Training/Webinars; Bank Mergers Continue

News

This morning we’ve had the Challenger layoff data and the usual Thursday’s weekly Initial Jobless Claims (and its 4-week moving average). Things aren’t great out there. Aside from the Arch MI layoffs this week, after seeing sales drop during the holidays, Macy’s said it has either closed or will shutter 68 stores and cut an additional 6,200 positions at a time when shoppers are going online to buy… everything.

Many banks know a thing or two
about servicing. Banks are always in the news, and here are some numbers for anyone
who likes them. The
number of American banks reached its peak in 1921 with 31,076. At the end of the Depression in the
1930’s we had 14,771. In 1996 we still had 9,528. We are now down to about 5,100
commercial banks
. But just imagine what total
asset size has done since 1921!

In the bank world, a meeting of key financial regulators set for 8
January (intended for them to approve global banking rules known as Basel III)
has been postponed due
to disagreement on the minimum capital level required for lenders to hold.
“It is important to take the time to create a framework that is capable of
accurately measuring the risks that banks are assuming and can also accommodate
structural differences between banking markets in different
jurisdictions,” said Michael Lever, AFME’s head of prudential regulation.

Bank
mergers
announced over the last week or so didn’t stop because of the holidays. MainSource Bank ($4.0B,
IN) will acquire The First Capital Bank of Kentucky ($523mm, KY) for about
$56.9mm in cash and stock. The holding company for Academy Bank ($1.0B, CO) and
Armed Forces Bank ($1.1B, KS) will acquire Merit Bank ($102mm, KS). Also in
Kansas Astra Bank ($256mm) will acquire Midwest Community Bank ($61mm). In
Wisconsin River Valley Bank ($1.1B) will acquire Integrity First Bank ($83mm).
BancorpSouth Bank ($14.6B, MS) will acquire independent insurance agency
Waguespack Associates Insurance. But things don’t always work out: the
boards of New York Community Bank ($45.9B, NY) and Astoria Bank ($14.8B, NY)
have agreed to terminate their $1.94B merger deal, likely due to Astoria
possibly seeking a better price given surging bank equity prices over the past
few months and regulatory approvals continued to drag on.

And although it doesn’t
directly impact residential lending, in a sign of regulatory trends, Reuters
reports that, “Big U.S. banks are set on getting Congress this year
to loosen or eliminate the Volcker Rule against using depositors’ funds for
speculative bets on the bank’s own account, a test case of whether Wall Street
can flex its muscle in Washington again.”

Remember that The
Volcker Rule refers
to § 619 (12 U.S.C. § 1851) part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and
Consumer Protection Act, originally proposed by American economist and former
United States Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, to restrict United States banks from
making certain kinds of speculative investments.

“Lobbyists said they plan to
present evidence to congressional leaders that the Volcker rule is actually bad
for companies
, investors, and the U.S. economy. While an outright repeal of the
Volcker rule may not be possible, small but meaningful changes tucked into
other legislation would still be a big win, they said…There will be four years
of regulatory evolution.”

“Proponents of the Volcker
rule say lenders that benefit from government support like deposit insurance
should not be gambling with their balance sheets. They also argue such
proprietary bets worsened the crisis and drove greedy, unethical behavior
across Wall Street. Bankers intend to counter that proprietary trading had
little to do with the root causes of the crisis. They say Volcker is inherently
flawed because it can be challenging to tell whether a trader is speculating or
filling customer demand. In making arguments to roll back the rule, bankers and
lobbyists plan to avoid talk of industry profits. Instead, they intend to lean
on the idea that Volcker is reducing market liquidity, thereby hurting
companies, investors and the economy.”

Shifting back to mortgage
banking, let’s see what kind of training and events are coming up, some very
valuable but a little off the beaten path.

“Get inspired by kicking off
2017 with Darren Hardy. Dave Savage will be interviewing Darren Hardy to help
inspire and encourage loan officers to call more Realtors and have more
valuable conversation. If you’re a manager invite your team and if you’re a
loan officer don’t miss this opportunity. This Mortgage Coach webinar is next
Tuesday at 10 AM PST. Click
here to register
.”

The
Maryland Mortgage Bankers and Brokers Association is hosting “Emotional
Intelligence as a Competitive Advantage”
 on Wednesday January 18th from 3-5PM at the MBIA (Maryland
Building Industry Association) Office in Fulton. “Rewire President Jason Abell
is back workshopping topics such as working smarter rather than harder, what
that means in tangible ways, along with some brain science around closing
more loans without being a jerk or having to work 24/7.”

Franklin American Mortgage published its January,
2017 Wholesale “Monthly Customer Training Calendar.”
 This month’s calendar
offers a variety of training opportunities such as “Understanding Credit
Reports”, Analyzing Appraisals”, “LinkedIn Strategies for Loan
Officers”, “Self-Employed Borrowers” and “Detecting Fraud”.

ReverseVision
User Conference 2017
, February 8th-10th at
the Hilton San Diego Resort Spa, provides the ideal
opportunity to position your company for success in the reverse mortgage
industry. The entire team of ReverseVision product experts, hundreds of RV
Exchange (RVX) product users, mortgage industry experts and leaders will be on
hand to discuss latest technologies, strategic breakthroughs, share best
practices and provide hands-on training. The networking alone is an incredible
opportunity to meet with integrated service vendors and wholesale lending
partners. (As a Special Session Speaker, I’ll discuss trends impacting mortgage
lenders views of reverse loans, potential implications of lenders adding
reverse products, how companies may benefit from these trends and more.)

The Georgia Real Estate Fraud Prevention and Awareness
Coalition
(GREFPAC) announced
its 2017 Annual Conference at the Cobb Galleria on Tuesday, March 7th
Representatives from HUD, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac will be joining Rachel
Dollar and others to provide the latest updates on fraud, fraud trends and
ethics. Sponsorship opportunities are available to reach the broad
audience of our membership through the Conference along with co-marketing
access opportunities. Limited space is available. Registration for attendees to
the conference is also open. Get exposure to excellent speakers at a
bargain price plus eligible CE credits. Register
or become a sponsor.

National
MI 
has some training sessions
coming up. On Thursday, February 9th, the Advanced Self Employed Borrower course
“builds upon the concepts introduced in the Self-Employed Borrower session
and while that session is not a course prerequisite, experienced originators,
processors and underwriters will derive the most benefit from this advanced
session. The webinar will dive deeper into the forms utilized to determine and
document cash flow analysis, income, and business expenses, with a particular
focus on a line-by-line review of Form 1084, Cash Flow Analysis.” Sign up to
attend the webinar here.

And
on February 16th National MI hosts, “Reaching the African American Homebuyer”: “The
African American homebuyer market remains relatively untapped despite 37% of
African Americans stating they are considering buying a home in the next two
years, and this segment’s rapid growth in buying power. Kristin Messerli of
Cultural Outreach Solutions will introduce the opportunity African American
homebuyers represent for mortgage and real estate professionals, and how their
preferences in marketing and consumer experience have created unique barriers
to reaching them. In this 1-hr session, participants will gain an understanding
of critical buyer nuances and practical steps to take in crafting a winning
strategy to reach African American homebuyers.” Sign up to attend the webinar here.

I continue to be asked about
what the smartest guys in the room think about 2017’s volumes. No one knows for
sure, but many rely on the MBA’s projections that purchase
originations will total $1.1 trillion in 2017,
 
an 11% increase from 2016. In contrast, refinance originations are anticipated
to decrease by 40 percent, “We expect that the 10-Year Treasury rate will stay
below three percent through the end of 2018, and 30-year mortgage rates will
stay below 5 percent over the same period…rate volatility will continue to be
the norm in coming months. While we expect the purchase market to improve
further, refinance activity will likely decline with rates having stayed low
for an extended period, and fewer borrowers left to benefit from the rate
environment.”

Rates? Ah, who needs ’em? The
LOs who were doing 1-2 loans a month last year and hoping for lower rates this
year to boost production…well, it may not happen. Yesterday agency MBS pricing
did slightly worse than the unchanged Treasury security market, perhaps due to
tight nominal valuations, not much in the way of NY Fed purchases, investors
buying corporate bonds instead of MBS, or computer models driving hedging or
investment decisions… who knows!? But for those playing along at home 5-year
and 10-year T-notes were unchanged on the day whereas MBS prices were worse a
few ticks by the end of the day.

Jobs and housing drive the
economy, and this morning we’ve had the latest layoff data for December from
Challenger (33,627 unfortunate folks, but the 2nd lowest reading in 16 years). December
ADP employment was +153k, slightly low versus forecasts, and weekly Initial
Jobless Claims came out (-28k to 235k). Coming up are a couple 2nd or 3rd tier economic stats with December’s
Markit Services PMI and ISM Non-Manufacturing PMI. Currently the benchmark 10-year is sitting around
2.44% with agency MBS prices nearly unchanged versus last night’s close.

Jobs and Announcements

In retail lending job news, I am happy to share that I am working with a National Lender that is committed to opening new offices in any state, as per your request. Whether you are an area, branch or sales manager, or an originator looking to step up, I encourage you to go for it. “The company is making 2017 all about Expansion, Investing and Giving Back. This mortgage bank is eager to chat with you and learn more about what you want and need to make 2017 an even more successful year. Management is looking to connect with individuals and teams that understand the importance of giving back to a local charitable organization within the community. The company has the infrastructure to support you with marketing, technology, business development, and more.” Please send confidential inquiries to me at rchrisman@robchrisman. com, and please excuse any delays in response due to travel.

Planet Home Lending, LLC is seeking “the best and brightest to help with the continued growth plans in Retail and Wholesale! Planet Home Lending, an approved Fannie, Freddie, FHA and VA direct lender and $13 billion mortgage servicer, continues its efforts to expand its presence and is searching for experienced Wholesale Account Executives nationwide. On the Retail side, Planet is seeking self-generating Retail Loan Officers with a book of business for its’ California, Texas, Maryland and Florida office locations. Planet will also consider teams seeking a new branch location outside the existing footprint. The Company offers competitive compensation and benefit programs, a dynamic work environment and unlimited growth potential.  If interested in joining our employee-friendly, growing organization, please send an updated resume in confidence to Chase Gonzalez.”

And in product news American Advisors Group (AAG) announced the expansion of the new AAG Advantage Jumbo Reverse Mortgage Loan to wholesale partners in Colorado for properties valued up to $6 Million. “Colorado will be the seventh state to welcome this unique financial product which is also available on some non-FHA approved properties and features no upfront or ongoing mortgage insurance with full-draw at closing. Your opportunity just got bigger, the AAG Advantage Jumbo Reverse Mortgage Loan is also available in the following states: CA, CT, HI, FL, VA, TX. New to reverse? Transitioning is easy, TRID doesn’t apply to reverse mortgages and there is typically no additional licensing necessary. Join the AAG family and get started in just 30 days: for industry professionals only. American Advisors Group, NMLS #9392.” License information available on www.aag.com/disclosure.

Congrats to Seth Sprague, CMB, who Denver’s Phoenix Capital has promoted to Executive Vice President. Brett Schaffer, CEO and President of Phoenix Capital stated, “In addition to advising our clients on purchase and sale strategies relative to the mortgage servicing right (“MSR”) asset, Seth’s responsibilities will now include a leadership role with Phoenix Analytic Services to enhance our analytic reporting and strategic advice offerings to our clients.”

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