hikes that markets are pricing for next year.

As the Federal Reserve looks to restore its dual mandate of price stability and maximum employment, originators are looking at long-term mortgage rates in the U.S. reached a two-decade high. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate hit 7.09 percent, a level not seen since April 2002, crimping both sales and refinancing activity. Back then, the average U.S. home price was roughly $187,000 versus $416,000 today. Despite elevated mortgage rates, there is activity amongst potential home buyers, especially in the new home market where builders have been offering seller concessions, rate incentives, and price cuts to move inventory. New home building permits increased in July to a 930,000-unit annual pace.

And our market has taken note of troubling data out of China. This adds to the hawkish rhetoric from Federal Reserve officials and has investors rethinking the economic landscape which led to last week’s Treasury rout. That rout pushed 10-year yields close to their highest point since 2007. It has also spurred a debate over why the bond market has turned dangerous. Economic activity continues to expand and has led many analysts to shift their outlooks regarding possible contraction. However, monetary policy lags (e.g., the time it takes before central bank tightening fully works through the economy) are longer now. The reasons include fewer variable rates on U.S. debt relative to a few years ago, businesses’ reluctance to let go of workers after the pandemic shortages, and the Fed’s large balance sheet that currently contains over $8 trillion in assets.

If Fed officials think interest-rate hikes are going to impact the economy sooner than in actuality, that means the Fed is very likely to keep rates too high for too long, raising the risk of a larger-than-expected decline in growth, and eventually, inflation. Pricing in futures markets now implies that the first Fed Funds rate easing won’t come until the Spring of 2024. The minutes from the Fed’s July meeting echoed those sentiments as well as noted that upside risks to inflation remain which would necessitate further tightening. For now, the message may be as important as any action as interest rate markets resign themselves to adjust to a higher for longer mindset.

After last week closed with a rally in bond markets due to China debt and financing concerns, this week brings the Kansas City Fed’s Jackson Hole Economic Symposium over Thursday to Saturday, with Fed Chair Powell scheduled to speak on Friday. Economic data releases are mostly second tier including regional Fed surveys, housing data, durable goods orders, S&P Global PMIs, and Michigan sentiment. Supply consists of the usual T-bills, as well as $16 billion 20-year bonds, $24 billion reopened 2-year FRNs, and $8 billion reopened 30-year TIPS. With no economic releases of note scheduled today, we begin the week with Agency MBS prices worse .125-.250 and the 10-year yielding 4.29 after closing last week at 4.25 percent.