Legislative Issues

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

October 23, 2014 - Inside Mortgage Finance

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...

October 17, 2014 - Inside MBS & ABS

GAO: U.S. Housing Finance in Need of Reform; Clarity Required on FHFA’s Guaranty Fee Stance

The substantial increase in federal support of the single-family housing finance system, as well as weaknesses uncovered in the wake of the mortgage market meltdown, have led to a U.S. finance system that warrants reform, according to the Government Accountability Office. The GAO focused considerable attention on the much-reported fact that government programs have accounted for a huge share of the mortgage and MBS market since the financial crisis. The congressional watchdog views the federal role in housing finance as a “high-risk area.” “Developments in mortgage markets since 2000 have challenged...

October 17, 2014 - Inside MBS & ABS

Experts: New AG Likely to Continue Aggressive Use of FIRREA Against Industry, Individual Executives Targeted

Mortgage industry executives should be aware and expect continued – and perhaps even more muscular – use of a 1989 federal law by government prosecutors to pursue mortgage-related claims. At the direction of Attorney General Eric Holder, the Department of Justice embraced the use of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA) in MBS lawsuits. Despite Holder’s announcement late last month that he is stepping down after six years as AG, there is...

October 10, 2014 - Inside MBS & ABS

Expert: Recapitalize Fannie and Freddie by Ending Government’s Profit Sweep and Draining Portfolios

Ending the conservatorships of the government-sponsored enterprises and recapitalizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is the “most pragmatic and feasible” solution to facilitate housing finance reform and protect taxpayers, according to a recently issued white paper. In his blueprint for ending GSE conservatorship, Clifford Rossi – adjunct professor at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park – calls for an administrative solution by recapitalizing Fannie and Freddie and bringing the GSEs out of conservatorship under strict conditions as the next best way of implementing housing finance reform short of legislation. “Conservatorship was...

October 9, 2014 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Advocates Press FHFA Director Watt to Finance Housing Trust Fund After Lawsuit is Dismissed

Affordable housing advocates are continuing their full-court press against the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, demanding that the FHFA greenlight financing for the dormant National Housing Trust Fund after a setback in federal court. U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Cooke of the Southern District of Florida last week dismissed a lawsuit brought by the National Low Income Housing Coalition on the grounds that the NLIHC lacks standing to sue the FHFA. Cooke also found that the court does not have jurisdiction over the decisions of the agency. The coalition filed...

October 3, 2014 - Inside The GSEs

Enterprise Endnotes

FHFA Principal Reduction Pilot Program. A bill filed by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-NJ, before Congress left town last month would create a shared-appreciation mortgage program in which banks would reduce the mortgage principal for eligible underwater homeowners. Under the Preserving American Homeownership Act, S. 2854, the pilot programs – to be established by the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the FHA – would entitle banks to a portion of the increased value of the home when the market improves.

October 3, 2014 - Inside The GSEs

FHFA Official: Congress Should Take Point on Shrinking GSEs

Efforts to reduce the government-sponsored enterprises’ footprint using guaranty fees and loan limits should be left to Congress, according to Bob Ryan, a special advisor to the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Meanwhile, officials at the Treasury Department suggest that the FHFA does have a role in setting policy that will inform any housing finance reform action by Congress.

October 3, 2014 - Inside The GSEs

Paper: Administrative GSE Reform Next Best Thing to Congress Acting

After six years of government control of the GSEs, Congressional inaction has ensured no legislative solution to housing finance reform anytime soon so the administration must take action, according to a white paper unveiled this week. Clifford Rossi, adjunct professor at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park, told Inside The GSEs that a legislative fix to GSE reform is the ideal solution.

September 29, 2014 - Inside the CFPB

Worth Noting/Legislative Update/Looking Ahead

Did Apple Place Itself Within CFPB’s Purview? Some legal experts think the recent rollout of mobile payment technology by Apple Inc. might have put the consumer technology heavyweight in the CFPB’s regulatory crosshairs. Georgetown Law Professor Adam Levitin said in a recent blog that Apple may have unwittingly become a regulated financial institution through the release of its Apple Pay service. “Basically, I think Apple is now a ‘service provider’ for purposes of the Consumer Financial Protection Act, which means Apple is subject to CFPB examination and UDAAP [unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices],” he said. Levitin then proceeded to walk readers through a number of legal definitions to bolster his argument. Vivian Kim, an associate at the Dykema ...

September 29, 2014 - Inside the CFPB

Calls Mount in House for QM Fixes, But Little Time Remains for Action

Before members of Congress left the nation’s capital for their final push before the November elections, diverse efforts were underway for making changes to aspects of the qualified mortgage definition under the CFPB’s ability-to-repay rule, either through legislation or persuasion. Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5461, a package of legislation which includes the text of H.R. 3211, the Mortgage Choice Act, which passed the House unanimously in June. The legislation would make it easier for mortgages to fit under the ATR rule’s cap on points and fees by providing equal treatment to title charges, regardless of whether or not a consumer chooses a title company affiliated with the lender. “This provision is narrowly focused to ...

September 25, 2014 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Congress Acts to Extend Info-Sharing Privilege to State-Licensed Mortgage Companies, State Agencies

Last week, the Senate passed legislation that would extend to state-licensed mortgage companies – and the state regulatory agencies that oversee them – the same kind of protections against waivers of privilege for information provided to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that was previously extended to federal agencies that supervise depository mortgage lenders. The measure, H.R. 5062, the Examination and Supervisory Privilege Parity Act of 2014, would require the CFPB to coordinate its supervisory activities with state agencies that license, supervise or examine those who offer consumer financial products or services. Currently under the Dodd-Frank Act, the bureau is only required to coordinate with federal and state banking regulators. The legislation also would provide...

September 25, 2014 - Inside Mortgage Finance

GSE Shareholder Plaintiffs Demand Full Transparency From Treasury, FHFA Over Profit ‘Sweep’ Documents

Attorneys for a group of disenfranchised Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac junior shareholders have joined another shareholder group’s motion in federal court asking the government to come clean with all of the documents and records regarding the Treasury’s “Third Amendment” and “net-worth sweep” of nearly all government-sponsored enterprises’ profits. In papers filed last week in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Perry Capital lead attorney Ted Olson asked to join Fairholme Fund’s request for “supplementation” of the record. Both plaintiffs contend the government has failed to provide for court review of the “whole record” as required under the Administrative Procedures Act. “The government is...

September 25, 2014 - Inside Mortgage Finance

FHFA Official: Congress Should Be Main Arbiter Of the GSEs’ Share of Mortgage Market Activity

Efforts to reduce the government-sponsored enterprises’ footprint using guaranty fees and loan limits should be left to Congress, according to Bob Ryan, a special advisor to the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Meanwhile, officials at the Treasury Department suggest that the FHFA does have a role in setting policy that will inform any housing finance reform action by Congress. In comments this week at the ABS East conference produced by Information Management Network in Miami Beach, Ryan said the FHFA looks to Congress for direction when considering how to run the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. “There is nothing in the legislation that suggests the FHFA should shrink the footprint [of the GSEs],” he said. Ryan said...

September 19, 2014 - Inside The GSEs

CBO: Stalled Senate Housing Bill That Cuts GSEs Would Save $60B

The Senate’s housing finance reform bill would save the government some $60 billion over 10 years according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, but don’t hold your breath waiting for the windfall, say critics. Earlier this month, the CBO issued its estimate, which concluded that replacing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with a new securitization program that couples a first-loss position for private capital with back-end government insurance could reduce “direct spending” by $60 billion over the 2015-2024 period.

September 19, 2014 - Inside The GSEs

DeMarco: Continued Delay of GSE Reform Exacerbates Market Risk

The ongoing uncertainty about the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is weighing on the mortgage industry and it’s only going to get worse with time, said the former head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency this week. Edward DeMarco, now a senior fellow in residence for the Milken Institute’s Center for Financial Markets, warned that with the government in effective control of the mortgage market, the risk grows of capital allocation and pricing decisions made through the prism of political calculation rather than due to sound, market driven principle.

September 19, 2014 - Inside MBS & ABS

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Multifamily Business Way Behind Last Year’s Pace

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were both active this week with multifamily MBS transactions, but they’ll have to double-time it if they plan to match last year’s levels. The odds are against them. Fannie’s multifamily new business volume came to $13.8 billion through August 2014, compared with $20.4 billion the year before. The government-sponsored enterprise would have to crank out another $15 billion in the last four months of 2014 to match the 2013 total of $28.8 billion. For rival Freddie, multifamily new business activity totaled...

September 15, 2014 - Inside the CFPB

Legislative Update/Worth Noting/Looking Ahead

Industry Tries to Rustle Up Support for QM Points-and-Fees Legislation. The Mortgage Action Alliance, the grassroots advocacy group of the Mortgage Bankers Association, recently issued a “call to action” to its members to get on the telephone and call their Senators and urge them to pass legislation that would make key changes to the way points and fees are calculated under the qualified mortgage definition in the CFPB’s ability-to-repay rule. S. 1577, the Mortgage Choice Act of 2013, introduced last year by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV, exempts any affiliated title charges and escrow charges for taxes and insurance from the QM cap on points and fees. Manchin’s bill is a legislative companion to H.R. 3211, the Mortgage Choice Act, which ...

September 15, 2014 - Inside the CFPB

Rep. Maloney Urges CFPB to Act On Overdraft Fees, Despite Trends

In what looks like an example of a minority party member of Congress trying to outflank the majority party, Rep. Carol Maloney, D-NY, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, wrote CFPB Director Richard Cordray last week and urged the agency take specific steps to address certain checking account overdraft practices. Some of her suggestions are included in legislation she introduced last year that has not been taken up by committee. Maloney’s recommendations come despite indications that most bank customers overall pay little or nothing for their monthly banking services. Referencing a related study issued by the bureau in July, Maloney said the agency’s report provides “indisputable evidence” that consumers who have not opted in to overdraft protection are ...

September 15, 2014 - Inside the CFPB

Waters’ Bill Would Task CFPB With Multiple Credit-Reporting Reforms

The CFPB would have a handful of new oversight responsibilities for the credit-reporting sector under a discussion draft of possible legislation entitled the “Fair Credit Reporting Improvement Act of 2014,” circulated last week by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-CA, the ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee. Among the draft’s provisions is a directive for the bureau to set standards for validating the accuracy and predictive value of credit score algorithms, formulas, models, programs, and mechanisms…

September 12, 2014 - Inside FHA Lending

MMIF in Negative Cash Flow in 2Q14, Says Report

The FHA Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund account balances fell by $0.5 billion during the second quarter of 2014 to $45.3 billion due to higher claim payments and property expenses. Observers, nonetheless, remain optimistic the fund will return to full stability in 2015 with no further change in the mortgage insurance premium charged to borrowers. The MMIF’s total balances peaked at $48.4 billion in the third quarter of 2013 and then slipped gradually over the last three quarters, according to data in the FHA’s latest report to Congress regarding the financial health of the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund. Total revenues from premium collections, property sale, and note sale proceeds were $4.3 billion, while $5.1 billion was paid to cover claims and property expenses in the second quarter. This resulted in a negative$821 million cash flow in the quarter, the smallest outflow since ...

September 12, 2014 - Inside Nonconforming Markets

News Briefs

S. 1217, the Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2014, would decrease federal deficits by a total of $58 billion from 2015 to 2024, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs approved the legislation to reform the government-sponsored enterprises earlier this year but the full Senate has yet to consider the bill and there is little support for the legislation in the House.

September 12, 2014 - Inside MBS & ABS

DeMarco Cites ‘Structural Improvements’ in Housing Six Years After GSE Conservatorship, More Needed

Six years after the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the former regulator of the government-sponsored enterprises noted that the housing finance system has made “significant progress.” But even as critical structural changes are underway, comprehensive improvement is still several years out. In a policy paper issued last week, Edward DeMarco – new senior fellow-in-residence for the Milken Institute’s Center for Financial Markets – said that house prices, as measured by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, have recovered more than 50 percent since their decline in 2007. “While the damage from the housing crisis has been substantial, we are finally seeing...


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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