“What do you call a Christmas wreath made out of $100 bills? Aretha Franklins.” It’s cutting-edge humor like this that keeps readers coming back for more, right? Or astronomy tips, as today is the Winter Solstice, with the least amount of sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere and a little music to go along with it. “The winter is here again, oh Lord. Haven't been home in a year or more.” (Look at that hair!) Lenders and vendors are hoping that the decline in rates keeps the “winter” away from lending, and holds more salary cuts, layoffs, and furloughs at bay. Mortgage banking is not alone in expanding automation and trying to save money. Do you think that you deserve a lower price for checking out of a store yourself and not using a paid clerk? Many do. The number of people who work as cashiers dropped from 1.4 million in 2019 to 1.2 million today, and over the next decade the BLS projects an additional 10 percent decline. (Today’s podcast can be found here, and this week’s is sponsored by Lender Toolkit’s AI-powered AI Underwriter and Prism borrower income automation tools. Get loans approved in under two minutes. By providing lightning-fast underwriting decisions, your market reputation with borrowers and Realtors will soar. Listen to an interview with Hometap’s Dan Burnett on record home equity levels and how Americans can best leverage them.)

Lender and Broker Products, Programs, and Services

“With increased regulatory focus on property-valuation bias, lenders need robust risk-management processes in place. The recently released interagency proposals on AVM-quality control and ROV-process guidance are designed to prevent valuation bias and help ensure industry stakeholders follow fair-lending practices. Watch our complimentary on-demand webinar to learn how you can prepare, and implement the tools needed to support the proposed changes.* Our experts discuss how to identify potential bias in valuations, ways to mitigate bias risk, how to monitor AVM and appraisal compliance with fair-lending requirements, and more. Watch this timely and important webinar here. *Check with your compliance or legal department for information on complying with applicable law.”

“As the year draws to a close, Planet Home Lending extends our heartfelt gratitude to our invaluable correspondent partners. Together, we've stood strong in the face of challenges in a demanding market. Thank you for being an integral part of our shared journey. As we look forward to 2024, we continue our commitment to being your go-to team, your reliable partner, your toolkit, and your product gateway. Here’s to a smooth finish for 2023 and a prosperous New Year.”

“Ready to make your borrowers' dreams of homeownership a reality? Kind ‘s blended FICO (conventional representative score) loan options can help make it happen! With this option, your borrowers have a greater chance of final approval for a home loan based on their average combined score. Kind has the tools & resources to help you get the job done fast and easy! Using the Kwik Pricer in our broker platform, Kwikie - built with brokers in mind, you'll be able to knock out deals hassle-free! Learn more by connecting with your Kind Account Executive. If you're not yet a partner with us, join the #kindmovement today by submitting your broker inquiry.”

Disaster Updates and Other Industry News

On December 13, 2023, with DR-4751-TN, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declared that federal disaster aid with individual assistance has been made available to four Tennessee counties; Davidson, Dickson, Montgomery and Sumner to supplement recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe storms and tornadoes on December 9, 2023.

On 12/13/2023, with DR-4751, FEMA declared federal disaster aid with individual assistance has been made available to counties affected by severe storms and tornadoes on 12/9/2023. See AmeriHome Mortgage Disaster Announcement 20231205-CL for inspection requirements.

Hometown Equity Mortgage is offering G-PA 525 Fast closings 21-30 days, 5-25 units can be mixed use, Mixed use is viable with 70 percent residential, no prepay, I/O 12/24, Up to 75 percent LTV.

Create opportunities with ITIN borrowers in the new year. If you’re not sure how, reach out to the Champs of Non-QM. Champions Funding is steadfast in its mission to help you and your borrowers access loan products outside of traditional agency options. Don’t miss out on learning all the CDFI benefits too! Not yet partnered with the Champs? Sign up today!

loanDepot, Inc. a leading provider of home lending solutions that enable customers to achieve the dream of home ownership, unveiled its fully automated melloNow underwriting engine, changing the game for mortgage borrowers by delivering a fully conditional loan approval in minutes rather than hours or days. Utilizing a fully digital verification process, melloNow swiftly analyzes credit reports, detects fraud, and validates income and employment data at the point of sale, instantaneously generating unique borrower conditions. Now, with the melloNow digital underwriting engine, many loanDepot customers will enjoy a dramatically improved experience.

Newfi Wholesale announced its partnership with the popular technology solution, ARIVE to bring its full suite of Non-QM products to loan officers and brokers. With this partnership, ARIVE is now expanding its capabilities to include DSCR loans. This illustrates the industry-wide shift towards the growing Non-QM sector. Specializing in alternative lending products, Newfi has led the way with innovative solutions relevant for today’s markets. This strategic partnership will empower mortgage brokers with a one-stop shop mortgage experience to a wide array of niche loan programs. Newfi approved brokers will gain immediate access to Newfi's diverse product lineup and competitive pricing in seamless technological experience, with deeper integrations in development and are set to be unveiled soon, further enriching our shared platform's capabilities. Brokers interested in working with Newfi can sign up here.

Effective for FHA case number assignments on or after January 1, 2024, AmeriHome’s 2024 Loan Limit Pricing will be available. For additional information including updates on VA loan limits, see AmeriHome Mortgage announcement 20231207-CL for details.

For Mortgage Loans converted from interim construction financing to a permanent loan with a modification, the Loan Modification Agreement required to be included in the Collateral Package may be a certified copy with the original document treated as a Trailing Document. View AmeriHome Mortgage Product Announcement 20231206-CL for details.

VA announced an update to VA Lenders Handbook Chapter 4 Topic 7, Subsection b on Collection Accounts. See AmeriHome Mortgage announcement 20231204-CL for details.

Jet Mortgage is offering a new FHA DPA, 100 percent LTV FHA with New Improved Pricing. Jet 200 FHA DPA Highlights include 600 Min FICO, 1 Unit, Condo's, Townhomes, Repayable & Forgivable Option, Max 2 percent BPC/LPC - Max 2 percent Discount Points. Must be DU Approve/Eligible, no Manual Underwrites allowed. Contact Jet Mortgage for more information.

VA has issued Circular 26-23-26 regarding the impact of 2024 Conforming Loan Limits on VA loans. Contact Kind Lending with questions about impacts to VA loans regarding changes to conforming loan limits for 2024

Capital Markets

Bonds enjoyed another winning session yesterday on the back of some market-friendly inflation data for November out of the United Kingdom, geopolitical angst tied to a potential military response to Houthi rebels disrupting shipping activity in the Red Sea, slowdown worries linked to disappointing forward revenue guidance from economic bellwether FedEx, and some safe-haven positioning before the extended Christmas weekend. The market largely overlooked some stronger-than-expected existing home sales activity in November, a nice pickup in consumer confidence in December, and a weak 20-year bond reopening auction.

In housing/real-estate news, Existing Home sales rose 0.8 percent month-over-month in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.82 million, ending a five-month decline. Despite the rise, sales still sit 7.3 percent lower than a year ago largely due to mortgage rates spiking in September and October. Sales of existing homes continue to be hindered by high mortgage rates, high selling prices, and limited inventory. Inventory remains light, with only 3.5 months’ worth at the current pace. Fortunately, the recent drop in mortgage rates is expected to be a driver of stronger sales activity in December. The median home price rose 4 percent year-over-year to $387,600, while the first-time homebuyer share rose to 31 percent from 28 percent from the month prior.

As previously mentioned, this week contains a lot of housing data. After learning Tuesday of a substantial pick-up in residential activity recently, it would appear that home builders are becoming more optimistic as mortgage rates trend lower and economic growth remains resilient. Speaking of optimism, we also learned yesterday that the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index increased in December as there was renewed optimism across all ages and household income levels with attention being paid to improved inflation trends, business conditions, and job availability. Consumer confidence is highly influenced by gasoline prices, which have been falling.

There will be little data of importance on the economic front until we get into the new year, though we do have a busy economic calendar today that is underway with the third look at Q3 GDP (4.9 percent, revised slightly downward). We’ve also received weekly jobless claims (205k, up from 202k) and Philadelphia Fed manufacturing (-10.5, much lower than expected). The core PCE deflator was expected to be unchanged at 2.3 percent. Later today brings leading indicators for November, KC Fed manufacturing for December, Treasury announcing next week’s laundry list of supply including 2-, 5- and 7-year notes before auctioning $20 billion reopened 5-year TIPS, and Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey with the prior week’s 30-year mortgage rate slipping eight basis points to 6.95 percent. We begin the day with Agency MBS prices unchanged from Wednesday night, the 10-year yielding 3.87 after closing yesterday at 3.88 percent, and the 2-year at 4.36. With yesterday's gains, the 10-year note yield returned to unchanged for 2023 after hitting 5.02 percent intraday in the middle of October.


“Logan Finance bucks mortgage industry trends with strong Q4 growth! As the year-end fast approaches, Logan Finance finds itself in a thriving environment sparking growth that has more than doubled over the last two years. “There’s a great need for Non-QM lending and we are positioned well to handle the influx of new business,” says Aaron Samples, Logan’s Chief Revenue Officer. TPO partners, if you missed the year-end pricing special announcement, see our LinkedIn profile at Logan Finance Corporation. Mortgage broker clients can get rate discounts of up to .375 on select loan products through the end of December, so bring your deals to Logan! Logan’s growth is also fueling several new hires including Wholesale and Correspondent industry veterans Nick Pabarcus and Dave Weatherford, who will focus on recruiting and growing our network. And speaking of hiring, we’re looking for Non-QM superstar AE’s, so contact Aaron Samples for hiring information. Learn more about Logan’s growth at Loganwholesale.com and Logancorrespondent.com.”

Happy Holidays from PrimeLending! Looking back at 2023, are you wrapping up the year feeling more confident of where your career is headed than when you started? Did you receive the coaching and support needed to strengthen critical skills, harness cutting-edge tools, and propel yourself to new heights? As you gear up for 2024, why settle for treading water? Take charge and position yourself to thrive at PrimeLending. Our LOs are transforming their professional journeys through One More, our exclusive peer-to-peer coaching program. Designed to empower producers to excel in today's volatile market, One More offers a dynamic, fast-paced, and results-oriented small group support system where LOs can connect, collaborate, and ultimately surpass their goals. We’d love to talk with you about how we can help you flourish more too. Contact Nic Hartke for more information.

A Greater Town has built a robust real estate portal into its national hyperlocal marketing site and is looking for one mortgage lender (or a few select mortgage lenders) to "own" it, similar to having your own Zillow or Rocket Homes. About 600 MLS associations are represented with over 1,100,000 listings & 750,000 real estate agents & brokers. A comprehensive directory of every mortgage lender & MLO in the country is in construction as well. It's the ideal environment for a national lender to set up shop. Examples include Editors Picks, Sally Forster Jones, Founder & CEO of the Sally Forster Jones Group at Compass, and Jerry & Lisa String, Listing & Buyer Agents at Realty ONE Group DocksideSouth. For further information, please contact Drew Knapp, CEO of A Greater Town, (973-477-7154).