Dec. 22: Mortgage jobs; North Carolina looks at capital requirements; another Ocwen settlement?

It’s Christmas-time, and we are all seeing plenty of logos out there. Those graphic design people are pretty clever, and plenty of logos have hidden, or not so hidden, symbols that are worth glancing through. But many know that yesterday was the Winter Solstice – and we’ll see more daylight here in Northern Hemisphere going forward. This is a good thing for folks in places like Anchorage (sunrise 10:15AM, sunset 3:30PM) or Bismarck ND (sunrise 8:30AM, sunset 4:45PM). It is also the time of year when Wisconsin and Minnesota fishermen there like to say “Visit our beautiful ice holes”


For jobs today, Castle & Cooke Mortgage LLC is expanding and is actively seeking highly skilled Branch Managers and their teams all across the country, as well as individual LO’s! “If you and your team are looking for a fantastic platform that gives you the ability to consistently produce and grow, CCM is the answer. CCM is one of the few lenders in the country that is a direct Fannie/Freddie/Ginnie seller/servicer, which means amazing speed and control of your files. CCM is known for incredible turn times and is committed to being a market leader in products, technology, and service. You and your branch staff will be backed by state-of-the-industry software, marketing, and training resources. We’re here to take your production to the next level in 2015! Please contact Christopher Jensen or Jim Hoggan for further information.


Out West Peoples Bank (KS) is searching for quality Retail Loan Officers focused on purchase business in Northern California.  Peoples Bank is a family-owned, federally-charted (FDIC) community bank founded in 1871 with a “solid mortgage banking culture which has evolved over 30 years. Peoples Bank has grown its servicing portfolio and offers the advantages of a depository bank for LOs, is a Fannie/Freddie direct lender, has significant warehouse spread, ‘common sense’ underwriting, a cooperative and supportive internal departments, and a solid back office which delivers consistently competitive service levels (like consistent 72 hour underwriting turn times or less).”  Please send your confidential resumes or questions to the head of retail lending for Northern California Chery Tamaru.


And Fannie & Freddie seller/servicer American Capital Corp (ACC) is gearing up to increase business in its Wholesale channel. The name has changed from ACBN to ACC Wholesale, but the “feel like a big fish” offering to brokers is still in place. ACC is looking for Account Executives to bring us established relationships for the following areas: Seattle, Texas, San Diego, Pasadena/Santa Barbara. AEs have the ability to bring on Retail and Wholesale clients as well as originate themselves if they are licensed.  Please email Allen Cravello if you would like to be considered.


For a quick public service announcement, the NMLS Testing & Education Department regarding the Requirement to Issue Course Completion Certificates and Credit Bank on Time can be viewed on the NMLS Newsletter – click here.


Capital is always critical for lenders – the more the better – but there are some developments in North Carolina about lessening capital requirements for lenders.


Self-employed borrowers can often present high-risk to lenders because of the volatility of their income and difficulty documenting their finances despite their high salary. Recent data reported by Zillow found that self-employed shoppers earned roughly 80% more than non-self-employed mortgage shoppers. Self-employed borrowers also seek more expensive homes. In October, self-employed borrowers searched for homes that cost about $351,000, compared to $315,000 for non-self-employed borrowers. Self-employed borrowers on Zillow often receive less interest from lenders due to their credit scores. For every 10 quotes received by a non-self-employed borrower, a self-employed borrower receives 6 or 7 quotes. In October, 28% of self-employed shoppers on Zillow reported a credit score of less than 680, compared to 14% of non-self-employed shoppers.


The industry recognizes that self-employed borrowers were left behind in terms of programs. That is changing, but is the “credit pendulum” swinging back too far? Are we heading for another mortgage collapse? This reporter thinks that the government is helping to sponsor the next crash. One wonders when Realtors, who are involved in nearly every transaction, will be held accountable for their role in the housing crisis.


Bloomberg reports tuition expenses have jumped 538% since 1985 vs. a 121% increase in CPI and a 286% increase in medical costs over the same period. It’s no wonder so many people carry student loan debt. There are companies such as Social Finance that are helping refinance student debt, but it continues to be a problem for many college graduates in their 20’s and 30’s which then translates into problems for first time home buyers which in turn translates into problems for move-up buyers.


(This doesn’t have to do with anything, but The New York Times reports that in 1965, when the average age of a baby boomer was 10, there were 180,000 nuns in the United States. Today there are about 56,000. But even more dramatic than this decline is the age of the average Roman Catholic sister: 74 years old. And no, the average age of LOs and Realtors is less than that.)


Millennials are more likely to be foreign born and speak a language other than English at home, according to the most recent statistics posted by the U.S. Census Bureau comparing young adults today to previous generations. The millennial generation, comprised of 73 million young adults aged anywhere from 18 to 34 years old, is one of the largest populations today, but is smaller than the young adult population in 1980. In 1980, 30% of the population was aged between 18 and 34 years old, compared to 23% today. The amount of young adults who are foreign born has more than doubled since 1980 (15% versus 6%). The majority of foreign-born young adults reside in the West (21%) and Northeast (18%) and a quarter of young adults speak a language other than English at home. One in five young adults live in poverty, compared to one in seven in 1980 and 65% of young adults are employed compared to 69% in 1980. More millennials are educated, as 22% have a college degree, an increase from 16% in 1980. The delay in household formations is also common among millennials with only 3 in 10 young adults having ever been married, a significant decline from 6 in 10 in 1980.


The feds are going after Ocwen again, this time for dragging their feet in short sales. The company, which is currently dealing with a mountain of regulatory issues, said it has purchased almost 2,000 delinquent FHA-insured loans. Ocwen services about 2.6 million mortgages, worth about $426 billion, according to Fitch Ratings. According to a report from the monitor of the National Mortgage Settlement (NMS), Ocwen failed to ensure that its efforts to comply (namely to ensure that struggling borrowers are treated properly) with a 2012 mortgage- abuse settlement were sufficiently independent from the company’s managers. The monitor, Joseph A. Smith Jr., also said that his office could not rely on information provided by Ocwen.


And Bloomberg has been intently following Ocwen. “Ocwen Said to Have Stalled Home Sales by Underwater Borrowers” read a headline last week on a story by Carter Dougherty. “Ocwen Financial Corp. is being examined over whether it improperly stalled short sales by borrowers who owe more than their homes are worth, according to two people briefed on the case, as troubles deepen for the mortgage servicer whose stock has slumped 60 percent this year. The New York Department of Financial Services and the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are investigating whether Ocwen is thwarting a new rule that mortgage servicers must approve or deny a short sale within 30 days of an application. They’re examining whether Ocwen is delaying such sales to collect more fees, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the probes are confidential.”


The story went on. “’Ocwen has it all figured out,’ Deborah Priebe, a senior vice president at Short Sale Success in Henderson, Nevada, said in an interview. ‘They are notorious for asking for one more piece of paper on the 29th day.’ Margaret Popper, a spokeswoman for Ocwen, said the company ‘has no desire to delay short sales’ and their costs increase when the process is prolonged” but instead want to maximize proceeds from the sale of the property.


And another story by Clea Benson and Jody Shenn reported that, “A federal monitor is investigating whether Ocwen Financial Corp. is treating borrowers fairly after a whistleblower said the company may have improperly influenced which mortgages were picked for a compliance review. Joseph Smith, who is overseeing a 2012 settlement with five lenders over flawed foreclosures, said that he hired an outside accountant to review Ocwen’s loan servicing after becoming convinced the company’s self-reporting was unreliable. State attorneys general monitoring the accord also said they are investigating whether Ocwen provided false or misleading information in its compliance reporting.”


Ocwen is no stranger to these proceedings. It became subject to the 2012 servicing accord last year when it bought the servicing business of Residential Capital LLC, a unit of one of the banks that agreed to pay $25 billion over improper foreclosures. Under the agreement, the company must credit payments properly and issue timely notifications on loan modifications, short sales and foreclosures, among other standards. Ocwen also reached a roughly $2 billion settlement with state and federal authorities last December, promising to adhere to servicing standards. In January it agreed to buy servicing rights on $39 billion of loans from Wells Fargo & Co. A month later, Ocwen put the deal on indefinite hold amid reviews of its business, ultimately canceling it last month. Last year Ocwen agreed to pay $2.1 billion to settle with the CFPB, whose director, Richard Cordray, said the firm “took advantage of borrowers at every stage of the process.”


And now we have the Wall Street Journal reporting that Ocwen is expected to sign a settlement with the New York DFS. As part of the settlement Chairman Bill Erbey will resign from Ocwen and its four affiliated Ocwen companies (ASPS/HLSS/RESI/AAMC). Ocwen cannot make additional acquisitions until it has satisfied the state that it has fixed its systems, and will also pay $150 million and in consultation with the state will appoint two outside directors. As part of the settlement Ocwen will have to acknowledge that it didn’t properly deal with distressed borrowers and may have imposed excessive charges on them through affiliated companies.


Remember that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed measures that would require servicers to provide certain borrowers with foreclosure protections more than once over the life of the loan. The proposal would also put in place additional servicing transfer protections and to take steps to protect borrowers from a wrongful foreclosure sale. The proposal would also help ensure that surviving family members and others who inherit or receive property have the same protections under the CFPB’s mortgage servicing rules as the original borrower.


For example, among other things the proposal would require servicers to provide certain borrowers with foreclosure protections more than once over the life of the loan. Currently, a mortgage servicer must give the borrower certain foreclosure protections, including the right to be evaluated under the CFPB’s requirements for options to avoid foreclosure, only once during the life of the loan. Under the proposed rule, servicers would have to give those protections again for borrowers who have brought their loans current at any time since the last loss mitigation application. A summary can be found here, and the proposed rule can be found here.


Turning to the markets, last week was a busy week for fiscal and monetary policy. With three dissenters, the FOMC slightly tweaked its language describing the period of time between the end of the QE program and when the first rate hike would take place. But we had other economic news as well. November industrial production data showed an impressive pace of industrial output for the month, while October’s data were revised higher. Housing starts fell a surprising 1.6 percent in November after posting a 1.7 percent increase in October. And consumer prices slid in November, declining 0.3 percent with energy prices pulling the headline index lower. Core prices edged higher a slight 0.1 percent for the month.


We have a new week with a new set of economic data and tomorrow is a deluge. Today we’ve had the Chicago Fed National Activity Index, but will also have Existing Home Sales. Tomorrow is the 3rd quarter GDP numbers, Personal Consumption, volatile Durable Goods, the core PCE index, a University of Michigan consumer sentiment number, the FHFA House Price Index, New Home Sales, and Personal Income and Consumption. Whew! On Christmas Eve we’ll have the MBA app numbers and Initial Jobless Claims and expected low MBS liquidity. Thursday holds awkward family gatherings, and then we’ll see who shows up Friday.


For numbers, we saw a 2.16% yield on the risk free 10-yr at the close Friday. This morning rates are a shade higher with the 10-yr at 2.18% and agency MBS prices are worse about .125.



There are only a few days left until Christmas, and possibly buying last minute presents. Guys, be careful out there.





(Copyright 2014 Chrisman LLC. All rights reserved. Occasional paid job 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