Thursday, February 28, 2013

MReport Q&A Feature With IDS EVP Mark Mackey

In the February issue of The MReport Abby Gregory featured a Q&A session with IDS EVP Mark Mackey. Today I am going to feature one part of the Q&A. If you want to read the whole article you can read it on page 53.

As a leader for IDS, Mark Mackey believes that maneuverability bests ability when it comes to stimulating success, and in 2013, he's focused on building greater flexibility to ensure momentum- no matter what path the industry follows during the year ahead.

Ciphering the Signs
What industry movement ranks as the most dominant and enduring post-crisis trend? According to Mackey, the demand for greater efficiency continues to expand, prompting new, innovative strategies. 
Mackey>> First off, the companies that made it through the turmoil made it because their companies were well oiled and efficient. This trait has not gone away even though the market has improved. I compare it to my own grandma, who lived through the Great Depression. She would not get rid of something that was worn- it had to be unfixable to move on. At meals, she would use every last scrap to ensure that nothing was wasted, and companies seem to have gone through this same shift in mentality as a result of the rough times our industry has seen. This shift in our industry has meant that companies want to ensure they take advantage of every feature and time saver available to them, and they are looking to improve their processes to make them more efficient. Take initial disclosure, for example. This has become a highly automated process. Documents are generated, and from that point, the entire process is automated, helping avoid labor costs, removing errors, and when everything is completed, providing auditors with proof that all files were delivered as required.
Additionally, we are also seeing better and cleaner interfaces between various systems in the process. This means there is no need to ever enter data twice and that the data used is uniform through the entire process. This consistency avoids costly errors and ensure that the data used by underwriters and all service providers is universal.
Looking at the industry from a broader perspective, we're observing that- despite the increase in national volume, record-low interest rates, and refis increasing- people are still a bit timid and hesitant to accept that as an industry we are back.

Next week's feature: Policies a& Progress

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

MBA Launches Compliance Essentials Series

MBA Launches Compliance Essentials Series

The Mortgage Bankers Association launched of a new compliance program to help companies in the mortgage finance industry navigate their businesses through new compliance rules recently released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

MBA Compliance Essentials: Education for our New Mortgage World includes a series of webinars and related compliance guidebooks that will provide companies with the foundation of essential policies and procedures necessary upon which to build their own compliance programs. 

"We are pleased that through CampusMBA we can offer comprehensive, top-notch guidance and training for compliance executives at our member companies," said MBA President and CEO David Stevens. "This offering is particularly important for our smaller, community-based lenders facing a daunting new regulatory landscape. The CFPB Supervision and Examination Manual is more  than 900 pages long and covers thousands of pages of regulations. The MBA Compliance Essentials program will be a much needed resource to companies that must build compliance management systems to comply with these new regulations."

Materials for this program are being developed in collaboration with expert legal counsel from leading mortgage banking law firms and is available to both MBA member and non-member companies.
Some of the initial program components include:

  • Building a Compliance Program
  • Vendor Management
  • Fair Credit Reporting Act
  • Consumer Complaints/HPA
  • Loan Origination Compensation

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Zillow's How Much House Can You Get for $450,000? Salt Lake City House

Each week Zillow takes a look at how much house you can expect to get at a specific price point. This week Zillow looked at homes priced around $450,000. One of the houses happened to be in Salt Lake City, Utah where IDS was founded and is headquartered so we decided to feature this house located in the historic Downtown Salt Lake City Avenues neighborhood.

Salt Lake City, UT
32 O St, Salt Lake City, Utah
For sale: $455,000

Salt Lake City winters are out of a storybook with this quintessential cape cod. Arched doorways lead to a cozy living room and fireplace, as well as an updated kitchen with cream finishes and a tiled back splash. The bathroom has also been newly renovated with wainscoting, double sinks and bronze fixtures servicing the three sleeping quarters on the second level. The finished lower level is drenched in natural light from 2 large egress windows and has a large family room, cherry wood entertainment center with granite counter top and small dry bar for convenience. The backyard features an intimate patio area and small lawn area. Located in the historic and charming Avenues this renovated cape cod is one of a kind. 

Not only is Salt Lake City home to IDS, but it is home to many natural wonders within driving distance. It is also home to the greatest snow on earth hosting 14 different ski resorts for any type of skier and visitor. Named one of the top cities to live in and work in Salt Lake is an up and coming city for all things business, adventure and outdoors. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Mortgage Industry Employment Boom

Mortgage Industry Employment Boom is Soon 
Extending into 2013

Here's a salute to the entire mortgage industry. During 2012, the business as a whole added 29,000 jobs, an 11% boost not just to the niche but to the entire national economy. 

You can think of the national economy as a three-legged stool, held up by the government, private and consumer sectors. When the proper mixture gets out of whack, the economy struggles. 

So for several years after the crash, both to the delight and dismay of some, government spending attempted to make up for the slack in private sector and consumer spending.

It is time that private sector took the lead here. Government spending, hard as it is for many to believe this, will taper off as everybody agrees to get serious about deficit reduction.

Consumers are still keeping their hands in their pockets after their scary rocket ship ride of boom and bust. Maybe they should keep them there for a little while longer.

Now, 290,000 jobs is only a little more than half of sector hiring at the peak of the boom, which was more than 500,000.

But it is a very nice investment of people and treasure into a still-struggling economy.

No one waves a magic wand and decides there will be 29.000 more mortgage workers (this is a Bureau of Labor Statistics number). It is achieved a little here and a little there at a time.

So from time to time we're going to give a shout out to mortgage firms (lenders or vendors) that bring on ten net new hires at a time. And in some cases, the numbers are higher. A lot higher.

Take loanDepot, for instance. The California mortgage lender increased its payrolls by 550 jobs last year. And that's a subset of more than 1,000 new hires since 2010. Sometimes the results are more modest than that, but still good.

Take Equity Loans LLC of Atlanta, which opened 17 new branches last year and added a dozen new hires. Loan production was up by more than 50%.

Vendor LPS recently held a career open house in Westminster, Colo., to fill 30 technology positions open there.

LPS, based in Jacksonville, Fla., is also looking to expand its headquarters there and at other company location.

These are the kinds of things we're talking about!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mortgage Apps Fall as Rates Rise

Mortgage Applications Fall as Rates Rise to 
6-Month High

Mortgage application volume continued to decline last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending February 15.

The survey's Market Composite Index, a measure of application volume, fell 1.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from the previous week. On an unadjusted basis, the index fell 1.0 percent.

The Refinance Index was down 2 percent last week, according to the MBA. At the same time, the refinance share of total mortgage activity fell to 77 percent, the lowest level seen since last May, from 78 percent previously. 

Meanwhile, the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index also dropped 2 percent week-over-week, while the unadjusted index increased 3 percent (rising 17 percent above the same week last year).

According to the MBA's measure, the average contract interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.78 percent last week, the highest rate since August 2012. The previous week's rate was 3.75 percent.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How Does a Lender Evaluate Your Borrowing Ability?

How Does a Lender Evaluate Your Borrowing Ability?

If you're thinking about buying a home, one of the first things you should do is go to a lender to get pre-approved. This will determine how much money you can borrower on a mortgage. This will also help you filter your home search by sale price, which will narrow your choices within your financing range.

So how does a lender evaluate- also called underwriting- and determine how much you can borrow? It involves the three C's: Credit, capacity and collateral!

Credit or FICO Score
The first item a lender will review is your credit profile, also known as your credit score or FICO score. This can range from 350-850. This is where all the decisions you've made in the past regarding will be reflected, such as:
  • How much debt you have outstanding
  • How much debt you have outstanding as a percentage of open credit accounts
  • How much debt you have in the different types of credit accounts (credit cards, car loans, school loans etc.)
  • How well you've paid your bills over the years
Lenders used to allow much lower credit scores for borrowing purposes, but they've gone up the past few years. You need, in general, at least a 640 FICO score to borrow on a loan. The optimal score is 740-760 or above. The lower your score, the higher your interest rate and points on your mortgage loan. 

Capacity or Income
If you pass the FICO score test and the lender says you are creditworthy, the next item you will be evaluated fir us your "capacity." Capacity means that based on the lender's allowed maximum percentage debt to your gross income, less all of your other debt payments, how much do you have available for a housing payment? It also has to be stable income, such as $65,000 per year for two years in a row.

Per the chart above, you can generally have your total mortgage payment. less other debt payments, be up to about 35% to 40% of your gross income. In the chart the bank took 35% of this borrower's $6,000 gross monthly income and subtracted out other debt payments to get a maximum allowed housing payment of $1,750. And that $1,750 equates to about a $225,000 house with a $200,000 mortgage (this means you will need to put down a downpayment of $25,000 to buy the $225,000 house) per the bottom of the chart.

Collateral or the Property
If you've got the credit, and the capacity, you only need one more piece and that's the collateral. This is the easiest part. You will pay the bank and they will order an independent appraiser to determine a market value of the property. And the lender will lend you up to a certain percentage of that value (or purchase price whichever is lower) like 80% loan to value (LTV) or maybe 90% LTV or maybe up to 96.5% LTV. This depends on the bank and the loan program in which you qualify. So even if your income qualifies you for a higher loan amount, the MOST any one bank will lend you on any particular property is up to their maximum allowed loan to value percentage on that property.

That's it! If you've got credit and capacity, go out and find the collateral!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How to Compare Good Faith Estimates

How to Compare Good Faith Estimates

With the housing industry slowing making a come back and home buyers more present in the market it is always good to know what goes into purchasing a property.

When you're in the process of buying and financing your purchase, you probably would like to make sure your lender is giving you a fair deal. In order to make that determination, you need to get at least two bids from different lenders. They should give you these bids, which show the total costs and the interest rate you are eligible for, on the federally required Good Faith Estimate (GFE) form.

Theoretically, you can use the different lenders' good faith estimates to compare the cost of financing between those lenders. This, however, is easier said than done because the costs that are most relevant to determining whether you're getting the best deal- loan origination charges, credits and points- are mixed among other costs that are not determined by the lender. The combined costs are noted on page 2 of the GFE under "Estimated Settlement Charges."

This is an example of a Good Faith Estimate drawn in the idsDoc system and where you will see the Total Estimated Settlement Charges.

So, how do you isolate the relevant costs that you need to review so you can make a better decision on the lower cost provider for mortgage financing?

In order to dissect and isolate the costs that the lender is charging you, have your lender add up the lender costs in lines 1, 2 and 3. which they would estimate on page 2 of the GFE, and provide you the loan interest rate for which you are qualified (and loan lock period).

So if Lender A estimates the lender costs at $3,500 for a 45-day loan lock at 3.5 percent, you can go to Lender B and ask for an estimate of costs on a 45-day loan lock at 3.5 percent for your borrowing and credit profile. Then you can compare the lender cost estimates and determine which offer is the best deal. 

Some other costs on the GFE- such as title and homeowners insurance costs- are also important and relevant to your transaction, but they don't need to be reviewed when selecting the best financing deal because those costs are not paid to the lender.

Are you interested in knowing more about Good Faith Estimates and anything else on your closing documents. Contact IDS!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Make it Mondays: Indoor Fort Building Kit

Make it Mondays: Indoor Fort Building Kit

What better activity for colder winter months than building the ultimate indoor fort. I love the idea of creating a kit to keep in a closet to be able to pull out at a minute's notice, transforming a room instantly to become a spot of open play, architectural creation, and to let imaginations run wild. 

There are several tutorials online for creating your own kit, usually to the tune of under $15! I love this one by Emily of Salt Water Kids- what started as a simple kit for her daughter, metamorphosed into a more complex kit that she has now gifted many times over to family & friends. 

What you will need:
2 Flat sheets (you can use more than 2)
Pillowcases (for the blag lining & accessory bag)
Clothes pins, clamps and ropes (can be found at the dollar store)
Suction cups
Adult t-short (for the ties)
Bags (or fabric for making them) for the accessories and the kit

Use a ladies XL t-short, making the ties about 20" long (10" when folded).

The sheets have ties with loops attached to them at the corners, in the middle of each long side, and in the center of the sheet (optional). To cut down on time, I decided to use strips of jersey instead of making bias tape- Here's how...

First, cut 1" strips across the shirt

Then cut off the sides

Then stretch out each strip, making it curl into a rope-like shape, and tie a knot at each end.

To attach the ties...

Sew the ties to the corners, long side, and center of the sheets, making an "X" shape with your stitches to give it strength.

To figure out the correct size for the drawstring bad, simply stack up all the accessories and take a rough measurement.

Then do the same for the larger bag that holds all the fort kit items

Check out the fort kit in action...

This is such a fun idea to make those long winter days into a fun new adventure at anytime. If you do decide to go on this adventure of making your own fort kit we hope you do enjoy!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Housing Industry Pins Hopes on Obama to Soften Downpayment Rule

Housing Industry Pins Hopes on Obama to Soften Down Payment Rule

Realtors and mortgage bankers say they're hoping President Obama's call for streamlining mortgage rules will lend new momentum to efforts to prevent imposing a strict minimum downpayment for home loans.

"Right now, overlapping regulations keep responsible young families from buying their first homes," Obama said in his Feb. 12 State of the Union address. "What's holding us back? Let's streamline the process, and help our economy grow."

The president was speaking broadly about a variety of rules that may be hampering credit availability, according to a White House aide who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deliberations were not public.

Still, bankers and real estate agents who are angling for changes to a proposed regulation requiring lenders to keep a stake in risky loans say they hope Obama's comments will help their cause.

At issue is the so-called qualified residential mortgage rule, which six banking regulators including the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Federal Reserve are aiming to complete this year. The regulators drew protests in 2011 when they released a preliminary draft requiring lenders to keep a stake in mortgages with downpayments of less than 20% and those issued to borrowers spending more than 36% of their income on debt.

Bankers and consumer groups said such a requirement would shut creditworthy borrowers out of the market. The rule will fundamentally reshape who can lend and who can borrow because banks will probably make only those loans that confirm to the new standards.

Now, industry participants and some lawmakers are pressing for the regulators to align the QRM rule with another regulation with a similar name that is also aimed at preventing risky home lending: the qualified mortgage, or QM, rule. That guidance, issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in January, offers legal protections to banks that issue loans to borrowers spending no more than 43% of their income on debt.

Housing industry participants want the regulators writing QRM to drop the downpayment requirement and raise borrowers' allowable debt load to 43% essentially setting the same requirements in both the QM and the QRM rules.

"The industry, consumers, and legislators on Capitol Hill are all saying QRM should equal QM," said Joe Ventrone, vice president for regulatory affairs at the National Association of Realtors. "A revised QRM definition should track the QM to ensure that all qualified borrowers have access to affordable and safe mortgage credit without a stringent downpayment requirement."

The concept has drawn support from lawmakers. Senator Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, is drafting a bill that would merge the two rules. He'll offer the measure only if regulators don't act on their own, said Laura Herzog, Corker's communications director.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of senators who drafted the language requiring the QRM rule in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act wrote a letter to regulators yesterday urging them to drop a strict downpayment requirement.

"Our intent as the drafters of this provision was, and remains, clear: to incent the origination of well-underwritten mortgages with traditional terms," Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson and Democrats Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina said in the letter. "We intentionally omitted a specific downpayment requirement and never contemplated the rigid 20% or 10% as discussed in the March 2011 notice of proposed rulemaking."

It will probably be months before regulators, also including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Securities and Exchange Commission, come out with the QRM rule. Nonetheless, they are working on it now and are examining the QM rule, Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry said at an event yesterday in Washington.

"Now that QM is on the table, it gives us an impetus to move full-speed ahead on QRM and risk-retention rules," Curry said.

Not everyone in the housing industry favors merging the two rules. Private mortgage insurers, which protect lenders against defaults on loans with downpayments below 20%, stand to gain if the QRM rule allows its downpayment limit to be waived in some cases when the borrowers buy their coverage.

Regulators should also keep in mind that the purpose of the two rules is different, said Mark Goldhaber, of Goldhaber Policy Service LLC, a mortgage industry consulting firm based in North Carolina, and a former senior vice president at mortgage insurer Genworth Financial Inc.

"The purpose of QRM is to set a standard by which you have measurable results of what a prime mortgage looks like for securitization," Goldhaber said in an interview. "That's a very different intention than QM, which is a consumer facing provision."

A study released this week by mortgage data provider CoreLogic Inc. found that only half of home loans issued in 2010 met the requirements of the QM rule. If the QRM rule had been in effect with a downpayment requirement of 10%, only 40% of loans would have qualified, the study found.

Groups including the Mortgage Bankers Association have been warning about the impact of rule making in an already tight market. Borrowers whose loans closed in 2012 had an average credit score of 748, which would place them in the top 37% of Americans, according to Ellie Mae, a Pleasanton, Calif., company that provides software for the mortgage industry. Those buyers made downpayments averaging 21%. The interest rate on a 30-year-fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.9% in 2012, said Ellie Mae

Thursday, February 14, 2013

2013 Top 50 Service Providers

Mortgage Technology is calling for nominations for the 2013 Top 50 Service Providers.

The Top 50 Service Providers are recognized for their accomplishments in four criteria- continued advancement of technology and services, viable revenue model and value proposition to customers, exceptional customer service and unique impact on the mortgage industry.

As an annual list, the Top 50 Service Providers puts particular emphasis on a provider's accomplishments in the past 12 months- April 2012 to March 2013. Inclusion in a previous year's list is not a metric for making this year's list/

The nominations will be reviewed by a panel comprised of MT's editorial staff. The Top 50 Service Providers will be recognized in the spring edition of Mortgage Technology magazine, which will be distributed in print as a supplement to the April 15 issue of National Mortgage News, as well as on the Mortgage Technology website.

The vendors named to the list have a proven track record in the industry and provide innovative technology and services to lenders, servicers and other industry participants. 

For more information visit the Mortgage Technology website here

Happy Valentine's Day from IDS


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

FHA and the Future Role of Government in Housing

FHA and the Future Role of Government in Housing

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was created by Congress in 1934, with America in the throes of the Great Depression. Since its inception, FHA has insured 34 million home mortgages, providing homeownership opportunities to tens of millions of low and moderate income borrowers who might not have otherwise been able to own a home.

Today, however, FHA is at a crossroads. The same housing crisis that resulted in millions of homeowners defaulting on their mortgages and drove hundreds of private mortgage lenders out of business has left FHA's single family insurance fund in danger of needing cash infusion from the Treasury in order to avoid default. Much of FHA's current troubles are attributable to the critical function it played when the market turned and many private lenders refused to lend. Without FHA to step in, the housing crisis would have been measurably worse.

Therefore, it is only right that policymakers should evaluate FHA policies and procedures. In particular they should research how the agency intends to return its capital reserve ratio for single family programs above Congressionally-mandated two percent level. Currently, Congress is in the process of holding hearings to assess these topics surrounding FHA's structure. 

While reviewing FHA, it is critical that policymakers recognize the important role that the program played, and it playing in the market. FHA is virtually the sole source of mortgage funding for borrowers with low down payments, those without high incomes or large amounts of inherited wealth. Many of these are first time homebuyers- young families looking to put down roots in a community, and a segment that must be served if we are going to grow our housing recovery.

Further, almost 80 percent of minority homebuyers are getting loans through a government program- either the FHA, the Veterans Administration of the Rural Housing Service of the Department of Agriculture. While this concentration is clearly not the sign of a healthy mortgage market, it shows that an unintended consequence of acting too quickly to scale back the FHA could eliminate a large segment of qualified homebuyers from homeownership opportunities.

To its credit, FHA and HUD have not waited for Congress to act. FHA has taken a series of critical steps to stabilize its programs and improve credit quality that will assist in rebuilding the fund. We raised FHA's mortgage insurance premiums, increased net worth requirements for lenders and hired the agency's first ever Chief Risk Officer. They also stepped up enforcement against lenders who were committing fraud against the government and borrowers.

Subsequent leadership at FHA has continued to propose and implement changes that will allow FHA to better manage its risk and strengthen the single-family MMi fund. They have increased premiums and raised down payment requirements on lower-FICO borrowers, while making programmatic changes to improve loss mitigation activities and thus limit loss severity. In late January of this year, HUD announced yet another round of additional steps to bolster the capital reserves, including instituting changes to the reverse mortgage, or Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), program, and increased underwriting and documentation for low FICO/high DTI loans.

Clearly, given these actions, the current administration is taking FHA's situation seriously. As a result, these unprecedented steps will help stabilize the program's future financial viability. In fact, data clearly shows that the loans that FHA has made in the last three years are among the best performing books of business the program has ever underwritten. 

With the housing crisis fading 9 (yet still fresh in our memory), and the real estate and mortgage markets starting to recover, it is now time to have a thoughtful, comprehensive debate over the future of the government's role in the housing market. That includes looking at the future of FHA. It also means determining the long term role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Ultimately, all stakeholders want the same thing- a fully functioning market that relies most heavily on private capital, with a limited, appropriate role for the federal government. A stable, sustainable FHA program must be a part of that system.

Make it Mondays: DIY Valentine's Day Crafts

Since I missed yesterday I decided to do the IDS Make it Monday today. As all of us know Valentine's is coming up pretty quick- Thursday to be exact. I wanted to showcase some fun, easy, inexpensive ways to do some crafting for Valentine's Day. All the crafts are ideas from Real Simple Website.

Paper Garland Strands
The kids might be sick of making paper snowflakes, but they're sure to rally behind these new shapes and colors.

What you need:
Assorted paper
Needle and Thread
2" Scalloped Shaped Hole Punch

What to do:
  1. Fold 3" to 6" paper squares in half and cut a half heart from a fold.
  2. Thread needle and string hearts together through the top center of the folded paper hearts.
  3. Using the scalloped hole punch, make shapes from paper. Thread needle and string through the opposite sides of each scalloped paper.
  4. Add as many hearts and scallops as it takes to reach your desired length.

DIY Valentine's Day Cards
Show off your crafty side and send a card that's actually made from home.

What you need:
Pipe cleaners
Thick paper stock
Hot glue gun
Pinking shears

Love Card
  1. Form shape of each letter with the pipe cleaners. Glue onto the paper.
  2. Using the pinking shears, create a decorative edge around the card.
Heart Card
  1. Place buttons on card stock making the shape of a heart
  2. Secure buttons to the paper with glue.

Frame with Chalkboard Paint
This is the perfect project for the one who likes to change things up on a daily basis.

What you need

What to do
  1. Place frame on newspaper in a well-ventilated area. Paint frame and let it dry.
  2. Pop in a favorite photo. Using the chalk, write your special Valentine's Day message

Hope you enjoy these simple ideas to make your Valentine's Day festive and fun!
Happy Valentine's Day from IDS!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Mortgage Applications Rebound in MBA Weekly Survey

Mortgage applications increased for the fourth time in five weeks, while key interest rates reached a six-month high, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported this morning in its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending February 1.

The Market Composite Index increased by 3.4 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased by 16 percent compared to the previous week. Last week's results included an adjustment for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

The Refinance Index increased by 4 percent from the previous week. The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 78 percent of total applications from 79 percent the previous week and reached its lowest share since July.

IT is great to see that mortgage applications are increasing and not in the refinance division of the industry. This shows that buyer confidence or consumer confidence is getting stronger as the economy and the housing industry gets back on their feet.

How have you seen changes in mortgage applications since the start of the New Year? Are you busier than ever and not only because of keeping track and on top of regulations, but because of the increase in business?

Let us know your thoughts!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bonnie Sinnock Interview with IDS EVP Mark Mackey

4506-T E-Signature Use a Little Slower Than Expected
Bonnie Sinnock

Many clamored for the authorization of electronic signatures for the 4506-T as it completes the set of key predisclosures in the origination process that can be e-signed. But it is moving a little bit more slowly than anticipated, some say.

"I don't see it moving as fast as I expected it to," Mark Mackey, executive vice president of industry vendor IDS, told this publication, adding that he nevertheless believes it will "soon become the norm."

Mackey said he expects there will be a bit of a gearing-up process that may take a couple months, as there has been for some other new functionality available to the market in the past.

Part of the delay on some players' part may be an accompanying requirement in which 100% or at least 125 files must be audited monthly, submitted annually and stored for a period of time.

Mackey said the requirement "is not difficult" for lenders to fulfill and even with it e-signing the form has compelling efficiencies and other advantages, but in this way the e-signed 4506-T does vary from other e-signed predisclosures.

"It's slightly different, and anything that's different takes more time, even if it is a simple process," he said. "In all reality, the lender doesn't have to do anything extra [but] in their mind there are extra steps on the backend."

Despite this, he said his company will take care of the audit requirement for users at no additional cost. "We don't charge anything extra, it's like any other [e-signed] form," said Mackey.

Users have had an option on his company's technology that allows them to simply print that particular form and like other vendors he said the e-signature functionality is relatively easy to turn if users convert to it, he said.

Mackey said he still believes more will convert to e-signatures, but that they may be making sure they have vetted the additional requirements involved in e-signing the form before they do.

"The 4506-T is one of the last forms to be e-signed and it puts us pretty much where we want to be," he said. "It will be the norm before we know it."

Monday, February 4, 2013

Make it Your Own Mondays: 10 Sources for Customizing IKEA Furniture

10 Sources for Customizing IKEA Furniture

IKEA. It's affordable, the designs are modern and the selection is pretty varied. Still, there's a certain satisfaction that comes from taking a cookie cutter item and putting your own stamp on it. Fortunately, a number of businesses have popped up that make IKEA hacks accessible to even the DIY-challenged.

- O'verlays If you want to take that RAST to the next level, O'verlays may be for you. The decorative fretwork can be applied to many popular IKEA pieces, including the EXPEDIT, LACK and MALM, among others, to create a more luxe look on your flat pack pieces.

- Mykea Another option for custom skins for IKEA is Mykea. The colorful graphics can be easily applied and, if you ever tire of them, just as easily removed without leaving behind any residue. While their designs originate from the Netherlands, US orders are designed and produced domestically- which means shipping is still quite reasonable ($10).

- PANYL The self adhesive vinyl skins can be purchased for a specific IKEA piece or you can buy it by the foot and get really creative.

-Prettypegs Customizing IKEA furniture is about more than covering up the fabric or finish. Swedis company Prettypegs lets you dress up the base with colorful and whimsical new feet. They offer affordable shipping around the world ($24 to the US & Canada).

- Bemz This Swedish company offers even more options for recovering your IKEA upholstered pieces. While some covers can cost as much as the furniture itself, Bemz offers the widest range of print and style options.

- Knesting Slip covers for popular IKEA furniture pieces may not be a new concept but Knesting is one of the few companies who makes theirs in the states. Knesting currently offers slipcovers for EKTORP, KARLANDA, KARLSTAND. POANG and more, all made in Atlanta, Georgia.

- Comfort Works This Australian company offers slip covers for IKEA sofas and chairs, as well as curtains and custom cushions. Fabrics range from cotton and linen to velvet and leather. Custom Works ships worldwide with a $24 limit on shipping costs. 

- Parts of Sweden From simple add-ons, like furniture legs and handles and knobs, to more inventive items, like the magazine rack for BILLY bookcase that's shown here, Parts of Sweden is a great resource for any IKEA hacker.

- Semihandmade Hacking IKEA pieces doesn't stop with furniture. If you're thinking about installing an IKEA kitchen, or even updating an existing one, Semihandmade can set up with custom door and drawer fronts. 

- Modern Crafts Basedin Minneapolis, Modern Crafts give you another option for custom cabinet doors. Wood options include walnut ,bamboo and zebra wood.

Bloomberg: Housing Packs Punch for U.S. Growth in 2013 and Beyond

Housing Packs Punch for U.S. Growth in 2013 and Beyond

The housing rebound is broadening to other parts of the U.S. economy and will likely lend impetus to growth though 2013 and beyond.

Climbing home prices are lifting household wealth and boosting the purchasing power of consumers. Declining mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures are buttressing bank balance sheets, giving them greater leeway to lend. And rising property-tax revenue is fortifying the finances of state and local governments, alleviating pressure on them to cut budgets.

Just in case you haven't noticed, the numbers are showing that the housing market is making a recovery. Here's why:

- Housing starts have risen for three months in a row, with a number of units now exceeding an annual rate of 715,000 units. Even though this number is rising it gets the market nowhere close to the 2.1 million starts 2005 marked in its entirety, but it's still a strong step in the right direction.
- Also building permits usually act as a decent stand-in for future construction. In March, they beat out expectations to reach 769,000 units, their highest annual rate since September 2008. Even better, there are signs of more to come, since new home inventories have been at historical lows during the past three years.
- In the first quarter, foreclosure filings in the United States fell to the lowest level since 2007, according to RealtyTrac Inc. and resale of foreclosures by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac dropped 18%.

These are just some of the numbers that show the housing recovering will kick into higher gear as the year progresses. These numbers will start affecting other parts of the economy too.

The spreading impact of housing will help the economy weather looming federal government spending cuts and tax increases and keep on growing. Rising residential construction and it s knock-on economic effects will boost gross domestic product by about 0.75 percentage point this year, offsetting much of the drag from the fiscal squeeze.

A report from the Commerce Department showed U.S. factory orders rose less than forecast in December, reflecting a drop in non-durable goods that partly countered gains in construction equipment and computers.

Housing has helped lead the economy out of every recession since 1950 except for the last one in 2007 to 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.  Homebuilding climbed 12 percent in 2012, the first annual increase since 2005. As Americans move into new homes, they buy appliances and furniture, giving growth an added lift. 

Rising prices and mortgage rates near a record low in the U.S. are triggering a wave of refinancing, especially bringing relief particularly to distressed homeowners. Underwater borrowers-- or those who owed more on their mortgages than their houses were worth-- fell by almost 4 million last year to 7 million, and could drop to 4 million within two hers, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Hopefully with all the positive increases to housing and the affects it is having on other markets the economy will continue to recover. Times are starting to brighten up after a long time in the dark. Let's keep the housing industry alive and well.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mortgage Rates Nudge Higher as Economy Firms

Mortgage Rates Nudge Higher as Economy Firms 

A growing economy and an improving housing market continued this week to nudge mortgage interest rates higher.

The average interest rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 3.53 percent this week, the first time since mid-September that the rate has been above 3.5 percent, Freddie Mac said Thursday.

Last, the rate on that benchmark loan product was 3.42 percent and in the year-ago comparabale period, it was 3.87 percent.

The average rate on a 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage also rose, to 2.81 percent. That compares with 2.71 percent last week and 3.14 percent last year.

Rising rates are lowering consumer interest in purchasing homes and refinancing their existing properties.

On Wednesday, the Mortgage Bankers Association said mortgage applications for the week ended Jan. 25 fell 8.1 percent.

Super Bowl 2013: Top 5 Irrelevant Facts About the Super Bowl

Super Bowl 2013: Top 5 Irrelevant Facts about the Super Bowl

Super Bowl 2013 is full of great storylines and fun facts. Sure, the Harbaugh brother definitely make a great story. It is, after ll, the very first time two brothers, as head coaches, have faced each other in a Super Bowl. But that's not the only reason why this Super Bowl is so interesting to talk about.

There are many other cool storylines and facts about this upcoming Super Bowl. For instance, the evolution and rise of Colin Kaepernick and the fact that this will be Ray Lewis's last game makes this Super Bowl even more interesting.

But while these are all fun to talk about, one can't help but wonder what will really determine the outcome of the Super Bowl even more interesting.

But while these are all fun to talk about, one can't help but wonder what will really determine the outcome of the Super Bowl. In other words, do all the storylines and fun facts have anything to do with the outcome of this game?

It is the outcome of the game that we are all most interested in, isn't it?

5. There's Been Some Unnecessary Drama
One irrelevant fact about Super Bowl 2013 is that there has been an unnecessary amount of drama surrounding some of the players on both teams. First, there's Ray Lewis's drama, and I'm not talking about his retirement here.

David Epstein and George Dohrmann from Sports Illustrated have accused Lewis of taking banned substances to help out with his torn triceps injury. Perhaps the most interesting part of this story is that the substance is supposed to be some sort of deer-antler spray.

Lewis denies taking any sort of banned substance and whether or not this leads to further investigation is a pointless inquiry; Lewis is done playing for the NFL after the Super Bowl.

4. The Ravens Have Had Two Weeks to Figure out the Pistol Offense
Unlike the prior slide, this next fact is actually a little more football- related. One of the most interesting aspects of the 49ers's game plan is their use of the pistol offense. Atlanta couldn't stop it; neither could the Packers. Are we really under the impression that an extra week will help the Ravens figure out how to stop the pistol/read-option?

The 49ers offense under Kaepernick is almost unpredictable. Against Green Bay, Laepernick ran for over 180 yards. But against Atlanta- Where former 49ers head coach Mike Nolan now coaches are the defensive coordinator- the Falcons had no idea how to stop Kaepernick's pass attack in the second half of the NFC Championship. Kaepernick threw it deep and over the middle to pick up huge chunk of yardage. And it wasn't Kaepernick that ran the ball; it was Frank Gore and LaMichael James.

3. Ray Lewis's Last Football Game
Some might argue that Ray Lewis will be quite the difference maker in this Super Bowl. But if we are talking about his ability to make plays, then I completely disagree.

Let's get real here. Do we really think that Lewis himself will be able to stop Kaepernick and this pistol offense?

There's reason why athletes retire. It's because they're getting old and tired and can't play like they were once able use to. Lewis knows this. He knows that he's not as fast as he once was. Lewis knows that he might struggle chasing down Kaepernick and bringing him down.

The only influence Lewis will have on this game is his ability to inspire and motivate his teammates. The Ravens will play well because they're a good football team with a great coach.

2. John Harbaugh Has Already Beat Jim Harbaugh
There are some significant differences between the first time these brothers met and this upcoming Super Bowl game. For one thing, we're talking about the Super Bowl, not a regular-season game. Secondly, we can't possibly think that history repeats itself every time two teams play each other. If that were true, then the Ravens would be favorites in this game. But they're not.

1. The Niners are 5-0 in Super Bowl Appearances
So what is the 49ers are 5-0 in all Super Bowl appearances? What does this fact have to with the 2012-2013 49ers?

This team now doesn't look anything like the Niners that won five Super Bowls. There's no talk about a West Coast offense. There's no Joe Montana, Bill Walsh, Jerry Rice or Steve Young. Those guys are gone. In fact, it's been 18 years since the 49ers won a Super Bowl. The Niners team is completely different than the '80s and '90s 49ers. The pistol offense is what we associate with 49ers now. Colin Kaepernick is the quarterback and Frank Gore is the all-time leading rusher in franchise history. And the head coach is now Jim Harbaugh.

With Super Bowl XLVII right around the corner, final predictions are being made for every aspect of the season's biggest game. That includes which players are most likely to win Super Bowl MVP.

That player will join the winners from the other 46 Super Bowls and forever be remembered for his perfomance. The only question that will remain is where will Super Bowl XLVII MVP's performance rank among every other MVP winner?

While the big game hasn't taken place yet, we've still taken the time to rank every Super Bowl MVP. We've ranked them based on actual performance during the game, taking into account clutch and significant plays.

Let use know how you like to celebrate the Super Bowl. Include your favorite game day traditions, snacks, meals and drinks.