General World News

Mortgage applications are up, on the strength of FHA refis

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Mortgage applications increased 2% for the week ending Dec. 3, driven by a surge in government refinancings according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) survey published on Wednesday. The increase was mainly driven by the refinance index up 9% from the previous week on a seasonally adjusted basis. Concurrently, the purchase index decreased 5% from the week prior. “Mortgage […]

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More renters and homeowners are missing payments

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More than five million households failed to make their rent or mortgage payments in October, an increase compared to the same period of 2020, and a concern for mortgage servicers. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association‘s Research Institute for Housing America (RIHA), the number of households missing rent or mortgage payments increased from 5.33 million […]

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Fed pulling back from the MBS market cautiously

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The Federal Reserve Bank of New York later this week plans to sell up to $90 million in agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS) now held in portfolio, a small sale, but still an interesting move in the current economic climate.  The MBS asset sale is not indicative of a change in monetary policy on the part […]

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U.S. Department of Education Approves Wisconsin’s Plan for Use of American Rescue Plan Funds to Support K-12 Schools and Students, Distributes Remaining $514 Million To State

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Today, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced the approval of Wisconsin’s American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) plans and distributed remaining ARP ESSER funds to the state. Wisconsin’s plan details how the state is using and plans to use ARP ESSER funds to sustain the safe operation of schools […]

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Who’s afraid of the PSPA?

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Stakeholders are divided over whether, in light of proposed changes to its capital rule, the Federal Housing Finance Agency should retool its agreement with the U.S. Treasury and remove policies some say never belonged there in the first place. Even if the mortgage industry were in agreement, there is little they could do about it. […]

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Reports: Biden Admin Expected to Announce Diplomatic Boycott of 2022 Beijing Winter Games

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U.S. news outlets say the Biden administration is expected to announce a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games this week.    A diplomatic boycott means no U.S. officials would attend any events of the Beijing 2022 Games, while still allowing athletes on Team USA to participate. That would avoid a repeat of 1980, when then-President Jimmy Carter kept U.S. […]

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Dictionary.com Anoints Allyship Word of the Year for 2021

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Allyship, an old noun made new again, is Dictionary.com’s word of the year.  The look up site with 70 million monthly users took the unusual step of anointing a word it added just last month, though “allyship” first surfaced in the mid-1800s, said one of the company’s content overseers, John Kelly.  “It might be a surprising choice […]

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Kennedy Center Honors, Its Traditions Are Back Once More

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The Kennedy Center Honors is returning to tradition this year. The lifetime achievement awards for artistic excellence will be presented Sunday night in a gala at the Kennedy Center’s main opera house after the coronavirus pandemic forced delays and major changes to last year’s plans. Honorees include Motown Records creator Berry Gordy, “Saturday Night Live” […]

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HW+ Member Spotlight: Reina Ramos

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This week’s HW+ member spotlight features Reina Ramos, senior vice president, mortgage market leader at City National Bank of Florida. She joined CNBF after more than a decade with Seacoast Bank, where she served as senior vice president, residential lending production manager. Below, Ramos answers questions about the housing industry: HousingWire: To start off, what is […]

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Suspect Arrested in Death of Philanthropist Jacqueline Avant

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A 29-year-old man has been arrested in the death of philanthropist Jacqueline Avant, who was fatally shot this week at the Beverly Hills home she shared with her husband, legendary music executive Clarence Avant, police said Thursday. Aariel Maynor, who was on parole, was taken into custody early Wednesday by Los Angeles police at a separate residence […]

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Nonbanks quick to implement 2022 conforming loan limits

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On Tuesday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency revealed the much-anticipated conforming loan limits for 2022, with the baseline number jumping by 18% to $647,200. It’s the largest-ever annual increase in the size of loans eligible to be bought by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The figure, which is determined by a formula set by Congress, […]

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Fannie Mae revs up its credit-risk transfer machinery

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Fannie Mae is once again back in the credit-risk transfer market with a $984 million note offering through its Connecticut Avenue Securities real estate mortgage investment conduit, or REMIC. The recent offering, CAS Series 2021-R02, was slated to close this week and involves transferring loan-portfolio risk to private investors via a $984 million note offering […]

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Mortgage rates remain flat as Omicron fears spread

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Mortgage rates increased one basis point to 3.11% in the week ending Dec. 2, ignoring the volatility in the financial markets caused by the Omicron Covid variant, according to the latest Freddie Mac PMMS mortgage report. A year ago at this time, the average 30-year fixed-rate loan averaged just 2.71%, according to the report published on Thursday. […]

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Shoring up the mortgage underwriter shortfall

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The mortgage industry is contending with a loan-underwriter shortage that has acted like a governor on an engine — slowing the pace of a fast-growing private-label securitization market. The shortage stems from the imbalance created by the robust demand for underwriters in the private-label market set against the relatively stagnant supply of available underwriters — […]

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Better.com lays off LOs, secures $750M cash injection

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Better.com founder and CEO Vishal Garg Digital mortgage lender Better.com is laying off 9% of its workforce ahead of a $750 million cash injection from financial backer SoftBank Group. Company officials say the moves will allow refi-heavy Better to increase its strength in a mortgage market that is increasingly becoming purchase-focused. The layoffs were announced […]

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Jacqueline Avant, Wife of Music Legend, Killed in Shooting

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Jacqueline Avant, a Los Angeles philanthropist and the wife of music legend Clarence Avant, was fatally shot in Beverly Hills, California, early Wednesday, according to authorities and a Netflix spokeswoman.  Netflix spokeswoman Emily Feingold confirmed that Jacqueline Avant was killed in the shooting. Avant’s daughter, Nicole, is married to Ted Sarandos, Netflix co-CEO and chief […]

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Clever raises $8M to expand mortgage platform

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Online real estate platform Clever has raised $8 million in a Series B funding round to expand its team and accelerate its mortgage efforts, the company said on Wednesday. The round was led by Cultivation Capital, along with a strategic investment from The Mortgage Collaborative (TMC) Emerging Technology Fund.  Since its creation in 2017, the company has raised $13.5 […]

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Ex-MBA prez Ronald McCord to pay $52M mortgage fraud penalty

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A federal judge ordered Ronald McCord, the founder of Oklahoma City-based lender and servicer First Mortgage Company, who was also once the president of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), to pay $51.8 million in restitution for mortgage fraud. United States District Judge Robin Cauthron ordered McCord also serve 8.5 years in prison — the maximum the […]

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Josephine Baker Gets France’s Highest Honor

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The late American entertainer and civil rights activist Josephine Baker has become the first Black woman to be inducted into the Pantheon in Paris, the highest honor that France bestows. Legendary entertainer Josephine Baker famously sang that she had two loves — “J’ai Deux Amours” — my country and Paris.     She was born in Saint Louis, […]

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Mortgage apps decline 7.2% with a lower appetite for refis

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Mortgage applications declined 7.2% for the week ending Nov. 26, reflecting a lower appetite for refinances, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) survey published on Wednesday. The drop was mainly driven by the refinance index declining by 14.8% from the previous week, on a seasonally adjusted basis. Concurrently, the purchase index grew by 5.1% from the week prior. […]

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Nonbank profit margins improve, but expenses are up

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Nonbank mortgage lenders regained their footing in the third quarter, upping their net profit by 28% to $2,594 on each loan originated, according to a quarterly report published by the Mortgage Bankers Association on Tuesday. But they would be wise to look at expenses, which climbed to the second-highest rate in recorded history. The results […]

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Competition for mortgage underwriters has never been fiercer

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Record-setting mortgage originations coupled with a resurgent private-label securitization market have created an expanding demand for loan underwriters at a time when they are in scarce supply.  That demand-supply imbalance has led to hiring blitzes, lucrative salary offers and bonuses that may help individual firms attract talent, but it also tends to exacerbate the shortage […]

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FHFA to back mortgages up to $970,800 in 2022

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The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) today announced the baseline conforming loan limit for 2022 will be $647,200, an increase of 18%. The federal government will now back mortgage loans of nearly $1 million, with the new ceiling loan limit for one-unit properties in most high-cost areas now $970,800 — or 150% of $647,200. Special […]

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Merriam-Webster Chooses Vaccine as the 2021 Word of the Year

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With an expanded definition to reflect the times, Merriam-Webster has declared an omnipresent truth as its 2021 word of the year: vaccine. “This was a word that was extremely high in our data every single day in 2021,” Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor-at-large, told The Associated Press ahead of Monday’s announcement.  “It really represents two different […]

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How White House Thanksgiving Menu Evolved With Times

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Most Americans don’t have oysters on their Thanksgiving table, but, for a time, the mollusks were a key ingredient on the White House holiday menu.  “Oyster stuffing and various oyster elements were always included, especially in the later 19th century. Oysters were very popular,” says Lina Mann, a historian with the White House Historical Association. “I think that the location of […]

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‘NFT’ Named ‘Word of the Year’ for 2021

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“NFT” is 2021’s “Word of the Year,” Collins Dictionary announced Wednesday.  NFT is an abbreviation for non-fungible token, which according to the dictionary is “a unique digital certificate, registered in a blockchain, that is used to record ownership of an asset such as an artwork or a collectible.” Perhaps the most well-known example of an […]

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HW+ Member Spotlight: Bill Lowman

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This week’s HW+ member spotlight features American Pacific Mortgage CEO Bill Lowman. Joining the company in 2002, American Pacific Mortgage named him president in 2004, and in 2016 he became CEO. Leading one of the largest independent mortgage banks in the country, Lowman is active in the industry, serving as immediate past chairman/treasurer at the […]