Insights on Vendor Relationships, Disaster News, and FHA Updates from STRATMOR and Other Sources

At the Texas Mortgage Bankers Association’s (TMBA) Secondary Conference in Houston, discussions naturally gravitate towards the intertwined topics of interest rates and the economy. One striking revelation surfaces: the nation’s interest payment expense now surpasses its defense expenditure, underscoring the profound economic implications of prevailing interest rate trends.

Amidst these deliberations, attention also turns to the business climate in Texas, which stands out as notably favorable for companies. Unlike California, often regarded as the top state for residential lending, Texas boasts a regulatory environment that is perceived as more conducive to business growth. In informal conversations echoing through the conference hallways, sentiments emerge encapsulating California as a “blue state wrapped up in red tape,” alluding to the bureaucratic hurdles that businesses encounter in the Golden State.

While California attracts criticism for its high cost of living, it’s essential to dissect the contributing factors. Contrary to popular belief, the burden of property taxes in California is not the primary culprit driving up living expenses.

A comparative analysis titled “Property Taxes by State in 2024” sheds light on the disparity in tax burdens across the nation. Californians, for instance, rank 34th in terms of annual taxes paid on homes priced at the state median value. In contrast, states like New Jersey, Illinois, and Connecticut bear the brunt of the highest annual taxes on residential properties.

Furthermore, the financial strain imposed by property ownership extends beyond real estate taxes to encompass vehicle property taxes, prevalent in 26 states across the country. On average, American households shell out $2,869 annually towards real-estate property taxes, with an additional $448 allocated for vehicle property taxes. These figures, gleaned from comprehensive research, underscore the multifaceted nature of tax burdens on homeowners across the United States.

In the realm of mortgage finance, innovation continues to shape the landscape, as evidenced by the sponsorship message delivered after 8:30 AM ET during this week’s podcast. The podcast, brought to listeners by nCino, highlights the nCino Mortgage Suite, a cutting-edge solution tailored for modern mortgage lenders. Comprising three core products—nCino Mortgage, nCino Incentive Compensation, and nCino Mortgage Analytics—the suite seamlessly integrates people, systems, and processes to streamline the mortgage journey.

In an illuminating interview featured within the podcast, SoFi’s Liz Young delves into the intricacies of Treasury auctions and their profound impact on consumer interest rates. As supply and demand dynamics unfold at these auctions, their ripple effects reverberate throughout the economy, shaping the borrowing landscape for consumers nationwide.

In summary, the TMBA’s Secondary Conference serves as a dynamic forum for industry professionals to dissect critical issues ranging from interest rates and economic trends to regulatory landscapes and innovative solutions in mortgage finance. Through informed discussions and insightful analyses, stakeholders gain valuable perspectives essential for navigating the complex terrain of mortgage banking in today’s rapidly evolving market.

Exploring Lender and Broker Services, Products, and Software Offerings

Embarking on a journey to the ICE Experience event presents an unparalleled opportunity to connect with the Optimal Blue team and explore the latest advancements in mortgage technology. Clients utilizing the Product and Pricing Engine (PPE) are actively transitioning to the Encompass Partner Connect integration, reaping the benefits of enhanced features and functionalities. With this upgraded integration, loan officers witness a remarkable 60% reduction in the time required to request a lock, with automatic confirmation within Encompass.

This streamlined process enables users to expedite disclosures and other loan-processing activities, ultimately shortening turnaround times and bolstering operational efficiencies. Existing Optimal Blue clients keen on discovering additional advantages of upgrading or seeking insights into optimizing their business strategies are encouraged to schedule a meeting with the Optimal Blue team at their private poolside cabana.

Alternatively, attendees can engage with the Optimal Blue team at their booth throughout the event, facilitating meaningful discussions and knowledge sharing.

In the realm of compliance, industry experts offer insights into the 2024 mortgage servicing outlook through a comprehensive webinar hosted by ACES EVP of Compliance, Amanda Phillips, and Reid Herlihy of Ballard Spahr. This 30-minute session delves into the latest developments in mortgage servicing, including CFPB Supervisory Highlights, and provides valuable expectations and predictions for the future. Mortgage professionals are encouraged to access the recording to stay abreast of regulatory updates and industry trends shaping the mortgage landscape.

Guaranteed Rate, a prominent player in the mortgage industry, has joined forces with Evocalize to enhance its digital marketing capabilities for mortgage loan officers. Evocalize, renowned for powering leading mortgage and real estate tech platforms, brings its expertise to the table to revolutionize lead generation and referral partner engagement for Guaranteed Rate. Through Evocalize’s platform, loan officers gain access to targeted digital marketing campaigns across multiple platforms, including Google, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Gmail, and YouTube.

Leveraging real-time data and machine learning algorithms, Evocalize optimizes ad management to drive lead generation amidst evolving regulatory environments. The partnership between Guaranteed Rate and Evocalize is poised to yield significant benefits, including enhanced lead generation, reduced marketing costs, and streamlined compliance efforts, ultimately enhancing the overall customer experience.

In a testament to innovation and progress, AFR Wholesale® (AFR) unveils a transformative journey marked by program enhancements, operational improvements, and competitive pricing initiatives. Non-Delegated and Wholesale clients stand to benefit from aggressive pricing strategies across all programs, including expanded note rate adjusters in conventional and government loans. Moreover, AFR has revised pricing for its Down Payment Assistance Program in anticipation of the upcoming purchase season. Committed to delivering competitive rates and a customer-centric approach, AFR ensures that clients and borrowers have access to the tools and options necessary for a seamless experience.

Delegated Correspondents also witness sharper pricing and remarkable turn times, further solidifying AFR’s reputation as a preferred lending partner. Prospective clients are encouraged to explore AFR’s offerings through their Quick Pricer tool or reach out to their dedicated Account Executives to discover the myriad benefits of partnering with AFR.

Rounding out the discourse is a nod to technological advancements in mortgage lending, with a nod to QuickQual by LenderLogix. This innovative solution enables borrowers and Realtors to update pre-approval letters on demand, aligning with Al Gore’s visionary outlook for the digital age. As technology continues to revolutionize the mortgage landscape, QuickQual stands at the forefront, empowering stakeholders with real-time insights and seamless connectivity in the homebuying process.

Insights from STRATMOR: Enhancing Lender-Vendor Communication

The mortgage industry often grapples with a significant gap in communication between lenders and their technology partners, prompting the question: why hasn’t the role of a “business relationship therapist” emerged to address these issues? In the February Insights Report from STRATMOR Group, Senior Advisor Sue Woodard adopts the role of a “therapist” to facilitate dialogue and understanding between lenders and vendors, unraveling the key areas of disconnect that hinder effective collaboration.

For those seeking guidance in bridging these communication barriers, STRATMOR offers invaluable support. Through the report titled “Step into Our Office: Couples Therapy for Mortgage Lenders and Tech Vendors,” both lenders and vendors are presented with actionable suggestions to enhance their working relationship.

Furthermore, the report sheds light on STRATMOR’s proactive efforts in partnering with technology providers to actively listen, comprehend, and better address the evolving needs of the lending community.

Whether you’re a lender seeking to optimize your technology partnerships or a vendor aiming to strengthen your collaboration with lenders, don’t miss out on this insightful resource from STRATMOR. Reach out today to navigate the complexities of lender-vendor communication and drive mutual success in the mortgage industry.

Breaking Down Disaster News: Insights and Implications

The recent declaration of federal disaster assistance for California, following severe storms and flooding from January 21 to January 23, 2024, carries significant implications for both lenders and servicers, particularly given that 20-25 percent of the nation’s mortgages originate from this state, which is prone to earthquakes, fires, and flooding. FEMA’s announcement signifies the availability of federal funding to supplement recovery efforts in the affected areas, specifically San Diego County.

Individuals and businesses impacted by the disaster may qualify for various forms of assistance, including grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other recovery programs. Additionally, federal funding is allocated for hazard mitigation measures statewide, emphasizing a comprehensive approach to disaster relief and resilience-building efforts.

Affected individuals and business owners are encouraged to initiate the assistance process by registering online at, contacting FEMA’s toll-free helpline at 1-800-621-3362, or utilizing the FEMA App. By promptly accessing available resources, affected parties can expedite their recovery and rebuild their livelihoods in the aftermath of the disaster.

Meanwhile, in Washington state, wildfires have also necessitated federal disaster aid. FEMA’s declaration of federal assistance, under DR-4759, underscores the multifaceted nature of natural disasters and their far-reaching impacts on communities across the country. AmeriHome Mortgage’s Disaster Announcement 20240208-CL outlines the inspection requirements pertinent to the disaster relief efforts in the affected county.

As lenders and servicers navigate the complexities of disaster response and recovery, staying abreast of FEMA declarations and associated requirements is paramount.

The availability of federal assistance underscores the importance of proactive disaster preparedness and mitigation measures, ensuring the resilience of both borrowers and mortgage servicing operations in the face of adversity. By adhering to established protocols and leveraging available resources, stakeholders can effectively support impacted communities and facilitate their journey towards recovery and restoration.

Latest Developments in FHA, VA, Ginnie Mae, HECM, and USDA Programs

In January, Ginnie Mae’s mortgage-backed securities (MBS) portfolio surged to $2.53 trillion, with total MBS issuance reaching $28.1 billion, resulting in a net growth of $10.8 billion. This issuance facilitated financing for over 91,000 households, including more than 46,000 first-time homebuyers. Notably, approximately 77.6 percent of the MBS issuance supported home purchases, reflecting a subdued refinance activity due to elevated interest rates.

The January issuance comprised $27.4 billion of Ginnie Mae II MBS and over $674 million of Ginnie Mae I MBS, with nearly $558 million allocated to multifamily housing loans. Year-to-date in 2024, Ginnie Mae supported the pooling and securitization of more than 46,000 first-time homebuyer loans, emphasizing its commitment to fostering homeownership opportunities. For comprehensive insights into monthly MBS issuance, unpaid principal balance (UPB), real estate investment conduit (REMIC) monthly issuance, and global market analysis, stakeholders can refer to Ginnie Mae Disclosure.

In USDA news, an Unnumbered Letter (UL) dated February 13, 2024, announced an increase in the appraisal fee to $775 and the conditional commitment fee to $850 under rural development direct programs, effective March 14, 2024. These fee adjustments, informed by market research and reflecting the average cost of appraisals, aim to enhance efficiency and align with program objectives.

Against the backdrop of rising interest rates, the Single-Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program (SFHGLP) Rural Development introduced a Stand-Alone Mortgage Ratio (MRA) waiver, eliminating the 55 percent and 31 percent limitations from the requirements in the regulation for the Stand-Alone MRA, effective immediately.

FHA published Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) addressing inquiries regarding its final rule on Changes in Branch Office Registration Requirements, which eliminates the registration requirement for lenders and mortgagees originating FHA Title I or Title II loans. This regulation, effective from March 4, 2024, streamlines processes for eligible institutions, with exceptions outlined for certain institutions subject to recertification by March 31, 2024.

AmeriHome announced the removal of the existing $100,000 maximum cash-to-borrower overlay on VA Cash-Out Refinance transactions to align with VA guidelines, effective immediately.

Plaza Home Mortgage unveiled exciting developments for New York borrowers, introducing reverse mortgages for home purchases and expanding borrower concessions to up to 6% of the Principal Limit, offering enhanced flexibility and affordability in financing options.

Pennymac issued updates to Government LLPAs effective February 9, 2024, and announced upcoming revisions to USDA technical Handbook 1-3555, Chapter 12, Property and Appraisal Requirements, slated for implementation on April 1, 2024.

Furthermore, Pennymac announced updates to Government LLPAs, effective February 23, 2024, aimed at improving values on the ‘Government FICO Price Adjustments’ LLPA Grid, enhancing pricing transparency and competitiveness.

Insights and Developments in Capital Markets

The current state of the U.S. economy is marked by contrasting narratives, leading to uncertainty about its strength. Recent weaker consumer spending raises concerns about a potential recession, exacerbated by shaky consumer confidence and disruptions in economic activity caused by storms and cold weather in January.

Moreover, the disappointing Durable Orders report further clouds the economic outlook. However, there are signs of resilience, with employment remaining strong and improvements in homebuilder confidence. Treasury auctions this week have not indicated any significant flight to quality, suggesting cautious optimism about economic prospects as weather conditions improve.

In the housing market, home prices continue to demonstrate stability amid high demand and limited supply. The FHFA Housing Price Index and the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index both reflect modest increases in December, maintaining the upward trend observed in previous months.

However, certain local markets are experiencing slight price easing, suggesting variations in supply and demand dynamics. Despite prevailing high interest rates, home prices registered a year-over-year rise in January, albeit at a slower pace compared to previous months. Additionally, while inventory levels remain low, there has been a modest increase year over year, accompanied by a consistent rise in new listings for the fourth consecutive month.

Turning to economic indicators, the day began with mortgage applications from the MBA declining by 5.6 percent compared to the previous week. Later, attention will be on the second look at Q4 GDP and January’s advanced indicators, including the goods trade deficit, retail inventories, and wholesale inventories.

Furthermore, three Fed speakers—Atlanta President Bostic, Boston President Collins, and New York President Williams—are scheduled to provide insights into the economic landscape. As the day progresses, investors are closely monitoring Agency MBS prices, with the 10-year Treasury yield currently at 4.28 percent, slightly lower than the previous day’s close, while the 2-year yield stands at 4.67 percent.

In summary, the mixed economic signals highlight the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the U.S. economy. While challenges such as weak consumer spending and adverse weather conditions persist, there are also indications of resilience, particularly in the labor market and the housing sector. Continued monitoring of economic indicators and policy developments will be essential in navigating the evolving economic landscape and shaping future strategies.

Navigating the Job Market: Trends and Transitions

Considering Expansion in CA or NV? Licensing Process Extended

Are you considering expanding your operations in California or Nevada? Be prepared for a lengthy licensing process, which now takes nearly a year in both states. However, there’s an opportunity for immediate licensing in either or both states.

A New Opportunity: Mini-Corr/Broker Shop for Sale in Northern NV

A newly established small Mini-Corr/Broker shop located in Northern Nevada is up for sale. Founded by an industry veteran with two immediate family members, this operation offers a promising opportunity for growth. However, due to changing circumstances within the family, the principal believes it would be beneficial to merge with a larger entity. The company is currently licensed in Nevada, Colorado, Texas, Florida, and California, with a banking license expected to be completed within 6 to 8 weeks. If you’re interested, please contact Anjelica Nixt at Chrisman LLC, who will forward your note to the owner.

Movement Empowers Loan Officers and Agents with Personalized Marketing Tools

Movement is empowering its loan officers and the agents they collaborate with through a unique sales and marketing tool called MORE. Every Movement loan officer and their partnered agents who closed loans in 2023 have received a personalized “Highlight Reel.” This feature includes an email, web page, and social media content showcasing their collaborative work from the past year and the positive impact it had on their communities.

Additionally, Movement has released its annual Impact Report, reflecting on the achievements of the previous 12 months. Discover how Movement supports its loan officers in standing out with compelling storytelling, tailored content, innovative technology, and more at

New American Funding Welcomes Mosi Gatling as SVP Strategic Growth and Expansion

New American Funding is delighted to announce the appointment of Mosi Gatling as Senior Vice President of Strategic Growth and Expansion. With her extensive experience in serving previously underserved communities and her dedication to increasing Black homeownership in the United States, Gatling is set to reshape the industry’s approach to minority communities and drive positive change across the mortgage industry.

Matthew Graham
Matthew Graham
Articles: 63

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