Archive for July, 2007

Market Update, BBQ Review

After discussing the mortgage market over the weekend with Ray and some others, and seeing the fallout this morning from lenders who are abandoning the subprime market, I want to revise my earlier opinion of the state of the mortgage industry.

It sucks. Thank you.

Essentially, what we’re seeing is a pullback in extendable credit to borrowers under a 620 credit score, and to a certain extent to those under 700. Cash remains king, as it has been for a year now. LTV requirements are up, available lenders are down. Wells Fargo just shuttered its subprime wholesale division, meaning that independent brokers like me cannot use them for loans below 620 scores. They maintain that division for retail – for their own lending operations – but they will not work with brokers on that side of the line any more.

They aren’t the only ones. We’re seeing that from Citimortgage and from many many others. There are still loans out there to be had. But if you don’t have 5% equity or perfect 720+ credit, it’s a very dicey proposition.

Oddly, we’re doing a fair number of second mortgages, and we’re also seeing a serious pullback in those markets. There is a chance that by the end of the summer, you won’t get a second mortgage under a 660 credit score, and none at all over 95%. Just a word to the wise.

The Annual Client Barbecue was a roaring success again this year, much credit to Olivia, who plans these things, and to the wives of the Group, especially Jeanette and Ellen. We had some indeterminate number over 100 people there (it’s really hard to count when there are about 50 kids under 10 running about), and a good time was had by all, especially those that attended.

Remember to reserve a Friday/Saturday in mid-January for the next super bash – The Twelfth Night Invitational and Charity Ball. Watch this space for more.

Random Thoughts

I’d love to be doing this more often than once every couple months, but I won’t promise it will happen, so here are just some things I’ve been thinking about.

  • The mortgage industry is fairly healthy, on the whole, and the subprime “collapse” doesn’t really amount to too much from our vantage point. However, markets are funny things, and they respond to press and atmosphere fairly sensitively. The press is bad and the atmosphere in the mortgage industry is like a graveyard – okay, well, then like the house right next to the graveyard, which isn’t itself a harbinger of death but still gives you the creeps. Lenders are scrutinizing even our fairly solid loans far more than ever before, creating delays and increasing stress and cost for our clients. It’s frustrating.
  • No, the market isn’t “bad”. But it’s not good. I would still advise buying, and inexpensive money can still be had, but caution is recommended. And solid, professional advice.
  • Utah needs rain really badly. This sort of pretend rain of the last couple of days is worse, almost, than nothing.
  • It’s been interesting to watch the SuperLiga games over the last couple of days. SuperLiga is an 8-team soccer tournament between Mexican-league and MLS teams. So far, the MLS is 1-0-2, and the LA Galaxy (sin David Beckham) beat CF Pachuca last night 2-1 in a cracking good match. The interesting thing is that most of the fans in the tournament so far are cheering for the MLS teams. Granted, the games are being played in the US – but when the US national team plays here, especially against Mexico, it’s an away game. Not, it appears, in this competition. Local teams seem to have captured the fan base much better than the national team has. It’s curious.
  • Say what you like about J.K. Rowling and her writing ability (and I’m in agreement that she’s not creating great literature), Harry Potter is a towering literary figure, and quite possibly the most recognized character in a book since Jesus. And for my money, the most annoying since….since….okay, there’s never been a protagonist or antagonist as annoying as Harry. ‘Long about chapter 20 of this last book, everyone in my family was rooting for a serial killer to wipe out him and Ron and Hermione so Ginny Weasley could run off with Neville Longbottom. Alas.
  • Maybe it’s just me. But given the travails of the cycling world, I have to comment and ask a question. In the last couple of days, we’ve lost four riders from the Tour de France, two of them among the greater names in the sport, one of them the leader of the 20-stage race after stage 16. First, the comment: the cycling authority has incredible guts. Sending these guys home is akin to ejecting one team’s starting running back in the Super Bowl. It’s just totally impossible. No other sport inflicts such damage on itself during its marquee event, no matter what the provocation. But now, the question: what for? Does anyone really care if these guys are doping? Isn’t it practically impossible to catch them doing it? Is there some reason why we care to try?

Pray for my Uncle Kumen, and my mother, both recently hospitalized with heart problems, both now released and doing, as far as we can tell, quite well.

And pray for rain.

On Soccer

The following will make absolutely no sense unless you are a hard-core fan of soccer. Enjoy.

About the Copa America, and the state of US national team soccer…

The United States is demonstrating that is has the horses to play on the best stages. Unfortunately, it is demonstrating this by sending the “B” team to the Copa America, a competition that deserves better, even if there are flashes of solid play from a team that, let’s be honest, wouldn’t be expected to play very well against this level of competition.

But that doesn’t matter all that much. Facts faced, the US lacks strikers. Always have.

If you think this is because we only have Eddie Johnson and Taylor Twellman up front, I invite you to go back and watch the Copa Oro matches closely. The US finishing in those matches was absolutely hilariously bad. Yep, the US won. It’s hard to miss ALL of the point-blank shots in a match. But if there ever was a demonstration of the US strengths and weakness, it was the end of the Mexico match where Donovan AND Beasley got behind the defense, all alone, and Donovan set up the finish with class (which he is very good at), and Beasley promptly put the ball in row F from eight meters in front of a totally empty goal. Not for the first time. Not even the first time that week. Ching does it. Donovan does it. Dempsey does it. Twellman does it. These guys are excellent players and some of them are even world-class forward midfielders, but NONE OF THEM CAN STRIKE. It has been this way for years, for generations, even. Until late last week, Eric Wynalda was the top US striker of all time.

Eric Wynalda. Heaven help us.

Fortunately, there are signs that the long wait for someone with up-front skills may be over. Freddy Adu, who has been entirely forgettable when matched against players a decade older than he is, scored what might be the best international goal scored by a US striker in history, then followed it up with two more. Altidore can play – and score – and Szetela is also showing real quality. They’re all kids, and if they stay in the US, chances are they’ll never get a lot better. But they won’t stay in the US, thank the Good Lord for the U-20 World Cup, and there is hope that we’ll have a first-rate cadre of strikers – for the first time ever – for Donovan to dish the ball to in 2010.

We’re getting better. Our midfield play and goalkeeping is excellent. We have a decent (if green and disorganized) group of defenders. All we need is a couple of real, honest-to-goodness killers up front. I’ll be looking for them tomorrow.

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