Legislative Issues

Browse articles from all of our Newsletters related to Legislative Issues.

March 24, 2017 - Inside The GSEs

GSE Roundup

MBA: Don’t Bet on GSE PSPA Change. Mortgage Bankers Association President Dave Stevens said this week he expects no movement by the Trump Treasury Department to modify the preferred stock purchase agreements governing the GSE bailouts that would allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to build retained capital. In an interview with IMFnews, Stevens – who has been in touch with the new administration on GSE reform – noted that the PSPAs do not necessarily require the payment of GSE dividends to Treasury on a quarterly basis. (A commitment fee payment may be required though.) Smaller trade groups – though not the MBA – have asked the Federal Housing Finance...


March 24, 2017 - Inside The GSEs

FHFA Amends Freedom of Information Act Regulation

The Federal Housing Finance Agency issued an interim rule last week that changed some of the components of its Freedom of Information Act regulation, including the fee categories. The interim rule gives notice about the circumstances in which the FHFA can extend its response time to the FOIA request and tells when it should notify the person requesting the information about their right to seek dispute resolution services. In the new FOIA rule, the agency is required to provide a minimum of 90 days for requestors to file an administrative appeal and must notify requesters about available dispute resolution services.


March 23, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

CFPB Moving Vigorously Ahead with Enforcement Actions, as Prospect Mortgage RESPA Case Reveals

With the enforcement of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act at stake, and a hostile occupant in the Oval Office, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is certainly not being bashful about continuing its regulation-by-enforcement modus operandi. The recent enforcement action against Prospect Mortgage is just the latest example. According to Colgate Selden, a partner in the Washington, DC, office of the law firm of Alston & Bird, the case is important because “it indicates the CFPB is moving full-speed ahead regardless” of the recent court rulings in PHH v. CFPB. This case is...


March 23, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Private MI Companies Push for Change to QM Points- And-Fees Calculation, Aligning GSE and FHA Standards

Congress should pass legislation setting uniform standards for qualified mortgages, according to the U.S. Mortgage Insurers trade group. USMI raised particular concerns about differences in the points-and-fees calculation for FHA mortgages compared with the standard for mortgages delivered to the government-sponsored enterprises. As required by the Dodd-Frank Act, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau established standards for QMs. Certain federal regulators, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, were allowed to implement QM standards that differed from the CFPB standards. USMI noted...


March 23, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Trump Administration Urges Court in PHH Case To Ditch CFPB ‘Removal Only for Cause’ Provision

The Trump administration late last week filed its amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in PHH Corp. v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and, as expected, sided with the lender this time around, but didn’t go as far as some had hoped it would. In its brief, the Department of Justice argued in support of eliminating the removal-only-for-cause protection that currently applies to the director of the CFPB. However, whereas PHH has argued that the CFPB be eliminated in its entirety, the Trump administration argued in favor of retaining the CFPB, but with a director removable at the will of the president. Currently, the director may be removed...


March 17, 2017 - Inside FHA/VA Lending

Trump Proposes Drastic Cuts to 2018 HUD Discretionary Spending

The Trump administration has proposed deep budget cuts in 2018 for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but whether the agencies’ critical housing insurance programs would be affected is unclear. The cuts are part of the administration’s plan to reduce non-defense discretionary spending dramatically in order to fund increased defense spending and President Trump’s southern border wall, and to bring down a projected $9.4 trillion U.S. deficit over the next decade.Released this week, the preliminary 2018 budget seeks $40.7 billion in gross discretionary funding for HUD, $6.2 billion or 13.2 percent lower than the department’s approved spending in 2017. The $47.3 billion in discretionary budget authority enacted for fiscal 2017 does not include offsetting receipts from FHA and Ginnie Mae, which lowered the congressionally appropriated cost for ...


March 10, 2017 - Inside The GSEs

Industry Groups Rally Around Bill to Protect Guarantee-Fee Usage

Preventing GSE guarantee fees from being used as income for unrelated government spending has been an ongoing battle. In the latest attempt to block this from happening, more than a dozen mortgage and housing groups sent a joint letter in support of the Risk Management and Homeowner Stability Act. H.R. 916, introduced by Reps. Mark Sanford, R-SC, and Brad Sherman, D-CA, was created to stop g-fees from being tapped for non-housing programs. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Community Mortgage Lenders of America, the American Bankers Association and U.S. Mortgage Insurers are among the 14 groups that signed the letter. They argue that increasing g-fees for other purposes imposes an...


March 9, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

HFSC’s Budget Views Lay Groundwork for Carson’s HUD Agenda as Secretary Prepares for ‘Listening’ Tour

Secretary Ben Carson may not yet have a clear agenda and a set of priorities for the Department of Housing and Urban Development over the next four years, but the House Financial Services Committee appears to have identified changes that Republican lawmakers want to see at the agency. A HUD spokesman said Carson will embark next week on a nationwide “listening” tour of certain communities and HUD field offices to learn more about the agency he leads, FHA programs and the mortgage insurance fund he oversees. On March 2, Vice President Mike Pence swore...


March 9, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Support Grows for Bill to Prevent Government From Tapping G-fees for Unrelated Funding

More than a dozen mortgage and housing groups are backing a House bill that would prevent guaranty fees on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage-backed securities from being hijacked to pay for unrelated government spending. A joint trade group letter, signed by the Mortgage Bankers Association, Community Mortgage Lenders of America, the American Bankers Association, U.S. Mortgage Insurers and others, argues that tapping g-fees for other unrelated purposes imposes an “unjustified burden” on homeowners who would be forced to pay for the increase through higher monthly payments for the life of their loan. Our organizations were...


March 3, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Securitization Participants Push for Certain Regulatory Reforms While Embracing DFA’s Risk-Retention Rules

As Democrats in Congress worked on reforms after the financial crisis, issuers of MBS and ABS repeatedly warned that regulatory uncertainty would hurt the market. With Republicans now looking to roll back parts of the Dodd-Frank Act, industry participants are pushing for risk-retention requirements to remain in place, again citing the potential impact of regulatory uncertainty. “It’s foolish to think that we would try to tear it all down,” said Howard Kaplan, a partner at the law firm of Deloitte & Touche, during this week’s SFIG Vegas conference. Among many other changes, the CHOICE Act from Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-TX, would repeal...


March 2, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

House Budget Vote Suggests GOP to Keep Reform Of Dodd-Frank, CFPB, GSEs on Its Front Burner

The House Financial Services Committee, as part of the congressional budget process, this week voted on its budget views and estimates for fiscal year 2018, with an eye on changing the Dodd-Frank Act, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The committee’s report is intended as guidance for the House Budget Committee as it crafts its FY2018 budget legislation but is not binding. In reference to Dodd-Frank, the HFSC Republicans’ budget document stated...


March 2, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Congress Focusing More on GSE Reform; Credit-Risk Transfer Deals Seen as a Model and Potential Deterrent

Calls from offices of members of Congress seeking information regarding reform options for the government-sponsored enterprises have increased recently, according to Andrew Davidson, president of Andrew Davidson & Co., an analytics firm. Speaking this week at the SFIG Vegas conference produced by Information Management Network and the Structured Finance Industry Group, Davidson said he has received “a surprising number of calls” from congressional staff regarding GSE reform. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been...


February 24, 2017 - Inside The GSEs

GAO Report Stresses Need for Reform, Leadership Commitment

A prolonged conservatorship coupled with a change in leadership at the Federal Housing Finance Agency could shift priorities for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, according to the Government Accountability Office. The GAO said a potential priority change for Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac would only send mixed messages, creating uncertainties for market participants and hindering the development of the broader secondary mortgage market. In its 2017 biennial report released this month, the GAO discussed actions that need to be taken in order to resolve the federal role in housing finance. The need for leadership commitment by Congress and the administration to reform the system was one of the primary themes.


February 24, 2017 - Inside The GSEs

Sen. Crapo Speaks on Potential GSE Reform, Analysts Weigh in

Sen. Mike Crapo, R-ID, newly elected chair of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, said reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would likely happen in 2018, but he’s concerned about the divisiveness on Capitol Hill. During remarks at the Mid-Size Bank Coalition of America meeting last week, the senator echoed Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s comments and said that a housing reform bill would be a “high priority” and he doesn’t expect the administration to take unilateral action. Crapo said the atmosphere on Capitol Hill is more toxic than he’s ever seen, with constant pushback over President Trump’s election win. Analysts noted that this is the ultimate risk to housing finance reform, as bipartisan support is needed.


February 24, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Revised GOP Reform Plan Would Significantly Loosen Rules For Rating Services, Roll Back Dodd-Frank Standards

Planned revisions to the Financial CHOICE Act would loosen regulation of rating services, according to a recent memo by Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-TX, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Hensarling sent the memo to the leadership team of the House Financial Services Committee this month detailing changes that will be included in hise so-called CHOICE Act 2.0. The expected revisions to standards for nationally recognized statistical rating organizations go well beyond the rollbacks included in the version of the CHOICE Act that was introduced in September. The 2016 bill would have repealed...


February 23, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Hensarling Says Delinquency Surge Justifies Suspension of FHA Premium Cut; Consultant Says Spike May be a Fluke

A spike in FHA delinquency rates in the fourth quarter of 2016 has prompted a top House Republican leader to laud the Trump administration for its decision to suspend a 25 basis point cut in FHA mortgage insurance premiums, though some say the increase might be a fluke. Last month, an analysis by Inside FHA/VA Lending, an affiliated newsletter, revealed that delinquency rates were up across the board for FHA loans backing Ginnie Mae mortgage-backed securities. The share of current FHA loans as of the end of the fourth quarter slipped from 94.2 percent to 93.2 percent, while the share of loans 90 days or more past due rose to 0.82 percent, the highest it’s been since June 2014. The figures are based on loan count and are not seasonally adjusted. The Mortgage Bankers Association two weeks ago reported...


February 17, 2017 - Inside FHA/VA Lending

FHA-Related FCA Enforcement, Recoveries Increase in 2016

Claims relating to housing and mortgage fraud represented a huge chunk of the amount recovered by the federal government under the False Claims Act last year. An analysis by the WilmerHale law firm found that the Department of Justice continued to give high priority to FCA investigations and prosecutions in 2016, resulting in more than $4.76 billion in settlements and judgments, nearly $1 billion more than in 2015. The increase also reflected a continued focus on financial institutions and the mortgage lending industry, with approximately $1.6 billion in recoveries last year, the law firm said. The DOJ, working on referrals from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s inspector general, has used the FCA effectively as a tool in prosecuting FHA-related fraud cases against lenders. The DOJ ...


February 17, 2017 - Inside FHA/VA Lending

Republicans Invoke Cloture in Upcoming Carson Confirmation

Ben Carson is a step closer to being confirmed as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development after Republicans this week invoked cloture to block any attempt by Democrats to delay or prevent a Senate confirmation vote. Republicans filed their cloture motion and waived quorum call on Feb. 13, effectively ending further debate on Carson’s nomination. At least 16 senators must sign a cloture petition.]There has been no date set for Carson’s confirmation vote. The Trump administration has been slow to fill its Cabinet positions, partly due to Democrats’ stalling techniques. So far, only nine cabinet positions have been filled. There has been no Senate action scheduled since the Senate Banking Committee approved Carson confirmation by voice vote on Jan. 24, and nobody seems to have an explanation for the delay. While the committee vote was unanimous, Democrats continue to ...


February 17, 2017 - Inside Nonconforming Markets

Revised CHOICE Act Aims to Limit CFPB

A revised version of the Financial CHOICE Act could make changes to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that are so significant that other provisions in the bill aiming to loosen standards for qualified mortgages might not be necessary. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-TX, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, introduced HR 5983, the Financial CHOICE Act, in September and the committee approved the bill largely on a party-line vote that month. The bill covered a wide ...


February 17, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Fed’s Bullard: Shrinking Balance Sheet Could Begin, Yellen: Fed Won’t Sell MBS, Will Use Runoff Instead

The chatter about the Federal Reserve shrinking its massive $4.5 trillion balance sheet and its huge $1.7 trillion portfolio of agency MBS has continued in recent days, with one Fed official talking up the idea and another describing how the U.S. central bank plans to do it. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said in a speech last week that the Fed could begin normalizing its balance sheet. “The Fed’s balance sheet has been an important monetary policy tool during the period of near-zero policy rates,” Bullard said. Thus far, the Fed’s Open Market Committee has not set...


February 16, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

The Time is Right for a Boom in Servicing Sales. Another Month or Two of Slow Prepayments Could Spur Market

The secondary market for bulk agency mortgage servicing rights is beginning to pick up a decent head of steam, but one factor is holding it back from a full-throttle: worries about prepayment speeds. “We’ve had one month of low prepayment numbers,” said Mark Garland, president of MountainView Servicing Group, Denver. “A couple of more months would be better.” According to investment bankers who work the market, although rates have been on a steady climb since the November election – the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury is...


February 16, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

CHOICE Act 2.0 Would Disembowel CFPB, Hensarling Would Use Budget to Push Through

A key Republican leader in the House of Representatives is looking to push legislation that would effectively neuter critical aspects of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that could lead to major changes in the agency’s oversight functions and capabilities, including mortgage rulemaking, supervision and enforcement. The congressman also indicated he might use a procedural technique related to the budget to ram his legislation past Democrat opponents in the Senate. The legislative vehicle of choice is...


February 13, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

Other News in Brief

Hensarling Threatens to Use Budget Reconciliation Process to Push Through CHOICE Act 2.0. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-TX, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, raised some industry eyebrows last week when details of his new, more aggressive Financial CHOICE Act got leaked to the press, and he indicated he might use the budget reconciliation process to push the bill through Congress.... CFPB Brings Legal Action Against Debt Relief Law Firms, Attorneys. The CFPB recently sued Howard Law PC, Williamson Law Firm LLC, and Williamson & Howard LLP, as well as attorneys Vincent Howard and Lawrence Williamson, in federal court, accusing them of collaborating to charge illegal fees to consumers looking for debt relief....


February 13, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

CHOICE Act 2.0 Would Retain, Restructure CFPB, Gut its Power

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-TX, is looking to retain the CFPB, restructure key parts of the agency, and drastically limit its authority, Inside the CFPB has learned. According to a draft memorandum of the major changes to Hensarling’s Financial CHOICE Act, now dubbed CHOICE Act 2.0, the bureau “is to be retained and restructured as a civil law enforcement agency similar to the Federal Trade Commission, with additional restrictions on its authority,” as follows: Sole director, removable by the president at will. Rule-making authority limited to enumerated statutes. Unfair, deceptive acts or practices authority repealed in full. Supervision repealed. Consumer complaint database repealed.• Market monitoring authority repealed. Enforcement powers limited to cease-and-desist and civil investigative demand/subpoena powers....


February 10, 2017 - Inside The GSEs

MBA Proposal Raises Competition, Government Guarantee Questions

Uneconomic price competition coupled with Congressional discord are some of the concerns analysts have expressed about the Mortgage Bankers Association’s newly released plan for GSE reform. The MBA’s proposal recommends multiple privately owned guarantors, preferably more than two, to increase competition in the market. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be the first two and the MBA suggests that new guarantors receive a charter to enhance competition. “The more market participants that compete, the better for consumers, the economy and the system,” said Rodrigo Lopez, MBA chairman. GSE Reform Principles and Guardrails also suggests that Congress sanction an “explicit government guarantee for eligible securities in order to entice domestic and foreign investors to keep buying...


February 10, 2017 - Inside The GSEs

Reform Still a Treasury Priority, Weighing Administrative Options

Treasury secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin still has GSE reform high on his list, according to one of President Trump’s top economic advisors. Meanwhile, speculation abounds as to whether there’s an administrative solution to GSE reform absent any legislative action. After some back and forth on the topic since the announcement of Mnuchin’s nomination his subsequent comments on the GSEs, economic advisor Gary Cohen said in national media outlets late last week that GSE reform is definitely a priority for Mnuchin. In fact, he said that it’s something Mnuchin’s spent a lot of time working on. “Once he gets approved and confirmed, Steve will be taking that on as one of this early priorities. So we definitely have some plans...


February 10, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

MBA Reform Plan Seeks to Preserve TBA Market, But Analyst Says Explicit Guarantee Questionable

The need to preserve liquidity and transparency in the existing to-be-announced market was an important component of the Mortgage Bankers Association’s newly-released plan for housing finance reform, according to Deutsche Bank Securities. Jeana Curro, research analyst with Deutsche, said a handful of provisions in the MBA’s latest proposal stand out as improvements from the industry group’s previous ideas on how to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. She agreed...


February 10, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Industry Supports Trump Review of Dodd-Frank; Will There Be a Repeal of ATR, QM, QRM?

Industry observers and groups expressed support this week for President Trump’s move to put the Dodd-Frank Act under the microscope, with an eye toward scaling back its regulatory burden and possibly replacing at least parts of it with more pro-market reforms. Late last week, Trump signed an executive order that directs the Treasury secretary to consult with the heads of the agencies that comprise the Financial Stability Oversight Council, review the current regulatory structure for the U.S. financial system, and report back in 120 days. The order also lays...


Poll

With the spring homebuying season in full swing, what percentage of your March 2017 application volume has been for “purchase” loans?

75% or higher
50% to 74%
30% to 49%
Under 30%

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