“What did the happy real estate agent put on her sign? I have lots to be thankful for.” (Feel free to use that gem at your next presentation at Sotheby’s.) In response to yesterday’s opening paragraph comments about housing supply, from Maryland Ken Sonner sent an article about how New Zealand managed to shift its zoning to help alleviate the supply issues and lower rents. People like lists for some reason, and here is the “The 15 most in-demand ZIP codes for U.S. homebuyers, and #1 is in Ohio.” But heading back to inventory, affordable housing, and such, the topic is certainly percolating up to Capitol Hill. A bipartisan duo in the U.S. Senate introduced a bill that would address a shortage of affordable housing in rural communities by easing the process for non-profits to acquire properties with USDA rural housing loans. It would also decouple the related rental assistance so that the assistance doesn’t end when the mortgages mature. (Today’s podcast can be found here and this week’s is sponsored by Black Knight. Black Knight is an award-winning software, data and analytics company that drives innovation in the mortgage and real-estate industries, and the capital and secondary markets. Listen to an interview with Servbank’s Anthony Forsberg on default and loss mitigation.)

Lender and Broker Software and Services

Don’t discount the value of prioritizing your customers. Many servicers are adding customer-focused technology to give homeowners self-service options and more. Just take it from AimLoan, an internet-direct mortgage lender that recently implemented MSP®, Black Knight’s loan servicing system, along with several other customer-focused solutions. After recently moving its servicing portfolio in-house, AimLoan needed proven technology to enhance the customer experience of today and prepare for growth of tomorrow. Ready to join AimLoan by enhancing the way you serve your own customers? Learn more about MSP today.

Get valuable face time with real estate agents: host your own For Sale to Sold workshop. MGIC’s ready-made workshop kit makes it easy for loan officers to guide agents to a deeper understanding of the mortgage process. The benefits of hosting your own workshop? You’ll position yourself as an expert, build stronger relationships and earn more referrals. Request your For Sale to Sold workshop materials to get started.

Loan servicers are invited to attend a free webinar on the MERS® Annual Report and third-party review process next Thursday, September 7th, at 3pm ET. Hear from the experts at Falcon Capital Advisors, an experienced and trusted third-party review firm, about the Annual Report process and how your organization can ensure it remains compliant with MERS® System requirements. Click here to register.

You don’t have to accept lower profitability when loan volume is down. Instead, find efficiencies in your mortgage process that add up to cost savings and bolster your bottom line. Loan officers using Maxwell Point of Sale achieve more with less work, closing 20% more loans and moving loans to clear to close 35% faster. Maxwell POS syncs with your LOS bi-directionally, keeping real-time data in one place for easy management and seamless updates and preapprovals. Managers have visibility into the team’s entire pipeline, allowing them to identify opportunities for quick adjustments and better results. If you’re ready to maximize your mortgage operations and take advantage of every basis point, schedule a call with the Maxwell team.

In today’s low-volume, purchase-focused market, every mortgage lender's goal is to optimize their profits and overall efficiency. The catalyst? The right product and pricing engine. In a recent article with HousingWire, industry expert Parvesh Sahi of Polly emphasizes three critical components to thrive in this ultra-competitive market environment: 1.) Speed to market, 2.) Margin management, and 3.) Loan officer experience and education. According to Sahi, creating the connective tissue between these three primary components is an enormous opportunity. Are you taking it? Learn more, here: Why the right PPE matters.

“It’s no surprise that many mortgage lenders use more than one channel to maximize loan origination opportunities. Maybe you’re a traditional retail shop with a growing consumer direct team, or you decide to shift resources to wholesale while your retail group rides out a rough patch. What is surprising is how many lenders use two or even three different CRM systems to meet their multi-channel needs, each one increasing the inefficiency and cost of their sales and marketing. Download our free guide, “How to Find the Ideal CRM” and learn how to streamline your tech stack and improve sales and marketing performance across all your channels.”

Broker and Correspondent Products

“Brokers: Are you attending NAMB National? Meet NexBank’s team at booth #12 and learn why we are a trusted investor and warehouse bank partner to brokers and correspondents nationwide. NexBank is continuously ranked as a top lender by Inside Mortgage Finance, and we continue to grow in the wholesale and correspondent space. Our wholesale and non-delegated channels offer a suite of Portfolio, Conventional, FHA and VA products. Our competitive portfolio products include Full Doc and Reduced Doc (Non-QM), available for loan amounts from $200,000 to $2 million, with ARM and Fixed Rate options, along with Interest Only. Ask about our unique 6-month ARM! Plus, portfolio loans have no LLPAs for FICO or second homes and allow cash-out to 80 on primary with no dollar cap on cash-out amount, where applicable by law. Contact us. Restrictions apply. Subject to change. For mortgage professionals. Not intended for general public. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender. NMLS 672886.”

Long-term Rental or Vacation Rental? Visio Lending is the nation’s leader in Non-QM Investor DSCR loans for buy and hold SFR rentals with nearly a decade of experience and over $2.5 billion in originations. No-DTI, 30-year terms, rate buy downs, free 45-day rate locks; I/O and Sub-1 DSCR options available. Through our top-notch Broker Program, brokers are able to earn up to 2 points YSP, and 5 points total. Visio Brokers can count on a designated Account Executive and in-house processing.

STRATMOR Customer Experience Workshop

According to data from Gartner, two in three companies say customer experience is the primary area where they will compete for business. Lenders, how is your business utilizing customer feedback to drive revenue growth in today’s challenging market? Need help? Join STRATMOR Group's customer experience experts as well as peer lenders for STRATMOR’s Customer Experience Workshop on September 25, 26 and 27. This highly interactive, virtual workshop is designed to give lenders specific, actionable ideas: you’ll learn how to optimize your loan processes to maximize repeat and referral business and achieve your growth goals in challenging market conditions. Register today!

Capital Markets

With a light day of data to open the week, investors continued to mull over Fed Chair Powell’s Jackson Hole Speech, which had a rather hawkish tone as he vowed to hike rates further, if necessary. Investors in Fed Funds futures got the message, ramping up bets that the Federal Open Market Committee will hike rates by an additional 25 basis points at the November meeting. The U.S. Treasury sold $45 billion in 2-year notes yesterday morning and $46 billion in 5-year notes in the afternoon, with both offerings meeting good demand ahead of today's $36 billion 7-year note auction. We have a heavy week of data coming up with home prices and consumer confidence today, GDP tomorrow, the PCE Price Index on Thursday, and the jobs report on Friday.

Keeping things in perspective, two weeks ago, markets were buoyed by an upwards surprise in retail sales. However, last week’s durable goods report showed orders fell 5.2 percent in a sign that business investment is slowing. Despite potentially lower jobs gains, initial unemployment claims have remained fairly consistent throughout the year and were at a three-week low last week. Given the record over-supply of available jobs over the last year, the softening in the labor market may presently be manifesting itself in less job openings rather than increasing layoffs. There were about 14 percent fewer job openings as of August 18 than on January 1. Existing home sales fell for the second consecutive month in July as higher mortgage rates reduced demand as well as supply. Lower supply has put upwards price pressure on the limited existing homes availability. This allowed builders, armed with price and rate incentives, to insulate themselves from the housing slowdown. New home sales were up 4.4 percent in July. While recent inflation data is encouraging, hawkish talk from Fed officials has the markets split on whether another rate hike will be necessary before the end of the year.

Today’s calendar gets under way later this morning with Redbook same store sales and will be followed by home prices from S&P /Case-Shiller and the FHFA for June, July job openings from JOLTS, consumer confidence for August, Dallas Fed Texas services for August, the aforementioned Treasury auction of 7-year notes, and remarks from Fed Vice Chair of Supervision Barr. We begin Tuesday with Agency MBS prices roughly unchanged from Monday and last Friday and the 10-year yielding 4.20 after closing yesterday at 4.21 percent. The risk-free 2-year T-Bill is at, or above, 5.0 percent for the sixth straight day.

Employment, transitions, and NAR President resignation

“Citizens Wholesale Lending: If you're an Account Executive looking for a solid Wholesale Lender, look no further than Citizens! Citizens Wholesale has been supporting the Broker and Non-Del community for the past 28 years with a commitment to delivering a best-in-class experience. As the mortgage landscape continues to evolve, Citizens remains a strong pillar for the Wholesale industry. We are currently hiring Account Executives in GA, NC, and SC to join one of the strongest bank-owned wholesale lenders in the country. If you’re interested in an opportunity to thrive and be a part of a winning team, learn more at our jobs page today!”

Allen Friedman, an industry veteran and long-time friend of this Commentary, has returned to his home of over 10 years, iServe Residential Lending. Allen joins iServe as Executive Vice President and will help to further develop and expand the company’s strategic growth and development initiatives. Co-CEO Ken Michael states “We are thrilled to have Allen back in this leadership role. He helped to create our culture and shares in our desire to ensure that iServe is a company that both MLOs and Branch Managers can join to build something extraordinary. With a can-do culture, our goal is to empower each MLO and Branch Manager with a voice in the company alongside the decision makers. Allen strengthens that platform.” iServe was established in 2007 as a multi-state residential mortgage banker and invites NMLS licensed Originators to apply. For a confidential conversation about joining iServe, contact Allen Friedman through his email or at 415-298-2500.

It's hurricane season, and sure enough we have Hurricane Idalia forming and expected to hit Florida on Wednesday. The National Association of Realtors has its own storm: the (now ex) President, Utah’s Kenny Parcell, resigned after the New York Times reported on allegations of sexual harassment and a culture of fear at NAR.