“I'm at a place in my life where errands are starting to count as going out.” No one’s getting any younger, and like time marching on, technology does as well. For history buffs, here is a recording of the voice of someone born in 1800, at the 13:30 mark in the video. Fast forward, and something that enthralled countless kids has run its course: The last Chuck E. Cheese animatronic band in the world will exist in Northridge, California. Remember when that chain was popular for kids’ birthday parties? Assumable mortgages were, at one point, popular as well, but not any longer. “Assumable mortgages are hard to find, take long to process, and are only good for certain buyers.” But that doesn’t stop them from grabbing the public’s attention when they’re in the headlines. (Today’s podcast can be found here, and this week’s 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. Today’s has an interview with Argyle’s Brian Geary on mortgage vertical growth, customer benefits of technology integrations, and how vendors can differentiate themselves from competitors.)

Lender and Broker Products, Programs, and Services

Hot off the press! Did you know Optimal Blue offers a free monthly report with metrics on origination activity? That’s right: The Originations Market Monitor provides a comprehensive and timely look into origination data for the U.S. and the top 20 metropolitan statistical areas by share of total volume. The latest report, which looks at data through November’s month-end, is now available. Highlights from November include an uptick in rate/term refinance production and a significant decline in average purchase price, possibly signaling a trend in falling prices. Access the latest Originations Market Monitor and subscribe to receive the report each month.

“Speed towards year-end success and set your processing on cruise control with wemlo®! Join the 180+ mortgage brokerages across the country who’ve submitted 2,700+ loans to wemlo this year. Experience the shortcut to streamlined, broker-centric loan processing, leaving slow and costly methods in the dust. wemlo’s dedicated team of processors offers support for a diverse mix of loan products and lenders. Best of all, there is no subscription or minimum loan requirement to take advantage of wemlo’s flexible processing services. Our dependable and scalable processors are ready to act as your personal loan concierge without the payroll burden. Get started with a 1:1 call.

It's time to start planning for the year ahead! Join the Computershare Loan Services (CLS) team from January 22-24 in The Big Easy for MBA’s Independent Mortgage Bankers Conference. With CLS’ originations fulfillment, co-issue MSR acquisition, subservicing, and mortgage cooperative, IMBs can streamline their operations, minimize expenses, and maximize profits. Contact the CLS team today to schedule a meeting in New Orleans.

“In 2024, partnering with the right subservicer can make the difference in growing your business and staying a step ahead of a dynamic mortgage market. LoanCare®, one of the nation’s top subservicers, can help you better manage and grow your portfolio next year and beyond. We’ve serviced loans for banks, credit unions, independent mortgage companies, and portfolio investors for over 40 years with solutions for any servicing scenario. We’ll be at the MBA IMB Conference in January, contact us to learn why now is the right time to make LoanCare your servicing partner. And don’t miss Jerry McCoy, EVP, Performance Management at LoanCare speak on the conference panel, “Uncover the Hidden Financial Risks & Rewards in Your Servicing,” on Tuesday, January 23, at 1:30 p.m.”

A customer’s decision to choose you over someone else often lies in your ability to know exactly what to say, when to say it and how to make it count, according to internationally renowned sales coach, Phil Jones. To give back to lenders in a tough market, TrustEngine has partnered with Phil Jones on a script that will help your mortgage advisors close more loans from your database. In it, Phil coaches LOs on mastering the trust sequence and points out stumbling blocks to avoid. Share the video with your team to start increasing your speed to need today. Also, check out TrustEngine’s Borrower Intelligence Platform (BIP) that drives volume by identifying loan opportunities and engagement strategies tailored to borrowers’ needs.

Are you struggling with declining production volumes and increasing costs per loan? Look no further. Outsourcing accounting is the elegant answer to this common challenge faced by independent mortgage banks. Whether you lack accounting expertise in-house or have a new team with no mortgage experience, the Richey May Client Accounting and Advisory Services (CAAS) team is here to provide the support you need. Our team consists of industry experts who can customize a solution to meet your specific needs in this volatile time, without requiring any additional training. Whether you need help transitioning to loan level accounting, a fully outsourced function, or industry training for your controller, we've got you covered. Contact Richey May today!

Correspondent and Wholesale Programs

“Give Your Pipeline a Boost this December with LoanStream’s Winter Specials on Non-QM and Prime! Non-QM, get up to 100bps price improvement, see our website for details. For loans locked 12/1/2023 through 12/31/2023. Restrictions apply. Check out our new DPA MaxONE program with a 2/1 Buydown, available now. Submit, Price, and Lock in the Lounge. This just in: We're Proud to be a TOP 6 wholesale lender according to IMF Publications. Interested in getting approved? Visit our Get Approved page now: Get Approved LoanStream – Wholesale Mortgage Lending.

Although conforming loan limits are expected to rise in 2024, jumbo products are still essential for serving high-net-worth clients. Flagstar Bank recently introduced Jumbo Premier, a competitively priced, 30-year fixed rate non-agency product that allows up to $2.5 million on purchase, refinance, and C/O for primary residences. (Second home and investment property options are also available. LTVs up to 85 percent with no MI required. Asset depletion calculated with a 3 percent rate of return over the life of the loan.) With competitive rates and flexible guidelines, Jumbo Premier joins Flagstar’s already robust product suite. Offerings include construction loans up to $3 million, bank statement programs, doctor loans, and HELOCs. A trusted lender for over 35 years, Flagstar continues catering to the third-party originator space and their evolving business needs. To learn more about partnering with Flagstar, visit here or contact John Gibson.

STRATMOR on Customer Experience

Loan officers, you may not be on the naughty list with your borrowers, but is getting ‘nice’ feedback enough to keep you in business? In his new Customer Experience Tip, STRATMOR CX Director Mike Seminari explains that, while there’s nothing wrong with “nice” reviews, LOs in today’s market need to produce “wow”-inducing experiences for their borrowers if they want to continue to grow their influence and reach, and ultimately their revenue. Check out, “What Are Top-Tier Originators Doing to ‘Wow’ Their Borrowers.

Conforming Conventional News, MI Updates

"December 13, 1972, was the last time a human landed on the Moon as part of the Apollo 17 mission. Today, lenders can again celebrate an announcement worthy of landing on the moon. Truv is now an approved third-party service provider supporting Freddie Mac Loan Product Advisor® asset and income modeler (AIM). Truv’s new integration with AIM enables lenders to use the Truv platform to obtain and transmit the information and data required to Freddie Mac’s LPA for the AIM assessment. Read all about it.

National MI announced its immediate support of the higher GSE Conforming and High Balance/Super Conforming loan amount limits in National MI Announcement UW 2023-05

hereby superseded the temporarily increased AUS conforming loan amounts that were effective October 5, 2023, as outlined in National MI's Bulletin 2023-03. An update to the Eligibility Matrices in National MI's TrueGuide® Underwriting Guidelines explaining these changes will be posted to nationalmi.com on or before January 2, 2024.

PHH Mortgage Non-Delegated Sellers will have the ability to generate a Mortgage Insurance quote from TPOC. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact your Sales Executive/Correspondent Sales Representative or Correspondent Specialist.

PRMG Product Update 23-56 updates the following Product Profiles: Agency Products (Not including HFA products), Fannie Mae Products, Agency Freddie Mac, Government Products (Not including HFA products), FHA, VA and USDA Products, Closed End Second Products, Closed End Elite and WI WHEDA Advantage FHA and Conventional.

PRMG Product Update 23-53 includes information on the following Product Profiles: Fannie Mae rental income requirements, updated Max LTV/CLTV for 2–4-unit owner occupied (principal residence) purchase and limited cash-out transactions on Agency Fannie Mae and HomeReady. Clarification on borrowers with IRS debt on USDA Products, Closed End Seconds Net Tangible Benefit, and more. Refer to the actual profiles for additional information.

PHH Mortgage Corporation announced alignment with the conventional loan limit increases by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Loan limits in 2024 are increasing. The new loan limit for most of the country will be $766,550, a 5.56 percent increase over the 2023 limit, FHFA as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have announced the 2024 Conforming and High Balance Loan Limits for 1-4 units. Effective 11/30/2023, Kind Lending has increased & updated its conforming loan limits for 1-4 units to match with the new 2024 loan limits recently announced by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.

FHFA has announced that, in most of the U.S., the 2024 maximum conforming limit for one-unit properties is increasing to $766,550, and the loan limit ceiling to $1,149,825. HUD has announced that the FHA floor will increase to $498,257. For implementation information, see the AmeriHome Mortgage Announcement Number: 20231201-CL.

As expected, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) published the 2024 maximum conforming loan limits for mortgages eligible to be acquired by the GSEs. The limits are calculated by FHFA according to a formula established by Congress in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA). All but 5 counties experienced an increase. The limits are effective for loans with delivery dates, or pool issue dates, on or after January 1, 2024.

FHA followed with the release of its loan limits. Read more: Mortgage Bankers Association Secondary and Capital Markets Committee.

Citi Correspondent Lending Bulletin 2023-11 includes credit policy updates on 2024 Conforming Loan Amount Changes, Regulatory: Reg Z – Annual Dollar Amounts, Student Loans - Calculating Payment Used for Qualification, Rental Income, Updated Depreciating Markets List.

Freddie Mac has previously announced that effective with UCDP submissions received on and after January 26, 2024, the new feedback messages for certain words and phrases will move from Warning to Fatal, preventing a “Successful” submission status. See AmeriHome Mortgage Product Announcement 20231203-CL for details.

AmeriHome announced the expansion of Loan-To-Value (LTV) ratios for 2-4 units, in alignment with Fannie Mae’s recent guidelines. See AmeriHome Mortgage Product Announcement 20231202-CL for details.

Updated 2024 Loan Limits in Fifth Third systems is discussed in Fifth Third Correspondent Lending Communiqué 2023-8-12.5.23 edition.

Capital Markets

We learned yesterday that U.S. inflation ticked up 0.1 percent in November, denting hopes that the Federal Reserve will lower rates anytime soon. Increases in housing (shelter) and other service-sector costs were the main drivers. For the most part, the report was in-line with expectations, as consumer prices rose 0.1 percent over the course of the month after being flat in October, while Core CPI accelerated, exhibiting sticky behavior to register up 4.0 percent year-over-year. The data comes as Federal Reserve officials began a two-day meeting that is expected to culminate with them holding interest rates steady yet again.

The Fed may signal the hiking cycle is over in today’s meeting, and while it’s all but certain to hold rates, the Federal Open Market Committee could continue to vocalize the idea that it can raise rates again if progress in fighting inflation stalls. The CPI report should give the data-dependent Fed further pause about cutting rates anytime soon, and accordingly, traders trimmed bets on the amount of 2024 Fed easing. The probability of a 25-basis points rate cut in March now sits around 40 percent while the odds of a 25-basis point rate cut in May is close to 75 percent.

As it is a foregone conclusion the Committee will keep rates unchanged, market participants will be focused on the dot plot and projections in the SEP, as well as Fed Chair Powell’s press conference, for clues on when rate cuts might commence and by how much. Chair Powell will likely reiterate he and his colleagues want to see a more sustainable pullback in price growth before cutting interest rates.

Today’s risk events are the FOMC and wholesale inflation, followed tomorrow by monetary policy decisions from the ECB, BoE, SNB, and Norges Bank along with jobless claims, import prices, and retail sales. However, today's economic calendar kicked off with mortgage applications increasing 7.4 percent from one week earlier, according to data from MBA. We’ve also received the Producer Price Index for November (flat, and core flat!, ) when it was expected to increase 0.1 percent month-over-month and 1.0 percent year-over-year (versus actually +.9 year-over-year). The final Fed meeting for 2023 concludes this afternoon with the release of the Statement, Summary of Economic Projections, and Chair Powell’s post-meeting press conference. We begin the day with Agency MBS prices slightly better (up) from Tuesday night, the 2-year at 4.69, and the 10-year yielding 4.17 after closing yesterday at 4.20 percent.