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The Liquidity Factor: The Housing Hour Pulls Back Veil on Lending


The Housing Hour Pulls back Veil on Lending

Mortgage Lending: The Liquidity Factor, Part I

In Mortgage Lending, it has always been said that the two largest purchases families will ever make are homes and cars. Since the 1900s, those two items have not only revolutionized the way we live but also the way we spend. In 1901, the Oldsmobile sold for $650 which works out to be approximately $16,000 in today’s dollars. Home prices were on an average of $5000. In 2019, the average home price peaked to a historic high of $227,000. New car prices hit highs of roughly $35,000 in 2018.

What helped the values soar so high?

The Housing Hour points to its own terminology, The Liquidity Factor. The Liquidity Factor is the ready availability of loanable funds made possible by the Federal Government, through varied techniques of government policies and created business entities, which help individuals and companies purchase goods and services that they otherwise would not be able to afford. Simply put, without liquidity in the marketplace buyers only options are to pay with cash. No liquidity means values stay at the levels of what consumers can afford to pay in cash.

The liquidity factor is the key to mortgage lending and home ownership.

The History of Mortgage Lending and The Liquidity Factor.

In the1900′s, homes generally had to paid for in cash.

Mortgage Lending has several historic moments worth noting since the 1900s. The most remarkable pieces of information revolve around long term financing options available in the 1900s, there weren’t any.  Mortgage Banks were formed in the 1870s to help finance the expanding western territories, but they never offered ‘long term’ financing. It trended to be in the 5 to 10-year term range. But unsound underwriting guidelines caused high default rates which led to the demise of these Mortgage Banks by the 1900s, resulting in homes having to be purchased with cash.

The Great Depression: Unemployment exceeds 20%

It wasn’t until the roaring 20’s that expanding credit markets created enough liquidity to spur a mini real estate boom. Insurance Companies saw an opportunity to capitalize on the housing market bubble and got into the home lending field. But whatever a robust market giveth, a declining market taketh away.  Black Tuesday struck, leading to The Great Depression. High unemployment and acute deflation caused high foreclosure rates, which collapsed the home lending market for a second time in 30 years. Facing a country wide crisis, the Federal Government created its own 1929 version of TARP, Troubled Asset Relief Program with the creation of The Home Owners’ Loan Corporation and Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC). These entities (like TARP) sole jobs were to liquidate non-performing loans and remove them from the Banks ledgers keeping the banks from insolvency. They were toxic assets. Interestingly enough, homeowners took advantage of this bailout opportunity and intentionally defaulted on their loan. These created government entities are estimated to have purchased over one million mortgages from banks.

The government buying toxic assets may keep the banks from insolvency but it doesn’t cure the lack of liquidity in the market place. No liquidity means no lending, so the Hoover administration started to form (Roosevelt signed into law) the Federal Home Loan Bank. The main goal of the FHLB was to supply the needed liquidity to banks and Savings and Loans, as well as requiring specific lending guidelines, such as mortgage term limits of 10-15 years, as well as other stringent policies. The main lending institutions benefiting were the Savings and Loans. The S&L’s grew rapidly across the country, serving small community areas, creating a small town ‘good ole’ boy feel. Each S&L were owned and managed privately by individuals or groups, giving great control to the board of directors and president.  But the expanding  S&L’s demanded more flexibility from the government. The S&L’s were not full-service banks. They could not offer checking accounts and other typical banking products. As a result of  Banks and S&L’s waging a savings rate war, Congress, in 1966, regulated and limited the amount that banks and S&L’s could pay to customers. However, as a carrot to preserve their savings and lending, the S&L’s were given an award by the Federal Government with permission to increase the savings rate paid to customers in the amount 50 basis points over what traditional banks could offer their saving account customers. This regulation was known as Regulation Q. But the intentions of the regulation were more than just an award for the S&L’s; it also served as a back door liquidity technique. Regulation Q created a cash-rich environment for the S&L’s and helped secure them as the leading mortgage lending institution in the nation, supplying the market with the necessary liquidity until the collapse of the S&L’s in the ’80s, paving the way for the expansion of FNMA and Freddie Mac.

Mortgage Lending: The Liquidity Factor, Part II

 Read Part I

The history of Mortgage Lending and The Liquidity Factor.

At the peak of the Great Depression, the Hoover administration realized the importance of the liquidity factor. Their policies bolstered the S&L’s, securing them as the main channel to provide the necessary liquidity to the mortgage market. The Federal Home Loan Bank supplied millions of dollars to the local banks and Savings and Loans for lending.

The importance of the S&L’s was, unintentionally, immortalized in the holiday classic, It’s A Wonderful Life. George Bailey was struggling to save his father’s Building and Loan business (essentially a Savings and Loan) from being taken over by the evil Henry Potter. George Bailey’s father built the business around the principle that the common worker needed the ability to borrow money for a better home and quality of life rather than living in the horrid conditions of Henry Potter’s slumlord developments. Mr. Potter, being a significant shareholder in the Bailey family Building and Loan, admonishes the board for lending money to the ‘rabble’ types (or the lower classes; the common people) that live in Bedford Falls.

In the famous scene, George Bailey rallies the board with the inspiring lines directed toward Mr. Potter, “You… you said…  They had to wait and save their money before they even ought to think of a decent home. Wait? Wait for what? Until their children grow up and leave them? Until they’re so old and broken down that they… Do you know how long it takes a working man to save $5,000? Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you’re talking about… they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath?” Watch the full scene:

This scene typifies the great  American dream that everyone should have the same opportunity to own their own home. George even points out what current research has verified when he asks the board a simple question “…doesn’t it make them better citizens?”Home ownership has social benefits and every president from Herbert Hoover to present has tried to further that sentiment.

But the scene also points out, inadvertently, the weakness of the Savings and Loan. That weakness was its localized business philosophy: meaning the small town, ‘good ol boy ‘ way of doing business. In every community across the country, S&L’s were the dominant player in the savings and lending business. Decisions were often based on who you knew or a set of standards and dynamics that was specific to a particular area or community.

When Roosevelt was elected in 1933, policies regarding how to supply the mortgage lending market with liquidity changed.  Roosevelt saw the disadvantages of the small town, local S&L’s and opted for a nationally standardized way of supplying liquidity. In 1934, The National Housing Act was authorized which created three particularly significant changes to the housing market. First, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was formed to improve housing standards and to insure the mortgages against default to the lenders, bringing stability to the financing market. Fixed rate loans were introduced with terms in excess of 20 years and smaller down payment requirements. Lastly, a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) was authorized to purchase originated mortgages from lenders and securitization of those loans in the form of Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS).

fha1.jpgIn 1937, the Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA or Fannie Mae, a GSE) was created to provide liquidity to the mortgage market by buying the newly originated FHA loans from lenders. This technique gave the lender the ability to replenish their cash assets so they could continue to provide additional FHA loans. FNMA, at that time, only bought FHA loans and did not enter the conventional financing market until 1970 when her younger brother, Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC or Freddie Mac), another GSE, was formed. As a result of the expansion of the GSE’s role in the liquidity market, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac became the largest private mortgage companies in the country. Although the GSE’s are publicly traded and non-government owned, the US government gives its full backing to the loan products they purchase. The full backing of the US makes these mortgage bond investments one of the best investment choices in the domestic and foreign markets.

It is essential to note, the commercial banks were generally the only lending institution participating in the newly created FHA loans.  The majority of the S&L’s continued with their long developed business practice of keeping originated mortgage products on their books.  If they needed to create liquidity, they just sold their portfolio loans to other S&Ls across the country. This decision to not participate in government loans and the diversified liquidity it would provide them would play a future key role in the collapse of the S&Ls.

 Mortgage Lending: The Liquidity Factor, Part III

Read Part 1 and Part 2

The collapse of the S&L’s

levitt town

“…millions of servicemen returned home, a housing boom ensued….”

The strength of the S&L’s and their mortgage lending market share soared from post-World War II until 1965. The National Housing Act was a crucial first step to turning the Liquidity Factor from local markets to national markets, but the transition was extremely slow. When WWII ended, and millions of servicemen returned home, a housing boom ensued, caused mainly by a baby boom. The post-war housing expansion was primarily funded by the S&Ls.  S&Ls continued to grow in numbers and worth by offering saving rates that typically were higher than banks.  By 1965, the S&L’s had over 26% of the savings customers and a historic high of 46% of the mortgage lending market. Banks and S&L’s were battling for savings account customers, but the S&L’s were winning the rate war.  Customers took advantage of the fight until the government thought it necessary to step in and end the rate war in 1966. Regulation Q was passed to limit the rate of returns these institutions could pay to their customers. But, as stated in Part I, the government gave the S&L’s a 50 basis points rate advantage over the banks. This advantage enabled the S&L’s to maintain their dominance, particularly in the mortgage lending market. Yet, there was a deliberate limiting feature to Regulation Q and it had an effect on the number of S&L’s from 1965-1979, dropping the actual numbers of institutions from approximately 6000 to 4700. However, innovative business practices caused the assets of the S&L’s to grow.

“….saving account customers poured out of the S&L’s…”

But change was coming. Inflation was on the rise, causing stress in the S&L’s by the mid 70′s. Inflation erodes the interest returns on fixed savings accounts and other fixed investments, like the below-market fixed rate mortgages that the S&L’s were holding. Those savings customers, for whom the S&L’s had fought so hard for during the rate wars, were now looking for other methods of interest income. The locked in nature of the Certificates of Deposits which were the bread and butter of the S&L’s for the past 20 years were now prison cells to consumers, as high inflation rates stripped them of interest income and Regulation Q prevented the S&L’s to renegotiate the savings rates.  The S&L’s found themselves, for the first time in their history, trapped by the very regulation that they had profited from in the past.

Additionally, there was more distressing news on the horizon for the S&L’s.  As inflation started to appear, so did a new type of investment institution, the investment bank. A new investment product came to the attention of savings customers, the Money Market Mutual Funds (MMMF). The MMMF’s were highly liquid, paying current market rates with no early withdrawal penalties and they were all outside the control of Regulation Q. The S&L’s were caught flat-footed. The investment banks were now able to offer market-rate returns to their customers by taking full advantage of the high-interest rate market caused by inflation. When asked the question, ‘What, in your opinion, caused the collapse of the S&L’s?’ Stephen (Steve) R. Smith, CMB, Executive Vice President, Retail Sales & Production with Mortgage Investors Group and former top executive of an S&L in the ’80′s replied, “In a word, disintermediation.”  Smith went on to explain what disintermediation meant, “….saving account customers poured out of the S&L’s and into the investment banks. The effects were devastating and in the end, insurmountable.”

The dominoes of the S&L’s slowly began to fall. In Part II, the point was made that the S&L’s did not participate in selling their mortgage loans to FNMA but chose to keep them, as assets, on their books. If they needed to free up money or liquidity, they sold to other S&L’s. But as a result of disintermediation, no S&L had any cash to buy, they were suffering the same fate: the threat of insolvency.

The only thing to stem the tide was deregulation, but it came too late and it came in pieces. There were numerous attempts by the government to help supply ballast for the listing S&Ls. In the early to mid-1970′s, the S&L’s were allowed to offer checking accounts, engage in commercial lending, make limited investments in land development and construction as well as educational type loans. These changes helped the S&L’s to develop diversified business practices, but Regulation Q was still the governing burden. The main source of their solvency continued to be the savings account customers and mortgage holdings, and by 1979, double-digit inflation was wreaking havoc on these fixed-rate investments.

Renewed hope appeared in March of 1980 with the first deregulation attempt to save the S&L’s, Deregulation and Money Control Act. The Act allowed the S&L’s to pay market interest rates to their savings customers in hopes to curb their moving to the investment banks.  The act restored some confidence, but it only addressed half the issue, it did not address all those millions of dollars of under-performing fixed-rate loans that were still on the S&L’s books. There was certainly no hurry for homeowners to pay off these low-interest rate loans and there were no commercial buyers to purchase the mortgage paper from the S&Ls.  Steve Smith supplies an anecdotal example of the dilemma the S&L’s faced, “…we used to joke that our business plan was based on 3-2-1, we loan money at a rate of 3, we pay savers at a rate of 2 and go play golf at 1, but when inflation hit and then deregulation, our model changed to 3-9-0, we were bleeding badly and couldn’t afford to play golf.”

Smith, “… fraud was symptomatic of an existing systemic problem…”

It took 2 years for the government to deregulate the lending restrictions for the S&Ls. Reagan signed a new law giving the S&Ls additional flexibilities, namely the much needed adjustable rate mortgage. This type of mortgage allows the lender to move the interest rate to match market conditions, such as inflationary pressures, protecting the lender from a below-market fixed rate investment. However, there was still no help for thousands of fixed-rate loans that were trapped on the S&L’s books. But the new law gave the S&L’s ability to expand into more speculative business enterprises. By the mid 80′s, the speculative nature of the S&L’s along with poor business decisions and fraud sealed the inevitable collapse of the S&Ls. “The fraud was symptomatic of an existing systemic problem….” explains Smith, “…by the early to mid ’80′s we were trying to create revenue given the new advantages offered by deregulation. Certainly, some didn’t play by the rules, but there was desperation throughout the industry. Inflation and the inability to react to it was an unintended consequence of government regulation and ultimately, in my opinion, the cause of the collapse. “

Although the S&L collapse caused great financial hardships, including the use of US taxpayer’s money for bailouts, it did not create liquidity void for mortgage lending markets. The expansion of the GSE’s, FNMA and the newly created Freddie Mac in 1970′s, allowed the vision of Roosevelt to finally be realized, the switch from local liquidity markets to a nationally controlled market.

Mortgage Lending: The Liquidity Factor, Part IV

Part I Part II Part III

The Rise of the GSEs

When the smoke finally cleared from the destruction of the S&L’s in the late 80′s early 90′s, FNMA and Freddie Mac were solidly in place. It took 36 years for Roosevelt’s national liquidity vision to be realized. The 90′s brought the hope of a new mortgage lending era with cutting edge technologies and an internet system that connected the world.  FNMA and Freddie Mac incorporated the national credit scoring system along with property valuation models into their automated underwriting systems (AUS)  to produce a streamlined approval process. This total automated system was intended to take all the guesswork out of analyzing risk, which in turn, would reduce costs of originating and selling loans. These cost savings could be passed through to the consumer in the form of cheaper interest rates and closing costs, as well as eventually finding their way into the profits of lenders, FNMA/Freddie Mac, bond traders and ultimately the end investor. The other important feature was the complete automated nature of the system with its ability to expand or contract its guideline through simple tweaking of the computer models. In the early 90′s, pressure from the Clinton administration for a National Home Ownership Strategy was developed. This complete housing overhaul consisted of over 100 action items and over 50 industry-wide corporate partnerships signing their support.  The new initiative was known as the American Dream Commitment. By 2004, continued expansion of the commitment was evident in FNMA mission statement, “We at Fannie Mae are in the American Dream business. Our mission is to tear down barriers, lower costs, and increase the opportunities for homeownership and affordable rental housing for all Americans”. With this new mantra and fresh momentum, backed by policymakers and trillions of dollars, the housing bubble years were inflating. The most aggressive part of the mission statement from FNMA was, ‘…tear down barriers…’ and ‘…for all Americans.’. The barriers could be easily torn down by simple manipulation of the automated systems resulting in achieving the second point, more Americans becoming eligible for mortgage loans almost overnight.

However, between 2001 and 2008 FNMA/Freddie Mac significantly dropped their guidelines to allow riskier loans to be purchased and securitized by the GSEs. In a 2 year span between 2005 and 2007, FNMA/Freddie Mac had purchased close to a trillion dollars in Alt-A and sub-prime loans; a level that could not be sustained.  Private-Label MBS had decreased to less than 10% market share in 2008 but by that time, the worlds financial markets were flooded with assets that would soon turn toxic.

As reported in the Inquiry, FNMA and Freddie Mac were motivated by a need, “to meet stock market analysts’ and investors’ expectations for growth, to regain market share, and to ensure generous compensation for their executives and employees—justifying their activities on the broad and sustained public policy support for homeownership.”

By 2008, the GSEs  and the Private-Labels MBS were collapsing.

FNMA: The Lame Duck That Lays The Golden Eggs


FNMA: The Lame Duck That Lays The Golden Eggs

November update:
Five years ago things looked really bad. All phases of the financials markets were collapsing. The Federal government stepped in, with TARP (Trouble Asset Relief Program), and bailed out Banks, FNMA, FreddieMac, Autos and more, almost 700 billion dollars were spent to keep things propped up.

FNMA became a lame duck company when the Federal Government placed them in conservatorship in 2008. The GSE’s (FNMA/FreddieMac) required 187 billion dollars from TARP funds, however, today they have re-paid 185.2 billion to the Feds. That’s 98.7% of the borrowed funds paid back in 5 years. Plus Fannie and Freddie are making significant profits and expect to add additional payments by year end. Also, since all future profits go the government, Fannie/Freddie will be huge money makers for the government and taxpayers sometime in 2014. FNMA: The Lame Duck That Lays The Golden Eggs.

Join us this Saturday on The Housing Hour: The History of Mortgage Lending

Freddie Mac Profits Push Dividend Return Close to Aid Amount

Read our multi-part Series: The Liquidity Factor

FNMA and Freddie Mac Help 2.3 Million Keep Homes


FNMA and Freddie Mac Help 2.3 Million Keep Homes

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Help More than 2.3 Million Homeowners Keep their Homes
Report Shows Serious Delinquencies Continue to Drop

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac completed more than 130,000 foreclosure prevention actions during the first quarter of 2013, bringing the total foreclosure prevention actions to nearly 2.8 million since the start of conservatorship in 2008. These actions have helped more than 2.3 million borrowers stay in their homes, including nearly 1.4 million who received permanent loan modifications. The results are detailed in the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s first quarter 2013 Foreclosure Prevention Report, also known as the Federal Property Manager’s Report.

The quarterly report has information on state delinquencies and an updated, interactive Borrower Assistance Map for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages, with information on delinquencies, foreclosure prevention activities and Real Estate Owned (REO) properties.

Also noted in the report:

  • Serious delinquency rates dropped from 3.3 to 3.0 percent at the end of the quarter.
  • The number of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac borrowers who are more than 60 days delinquent declined 11 percent in the first quarter to the lowest level since the first quarter of 2009.
  • Half of troubled borrowers who received permanent loan modifications in the first quarter had their monthly payments reduced by more than 30 percent.
  • More than one-third of loan modifications completed in the first quarter included principal forbearance.
  • Over 30,000 short sales and deeds-in-lieu were completed in the first quarter, bringing the total to more than 476,000 since the start of conservatorship.
  • Third-party sales and foreclosure sales continued a downward trend in the first quarter while foreclosure starts increased.
  • A new streamlined modification initiative, announced during the first quarter, will take effect on July 1. Although numbers are not available yet, the program is expected to help eligible homeowners who have missed at least three monthly payments modify their mortgage by eliminating administrative barriers associated with document collection and evaluation.

Click for full Report.

Air Date 6/8/13: Chief Economist, CoreLogic Case-Shiller


Special Guest: Dr. David Stiff, Chief Economist, CoreLogic Case-Shiller

Home Prices Rise by 12.1 Percent Year Over Year in April

Chief Economist, CoreLogic Case-Shiller, Dr. David Stiff – CoreLogic, joins us in studio to talk about the state of the economy and its effects on housing and prices. Dr. Stiff is the chief economist for CoreLogic’s nationally known Case-Shiller Home Price Index.

Home Prices Rise by 12.1 Percent Year Over Year in April!

CoreLogic, a leading residential property information, analytics and services provider, today released its April CoreLogic HPI™ report. Home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased 12.1 percent on a year-over-year basis in April 2013 compared to April 2012. This change represents the biggest year-over-year increase since February 2006 and the 14th consecutive monthly increase in home prices nationally. On a month-over-month basis, including distressed sales, home prices increased by 3.2 percent in April 2013 compared to March 2013.

Highlights as of April 2013:  Full Report click: News Release

  • Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were:  Nevada (+24.6 percent), California (+19.4 percent), Arizona (+17.3 percent), Hawaii (+17 percent) and Oregon (+15.5 percent).
  • Including distressed sales, this month only two states posted home price depreciation:  Mississippi (-1.7) and Alabama (-1.6 percent).
  • Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Nevada (+22.6 percent), California (+18.3 percent), Idaho (+16.4 percent), Arizona (+15.3 percent) and Washington (+13.9 percent).
  • Excluding distressed sales, no states posted home price depreciation in April.
  • Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to April 2013) was -22.4 percent. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -16.3 percent.
  • The five states with the largest peak-to-current declines, including distressed transactions, were Nevada (-47.3 percent), Florida (-40.5 percent), Michigan (-36.1 percent), Arizona (-36 percent) and Rhode Island (-34.7 percent).
  • Of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population, 94 were showing year-over-year increases in April, the same as in March 2013.

Full-month April 2013 national data can be found at http://www.corelogic.com/HPIApril2013

Economic reports strengthening economy!


Things are humming in regards to news from the economic front. Consider this good news:

  • Jobless claims decreased
  • Jobs are increasing
  • New home sales posted gains
  • Existing home sales rise
  • Pending home sales rise
  • February and April reported some of the fastest home sales months since 2008
  • Home values continue increasing
  • Home sales rose 29% higher than last year
  • Building permits rise in April
  • Durable goods rose in April(a very good housing indicator)
  • 1st Q economy grew at 2.5%
  • Consumer spending faster rise in 2 years
  • Consumer confidence at a 5 year high

    The US Economy continues to get stronger. Mortgage rates are up but they are still at historic lows.

    Here’s the bottom line, expanding economy + rising home prices + rising mortgage interest rates = time to buy.

    Timings everything, now’s the time.

    Mortgage Investors Group understands there are a lot of choices when it comes to financing the purchase of a new home or refinancing an existing one. Our licensed and experienced loan officers are here to help you gain a better understanding of those options and answer your questions about the loan process, qualifying and the different features of each loan program. We offer everything from conventional mortgages to government loans.

    Call us today and take advantage of these incredible market conditions!

Special Interview: Magic Mulch


Download our new Mobile App!

Special Guest: Chris McComas



Magic Mulch

What is Magic Mulch?

Magic Mulch is a 100% recycled product made from used tires. The tires are removed of all metal and wire, and then de-oiled to prevent dry rotting. It is finely shredded to mimic the look of wood mulch.


How long does it last?

Magic Mulch rubber does not break down, disintegrate, erode or biodegrade. The natural black uncoated mulch, which mimics the look of midnight black wood mulch, is likely to last forever (guaranteed for 10 years). The brown and red mulch is coated with a polyurethane organic dye and is guaranteed to hold its color for 10 years. The dye will not wash or rub off.


How is it installed?

We sell our mulch in 40lb, 60lb and 2,000lb Bags. We recommend laying a fabric weed blocker down before installing the mulch. This will not only help prevent weeds from growing, but will also protect the mulch from sinking into loose soil over the 10+ duration. If you chose to use a fabric, however, make sure you secure it very well with fabric pins to ensure it does not ride up and show. We also recommend some sort of edging or border to prevent wash away due to flooding.


Is it hard to maintain?

Magic Mulch is a very low maintenance product. Once you lay it down, it will not change for 10+ years. If you get leaves in the mulch you must use a leaf blower on the lowest setting to remove them. Keep the leaf blower approximately 2 feet away from the mulch and never use a higher blower setting.

Air Date 5/25/13: America’s 10 City Challenge


Download our new Mobile App!

Are You Ready For America’s 10 City Challenge?

Special Guest: Shauna Bryan, CEO

America’s 10 City Challenge

We are initially challenging the nation’s 10 fattest states to lose a total of 1 million pounds. Think this sounds impossible? Not so! With the help of America’s Ten City Challenge trained coaches and partnerships with state and local government officials, professional athletes and celebrities, and nation-wide and local sponsors, this aspiration will become a reality. This is only the beginning. Our goal is to extend this challenge nationally to every state in the country.

Who We Are

America’s 10 City Challenge is a dynamically evolving, highly creative, health and wellness company that develops innovative programs that are tailor made for individuals and corporations.

Through nutrition and smart choices we are dedicated to eradicating obesity and creating a healthy mindset and lifestyle that will build and maintain a reality of wellness in every client we encounter.

How It Works

First, you will need to register.

After registration, your account will be created and you will receive an e-mail with information on how to login and download the required forms need for the challenge.

Beyond the Challenge

America’s 10 City Challenge will continue, through this website, to encourage, educate and support participants in maintenance with their new healthy lifestyle.

What Sets Us Apart

We understand that nutrition is the foundation for optimal health. For this reason, the initial month of America’s 10 City Challenge focuses mostly on healthy eating. We are confident that every participant will see improvements in their overall health. Weight loss will simply be a bonus! Through our proprietary program and the guidance of trained health coaches, participants will truly experience the positive impact that healthy eating has on their lives.

After the initial 30 day program is complete, we will encourage participants to continue their journey of health through continued guidance with health coaches and America’s 10 City Challenge wellness programs. Our goal, through education and mentorship is to provide our participants with a set of tools that will allow them to become their own health advocate as they strive for total well-being and optimal health.

Download our New Mobile APP!!


History of Sears Kit Homes


William Levitt was not the first person or business to use a prefabricated method of home construction. He certainly took the science to the next level when he was building almost 30 homes per day in the late ’40′s in Levittown.  But, the prefabricated business of home construction was 50 years old by that time. In the late 1800′s, Sears and Roebuck was the leading retailer in the home mail order business. Almost every rural community in America relied on their highly anticipated thick catalog full of every gadget known to man. The catalog contained every necessary item for the house and barn, and when  no longer needed, it supplied the outhouse. Sears was known for reliability, quality and, convenience.

Around the turn of the century, Sears was entering the catalog Home building business. They would design, cut, package and ship, by rail, more than 70,000 homes between 1908 and 1940. Sears created hundreds of different floor plans and exteriors. They were also able to take any individual customer’s design and pre-package the order with all the required items. This style of construction was extremely efficient and affordable. Traditional forms of home building required creating, fashioning, forging or milling the necessary materials to complete the home at considerable expense and time.

The construction techniques designed by Sears were clearly ahead of its time. The builder was occasionally the home buyer with help from willing neighbors but most of the time carpenters were hired. Unskilled labor was not an issue due to the simplistic construction design.  One of  the newer building techniques, for example, consisted of the interior walls being constructed from nailed framing of 2×4 pine studs extending from the floor sill plate to the rafters, instead of the heavy timbers that had typically been used which required hand hued mortised tongue and groove connections. This new style of construction was called ‘balloon’ studded framing; it made possible for fewer, less skilled workers to erect a single wall section. This design was used into the 50′s and modified techniques continue today. There are other examples of cost saving and simplistic design methods, like inexpensive sheets of dry wall nailed  over the balloon framing of the interior walls instead of the labor intensive plaster over lattice and wire mesh that was normal for the day. Asphalt shingles for the roof were relatively new to construction but much more efficient than the typically, labor intensive, split shingle (shake) system or a Tin roof covering, both requiring extensive labor and skill.

Modern conveniences were continuously being incorporated into plans and the catalog was full of add on options. Kitchens had the latest appliances and homes were outfitted with central heat and in some cases, central air.

Detailed in her book entitled, The Houses That Sears Built,  Rosemary Thornton writes: “Between 1908 – 1940, more than 75,000 Sears’s homes were built. Sears kit homes contained 30,000 pieces, including 750 pounds of nails, 27 gallons of paint, and a 75-page instruction book. Sears estimated that the average carpenter would charge $450 to assemble those 30,000 pieces of the house. The painter’s fee – $34.50. Other estimated skilled labor would cost $1.00 an hour. Prices for these build-it-yourself houses ranged from $147.00 to $6,000.00. After selecting a house design from the Sears Modern Homes catalog, customers were asked to send in $1.00. By return mail, they received a bill of materials list and blueprints. When the buyer placed the actual order for the home building materials, the $1.00 sent in earlier was credited toward the purchase.”

Sears catalog orders were robust until the Great Depression gripped the nation, stripping over 30 billion dollars of her wealth in the first week. The continued effects were devastating as businesses, and home owners lost everything they had. Home foreclosure rates soared to approximate 1,000 per day. Sears catalog orders certainly were affected by the Depression as their business started to slow. Although, The Great Depression never stopped the Sears Home catalog business, changing housing codes would bring an end to it. Sears could no longer adapt to the changing local building codes in municipalities and states. By the 1940′s,  Sears had dropped their catalog home mail order business.

Special Guest:  Rosemary Thornton Author and Authority on Sears Catalog Homes

Do you live in a Sears Home? Learn how to identify a Sears home! We want to hear from You! Mark.Griffith@migonline.c

*Click to buy book!

 Sears Catalog Homes:

For more than 10 years, Rose Thornton has traveled throughout the country, seeking and finding Sears Homes. In that time, she’s written countless newspaper and magazine articles, in addition to several books.

Rose is the author of The Houses That Sears Built (2002,) Finding the Houses That Sears Built (2004) and she’s the co-author of California’s Kit Homes (2004) and Montgomery Wards Mail-Order Homes (2010). Rose’s newest book – The Sears Homes of Illinois – was published in December 2010.

Rosemary Thornton

Order your copy today!

Tennessee Home Values Rise!


Nashville Housing Market is taking off!

Nashville Housing Market is taking off with home values soaring by over 7% in the last 12 months. Nashville home values bottomed out in October of 2011 when they dropped to $133,000 price average, but since 2011 the values have risen an amazing 7% or $143,000 price average.  The historic home values peaked in August of 2007 when they reached $154,000 which means today average values are only off  a little over 7% from those historic highs! Also, the average list prices of homes on the market are up over 11% in the last 12 months, pushed up by a bidding war and strong buying activity.

Nashville, TNNashville recently  has been in the news for making the Forbes list for the number 2 best place to get a job, but there is other great news for the surrounding markets too:

Homes Values are up the last 12 months for Oak Hill over 8.5%, Brentwood over 7%,  Belle Meade over 6%, Lakewood over 6%.

Knoxville Home Prices are up!

Knoxville Home Prices were up close to 4% in the last 13 months when compared to the bottom that was reached in February of 2012. According to Zillow.com, Knoxville home values hit a low of 103,000 in February 2012 due to the pop of the great bubble, but in just over a year, the market has climbed back to almost 4%  or $107,000 by the end of March. Appreciation rate of anything over 3 % per year is considered excellent. Knoxville home prices hit a historic high in November of 2009 when it reached $114,000, but by the end of March 2013, the values are only off 6%  from that historic high.

Monthly rental prices peeked in July of 2011 at $830 but since that peak, they have  dropped over 15%,  indicating a move from temporary housing to a more permanent home buying opportunity.

Farragut area has seen a little more volatility in its values since hitting its lows 2011, but in the last 12 months their values  have soared to a  little over 7%. Not surprisingly, the average list price of homes have increased almost 10% in the last month, and sales prices overall  are up over 5% since January.

These are great signs, but it gets even better for Tennessee.

Mortgage Investors Group

Areas around Tennessee with MIG offices:

Selected areas around Tennessee with MIG offices:

Cookeville home values are up over 7% in the last year.

Johnson City home values have risen over 7% in the last year.

Nashville home values have risen over 7% in the last year. (Forbes picks Nashville #2 best place to get a job.)

Sevierville home values are up over 6% in the last 12 months.

Pickwick home values are up over 5.5% in last years.

Memphis home values have risen over 1% in the last year.

Crossville home values are up over 5% in last month.

Kingsport home values are up over 3% in last month.

Greeneville home values are over 2% since the beginning of this year.

Chattanooga home values are up over 1%  since December 2012.

Maryville is also just now starting to see home values increase, in the last month their values are up .7%

Data from Zillow

Read our blog:

Timings everything, now’s the time!


Knoxville Home Prices are up!


Knoxville Home Prices were up close to 4% in the last 13 months when compared to the bottom that was reached in February of 2012. According to Zillow.com, Knoxville home values hit a low of 103,000 in February 2012 due to the pop of the great bubble, but in just over a year, the market has climbed back to almost 4%  or $107,000 by the end of March. Appreciation rate of anything over 3 % per year is considered excellent. Knoxville home prices hit a historic high in November of 2009 when it reached $114,000, but by the end of March 2013, the values are only off 6%  from that historic high.

Monthly rental prices peeked in July of 2011 at $830 but since that peak, they have  dropped over 15%,  indicating a move from temporary housing to a more permanent home buying opportunity.

Farragut area has seen a little more volatility in its values since hitting its lows 2011, but in the last 12 months their values  have soared to a  little over 7%. Not surprisingly, the average list price of homes have increased almost 10% in the last month, and sales prices overall  are up over 5% since January.

These are great signs, but it gets even better.

Mortgage Investors GroupSelected areas around Tennessee with MIG offices:

Cookeville home values are up over 7% in the last year.

Johnson City home values have risen over 7% in the last year.

Nashville home values have risen over 7% in the last year. (Forbes picks Nashville #2 best place to get a job.)

Sevierville home values are up over 6% in the last 12 months.

Pickwick home values are up over 5.5% in last years.

Memphis home values have risen over 1% in the last year.

Crossville home values are up over 5% in last month.

Kingsport home values are up over 3% in last month.

Greeneville home values are over 2% since the beginning of this year.

Chattanooga home values are up over 1%  since December 2012.

Maryville is also just now starting to see home values increase, in the last month their values are up .7%

Data from Zillow

Read our blog:

Timings everything, now’s the time!