Mar. 25: AE, LO jobs; DPA, non-QM, LOS, U/W, accounting tools; California insurance problems continue; disaster & FEMA news

Here in Louisville, KY, at the TMC event, this one is making the rounds. “What does a real estate agent’s wife say if she can’t sleep? ‘Honey, tell me about your day at work.’” Inventory continues to be low. While lenders everywhere seem concerned about the implications of the proposed NAR settlement (and I am sure that the real estate industry will figure out), how about the cost of their client owning a home? Homeowner’s insurance is either skyrocketing in cost or being eliminated entirely. California, the source of 20-25 percent of home loans, is in the news: California’s insurance commissioner Ricardo Lara “spoke out after the state’s largest home insurance provider announced that it would discontinue coverage for tens of thousands of policies this summer. State Farm will cut 72,000 home and apartment policies in California because of inflation, regulatory costs, and increasing risks from catastrophes.” For some good news, you can take Navy Fed off the list of lenders suspected of using race in its underwriting decisions, a story that created negative headlines in December. Good for Navy Fed! (Found here, this week’s podcasts are sponsored by Stavvy. Stavvy offers a flexible and fully customizable loss mitigation solution. Servicers can easily adapt to regulatory updates and market conditions, providing a seamless, customer-centric digital experience. Today’s has an interview with yours truly on the current conference environment and the challenges facing lenders in continuing to cut costs.)

Jobs & transitions


Opportunity knocks! This is your opportunity to join a pioneer in the non-QM space who is growing. Deephaven Mortgage is breaking production records and is hiring highly motivated Wholesale Account Executives across the nation to fuel its growth. Deephaven is looking for sales professionals with existing relationships to help capture market share in the growing non-QM space. Deephaven offers a proprietary suite of non-QM products, strong pricing, webinar support, best-in-class scenario desk, fully integrated platform, superior customer service, great benefits, and unmatched company culture. Contact Deephaven’s Chief Sales Officer Tom Davis for a confidential conversation.

Homecomings Mortgage & Equity, a division of AnnieMac Home Mortgage, is thrilled to announce Gabrielle Zika’s appointment as Regional Manager. Previously, as the EVP of Strategic Initiatives at Amres Corporation, Gabrielle brings a wealth of strategic planning skills and a steadfast dedication to supporting the growth of her team. Fobby Naghmi, SVP at Homecomings, commented, “Gabrielle’s expertise aligns perfectly with our vision for expanding our footprint to the West Coast.” Mortgage professionals interested in exploring opportunities with Homecomings Mortgage & Equity are encouraged to contact Fobby.

Tired of being told to cut your comp to have competitive rates? Build your empire at Kind Lending. If your company is cutting commissions for competitive rates and a quality operations team, there is a solution: Kind Lending. We understand the challenges Loan Officers face in today’s difficult market. Unlike most mortgage companies, market conditions do not dictate our unwavering commitment to your success. We offer top-notch pricing and an exceptional Operations team WITHOUT sacrificing your commission! While pricing and Operations are pillars to your success, Kind Lending also offers out-of-the-box marketing and an unmatched team culture. Life is tough enough. Make a change and switch to Kind Lending where you’ll always be met with a promise to rewrite your success story. Contact Traci Miller, National Talent Acquisition Manager.”

Lender & broker services, products, and software


Remember Steve Jobs vision of simplicity and efficiency with his ‘three-in-one’ approach? Instead of cluttering your workflow with plugins, enjoy an all-in-one solution at half the tech cost and half the cost to manufacture a loan. Don’t lag behind. Simplify, accelerate, excel. LoanMAPS includes upfront underwriting, Day One Certainty, AIM, Collateral Underwriting, and detailed processing instructions for seamless application-to-funding transitions. The days of juggling multiple software systems can be a thing of the past. Unlock Efficiency and Innovate with our AI-Powered Solution. LoanMAPS has delivered over 19,000 compliant loans into the secondary market! Take3Tech, home of TheRuleTool providing thousands of Loan Officer across the United States with instant access to agency/investor/bond/jumbo guidelines via the cloud. Hear what Tom Sullivan, SVP of Mortgage Retail Sales says about TheRuleTool! Learn more by contacting Take3Tech!

Take your accounting department from “Cost Center” to Revenue Generator” with Loan Vision & LV-PAM. Loan Vision customers report 30 percent+ decrease in days to close the books, 20 percent+ reduction in accounting headcount, and a 10 percent reduction in loan fallout. Interested in learning how Loan Vision can reduce internal costs and help you gain a competitive edge? Contact Carl Wooloff to schedule a call today.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, tune in to MGIC’s new on-demand webinar, The Remarkable Rise of Women in the Mortgage Industry. Hear guest speaker Patty Arvielo, CEO of New American Funding, discuss co-founding one of the largest independent mortgage lenders in the nation while fostering growth for women. MGIC’s Paula Maggio, EVP – General Counsel & Secretary, will lead the moderated discussion. Watch now!

Did you know that shooting stars blaze brilliantly white, shockingly red, and even shades of violet depending on their elemental composition? Just like meteorites, the elements of a lender’s tech stack can help it stand out in an expansive mortgage universe. The Empower LOS from Dark Matter Technologies provides a fully configurable, all-in-one experience with workflow automation, task-based workflows, seamless vendor and API integrations and multi-channel support including retail, HE/HELOC, wholesale and correspondent lending. Schedule a demo to see how the Empower LOS can help you shine.

TPO products


Slam Dunk Specials are here from LoanStream on Prime, Non-QM & Closed End Seconds. Includes 50 BPS Price Improvement on all Non-QM loans < $2MM loan amount, take another 50 BPS Price Improvement on all Closed-End Seconds (exclusions apply on our CES special37.5 BPS Price Improvement on FHA/VA loans 660-719 FICO (excludes DPA and CalHFA) and 50 BPS Price Improvement on FHA/VA loans 720+ (excludes DPA and CalHFA) on Prime! Restrictions apply. Talk to your Account Executive.

There’s a lot to celebrate over at Click n’ Close: its SmartBuy Down Payment Assistance (DPA) program is helping more borrowers by the day AND it’s teamed up with the Mortgage Collaborative. Say hello to the correspondent team’s Managing Director, Michael Lima, at The Mane Event: TMC Louisville! Click n’ Close has provided more than 1.5 billion dollars in DPA-related financing to over 6,000 borrowers through its SmartBuy suite of products, with an average of nearly $12,500 in assistance per transaction. Unlike state or municipal DPA programs, SmartBuy isn’t subject to budgetary shortfalls and offers tremendous flexibility to accommodate a wider range of scenarios, enabling it to help your borrowers achieve homeownership. With its streamlined seller approval and purchase process, Lenders can be up and running quickly. For more information, visit the SmartBuy product page or send an inquiry.

Disasters are a real thing


As the Northeast is snowed in, we are reminded that the U.S. is prone to tornadoes, earthquakes, flooding, hurricanes, storms, volcanoes, and fires. FEMA is the official source of disaster declarations and when FEMA publishes them, lender and investor policies and procedures are triggered. From hurricanes to forest fires, the environmental impacts of climate change are becoming more pressing with each passing year. 90 percent of natural disasters involve some degree of flooding. Flood damage has cost Americans over $50 billion throughout the last decade.

Of course, the major Agencies post disaster assistance for their borrowers, although it is questionable whether the average borrower even knows what type of loan theirs is, or where their loan was sold. Fannie, Freddie, FHA, and the VA all have something.

No one will disagree that storms are growing in intensity, and regardless of the source of a disaster, if your borrower can’t obtain homeowner’s insurance, or an investor won’t buy the loan, it impacts your business. On the topic of climate change, manmade or natural, Ryan Kingsley writes, “Lots of leadership in this industry are trying to wrap their minds around this issue: Buyer Beware: Unpriced climate risks the housing market’s bubble in the bloodstream. Anyone in California, Florida, or Texas, three states near the top of any list in home lending and in natural disasters, understands. In April leadership from nearly every government housing finance-related agency is gathering in Maryland, alongside housing/finance leaders, climate scientists, data analysts, and various thought leaders to collectively address this issue. The costs of owning are already outpacing the costs of buying in some markets.

Maine severe storm and flooding: FEMA Disaster Announcement DR-4754-ME.

On 1/30/2024, with DR-4754, FEMA declared federal disaster aid with individual assistance has been made available to five Maine counties; Androscoggin, Franklin, Kennebec, Oxford, and Somerset, affected by severe storm and flooding from 12/17/2023 to 12/21/2023. See AmeriHome disaster announcement 20240110-CL for inspection requirements.

Maine Severe Storms and Flooding: Incident Period January 9, 2024, to January 13, 2024 DR-4764-ME.

Rhode Island Severe Storm and Flooding – Incident Period: Dec 17, 2023 – Dec 19, 2023 DR-4765-RI.

Rhode Island Severe Storms and Flooding – Incident Period: Jan 9, 2024 – Jan 13, 2024 DR-4766-RI.

PHH Correspondent Lending posted new disaster declarations, go to the company library to view. Maine DR-4764, Rhode Island DR-4765, Rhode Island DR-4766.

On March 20, 2024, with DR-4764, FEMA declared that federal disaster aid with individual assistance has been made available to eight counties in Maine, Maine Counties of Cumberland, Hancock, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Waldo, Washington, and York to supplement recovery efforts in the areas. For inspection requirements, view AmeriHome Disaster Announcement 20240305-CL.

On 3/20/2024, with DR-4765, FEMA declared federal disaster aid with individual assistance has been made available to counties affected by severe storms and flooding from 12/17/2023 to 12/19/2023. See AmeriHome Disaster Announcement 20240306-CL for inspection requirements.

On 3/20/2024, with DR-4766, FEMA declared federal disaster aid with individual assistance has been made available to Kent, Providence, and Washington counties affected by severe storms and flooding from 1/9/2024 to 1/13/2024. See AmeriHome Disaster Announcement 20240307-CL for inspection requirements.

Capital Markets: The Fed doesn’t set mortgage rates, but…


It’s as if the financial press doesn’t have anything else to talk about except the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee. In the week ahead, the spotlight will be on a host of Federal Reserve speakers who will be returning from a blackout period following the latest FOMC meeting. With the Fed signaling confidence in three anticipated interest rate cuts this year, investors will be watching the upcoming speeches for commentary that will reinforce that messaging.

Yes, last week’s FOMC meeting was the highlight of an otherwise quiet economic calendar. As expected, the Committee left the fed funds rate unchanged, and the policy statement was nearly the same word-for-word as the prior one. At his press conference, Fed Chairman Powell struck a dovish tone and markets reacted favorably. The FOMC’s Summary of Economic Projections (dot plot) showed the median expected fed funds rate at the end of the year remained at 4.6 percent, or three rate cuts. However, the distribution did change as half the members predicted only two cuts or less. The committee also saw little chance of a recession this year, as the GDP projection increased to 2.1 percent from 1.4 percent in the previous forecast. Investors are growing more confident that the Fed can engineer a soft landing for the U.S. economy.

Fed funds futures now see the first 25 basis point cut coming in June as the most likely outcome, while pricing in longer dated contracts suggest that three 25 basis point cuts are likely this year, in-line with the Fed’s revised dot plot. Economist Larry Summers last week criticized the Fed for having “itchy fingers” to cut rates, but this current period is now the second-longest tightening cycle in the Fed’s history. The Fed historically begins cutting rates on average eight months after that last rate hike, only having left rates elevated for longer in 2007 in order to address the real estate bubble. The problem this time around is that (already unaffordable) shelter is driving the inflation issue. If and when the Fed cuts rates, it risks re-igniting house price growth. Conversely, if and when the Fed cuts rates, it should stimulate homebuilding which would help to alleviate the affordability issue.

Shifting to lending and home buying, more supply is clearly needed to satiate demand, help stabilize home prices, and get more Americans moving to their next residences. Yes, home prices and mortgage rates are elevated, but people seem to be accepting it and getting on with their lives. We learned last week that existing home sales jumped 9.5 percent during February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.38 million, the fastest pace in a year, as lower mortgage rates brought buyers off the sidelines. This was down 3.3 percent compared to a year ago. Available inventory increased 5.9 percent. Permits for new single-family construction increased 1.0 percent in February and have been steadily rising over the last year, suggesting builders are looking to increase production in light of favorable sales prospects. The median home price rose 5.7 percent year-over-year to $384,500. First-time home buyers accounted for only 26 percent of sales, which is down from their historical level of 40 percent or so. It is clear the first-time home buyer is priced out of the market. Investors and second home buyers increased their share to 21 percent.

This week, which includes an early close on Thursday ahead of Good Friday’s market holiday, is filled with month-end data including housing-related reports, durable goods orders, Fed surveys, consumer confidence, final Q4 GDP, Michigan sentiment, and PCE. Treasury will auction month-end supply today through Wednesday. Fed Chair Powell is scheduled to speak on Friday, though other currently scheduled Fed appearances are on the lighter side. Today’s data is under way with the Chicago Fed National Activity Index for February. Later today brings new home sales for February, Dallas Fed manufacturing for March, several Treasury auctions headlined by $66 billion 2-year notes, and remarks from Atlanta Fed President Bostic and Fed Governor Cook. We begin the week with Agency MBS prices unchanged from Friday, the 10-year yielding 4.23 after closing last week at 4.22 percent, and the 2-year at 4.61.

(Thanks to Ginger B. for this one.)

Two cats are swimming across the Ohio River here in Louisville. One’s name is “One Two Three”, the other’s cat name is “Un Deux Trois”.

Who makes it across?

One Two Three of course, because Un Deux Trois cat sank.

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Rob Chrisman