Legislative Issues

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

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...


November 6, 2014 - Inside Mortgage Finance

GOP Control of 114th Congress Could Spur Renewed GSE Reform Effort, Support for Government Guaranty Grows

With the Republicans poised to take control of the U.S. Senate and having gained an even greater GOP majority in the House, legislative conversations surrounding housing finance reform should return to Capitol Hill, but few political commentators believe a bill can actually be passed. Control of the Senate swung back to the GOP for the first time since 2006 after the polls closed, as Republicans now enjoy a 52-45-3 majority in the Senate. However, the race in Louisiana between incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu and Republican challenger, Rep. Bill Cassidy is headed...


October 31, 2014 - Inside The GSEs

Enterprise Endnotes

FHFA’s Watt Promises a CEO for the CSP by Year-end. After a year of searching for a chief executive to lead Common Securitization Solutions, the Federal Housing Finance Agency is getting closer to picking a candidate for the job. Speaking at the annual convention of the Mortgage Bankers Association in Las Vegas last week, FHFA Director Mel Watt promised the industry that a CEO would be named by Dec. 31. The FHFA’s search firm is Spencer Stuart.


October 31, 2014 - Inside The GSEs

Federal Judge Shuts Down Mass. AG’s GSE Foreclosure Lawsuit

A federal judge last week dismissed claims brought by the state of Massachusetts that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac violated state law by putting limits on the sale of pre- and post-foreclosure homes. State Attorney General Martha Coakley filed suit in June against the Federal Housing Finance Agency, as GSE conservator, alleging that Fannie and Freddie are violating state law by refusing to negotiate lower terms for distressed Bay State homeowners.


October 31, 2014 - Inside The GSEs

Experts: Uncertain Future of GSEs Will Accelerate Turnover

With little chance of GSE reform legislation passing until 2016, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will continue to experience employee turnover as well as infrastructure upkeep challenges, say experts. Speaking during a conference call sponsored by GSE shareholder rights group Investors Unite this week, Matt Seu, principal with Actualize Consulting and a former Freddie vice president, warned that six years of government conservatorship have taken a toll on the institutional memories at both companies. …


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...


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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