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Volume 7 - Number 24

November 21, 2014

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MMIF Value, Capital Ratio Turns Positive

FHA Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund ended fiscal 2014 in the black but was still far short of its statutory reserve requirement, prompting critics in Congress to renew their cries for FHA reform. An independent actuarial report sent to Congress this week showed that the MMI Fund now stands at $4.8 billion after a gain of nearly $6 billion over the last year. For the first time since 2009, the fund’s capital ratio also crossed into positive territory at 0.41 percent, up 52 basis points from the negative 0.11 percent posted in fiscal 2013. Overall, the economic value of the fund has risen by $21 billion over the last two years because of the aggressive steps the agency took to stabilize and strengthen the fund, the report said. Policy changes led to improved underwriting for single-family mortgages, increased mortgage insurance premiums, stronger loss mitigation policies and higher recoveries, it added. In addition, with ...

HECM Portfolio Down to Negative in FY 2014

The economic value of the FHA’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage legacy portfolio fell to negative $0.9 billion in fiscal 2014 due mainly to volatility in long-term house prices and interest rates, according to the latest independent actuarial report on the health of the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund. The latest result was a significant improvement from FY 2012, when the fund stood at negative $2.8 billion. In fiscal 2013, the HECM portfolio’s economic value of positive $6.5 billion appeared to be a whopping change from the previous year but that amount reflected a $4.6 billion cash infusion from the forward program and from the $1.7 billion mandatory appropriation, the report clarified. The report also showed a corresponding decline in the HECM capital ratio to negative 1.20 percent. Actuarial projections for fiscal 2015 place the HECM portfolio’s economic value at negative $1.1 billion. The fund’s capital resources for ...

Wells Fargo, DOJ Settlement Talks Hit Wall

Wells Fargo and the Department of Justice are reportedly at an impasse in their settlement talks in connection with a lawsuit accusing the bank of improper underwriting and false certification of certain FHA-insured loans. In an e-mailed statement to Inside FHA Lending, a bank spokesperson said Wells Fargo’s good faith effort to work with the federal government to resolve the complaint “has not yet resulted in a settlement.” Nonetheless, the bank “will move forward with presenting [its] case in support of [its] prudent and responsible FHA lending practices, which have produced high-quality FHA loans with delinquency rates that are half the industry average,” the spokesperson added. This week, citing an unidentified source, Bloomberg reported that lawyers for the government and the bank have told the presiding judge in the case that they ...

Congress Urged to Extend Expiring VA Loan Limits

Thousands of military veterans in high-cost areas may be deprived of VA’s home-loan guarantee benefits unless Congress extends the current VA loan limits before the end of the year. Those loan limits expire on Dec. 31, 2014. The VA loan limits are based on median home values estimated by the FHA, providing loans up to 125 percent of local area median price. The program does not set a cap on how much a veteran can borrow to finance a home purchase but it does limit the maximum amount it can guarantee to 25 percent of the current loan limit. Veteran and industry groups are urging Congress to make the VA limits permanent. A VA spokesperson said the agency was not asked for a position on the issue since Congress did not put forward any bill in any of the hearings this year. “But as a general rule, VA wants to maximize the opportunities ...

GNMA Eyes Stronger Oversight of Nonbank Issuers

Ginnie Mae is seeking comment on several proposed data collections, including those that would strengthen the agency’s ability to monitor participants in its mortgage-backed securities programs. Due to its growing concern over the influx of non-depository issuers into the single-family MBS program, Ginnie has proposed to collect more loan-level data to supplement the information already being collected and reported on a monthly basis. The proposed data collection consists of bankruptcy-related information (action type, case identifier, chapter type, bar date) as well as borrower-related information (borrower bankruptcy indicator, classification type, total mortgaged properties, counseling initiated indicator and credit score date). Other proposed new data include document custodian ID, type of insurance claim coverage, investor unpaid principal balance (UPB), adjustment to ...

FHA Short Refi Production Declines in 2014

The number of underwater borrowers seeking to refinance their conventional mortgages into an FHA loan fell in fiscal 2014 from the previous year, according to an Inside FHA Lending analysis of agency data. The number of endorsements under the FHA Short Refinance program totaled 1,327 at the end of fiscal 2014, down from a record 1,662 in the prior year. Endorsements hit their peak in fiscal 2013. A total of 5,140 distressed conventional loans with a combined original mortgage amount of $784.9 million were refinanced under the program over the five-year period. In order to participate, borrowers must be current on their mortgage payments, have a credit score of 500 or greater and owe at least 15 percent more on the property than their home is actually worth. Lender participation is strictly voluntary. More importantly, the lender or investor must be ...

FNMA Accepts Guaranteed Rural Housing Loans

Fannie Mae has begun purchasing rural housing loans with a Department of Agriculture/Rural Development guarantee. The government-sponsored enterprise accepted delivery of Section 502 (RD-502) loans from USDA-approved lenders on Nov. 3 – an open challenge to Ginnie Mae, which has dominated the market. The loans were delivered as standard products with no variance required. Other government-backed loans such as FHA and VA continue to require a negotiated variance. The Section 502 single-family guaranteed housing loan program provides financing to low- to moderate-income rural homebuyers. A community is eligible for 30-year fixed-rate RD-502 loans if it is located in an area that meets the USDA’s definition of “rural.” The Farm Bill, signed into law in February of this year, defines “rural” as any area outside of city limits with a ...

Strong 3Q Pushes Up FHA’s Nine-Month Total

FHA lenders capped a nine-month production run with a total of $99.39 billion in forward mortgages, thanks to a strong push in the third quarter of 2014, according to Inside FHA Lending’s analysis of agency data. Third-quarter production totaled $38.3 billion, up 16.6 percent from the previous quarter. Year-over-year originations, however, were off by 43.0 percent. FHA endorsements have now fallen from a peak of 1.8 million loans in FY 2009 to approximately 786,000 in FY 2014, according to the latest independent actuarial review of the health of the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund. The 57 percent reduction in endorsements takes FHA closer to the lower levels of activities seen just prior to the housing bubble, the report noted. A sharp decline in refi activity drove the substantial drop in forward loan endorsements in fiscal 2014. Previously, many homeowners ... [1 chart]

Around the Industry

Essent EVP to Retire in March. Adolfo Marzol, Essent Guaranty’s executive vice president, will step down, effective March 31, 2015, after five years with the company. VA Hybrid Adjustable-Rate Mortgage Pooling Eligibility. The Department of Veterans Affairs recently expanded the type of loans it will guarantee to include 7/1 and 10/1 hybrid ARMs. While Ginnie Mae’s Mortgage-Backed Securities Guide does not bar the inclusion of hybrid ARMs in Ginnie MBS, GinnieNET is not currently able to process these loans for pool processing. GinnieNET is being updated in order to accommodate VA 7/1 and 10/1 hybrid ARM pooling. Effective with issuances dated on or after Dec. 1, 2014, VA 7/1 and 10/1 hybrid ARMs will be eligible for pooling. CFPB Publishes Revised List of Rural and Underserved Counties. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has published its 2015 list of ...

Poll

What is it going to take to convince lenders to loosen the credit box (i.e., remove underwriting overlays)?

The recent rep and warranty changes announced by the Federal Housing Finance Agency should go a long way in protecting lenders from future buybacks and help expand mortgage credit.

17%

There won’t be any significant elimination of underwriting overlays until the government stops seeking huge mortgage-related penalties and settlements from lenders.

72%

There shouldn’t be any expansion of the mortgage credit box since looser underwriting is what caused the recent mortgage crisis.

11%

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