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Volume 7 - Number 26

December 19, 2014

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2015 Outlook: Downward Trend Continues

FHA originations are expected to decline modestly in 2015 unless the agency gives in to industry pressure to lower mortgage insurance premiums and lenders ease up on their overlays, according to analysts. Analysts anticipate no meaningful decline in FHA market share next year but do expect some drop as private mortgage insurance become more competitive, especially among borrowers with 720+ FICO scores. Overall, analysts expect 2015 to be slightly better than 2014 because of increased purchase-mortgage lending, which is partly offset by lower refinance activity. Mortgage volumes should climb to $1.18 trillion in 2015, some say. At Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, analysts Bose George and Chas Tyson predict private MIs will take more market share from the FHA in 2015. They do not expect meaningful policy changes from the FHA this year. For example, FHA has given ...

Congress Shoots Down HAWK, Rejects FHA Fee

Congress denied funding for an enhanced FHA housing counseling initiative for first-time homebuyers and rejected a request for authority to collect a new FHA fee to enhance quality-assurance reviews. President Obama this week signed the FY 2015 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, a comprehensive package of 11 funding bills for federal agencies. The bill does not include the provisions the FHA had sought to toughen enforcement and help lower costs for first-home purchases. The House passed the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill, H.R. 83, by a vote of 219-to-206 on Dec. 11, narrowly avoiding a government shutdown. The Senate approved the bill on Dec. 13. The bill allocates $47 million to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s housing counseling program and $50 million for foreclosure mitigation counseling. It also provides $400 billion in ...

VA Announces New, Lower Loan Limits in 2015

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced new, lower loan limits for 2015 after Congress decided not to extend the agency’s current maximum lending limits beyond 2014. The current limits will expire on Dec. 31. Under new guidelines, the maximum guaranty amounts for VA loan limits in 2015 will match the lower conforming loan limits established by the Federal Housing Finance Agency for the government-sponsored enterprises next year. These limits range from $417,000 to $625,500, depending on where the borrower is located. VA’s loan limits are tied to the county-based limits established for conforming loans backed by Freddie Mac. Freddie’s loan limits are calculated based on median house prices in counties across the nation. In recent years, VA’s high-cost loan limits have exceeded Freddie’s due to statutory authority granted under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. The VA authority was ...

OIG Recovers $300M from SunTrust Settlement

The Inspector General of the Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced a $300 million recovery from an earlier settlement between SunTrust Mortgage and the Department of Justice, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the HUD Office of the Inspector General, and 50 state attorneys general. The settlement resolved allegations of violations of FHA requirements in a joint complaint filed on June 14, 2014, by federal and state enforcement agencies. The suit against SunTrust alleged misconduct related to the origination and servicing of single-family residential mortgages. The problem loans were uncovered during a routine OIG review of targeted FHA-insured loans. According to the suit, as an FHA direct endorsement lender, SunTrust certified poorly underwritten loans for FHA insurance from January 2006 through March 2012, despite its knowledge of ...

USDA Implements New Definition of ‘Rural’ Area

The Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service (RHS) has issued a final rule implementing a new statutory definition of “rural” or “rural area” that could mean increased origination of rural home loans with a USDA guarantee. The Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the 2014 Farm Bill, mandated the change. Being a statutory requirement, no public comment was sought for the final rule. According to the statute, an area that has a population of more than 10,000 but not exceeding 35,000, and is rural in character and seriously lacks mortgage credit is a “rural area.” The new definition applies to areas deemed rural before Oct. 1, 1990, and later determined not to be rural after the 1990, 2000 or 2010 census and any area deemed rural anytime between Jan. 1, 2000, and Dec. 31, 2010. They will retain eligibility until the receipt of the ...

FHA Jumbo Originations Surge in 3Q14

Production of FHA-insured jumbo loans ballooned in the third quarter of 2014 reflecting heightened activity in this loan segment during the period. A 23.7 percent quarter-over-quarter surge helped push FHA jumbo lenders’ total volume to $7.71 billion at the end of the nine-month period ending Sept. 30. It was a significant increase for a segment that represents only a sliver of FHA’s overall business. However, compared to last year’s first nine months, volume was down by almost half (48.8 percent) as lenders struggled to keep pace with last year’s output. Strong purchase demand helped drive FHA jumbo originations (all FHA loans over $417,000 up to $625,500 in high-cost areas), as purchase mortgages accounted for 81.1 percent of all FHA jumbos originated during the first nine months of the year. Fixed-rates comprised 86.4 percent of FHA jumbos originated during ... [1 chart]

Ocwen Reports FHA Buyouts from Ginnie II Pools

Ocwen Financial’s dry spell of acquiring nonperforming FHA loans out of Ginnie Mae mortgage-backed securities pools ended in early December with the nonbank servicing giant buying $253.1 million of delinquent product. Speculation, however, is mounting that Ocwen may not be long for the Ginnie Mae business, at least as a servicer. Ocwen’s disclosure of the “early” FHA buyouts came 11 days after it sold to an undisclosed buyer. In the first quarter, the company engaged in $646 million of early buyouts (EBO) and followed up with a $490 million EBO deal in the second quarter. However, EBO volume fell to zero in the third quarter. The December acquisition came in one fell swoop raising cautious, short-term expectations at Ocwen. “We expect to execute more such purchases in the next few months, as long as market conditions are favorable,” said Chief Investment Officer John Britti. As fast as it had ...

MBA Boycotts FHA Panel Talk for Being too Biased

The Mortgage Bankers Association this week declined to participate in a panel discussion on FHA hosted by the American Enterprise Institute because the trade group did not believe the discussion would be balanced and though it would favor only a certain point of view. The topic was “FHA from 1934 to 1938: Lessons for Wealth Building,” with Ed Pinto, a resident fellow at AEI, and Dave Stevens, MBA president, as presenters. Stevens, however, decided to pull out of the event when he saw the format. In a letter to the AEI organizers, Stevens said he agreed to be a presenter thinking the debate “would be a balanced approach.” “When I first agreed to do this, I did not expect that the format would be 45 minutes of [Ed Pinto] and then no more than 12 minutes for me to respond,” he wrote. “That’s an extremely lopsided approach that did not appear to be ...

Around the Industry

Proposed Data Collection for Evaluating Impact of Pre-Purchase Homeownership Counseling. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has asked the Office of Management and Budget to clear a proposal to collect information for a national study that would gauge the effectiveness of pre-purchase homeownership counseling. Rather than individual telephone interviews, the study plans to conduct focus groups and to collect data regarding the characteristics and performance of participants’ mortgage loans, even after the end of the study. The information collection will involve an estimated 6,000 borrower-participants, 1,800 co-borrowers, 64 counseling organizations and three FHA lenders. The study will be conducted in three cities at a cost of approximately $521,830. The proposal will be published in the ...

Poll

What will Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s new 97 LTV programs mean for your business?

It will give our business a big boost as there is a lot of pent up demand for the product.
It will have only a minor impact on our overall business as we already are doing high LTV business through FHA and some of our high LTV FHA business is likely to shift to Fannie and Freddie.
It won’t have any impact on our business as we plan to steer clear of all high LTV business – particularly in the GSE market.

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