Apr. 3: AE, Ops jobs; anti-fraud, CRM, audit products; things are slow so may-as-well stir the wholesale pot… lawsuit ahead?

The other night, at the Bruce Springsteen concert in San Francisco (it was great), he did a crowd favorite, singing, “Baby I got my facts learned real good right now, you better get it straight darling: Poor man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king, and a king ain’t satisfied till he rules everything…” If you want to read a story with words like bullying, harassment, smear, empire, disgusting, and other similar “lyrics,” you can read this tale about Rocket’s Dan Gilbert and UWM’s Mat Ishbia. Not only that, but suddenly everyone is talking about some company called Hunterbrook, not only being tied into a hedge company (which, in theory, can short a stock, publish a negative story later, watch the stock go down, and then cover their shorts and make money) but putting a link into an expletive deleted-filled voice mail from Mat Ishbia to Anthony Casa. As the world turns… more below! Meanwhile, there are constructive things, like today’s L1 show featuring Chris Maloney, Mortgage Strategist with BOK Financial Capital Markets discussing items that impact rates seen by borrowers. (Found here, this week’s podcasts are sponsored by Loan Vision. With Loan Vision, the mortgage banking industry’s premier mortgage accounting solution, you can take your accounting department from “cost center” to “revenue generator,” operating more efficiently and profitably. Hear an excerpt from last week’s Mortgage Matters show presented by Lenders One with MBA President Bob Broeksmit.)

Employment & transitions

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REMN Wholesale continues to expand its national sales team! If you’re an experienced, highly motivated, and self-driven, Wholesale Account Executive, then consider making a move. REMN, one of the most tenured teams in the industry, brings decades of genuine support to the mortgage broker community throughout all 50 states, and delivers the products and support that you and your brokers need and require! REMN loan products include the REMN DIGITAL HELOC PROGRAM, Access (Non-QM) covering DSCR, Bank Statement, Asset Qualifier, P&L Statement Only; 1099 ONLY, Full Doc, and Foreign National (including Condotels). With HELOCs, REMN’s not the only digital HELOC wholesale lender, but REMN’s certainly a top provider. REMN’s second-to-none, in-house HelpDesk, significantly improves your opportunity for perpetual sales success. REMN’s one-stop-shop includes renovation Loans, FHA, VA, USDA, etc. REMN’s fully committed to earning their customer’s next loan (Broker/Non-Del). REMN Wholesale is only wholesale, every day… 24/7. Contact Carl Markman by email, SVP, Director of National Sales.

Logan Finance continues to support its tremendous business expansion by adding several Non-QM industry stars, including Donovan Stamps, who will help lead the growth of the Inside Sales Team, in addition to Inside Sales Account Executives John Baile, Donell McMullen, Moe Latif, and Nicki Kirk. Our Sales team added Account Executives Janine Truman (NV), Mike Kelly (HI), Jay Lam (FL), and Angelo Albano (FL). Attendees are raving about Logan’s webinar series, “The Modern Non-QM Experience” hosted by Logan’s Paul Jones. Kevin M. said, “that was probably one of the best and most organized lender webinars I have ever been on.” Session #3 entitled “Demystifying Non-QM with Logan and LoanNEX”, is slated for April 10th. Register here! We’re hiring for Non-QM operations and sales! We offer a platform where everyone can excel, innovate, and feel valued. Our team members’ growth is a top priority. Email Recruiting or visit LoganWholesale.com and LoganCorrespondent.com for more information.”

The Community Home Lenders of America (CHLA) announced that Paulina McGrath has been appointed as Vice President where she will help lead the organization in advocating for independent mortgage banks nationwide as well as promoting policies that support underserved and first-time homebuyers. Taylor Stork, President of CHLA, noted, “The IMB community will benefit immensely from her wisdom, experience, and understanding of the regulatory and legislative process.” Paulina was Chair of the Board for Community Mortgage Lenders of America (CMLA), before merging with CHLA in 2022.

Xactus announced that Tom Gallucci has joined as EVP, Strategic Sales where he will “play a key role in growing business around non-credit related products by leveraging Xactus’ subject matter experts and taking a consultative and more collaborative approach to enhance lenders’ operations. Additionally, he will drive new business by sourcing significant partnership opportunities and enhancing relationships with key accounts for improved retention.”

Lender & broker services, products, and software

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Two of the most trusted names in the mortgage industry are moving to ICE’s fully digital, end-to-end mortgage ecosystem. Fifth Third Bank selected ICE’s Encompass® LOS and MSP® loan servicing system to seamlessly handle first lien and home equity products across all lending and servicing channels, and to help improve the customer experience. And Lennar Mortgage, already a long-time Encompass user, selected MSP to support its servicing operations because of its strong focus on regulatory compliance and risk management, and to help easily move loans from originations into servicing. Fifth Third and Lennar will also leverage ICE’s robust data and analytics capabilities to gain critical insights that support data-driven decision making. Lenders using both Encompass and MSP will see greater efficiencies across the entire loan life cycle, from application to post-close and throughout the long-term servicing relationship, for a comprehensive and cohesive end-to-end digital mortgage experience. To learn more, visit here.

“Your 2023 audit is behind you… How did it go? Did you find yourself educating your auditor on the mortgage industry? Did your audit firm assign a new engagement team again this year who wasn’t familiar with your business? Your audit doesn’t have to be painful. At CWDL, we’ve built our audit team by recruiting seasoned experts who understand the regulations and complexities of the industry, so they support and guide you, never the other way around. Your engagement management will be the same every year, and our partners are actively involved in all aspects of your audit. Don’t wait to make a transformative change for your business. Reach out to Kasey English (619.302.0010), or visit here to learn how the mortgage experts at CWDL can take the stress and anxiety out of your 2024 audit.”

Lending marketing, sales, and operational leaders! This is what your teams need to hear right now to increase volume and run a more efficient business. Greg Sher, Managing Director, NFM Lending, Steve Majerus, CEO, Synergy One Lending, Brian Vieaux, CEO, Finlocker, and Richard Grieser, VP of Marketing, Truv are going to share strategies and real examples of how you can fill the top of your funnel with a more informed and prepared borrower BEFORE loan application, during the application, and after closing. You’ll also hear firsthand how your technology can work with you to improve the borrower’s experience, as opposed to against you! Come join us on April 10 at 1 pm CT and invited your teams!

Discover Velma CRM, a plug-n-play, simple CRM solution geared especially for small to mid-size lenders, brokers, credit unions, and banks. With all the features you need and not a bunch that you don’t, Velma CRM by KensieMae offers an extremely cost-effective solution with ZERO implementation fees, a quick setup, and budget-friendly pre-seat pricing, yet provides powerful and trusted features, marketing engagement, and tools to drive and enhance borrower communication and engagement. Don’t wait: get Velma CRM today and start saving!

Tired of having outdated news on your website or a stale newsletter? A skilled writer has some extra bandwidth and is available to produce weekly, monthly, or as-needed mortgage-related content for lenders on their website, email marketing or digital advertising. Reach out to Dustin Hobbs.

Expanding your Non-QM products and liquidity options with eRESI Mortgage has never been easier. Come see what other eRESI correspondent partners tap into, whether it’s our industry-leading pricing or fast turnaround times, all while gaining direct access to our long-term capital base. Our partners often rely on our experience as a seasoned loan investor with a highly experienced leadership team dedicated solely to your success. We provide access to a streamlined technology platform, a full suite of Non-QM products (including Full Doc, Bank Statement, and DSCR), and a credit team that understands individual needs. We also recently launched our Closed-End Second Lien product, allowing borrowers to access their equity without having to refinance their existing loan. To learn how we can help you grow your business, email our Business Development team, or contact us!”

Secure Insight’s new settlement disbursement fraud tool, TruePay has seen an impressive growth trajectory in just 2 months since its launch. The automated wire verification and mortgage payoff tool now has over 100 users and has been endorsed by CATIC and Aspen Insurance.  Early feedback has been very complimentary with users touting ease of use, accuracy, low cost with no contract or user fees, and detailed reporting. For more information email truepay@secureinsight.com or visit truepay.secureinsight.com

Wholesale news… in the spotlight again

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Retail, wholesale, or correspondent, there are always things going on. (STRATMOR’s current blog is titled, “Wholesale Channel Overview and Outlook.”) Lenders of all types continue to struggle, the latest example being Lima One Capital reportedly laying off the entire wholesale team this week. Lima One was/is one of the major lenders in the Fix/Flip lending space.

But now the industry is abuzz about a company named Hunterbrook. “We launch, today, with our investigation of UWM.” The article has a link to a supposed Mat Ishbia voicemail to Anthony Casa. “The Lie that Helped Make UWM America’s Largest Lender.” Despite the information contained in the Hunterbrook article (“Were You Ripped Off?”) , a major issue that has been raised. Namely, it has been reported that the hedge fund run by Hunterbrook apparently went “long” on Rocket stock (buying it) and shorted (sold) UWM stock just before releasing that other article. Is that legal?

Matt Levine writes, “There is a “global news roundup” with economic news from the foreign correspondents, but it is kind of buried on the homepage, which is mostly devoted to the first big investigation, about United Wholesale Mortgage, the largest US mortgage lender. The gist of it is that UWM makes mortgages exclusively through independent mortgage brokers, who purportedly find the best deal for customers by looking at offers from lots of competing lenders, but many brokers send 99 percent of their business to UWM and can’t really be doing what is best for customers.

“In social media posts, SEC filings, and a Super Bowl ad, UWM tells prospective homebuyers its mortgages come from brokers who are ‘independent.’ UWM has said these brokers have ‘your best interest in mind’ and ‘shop dozens of lenders’ to find ‘the best deal’ for homebuyers. But UWM deploys an arsenal of carrots and sticks to ‘cultivate “loyalist” brokers,’ as the company put it in a presentation to investors. Their methods range from offering those who send UWM loans better placement in their Super Bowl-advertised directory to suing brokers who shop around for better deals from certain competitors.

“In 2021, UWM shook up the industry by changing its contracts with brokers to explicitly bar them from doing business with what were then two of its biggest competitors, Rocket and Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation.

“The data shows that UWM is rarely the cheapest option for borrowers and certainly not the best deal anywhere close to 99 percent of the time.

“But of course I was most interested in the notes at the end of the report, in which Hunterbrook explains its economics. For one thing, ‘Hunterbrook Capital took the following positions: The fund went short $UWMC, long $RKT, and purchased derivatives.’ UWM Holdings Corp. fell about 7.6 percent just after the report was published, though then it recovered most of those losses; Rocket Cos. was up a bit on the report.

“Short selling is not, however, the only business model for investigative-journalism-that-is-also-a-hedge-fund, and Hunterbrook is looking at others. There’s the obvious lawsuit: Hunterbrook Media and its affiliates have … submitted data analysis and research — as well as the planned date of publication — to Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, a litigation firm known for winning billions in damages from companies. Hunterbrook’s nonprofit affiliate has entered into an agreement with BSF in exploration of a class action lawsuit against UWM seeking restitution for homebuyers. If you think you are paying too much on your mortgage, visit WasIRippedOff.com to learn if you might have used an independent broker who doesn’t shop and contact BSF.

“There’s the only slightly less obvious ‘everything is securities fraud’ lawsuit. Upon publication, Hunterbrook Media plans to share this article and the data with… shareholder litigation firms whose clients own $UWMC shares and may have claims due to UWM’s governance and performance, including paying the CEO and his family over $600 million in annual dividends despite reporting a $70 million loss in 2023 by consistently missing SPAC revenue projections.

“And there’s the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s whistleblower program: Two of the authors of this article filed a whistleblower report to the S.E.C. represented by a former S.E.C. Commissioner. Yeah. If you can find out bad news about companies, there are a lot of ways to make money. Selling ads is not one of the better ones!” Thank you, Matt L.

Capital Markets: a tale of supply and demand and prepayments

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There was no market-moving data in the U.S. yesterday, but markets did parse through above-consensus final Manufacturing PMI readings from Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and the U.K., though readings from Germany and France pointed to an ongoing contraction. Yesterday’s domestic economic data in the United States showed that the Institute of Supply Management’s (ISM) surveys of purchasing managers are likely to indicate modest-to-moderate growth of the U.S. economy in March, led by service-providing activity. Separately, factory orders in the U.S. increased 1.4 percent month-over-month in February after declining a revised 3.8 percent in January. There was a pickup in new orders in February for durable and non-durable goods, demonstrating that there has not been a lingering drop-off in demand.

Our economy is driven by housing and jobs, and when someone has a job, they tend to spend. Nominal consumer spending shot up by the most in a year in February driven by outlays in the service sector, which doesn’t help bring down service price inflation. In other words, people are buying more experiences and fewer consumer goods.

Investors continue to walk back bets on early rate cuts and bond yields continue to drift higher with the economy remaining resilient in the wake of tightened financial conditions. The Fed is clearly signaling that it is in no rush to begin easing, with San Francisco Fed President Daly saying that there is no urgency to adjust rates at this time and Cleveland Fed President Mester saying that she still expects the fed funds rate range to be lowered this year. Oddly, fed funds futures are still pricing in a tiny chance of a rate hike in May and the June futures are still leaning towards a cut, though the December futures are handicapping around 65 basis points of total easing for the year, below the Fed’s latest dot plot projections.

Yesterday afternoon, the final expectations for March prepayments and issuance were released ahead of the official release after Thursday’s close, with speeds projected to increase in FN30 by 12 percent on average, 15 percent in GNII speeds, and 11 percent in FN15s. March gross issuance is expected to come in at $77.2 billion, versus near $67 billion in both January and February, which would be the highest since $78.7 billion in November. Also of note, FH30 issuance is expected to be $23.8 billion, exceeding GNII issuance of $19.5 billion, after increasing 45.4 percent month-over-month.

To dive a little deeper into what capital markets folks care about, supply & demand determine MBS prices, and in turn mortgage rates. By the settlement close yesterday, Tradeweb volumes (non-roll) were indicated 40 percent above recent averages with better buying “on net.” UMBS30 flows were also on the heavy side, with 5.5 percent seeing the most trades and heaviest volumes followed by 6 percent, then 5 percent. GNII flows were also heavy with 5.5 percent, then 6 percent, most active followed by 6.5 percent. In UMBS15s, where flows were also heavy, 5 percent was most active followed by deep-discount 2.5 percent.

 

Today’s economic calendar kicked off with weekly mortgage applications from MBA decreasing 0.6 percent from one week earlier. Mortgage rates were mixed with Bankrate increasing 6 basis points to 7.24 percent while Mortgage News Daily was unchanged at 6.91 percent, though it is over 7 percent after Monday’s bond rout. We’ve also received ADP employment for March (184k versus 150k expectations). Later today brings the final March S&P Global services PMI, ISM non-manufacturing PMI for March, and a laundry list of Fed speakers including Chair Powell. We begin the day with Agency MBS prices roughly unchanged from Tuesday and the 10-year yielding 4.36 after closing yesterday at 4.37 percent; the 2-year at 4.69.

A middle-aged couple had two beautiful daughters but always talked about having a son. They decided to try one last time for the son they always wanted.

The wife got pregnant and delivered a healthy baby boy.

The joyful father rushed to the nursery to see his new son. He was horrified at the ugliest child

he had ever seen.

He told his wife, “There’s no way I can be the father of this baby. Look at the two beautiful daughters I fathered! Have you been fooling around behind my back?”

The wife smiled sweetly and replied, “No, not this time!”

Visit www.robchrisman.com for more information on our industry partners, access archived commentaries, or to subscribe to the Daily Mortgage News and Commentary. If you’re interested, visit my periodic blog at the STRATMOR Group web site. The current blog is titled, “Wholesale Channel Overview and Outlook.” The Commentary’s podcast is live and at any place you obtain your podcasts (like Apple or Spotify).

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(Market data provided in partnership with MBS Live. For free job postings and to view candidate resumes visit LenderNews. This newsletter is for sophisticated mortgage professionals only. There are no paid endorsements by me. For up-to-date mortgage news visit Mortgage News Daily. For archived commentaries, or to subscribe, go to www.robchrisman.com. Copyright 2024 Chrisman LLC. All rights reserved. Occasional paid job & product listings do appear. This report or any portion hereof may not be reprinted, sold, or redistributed without the written consent of Rob Chrisman.)

Rob Chrisman