TEAM EMPOWERMENT MORTGAGE CHATTER: March 17; Happy St. Patrick’s Day!; News & Headlines; What Homeownership Truly Means; 5 Real Estate Tech Time-Savers; FHA Chief Stevens Heads to Mortgage Bankers Group; Weighing An Offer: 3 Seller Tips


“If not you, then who? If not now, then when?” – by Hillel



The ability for a borrower to refinance is determined by several factors: current rates, credit quality, and collateral value being primary. Lenders know that higher fees have a negative impact on refinancing volumes going forward as FHLMC, FNMA and the FHA have all recently increased costs for certain borrowers. Loan Level Price Adjustment changes by Fannie & Freddie, and the increase in FHA’s MIP fees, make home purchases more expensive and raise the refinancing bar. But for a very long time mortgage applications show that over 60% of loans are refinances. Who & why are these borrowers refinancing? On the retail side, lower rates can be found for high quality borrowers with pre-existing relationships with the lending institutions. Otherwise, borrower’s with lots of equity, government loans because of LTV, borrowers who paid cash for their home and are now taking money out, and borrowers converting from ARM’s to fixed-rate mortgages are refinancing. In addition, lenders report that there are still borrowers out there with higher note rates that can still refi into a lower rate, those taking advantage in some areas of the $729,750 loan amount while it exists.

Fannie & Freddie were in the subprime business? The SEC is checking into it: FF

Does a decline in foreclosures mean that the improving job market is helping folks make payments, or that the servicers are so backlogged it is holding things up? CNBC

The question about whether or not Freddie or Fannie accepts e-signatures occasionally comes up. For example, Fannie answers the question at FannieE-Sig But this appears to be for the note and e-delivery to Fannie only. But FHA issued a Mortgagee Letter concerning what documents it would accept electronic signatures on (such as initial 1003, disclosures, purchase contracts), but, according to one reader, Fannie has not issued guidance on this. “Our private investors only want to accept e-signatures per FHA’s guidance, and don’t want to extend the policy to conventional loans because Fannie doesn’t make any specifications. Freddie Mac believes that authentic electronic signatures from duly authorized individuals that comply with E-SIGN and UETA are as enforceable as authentic pen and ink signatures from duly authorized individuals that comply with applicable law. In either case, a signature (pen & ink or electronic) must be capable of being legally attributable to the signer. The conventional agencies don’t give much further guidance, as most of their e-Mortgage guidance refers to the mortgage documents not ancillary documents.” If anyone is listening…

In regards to MI, it seems that they may no longer have to worry about being “squeezed out of the market” due to the Dodd-Frank provisions. Nothing is set in stone, but recent reports hint that the requirement that banks retain 5% of the risk of a loan – “skin in the game” – may not apply to agency loans while in conservatorship. Non-agency loans are still a big question mark, as are any loans done that have more than an 80% LTV. Six federal agencies – the Federal Reserve, the FDIC, the OCC, HUD, the SEC, and FHFA – must sign off on the proposal before it is released for comment.

In the markets, Japan, Europe, and the Middle East continue to dominate the news, and this uncertainty has helped the “safety” bid on Treasuries. Yesterday the 10-yr hit a low of 3.15% but closed around 3.21%, its lowest level in months as the markets seemed driven by rumors of rumors. Over in the mortgage camp, as might be expected, the higher prices and lower yields kept many investors near the sidelines or taking profits, particularly in higher coupons. There was servicer buying in the lower coupons to add duration, and by the end of the day current coupon agency MBS prices were better by about .5.

Today we have a slew of economic data. Last month we learned that the previous month’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.4% in January, mostly due to gasoline and food costs. But clothing (cotton) and airfare prices were also on the rise. Today’s CPI was expected to also be +.4% and came out at +.5% with the core rate, for those who don’t drive or eat, at +.2%. Initial Jobless Claims were 385k, down 16k from the prior month with the 4-week moving average (smoothing out the volatility) is down 7k. Later we will see Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization, along with Leading Economic Indicators and the Philly Fed Survey. So far rates have drifted higher with the 10-yr yield at 3.26% and MBS prices worse by about .250.


I thought this blog was perfect to share! Enjoy!…

My Son, His New Home, and What It Means

Every week we try to help you put an accurate value on housing in today’s real estate market. We give you all the charts, report on all the surveys, and quote every housing expert willing to talk on the subject. And we are still not 100% sure what prices should be. At best, we can only tell you what we think.

This week was different. I was able to personally FEEL the true value of a home. My older son closed on his first home yesterday. I have the great fortune to work with him at our company. I get to see him a lot when I am not traveling. This week I was home and got to spend every day with him.

I saw how nervous he was as he got all the last minute paperwork together. I heard the relief in his voice when he found out that he had overestimated his costs and would need to bring a little less money to the closing. I could feel how proud he was when he hugged me as he left the office the night before the closing.

He should be proud. He just purchased his own home. He just took a major step toward accomplishing the American Dream. He now owns a piece of this country. He now has a community he can call his own. He has a place to go “home” to every night, a place where he can work in the yard, a place he can invite friends and showoff his “castle”, a place where he will someday raise his family.

Owning a home makes things different. You can’t necessarily explain it logically. But you can feel it. That feeling is the real value of a home AND IT IS PRICELESS.

My son slept in his own home last night. I am happy for him.


Are you looking for some simple new Web tools that will definitely help your business and won’t break the bank? Here are some great suggestions.

Evernote and Dropbox are the two relatively new tools that I use constantly. Evernote allows you to take notes anywhere on my smart phone or iPad. It then syncs those notes so they appear on all my devices, including my laptop.

have complete accessibility to my notes at all times. Best of all, I can quickly search my notes to locate keywords. Evernote aggregates each document containing those keywords as well as highlighting the position of the keywords within the document.

Dropbox saves me tremendous amounts of time by avoiding the hassle of downloading and uploading files. Normally it would take three to five minutes to upload a 6MB video. I recently moved my presentations folder, which occupied 672MB of disk space, using Dropbox.

I dragged and dropped the file in my Dropbox folder. It took three minutes for the entire file to reach my assistant. For agents uploading videos and other large files, this system is terrific time-saver.

Here are five other tools that you may want to add to your toolbox.


How many times have you wished that there were a simple way to share your screen with someone else? Until recently, the best option was to sign up for a service such as GoToMeeting or WebEx. Both systems take time to load and also require the user to upload the application. is fast and simple. The first time you use the system, it will take a few seconds to upload the application to your computer. After that, all you have to do is to click on the icon that says, “Share my screen with others.” The system then generates a code that appears at the top of your screen.

Give the code to the person with whom you would like to share your screen. When they visit and enter the code in the appropriate box, the system automatically shares your screen.

Another great feature of is that you can also hand off control to the person with whom you are sharing. For example, assume that you have a new software program and you’re having issues with it. Your assistant has figured out how to use it, but you also need to know. Your assistant can screen-share with you. You can give her control and she could actually install the program and demo it for you. This can be a huge time-saver that eliminates a considerable amount of frustration as well.

2. — sign with your finger

If you own an iPhone, iPod touch or an iPad, you can save yourself and your clients time with a great little tool from Suppose that your clients forgot to initial one of the pages of a disclosure statement and the lender can’t fund their loan without a signature. If they have Zosh, all you have to do is send them the document. They then initial it using the Zosh application and send it back. You can even sign documents using your finger. This is a great application that can save you a long trip across town to get a signature.

3. Never wait on hold again

Let’s face it. Most agents are busy and don’t have time to sit around on hold. If you have ever called customer service and waited forever to be connected somewhere overseas, is a free service that makes the wait disappear. With you enter the number you want to call. The company completes the call and rings you back once the other party is off hold.

Best of all, the company that made you wait actually has to wait a few seconds for you to connect, rather than vice versa.

4. Make your website mobile-phone friendly

Even if you own the latest smart phone, website and blog, load times can be extremely slow. If you want to make your blog site load super fast and fit perfectly to the screen size of mobile devices, you need WPtouch Pro. At $29, WPtouch Pro automatically makes your blog fit the small screens of mobile devices and also speeds up the load time by up to 500 percent. This is a great way to keep mobile visitors to your blog happy and coming back.

5. 1Password and Last Pass

Are you tired of trying to remember all those passwords for all the sites you visit? Have you taken to storing them on a sheet of paper or in your address book? If so, provides a great way to manage all your passwords if you’re running an iPhone, iPad, Android or Mac platform. The price is $39.95. 1Password works with file sharing systems such as Dropbox.

If you’re running a PC, another great product is This stores your passwords on their secure servers. is only $12 per year and has received some rave reviews.

Each of these applications is relatively inexpensive, makes it a lot easier to conduct your business, and will save you plenty of time.


David Stevens, who announced his resignation as FHA commissioner last week, will take over as president and CEO of Washington-based Mortgage Bankers Association, the trade group announced. Stevens, who was appointed to FHA in mid-2009 and helped design the Obama administration’s response to the mortgage crisis, will step down at the end of this month. He will replace John Courson at MBA.

“David Stevens is uniquely qualified to lead the association in its next chapter,” says Michael Berman, MBA chairman. “Most recently he has had a tremendous impact at FHA, as that program faced its own unprecedented challenges. He also brings a wealth of industry experience in mortgage lending that will help him further build MBA’s position as the industry’s leading voice in advocacy, communications, education and research.”

Prior to being confirmed at HUD, Stevens had been president and chief operating officer of real estate firm Long and Foster Companies. He started his professional career at the World Savings Bank, where he began as a loan officer. He later served briefly as executive vice president at Wells Fargo, and spent seven years as senior vice president at Freddie Mac, where he created and ran the small lender channel.

Stevens told news outlets that he wants to remind policy makers that the goal of the organization, whose members have come under “broad brush” criticism for the mortgage crisis, remains fundamental to the country for its role in making home ownership possible. “It’s important to restore balance,” he says in a quote that appears in Wall Street Journal coverage of his announcement.

Stevens has spoken regularly with REALTORS® as FHA chief. His remarks often aimed at challenging lenders to close a “trust gap” that had opened up between them and consumers and lawmakers because of lending practices during the housing boom and the way they’ve handled foreclosures, short sales, loan modifications, and tightened underwriting standards for creditworthy borrowers since the mortgage crisis.


Sellers can feel pressure when trying to decide whether to accept a buyer offer on their home. While real estate professionals can advise clients on whether to accept an offer, the final decision is up to the seller–and it can be an agonizing one.

In the current buyer’s market, buyers aren’t shy about making lowball offers to sellers either. So when should you accept or decline an offer?

Realty Times recently offered the following questions for sellers to consider.

1. Is the buyer pre-qualified/approved? You may not want to risk a deal falling through because the buyer wasn’t pre-qualified for a loan.

2. Do you need to move quickly? If you need to move quickly–due to a job relocation or to avoid foreclosure–you may need to accept an offer that is less than what you want.

3. Can you accept a loss? Be sure to take closing costs into consideration too as you weigh whether you can even afford to agree to the buyer’s offer.

Realty Times also suggests sellers take into account how long their home has been on the market and the number of showings. Such considerations also can help sellers determine whether getting a better offer soon is realistic and would be worth the wait.


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