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Volume 2015 - Number 33

September 3, 2015

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Purchase-Mortgage Lending Likely Hit Post-Crisis High In 2Q15, But Refinances Continued to Show Strength

Purchase-mortgage lending provided most of the oomph that drove the 23.6 percent increase in total mortgage originations during the second quarter, but refinance activity still accounted for slightly over half of total production. Lenders funded $222 billion of first-lien purchase mortgages during the second quarter, a 59.7 percent increase from the first three months of 2015, according to Inside Mortgage Finance estimates. That was just shy of the $223 billion of purchase mortgages originated back in the third quarter of 2013, a figure that included some second-mortgage production associated with purchase loans. Meanwhile, refinance lending rose...[Includes three data tables]

Larger M&A Deals Begin to Hit the Market; Stonegate May Be Headed for the Auction Block

Over the past year, small and medium-sized lenders have dominated the activity in the merger and acquisitions market, but all that could be changing as consolidation fever begins to gather steam and larger, struggling players consider a take-out strategy. Also, the recent announcement that the Blackstone Group would buy a majority stake in Stearns Lending – the nation’s 12th largest originator – has sparked hopes among investment bankers that potential sellers are finally lowering their expectations when it comes to price. An offering book on Stearns had been circulating for at least a year. Meanwhile, analysts who follow Stonegate Mortgage, which ranks 25th among originators, this week suggested...

Despite Changes, FHA’s Proposed Loan Certification Policy Creates More Uncertainty, Potential Liability, Lenders Say

The Department of Housing and Urban Development this week republished for comment new proposed changes to lender certification for FHA that would allow for minor lender errors while leaving the door open for government enforcement action under the False Claims Act. The proposed revisions, however, failed to impress mortgage lenders and raised the specter of increased overlays unless HUD makes clear assurances that, barring any significant mistakes, lenders will not be on the hook for millions of dollars for small glitches in the loan certification document. “The language in the certification lacks...

The Good Times Keep Coming for Warehouse Lenders, But M&A Activity Weighing on Growth in Client Base

The nation’s top-ranked warehouse lenders ended the second quarter with $27.2 billion of commitments on their books, a 9.6 percent sequential increase and a handsome 43.8 percent gain from the same period a year earlier, according to survey figures compiled by Inside Mortgage Finance. The entire warehouse sector, a universe that includes roughly 60 active lenders, posted similar gains as nonbank lenders in the primary market continued to increase market share, which in turn feeds their thirst for financing an ever-increasing pipeline. “Utilization rates have been...[Includes one data table]

Miami’s Lawsuit Alleging Economic Harm by Big Banks Partially Reinstated; M&T Settles Discrimination Claims

Lawsuits filed by the city of Miami against Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo were revived by an appeals court this week. The fair housing lawsuits allege a decade-long pattern of discriminatory lending that caused the city economic harm. The lawsuits were filed in December 2013. Miami claimed that predatory lending by the banks caused minority-owned properties in the city to fall into unnecessary or premature foreclosure, which deprived Miami of tax revenue and forced the city to spend more on municipal services to combat blight. The city made claims under the Fair Housing Act and state law. The city backed up...

Servicer Prevails in Potential Class-Action Lawsuit Involving HAMP Loan Mods

A U.S. District Court ruled in favor of PNC Bank last week in a lawsuit involving the Home Affordable Modification Program. The plaintiff in the case was seeking class-action status, and other courts have allowed such claims to move forward. The ruling in favor of PNC was a “major victory,” according to the law firm of BuckleySandler, which represented the servicer in the case. Virginia McGann filed...

FCC Crackdown on Unwanted Calls Harms Ability To Help Delinquent Homeowners, Industry Reps Say

A recent order from the Federal Communications Commission may force mortgage servicers to use clunky old rotary phones to reach out to distressed borrowers facing foreclosure, according to the Consumer Mortgage Coalition. The FCC’s order, released June 18, 2015, attempts to strengthen consumer protections against unwanted telephone calls and texts by, in part, restricting the ability of mortgage servicers, debt collectors and others to make autodialed or prerecorded phone calls without prior express consent of the person called. Violators face...

Fannie’s Affordable Lending Program Gets A Makeover, Well-Received by Industry

Fannie Mae last week replaced its MyCommunityMortgage affordable lending program with a new product called HomeReady that allows borrowers to get housing counseling online and integrated with Fannie’s Desktop Underwriter system. Both programs are targeted to lower- and middle-income borrowers in select communities. Barry Zigas, president of Zigas and Associates, a consulting firm focused on housing, said HomeReady is a “game changing announcement” in his blog post this week, especially pointing to the product’s adoption of a standardized consumer education requirement and the incorporation of the product into Fannie’s Desktop Underwriter. Zigas formerly headed Fannie’s affordable housing unit. Its new functionality through DU will allow...

Loan Steering, Redlining are Back, DOJ Warns, Regulators, Advocates Call for More Partnerships

Federal regulators and fair housing advocates are calling for continued vigilance in fair lending with the reappearance of mortgage redlining and loan steering. The return of pre-crisis predatory lending practices, like steering and redlining, pose new challenges to the mortgage industry and to minority communities, which have seen their home equity disappear with the collapse of the housing market, said participants in a fair-lending conference hosted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Credit scores raise...

Mortgage Market at a Glance

Weekly mortgage rates and application survey data as well as indexes for ARMs.


During the first half of 2015 all residential lenders originated a better-than-expected $805 billion of home mortgages, according to Inside Mortgage Finance. What do you expect in the second half?

Just as good. We like what we’re seeing.
Better. Applications are strong.
Worse. We’re worried about rates, seasonality.
A lot worse. The fourth quarter could be a killer.

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