Monday, May 22, 2017

Lenders Expanding, FHA & VA News and Lender Trends - Households Moving Toward Buying

(This is making its way around internet, but there is nothing whatsoever to suggest that this really happened. It's fun nonetheless, however.)
When Gandhi was studying law at University College, London, a Caucasian professor, whose last name was Peters, disliked him intensely and always displayed prejudice and animosity towards him.  Also, because Gandhi never lowered his head when addressing him, as he expected, there were always arguments and confrontations.         
One day, Mr. Peters was having lunch at the dining room of the University, and Gandhi came along with his tray and sat next to the professor. The professor said, "Mr. Gandhi, you do not understand. A pig and a bird do not sit together to eat."
Gandhi looked at him as a parent would a rude child and calmly replied, "You do not worry professor. I'll fly away," and he went and sat at another table.  Mr. Peters, reddened with rage, decided to take revenge on the next test paper, but Gandhi responded brilliantly to all questions.   
Mr. Peters, unhappy and frustrated, asked him the following question. "Mr. Gandhi, if you were walking down the street and found a package, and within was a bag of wisdom and another bag with a lot of money, which one would you take?"           
Without hesitating, Gandhi responded, "The one with the money, of course."        
Mr. Peters, smiling sarcastically, said, "I, in your place, would have taken wisdom, don't you think?"
Gandhi shrugged indifferently and responded, "Each one takes what he doesn't have."         
Mr. Peters, by this time was beside himself and so great was his anger that he wrote on Gandhi's exam sheet the word "idiot" and gave it to Gandhi.  Gandhi took the exam sheet and sat down at his desk trying very hard to remain calm while he contemplated his next move.
A few minutes later, Gandhi got up, went to the professor and said to him in a dignified but sarcastically polite tone, "Mr. Peters, you signed the sheet, but you did not give me the grade."           
Wit always wins over anger.

I recently heard a CEO say, "I am fine competing on product, price, and service. But we shouldn't have to compete on subjective interpretations of rules, regulations, and compliance issues." While residential lenders wait for another "instructive" public enforcement action (plenty of them are negotiated privately with no fanfare), you can always see past publicized actions here or for something meatier and useful here are the CFPB's Supervisory Highlights. (For example, pages 5, 6, & 7 address underwriting borrowers on assets & down payment size and not income under the ATR rules.)
FHA & VA trends & program changes from around the industry
 Some originators will say that the FHA program is the "new" subprime channel - certainly the program appeals to lenders who like the profit margins, and it appeals to borrowers new to home ownership and who may not have the necessary down payment for other programs. Good LOs have a sense of demographics & population trends, and as it turns out, for the first time in a decade, more new U.S. households in the first quarter chose to buy homes than to rent, suggesting a long-term decline in home-ownership rates might be coming to an end
Following the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval received April 6, 2017, the Federal Housing Administration's Office of Single Family Housing issued updated forms in HUD's Client Information Policy Systems (HUDCLIPS)Form Library on that support its Claims and Disposition policy located in the FHA Single Family Housing Policy Handbook 4000.1 (SF Handbook), Section IV.B.2. The following list of forms, which expire April 30, 2020, are for immediate use: The forms were listed in HUD's 30-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection (FR-5997-N-05) published in the Federal Register on February 1, 2017. The forms, which expire April 30, 2020, are posted on the Forms Resource pages on
 Beginning today, May 22nd, M&T Bank is changing its FHA and VA FICO adjustment in the Correspondent Channel. Also, M&T is increasing the FHA Best Effort Special from .200 to +.250 for all eligible loans above $250,000. The Best Effort special will also be extended to VA loans apart from VA IRRRLs.
Royal Pacific Funding has expanded its High Balance Government Loans down to a 580 FICO. Available for single-family, condos, PUDs & multi-family homes. Maximum loan amounts vary by county, call for full details.
Mountain West Financial announced the rollout of the Golden State Finance Authority (GSFA) Platinum Grant program for its wholesale customers. This is available for both conventional and FHA loans in the State of California. Some of the great features of this program are: a non-repayable grant for down payment and/or closing costs up to 5% of the first mortgage loan amount; not limited to first time home buyers; minimum FICO of 640, and is available for refinancing too. The home must be a primary residence and income restrictions do apply.
Sun West has Streamlined Underwriting and Expanded Policies for FHA Loans with FICOs Below 640. It has created a set of Comprehensive Credit Review Guidelines to assist in the substantive review of these borrowers. If the loan has a DU Approval or an LPA Accept (i.e. FHA Total Score Card), Sun West will continue to rely upon the automated approval along with the Comprehensive Credit Review Guidelines to evaluate the borrower's special circumstances.
Capital markets
Things were quiet on Friday, apparently warming up for this week, so I won't waste your time writing too much about the bond market. In fact, the 10-year yield spent the whole New York session confined to a 2.5bp range with the modest flattening of the yield curve at the open pared by the close. And there were some slight movements between coupons, securities, and maturities - but nothing to write home about. By the close of business on Friday the 10-year & 5-year Treasuries, along with agency MBS prices, had worsened a few ticks - certainly less than .125.
While the press is focused on President Trump's first official overseas trip since his inauguration starting in Saudi Arabia, this week's economic calendar includes a central bank decision from the Bank of Canada and the minutes from the Fed's May 3 decision. Today we had the Chicago Fed's National Activity Index for April (.49, higher than expected) - not a big market mover.  
Things pick up a little tomorrow with New Home Sales. Wednesday, we can look forward to the MBA's survey numbers for applications last week, the FHFA House Price Index, some Markit manufacturing numbers - whatever they are, Existing Home Sales, and the FOMC minutes from the 5/3 meeting. Thursday are some trade numbers, the usual initial jobless claims. Friday, ahead of the holiday weekend, are GDP, Personal Consumption Expenditures, and a volley of University of Michigan numbers. We start the week with rates a smidge higher compared to Friday afternoon with the 10-year yielding 2.25% and MBS prices worse a few ticks (32nds).

Friday, May 19, 2017

Sales & Ops & processing jobs; training events - Wells & Freddie team up; bank & credit union news - what is Chase doing?

Thank you to Spencer D. for this one.)

James and Cindy lived on a cove at Gull Lake, Alberta.  It was early winter and the lower portion of the cove had frozen over. James asked Cindy if she would walk across the frozen part of the cove to the general store and get him some smokes and beer.
She asked him for some money, but he told her, "Nah, just put it on our tab. Old man Richman won't mind."
So Cindy, being the good wife and James' true love, walked across the ice, got the smokes and beer at the store and then walked back home across the cove.
When she got home with the items she said, "James, you always tell me not to run up the tab at Richman's store. Why didn't you just give me some money?"
James replied, "Well, Cindy, I didn't want to send you out there with cash when I wasn't sure how thick the ice was!"

 LendingQB's LOS platform has received high marks for its vendor satisfaction and customer support in STRATMOR Group's most recent Technology Insights survey report. LendingQB earned an end user effectiveness rating of 93% and exceeded functionality expectations for 22% of its respondents - top marks that surpassed even proprietary systems. Overall, LendingQB achieved a vendor satisfaction score of 96% and the highest marks for user experience among the major LOS providers included in the report. The STRATMOR Group Technology Insights survey findings are based on 266 participants ranging from under $250 million to $10 billion in annual volume. Learn more here.
 M&A, credit union, and bank news
In the builder biz, home building, first-quarter deal dollar volume is already approaching the cumulative total of all transactions in 2016!

 A Bank Director Magazine survey of executives and directors finds the top reasons banks say they would sell their bank are: regulatory costs (54%), shareholder actively seeking liquidity (48%), limited growth opportunities (39%), can't find new talent to replace exiting CEO and/or executives (15%), can't keep pace with new customer expectations (13%) and trouble acquiring new talent on the board (4%).
Certainly, depository bank mergers and acquisitions continue. Just in the last week or two several announcements were made. Sandy Spring Bank ($5.1B, MD) will acquire WashingtonFirst Bank ($2.0B, VA) for about $488.9mm in stock (100%). Seacoast National Bank ($4.8B, FL) will acquire Palm Beach Community Bank ($346mm, FL) for about $71.2mm in cash (22%) and stock (78%) or about 1.71x tangible book. The Farmers National Bank of Emlenton ($704mm, PA) will acquire Northern Hancock Bank & Trust Co. ($27mm, WV) for $1.9mm in cash. First Bank ($4.4B, NC) will acquire Asheville Savings Bank ($795mm, NC) for about $175mm in cash (10%) and stock (90%). In Indiana MainSource Bank ($4.1B) will acquire investment management firm Capstone Investment Management. Bank First National ($1.3B, WI) will acquire First National Bank ($479mm, WI) for about $76.3mm in cash (70%) and stock (30%) or about 1.06x tangible book.
 At the other end of the scale, in only the fifth incidence this year of a bank being closed, regulators closed Guaranty Bank ($1.0B, WI) and sold it under a P&A agreement to First-Citizens Bank & Trust Co ($33.8B, NC).
 The Financial Times reports Wells Fargo plans to cut costs by $3 billion in addition to the $2 billion it has already announced. Branch closures and cuts in travel, consulting, marketing, and finance are all in the mix.
And certainly credit union market share in residential lending continues to grow.

 Classes, events, & webinars
National MI has 2 upcoming June 2017 webinar sessions, brought to you by its MI University. June 1st: K1, Ordinary Income, Distributions, which is It?
June 15th: Facebook to the max.
On the 24th of May, join a complimentary webinar with Patrick Stone, Chairman and CEO of Williston Financial Group, to discuss: Challenges and Changes Facing Title Agents. "Regulations, compliance, cyber security, Millennial home buyers... it's not hard to find a new hurdle that our industry must clear. String Real Estate Info Services is hosting a complimentary webinar on 5/24 at 2 pm EST. During this hour-long webinar, Mr. Stone, a 45-yr veteran of the title industry, will cover three key areas. Strategic - What changes should a title agent make at the strategic level to address pending changes in market dynamics? Regulatory - Over the past decade, Regulation of our industry has taken center stage. What's in store for the industry going forward and how can a title agent prepare? Economic - How can a title agent prepare for the changes our industry faces in a manner that will maximize opportunities and profitability?

On May 23rd, learn about new HUD 2530 rules with MBA's webinar.
 The NAWRB Nexus Conference Early Bird Special Ends May 31. Register now for its 3-day conference in Costa Mesa.
Wells Fargo Funding, in cooperation with Freddie Mac, is hosting in-market, first-time homebuyer/affordable product events in Costa Mesa, California (June 6) and Houston, Texas (June 8).  The events run from 8:00-11:30 a.m. in their time zones and are focused on helping lenders gain market share in the affordable/first-time homebuyer space, including details about homebuyer demographics, Freddie Mac's Home Possible® and in-depth insight into those specific markets. LOs, sales/production/affordable lending managers, underwriters, and marketing teams should consider attending. Approved and prospective Wells Fargo Funding and Freddie Mac clients are welcome. If interested, contact a member of your regional sales team or send an email to
Ellie Mae has announced its Encompass Summer Training Series to help Ellie Mae customers' advance proficiencies, improve compliance management, optimize Encompass workflow, improve key business processes and learn best practices. This training will be available in the following cities and dates: Dallas - June 19th and 20th, Irvine, California - June 22nd and 23rd, Washington, D.C. - July 17th and 18th, and Chicago - July 20th and 21st.
On July 21st, in Washington DC, join MBA for its Collateral Underwriting Workshop that will help improve your decision-making ability, loan file quality, and increase productivity throughout the processing and underwriting process for conventional and government loans. Save $50 by registering before June 9th.

 Capital markets
 Plenty of analysts and traders are talking about the flattening of the yield curve. On the "short end" of the yield curve, where short-term maturities are plotted, the Fed has increased rates and is expected to do so again in June. But even if short term rates head higher, we could still see long term rates not move as much, and have dropped this week, leading to a flatter yield curve. The "flat yield curve" is a yield curve in which there is little difference between short-term and long-term rates for bonds of the same credit quality. This type of yield curve is often seen during transitions between normal and inverted curves. For us novices, an easy way to think of it is if the Fed raises rates and 30-year mortgage rates don't budge.
 This week the difference between a 2-year note and a 10-year note dropped to .96%, the lowest since October. This drop in the difference, or flattening of the yield curve, indicates waning confidence in the U.S. economic outlook, and is the result of this week's problems at the presidential level. How can President Trump lead Congress in economic changes and an infrastructure build-out when he is mired down in Russian intrigue? And will the Federal Open Market Committee pay attention?
That aside, U.S. Treasuries lost some ground Thursday, which means rates slid higher, as the risk appetite changed - but not much. (The 10-year price agency MBS, and the 5-year note all worsened about .125.) If investors want more risk they can turn to buying stocks; if they are risk averse they'll tend toward bonds. It didn't help rates that the Philly Fed number (third-highest reading since 2011) and initial jobless claims (232k) beat expectations.

There is no news today, aside from a couple rogue Fed presidents speaking, so it could be a quiet day. We start it with the 10-year yielding 2.24% and agency MBS prices worse a smidge versus last night.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Stearns Change, Upcoming Events and Training, State-Level Changes from AR to WA

Wife: "Do you want dinner?"
Husband: "Sure! What are my choices?"
Wife: "Yes or no."
Word had leaked out well before the announcement, making the actual press release a little anti-climactic that it was evident the company wanted a change in leadership, but Brian Hale is no longer the CEO of Stearns Lending, LLC. Congrats to David Schneider who is the new CEO and a member of its Board of Managers effective... yesterday. Stunning how fast things can happen with a private equity firm. (Blackstone's Stearns' growth has been amazing under Brian, and averaged a little over $2 billion a month last year through its channels.)
 Events & webinars
 Live Training with Unify CRM - In addition to live support, Unify offers live training via webinar and on site trainings. Spearheading the training department is Earl McLain who has trained loan officers and corporations in sales, communication and company culture for over 20 years and personally conducts many of the trainings. "We are committed to our clients' success. The tools we build into Unify make our loan officers money! That's the bottom line!" Scott Lidberg, President of Unify. Real time integration with Loan Originating Software systems, marketing automation, complete marketing library, data mining tools and a commercial printing facility on site are just a few of the reasons national lenders are choosing Unify to meet all of their needs. To learn more, Schedule a DEMO today or contact Scott Benson(651.288.7510).
 Get your complimentary recording of "From Loan Officer to Rainmaker: Breakthrough Strategies to Take Production to Record Heights." In this webinar from XINNIX, VP of Mortgage Financial Services John Hudson outlines the tactics and strategies he uses that took a 3-person team to 90 applications in 5 weeks! Learn from John and XINNIX CEO Casey Cunningham as they teach you the defining factors that will empower your sales team to reach their fullest potential and the vital role you play in their success. Get ready to see immediate success in bigger and better ways than your team ever thought possible! Click here to receive your free recording today!
 For appraisers, register for the webinar, "Insider's Guide to Successful Valuations" on May 18th at 11AM PDT.
 Join the MBA Compliance Essentials program on June 14th to learn about the increasing scrutiny by regulators and application of statutory and regulatory Vendor Management requirements regarding Mortgage Finance. Learn how to approach risk management - regulatory, compliance, and reputational - with the adoption of and adherence to strong, clear policies and procedures. Please note, this webinar is complimentary for purchasers of the Compliance Essentials Vendor Management Resource Guide. Please contact Lisa Volb for your complimentary access.
 Company & legal news
 Analysts continue to react to Impac Holding's quarterly numbers. Trevor Cranston with JMP Securities LLC penned, "It was a down quarter as expected, but non-agency loan growth was encouraging; we reiterate our Market Outperform rating. Impac reported adjusted operating income per share of $0.12, slightly below our $0.20 estimate and down from $0.60 in the year- ago quarter and $1.37 in 4Q16. We had expected first quarter earnings to be down meaningfully due to the typical seasonality of mortgage originations as well as the spike in interest rates that occurred in 4Q16 and we view the reported $0.12 number as in line with our $0.20 estimate given the relatively large magnitude of variation between quarterly earnings that Impac has reported over the last few quarters, ranging from a high of $3.29 in 3Q16 to a low of $0.12 this quarter. While quarterly origination volume was lower than we had expected at $1.6B, down 49% sequentially and 33% year-over-year due to a significant decline in refinancing volume, this was largely offset by a much better than expected gain on sale margin, which came in at 2.36%, compared to our 1.90% estimate as the company's product mix shifted more toward higher-margin non-agency and government loans..."
 Anyone can sue anyone else at any time, but the latest filing is the City of Brotherly Love suing Wells Fargo accusing Wells of intentionally steering minority borrowers into higher-cost home loans than it offered white borrowers. The lawsuit accused Wells Fargo of violating the federal Fair Housing Act, and seeks a variety of damages.
 State-level rules and regulations
 Wouldn't it be nice if all the states had all the same rules and regulations, or that they all adhered to the Federal-level rules and regulations? No such luck, and such differences merely add to the cost of doing business for lenders and thus for borrowers.
 Washington has adopted an act which adds a new chapter to Title 1 RCW, which may be known and cited as the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act ("the Act"). Effective January 1, 2018, it provides requirements for preservation, security, authentication, and public access of "all legal material in an electronic record that is designated as official under section 4" of the Act. For further details, read the full text of Senate Bill 5039.
 The General Assembly of Arkansas has recently amended Arkansas Code section 26-60-110, which relates to the recordation of deeds for purposes of the real property transfer tax. These updates will become effective on August 18, 2017. These provisions outline the circumstances under which a county recorder in Arkansas may record a deed after real property is transferred.
 Arkansas also has recently enacted House Bill 1801 to amend the Fair Mortgage Lending Act (FMLA). This provision is effective on August 18, 2017. The FMLA sets out the requirements for becoming licensed as a mortgage banker, mortgage broker, or mortgage servicer in Arkansas as well as the surety bond requirements for becoming licensed in Arkansas. The bill describes several duties of licensees in the state. One such example is that a licensee must make reasonable efforts with lenders with whom a mortgage broker regularly does business to secure a loan that is reasonably advantageous to the borrower.
 Kansas amended multiple provisions under its Mortgage Business Act, effective July 1, 2017. Topics amended include the application for a mortgage license Sec. 6. 2016, Supp. 9-509. Specifically, rules pertaining to license expiration, nonrefundable fees, and failure to complete renewal application as well as engaging in the business of selling, issuing or delivering its payment instrument.
 Effective as of May 8, 2017, Utah amended several provisions of the Notaries Public Reform Act. The updated law discusses the process and requirements for becoming a notary public in Utah. To be eligible for a notarial commission, an applicant must be at least eighteen years old, and must be a legal resident of the state for at least 30 days prior to his or her application.  He or she must be able read, write, and understand English, and be a United States citizen or have permanent resident status under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
 Recently, North Dakota enacted several provisions of the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets (UFDAA). The provisions enacted permit individuals serving in certain fiduciary roles to access digital information of a user; specifically fiduciaries acting under a will or power of attorney, a decedent's personal representative, a guardianship, a trustee and a custodian. Notably, the provisions exclude employers from the breadth of coverage.
 Tennessee has amended provisions of its Residential Lending, Brokerage and Servicing Act affecting the licensing of certain non-depository financial institutions. The amendments set deadlines for applicants for a certificate of registration, licensees and license holders (collectively referred to hereinafter as "applicants") to renew their respective licenses to operate. These Lending, Brokerage and Servicing provisions become effective at different times ranging from July 1, 2017 to April 1, 2019.
Tennessee also amended several residential mortgage related provisions. Effective as of April 17, 2017, Tennessee amended the application process for home equity conversion mortgages. In sum, they repealed the requirement of having to provide a copy of the most recent federal tax return for each of the applicant's executive officers. The other previous requirements were left intact.  Effective immediately, Tennessee amended the rate of interest charged by certain industrial loan and thrift registrants by increasing the rate at which a registrant may charge. The increases occur in a step ladder manner. Also, effective immediately, an amendment was made to the provisions of the sales of execution and the judicial or trust sales to extend the times between which these foreclosure sales are permitted.
 Iowa enacted provisions regarding its Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets, an electronic record in which an individual has a right or interest. (It does not include an underlying asset or liability and does not include health information or individually identifiable health information). The act clarifies the law regarding access to digital assets in the case of death or incapacitation and grants fiduciaries access to a user's online accounts, correspondences, and other computer files, if specified in his or her will, trust, or similar agreement. These provisions are effective on July 1, 2017.
 Effective July 1, 2018, Indiana has amended its provisions regarding notaries, adding Section 12.IC 33-42-0.5 to its Code. Also, added, Section 18.IC 33-49-9, which first clarifies that the governor may appoint notaries public if doing so promotes the public interest. Click this link to view the full text of Indiana's amended provisions.
 Capital markets
 We saw a little steepening of the yield curve to start the week yesterday with the 2-yr note steady but 10-year and 30-year rates inching up minutely. Fortunately, "MBS spreads ended tighter to treasuries" so there was minimal impact to borrower rate sheets. MBS volume was somewhat light with Tradeweb telling us that volume was just over 70% of the 30-day moving average.
 The economy is driven by housing and jobs, and this morning we've had April housing starts and building permits (-2.6% & -2.5%, respectively - both weak). Coming up is the Industrial Production & Capacity Utilization duo. We find the 10-year yielding 2.35% and agency MBS prices worse a shade versus Monday's close.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Financial Choice Act Specifics(Rollback of Dodd-Frank, FHA/VA Pricing Changes, Down Payment News and Trends

(Thanks to Brian M. for this one.)
An Arab Sheikh was admitted to a hospital for heart surgery, but prior to the surgery, the doctors needed to have some of his blood type stored in case the need arose.
As the gentleman had an extremely rare type of blood that couldn't be found locally, the call went out around the world.
Finally, a Scotsman was located who had the same rare blood type. After some coaxing, the Scot donated his blood for the Arab.
After the surgery, the Arab sent the Scotsman a new BMW, a diamond necklace for his wife, and $100,000 U.S. dollars in appreciation for the blood donation.
A few months later, the Arab had to undergo a corrective surgery procedure.
Once again, his doctor telephoned the Scotsman who this time was more than happy to donate his blood.
After the second surgery, the Arab sent the Scotsman a thank-you card and a box of Sees chocolates.
The Scotsman was shocked that the Arab did not reciprocate his kind gesture as he had anticipated. He phoned the Arab and asked him, "I thought you would be more generous than that...last time you sent me a BMW, diamonds and money, but this time you only sent me a lousy thank-you card and a lousy box of chocolates?"
To this the Arab replied: "Aye laddie, but I now have Scottish blood in me veins"

Economists, like royal children, are not punished for their errors. Data revision can be a career strategy for some, and certainly some companies wish they could revise data occasionally - especially lenders in the first quarter. Given recent data, here's one analyst who believes it will be tough sledding for Impac, for example.
 In other news, many in the industry are watching Congress' moves. Recently H.R. 10, the Financial CHOICE Act introduced by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, obtained enough votes to move the bill on to the House of Representatives floor. The Act seeks to rollback or modify many of the regulatory and supervisory requirements imposed by the Dodd-Frank Act.
 New government products and pricing
 JMAC Lending is offering a .25% price improvement on all FHA and VA loan products for wholesale and correspondent business. The rate must lock by June 30, 2017. Borrowers need a 620 FICO to qualify for the price improvement (JMAC does go down to 580 FICO). "JMAC's government lending features manual underwriting, fast closing (15-days or faster), plus the opportunity to talk directly to the underwriter. Visit for more info."
 NYCB Mortgage has posted an updated FHA Case Number Assignment form for its Table Funding Clients. This updated version of the form is required when requesting new FHA Case Numbers and FHA Case Number Transfers. This form is required for NYCB to initiate the underwriting of an FHA loan, so be sure to upload the form along with other required underwriting documentation (asset documentation as required by AU Findings, income documentation as required by AU Findings, 1003, and Purchase Agreement if applicable).
 Royal Pacific Funding has reduced its Non-California Lender fee to $795.00. It has also added 600 FICO High Balance availability on FHA/VA including Cash Out.
 FHA launched its improved lender list search capability from a new HUD Lender List Search web page on From this page, the public can search for HUD-approved Single Family and/or Multifamily lenders, using a variety of criteria.  The new HUD Lender List Search page replaces the previous Lender List lookup page on While search criteria have not changed, users will notice improved performance and quicker response times when using the new search capability.
 If you're a broker and have you been looking for a jumbo 80/10/10 product, contact Sierra Pacific's AE Kelly Brown for details.
 NewLeaf Wholesale updated its NewLeaf Asset Depletion, Residual Income and Jumbo 90% LTV No MI Product Matrices.
 Speaking of which, what is the news out there in down payment and LTV land?
 Down payment assistance programs are helping middle class families buy homes in hot markets. Mortgage credit certificates become more popular and imaginary barriers hold back buyers. The February Down Payment Report, covering news and data on residential down payments, is now available. 
 Pacific Union Financial announced the launch of PacificPlus, the latest nationwide mortgage program with +Plus down payment protection by ValueInsured embedded directly into the mortgage loan. With PacificPlus, homebuyers can safeguard their down payment and buy with confidence. Even if they need to move and real estate market values are down when they sell, up to the full amount of their down payment may be covered and, if all program requirements are met, any potential loss would be reimbursed.
 Atlanta-based Down Payment Resource (DPR), the nationwide databank for homebuyer programs, and the New York State Association of Realtors announced a new down payment program search tool for NYSAR members. "The online resource will allow New York State's Realtors to search and review eligibility and benefit details of all homeownership programs in New York, helping connect their buyers with available programs. Down Payment Resource's database uses a proprietary rules engine that automates the process of matching eligible borrowers with affordable lending programs, including down payment assistance, grants, Mortgage Credit Certificates and more. DPR tracks 2,400 programs nationwide, including 100 programs spanning New York City to central and western New York."
 Per FAMC National Correspondent's recent update, properties that have been listed for sale must be taken off the market on or before the disbursement date of the new loan and follow the applicable program LTV/CLTV/HCLTV ratios. The previous requirement was 6 months before the disbursement date of the new loan and limited the LTV/CLTV/HCLTV to the lesser of the program requirement or 70%. In addition, all outstanding student loans require a monthly payment to be included in the borrower's monthly debt obligation, regardless of repayment status. The monthly payment reflected on the credit report may be utilized for qualifying purposes. If there is no payment indicated for the student loan, or if the credit report shows $0 as the monthly payment, the qualifying payment MUST be calculated using one of the following options: 1% of the outstanding student loan balance (even if this amount is lower than the actual fully amortizing payment), OR A fully amortizing payment using the documented loan repayment terms.
 Capital markets
 Yield curve update? As Treasury yields rose after the election, then fell again, and have recently moved slightly higher, the gap between two- and 10-year notes has settled to pre-election levels of 1.04 percentage points as the market's expectations for economic growth and inflation drop.
 Looking back to Friday, the bond markets were certainly influenced by the weak Retail Sales and Consumer Price Index reports for April... does our economy need, or can it absorb, two more rate hikes this year? Especially if they're combined with a tapering of the Fed buying MBS? Consumer spending, however, is clearly on a path toward being a much better contributor to second quarter real GDP growth than it was in the first quarter. And consumer inflation pressures moderated a bit in April. (That won't change the thinking that the Fed will raise rates at its June meeting, yet it will temper concerns about the Fed possibly needing to be more aggressive with its rate hikes.) Rates headed lower with the 10-year's yield hitting 2.32% although it closed at 2.33% and its price improving nearly .625 better than Thursday's close. As usual, the 5-year T-note and agency MBS prices lagged somewhat, improving .250-.375 depending on coupon, security, and maturity.
 Overseas fun? Early last week the financial markets were breathing a big sigh of relief with the results from the French elections, which produced a lopsided victory for the establishment (i.e., pro-European Union) candidate, Emmanuel Macron, versus the extreme right candidate, Marine Le Pen. One less thing to worry about.
 Looking at this week... there isn't much at which to look for scheduled news. And who knows what will come out of the White House? Expect volatility to remain low - which is fine with most folks. This morning we'll have the Empire State Manufacturing Survey (May) at 8:30am ET, along with the NAHB Housing Market Index for May. Tuesday are Housing Starts & Building Permits for April and Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization for April. Wednesday is only the MBA's Mortgage Applications Index. Thursday are Initial Jobless Claims, the Philadelphia Fed Index, and Leading Economic Indicators. Friday is zip.
 The Comey fallout continues although the narrative around the Trump/Ryan pro-growth agenda isn't changing dramatically. In the early going, pre-numbers, we find the 10-year yielding 2.33% and agency MBS prices roughly unchanged versus Friday night, so rates haven't done much since the end of last week.