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Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

2012 Forecasts for Insurance, Mortgage, Higher Ed

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

January 19, 2021 — Ah, the New Year.  January always offers a chance to move forward with a clean slate and an eye for the future.  In that spirit, here are some blog posts that offer a look forward to 2012 and some predictions and previews for what the year has to offer in private-sector higher education, mortgage and insurance.

#1 - Five reasons why for-profit schools are here to stay via @washingtonpost – In this column, Jay Mathew’s begins his look at the future of for-profit education with a clear and definite bias against the institutions, and initial reluctance to review the book titled “Change.edu: Rebooting for the New Talent Economy” written by Kaplan’s Chairman, Andrew S. Rosen. While the book didn’t shake Mathew’s feeling completely, he noted “Rosen convinced me that for-profit educational ventures are here to stay.” He went on to detail five reasons why. http://wapo.st/sSAwCQ

#2 - The Mortgage Battlefield of 2012 via @NatlMortgagePro – John Walsh offers up his predictions for the embattled mortgage industry from the frontlines of the struggle, including continued low rates and the reemergence of innovative products. http://dlvr.it/12P29W

#3 - Experts 2012 Rate Outlook via @MortgageNewsMND – Rob Chrisman gives an overview of mortgage rates and industry predictions based on outlooks from industry experts Freddie, Fannie and others. Predictions anticipate a similar year to 2011, with HARP 2.0 and expected low interest rates throughout the year likely to have a positive impact. http://tinyurl.com/cwl8zfe

#4 - Three Ways Insurers Will Compete on Data in 2012 via @insurancetech –  highlights how analytics is likely to change insurers approach to underwriting, claims, and risk management in 2012 http://ow.ly/87ZXG

#5 – Health care reform you can expect in 2012 via @Bankrate – The piece looks at what patients, doctors, and insurers should expect from the pieces of the affordable care act going into law in 2012. http://bit.ly/zuUE7U

#6 – Insurance Veterans’ Forecasts for 2012 via @ijournal – The piece discusses the future of the industry in the coming year with nine different industry leaders to get a better grasp on what to expect. http://bit.ly/yjGcS0

#7 – 3 Key Challenges Facing Agents in 2012 via @ijournal - In this podcast with Bob Rusbuldt, CEO of Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, Bob articulates what he believes are the three biggest challenges facing independent agents and brokers in 2012. http://bit.ly/z6gNSb

Preparation Is Key In The Booming For-Profit EDU Industry

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Recently, LeadCritic posted an article regarding the enormous growth in the For Profit EDU sector, and how although business is good, forward thought and preparation is going to be very important. Like LeadCritic mentioned, with access to internet ever increasing coupled with the fact that the work force is actively looking to get ahead and stand out, growth is moving as fast as a freight train.

From our vantage point at Leads360, we have watched the industries we serve experience the same lifecycle again and again. We know all too well how the Mortgage industry was effected and especially know how quickly things can go from good to bad, and then to worse. Over-saturation is a common fear in growing industries, and smart companies know that even when potential business is booming, they need to prepare to weather the times when it isn’t. Companies should embrace the bountiful period, but never take anything for granted.  The point of this warning is not to scare anyone, but to bring about a call to action. This cyclical nature can be looked at as good thing, de cluttering said space, and allowing for the survival of the fittest.  The separation of the “men from the boys” can allow companies who have prepared and are following best practices to establish themselves as industry players, and can create an environment for them to continue to grow and flourish far down the road. The keys for this preparation are fairly obvious. Make sure your company is not fooled by the tremendous growth by letting standards slide. Be sure to contact leads quickly and concisely, don’t allow for precious leads to be stranded by the wayside, and utilize current technology to stay ahead of the curve. Although you may find some things unnecessary at the moment, teaching your sales force how to embrace new technology before the storm, allows for an easy transition when your company needs it most. Take heed, but enjoy the ever expanding market.

This is Your Auto Insurance on Slowdown

Monday, October 20th, 2008

The debate about how high gas prices might affect auto insurers has been supplanted by concerns over how their balance sheets may look in light of investments that have turned sour in recent weeks. How individual companies will be affected by the economic slowdown will vary in the short term, but it seems likely that overall they will have some difficulties. The credit crisis comes at a particularly bad time for the auto insurance industry as their prices have fallen in recent years due to competition pressures. The government seizure of AIG also portends some upcoming shifts in market dynamics. AIG has indicated it is likely to sell off assets to repay federal loans, and with no announced buyer, the degree to which this will affect market concentration remains to be determined.

Bush shelves children’s insurance compliance concerns

Friday, August 15th, 2008

The President has backed off threats to impose financial penalties on states that have enrolled too many children in a State Federal insurance program. Fifteen states were threatened with penalties to take effect Monday if they failed to remove children from families with incomes of 250% of the poverty line from the program. Legislators argued that the new guidelines, including a requirement that children go uninsured for one year prior to being enrolled, were too stringent and would result in too many children going uninsured. The State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP insures 6.6 million people, an overwhelming majority of whom are children. Compliance concerns haven’t evaporated, but for the immediate future, their enforcement and resulting fines and loss of Federal funding have been taken off the table.

Mortgage rescue bill will not be vetoed

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

President Bush has dropped his threat to veto the housing rescue bill. His threatened veto was based mostly on $4 Billion to be given to states to enable them to buy and rehabilitate foreclosed properties. Questions were raised by Senator Jim DeMint, R-S.C., after learning that one of the bills architects, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., received a mortgage deal through a VIP program at Countrywide. Unsure how much Countrywide and other retail mortgage lenders stand to profit from that $4 Billion, DeMint and Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., attempted to send the bill back to committee but were defeated, 70-11. Other attempts to send back the bill to be rewritten were similarly defeated. This bill which offers some relief to homeowners on the brink of foreclosing, have broad bipartisan support in this election year, indicating there may be enough votes to override a veto. Eager to avoid a protracted veto fight, President Bush dropped his threat, indicating that restoring confidence and stability to the financial markets was a goal that was better tended to sooner than later.

The Blame Game—Who are you pointing a finger at?

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

“Home prices in 20 major U.S. cities have dropped a record 15.3% in the past year. We are back to where we were in 2004, according to the Case-Shiller home price index released Tuesday by Standard & Poor’s.” Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal article started a firestorm of opinion and thoughts amongst my friends and colleagues and I wanted to share it with you. While home prices are at their lowest in the last five years, market saturation is at its highest; no one is buying or selling homes.


I started reaching out people in the industry to chat about the implications of a market where low home prices were not selling and it spawned quite a few responses. Even the guy sitting next to me on the airplane had something to say about it. This seems to be a topic on the tip of every American’s tongue. See what just a few of them had to say: (Note these are not necessarily my opinions but opinions of my peers and past clients in and out of the mortgage industry.)


“Home buyers are irrational – 2 years ago subprime & prime buyers bought second and third homes. Now even prime buyers are not buying in sufficient numbers. Why not? Are they crazy?! Irrational enough to buy in a market driven by a trifecta of poor lending, brokering and buying decisions but now when it makes the most sense to buy, not buying. Just crazy.”

-Anonymous Real Estate Client

“The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. In a restricted liquidity market, the middle to lower class almost always suffers. Credit costs soar for lower FICO holders, while limited purchases and lending leads to incentives for those with ‘prime’ credit. Go to any car dealership this weekend and ‘Prime’ credit holders can buy a car with no money down, $2.99 gas for two years and a $5000 rebate; got bad credit, don’t waste your time.”

-Noel Collins (Myself)

“Banks caused the problem. Bad lending practices caused ancillary markets to collapse. If banks had not lent to borrowers with lower FICO scores or offered brokers the ability to borrow money for 0% down payments we would not be in trouble. In the past, the average down payment needed for a home purchase qualification was at least 10%. Because of the lack of liquidity time shares, rental cars, hotel reservation rates, food costs, restaurants and tourist attractions are failing.”

-Passenger on flight from LA to Phoenix

“The home buyer is at fault. Even subprime buyers obtained a good loan, paid off credit cards and inserted a positive cash flow in their banks. What happened? They spent the money, got new credit cards, bought a new car or home and paid their mortgages late. If they had followed our financial advice they would be able refinance at prime rates even in today’s market.” –

Chris Stone – EDMC – California

“It is the President’s fault. If George W. Bush had lowered interest rates sooner and not hedged his bet on big oil and the Iraq war, the financial industry would not have collapsed.” —

Anonymous Human Resource Director – Mortgage Industry

“Hedge funds and overreaction compounded the problem. If people had not focused on making money during this crisis we would be better off”.

-David Staral – The Staral Group

“Inexperienced loan originators. Many loan officers – I use the word loosely were inexperienced and only learned how to take orders. One bank/broker I talked with said it was fine when lending was like “Clubbing baby seals” but in today’s market a loan originator/agent needs to b a financial EXPERT! - Period! Inexperienced loan originators looking for a quick buck didn’t point our customers in the right direction; they pointed them into their bank account. I cannot reach my agent any longer; he went back to selling cars.”

– Subprime Customer stuck in an ARM


“My agent went bankrupt and is now facing felony charges in Georgia.”

-Failed Mortgage Banker/Broker


How far will the downturn in our economy take us? Some of my more outspoken colleagues say this will only lead to more money making by the richest of the richest and that more needs to be done for the middle and lower classes. Didn’t we take the financial decision making out of the hands of the wealthy and extend it to our poorer peers? Where did that put us? Banks, buyers, Bush—whose fault is it?

Good times only get better

Monday, April 21st, 2008

The mortgage industry will get better.  In fact, almost everyone agrees that the mortgage industry will improve.  We have heard our President and economists claim our country’s financial health is stable but isn’t that kind of like saying “It can’t get any worse”.   Surely it can’t get worse, could it?  Are we somehow missing the signs of economic improvement?  Are we deaf and blind to the signals and signs of a recovering mortgage industry? 

Maybe we are missing signs of life from the mortgage industry.  For years those of us working in the industry knew the boom would come to an end, but we enjoyed the record revenues while they lasted. Overall there seemed to be little preparation for tough times.  Brokers, lenders, loan officers and everyone else involved accrued little savings and neglected long-term financial preparation.   The rapidity and severity of the meltdown has overwhelmed most institutions within the financial sector.  Wall Street is reeling and bad news it seems is reported almost daily. 

Today, the Saudi government decided hold off increasing oil production.  This will surely drive up the costs of oil.  With gasoline hovering ominously near $4 a gallon and food costs higher than the previous 15 years, recession is on the lips of most financial analysts.   I’ve even heard Jordan Sparks might have a debilitating vocal injury.  How do we keep our chins up when even our American Idol is in dire straits? 

I received my quarterly 401k statement and for the first time since the dot.com bust, lost money in every single category.  The relevance of the mortgage meltdown is finally hitting home.  Ok maybe I’m painting a darker picture then what it really is.  The coming presidential election could change the landscape overnight and save us all from the world wide meltdown, Right?  Well this time I am going to pay attention to the signs and signals. 

It’s time for us to reduce expenses, sell the extra car, put a little bit of money into the savings account and eat out less.  It’s time we all pitched in and started saving more, that might be the only thing that saves our big brothers in the financial industry.  If we all pitch in and save our money we can bail out the credit card companies, credit unions and Wall Street lenders.  Like an errant child who dropped out of college and just needs a parents hug of acceptance and forgiveness, it’s time to hug your Congressman. 

You really don’t need President Bush’s rebate check; send it back to Congress with a note offering thanks for a job well done.  Thanks for leaving us to our own devices.  We got ourselves into this mess; we might be the only ones who can do something about it. 

NOW OPEN FOR BUSINESS: FHA Conforming Loan Amount Limit Increase

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

People, you heard it here first, okay maybe second, or third, but you heard it here nonetheless. As of now, you should be marketing to all of the old leads in your database so you can capture business that you missed out on in the past. There are strategies to make you successful doing this, they are called Best Practices, and we would like to share them with you.

I like to call times like this “Found Money” times. There is found money sitting in the lead manager of every mortgage company out there, no matter what kind of system you use. Whether there is a stack of old leads piled up in a filing cabinet, or whether you are using the best and most sophisticated lead management system on the market, if you play your cards right, you will come out with a BIG W.

Below is a table of new FHA limits. Take a look at it, then get to work. If you need help, just ask.

County Median Home Price New FHA Limit
Alameda County $995,000 $729,750
Alpine County $438,000 $547,500
Amador County $355,000 $443,750
Butte County $320,000 $400,000
Calaveras County $370,000 $462,500
Colusa County $318,000 $397,500
Contra Costa County $995,000 $729,750
Del Norte County $249,000 $311,250
El Dorado County $464,000 $580,000
Fresno County $305,000 $381,250
Glenn County $230,000 $287,500
Humboldt County $315,000 $393,750
Imperial County $260,000 $325,000
Inyo County $350,000 $437,500
Kern County $295,000 $368,750
Kings County $260,000 $325,000
Lake County $321,000 $401,250
Lassen County $200,000 $271,050
Los Angeles County $710,000 $729,750
Madera County $340,000 $425,000
Marin County $995,000 $729,750
Mariposa County $330,000 $412,500
Mendocino County $410,000 $512,500
Merced County $378,000 $472,500
Modoc County $125,000 $271,050
Mono County $370,000 $462,500
Monterey County $599,000 $729,750
Napa County $615,000 $729,750
Nevada County $450,000 $562,500
Orange County $710,000 $729,750
Placer County $464,000 $580,000
Plumas County $328,000 $410,000
Riverside County $400,000 $500,000
Sacramento County $464,000 $580,000
San Benito County $790,000 $729,750
San Bernardino County $400,000 $500,000
San Diego County $558,000 $697,500
San Francisco County $995,000 $729,750
San Joaquin County $391,000 $488,750
San Luis Obispo County $550,000 $687,500
San Mateo County $995,000 $729,750
Santa Barbara County $615,000 $729,750
Santa Clara County $790,000 $729,750
Santa Cruz County $719,000 $729,750
Shasta County $339,000 $423,750
Sierra County $228,000 $285,000
Siskiyou County $235,000 $293,750
Solano County $446,000 $557,500
Sonoma County $530,000 $662,500
Stanislaus County $339,000 $423,750
Sutter County $340,000 $425,000
Tehama County $250,000 $312,500
Trinity County $200,000 271050
Tulare County $260,000 $325,000
Tuolumne County $350,000 $437,500
Ventura County $599,000 $729,750
Yolo County $464,000 $580,000
Yuba County $340,000 $425,000

Recent Market Developments

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Wall Street started the session today racing toward gains however the latest economic data helped confirm investors’ fears that the economy is falling into a recession.  Investors were looking for data that would be help to stave off a sharp economic slowdown, and at the same time still warrant further cuts of the federal funds rate. Investors pulled the plug on trading for gains when a report from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve showed manufacturing fell more than forecasted. This manufacturing reading is the Conference Board’s gauge of leading economic indicators and it is used to predict which direction the economy is headed. It has posted its fourth straight drop.

As a result traders are already pricing in another interest rate cut, as much as an additional half a percentage point, after minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s last policy-setting meeting were released indicating that the central bank will remain aggressive in regards to  fending off recession. Most economists realize the cuts to the federal funds rate take months to work their way through the economy and may not stop the economy from weakening further.

The Dow, the NASDAQ and S&P 500 all fell sharply as a result of today’s economic news. And finally for the good news, treasury bonds improved today as we see the 10yr note improved by 3.40%, or by -0.133, closing at 3.784. Of course you know this improvement will be reflected in tomorrow mornings rates. Tomorrow may be the right time to lock, however we may see things improve more as the next Feds meeting draws near and the FOMC, Federal Reserve Board, is scheduled to meet again on the 18th of March. The last meetings notes forecast for slower growth and continued risks to the economy from housing and credit markets.

Now is the time to talk up this market information using our drip marketing feature in your LMS. Also redistribute your old leads and prepare to work them with improved pricing. Realize you need to move quickly as the market has been extremely volatile and has moved as much as 9.0% and back again in a 12 hour period recently. In the last two and a half weeks the 30 yr fixed at par went from 5.125% back to 5.875%. Chances are tomorrow we’ll see 5.75% and possibly 5.625%.

As you prepare for the influx of applications be sure to contact us so we can help! Thank you for reading and have a great evening!