January 29, 2015

Latest from Inside Mortgage Finance

Non-mortgage ABS issuance fell by 22.0% from the previous quarter according to estimates from Inside MBS & ABS

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Mortgage Production Weakened Slightly in Late 2014, Year Ends With $1.24 Trillion in Total Originations

2014 wasn’t a great year for mortgage origination volume, but the market rallied from a dismal start to finish on a more positive note, according to a new Inside Mortgage Finance market analysis and ranking of top loan producers. Mortgage lenders originated an estimated $1.24 trillion in new home loans during 2014. That figure, which includes home-equity lending, was the industry’s lowest annual output since year 2000, when total originations barely topped the $1 trillion mark. Mortgage production fell a hefty 34.4 percent from 2013 levels, including a modest 1.4 percent drop in the fourth quarter of 2014. The soft fourth-quarter volume was...[Includes two data charts]

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Watt Defends GSEs’ Low Downpayment Offerings, Offers Few Clues on Where G-Fees Are Heading

The government-sponsored enterprises’ new low downpayment programs received a vigorous defense from Melvin Watt, the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, at a hearing this week by the House Financial Services Committee. Republicans on the committee attacked the programs from a number of angles, including raising concerns about default rates on mortgages with lower downpayments and fears of a “race to the bottom” with the FHA. “If you carefully look at other considerations and take them into account in deciding whether to back that credit, you can ensure...

Recent Rate Plunge Creates a Quandary for MSR Sellers: Hang On or Sell? ‘Flow’ Prices Are Strong at Least

The recent dip in interest rates has sellers of mortgage servicing rights questioning whether they should sell into a market of weakening prices or hang on until values firm up. As always, the answer depends on what type of servicing rights a seller is looking to unload in a market where the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury is once again nearing its low for the year. With rates low on current production, prices are...

Feature Stories

Inside Mortgage Trends

Regional Banks Report Falling Income From Mortgage Banking During 4Q14

Regional banks are reporting significant declines in mortgage-banking income during the fourth quarter, although nearly all institutions continue to earn a profit from the business. A diverse group of 20 regional banks posted a combined $684.2 million in mortgage-banking income for the fourth quarter of 2014, according to a new Inside Mortgage Trends analysis of earnings reports. That was down 13.5 percent from the group’s aggregate $790.5 million in ...

Inside The GSEs

Plenty of Talk, Little Momentum For GSE Reform in Congress

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle continue to work on legislation to reform the GSEs but with strong differences between the parties, there remains little optimism that GSE reform legislation will be enacted in the next two years. “While I realize the odds are long and the political issues to overcome are immense, I do believe that reforming this broken marketplace must remain a priority of this committee,” said Rep. Scott Garrett, R-NJ, at a hearing this week by the House Financial Services Committee. Garrett chairs the subcommittee on capital markets and GSEs. Garrett said previous GSE reform bills introduced on both sides of the aisle in Congress in recent years provide a foundation for what he ...

Inside MBS & ABS

Little Incentive for Non-Agency MBS Issuers To Offer Deals Registered with the SEC

Issuers of non-agency MBS will likely continue to favor private placements over registering deals with the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to industry participants. While publicly registered deals in the ABS market and commercial MBS market are common, no non-agency MBS issued in 2014 was registered with the SEC. Instead, non-agency MBS issuers offered deals as 144A private placements. An official involved in the non-agency MBS market said...

Inside the CFPB

Wells, JPMorgan Settle With CFPB Over Mortgage Kickback Claims

Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase settled with the CFPB and the Maryland Attorney General last week, resolving allegations of participating in an illegal marketing kickback scheme with Genuine Title, a title company that has since gone out of business. The government agencies alleged that Genuine Title gave the banks’ loan officers cash, marketing materials and consumer information in exchange for business referrals. The CFPB and the Maryland AG also took action against former Wells Fargo employee Todd Cohen and his wife, Elaine Oliphant Cohen, both of Baltimore, for their alleged involvement. The two government agencies are seeking $24 million in civil penalties from Wells Fargo and $600,000 in civil penalties from JPMorgan Chase. They also want $10.8 million from Wells ...

Inside Nonconforming Markets

Jumbo MBS Characteristics Shifting a Bit But Underwriting Standards Still Strong

Mortgages included in jumbo mortgage-backed securities in 2014 showed some shifting characteristics while maintaining strong underwriting overall, according to a new analysis by Inside Nonconforming Markets. Looser underwriting on jumbo mortgages has largely been at the fringes: some MBS have included a cluster of mortgages with combined loan-to-value ratios of 80 percent, a few borrowers with credit scores below 680 and ... [Includes one data chart]

Inside FHA Lending

Lenders Expect Modest Refinance Wave

FHA lenders are gearing up to meet an anticipated increase in demand for purchase and refinance loans with mortgage rates falling to near-historic lows coupled by a 50 basis point cut in FHA’s annual insurance premium. Lenders hope the combination of lower mortgage rates and the revised FHA pricing structure will create sufficient incentive for more borrowers to purchase a home or refinance an existing mortgage. For example, Freedom Mortgage, 32nd in Inside FHA Lending’s 2014 ranking of FHA lenders, is looking to hire as many as 500 new employees to handle the anticipated surge following the FHA action. Stanley Middleman, chief executive officer of Freedom Mortgage, expects a robust FHA refinance market during the first half of 2015, tapering off in the second half. “Lower rates, coupled with premium reduction, put a lot of FHA borrowers in a position to get their ...

Poll

The FHA is cutting its annual premium by 50 basis points. How much of a difference will this cut make in your FHA business?

Not much at all—maybe 10 percent at best.
Modestly. We expect a 10 percent to 25 percent gain in applications.
This is a real game changer, 25 percent or better.
Hard to say. This cut may just steal business away from the new Fannie/Freddie 97 LTV effort.

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Housing Pulse