Legislative Issues

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

December 19, 2014 - Inside FHA Lending

OIG Recovers $300M from SunTrust Settlement

The Inspector General of the Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced a $300 million recovery from an earlier settlement between SunTrust Mortgage and the Department of Justice, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the HUD Office of the Inspector General, and 50 state attorneys general. The settlement resolved allegations of violations of FHA requirements in a joint complaint filed on June 14, 2014, by federal and state enforcement agencies. The suit against SunTrust alleged misconduct related to the origination and servicing of single-family residential mortgages. The problem loans were uncovered during a routine OIG review of targeted FHA-insured loans. According to the suit, as an FHA direct endorsement lender, SunTrust certified poorly underwritten loans for FHA insurance from January 2006 through March 2012, despite its knowledge of ...


December 19, 2014 - Inside FHA Lending

VA Announces New, Lower Loan Limits in 2015

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced new, lower loan limits for 2015 after Congress decided not to extend the agency’s current maximum lending limits beyond 2014. The current limits will expire on Dec. 31. Under new guidelines, the maximum guaranty amounts for VA loan limits in 2015 will match the lower conforming loan limits established by the Federal Housing Finance Agency for the government-sponsored enterprises next year. These limits range from $417,000 to $625,500, depending on where the borrower is located. VA’s loan limits are tied to the county-based limits established for conforming loans backed by Freddie Mac. Freddie’s loan limits are calculated based on median house prices in counties across the nation. In recent years, VA’s high-cost loan limits have exceeded Freddie’s due to statutory authority granted under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. The VA authority was ...


December 18, 2014 - Inside Mortgage Finance

CBO Projects Lenders Will Shift Some of Their Business Away from the GSEs in Coming Years

Lenders are likely to shift some of their business away from the government-sponsored enterprises and into the non-agency market in the coming years, regardless of GSE reform efforts, according to a report released this week by the Congressional Budget Office. “With house prices expected to trend upward, the balance sheets of lenders and investors should improve, as should borrowers’ financial positions,” the nonpartisan provider of analysis for Congress said. “Consequently, CBO projects that private companies will become more willing to make new loans and demand lower fees to compensate for the credit risks they take, which will reduce Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s pricing advantage over their private competitors.” If the private sector bears more mortgage credit risk, the CBO said...


December 12, 2014 - Inside The GSEs

Industry Survey: Fix the GSEs, But Don’t Dissolve Them

Mortgage industry participants generally think GSE reform is necessary but they don’t support a complete wind-down of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, according to a new survey conducted by the Collingwood Group. Some 64.5 percent of 97 respondents said GSE reform is necessary. “Those who want reform say that the GSEs need not serve as a backup guarantor of home mortgages and believe that the government shouldn’t be guaranteeing more than 90 percent of the market,” Collingwood said. “The majority of respondents felt strongly that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s current state is untenable,” Collingwood said. “Interestingly, none of the survey respondents called for a wind-down or elimination of the GSEs.” Those who said GSE reform is not necessary cited ...


December 11, 2014 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Underwriting Overlays Remain a Concern, GSEs and Lenders Seen as Sharing the Blame

Democrats in Congress and consumer advocates remain concerned about tight underwriting standards for mortgages, particularly due to overlays established by lenders. However, at a hearing this week by a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, there was a lack of consensus on what causes underwriting overlays. “Instead of matching the creditworthy borrower at the lower end of the distribution with affordable loans, these borrowers are being cut out of the market entirely,” said Sen. Robert Menendez, D-NJ, chairman of the Banking Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation and Community Development. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, suggested...


December 5, 2014 - Inside FHA Lending

Around the Industry

Final PMIERS Rule Expected in 1Q15. The Federal Housing Finance Agency has revised its timeline for publishing a final version of the Private Mortgage Insurance Eligibility Requirements, which Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac proposed in July at the direction of the FHFA. The PMIERS will establish capital and other requirements for private mortgage insurers. In a statement, industry trade group U.S. Mortgage Insurers said it has received word from the agency that the final PMIERS would not be published until at least late in the first quarter of 2015. The FHFA initially indicated that a final rule would be issued by yearend 2014. The USMI reiterated its support for an updated PMIERS. Mortgage Executives Concerned About G-Fee Increase. A survey of mortgage executives at this year’s Mortgage Bankers Association annual conference found 53 percent saying that ...


December 5, 2014 - Inside FHA Lending

Lenders Confused Over HUD’s Stance on LPI

A provision on lender-placed insurance in the servicing segment of the FHA’s draft Single Family Housing Policy Handbook appears to contradict the agency’s previously stated position on LPI, according to the American Bankers Association. The ABA urged the FHA to retain the current policy regarding a lender’s discretion in requiring hazard and flood insurance for loans the agency insures. In a comment letter, the ABA expressed concern about the FHA’s new proposed standard for LPI, which could limit the amount of LPI coverage a lender or servicer could impose on a borrower to the outstanding balance of the loan. It would apply broadly to hazard insurance, including flood insurance. There are several problems with this approach, the ABA said. The group noted that Congress had established a standard which requires any home construction in a special flood hazard area (SFHA) to obtain “at least” ...


December 5, 2014 - Inside FHA Lending

Groups Oppose FHA Quality Assurance Fee

Reports that the Senate Appropriations Committee might include a proposed FHA administrative fee in the Senate’s spending bill for financial and housing agencies is causing a furor within the mortgage financing industry. Industry groups have come out in force, urging the leaders of the Senate committee to remove the provision from a continuing resolution to fund the government beyond Dec. 11. There is speculation that the House might go along with the fee. The provision, expected to raise $30 million for FHA quality assurance efforts, would allow the Department of Housing and Urban Development to charge a fee of no more than 4 basis points of the original principal balance of all FHA-insured mortgages a lender made in the previous fiscal year. HUD originally made the request in President Obama’s proposed FY 2015 budget. Over industry objections, the Senate later incorporated the ...


December 5, 2014 - Inside MBS & ABS

SFIG to FHFA: Implementation of Single GSE Security Should Proceed Ahead of Congress, Transparency a Must

The Federal Housing Finance Agency should not wait for Congressional reform and should instead move at a deliberate pace to implement a single government-sponsored enterprise MBS, according to the Structured Finance Industry Group. SFIG staff and several members met with FHFA officials this week to discuss the potential transition to a single, common security between Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In August, the FHFA proposed...


November 26, 2014 - Inside The GSEs

Enterprise Endnotes

Fannie, Freddie Conforming Loan Limits Mostly Unchanged for 2015. The Federal Housing Finance Agency this week said that conforming loan limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2015 would remain at current levels in most markets. For much of the country, the conforming loan limit for one-unit properties will remain at $417,000. The loan limits are established under the terms of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and are calculated each year.


November 26, 2014 - Inside The GSEs

Calls to End GSE Conservatorships Mount From Different Sources

The Obama administration noted this week that it is less than keen on the idea of taking up an outgoing Democrat senator’s call to end the six-plus year conservatorships of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Last week, Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Tim Johnson, D-SD, suggested the GSEs’ conservatorship be ended if legislative reform is not forthcoming.


November 21, 2014 - Inside FHA Lending

GNMA Eyes Stronger Oversight of Nonbank Issuers

Ginnie Mae is seeking comment on several proposed data collections, including those that would strengthen the agency’s ability to monitor participants in its mortgage-backed securities programs. Due to its growing concern over the influx of non-depository issuers into the single-family MBS program, Ginnie has proposed to collect more loan-level data to supplement the information already being collected and reported on a monthly basis. The proposed data collection consists of bankruptcy-related information (action type, case identifier, chapter type, bar date) as well as borrower-related information (borrower bankruptcy indicator, classification type, total mortgaged properties, counseling initiated indicator and credit score date). Other proposed new data include document custodian ID, type of insurance claim coverage, investor unpaid principal balance (UPB), adjustment to ...


November 21, 2014 - Inside FHA Lending

Congress Urged to Extend Expiring VA Loan Limits

Thousands of military veterans in high-cost areas may be deprived of VA’s home-loan guarantee benefits unless Congress extends the current VA loan limits before the end of the year. Those loan limits expire on Dec. 31, 2014. The VA loan limits are based on median home values estimated by the FHA, providing loans up to 125 percent of local area median price. The program does not set a cap on how much a veteran can borrow to finance a home purchase but it does limit the maximum amount it can guarantee to 25 percent of the current loan limit. Veteran and industry groups are urging Congress to make the VA limits permanent. A VA spokesperson said the agency was not asked for a position on the issue since Congress did not put forward any bill in any of the hearings this year. “But as a general rule, VA wants to maximize the opportunities ...


November 21, 2014 - Inside FHA Lending

HECM Portfolio Down to Negative in FY 2014

The economic value of the FHA’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage legacy portfolio fell to negative $0.9 billion in fiscal 2014 due mainly to volatility in long-term house prices and interest rates, according to the latest independent actuarial report on the health of the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund. The latest result was a significant improvement from FY 2012, when the fund stood at negative $2.8 billion. In fiscal 2013, the HECM portfolio’s economic value of positive $6.5 billion appeared to be a whopping change from the previous year but that amount reflected a $4.6 billion cash infusion from the forward program and from the $1.7 billion mandatory appropriation, the report clarified. The report also showed a corresponding decline in the HECM capital ratio to negative 1.20 percent. Actuarial projections for fiscal 2015 place the HECM portfolio’s economic value at negative $1.1 billion. The fund’s capital resources for ...


November 20, 2014 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Last-Minute, Lame Duck Deal on Capitol Hill Expected on Mortgage-Related ‘Tax Extenders’

Look for down-to-the-wire haggling during the remaining hours of the 113th Congress between leaders in the Republican-controlled House and the soon-to-be minority Democrat Senate trying to hash out a deal on “tax extender” legislation, including two expired mortgage-related provisions. Nearly a full year after a series of temporary tax incentives – including the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act – expired at the end of 2013 due to partisan sniping and distinctly different legislative approaches of House and Senate tax-writing chairmen, both sides are being urged to close a deal forthwith. Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen last month urged...


November 20, 2014 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Sen. Johnson Calls for End of Conservatorships, Dems Push Watt Hard on GSE Principal Reduction

The outgoing chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee this week urged the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency to look to a final resolution of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, while the progressives on the panel pressed the regulator and former Democrat congressman hard to approve principal reductions. “Everyone agrees that conservatorship cannot continue forever, so I hope my colleagues will keep working towards a more certain future for the housing market,” said Sen. Tim Johnson, D-SD, during a hearing with FHFA Director Mel Watt this week. But if “Congress cannot agree on a smooth, more certain path forward I urge you, Director Watt, to engage the Treasury Department in talks to end the conservatorship.” Watt did not address...


November 20, 2014 - Inside Mortgage Finance

FHA Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund Capital Turns Positive, But No Change to Mortgage Insurance Premiums

The FHA Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund has improved from a negative position to a positive $4.8 billion in FY 2014 after gaining nearly $6 billion in value over the last year, thanks to aggressive policy actions that led to improvements in key areas, according to an independent actuarial report sent to Congress this week. Overall, the fund showed a $21 billion improvement over the past two years due to changes the FHA implemented following the housing crisis, the report said. The changes led to improved underwriting standards for single-family mortgages, increased mortgage insurance premiums, stronger loss mitigation policies and higher recoveries, it noted. Aggressive policy actions also led...


November 14, 2014 - Inside The GSEs

GOP Congressional Sweep Not Necessarily a Boon for GSE Reform

Expect GSE reform to remain a key focus of Congress following the mid-term election Republican takeover of the Senate and vast expansion in its House majority. However, industry observers warn that it remains to be seen whether focus will translate into legislative action during the 114th Congress as the new leadership structure remains in flux.


November 14, 2014 - Inside The GSEs

DeMarco: ‘Housing-Industrial Complex’ Inhibits GSE Reform

Effective and lasting GSE reform cannot be accomplished without Congress taking decisive action and the housing finance market’s status quo is unsustainable in the long term, according to the former head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Speaking at an American Enterprise Institute forum late this week, former FHFA Acting Director Edward DeMarco warned attendees to expect comprehensive and lasting housing finance reform to remain stalled unless lawmakers pass a bill that the president will sign.


November 14, 2014 - Inside MBS & ABS

DeMarco: Only Congress, President Can Abolish GSE Charters, Advance Lasting Housing Finance Reform

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the government-sponsored enterprise model are flawed beyond repair, so expect comprehensive housing finance reform to remain stalled until lawmakers and the chief executive take action, according to the former head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Speaking at an American Enterprise Institute forum this week, former FHFA Acting Director Edward DeMarco, now a housing fellow at the Milken Institute, said the structure of the GSE conservatorships and the Treasury support agreement backing them requires Congressional intervention. “The answer to the question ‘what happens next?’ is...


November 10, 2014 - Inside the CFPB

Empowered GOP Likely to Raise Pressure on CFPB Come January

The consensus among political observers is that last week’s big Republican wave on Election Day will result in a lot more political bluster from critics of the CFPB on Capitol Hill. However, it’s unlikely to have enough short-term intensity or long-term staying power to effect any big changes that could get past the veto pen of a strongly supportive President Barack Obama. “While there may be a push for the elimination of the CFPB, such a change is highly unlikely given the [Obama] administration’s support for the bureau,” the American Bankers Association said in a post-election analysis. “Expect increased scrutiny in the Senate on the CFPB’s proposals and a continued push to change the structure of the CFPB from a ...


November 7, 2014 - Inside MBS & ABS

Experts: Absent Legislation, Industry Should Push For Administrative GSE Reform, Revise Existing Policies

The mortgage industry cannot and should not wait for Congress to get around to a legislative solution to the government-sponsored enterprises when much of what is necessary can be accomplished administratively, according to experts at a forum hosted by the Urban Institute and CoreLogic. Andrew Davidson, president of Andrew Davidson & Co., noted that among the lessons of this year’s failure to launch a Senate GSE reform bill is that lawmakers find it easier to agree on a set of principles for a mortgage finance system than on the system’s design. With legislation a long shot before the 2016 presidential elections, Davidson said...


Poll

What will Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s new 97 LTV programs mean for your business?

It will give our business a big boost as there is a lot of pent up demand for the product.
It will have only a minor impact on our overall business as we already are doing high LTV business through FHA and some of our high LTV FHA business is likely to shift to Fannie and Freddie.
It won’t have any impact on our business as we plan to steer clear of all high LTV business – particularly in the GSE market.

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