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Volume 2014 - Number 19

September 12, 2014

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Bank First-Lien Portfolios Grow As Lenders Stock Up on Jumbos

Banks large and small continue to add mortgages to their portfolios, with new additions outpacing runoff from refinances and foreclosures. The new additions to bank portfolios are largely jumbo mortgages, though some lenders are retaining agency-eligible loans. Banks and thrifts held a total of $1.76 trillion of first-lien mortgages in portfolio as of the end of the second quarter of 2014, according to an Inside Nonconforming Markets analysis of call reports. The first-lien holdings were up 1.4 percent compared with the previous quarter and level compared with the second quarter of 2013. Among the four largest holders of first liens, only Bank of America decreased its portfolio in the second quarter. Compared with the second quarter of 2013, JPMorgan Chase was the only bank among the big four to increase its first-lien holdings.

Redwood MBS Achieves Geographic Diversity

Redwood Trust’s planned $329.95 million jumbo mortgage-backed security is the second straight MBS from the issuer to have adequate geographic diversity, according to Fitch Ratings. Almost every jumbo MBS issued since 2010 has taken a hit from default expectations and had higher credit enhancement because of geographic concentration. Sequoia Mortgage Trust 2014-3 is scheduled to be issued around Sept. 19. Fitch, Kroll Bond Rating Agency and Moody’s Investors Service gave the deal preliminary triple-A ratings with credit enhancement of 6.55 percent on the top-rated tranche. The credit enhancement level is one of the lowest in recent years on jumbo MBS backed by 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. It is particularly low considering that due diligence was completed on less than 100 percent of the loans, and the MBS will include two loans that do not meet standards for qualified mortgages.

Credit Suisse Issues $405 Million Jumbo MBS

Credit Suisse issued its latest jumbo mortgage-backed security at the end of August, a $404.62 million deal with originations from a wide range of lenders. CSMC Trust 2014-WIN1 was also structured in a more complex manner than most of the jumbo MBS issued in recent years. More than 30 lenders contributed to the deal, led by New Penn Financial with a 23.1 percent share, EverBank Financial (20.3 percent) and Quicken Loans (19.8 percent). The deal included two pools of fixed-rate loans. The pool backed primarily by 30-year mortgages accounted for 80.8 percent and a pool of 15-year mortgages made up the rest.

Impact of SEC’s Reg AB2 Disclosure Rule Unclear

Officials at the Securities and Exchange Commission see the final rule on disclosures recently issued by the federal regulator as bringing major changes to the non-agency mortgage-backed security market. However, whether issuers will offer non-agency MBS subject to the disclosure requirements is largely in the hands of investors that have been willing to buy securities not subject to the SEC’s standards. Beginning in 2017, issuers of publically registered non-agency MBS will have to disclose 270 data points, mostly at loan level. The disclosure requirements in the SEC’s Reg AB2 rule do not apply to 144A offerings, although some observers expect the SEC eventually to extend them to private placements.

FHFA Proposes Booting REITs From FHLBanks

The few real estate investment trusts that currently have access to advances from the Federal Home Loan Banks would lose their ability to tap the attractive funding source under a proposal last week from the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The FHFA said the proposed rule is necessary because REITs with captive insurance companies pose risks to the FHLBank system. “FHFA is taking these actions to address supervisory concerns about certain institutions that are ineligible for FHLBank membership, but that are using captive insurers as vehicles through which they can obtain FHLBank advances to fund their business operations,” the federal regulator said.

G-Fees Seen as Poor Lever for Non-Agency Market

A wide range of mortgage industry participants cautioned the Federal Housing Finance Agency that increasing the guaranty fees charged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac won’t necessarily prompt an increase in non-agency activity. In June, the FHFA solicited public input about what g-fee level would prompt investors in non-agency mortgage-backed securities to find it profitable to enter the market or prompt banks to hold conforming-balance mortgages in portfolio. “Policymakers should not assume that increases in g-fees alone will lead to a significant increase in private-label securities issuance,” said the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, which stressed that a number of factors beyond the pricing of agency mortgages are limiting non-agency activity.

Servicers’ HAMP Performance Slipping

Servicer performance in the Home Affordable Modification Program is at one of the lowest levels in the five-year history of the loss mitigation program, according to the Treasury Department and the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Last week, the Treasury revealed that four of the seven largest servicers participating in the non-agency portion of HAMP need at least moderate improvement. CitiMortgage was ranked the lowest among the large servicers and will have its HAMP incentive payments withheld by the Treasury until the servicer’s performance improves.

MBS Clean-Up Calls Gaining Popularity

A number of firms that hold vintage non-agency mortgage-backed securities are using their clean-up call options as the outstanding balance in the MBS dwindles. Executing clean-up calls can be more profitable for certain firms than allowing securities to run-off. Chimera Investment is the latest firm to tout its clean-up call strategy. The real estate investment trust said it acquired the rights to $4.8 billion of seasoned subprime mortgages by purchasing subordinate tranches of non-agency MBS issued by Springleaf Finance between 2011 and 2013. The purchase price wasn’t disclosed.

News Briefs

S. 1217, the Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2014, would decrease federal deficits by a total of $58 billion from 2015 to 2024, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs approved the legislation to reform the government-sponsored enterprises earlier this year but the full Senate has yet to consider the bill and there is little support for the legislation in the House.

Poll

Over the next six months we plan to hire this many more additional loan officers:

1 to 10 (We're being careful.)
11 to 30 (We're optimistic.)
More than 30 (We're in a growth mode as the banks get out.)
We're cutting back. (Are you nuts? It's ugly out there.)

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Housing Pulse