Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Leveraging tech where we need it

As the number of mortgage loan products available to borrowers continues to shrink, the companies that provide product and pricing engines have been having a tough time. But a new twist on that concept might actually do the industry a lot of good.

The Mortgage Press Ltd., publisher of official publications for the state affiliates of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, has launced a new Web-based job board designed to enable mortgage industry job seekers to find mortgage employment nationwide. The tool is available at

“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mortgage industry has lost 79,000 jobs since its peak in February of 2007,” said Andrew T. Berman, executive vice president of The Mortgage Press Ltd. “These displaced mortgage professionals are looking for new and niche opportunities that are available for them. Everything from FHA underwriting jobs, to branch manager programs, to reverse mortgage originators and more will be available through this site.”

In addition to employment search tools, job seekers will have access to job alerts, cover letters, anonymous resume postings and more, the company said.

Employers will get the industry’s job posting and resume searching tools through the site, including access to active and passive job candidates. All job postings will be part of the OneClick™ Cross-Posting Network, the Web’s leading job posting network.

“As some of the larger mortgage companies downsize and are laying off employees, there is no more opportune time for smaller- to mid-sized mortgage companies to seize some of the top talent available and capture a larger piece of a smaller pie,” said Joel M. Berman, president of The Mortgage Press Ltd.

That may be true, but they'd better hurry before all of the best executives leave to find employment elsewhere.

Friday, January 11, 2008

BofA takes Countrywide

The nation's largest mortgage lender and servicer is now in the process of being acquired by Bank of America, one of the nation's largest depositories. The tide has now shifted completely away from the old model of mortgage lending, as many experts predicted. The only question now is where Wall Street will fit into the new paradigm.

I expect the biggest firms will find a way to leverage technology and their existing networks of trusted financial advisors to sell loans directly to consumers. The rest will see MBS fall off to nothing.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

When will the mortgage crisis end?

Interesting column here from Jack Guttentag, professor of finance emeritus at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. I found this column online but it was distributed by Inman News. He doesn't actually predict when it will end, but he does say how:

This semi-paralyzed market will continue until investor confidence is restored. Key players are the investment banks and hedge funds who sold MBSs when prices were high in expectation that they could buy them back later at lower prices. At some point, they must go into the market to cover their short positions. They will do that when they decide that MBS prices have reached a bottom.

That will not happen before we see the end of unpleasant surprises -- large value write-downs by major U.S. firms and revelations by previously unknown foreign institutions in trouble because they, too, bought subprime-contaminated securities. Most firms come clean at year-end, so perhaps the surprises will stop soon.

Once the surprises stop, investors will look for a bottom in house prices and a peak in foreclosures. When both become clear, they will make their move.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Wall Street during the downturn

I always get a kick out of reading Tanta's posts over at the Calculated Risk blog. A great wit, which springs from a deep understanding of the mortgage business. She goes off in a recent post on some information shared by Source Media's Paul Muolo.

I truly enjoyed this post and think it's right on the money. It also reminded me of a conversation I had with an origination technology vendor at last years MBA annual convention. While there is always plenty of wishful thinking going on during these times, the story I got was that one Wall Street firm was looking at an LOS that it could deploy through the Web to its offices around the country. The company could then sell loans directly to its wealth management and brokerage clients. It's still just a rumor.

But if there are two things Wall Street people are fairly good at (well, two more if you count Scrabble and Playstation) they are getting rich people to part with their money and deploying technology that allows them to do their jobs without advancing beyond the order taker mentality. I wouldn't write those folks off just yet.