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Volume 2014 - Number 40

October 23, 2014

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FHFA Agrees to Additional Buyback Relief, Pushes Fannie and Freddie Back Into 97s

Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt this week unveiled two significant policy changes aimed at opening up the mortgage credit box: additional buyback relief for originators that sell loans to the government-sponsored enterprises and a return to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac purchases of mortgages with loan-to-value ratios between 95 percent and 97 percent. Speaking at the annual convention of the Mortgage Bankers Association in Las Vegas, Watt gave some concrete details about the new “life of loan” representation and warranty relief and outlined a number of other changes in the works. Moreover, industry officials contend...

Expanding Access to Credit May Grease Underperforming Home-Purchase Market

The mortgage credit box contracted quickly as the housing market slid toward disaster in 2007, but it’s proving to be much more difficult to stretch it back to what used to be considered normal. The subtitle to this week’s annual convention of the Mortgage Bankers Association could well have been “access to credit,” an idea that clearly dominated the conversation. Despite the recent unexpected drop in mortgage interest rates, most observers expect origination volume in 2015 to track closely to this year’s sluggish level and part of the problem is relatively weak home-purchase lending. Industry people are...

Plenty of Investors are Eyeing the Non-Agency Space – Even PIMCO

Even though the origination volume of non-agency, non-jumbo mortgages is relatively small, private equity firms increasingly are eyeing the space, believing that within two years – or maybe sooner – the business could be producing out robust profits. In short, investors want to enter non-agency lending before anyone else does – and at “ground level” prices. According to non-prime executives and investment advisors, private-equity funds of varying sizes want...

Change in Control of Capitol Hill Could Spur Some Legislative Activity; GSE Reform Still Lacks Traction

If Republicans take control of the U.S. Senate in the upcoming elections, Congress next year may actually produce some mortgage-related legislation, according to political analysts participating on a panel at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s annual convention in Las Vegas this week. Any successful legislation will be narrowly targeted and not address complex problems like building a new mortgage finance system or resolving the status of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, analysts agreed. Over the last four years, the Democrats’ top priority has been preserving...

Fannie, Freddie Shareholders Look to Iowa Federal Court to Vacate DC Judge’s Dismissal of GSE Lawsuit

An Iowa-based investor in government-sponsored enterprise common stock this week asked a federal court in the Hawkeye State to give “no weight” to a ruling earlier this month by a Washington, DC, federal judge who dismissed litigation against the government by other GSE shareholders, including Perry Capital and Fairholme Funds. Continental Western Insurance Co. filed papers in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa Central Division arguing that Judge Royce Lamberth was “simply wrong” in his interpretation of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and his HERA-based rationale to shut down shareholders’ suits in DC. An investor in GSE stock, Continental’s counsel in the case is...

Consumer Who Benefited From CFPB Consent Order Against Castle & Cooke Files Class Action

In what may be a first, an individual borrower who received compensation under the terms of the consent order the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau brought against Castle & Cooke Mortgage late last has since filed a class-action lawsuit. The litigation was brought on the basis of the same alleged violations of the Truth in Lending Act, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and state law as were documented in the bureau’s enforcement action. Homeowner Luis Cabrales, on behalf of himself and “all others similarly situated,” recently filed...

FHA Share of Home-Purchase Financing Falls to Five-Year Low, Borrowers Shift to GSEs and VA

High fees on FHA mortgages have helped push FHA’s market of financing for home purchases to the lowest level since the financial crisis, according to the latest Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance HousingPulse Tracking Survey. FHA mortgages were used to finance 18.2 percent of home purchases in September, based on a three-month moving average. That was down from a 21.9 percent share in September 2013 and 36.6 percent in May 2010, the highest level for FHA financing in the five-year history of HousingPulse. From 2008 through 2013, the Department of Housing and Urban Development increased...

FHA to Revisit Mortgage Insurance Premiums While Auditors Assess MMIF’s Improving Condition

The FHA has been reviewing the insurance premiums it charges and will do so again later this year as well as in 2015, said a top agency official, but whether this will lead to a reduction is unclear. Speaking at the annual convention of the Mortgage Bankers Association in Las Vegas this week, FHA Deputy Commissioner Biniam Gebre said the agency is “not done” with the premium issue and may revisit it in the next couple of months or perhaps next year. Gebre will temporarily replace FHA Commissioner Carol Galante, who is scheduled to leave the agency at the end of the week to join the faculty at the University of California in Berkeley. Galante headed...

QM ‘Right to Cure’ Approved

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau this week finalized a rule change that allows lenders to fix inadvertent mistakes that send mortgages over the 3 percent cap on points and fees for qualified mortgages. Under the “right-to-cure” amendment, a lender can, under limited circumstances, re-fund the excess amount of interest to keep the loan a QM.

More Focus on Nonbank Servicers

The Conference of State Bank Supervisors this week formed a task force on mortgage servicing rights to develop options for capital requirements for nonbank servicers. The task force includes representatives from nine state regulators, including the New York Department of Financial Services.

Top HMDA Mortgage Lenders in 2013

Mortgage Market at a Glance

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

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.
There won’t be any significant elimination of underwriting overlays until the government stops seeking huge mortgage-related penalties and settlements from lenders.
There shouldn’t be any expansion of the mortgage credit box since looser underwriting is what caused the recent mortgage crisis.

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Housing Pulse