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Volume 7 - Number 15

July 18, 2014

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Endorsements Up for 620-679 Credit Scores

Mortgages with 620-679 credit scores accounted for more than half of FHA’s mortgage insurance business in the first quarter of 2014, up from 42.0 percent a year ago, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s latest quarterly report to Congress on the state of the FHA Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund. Data showed FHA-insured mortgages in the 620-679 credit score range, a band typically identified with borrowers with slightly tainted credit, comprised 51.1 percent of new endorsements in the first quarter. This was up from 50.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013. FHA endorsements in the 620-plus category started trending upward in the first quarter of 2011, while endorsements in the 720-850 credit score range began a slow decline during the same period. The distribution of borrower credit scores continued the migration seen in previous quarters, though at a ...

JPMorgan Chief Seeks FHA Safe Harbor for Bank

JPMorgan Chase chief executive Jaime Dimon this week warned that the investment bank may rethink its FHA business without some type of safe harbor to shield it from potential future liabilities arising from the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act and the False Claims Act. In February this year, JPMorgan agreed to pay $614 million to the federal government to settle allegations that it falsely certified poorly underwritten loans for FHA endorsement, causing massive losses to taxpayers in paid claims. Dimon lashed out at the government during a telephone briefing on the company’s second-quarter 2014 earnings report. He said JPMorgan lost a tremendous amount of money over what the government claimed was fraud but was in fact a “commercial dispute” between FHA and the bank. “We collected $600 million in insurance, the [government] disputed $200 million [alleging] it was fraud ...

FHA to Lenders: Try PFS First Before DIL Option

If an FHA borrower runs out of options for loss mitigation and home retention, a lender must first consider a pre-foreclosure or short sale, with deed-in-lieu (DIL) of foreclosure as a second option, according to new FHA guidance. Mortgagee Letter 2014-5 states that the lender must first determine whether the borrower facing default or at risk of default qualifies for a pre-foreclosure sale (PFS). The FHA allows pre-foreclosure sales to be processed as either a “standard PFS” or a “streamline PFS.” The former is available only to owner-occupants while the latter is for both owner- and non-owner-occupied single-family properties. In determining standard PFS eligibility, the lender must use a “deficit income test” to determine whether the borrower is experiencing hardship and is able to sustain his or her mortgage. A DIT resulting in a negative amount would likely qualify the borrower for a ...

Borrower OK Required to Voluntarily End Federal MI

New FHA guidance regarding voluntary termination of FHA mortgage insurance does not affect separate guidance requiring borrowers to continue payment of their annual insurance premium regardless of the loan’s amortization terms. The FHA made the clarification in relation to Mortgagee Letter 2014-13, which requires written consents by the lender and the borrower in all voluntary terminations of FHA mortgage insurance. The requirement becomes effective on Oct. 1st this year. Specifically, the guidance requires FHA lenders to document that they have obtained the borrower’s informed consent to terminate FHA insurance on the mortgage. The change ensures that the lender would incur no liability and that the borrower understands the terms of the voluntary termination. Under current rules, the FHA may terminate mortgage insurance at the request of the borrower and the lender. The lender may cancel the insurance endorsement upon notification by the FHA commissioner that the insurance contract is terminated.

Infractions that Could Trigger MRB Enforcement

One deficiency commonly noted in cases heard by the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Mortgagee Review Board is failure by FHA lenders and servicers to implement and maintain a quality control (QC) plan. FHA’s focus on quality control has increased over the last couple of years as the agency strives to correct underwriting flaws that have contributed to the massive losses and severe depletion of the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund. After years of guiding and helping clients comply and cope with FHA regulations, requirements and enforcement actions, the Collingwood Group reports that a common QC-related mistake among FHA lenders is failure to document steps taken to correct deficiencies – or to take any corrective action at all. Tied to this issue is ...

VA Clarifies Impact of Same-Sex Marriage Policy

Same-sex couples are entitled to veteran benefits, including home loan guaranty, if their marriage is recognized by the state where they live or where they lived when they filed a claim for benefits – and not where the marriage took place.The VA made the clarification in the wake of guidance the agency issued regarding the benefits and services same-sex married couples are entitled to under current laws and regulation. On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court, in United States v. Windsor, struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which governs the definitions of “marriage” and “spouse” for all federal agencies, because it was unconstitutional. The court held that the provision deprives a person of the right to equal liberty, which is protected by the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. Prior to the SCOTUS opinion, DOMA defined “marriage” as a ...

Ginnie Mae Servicing Remains Flat in 2Q14

Ginnie Mae servicing remained flat in the second quarter of 2014, continuing a trend that began in the third quarter of last year as FHA refinancing fell and purchase activity slowed, according to Inside FHA Lending’s analysis of Ginnie Mae data. Servicing volume rose by only 0.7 percent from the first quarter, slightly lower from the 0.9 percent increase reported by Ginnie Mae servicers for the first three months of 2014. On the other hand, volume was up modestly by 5.9 percent year-over-year, data showed. Ginnie Mae servicers ended the second quarter with a total of $1.46 trillion in unpaid principal balance, up from $1.45 trillion in the prior quarter. Four out of the top five Ginnie Mae servicers were banks. Wells Fargo closed out the second quarter with $425.9 billion in servicing volume, a 0.2 percent decrease from the previous quarter but up 2.1 percent from a year ago. Its 29.2 percent market share put it ... [1 chart]

House Democrats’ Bill Features Amped-Up GNMA

Ginnie Mae would play a greater role in a private-market partnership model envisioned in proposed housing finance reform legislation introduced recently by House Democrats. However, many in the industry doubt whether a Democrat-sponsored reform bill will pass in this Congress. Sponsored by Reps. John Delaney (MD), John Carney (DE) and Jim Himes (CT), the Partnership to Strengthen Homeownership Act would put Ginnie Mae in charge of all single- and multifamily mortgage-backed securities with government backing. Among other things, H.R. 5055 would create a new Ginnie Mae MBS for conventional mortgages backed by the full faith and credit of the federal government with minimum support from the private sector. Under the proposed model, private entities would assume up to 5 percent of the first-loss capital on the MBS. The remaining 95 percent would be shared between ...

Around the Industry

Senate Confirms Julian Castro as Next HUD Secretary. The Senate has confirmed Julian Castro as the 16th secretary of housing and urban development by a vote of 71 to 26. He replaces Secretary Shaun Donovan, whose nomination for director of the Office of Management and Budget was also approved 75-22 by the Senate on July 10. Before his nomination, Castro served three terms as mayor of San Antonio, TX, during which he focused on revitalizing the city through numerous housing and economic development initiatives. Housing advocates who have worked with Castro said, as a municipal leader, he knows what is needed to rebuild local economies under enormous financial constraints, which he can work to his advantage as HUD’s new head. In addition, Castro has the capacity and temperament to work with a Republican Congress, they said. The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association said it looked forward to working with ...

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Home-equity lending is beginning to show new life. My company (pick one):

Plans to enter this market over the next 12 months.
Is already making home equity loans and hopes to increase the offerings.
Is in the market but don’t expect much growth.
Is not making second liens and has no plans to do so.

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