July 22: Thoughts on Angelo Mozilo; tribal lending; vendor tidbits; Saturday Spotlight: MakeFloridaYourHome

There’s still little sign of meaningful relief on housing costs, either from home prices, or financing costs for would-be buyers. People like statistics, so how about this one: the median selling price for a brand spankin’ new one versus an existing one in May and June are the same: $416k. For the last 10 years, prices for new single-family homes have been on average about $60,000 more than existing home sales. In May, that differential was less than $15,000 as existing owners in those existing homes with those existing 3 percent loans are impacting existing home prices. At the same time, home builders are offering smaller, more affordable houses to tap into demand from first-time buyers facing low inventories of existing homes. What about office conversions? The United States federal government has an enormous amount of office space, and it’s being underutilized. This was a problem well before the pandemic changed the way that a lot of people work, now exacerbated by the shift to hybrid home/office work situation. A preliminary Government Accountability Office assessment of 24 agencies, 17 of those agencies reported that less than 25 percent of their office space was in use. GAO further found that if an agency called in all employees for a day, it’d still be just two-thirds full. Just think of that air conditioning bill being footed by taxpayers!

Saturday Spotlight: MakeFloridaYourHome

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“Dedicated to finding great rates and loan options for our customers.”

In 3-5 sentences, describe your company (when was it founded and why, what it does, where, recent growth and plans for near-term future growth).

MakeFloridaYourHome was founded by Phil Ganz in September 2021 to elevate Florida’s real estate and mortgage industry. Our primary focus is distinguishing ourselves from national competitors like Zillow by establishing ourselves as the leading experts in Florida real estate and mortgages.

We are committed to providing personalized and expert advice to homebuyers throughout their journey in Florida. By leveraging our in-depth knowledge of the local market and understanding the unique needs of our clients, we aim to deliver exceptional customer experiences that set us apart from generic, one-size-fits-all national platforms.

Through targeted marketing, strategic partnerships, and continuous investment in our team’s expertise, we are poised to solidify our position as the go-to resource for anyone looking to make Florida their home. We specialize in VA loans, FHA loans, the Florida Hometown Heroes program, and are growing our real estate and other businesses.

Tell us about what type of volunteer work employees are encouraged to engage in, or charities your company supports, and why.

Charity at MakeFloridaYourHome starts with employees. Our company culture revolves around putting our employees at the forefront of everything we do. By paying our team members the most competitive compensation possible and giving them the inbound leads they need for success, we create a strong foundation for our people to impact the world.

What does your company do to help elevate your employees’ growth? Describe any mentoring programs, outside classes or training, in-house training. How does the company help people develop?

We are committed to elevating our employees’ growth and development. We empower our team members by providing exclusive leads already at the bottom of the funnel, resulting in an impressive 7.9% conversion rate with signed contracts.

Additionally, we prioritize inbound leads, allowing our employees to focus on building relationships and delivering exceptional service to potential clients.

One of the key ways we help people develop is through our unique approach to learning on the job. With an abundance of leads, our team members have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and refine their skills in a real-world setting.

Tell us how your company maintains its culture in a work-from-home environment, or how you plan on bringing employees back into the office, if applicable.

We believe in the ability to work from anywhere as long as our employees are dedicated to serving consumers effectively. Our culture centers on developing our people and creating opportunities in an industry where getting a foot in the door can be challenging.

Things you are most proud of that don’t have to do with sales.

Becoming great friends with James Lazuka, who went from intern to editor and chief Make Florida Your Home while attending Miami University, and equally as Awesome with his dad Steve Lazuka owner of Zerys.com

Fun fact about your company.

All employees will secretly watch the movie, Barbie.

Is there anything else you’d like to share along these lines?

As for recent growth, the business has experienced remarkable success, with website traffic growing by 16x in just 12 months. In July of the previous year, we received 215 mortgage leads, but in the first 15 days of July in the current year, we have already obtained 719 leads, with over 2,000 mortgage leads projected for the month, showcasing our rapid expansion.

We envision significant near-term growth, aiming to add a zero to our lead metrics next year. (Are you a motivated loan officer seeking to thrive in a rapidly growing team? Reach out to Phil Ganz on LinkedIn or call him directly at 617-529-9317.)

(For more information on having your firm’s extracurricular activities, employee growth, and your charitable side featured, contact Chrisman LLC’s Anjelica Nixt.)

Angelo Mozilo remembered

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He certainly had friends and enemies. When the news broke of his death through this daily Commentary, people wrote to me, talking about their thoughts and Angelo’s passing, and reminding me that even during its peak years Countrywide’s subprime volume was well below 10 percent of its overall business, yet Angelo became the poster child for the financial crisis.

Laurie S. sent over, “Rob, I respect your admiration and friendship with Angelo Mozilo. What I found offensive, downright wrong and should have been criminal was his yelling fire at the back of a crowded theatre in the attempts to drop company valuations in the hopes of making a killing. In my opinion, his antics incited the markets which reacted very poorly. At the time, I worked for Thornburg Mortgage who had zero bad loans and it had been 22 quarters since a single dollar loan loss. The fallout was the capital markets froze, and we saw margin calls on quality lenders who made smart loan decisions that cost the industry dearly. I realize everyone has different sides to them so no hostility, just disappointment at how one person changed so many lives.” [Editor’s note: I was a big fan of Thornburg’s “make sense” loan underwriting.]

Yes, there were different tales.

Kirk Willison with ARCH MI remembered, “The death of Angelo hits me hard. I was hired to head government affairs at Countrywide Funding Corp. in 1992. I had never known a person like Angelo. Incredibly driven not only to drive Countrywide to industry heights but to really help the less fortunate become homeowners. Per your note, he helped many more people become homeowners than those who became rich working for Countrywide.

“One anecdote will always stay with me. Back in 1992, when Angelo was president of the Mortgage Bankers Association, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston issued a study showing that minority applicants were denied loans at far higher rates than white applicants. Given his role at MBA, Angelo got questions about Countrywide’s performance in this regard. He was certain that Countrywide didn’t discriminate and that our record of lending would prove it. So, he ordered an audit of our records going back several years. The result? Countrywide was no better than the industry as a whole.

“Angelo could have swept that data under the rug. Instead, he brought together a team of Countrywide leaders with an order to improve our performance, as a result, we created the House America department and began to open offices in the inner cities of Los Angeles, Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, Atlanta, and others at the same time banks were closing branches. And we were originating prime, not subprime, loans in those days. We later became the first mortgage lender to sign a voluntary Fair Lending Agreement with HUD. And not long after that, Countrywide became the nation’s No. 1 lender to minority borrowers.

“I know that things went south years later (I left Countrywide in 2000) but the Angelo I reported to in my eight years at Countrywide was driven to improve the lives of people by helping them become homeowners. I will miss him. RIP Angelo.” Thank you, Kirk.

And industry vet Keith Bilodeau wrote, “Rob, I can’t help but reflect fondly on the annual NAMB conference in Dec 2018 when you and I put the main event together featuring Angelo in a town hall meeting with Stan Middleman, and of course with you not only coordinating Angelo’s participation with the Mozilo family, but moderating the event.

“That was my first time meeting Angelo in person, and enjoyed the few hours together before and after the conference with Angelo and his sons hearing him talk casually about his family, the business (past and present), and even a little politics. Despite his many years of being out of the day-to-day I found his present-day level of understanding and engagement amazingly insightful and relevant. I am fairly sure we set an all-time attendance record for any NAMB event during this town hall, with the over capacity crowd stretching well into the foyers.

“I’m not sure if I ever told you this, but once NAMB and Freedom Mortgage (sponsors of the event) announced the event I heard from many people who said they were planning on attending the NAMB function just to get to see and hear from Angelo. The level of respect for Angelo’s contributions to this industry, and the individual opportunities granted to so many individuals was clearly evident.

“During the town hall you could have heard a pin drop. Before the session started, I had several past Countrywide employees ask if they would have a chance to meet Angelo in person, as they never had that chance while working at Countrywide. I remember the enthusiasm in the room when I announced at the end of your session that Angelo would be in the side hall and would be available for those that would like to meet him, of course only after checking with his kids to make sure that would be OK.

“The crowd and line were unending, and I remember one of the women who, after meeting him, cried that she was so excited to finally get a chance to shake his hand and thank him for the opportunities she had while at Countrywide. Rob, I am so glad he got to have that stage to share his story and wisdom with the new generations in this industry. It’s hard to believe this was 5 years ago.

And Bill Lawton sent, “During my 40 years in the business (10 at Countrywide) no one ever matched the expertise, savvy, and personality of Angelo. He was, and always will be, an icon in the industry. He, David Loeb, and Stan Kurland created a juggernaut that made ordinary people millionaires, put 1,000’s of people in homes and still had the time to walk the floors and thank his employees for their hard work.

“After leaving Countrywide I ran into Angelo at an MBA function. I had been gone from the company for 3 years and Angelo came across the room, held out his hand and asked, ‘How are you? How are Bev, Mathew, and Elizabeth?’ Mind you, I was around the man a lot while employed but not on a constant or personal level. That was Angelo, memory like an elephant and unbelievably charismatic. He cared about the business, and he cared about the dedicated people that worked for him. God bless him.”

Tribal lending news

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The U.S. Senate has passed the Tribal Trust Land Homeownership Act of 2023, which will support homeownership for American Indians. (Senate press release; info about the Senate bill.) Miki Adams, President of CBC Mortgage Agency, owned by the Cedar Band of Paiute Indians, had some comments on current events.

“We commend the U.S. Senate for unanimously passing the Tribal Trust Land Homeownership Act of 2023, which would streamline the review and processing of mortgages for Native Americans living on tribal lands. The bill establishes new requirements for the processing of residential leasehold mortgages, business leasehold mortgages, land mortgages, and right-of-way documents by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It also outlines required response times for the completion of certified title status reports, notification of delays in processing, and the necessary form of notices and delivery of certain reports.

“As a tribally owned home lender, we have a deep-seated interest in making it easier for American Indian families to become homeowners. The Tribal Trust Land Homeownership Act is a powerful step toward eliminating the delays many Indigenous families face when buying a home. We call on the House of Representatives to swiftly pass this important legislation and send it to President Biden for his signature.”

Vendors/third-party providers touch all facets of lending

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Let’s take a quick random look at who’s doing what.

Westlake Origination Center is turning leads into sales for mortgage companies and creating a buzz among loan officers struggling to find new clients on their own with little success. WOC creates exclusive leads using custom tailored data algorithms and verified fail-proof tactics to identify and engage with targeted clients, ensuring a steady stream of high-potential leads for businesses. Every exclusive live transfer is a potential client that is qualified and truly looking to buy a home in the LO’s specific area! With a combined 30 years in the industry, WOC’s team works closely with clients to ensure leads convert to sales. Seasoned LOs are currently at a 62 percent application rate after the initial call from a generated WOC live transfer. “Our platform is the result of years of research and development and is designed to be flexible and scalable, so it can adapt to the changing needs of our clients,” said EVP Matt Matsuda. “This has proven to be a game-changer for businesses looking to sell and succeed in today’s highly competitive marketplace.” Contact Justin Clark at Westlake Origination Center to capture your market share.

“It’s like if Zillow and your lender had a baby! With HomeDashboard, your Loan Officers deliver property data and live mortgage products to homeowners and homebuyers, building trust and deepening relationships. Realfinity onboards retail lenders at no cost. We directly engage with your Loan Officers, giving them full access to our enterprise solution now, including recently launched features such as Client Self-Registration, Live/ Adjustable Pricing, Realtor Co-branding, and Single-Sig-On. Help your Loan Officers to keep their clients in a closed ecosystem, increasing referrals and expanding their databases. Contact Luca Dahlhausen to get the integration set up asap, for free. We take care of the rest!”

Insellerate, a leading provider of Modern CRM and Marketing Automation solutions to the mortgage lending and real estate industries, announced the launch of its groundbreaking AI plugin, an industry-first, designed to transform email marketing strategies for mortgage professionals. With this new integration, users can access advanced functionality powered by ChatGPT, enabling effortless content creation, enhanced grammar correction, and expert-level tone adjustments within their current email editor. Utilizing LaunchAI, users can now transform a simple one-sentence idea into a comprehensive email, tailored to engage and convert recipients. Whether it’s fixing grammar, adjusting the length, changing the tone of voice, or providing expert-level explanations, the AI integration offers unparalleled flexibility and ease of use. Insellerate’s new AI integration is now available to all users.

Mortgage Automated Technologies (MAT) and Candor Technologies have completed an integration of services to transform the way consumers search for loans. By integrating Candor Technologies’ patented Virtual Underwriting System (VUS), Decisions On Demand, with the innovative The BIG Point of Sale platform developed by Mortgage Automated Technologies, the integration aims to revolutionize the mortgage application review process, providing lenders with the ability to convert consumers into fully approved borrowers in 45 minutes or less.

LenderLogix, a leading provider of mortgage automation software and application programming interfaces (APIs), announced its streamlined point-of-sale (POS) LiteSpeed now offers a Spanish version of the residential loan application to support communication with Spanish-speaking borrowers in their native language. By having Spanish as a supported language option within LiteSpeed, lenders can better communicate with the Spanish-speaking subset of their limited English proficiency (LEP) borrowers to ensure they enter the homebuying process with greater confidence and a clearer understanding of the transaction.

Newbie Medical Dictionary:

Artery……………………..The study of paintings
Bacteria………………….Back door to cafeteria
Barium………..What doctors do when patients die
Benign………….What you be, after you be eight
Cesarean Section…….. A neighborhood in Rome
Cat scan…………………..Searching for Kitty
Cauterize……………………Made eye contact with her
Colic………………………. A sheep dog
Coma………………………..A punctuation mark
Dilate…………………….. To live long
Enema………………………Not a friend
Fester…………………Quicker than someone else
Fibula…………………….. A small lie
Impotent…………………..Distinguished, well known
Labor Pain………………. Getting hurt at work
Medical Staff………………. A Doctor’s cane
Morbid…………………….. A higher offer
Nitrates………………….. Cheaper than day rates
Node……………………….. I knew it
Outpatient…………………A person who has fainted
Pelvis…………….. ……… Second cousin to Elvis
Post Operative………… A letter carrier
Recovery Room………. Place to do upholstery
Rectum…………………….. Nearly killed him
Secretion…………………. Hiding something
Seizure…………………… Roman emperor
Tablet……………………… A small table
Terminal Illness…………. Getting sick at the airport
Tumor…………………… One, plus one more
Urine……………………… Opposite of you’re out

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, “Interest Rates are Like the Weather? Or Like Signs of the Zodiac?” 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 2023 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