Browse articles from all of our Newsletters related to FHFA.

February 27, 2015 - Inside Mortgage Trends

Improvements Seen in Processing of Short Sales

Servicers are benefitting from quicker transaction times on short sales, according to Fannie Mae. The government-sponsored enterprise said transaction time has been cut in half for short sales compared with the end of 2012, though the number of these transactions has also declined significantly. Short-sale transaction timelines currently average 45 days to 60 days, down from an average of 120 days in late 2012, according to a post on Fannie’s Housing Industry Forum website. The GSE said the HomePath short sale portal has helped reduce the time it takes to complete a short sale. The portal was released...

February 27, 2015 - Inside The GSEs

FHFA Issues New Guidance on Fraud Reporting by FHLBanks

The Federal Housing Finance Agency recently updated its regulatory guidance for the Federal Home Loan Banks on the reporting of fraudulent financial instruments. The new guidance instructs the FHLBanks to implement policies and procedures for complying with the reporting requirements regarding anti-money laundering and suspicious activity that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network published Feb. 25, 2014. The FinCEN regulation takes some of the provisions of the Bank Secrecy Act and applies them to the FHLBanks, and delegates examination responsibility to the FHFA to determine compliance. “Generally, the FinCEN regulation requires that each regulated entity develop an anti-money laundering program and file suspicious activity reports (SARs), among other requirements,” the FHFA said. The FinCEN reg took effect April 28, 2014. The ...

February 27, 2015 - Inside The GSEs

HARP Volume Continued To Taper Off in 2014

The flow of refinance mortgages to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac increased during the fourth quarter, but the two GSEs continued to see declining volume in the Home Affordable Refinance Program. According to figures from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Fannie and Freddie securitized 432,376 refinance mortgages in the fourth quarter, up 11.1 percent from the previous period. Fannie had the bigger gain, 16.2 percent. But total HARP activity fell 15.3 percent from the third quarter, and for the year it was down 75.9 percent from 2013 levels. The biggest slowdown in HARP were mortgages with loan-to-value ratios exceeding 105 percent. Both GSEs are doing more non-HARP streamlined refi business than in the program set up in 2009 for underwater ... [with two exclusive charts] ...

February 27, 2015 - Inside MBS & ABS

GSEs Focus on ‘Less Liquid’ Assets in Paring Retained Mortgage Portfolios

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reduced their combined mortgage investment portfolio by 13.7 percent last year by focusing on less-liquid assets. The two government-sponsored enterprises still had $821.7 billion of mortgages and MBS on their books at the end of the year. Freddie reported that it sold $16.5 billion of less-liquid assets such as unsecuritized mortgages, multifamily assets and non-agency MBS. At the end of the year, some 59 percent of its portfolio was designated as less liquid, down from 62 percent at the end of 2013. The Federal Housing Finance Agency in 2013 directed...[Includes one data chart]

February 27, 2015 - Inside MBS & ABS

Mortgage Industry Counting on Slightly Lower Guaranty Fees for Fannie and Freddie MBS

Although the Federal Housing Finance Agency has yet to tip its hand on where it might be headed regarding guaranty fees, most of the industry is betting on no change at all – or possibly a slight reduction, according to interviews conducted by Inside MBS & ABS over the past two weeks. Moreover, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac themselves are playing a key role in the decision-making process, at least that’s what Freddie CEO Donald Layton said recently. “Guaranty fees are...

February 20, 2015 - Inside MBS & ABS

Market Participants Raise Some Issues, Questions About Proposed GSE Single Security With FHFA

Industry participants in the Treasury Market Practices Group raised questions about the tax consequences and other issues involved in the plan to develop a “single security” in a meeting with the Federal Housing Finance Agency last month. The recently released minutes of the meeting do not provide much detail. The FHFA representatives described in broad terms the project to create a fungible MBS that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would both issue in the to-be-announced market. In response, “Most TMPG members noted...

February 13, 2015 - Inside The GSEs

Study: GSE Conservatorships Don’t Comply With HERA

The Federal Housing Finance Agency is not fulfilling its statutory responsibility to preserve Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in conservatorship, according to a legal analysis by former government officials. The GSE conservatorships, particularly under the current arrangement that siphons off nearly all of their earnings, violates the terms of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, said Michael Krimminger and Mark Calabria. Krimminger was formerly an expert on bank receiverships at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and Calabria was a Republican staffer at the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee when HERA was being drafted and enacted. Their paper argues that crippling Fannie and Freddie by preventing them from rebuilding capital is exactly the opposite of the way...

February 13, 2015 - Inside The GSEs

New Seller/Servicer Rules May Give an Edge to Large Nonbanks

Recently proposed new minimum financial eligibility requirements for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac seller/servicers – including net worth, capital ratio and liquidity criteria – appear to be less restrictive than expected but may give an edge to large nonbanks over smaller players and new entrants, analysts say. Announced Jan. 30 by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the eligibility requirements consist of three primary components. In terms of minimum net worth, the proposed requirement for all seller/servicers is a base of $2.5 million plus 25 basis points of unpaid principal balance for total loans serviced. As far as minimum capital ratio is concerned, the proposed requirement for all non-depository seller/servicers is to have tangible net worth/total assets greater than 6 percent. “Depository institutions ...

February 13, 2015 - Inside The GSEs

Watt: I’m Not Presuming ‘Abuse’ by Captives That Want to Join FHLB

The Federal Housing Finance Agency isn’t providing a timetable on when it might decide the thorny issue of captive insurance companies becoming members in the Federal Home Loan Bank system. In a recent press briefing, FHFA Director Mel Watt also clarified that he is not presuming that any current members or applicants want to “abuse” their membership benefits, but said the agency must still go through the process of fielding comments on a proposal that would effectively ban captives from joining the system. Roughly 18 current members of the FHLBanks are affected by the proposed ban, seven of which are affiliated with real estate investment trusts. Captives do not write coverage outside of their own company. Traditional insurance companies that ...

February 13, 2015 - Inside The GSEs

FHFA Actions Lay Foundation For Legislative GSE Reform

Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt has repeatedly said that GSE reform should be left to Congress. However, industry analysts suggest that the FHFA’s actions under Watt are helping to build a foundation for legislation. Michael Stegman, counselor to the Treasury Department for housing finance policy, said the FHFA’s actions are helping to create bipartisan consensus for provisions to be included in GSE reform. He pointed to the common securitization platform, risk-sharing transactions and capital standards for private mortgage insurers. Stegman said the FHFA’s actions are just a starter, particularly because Watt’s actions could be reversed by the next director of the FHFA. The Treasury official was among the speakers who addressed the current state of the GSEs at ...

February 13, 2015 - Inside The GSEs

Watt Signals the End May Be Near on Principal Reductions

The Federal Housing Finance Agency continues to analyze the issue of principal reductions for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans, but Director Mel Watt made it clear recently that unless it’s a “win-win” for both the borrower and the GSEs, the issue is a non-starter with him. Moreover, in a press briefing, he made it clear that at some point the FHFA may take the issue off the table entirely. “We’re doing a lot of work on this,” Watt said, suggesting that if a program ever sees the light of day, principal reductions would be done “in a responsible way.” The FHFA has come under political pressure from left-leaning members of the Democratic Party, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts ...

February 13, 2015 - Inside MBS & ABS

Arch’s New MI Product Covers Jumbos; Will It Aid the Securitization Market?

It’s no secret that the securitization market for jumbo loans has been anemic since the housing bust of 2008, but is mortgage insurance a possible panacea? Arch MI recently set up a new subsidiary that will write coverage on jumbo loans as well as portfolio products. In its press statement, Arch said it created Arch Mortgage Guaranty Co. in part to aid lenders that want to securitize. In a recent interview with Inside MBS & ABS, Arch MI President David Gansberg said...

February 12, 2015 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Inter-Party Differences Hinder Action in Congress on Mortgage Finance Reform

Internal differences among Democrats and Republicans – let alone the strong differences between the two parties – have prevented Congress from resolving the conservatorship of the two government-sponsored enterprises, according to industry analysts. At the ABS Vegas conference this week sponsored by the Structured Finance Industry Group and Information Management Network, two people with intimate knowledge of matters in the House and Senate pointed to inter-party issues regarding GSE reform. Andrew Olmem, a partner at the law firm of Venable and a former Republican chief counsel and deputy staff director at the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs until 2013, noted...

February 6, 2015 - Inside Nonconforming Markets

Outlook for Action on GSEs Murky at Best

Policymakers continue to provide plenty of doubt about whether anything will happen to shrink the footprint of the government-sponsored enterprises. At a hearing last week before the House Financial Services Committee, Mel Watt, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, said he hasn’t made a decision about future adjustments to the guaranty fees charged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The g-fee issue has been under review by the FHFA for ...

February 5, 2015 - Inside Mortgage Finance

If Pingora’s Capital Raise is Successful, It Could Have $1 Billion Tied up in Mortgage Servicing Rights

Pingora Asset Management is trying to raise $500 million of additional capital to buy mortgage servicing rights from eager sellers. If successful, it will bring the young company’s investment in residential receivables up to $1 billion. According to new figures compiled by Inside Mortgage Finance, Pingora owned $25.38 billion of Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac residential servicing rights at yearend, ranking 24th among all servicers. Three years ago, it didn’t even exist. Company founder and Chief Executive Michael Lau was said...

February 5, 2015 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Industry Analysts Expect Adjustments to the GSEs’ LLPAs, Potential Decrease in G-Fees

The Federal Housing Finance Agency is giving no hints on where it’s headed regarding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guaranty fees and may not make a final decision until after March 31. But industry observers predict changes in loan-level pricing adjustments and an overall reduction in g-fees. During a press briefing this week, FHFA Director Mel Watt said, “We don’t want to charge excessive g-fees.” He added: “We can’t set them so low” that the government-sponsored enterprises are not compensated for the risk they’re taking on. “People are going to know...

February 5, 2015 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Concerns Raised About FHFA Proposal on Seller/ Servicer Requirements, But Mostly Sighs of Relief

A long-awaited proposal from the Federal Housing Finance Agency that would codify minimum net worth and liquidity requirements for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac seller/servicers received mostly good reviews from the industry, but there are concerns about some of the details. For the Mortgage Bankers Association, the chief worry centers around the agency’s liquidity requirements. Released late last week, the FHFA is asking...[Includes one data chart]

January 30, 2015 - Inside The GSEs

Freddie Mac to Auction Seriously Delinquent Loans

Three pools of seriously delinquent mortgages with a total unpaid principal balance of $410 million will be auctioned off by Freddie Mac. The delinquent pools, with unpaid principal balances of $160 million, $141 million and $109 million, will be offered through Mission Capital Advisors, the broker in the deal, according to a Bloomberg report. Competitive bidding will end on Feb. 4. A large chunk of the loans are two years past due, the report noted. Freddie spokesman Tom Fitzgerald declined to provide further details, saying information at this stage of the deal is provided solely to prospective bidders. He said details on the results will be provided after auction. The transaction is the second of such sales for Freddie in ...

January 30, 2015 - Inside The GSEs

OIG: FHFA More Diverse at the Top Than in Mid-Level Positions

The Federal Housing Finance Agency’s diversity record at senior-level positions has improved, but remains far more wanting among mid-level management positions, according to a report by the agency’s Office of the Inspector General. An OIG analysis of FHFA data showed that the percentage of minorities and women in senior positions at the agency increased from 2011 to 2013. In addition, promotions of minorities at the senior level also increased over the same period. The report further found that the share of women at mid-level positions also rose during the same timeframe. However, the percentage of minorities in these positions remained unchanged, it noted. The OIG conducted a review of diversity and related workplace issues within the FHFA from March through ...

January 30, 2015 - Inside The GSEs

Fannie Looks to Foster Stability, Maturity in Risk-Sharing Business

Fannie Mae’s risk-sharing business had a gang-buster year in 2014, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency set a higher goal for the GSE in 2015. “Certainly we were very pleased with where we were able to take the program last year,” said Laurel Davis, Fannie vice president for credit risk transfer, in an interview with Inside The GSEs. “If you think about 2013, our goal then was to just launch something and to test the market and see what would happen.” The plan for 2014 was “to establish a regular pattern of issuance with the market,” Davis said. “Even though we had a good amount of issuance last year, obviously the program itself is still in its infancy. So our ...

January 30, 2015 - Inside The GSEs

Fannie, Freddie ‘Performance Pay’ May Be on Chopping Block

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have filed notice with the Securities and Exchange Commission warning that they might not be able to pay “deferred” compensation to executives if the GSEs fail to meet their 2015 conservatorship scorecard goals. Fannie, for instance, notes that the Federal Housing Finance Agency “will have the primary role” in determining whether the mortgage giant achieved its goals. None of the potentially affected executives are named in the separate SEC filings of the two. One former GSE regulator had this to say on the matter: “The purpose of the conservatorship scorecard is to drive performance. They are tied directly to GSE executive compensation.” According to the recently released 2015 scorecard, performance is based on a variety ...

January 30, 2015 - Inside The GSEs

FHFA Weighing Input On FHLBank Proposal

“Obviously we’ve touched a nerve,” Mel Watt, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, said of the FHFA’s proposal to revise standards for membership in the Federal Home Loan Bank System. At a hearing this week by the House Financial Services Committee, a number of Congressmen raised concerns about the proposed rule the FHFA issued in September. Rep. Frank Lucas, R-OK, was skeptical of the FHFA’s intentions, asking what problem the FHFA was trying to fix. “There are some potential problems that we are trying to fix, to make sure that the FHLBanks meet the statutory purposes that have been set,” Watt replied. “First of all, you don’t want anybody to be a member of the FHLBank system and get ...

January 30, 2015 - Inside The GSEs

GOP Questions Claim That HERA Authorizes GSE Funding for Trust

Republicans in the House Financial Services Committee and Mel Watt, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, clashed regarding funding of affordable housing funds by the GSEs at a hearing this week. In November, the FHFA directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to begin setting aside funds in 2015 to be allocated to the Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund. The contribution formula calls for Fannie and Freddie to send amounts equal to 4.2 basis points of the principal balance of their new business to the funds, about $290 million based on the GSEs’ activity in 2014. Watt’s directive reversed a suspension that his predecessor, Ed DeMarco, had implemented. Watt repeatedly cited the Housing and Economic Recovery Act ...

January 30, 2015 - Inside The GSEs

Fannie, Freddie Have Wiggle Room To Cut Fees on Higher LTV Loans

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can reclaim their pricing edge on mortgages with higher loan-to-value ratios, although it’s not at all clear whether they will. Up until the FHA this week slashed its annual insurance premiums on most loans by 50 basis points, Fannie and Freddie had a fairly clear pricing advantage on higher LTV loans regardless of credit score, according to a new analysis by Deutsche Bank Securities. On loans with LTVs ranging from 90 percent to 95 percent, for example, GSE pricing was better for all borrowers with credit scores over 620. The same was true for loans with LTVs ranging from 95 percent to 97 percent, a program just put in place this year. Things are different ...

January 30, 2015 - Inside The GSEs

Plenty of Talk, Little Momentum For GSE Reform in Congress

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle continue to work on legislation to reform the GSEs but with strong differences between the parties, there remains little optimism that GSE reform legislation will be enacted in the next two years. “While I realize the odds are long and the political issues to overcome are immense, I do believe that reforming this broken marketplace must remain a priority of this committee,” said Rep. Scott Garrett, R-NJ, at a hearing this week by the House Financial Services Committee. Garrett chairs the subcommittee on capital markets and GSEs. Garrett said previous GSE reform bills introduced on both sides of the aisle in Congress in recent years provide a foundation for what he ...

January 30, 2015 - Inside MBS & ABS

GSEs Halfway Towards Reaching the Prescribed Optimum Level for Retained Portfolio Holdings

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are more than halfway towards reaching their goal of reducing their retained mortgage portfolios to no more than $250 billion each by 2018, according to Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt. Testifying before the House Financial Services Committee this week, Watt said the two government-sponsored enterprises have developed plans to meet their investment targets, $250 billion each, in accordance with terms of their conservatorship. As of Sept. 30, 2014, Freddie’s portfolio stood...

January 30, 2015 - Inside MBS & ABS

Commercial MBS Activity Falls Just Short of Post- Crash High Thanks to Fourth-Quarter Stumble

Securitization of income-property mortgages continued to post strong new issuance numbers in 2014, with the non-agency commercial MBS sector doing particularly well, according to a new market analysis by Inside MBS & ABS. A total of $164.77 billion of securities backed by commercial mortgages were issued last year, down just 0.6 percent from 2013’s level, which was the high-water mark since just before the financial collapse. And non-agency CMBS production was up 11.6 percent in 2014, at $96.48 billion. Agency MBS issuance fell...[Includes one data chart]

January 29, 2015 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Watt Defends GSEs’ Low Downpayment Offerings, Offers Few Clues on Where G-Fees Are Heading

The government-sponsored enterprises’ new low downpayment programs received a vigorous defense from Melvin Watt, the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, at a hearing this week by the House Financial Services Committee. Republicans on the committee attacked the programs from a number of angles, including raising concerns about default rates on mortgages with lower downpayments and fears of a “race to the bottom” with the FHA. “If you carefully look at other considerations and take them into account in deciding whether to back that credit, you can ensure...

January 23, 2015 - Inside FHA Lending

Low Rates, High Demand Power VA’s 3Q14 Surge

Production of loans with a VA guaranty was moderately strong in the third quarter of 2014, thanks to lower rates and increased demand for the no-downpayment loans, according to Inside FHA Lending’s analysis of the latest agency data. A 14.1 percent quarter-to-quarter surge helped the industry end last year’s first nine months with a total of $76.3 billion in VA loans, mostly purchase home mortgages taken out by a younger generation of war veterans. VA streamline refinancing also accounted for a substantial chunk of originations, 19.2 percent. Volume jumped from $19.5 billion in the first quarter of 2014 to $26.5 billion the following quarter. Lenders closed out the third quarter with $30.2 billion. Stanley Middleman, chief executive officer of Freedom Mortgage, said VA lending is on the upswing, driven by low interest rates. He thinks the VA home loan guaranty program has been ... [ 1 chart ]

January 23, 2015 - Inside Nonconforming Markets

REITs Pick Apart FHFA’s FHLBank Proposal

The Federal Housing Finance Agency’s proposal to prohibit captive insurers from joining the Federal Home Loan Bank system included generalizations and inaccuracies, and it overstepped rulemaking boundaries, according to real estate investment trusts. The FHFA issued a proposed rule in September that would prohibit captive insurance companies from joining the FHLBank system. At least seven REITs have used captive insurers to gain access to ...


With the recent dip in interest rates, how do you feel about loan volumes this year?

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