Feb. 6: LO jobs, branches wanted; AI automation, servicing, pre-approval, DPA, non-QM products; training & webinars for the week

Every month we receive statistics showing how prices are going up, or down, and our Federal Reserve is continually mentioning controlling inflation which in turns helps mortgage rates. Inflation has finally impacted birthday celebrations. “Steakhouses Are In. Steak Is Out: Many customers are looking for a splashy night out with less red meat and lower prices.” I like chicken, so I received some good news. (Gallus domesticus fans may want to visit Prince’s south of Nashville.) The price of chicken is poised to fall considerably, helping inflation and in turn, in a small way, mortgage rates, as a glut of feed hits the market. Feed costs are about 60 percent of the expenses of raising birds, and the rising need for biofuels, like that made from soybeans, means that there is poised to be much cheaper feed on the market. A byproduct of making soybean oil from soybeans is soymeal, which is used as chicken feed. The levels of soymeal produced in the U.S. is expected to only go up, which will keep prices for chicken and pork lower than otherwise. See how these things work? Today’s Commentary podcast can be found here and this week’s is sponsored by Vesta, the new, modern Loan Origination System (LOS) which helps lenders reduce their costs to originate and improve their ability to integrate with new technologies in the ecosystem. Hear Part Two of an interview with Curinos’ John Sayre on Q4 origination trends and meaningful data in the mortgage industry. 

Jobs & transitions

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A well-capitalized IMB, based in the NJ/PA tri- state market, is seeking Loan Officers, Sales Teams, or possible acquisition opportunities of small to midsize IMBs in NJ, NY, CT, FL, PA, while expanding in MD, DC, VA, NC and SC. The IMB’s focus is a highly personable and high touch experience for LOs and Realtors. Organizationally lean, very competitive pricing, a wide array of products, and much higher LO Comp than what is offered by other larger IMBs. The focus is to attract serious loan officers who want an unparalleled service, where your voice matters and you have a seat at the table in growth. If interested, message Chrisman LLC’s Anjelica Nixt for a confidential discussion.

PrimeLending wins Best-in-Class for Online Tools, Mobile Tools, Pre-Closing (Preparedness) and Closing Timeframe in the 2023 MortgageCX Best-in-Class Lender Recognition Awards. Going to the top lenders by segment based on last year’s customer satisfaction scores and positive outcomes, these awards are a testament to the outstanding borrower experience the company delivers. In 2023, PrimeLending also earned an overall 96 percent customer satisfaction rating, 97 percent loan officer satisfaction rating and 96 percent likelihood to recommend. Proving that customers and business partners can trust the national lender to deliver on its promise year after year. Looking to join a company you can trust to help you be successful? We’re hiring amazing branch managers and loan officers. Contact Nic Hartke.

Nations Lending’s retail sales divisions are now under the direction of two results-driven industry veterans who embody Nations’ slogan, Home Loans Made Human, with their servant leadership approach. The Cleveland-based independent mortgage lender recently appointed Tim Dowling and Mike Towery as Senior Vice President Divisional Managers. Dowling, who has nearly three decades of leadership experience in mortgage lending and banking, is responsible for sales, recruiting, and market expansion in the company’s Eastern Division. Towery, who also has nearly 30 years of leadership experience in mortgage lending and banking, directs the sales growth and development, as well as recruiting of Nations’ Western Division. Leaders like this are why Nations is a 2024 Scotsman Guide Top Workplace. Join Nation’s team to work with a company that recognizes its strength lies in the dedication and contributions of its people.

OneTrust Home Loans announced the appointment of 30+ year mortgage vet James Hecht as its new CEO to help grow the various mortgage lending divisions within the Family of Companies, further expanding distributed retail and the rapidly growing joint venture division. Co-founders Josh and Shane Erskine will be transitioning to the role of CEO and President at Warp Speed Holdings LLC, respectively where they will focus on continuing to grow the OneTrust Family of Companies while also supporting Mr. Hecht with the lending businesses.

Lender and broker software, products, and services

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If consistency is essential for you in a correspondent partner, look no further. eRESI Mortgage consistently provides the competitive pricing you need and the seamless experience you deserve. Our years of knowledge in the investor and correspondent space, high-touch efficient service, and full suite of products (First Lien: Full Doc, Bank Statement, DSCR; Closed End Seconds) have created an unparalleled correspondent program. And with our recently improved base price and LLPAs, now is the perfect time to partner with eRESI Mortgage. Discover the benefits of working with eRESI and why we are rapidly becoming the preferred choice for many lenders. Contact your eRESI representative or email our business development team today.

Question: How much money does it take to buy a home? Answer: all of it. Well, that’s how it may feel to aspiring homeowners who also need to pay rent, buy groceries and meet all of life’s other unexpected expenses. The good folks at Zillow wanted to take action by educating visitors to their website about down payment assistance (DPA), which can help some buyers move forward faster. Because of Zillow’s size and diverse audience demographics, making this connection happen required a partner with deep DPA resources, technology, and expertise. Down Payment Resource (DPR), the industry authority on all things DPA, fit the bill nicely. In December 2021, the connection went live on Zillow’s website and in its app. In just one year, over 1 million unique users searched for DPA, with 93 percent getting at least one matching result. Read more in DPR’s new case study.

89 days. That’s how long it takes a borrower to go from pre-approval to application in this market. So, what is your borrower doing for those 89 days? Where are they running payments? How are they getting closing cost estimates? Since QuickQual by LenderLogix is integrated with Encompass® by ICE Mortgage Technology™, borrowers and Realtors can run accurate scenarios and even generate updated pre-approval letters right on their phone. Check it out here and they’ll text a sample to your phone.

What does it take to delight a mortgage servicer? Melissa B. Smith, Vice President at Liberty Home Mortgage Corp. can tell you. Her firm just invested in the MortgageFlexONE servicing system. “I was blown away by how visually appealing it was and how user-friendly.” Like many lenders, Liberty knew that servicing loans meant more revenue, but they didn’t have much experience. “The staff at MortgageFlex have years of experience in servicing and they are happy to share their knowledge,” Smith said. “They have built a system that makes it almost impossible to make mistakes.” Even experienced servicers find plenty to love in this new system, including access to their data at no extra cost, and customizable templates for Foreclosure, Bankruptcy, and Loss Mitigation. The team will be providing demos in Booth 400 at MBA Servicing in Orlando. To schedule a meeting with the MortgageFlex team at the show, call 1-860-460-7418.

Zoral: The Automation Platform for Mortgage! For the past 20 years, Zoral has created, implemented, and refined an innovative, AI-powered automation platform for mortgage, banking, and finance. Whether deploying Zoral’s mortgage automation solutions (like Underwriting Automation Utilities or Warehouse Line Automation) or utilizing the platform for bespoke configurations, Zoral is the Automation Platform for Mortgage. Boost your team’s productivity and liberate them from tedious, repetitive, and error-prone tasks. Automatically gather, sort, and gain value from data and documents with the platform’s state-of-the-art OCR and document categorization. Graduate beyond needing to continuously adjust headcount at every turn of the market with a platform built with the elasticity needed to handle even the most unpredictable environments.  Zoral’s proprietary no-code/low-code, AI-powered platform is designed and built in-house and rapidly implemented to deliver solutions across the mortgage lifecycle. To learn more about Zoral Automation Platform and Zoral’s mortgage automation solutions, contact Peter Sandler.

Training, webinars, and in-person events, mostly this week

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Technology and operations leaders who care about making sure their technology and operations are competitive for today’s market, as well as learning what’s possible when you push the limits, you don’t want to miss this live event! On February 15 at 1pm CT come join Jonathan Spinetto, COO and Co-Founder of NFTYDoor, Janelle Lindseth, Senior Product Manager of Docutech, and Richard Grieser, Vice President of Marketing of TRUV, as they unpack how Jonathan and his team launched the business with zero loan volume, and in just 2 years NFTYDoor debuted its digital home equity loan platform, was acquired by Homebridge, and is now on track to reach 3,000 loans per month in 2024, making them a major player in the market. Their technology is built from the ground up and processes everything from credit, KYC, valuations, disclosures, closing (RON), and payments, and all in full regulatory compliance. This is a success story: Jonathan and his team pushed the limits and accepted the risk, but those lessons learned can be immediately applied by you. Come and see the future of lending technology.

Calling all grads of Hedging 101 and 201! It’s time to kick it up another gear in the next installment of Optimal Blue’s popular webinar series. Make plans to join Hedging 301 on Tuesday, Feb. 13, at noon CT as we take a deeper dive into more advanced capital market strategies and how they naturally interplay with technological advances. This session will address the many ways Optimal Blue helps clients streamline daily processes to achieve success and optimal best execution, including mandatory price discovery and dissemination, saving basis points while delivering representative mix, solving for numerous execution iterations, and integrating to the MSR broker community for live, loan-level servicing valuations. Previous sessions had record attendance, so be sure to save your seat for Hedging 301 today!

Today at 10AM PT join me for Insellerate’s upcoming webinar, alongside its CEO and Founder, Josh Friend. Together, we’ll explore the 2024 Market Forecast, providing insights into mortgage industry predictions, strategies for navigating economic uncertainty, discussing capital markets developments, and hosting an interactive Q&A session. Reserve your spot to stay ahead in 2024.

Join the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, CoAMP, Freddie Mac, and the Denver Metro Association of Realtors today, February 6th, 11am – 2:00pm for NAMB Road Show Denver. This free event, which includes lunch, features informative sessions giving you tools and resources to help you and your consumers. in-depth Realtor-Lender Partner panel. Freddie Mac Affordable Lending Manager Nora Guerra shares the state of the Colorado housing market; housing trends in the area; and innovative ways to navigate the road ahead in creating an impactful mortgage business for you.

MBA of Mississippi Gulf Coast Chapter’s February Luncheon will be held on today, February 6th, 11:30am – 1:00pm (CST) at Salute Italian & Seafood Restaurant.

Wednesday the 7th, looking for more in-depth commentary on weekly mortgage news? Register here for “Mortgage Matters: The Weekly Roundup” presented by Lenders One. Every Wednesday at 2PM EST/11AM PT is a dive into a range of mortgage-related topics, including market trends, interest rate fluctuations, innovative mortgage products, and industry advancements. Listen to a unique mix of age perspective, expertise, and charisma, ensuring that the information is not only educational but also entertaining. Hear from Leslie Alli from National MI.

The Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR ®) Designation live virtual course Wednesday, February 7th – Thursday, February 8th, 10AM – 5PM CT is the foundation to do just that. Recently updated with new information and research relevant to today’s market, this course explores every aspect of residential real estate transactions from a buyer’s perspective. Through NAR REALTOR Benefits®, you can save an additional $10 off the already discounted price. Use code ABRLV10. Cost is $149. Registration cut-off: Tuesday, February 6th.

Friday, February 9th, is this week’s episode of The Mortgage Collaborative’s Rundown covering current events in the mortgage market for 30-45 minutes starting at noon PT, 3PM ET, in “The Rundown”. This week’s co-host is Skylar Olsen.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is offering an invite to join economic experts and business and community leaders across Texas for the Dallas Fed’s annual Texas Economic Outlook event. Whether you attend in person in Dallas or virtually, it’s a great opportunity to get the latest information on the Texas economy while expanding your network Friday, February 9, 11 a.m.–12 noon CT. Registration is free and open to the public. In-person attendees are invited to come early to the Dallas office for refreshments and networking ahead of the presentation.

The next public hearing of the Appraisal Subcommittee on appraisal bias is on Feb. 13, but you must register by 2/9. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) will host the fourth public hearing of the Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) on appraisal bias. The subcommittee panel will consist of representatives from five Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) regulatory agencies, including the CFPB, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Housing Finance Agency. On Tuesday, February 13, from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. ET the subcommittee panel will hear from the following witnesses on how to address appraisal bias and increase diversity in the profession: David Bunton, President, The Appraisal Foundation, E.C. Neelly IV, Executive Director, Mississippi Real Estate Appraisal Board, Maureen Sweeney, Principal, Maureen Sweeney, Real Estate Appraiser Ltd., Melissa Tran, Director, Texas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board, and Jillian White, Chief Executive Officer, Appraisal Insights. Where: OCC headquarters, 400 7th Street SW, Washington, D.C.

Capital markets

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This week will be very light in terms of economic data, including today without any economic releases of note, but markets will receive plenty of Treasury auctions and Fed speakers. Bond yields opened the week surging higher, continuing Friday’s sell off, as the most recent U.S. payrolls report was too strong to support rate cut expectations. Bets that the Federal Reserve would start cutting interest rates in the first quarter of 2024 were due to jobs data pointing to a cooling U.S. labor market along with receding inflation. While the FOMC removed its “bias” to tighten policy further at last week’s policy meeting, the Committee still needs “greater confidence” that inflation is moving back toward 2 percent on a sustained basis before cutting rates, possibly at its meeting in May.

Economic data to begin 2024 has yet to suggest a recession, which can be viewed either as obvious given the federal government’s unprecedented amount of fiscal stimulus, or odd given the Federal Reserve’s historical tightening regime. Despite fiscal stimulus and a strong jobs market, data reveals a concerning decline in average monthly savings across all income levels in the U.S. A decline in savings rates is a critical indicator of the economic challenges faced by households. Compounding the distressing savings trends, there have been increases in average credit card balances. The amount of users carrying a credit card balance has increased for all Americans, regardless of income level.

Today’s economic calendar has Redbook same store sales for the week ending February 3. The NY Fed Household Debt and Credit report (Q4) is also due out this morning and markets will receive several Treasury auctions, headlined by $54 billion 3-year notes. At least four Fed speakers are currently scheduled: Cleveland’s Mester, Minneapolis’ Kashkari, Boston’s Collins, and Philadelphia’s Harker. Without any data of note on today’s calendar, we begin Tuesday with Agency MBS prices unchanged from Monday night and the 10-year yielding 4.15 after closing yesterday at 4.16 percent.

(Thank you to Larry P. for this one.)

A German Shepherd, Doberman and a cat have died. All three are faced with God, who wants to know what they believe in.

The German shepherd says, “I believe in discipline training and loyalty to my master.”

“Good,” says God. “Then sit down on my right side. Doberman, what do you believe in?”

The Doberman answers, “I believe in the love, care and protection of my master.”

“Ah, yes,” said God. “You may sit to my left.”

Then he looks at the cat and asks, “And what do you believe?”

The cat answers, “I believe you’re sitting in my seat.”

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