Atlantic Mortgage Says UWM’s “All In” Lawsuit Unfounded, Never Signed Addendum

By JARED WHITLEY Leaders at a mortgage broker caught up in litigation over United Wholesale Mortgage’s “All In” ultimatum say they never agreed to be in an exclusive relationship with Mat Ishbia’s company. Lawyers for UWM filed suit against Atlantic Trust Mortgage Corporation in January, claiming they submitted at least 71 mortgages to rivals Rocket Mortgage or Fairway Independent Mortgage, causing about $355,000 in damages. If Atlantic Trust wanted to work with other lenders, they argued, it needed to submit written notice that it was terminating its business with UWM. That is standard under Ishbia’s ultimatum, which has been controversial since it was introduced in March 2021 because it forces brokers to stop sending loans to Rocket and Fairway if…

Mortgage Lending Plummeted In Q4 2023

Mortgage brokers felt the burn in the last three months of 2023, with residential lending across the board stalling. A new report from ATTOM found that 1.35 million residential mortgages were originated in Q4 2023. That’s a 13.8% drop from Q3, and the tenth decline in the last eleven quarters. Residential lending activity overall was down 16.5% YOY, with purchases, refinances, and home equity loans all taking a hit.  Compared to the boom of Q1 2021, activity is down more than 67%. “Multiple powerful forces continued to conspire against the mortgage industry during the fourth quarter, slicing back huge portions of their business,” said Rob Barber, CEO at ATTOM. “There were signs during the peak buying season of 2022 that…

The Spotlight Is On Buffalo, NY

By ERIN FLYNN JAY In recent years, cities in warmer weather states have boasted the nation’s hottest housing markets but now the spotlight is on one of the snowiest places in the country. Last month, Zillow released its annual predictions for the hottest housing markets of 2024. Buffalo, NY, took spot number one based on its affordability. The predictions are based on an analysis of home value growth, recent housing market activity, projected changes in the labor market, home construction activity, and the number of homeowner households in the top 50 metropolitan areas according to population. Buffalo makes homeownership a real possibility, especially for younger generations looking to purchase their first home. The average home price came in at $248,445,…

With Changes To Home Lending Business, Wells Fargo Expects Profitability To Improve

By KIMBERLEY HAAS Wells Fargo released its fourth quarter 2023 financial results on Jan. 12 and leaders there say as they continue to streamline their home lending business profitability will improve. The company reported a net income of $3.4 billion, or $0.86 per diluted share. CEO Charlie Scharf said in his comments that the continued execution of their more focused home lending strategy should produce higher returns and earnings over the next several years. “As we look forward, our business performance remains sensitive to interest rates and the health of the U.S. economy, but we are confident that the actions we are taking will drive stronger returns over the cycle,” he said. Scharf said their new credit card products have…

Blackmail Threat Leads To Resignation Of NAR President

By KIMBERLEY HAAS The president of the National Association of Realtors has stepped down after allegedly receiving a threat to disclose a past personal matter. Tracy Kasper reported the threat to law enforcement and informed NAR’s Leadership Team. The threat involved a non-financial matter, according to a press release. “As president and a long-time member of NAR, I always have put the interests of NAR first. As a result of the recent threat and given the significance of this moment for myself, my family, and the organization, it is again time for me to put the interests of NAR first. So, it is with a mix of gratitude and a heavy heart that I submit my resignation as your president…

Opportunity Zones: The Pros And Cons For Housing

By ERIN FLYNN JAY In some urban centers like New York City, Los Angeles, and Miami, Opportunity Zones have led to substantial investments including the revitalization of neighborhoods. These zones attracted developers and investors due to the tax benefits, resulting in new housing developments, commercial spaces, and infrastructure improvements. However, concerns have arisen about the displacement of existing residents and whether the benefits truly reach the communities that need them most. And while these zones have found success in urban settings, many rural regions have struggled to attract significant investment. Limited infrastructure, a smaller workforce, and higher perceived risks have made it challenging to draw investors to rural areas. That hurts the low-income neighborhoods Opportunity Zones are meant to strengthen.…

Projections For Monetary Policy Show No Rate Changes

By PATRICK LAVERY Americans were just putting away their families’ Halloween costumes the last time the Federal Reserve Board made an announcement on monetary policy, holding the federal funds rate at a range of 5.25% to 5.5%. Now the nation is well past Thanksgiving and fully focusing on the holiday season and the new year ahead. But even as the seasons change, most experts expect the Fed to once again refrain from taking any action at this week’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting, slowing a trend of 11 rate hikes since early 2022. The CME Group’s FedWatch, a forecast of interest rates based on Fed funds futures trading indicators, currently hedges a 98.4% chance that the FOMC will vote to…

Jobs Report Adds Pressure To Fed Ahead Of FOMC Meeting

The labor market experienced unexpected gains last month, with nonfarm payrolls rising 199,000, adding to a 150,000 bump in October. Unemployment fell to 2.7%, workforce participation increased, and monthly wage growth saw their biggest boost of the year. This paints a difficult picture for the Fed moving into its FOMC meeting, scheduled for this week. The Central Bank prefers a slower hiring pace to help it combat inflation. Its rate hikes have moved the economy closer to its 2% inflation target, down from 9.1% in June 2022 to 3.2% last month. Investors are hoping for cuts to federal funds rate sooner rather than later but November’s employment gains give the Federal Reserve more reason to hold interest rates at their…

Are Rent-To-Own Home Agreements Worth It?

By ERIN FLYNN JAY Though it has existed since the early 1900s, the rent-to-own concept has gained popularity again and for people who want to buy a home but lack the funds, it can be an alternative route to homeownership despite the costs and risks. Ritika Asrani, founder and head broker at St Maarten Real Estate, said with tightening lending standards many potential homebuyers are turning to rent-to-own as a way to overcome credit hurdles. She said it offers them a pathway to homeownership without the immediate need for perfect credit. And while traditional renters typically do not build equity, rent-to-own tenants often accumulate a portion of their monthly payments as equity, which can be used toward the purchase. What…

Opinion: Streamline The CSBS State Exam System

By ROB ZIMMER As consumers and industry professionals weather a historically difficult housing market, it is more important than ever to foster a mortgage lending environment that supports the continued existence and growth of small lenders. The success of small lenders is not only in the best interest of consumers, but aligns with the goals of Congress and regulators. In 2020, The Conference of State Bank Supervisors launched the State Examination System, which was designed for state regulators to supervise and monitor lenders. While the system is well-intentioned, in practice, these often-overlapping state exams have created proportionately larger costs and time burdens for smaller non-bank lenders (independent mortgage banks or IMBs) that must have licenses in every state they do…