While we await the release of the changes in the official conforming loan limits later today (many lenders and MI companies went to $750k in October, the CLL will probably increase around 6 percent for 2024 to around $770,000, and to $1,155,000 for high cost areas), both vendors and lenders continue with changes, instituting workweek reductions, furloughs, pay cuts, and layoffs due to overcapacity… Much different than a couple years ago when those same companies couldn’t hire people fast enough. Things rarely stay the same forever, whether it is in mortgage banking, shipping, or population. For example, there’s this: “Amazon Takes the Delivery Throne From UPS and FedEx.” Is Texas losing population? No, but here’s yet another example of a sensationalist headline that would make you think so: “People are leaving Texas over rising costs, partisan politics, and a sense of disenchantment.” Paging down a bit shows, “Over 494,000 people left Texas between 2021 and 2022 (though Texas gained a net population of 174,261.)” Today’s podcast can be found here, and this week’s is sponsored by MCT. MCT’s technology and know-how continues to revolutionize how mortgage assets are priced, locked, protected, valued, and exchanged, offering clients the tools to thrive under any market condition. Hear an interview with MCT’s Andrew Rhodes on transparency in the capital markets, inflation patterns, and indicative pricing.

Lender and Broker Products, Programs, and Services

Are you getting the lion's share of your real estate agent partners’ business? Without insight into transaction data, it’s hard to know. With MMI’s LO Wallet Share feature, you can quickly and easily visualize the percentage of business agent partners are sending your way and identify opportunities for growth with both current partners and prospects. Want to see it in action? Watch our free LO Wallet Share Webinar to learn how one MMI customer built his business plan based on the opportunities he identified with preferred agent partners using MMI’s LO Agent Wallet Share feature.

“Take your Encompass® experience to the next level with the Encompass Essentials - 10 Free Tools Package from KensieMae, where seamless enhancements await at no cost. We get it; this market can be tough, and we're here to make it a little easier…for free! No gimmicks, no hidden fees, and no strings attached. Our free tools package includes 10 simple but powerful, time-saving tools trusted by thousands of lenders, and they won't cost you a dime. Installation is a breeze, and upgrades are on the house. Whether you're a new KensieMae customer or already part of the family, these tools are our gift to you. Save time, reduce frustration, and streamline your workflow with tools like Doorbell, Navigation Buttons, and Macro Automation. Your lending business deserves these game-changers, so why wait? Claim yours today and supercharge your operations with the Encompass Essentials - 10 Free Tools Package!

“The biggest lenders are offering same-day approvals, and so can you. Tired of messy or late closings? LOs know that even if they provide the most amazing customer service, it won’t mean anything if there are delays in getting their borrower’s mortgage approved and closed. Lender Toolkit’s AI-powered AI Underwriter™ and Prism borrower income automation tools help streamline underwriting so that you can get loans approved in under two minutes. By providing almost-instantaneous underwriting decisions, your market reputation with borrowers and Realtors will soar, which means more repeat and referral business. Notes Mark Workens, CEO of Mortgage 1 Inc.: “In today’s environment, every human touch and every moment between origination and secondary delivery impact razor thin margins. My company’s ability to be profitable in any market condition is largely due to Lender Toolkit’s Maas™ Platform, including AI Underwriter and Prism.” So why get left behind? To learn more, email us.”

“Generating broker loan volume using OptifiNow TPO is as simple as 1, 2, 3! We’ve built numerous integrations and features that simplify your TPO sales and marketing process. One, our integrations with 3rd party data providers make it easy to identify high value brokers and import them directly into OptifiNow TPO. Two, a daily rate sheet marketing feature automatically tracks email opens and clicks so that your AEs can easily call brokers using our VOIP phone system integration. Three, OptifiNow TPO offers a robust pricing engine integration that allows account executives to quickly price and email loan scenarios, while simultaneously tracking the type of products they’re interested in for future targeted marketing campaigns. Being successful in wholesale lending doesn’t get any easier than OptifiNow TPO. Contact us today for a demonstration!

STRATMOR on Market Cycles

There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor the man perfected without trials.” In the rollercoaster ride that is the current downturn in our industry, how do lenders make the most of these trials and lessons and come out on the other side as valuable as polished gems?” In STRATMOR Group’s November Insights Report, STRATMOR advisors reflect on the most important lessons they’ve learned through this downturn. They offer insights into how lenders can navigate through it and position themselves for success when the next up cycle arrives. Lenders, if you need guidance in developing your business strategies, contact STRATMOR, and don’t miss, “Lessons Learned in a Down Mortgage Market” in the November Insights Report.

FHA, USDA, and Ginnie Program Updates

Ginnie Mae’s Bulletin - Mr. Cooper Cybersecurity Incident, states that the cybersecurity incident has impacted Mr. Cooper’s reporting to Ginnie Mae related to certain loan activity in the November reporting period based on October loan activity and has impacted pool factor calculations. Additionally, the Bulletin states that all questions related to the above should be directed to Mr. Cooper.​

FHA posted a draft Mortgagee Letter (ML), Payment Supplement, on its Single Family Housing Drafting Table (Drafting Table) web page for public feedback. This draft ML takes into consideration comments received on a prior draft ML announced in FHA INFO 2023-44 and makes substantive operational changes to the prior version as a result of that feedback. Due to the changes made to the ML, FHA is seeking additional feedback on the revised draft.

As a reminder, this draft ML is not official Departmental policy and cannot be used in connection with any FHA-insured mortgage. FHA’s existing policies remain in effect until amended upon publication of a final ML on HUD’s website.

FHA republished Mortgagee Letter (ML) 2023-20, Update to Property Inspection Fees, due to an inadvertent error in the Affected Programs section of the ML. The list of Affected Programs inadvertently omitted Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs) even though the HECM program, in addition to the forward mortgage program, utilizes the fee schedule found in the Single-Family Housing Policy Handbook 4000.1, Appendix 7.0 Property Preservation Allowances and Schedules. Therefore, the ML has been corrected to ensure the list of Affected Programs properly accounts for the changes this will make for the HECM program as well. The effective date for the revised property preservation inspection fees of November 14, 2023, remains unchanged. Stakeholders are encouraged to access the corrected version of ML 2023-20.

USDA Rural Development posted a bulletin regarding streamlining and improving Single-Family Housing Direct Programs. On November 20, 2023, a Proposed Rule was published in the Federal Register seeking comments on proposed changes that would reduce regulatory burdens on applicants, borrowers, and partners by enhancing program delivery, expanding customer service, promoting consistency between the direct and guaranteed SFH programs where feasible, and align the program with current housing market conditions and mortgage loan programs.

USDA Rural Development issued a bulletin, Advance Notice: Revisions to HB-1-3555, Chapters 4 and 11. Copies of the upcoming revisions are available for review on the Loan Origination page of the USDA LINC Training and Resource Library, under the sub-heading “New”.

With the posting of PN 597 dated November 21, 2023, changes were made to USDA Rural Development’s Handbook 1-3550, Chapter 7. The revisions included an update to the tax service fee and other minor edits.

Recently, USDA published PN 592 and 594 providing notice of handbook updates along with other policy guide changes. See AmeriHome Correspondent 10231106-CL Product Announcement for details.

AmeriHome issued a reminder that Non-Delegated Correspondent Sellers will be required to provide the $100 annual renewal fee charged by VA for processing requests for VA recognition of agent to AmeriHome by December 1, 2023. AmeriHome Correspondent 20231104-ND Product Announcement for details.

Plaza’s Zero-Down FHA 100% CLTV Combo Program has been a big hit since rolling out last month. With no income limits and FICO scores down to 600, it’s opening many new opportunities for buyers. Keep in mind this loan is a Specialty Product and falls under that category when checking Turn Times, which are available on the client website. The Underwriting may take somewhat more time once it’s started. Also, the Closing Department will require 48 hours from scheduling so the package for both liens can be prepared properly.

Capital Markets

Best efforts lenders seeking more revenue often look to add a mandatory delivery capability to their operations, and for good reason. Aggregators will pay a premium for conforming loans locked using a mandatory commitment, typically in the range of 20–40 basis points or more. This premium can be even higher for loans with characteristics that qualify them to be included in MBS specified pools. But why does this premium, aka the best efforts to mandatory spread, exist? And what causes it to fluctuate through time and market conditions? The capital markets experts at Optimal Blue are here to answer these questions and more in the blog post “Best Efforts to Mandatory Spread: Determining the Risk and Reward of Pipeline Hedging.” Optimal Blue has advised scores of lenders through the transition to mandatory delivery to help them realize greater profitability. Ready to be one of them? Contact Optimal Blue today.

As noted last week, congratulations to Dave Gottfried who has joined MBS Source, an electronic trading marketplace for structured products!

In interest rate news, we learned last week that Federal Reserve officials agreed to "proceed carefully" with interest rates, according to the minutes from the FOMC's latest policy meeting released on Wednesday. Members wanted rates to stay restrictive "for some time," as inflation remains above the 2 percent objective, with virtually no interest in cutting rates anytime soon.

Yesterday the week kicked off with an impressive rally in the bond markets, dropping rates, after the release of a weaker-than-expected new home sales report for October. New home sales fell 5.6 percent in October to a seasonally adjusted rate of 679,000, according to the Census Bureau. Though the figure was up 17.7 percent from a year ago, it was below expectations and followed a downwardly revised sales pace in September of 719,000. Homebuilders continue to move toward more modestly priced products and are able to offer concessions to drive sales in face of high mortgage rates.

It's a flippin’ busy day! Today’s scheduled economic calendar includes the FHFA’s conforming loan limits for 2024, weekly Redbook same store sales for the week ending November 25, September house price indices from S&P/Case-Shiller, consumer confidence for November, Richmond Fed manufacturing and services, Dallas Fed Texas services, and results from a Treasury auction of $39 billion 7-year notes. Phew! Following last week’s break, Fedspeak resumes with Chicago’s Goolsbee, Governor Waller, Governor Bowman, and Governor Barr all delivering remarks.

Later this week brings the latest reading on the Federal Reserve's favorite inflation gauge. The PCE reading on core inflation is expected to show a 0.2 percent month-over-month and 3.5 percent year-over-year increase. We begin the day with Agency MBS prices roughly unchanged, the 10-year yielding 4.40 after closing yesterday at 4.39 percent, and the 2-year down to 4.88.


HouseAmerica Financial, owned by longtime mortgage veteran Alan Pezeshkian, is expanding its footprint in CA, WA, OR, ID, FL, TX, MD, TN, PA, AZ, CO, VA, NJ, and DC and is searching for LOs & BMs to join its growing sales team. While the company offers complete in-house operations (delegated underwriting up to $3MM) and a powerful Non-QM platform, its hybrid “banker/broker” model empowers LOs to choose the best channel for their clients. HouseAmerica has invested heavily in developing its own “Design Studio,” giving LOs the ability to create high-end customized marketing pieces in a matter of minutes. Most notably, the company recently launched a proprietary AI platform that has become a game-changer for LOs especially with respect to personal branding and content creation. If you’re an LO or a Branch/Area manager looking for a cutting-edge mortgage banking company with a hands-on management team, we would love to talk to you. For a confidential discussion please email Bill Greene.

“In a market where many lenders are pulling back, NOVA® Home Loans continues to grow. NOVA® has a rich history of financial strength and stability, and for over 40 years NOVA® has thrived in all market conditions. We are looking to have conversations with Loan Officers & Branch Managers looking for a home built by Loan Officers for Loan Officers. We spend more on supporting our Loan Officers than our peers. Our Loan Officers also produce more loans per month and stay longer than Loan Officers at other companies. To learn more about the NOVA® advantage that will help you close more loans, visit us here & please reach out to Jenny Skaggs, Director of Recruiting & Corporate Engagement, 520.202.4102.”

“This Thanksgiving, Nations Lending is grateful for our dedicated staff, working hard to get families and individuals into their dream homes. Join us in this exciting and rewarding career opportunity. Nations, established in 2003, is an agency-direct seller/servicer with FNMA, servicing 100% of our loans and licensed to lend in all 50 states. We provide the necessary tools and support for success. Our features include SKIP (Direct Submit): Submit files directly to Underwriting; ACE (Accelerated Competitive Edge) Approvals: Comprehensive Preapprovals; Hybrid eClose: Convenient digital closing solution. We are a three-time Inc. 5000 winner, an eight-time recipient of Scotsman Guide's Top Mortgage Lenders, and a three-time listing as a Top Workplaces for Millennials and recently listed as a Best Workplaces for Women by Fortune Magazine. To learn more, contact Corey Caster or click here. Become part of our nation and mission to make "home loans. made human.™."

Time to switch jerseys? Join Team Champs! Champions Funding is actively hiring seasoned Non-QM Account Executives. If your year-end commissions aren't letting you level up, take advantage of generous compensation packages. Plus, you'll differentiate yourself with exclusive Non-QM products (DSCR/No Ratio, Alt-Doc, ITIN, Foreign National) and best-in-class service. You'll further the mission to increase equity in homeownership through the unique CDFI certification. Reach out to Angela Castillo or (602) 848-2967 for a confidential conversation.

Congratulations are in order as Floify announced that Courtney Dodd has joined its team as head of marketing and will “spearhead Floify's marketing initiatives and reinforce its position as an innovator in the field.”