Veteran’s Day: Citi & Armenians; Vendor & third-party news; weed & property values; where 387 billion gallons of water goes

Today is Veteran’s Day as well as Saturday, traditionally college football day. Like topics in this opening paragraph, there’s a wide range of mascots out there, but anyone who went to school in Colorado knows about Ralphie; this is a well done short video on the shaggy beast. Of course, the University of Texas has Bevo, with much shorter hair. Pointing out mascots to your clients who served in the military is of questionable worth. On the other hand, sending them a link to all of the military discounts today would probably help your relationship. And relationships are important during these days when the balance sheets of many lenders and vendors don’t look so great after, for many companies, several quarters of losses. Balance sheets were plump after 2020 and 2021, and warehouse banks and investor counterparties continue to do business with companies that are losing money based on those balance sheets along with the servicing income. But it isn’t easy out there by any measure. Hey, at least you’re not training dogs to detect cadavers!

Wacky Tobacky & home values

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Who can forget Afroman’s classic, “Because I Got High?” I was going to write this commentary, and then…

In the election earlier this week, Ohioans okayed recreational weed. From 2014 to 2023, home values increased an average of nearly $50k more in the 23 states and Washington, D.C. with legal recreational cannabis, compared to states without recreational cannabis, according to Clever. Those jurisdictions have seen property values rise by $185,075 since 2014, compared to $136,092 in states without recreational cannabis. Of the 10 states with the largest increases in home values, seven have legalized recreational cannabis. Meanwhile, of the 10 states with the smallest increases in home values, nine have not legalized recreational cannabis.

What did Citi have against Armenians?

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Apparently, something. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has ordered Citi to pay fines and redress of $25.9 million after the agency said Citi intentionally discriminated against Armenian American people who were applying for a credit card. According to the CFPB, from 2015 to 2021 in the Glendale, California, area (home to 15 percent of the Armenian American population) the bank specifically screened last names that ended in “-ian” and “-yan.” Denying people credit because of their ancestry is a huge issue, and Citi will have to pay a $24.5 million fine and $1.4 million in compensation to affected consumers.

Clean, sufficient water: so critical

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Talking about building more houses and communities is fine, but when developers start looking at the costs of land, permits, labor, material… you get the idea. And even if the stars align, what about the additional traffic and strain on the energy grid and water supplies?

A new analysis of 20 extended families in a California farming area of the Imperial Valley found that the farms owned by this group of families consume a vast amount of the water of the Colorado River, mostly to grow hay for cows. The family that uses the most of it across five family members’ farming operations used 260,000 acre-feet of water in 2022, which is literally 3 percent of the entire flow of the Colorado River in the Lower Basin, all for one family that mostly grows hay. By comparison, the entirety of Southern Nevada, including 2 million people in Las Vegas, used just 220,000 acre-feet that year. The 20 farming families used 387 billion gallons of water in 2022, about a seventh of the entire Colorado River. Most of that goes not to fruit or vegetables, but to animal feed.

Are you free? Thank a vet

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My Father was in the U.S. Navy from 1942-1962. And his father was in the Spanish American War at the turn of the previous century. I have their uniforms and various items, all important to me.

Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 making it an annual observance, and it became a national holiday in 1938. Sixteen years later, then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation changing the name to Veterans Day to honor all those who served their country during war or peacetime. On this day, the nation honors military veterans, living and dead. There were 16.5 million military veterans in the United States in 2021, 1.7 million of whom were female.

Want some race breakdowns? 1.9 percent were Asian American, 73 percent of veterans were non-Hispanic White, 8.2 percent Hispanic or Latino (of any race), 12.3 percent African American, 0.7 percent American Indian or Alaska Native, and 0.2 percent Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. (Source: 2021 American Community Survey 1-year estimates.)

Vendor and third-party provider news

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Based upon the success of the PAM Plus Platform, where PAM’s highest residential appraisal fee is $99.00, PAM is announcing that beginning December 1, 2023, management is expanding its Holiday Give-Back Program to all 12 months of the year. PAM uses $10.00 of every appraisal order, per month, pel lender, and donates that amount to the organization of the lender’s choice. This expansion of 12 months per year will hopefully make for a brighter future for those in need. “Please contact us today to find out how we can help you, your organization and those you hold near and dear every month. The Private Asset & Management Group, LLC (www.pamvalue.com) 631-319-6161.”

Loan originators looking at a “full stack” loan origination & processing platform should check out Realfinity.io to go “independent” allowing them to get the most competitive pricing directly from wholesale lenders with no overlays due to corporate expenses. (No, this is not a paid ad… Check out this WSJ article which really opened my eyes. To learn more about going independent reach out to Luca Dahlhausen.)

Accurate Group, a leading provider of technology-driven real estate appraisal, title data, analytics, and e-closing solutions, announced the acquisition of Voxtur Appraisal Services, LLC, an appraisal management company (AMC) serving real estate finance providers nationwide, specializing in broker price opinions (BPOs), alternative valuation solutions and traditional appraisal. The strategic addition strengthens Accurate Group’s ability to serve its clients’ valuation needs across the mortgage lending, default, and servicing sectors. Accurate Group expects Voxtur Appraisal Services to operate as a standalone division, retaining its dedicated team, including Al Broadway, Voxtur Appraisal Services President. Find out more about Accurate Group’s market-leading alternative valuation solutions and its next-generation Archer® appraisal management and title platform, contact Accurate Group or visit the website.

CondoTek and Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation (MGIC), the principal subsidiary of MGIC Investment Corporation (NYSE: MTG), announced the launch of a new All-In-One Condominium Compliance solution available through CondoTek. Its Condo Project Warrant (CPW) will now simultaneously validate condominium projects for MGIC underwriting compliance while still delivering validation for agency policies and guidelines.

National MI’s Fall 2023 Edition of the Economic Market Snapshot is now available and highlights the pressure of elevated interest rates continues to build, contributing further uncertainty across the housing market and the broader economy. Trends under close watch include mortgage rates have increased five weeks in a row to 7.6 percent, the highest level since 2000 and Affordability keeps breaking records (in a bad way).

docutech Compliance noted that some county recorder offices in California are requiring additional titles on Deeds of Trust per Cal. Gov. Code § 27324. Consequently, docutech created four new fields to accommodate.

LenderLogix, a leading provider of mortgage point-of-sale and automation software for banks, credit unions, independent mortgage banks, and brokers, announced the latest release of the Homebuyer Intelligence Report, a quarterly summary of insights into borrower behavior during the home buying process based on data collected by the LenderLogix suite of tools. The latest report covers data collected during the pre-approval and borrower application process during the third quarter (Q3) of 2023. Data from the Homebuyer Intelligence Report is available to the industry free of charge.

MISMO®, the real estate finance industry’s standards organization announced that the industry standard dataset mapping for several pre-closing and closing datasets, including Fee Sheet, ALTA CPL, ALTA Title Commitment, and Endorsements, have achieved “Candidate Recommendation” status, which means they have been thoroughly reviewed by a wide range of organizations and industry participants and are available for use across the industry.

Agile Trading technologies recently expanded its broker/dealer network with Hilltop Securities, a full-service investment bank and wealth advisory firm, enabling clients of MCT and beyond to get a more competitive rate when trading. Agile clients already approved with Hilltop Securities will automatically see them added as an option for individual and competitive trading, and clients interested in an introduction can contact Agile or work with their Hilltop Securities representative for more information.

National Mortgage Insurance Corporation (National MI) is now integrated with the Loan Fulfillment Center (LFC) loan origination system (LOS) platform by Mortgage Cadence enabling lender clients of both companies to swiftly access price quotes and secure real-time, risk-based mortgage insurance through National MI’s Rate GPS ® tool without leaving the LFC platform. The integration with LFC, an out-of-the-box, cloud-based digital retail LOS capable of handling mortgage processes from application to closing and delivery, expands National MI’s partnership with Mortgage Cadence. In 2022, National MI integrated with the Mortgage Cadence Platform, the company’s cloud-based digital LOS.

MQMR has officially launched its new Fair Lending suite of services. Get the introductory discounted pricing now while it’s hot. Your HMDA LAR submission is due on March 1st.

Secure Insight, a preferred vendor with the Lenders One mortgage services cooperative, has teamed up with L1 to offer a three-month free wire fraud introductory service plan for new clients. If you are an L1 member you qualify, and if you are thinking of joining L1 for all of its benefits, you will also qualify. The offering requires no long-term commitments and provides an opportunity for lenders unfamiliar with the Closing Guard product of Secure Insight to test it and evaluate its benefits as a wire and closing fraud prevention tool. For mor information contact Amanda Padd. Visit www.secureinsight.com for Closing Guard product information and www.lendersone.com for information on joining the cooperative.

Lenderworks and Secure Insight are working in tandem to bring wire fraud and vendor risk assessment services to lenders. Lenderworks is a provider of infrastructure solutions for companies in the mortgage banking industry with a focus on creating powerful and innovative solutions, combining access to industry-leading technology, innovative processes, and a team of seasoned mortgage experts to create the mortgage industry’s first comprehensive, on-demand service platform. Services include mortgage technology, compliance, secondary market, finance and accounting and QC / post-production, among others. Secure Insight is the mortgage industry’s leading wire fraud and vendor risk assessment from addressing title and closing fraud risk for lenders. Lenderworks clients have the ability to access Secure Insight’s Closing Guard loss prevention technology platform through this unique partnership, at specially discounted rates.  For more information on Lenderworks visit www.lenderworks.com. To learn about Closing Guard visit www.secureinsight.com or email Amanda Padd, client relationship manager.

Our Veterans Day falls on what used to be called Armistice Day. On that day in 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the major fighting of World War I ended. But how did George Lawrence Price, of the British Empire, fit in?

In 1918, Price was a private serving with Company A of the 28th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in Belgium. Along with all the other exhausted soldiers, Price had heard that their leaders had negotiated for the guns in Europe to fall silent once and for all on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The soldiers hardly dared to hope the peace would really come to pass.

As the moment of the armistice approached, a few soldiers continued to skirmish, and Price’s company set out to take control of the small town of Havre. As they crossed a canal to their target, a German gunner hidden in a row of houses tried to stop them. Once safely across, just ten minutes before the armistice, the Canadian patrol began to look for the German soldier who had harassed them. They found no one but civilians in the first two homes they searched. And then, as they stepped back into the street, a single shot hit Price in the chest. He fell into the arms of his comrade, who pulled him back into the house they had just left. As Price died, German soldiers cleared their guns in a last burst of machine-gun fire that greeted the armistice.

Price’s life ended just two minutes before the Great War was over.

Even at the time, Price’s death seemed to symbolize the pointless slaughter of WWI. When an irony of history put Price in the same cemetery as the first Allied soldier to die in the conflict, disgusted observers commented that the war had apparently been fought over a half-mile of land. In the years after the war ended, much was made of George Price, the last soldier of the British Empire to die in the Great War.

But what about the unknown story of the German sniper who killed him? What made that man take that one last life, two minutes before the war ended? Was it rage? Fear? Had the war numbed him into a machine that simply did its job? Or was it a final, deadly act of revenge against a world that had changed beyond his reckoning?

And what did the knowledge that he had stolen another man’s future—legally, but surely immorally—do to the man who pulled that trigger? He went back to civilian life and blended into postwar society, although the publicity given to Price’s death meant that he must have known he was the one who had taken that last, famous life in the international conflagration. The shooter never acknowledged what he had done, or why.

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, “Listening to Real Estate Agents Can Pay Off for Originators”. The Commentary’s podcast is live and at any place you obtain your podcasts (like Apple or Spotify).

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Rob Chrisman