Feb. 1: LO jobs; HMDA data testing, TPO HELOC; MSR risk mgt. products; CFPB to pay $6 million; 3 percent mortgages not likely

Ahead of Groundhog Day tomorrow, one realizes that our industry certainly has its share of unexpected ups and downs. The latest example of a “down” is Mike Gill, a SVP of Capital Markets at the Housing Policy Council, who is fighting for his life after a shooting during a car-jack. Let’s all think positive thoughts! In other “people who make a difference” news, Brian Levy has some nice words to say about ex-MBA president and FHA Commissioner Dave Stevens in his most recent Mortgage Musings. Levy highlighted how Stevens’ death is a big loss for housing finance thought leadership, especially for an industry already quite low on the supply of independent thought leaders. (Dave’s Life Celebration will be held tomorrow, February 2nd from 2-5:30 at Capitol One Hall, Tyson’s Corner, Virginia.) Today’s Commentary podcast can be found here and this week’s is sponsored by Calque. With The Trade-In Mortgage powered by Calque, lenders help their clients negotiate a lower purchase price, reduce their interest payments, and eliminate PMI. Hear an interview with Calque’s Jeremy Foster and Cross Country Mortgage’s Nikki James on helping clients negotiate a lower purchase price, reduce their interest payments, and eliminate PMI.

Jobs and transitions

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“Attention Mortgage Brokers: Are you feeling isolated? Are you lacking support or struggling to establish relationships in this shifting market? Take your career to new heights with RWM Home Loans, a trusted name in home financing with over 30 years of excellence. With our FNMA, FREDDIE and GNMA approvals, we offer a wide range of products and direct loan servicing, empowering our retail sales team to fund both in-house and with brokered solutions. Whether you’re assisting first-time homebuyers, navigating Jumbo, Non-QM, reverse mortgages, or managing construction loans, we have the solutions to meet your clients’ needs.  Do you want a voice at the table and the ability to provide 5-star service, best in class technology, and competitive pricing for your borrowers? If you are evaluating your options and looking for a top tier lending partner to call home, contact us now for a confidential conversation.”

Are you aware of the impressive progress made by Planet Home Lending, a growing force in the mortgage industry, in 2023? $25 billion in loan origination and $92 billion in retained servicing are proof of Planet’s financial resilience and our team’s excellence. Planet originators build a lasting book of business fortified by sophisticated predictive analytics and automated marketing. Their customers are winning deals in today’s competitive housing markets with innovative products like Purchase EDGE, Cash 4 Homes, one-time close, bridge, and renovation loans. Connect with VP of Talent Peter Briggs or call 949-202-8213 to LandatPlanet, where mortgage professionals thrive in a landscape of long-term success and client-centric growth.”

Congratulations to Ann Marie Prohaska, the new Mortgage President at Commerce Bank, and overseeing the bank’s mortgage and home equity lending business. (She succeeds Jeff Gerner who will continue to work with Prohaska as Chairman of real estate lending, until his retirement in December.) Prohaska is no rookie, bringing 30 years of mortgage experience to her new role, nearly 20 years of that time at Commerce Bank.

Rutledge Claims Management, Inc. (RCM), a provider of hazard insurance claims management for the mortgage industry, announced Aubrey Gilmore has been promoted from chief operations officer to president where she will oversee RCM’s core services and drive strategic decisions, ensuring client satisfaction and the company’s reputation for excellence in the hazard insurance claims sector. RCM founder and former president, Tom Rutledge, has moved to the newly created position of chief financial officer, where he will be responsible for managing the company’s fiscal operations and upholding the company’s continued financial stability and growth.”

Lender and broker software, products, and services

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“PlainsCapital Bank National Warehouse Lending, a subsidiary of Hilltop Holdings (NYSE: HTH), is committed to providing mortgage lenders with a sustainable funding source in an uncertain market. With over 30 years’ experience and a well-capitalized, diversified financial holding company, PlainsCapital Bank National Warehouse Lending provides confidence to meet our mortgage lending partners funding needs. With exceptional operational performance, and a focus on relationship-driven business geared towards long-term success, we do not dwell on unnecessary fees. With PlainsCapital Bank National Warehouse Lending there are no non-usage fees, no application or renewal fees, no third party due diligence fees, and no interest charged on the day your loan funds. If you are attending the TMBA Southern Secondary Conference in Houston and interested in learning more about PlainsCapital Bank National Warehouse Lending please contact Deric Barnett or Brent Amos.”

Successfully managing MSR portfolios can be a lucrative endeavor, but navigating regulatory compliance, risk management, and understanding market values can be daunting. Join MQMR and MCT for a webinar on February 15th at 11am PT entitled MSR Risk Management, Compliance, and Current Market Strategies, where panelists will dive into operational and regulatory best practices, share invaluable tips to avoid common MSR management pitfalls, and provide insights into current pricing trends. The joint webinar will also explore crucial topics such as servicing regulatory developments (FHFA, GSEs, NCUA, GAAP compliance), a bulk MSR market update, trends in retained vs. released vs. co-issue, and understanding the value of your portfolio. Don’t miss this opportunity to enhance your portfolio management skills and elevate your lending income. Register today for a comprehensive session that will empower your financial strategies!

NFTYDoor, a division of Homebridge Financial Services, Inc., offers plug-and-play, digital HELOC origination platforms for Wholesale and Correspondent channels in all 50 states. NFTYDoor’s system intelligence combines the speed of digital processing, with built-in flexibility to support real-life borrower complexities. The benefit is fast, automated completion of most applications and full transparency on others, with more traditional underwriting methods available when needed. Both Wholesale and Correspondent channels offer a fully branded experience, so that you remain front and center to your customers. Best of all, NFTYDoor provides an In-house Help Desk with real-time support for MLOs and their customers, so leaders can focus on scaling the business. Don’t miss out on this once-in-a-generation HELOC opportunity! Please contact Seth Cohen, SVP Business Development, for more information.

“Annual Home Mortgage Disclosure ACT (HMDA) data filings are underway, with submissions due March 1. Do you originate at least 25 loans annually? If so, you must submit data on all of your loan applications, even on loans that didn’t close. Xactus, the leading verification innovator for the mortgage industry, can take care of your HMDA data testing and LAR Reporting. We’ll validate your HMDA data in your LOS from applicants and borrowers and identify any inaccuracies. That way, you’ll be able to make any corrections before you submit your data to CFPB. And with our per-record pricing, you only pay for the data you use. Ensure you meet the HMDA deadline: email us to schedule a demo today. Stay updated on upcoming news, webinars, and other industry insights by following the Xactus LinkedIn page.”

Time for the CFPB to pony up

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Pony up means to pay money, to pay what one owes, to make good a debt. The term “pony up” is said to date back to the sixteenth century, a corruption of the Latin phrase “legem pone,” a term found at the fifth division of Psalm 119, a bible passage which was sung on March 25th. And you say that you never learn anything reading this Commentary…

My cat Myrtle, who often seems disinterested in most things, seemed attentive to the latest Consumer Finance Protection Bureau happenings. Namely, the CFPB agreeing to pay $6 million to settle discrimination claims by Black and Hispanic employees. The class consists of all “minority employees and women who work or worked as Consumer Response Specialists and have been subjected to and harmed by the Bureau’s agency-wide pattern or practice of discrimination and retaliation and discriminatory policies and practices.”

Then there was, “Lawmakers Oppose CFPB’s Proposed Rule on Supervising Nonbank Financial Firms.” “Three members of Congress have urged the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to reopen and extend the public comment period on its proposed rule that would allow it to supervise large nonbank companies that offer services like digital wallets and payment apps.” This is focused on crypto companies, but still, IMBs may tag along…

Capital markets: don’t hold your breath for the return of 3 percent

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Any lender or loan officer relying on the return of 3 percent 30-year fixed rate loans… well, I wouldn’t count on it. Many LOs seem like they’d be happy with 5 percent. That aside, the MBA predicts a tepid unit count, and that means things are slow even if loan amounts are higher than four years ago. The bump everyone received from the unexpectedly low mortgage rates of the pandemic era (hard to believe that it’s been almost four years!) are unlikely to make a comeback, and for good reason. Think about it: what would drive them back there?

Economists warn that such rock-bottom rates, while seemingly advantageous for homebuyers, could spell trouble for the broader United States economy. Or conversely, serious problems in our economy would lead to those lower rates, and who wants those? A return to the 2 percent to 3 percent rates would indicate severe economic distress. Few want to see a major economic downturn.

As we all know, during the height of the pandemic, mortgage rates plummeted; good for homebuyers and those already owning real estate. The opportunity didn’t arise from deliberate efforts by the U.S. government to encourage homeownership during the pandemic: Mortgage rates reached such unprecedented lows in response to the COVID-induced financial crisis, prompting the Fed to reduce its policy rates to nearly zero as a means of stimulating an economy grappling with recession. We don’t want that again.

Recall 2008 when the Fed cut rates to 0 fairly quickly and there was a financial crisis, but also the unemployment rate shot up to 10 percent. In other words, at some point we’ll probably be back in the 5s, but don’t bet your career or company on the 3s. Low rates are good, really low rates are bad.

Yesterday’s Fed statement was good. We’re not in a situation where the Fed needs to slash rates quickly, but instead will leave short-term rates alone and continue on its path to bringing inflation down to its 2 percent target level, and even signaled to the potential of four rate cuts this year, which would inevitably bring mortgage rates down.

Loan officers are telling their clients, and potential clients, “If you’re in a place where the mortgage rates being high is really putting a pinch on what you can buy, well, if you wait, with a high likelihood, the interest rate is going to be less.” Many expect 30-year fixed rates in the high 4s or low 5’s by year end. Let’s say 30-year rates are 6.8 percent. Assuming a 20 percent down payment on a $425,000 home, a 5.8 percent mortgage rate would save a buyer $222 per month, while a 4.8 percent rate would result in savings of $433 per month. Of course, Treasury rates could sink, and mortgage rates hover, based on other factors. No one has a crystal ball…

In terms of actual interest rate moves, as expected, the Fed held its benchmark rate range from 5.25 percent to 5.50 percent for the fourth consecutive meeting yesterday and implied it is done raising rates. Members signaled an openness to cutting rates at future meetings, though not all agreed that a cut should come at the next meeting. The committee said it was still waiting for inflation to fall closer to the Fed’s 2 percent target. Bond yields sank by yesterday’s close over concerns surrounding regional lenders’ exposure to commercial real estate.

This first day of February has a busy calendar that kicked off early with monetary policy decisions from Sweden’s Riksbank and the Bank of England; both kept rates unchanged. Domestically, the calendar began with Challenger layoffs for January: U.S.-based employers announced 82,307 cuts in January, a 136 percent increase from the 34,817 cuts announced one month prior but down 20 percent from the 102,943 cuts announced in the same month in 2023.

The layoff news was followed this morning by jobless claims (224k, moving slightly higher from 215k) and preliminary Q4 productivity (3.2 percent, down from 4.9 percent in the 3rd quarter) and unit labor costs (+.5 percent). Later today brings the final January S&P Global manufacturing PMI, construction spending for December, ISM manufacturing PMI for January, and Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey. We begin the day with Agency MBS prices slightly better than Wednesday’s close, the 10-year yielding 3.91 after closing yesterday at 3.97 percent, and the 2-year down to 4.20.

(Thank you to Euie H. for this one.)

A young mother with two boys, 4 and 8, was having a hard time controlling the boys. They were constantly getting into trouble. If something happened in the neighborhood, it was probably the boys that did it.

She heard that a local preacher had success getting boys under control, so she went to him to ask for help. He said he would help but would only meet with one boy at a time.

The next morning, she took the 4-year-old over and planned to take the 8-year-old in the afternoon. The 4-year-old went into the preacher’s office and met him. The preacher was a very big man and had a loud deep voice.

He looked at the 4-year-old and asked, “Where is God?”

The 4-year-old just stood there saying nothing.

The Preacher said again, a little louder, “Where is God? The 4-year-old again said nothing so the preacher, in a very loud voice, asked, “WHERE IS GOD?”

The little boy ran out of the office and all the way home and hid in his bedroom closet.

The 8-year-old found his brother in the closet and asked, “What happened?”

The 4-year-old answered: ” God is missing and they are blaming us”

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. STRATMOR’s current blog is titled, Adjusting Loan Officer Compensation to Improve Profitability.” 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