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Finding growth opportunities in the non-QM space in 2023

Between the shift towards self-employment and the number of Millennials entering the housing market, the market for non-QM is poised for substantial growth…



Between the shift towards self-employment and the number of Millennials entering the housing market, the market for non-QM is poised for substantial growth in the year to come. HousingWire recently spoke with John Keratsis, president and CEO of Deephaven Mortgage, about what lenders should be doing to capitalize on the boom in non-QM lending and why our preconceived notions about non-QM could be all wrong. 

HousingWire: Why is now such an important time to prioritize non-QM?

John Keratsis: The timing to get into non-QM couldn’t be better for a couple of reasons. First, the non-QM market is poised for long-term, sustainable growth. This is a direct result of a monumental shift in the US to the self-employed workstyle. Contract or ‘gig’ workers, entrepreneurs and business owners need non-QM mortgages because they may be unable to produce the W-2 tax form used to verify qualifying income for a traditional loan. 

Driving this workstyle change is the largest population cohort in US history: Millennials. As millions of self-employed Millennials settle down and start to raise families, they are looking for their first home. Millennials were born between 1982 and 2000. So, the Millennial homebuying demand is set to continue for a span of eighteen years! 

Right behind the Millennials are the Gen Zers – the third largest population in US history. Gen Zers are also big on the self-employed workstyle. All of which means there will be a sustained demand for non-QM loans for many years to come.  

Another reason to get into non-QM lending at this very moment is diversification. Just about every lender is looking for alternative revenue sources to offset the decline in refinances and the very tight purchase market. Offering non-QM loans provides access to those millions of borrowers who want mortgages but are unable to qualify for a traditional loan. 

The timing is right from the capital markets perspective, too. Residential mortgage credit provides diversification benefits to institutional investors. Historically, RMBS have performed comparatively well during downturns in the stock market. 

HW: How has the growing trend of self-employment led to the need for more robust non-QM products?

JK: Per above, it’s a perfect storm. Millennials, at 72.19 million are the largest population cohort in US history, are now settling down, starting families and looking for their first homes. 

Millennials also make up a vast segment of the largest non-QM borrower cohort: the self-employed. Ironically, the pandemic put homeownership in closer reach for self-employed workers. By making it acceptable to work from anywhere, they are free to move around the country and purchase homes in more affordable geographies where it takes less time to save for the all-important down payment.

HW: Non-QM loans are surrounded by misconceptions. How can lenders debunk myths about non-QM lending?

JK: The biggest misconception is that non-QM is only for borrowers who can’t qualify for a traditional loan due to poor credit. We’ve found that the best way to debunk this is to simply use the facts. In today’s non-QM loan pools, FICO scores can range between 730-740, DTIs generally meet Agency standards and LTVs are in the low 70s. 

Beyond that, it’s important to point out that non-QM, like the traditional market, shifts and evolves with the industry. The rise of self-employed borrowers is one trend. Another is the demand for single-family rental properties. Even industry professionals are surprised to learn that business purpose DSCR (Debt Service Coverage Ratio) loans make up about 30% of our business. America’s aging housing stock is fueling this trend as property investors purchase single-family homes from downsizing baby boomers, fix them up and then use them to generate rental income. This is also another indication of how the non-QM sector continues to evolve to serve shifting industry trends. We have the flexibility to quickly align products and services with market demands, whereas the traditional mortgage market does not. Today, Deephaven can close a DSCR loan in as few as 15 days.

HW: What is Deephaven Mortgage doing to expand non-QM lending?

JK: We know the demand for non-QM loans will only keep growing. We know that investors, attracted by higher yields, want them on the capital markets side. 

To a certain degree, we have to just keep doing what we’re already doing: 1) keep educating lenders, brokers, real estate agents and borrowers about non-QM mortgages; 2) continue to build out both wholesale and correspondent distribution channels; and 3) implement ongoing enhancements to our non-QM customer experience.

At Deephaven, we are continuously running webinars to bring new loan officers into the non-QM fold. We’re investing heavily in technology to create truly seamless service delivery. As demands grows, competition for non-QM loans will, too. The tiebreaker will become the borrower and client experience.

To learn about the opportunities in non-QM lending, visit

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Stay Ahead of GDP: 3 Charts to Become a Smarter Trader

When concerns of a recession are front and center, investors tend to pay more attention to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) report. The Q4 2022 GDP report…



When concerns of a recession are front and center, investors tend to pay more attention to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) report. The Q4 2022 GDP report showed the U.S. economy grew by 2.9% in the quarter, and Wall Street wasn't disappointed. The day the report was released, the market closed higher, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($DJIA) up 0.61%, the S&P 500 index ($SPX) up 1.1%, and the Nasdaq Composite ($COMPQ) up 1.76%. Consumer Discretionary, Technology, and Energy were the top-performing S&P sectors.

Add to the GDP report strong earnings from Tesla, Inc. (TSLA) and a mega announcement from Chevron Corp. (CVX)—raising dividends and a $75 billion buyback round—and you get a strong day in the stock markets.

Why is the GDP Report Important?

If a country's GDP is growing faster than expected, it could be a positive indication of economic strength. It means that consumer spending, business investment, and exports, among other factors, are going strong. But the GDP is just one indicator, and one indicator doesn't necessarily tell the whole story. It's a good idea to look at other indicators, such as the unemployment rate, inflation, and consumer sentiment, before making a conclusion.

Inflation appears to be cooling, but the labor market continues to be strong. The Fed has stated in many of its previous meetings that it'll be closely watching the labor market. So that'll be a sticky point as we get close to the next Fed meeting. Consumer spending is also strong, according to the GDP report. But that could have been because of increased auto sales and spending on services such as health care, personal care, and utilities. Retail sales released earlier in January indicated that holiday sales were lower.

There's a chance we could see retail sales slowing in Q1 2023 as some households run out of savings that were accumulated during the pandemic. This is something to keep an eye on going forward, as a slowdown in retail sales could mean increases in inventories. And this is something that could decrease economic activity.

Overall, the recent GDP report indicates the U.S. economy is strong, although some economists feel we'll probably see some downside in 2023, though not a recession. But the one drawback of the GDP report is that it's lagging. It comes out after the fact. Wouldn't it be great if you had known this ahead of time so you could position your trades to take advantage of the rally? While there's no way to know with 100% accuracy, there are ways to identify probable events.

3 Ways To Stay Ahead of the Curve

Instead of waiting for three months to get next quarter's GDP report, you can gauge the potential strength or weakness of the overall U.S. economy. Steven Sears, in his book The Indomitable Investor, suggested looking at these charts:

  • Copper prices
  • High-yield corporate bonds
  • Small-cap stocks

Copper: An Economic Indicator

You may not hear much about copper, but it's used in the manufacture of several goods and in construction. Given that manufacturing and construction make up a big chunk of economic activity, the red metal is more important than you may have thought. If you look at the chart of copper futures ($COPPER) you'll see that, in October 2022, the price of copper was trading sideways, but, in November, its price rose and trended quite a bit higher. This would have been an indication of a strengthening economy.

CHART 1: COPPER CONTINUOUS FUTURES CONTRACTS. Copper prices have been rising since November 2022. Chart source: For illustrative purposes only.

High-Yield Bonds: Risk On Indicator

The higher the risk, the higher the yield. That's the premise behind high-yield bonds. In short, companies that are leveraged, smaller, or just starting to grow may not have the solid balance sheets that more established companies are likely to have. If the economy slows down, investors are likely to sell the high-yield bonds and pick up the safer U.S. Treasury bonds.

Why the flight to safety? It's because when the economy is sluggish, the companies that issue the high-yield bonds tend to find it difficult to service their debts. When the economy is expanding, the opposite happens—they tend to perform better.

The chart below of the Dow Jones Corporate Bond Index ($DJCB) shows that, since the end of October 2022, the index trended higher. Similar to copper prices, high-yield corporate bond activity was also indicating economic expansion. You'll see similar action in charts of high-yield bond exchange-traded funds (ETFs) such as iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (HYG) and SPDR Barclays High Yield Bond ETF (JNK).

CHART 2: HIGH-YIELD BONDS TRENDING HIGHER. The Dow Jones Corporate Bond Index ($DJCB) has been trending higher since end of October 2022.Chart source: For illustrative purposes only.

Small-Cap Stocks: They're Sensitive

Pull up a chart of the iShares Russell 2000 ETF (IWM) and you'll see similar price action (see chart 3). Since mid-October, small-cap stocks (the Russell 2000 index is made up of 2000 small companies) have been moving higher.

CHART 3: SMALL-CAP STOCKS TRENDING HIGHER. When the economy is expanding, small-cap stocks trend higher.Chart source: For illustrative purposes only.

Three's Company

If all three of these indicators are showing strength, you can expect the GDP number to be strong. There are times when the GDP number may not impact the markets, but, when inflation is a problem and the Fed is trying to curb it by raising interest rates, the GDP number tends to impact the markets.

This scenario is likely to play out in 2023, so it would be worth your while to set up a GDP Tracker ChartList. Want a live link to the charts used in this article? They're all right here.

Jayanthi Gopalakrishnan

Director, Site Content


Disclaimer: This blog is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as financial advice. The ideas and strategies should never be used without first assessing your own personal and financial situation, or without consulting a financial professional.

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Hotels: Occupancy Rate Down 6.2% Compared to Same Week in 2019

From CoStar: STR: MLK Day Leads to Slightly Lower US Weekly Hotel PerformanceWith the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, U.S. hotel performance came in slightly lower than the previous week, according to STR‘s latest data through Jan. 21.Jan. 15-21, 2023 …



With the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, U.S. hotel performance came in slightly lower than the previous week, according to STR‘s latest data through Jan. 21.

Jan. 15-21, 2023 (percentage change from comparable week in 2019*):

Occupancy: 54.2% (-6.2%)
• Average daily rate (ADR): $140.16 (+11.3%)
• evenue per available room (RevPAR): $75.97 (+4.4%)

*Due to the pandemic impact, STR is measuring recovery against comparable time periods from 2019. Year-over-year comparisons will once again become standard after Q1.
emphasis added
The following graph shows the seasonal pattern for the hotel occupancy rate using the four-week average.

Click on graph for larger image.

The red line is for 2023, black is 2020, blue is the median, and dashed light blue is for 2022.  Dashed purple is 2019 (STR is comparing to a strong year for hotels).

The 4-week average of the occupancy rate is below the median rate for the previous 20 years (Blue), but this is the slow season - and some of the early year weakness might be related to the timing of the report.

Note: Y-axis doesn't start at zero to better show the seasonal change.

The 4-week average of the occupancy rate will increase seasonally over the next few months.

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American Express Numbers Show What Still Gets People to Spend Money

American Express stock jumped nearly 12% since earnings dropped.



American Express stock jumped nearly 12% since earnings dropped.

Even though American Express  (AXP) - Get Free Report earnings announced Friday afternoon fell somewhat short of expectations for the quarter, shares still soared to highs unseen for many months due to a number of strong metrics -- quarterly revenue growth of 17%, plans to raise its dividend by 15% from 52 to 60 cents and an annual revenue that surpassed $50 billion for the first time ever.

At $52.9 billion, the latter is driven primarily by an increase in quarterly member spending. Last year, that number was at $42.4 billion. 

According to American Express Chairman and CEO Stephen J. Squeri, the increase can be attributed to higher numbers of millennials gaining in earning power and using their AmEx above other cards to tap into rewards as many approach milestones like marriage, career advancement, and homeownership.

"Millennial and Gen Z customers continue to be the largest drivers of our growth, representing over 60% of proprietary consumer card acquisitions in the quarter and for the full year," Squeri said in an earnings call discussing the results.

People Are Using Their AmEx Cards a Lot

The $52.9 billion number is up 25% from what was seen last quarter and reflects a number of different factors also having to do with post-pandemic spending.

"We ended 2022 with record revenues, which grew 25% from a year earlier, and earnings per share of $9.85, both well above the guidance that we provided when we introduced our long-term growth plan at the start of last year, despite a mixed economic environment," Squeri said.

AmEx further reported that 12.5 million new members signed up for cards in 2022 while existing members used their cards frequently. Fourth-quarter sales at AmEx's U.S. consumer services and commercial segments rose by a respective 23% and 15%.

But higher expenses also led to falling below analyst expectations. The fourth-quarter income of $1.57 billion, or $2.07 a share, is down from $1.72 billion ($2.18 a share) in the fourth quarter of 2021. FactSet analysts had predicted $2.23 a share.

"I'm not sure what that's really a function of right now -- whether it's a function of the economy or of confusion on where to advertise right now," Squeri told Yahoo Finance in reference to lower spending on the part of small business and digital advertisers. "We're going to watch that, but the consumer is really strong, travel bookings are up over 50% vs pre-pandemic."


It's a Good Time to Be Tracking Credit Card Companies

Immediately after the earnings dropped, AmEx stock started soaring and was up nearly 12% at $175.24 on Friday afternoon. This is a high unseen in months -- the last peak occurred when, on September 12, shares were at $162.45. 

Whether due to or despite analyst threats of a looming recession, people have been using their credit cards very actively throughout the end of 2022.

When it posted its earnings earlier this week, Mastercard  (MA) - Get Free Report surpassed Wall Street expectations of $5.8 billion and $2.65 per share in fourth-quarter earnings. Visa  (V) - Get Free Report also saw revenue rise 11.8% to $7.94 billion in the same quarter. The numbers also reflect higher numbers of people traveling and using their credit cards in different countries.

"Visa's performance in the first quarter of 2023 reflects stable domestic volumes and transactions and a continued recovery of cross-border travel," outgoing CEO Al Kelly said of the results during a call with financial analysts.

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