Legislative Issues

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

February 27, 2015 - Inside The GSEs

Regulatory Changes Suggested To Keep Fannie and Freddie Intact

With it looking more likely that the GSEs could survive in some form, a critic of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has proposed changes he suggests would address most of the flaws he sees in the companies. Mark Calabria, director of financial regulation studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, said he offered the suggestions “in the spirit of lively debate.” He suggested that the federal government should open GSE charters to competition, allowing any firm that can meet the requirements to receive a GSE charter. Calabria said GSEs should have a capital requirement of at least 8.0 percent. Capital of 4.0 percent to 5.0 percent would have covered the losses Fannie and Freddie experienced in 2007, according ...


February 27, 2015 - Inside MBS & ABS

FOMC Plans to Let Mortgage Securities Run Off; Meanwhile, the Status Quo Prevails on Interest Rates

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen indicated this week that the central bank ultimately plans on holding few, if any, mortgage-related securities on its balance sheet. It seems unlikely there will be much in the way of actual sales of agency MBS by the Fed, which leaves run-off as the method of choice to drain the central bank’s portfolio. Delivering her semi-annual Humphrey-Hawkins testimony this week on Capitol Hill, the Fed chief said the FOMC intends to adjust its monetary policy during its normalization process mostly by changing its target range for the federal funds rate and not by actively managing its balance sheet. “The primary means of raising the federal funds rate will be to increase the rate of interest paid on excess reserves,” Yellen said. She also noted...


February 26, 2015 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Imposing Administrative Fee on Lenders is Necessary To Improve FHA Loan Quality, Strengthen Process

Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro defended a key provision in the administration’s FY 2016 budget proposal that would allow the FHA to assess lenders an administrative fee to fund improvements in the loan origination and servicing processes. At a HUD budget hearing this week before the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Transportation, HUD and Related Agencies, Castro said the proposed fee would be used for risk management and technological improvements and in establishing quality-assurance policies to help lenders originate more FHA loans without fear of regulatory action or litigation. Castro responded...


February 26, 2015 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Republicans Likely to Use Different Strategies To Restructure CFPB vs. Changing Bureau Rules

As Republican leaders in Congress stake out hard-line positions on structural changes to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Democrats are responding by digging in their heels, raising the prospects of more gridlock. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-AL, chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, recently stated his desire to pull the CFPB within the orbit of the congressional appropriations process. He is also interested in changing the leadership structure of the bureau from a single director to a governing board. Ranking Member Jeff Merkley, D-OR, and other Democrats are opposed...


February 20, 2015 - Inside FHA Lending

VA to Issue Final ‘Qualified Mortgage’ Rule in May

The Department of Veterans Affairs expects to have a finalized Qualified Mortgage (QM) rule by May to help clear up some issues that have arisen since the agency issued an interim final rule last spring. The VA issued the interim QM rule for comment on May 9, 2014, to define which VA loans will have QM status under the ability-to-repay (ATR) rule. Issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the ATR rule provided temporary QM status to loans eligible for FHA insurance and guaranties by the VA and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service. Eligible government-backed loans must be 30-year fixed-rate with no interest-only, negative amortization or balloon features. Total points and fees must not exceed 3 percent of the total loan amount for loans of $100,000 or more. Loans that meet the definition of a temporary VA-eligible QM are considered as in compliance with the ATR rule. They are designated as “safe harbor QMs,” provided they are not ...


February 20, 2015 - Inside FHA Lending

CFPB Takes Action Against Deceptive Advertising

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently sued a reverse mortgage lender and issued consent decrees against two other mortgage companies for misleading consumers with false advertising about FHA-insured mortgage products. The CFPB filed suit against All Financial Services (AFS), a Maryland-based reverse mortgage lender, in the federal district court in Baltimore alleging that the lender disseminated misleading ads for Home Equity Conversion Mortgage loans between November 2011 and December 2012. In addition, AFS allegedly failed to maintain copies of the ads as required by the CFPB under its reverse mortgage regulations. According to court filings, the CFPB alleges that the lender/broker mailed out ads using materials and language that seemed to indicate that it was a federal entity or an affiliate of a government entity. All AFS ads appeared as if they were ...


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 MBS & ABS

RMBS Working Group Head Defends Justice Dept. Settlements From Accusations of Misappropriation

Were Bank of America, Citi and Chase manipulated into making donations to Democrat-leaning housing advocacy groups as part of their recent mortgage settlements with the Department of Justice? That seemed to be the implicit question underlying the grilling of a key Justice Department official by Republican members of a House Judiciary subcommittee during a hearing this week that focused on the donations the three mega-banks were directed to make to housing counseling groups as part of their $36.6 billion settlement with the DOJ. “The concern is...


February 12, 2015 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Policymakers Weigh Relief for Small Banks, CUs From DFA, Trickle-Down Exams, Best Practices

Lawmakers and regulators alike cited the recent move by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to liberalize its ability-to-repay rule somewhat as an example of the kind of adjustments that can be made to help ease the regulatory burden for smaller financial institutions, especially those operating in underserved markets. “A few weeks ago, the CFPB announced changes to its mortgage rules – a win for small lenders, particularly those in underserved rural areas,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH, ranking member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, during a hearing early this week. “There is...


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 9, 2015 - Inside the CFPB

GOP Targets Points and Fees, Democrat Defends Bureau

Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-MI, chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade, recently re-introduced the Mortgage Choice Act, the points-and-fees legislation, with some bipartisan support, which could help ease concern at a White House wary of Republican efforts to scale back the powers of the CFPB. The measure would exempt from the qualified mortgage 3 percent cap on points and fees any affiliated title charges and escrow charges for taxes and insurance. Huizenga’s bill also would exclude lender-paid compensation to a bank in a wholesale transaction from the 3 percent cap. “Hardworking families across the nation should not be denied access to a qualified mortgage because of technicalities that are largely out of their control,” said ...


February 6, 2015 - Inside FHA Lending

HUD Gives Controversial Fee One More Try

Federal housing regulators once again sought authority from Congress to impose an administrative fee on lenders to support information technology improvements and administrative functions at the FHA – a bid Congress rejected last year. As part of President Obama’s FY 2016 budget, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is proposing to charge lenders up to $30 million in fees to cover FHA salaries and expenses and information technology upgrades. The IT component will focus on strengthening FHA’s risk-management efforts through expanded quality-control reviews, enhanced tools and other risk-management initiatives. Separately, the president requests an appropriation of $174 million in administrative costs to enable the FHA to implement a risk management and program-support process – both critical for FHA’s oversight of ...


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

FHA Again Seeks Legislation to Make Lenders Pay For IT Upgrades; Officials to Educate Lawmakers

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is once again asking for authority to charge lenders an administrative support fee to fund information technology upgrades and administrative functions at the FHA, a bid that was shot down by Congress last year. As part of the Obama administration’s fiscal 2016 budget proposal, HUD wants to charge lenders up to $30 million in fees, which would be credited as offsetting collections to the FHA’s Mutual Mortgage Insurance program account. The mortgage industry cautioned...


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

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 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 ]


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

We see loan production ending 2015 flat compared to 2014.
We’re optimistic that our originations will rise by 10 to 20 percent year over year.
We’re really optimistic: We expect production to increase by 20 percent or better from last year.
We’re not so bullish. Originations for us may actually fall.

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