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Volume 10 - Number 25

December 8, 2017

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Ginnie Mae Expands Seasoning Requirement for VA Refi Loans

Ginnie Mae has issued expanded guidelines to protect veterans and investors from harmful loan churning and rapid prepayments in mortgage-backed securities. The changes, along with additional measures under consideration by a joint Ginnie Mae/VA refinance task force, are aimed at ensuring continued strength and liquidity of the Ginnie Mae MBS program, said Michael Bright, the agency’s acting president. The latest guidelines expand on an initial measure Ginnie implemented requiring six-months of seasoning of VA loans before they can be refinanced and delivered into Ginnie MBS pools. However, some lenders have found ways around the measure and have continued their questionable lending practices, said Bright during recent testimony before a House Financial Services subcommittee. Churning is both illegal and unethical because it preys on unsuspecting borrowers, who are pressured by ...

Rising Home Values Lead to Higher Loan Limits for Forwards, HECMs

FHA this week announced a 6.8 percent increase in loan limits nationwide for 2018 with 26 counties seeing increases above the national rate. In high-cost areas, the loan-limit ceiling will rise to $679,650 from $636,150 in 2017, while the floor will increase to $294,515 from $275,665. In addition, the national mortgage limit for Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs) or reverse mortgages will rise to $679,650 from $636,150. FHA regulations do not allow HECM loan limits to vary by metropolitan statistical area or county. Instead, the single limit applies to all mortgages regardless of where the property is located, the agency explained. In between the floor and the ceiling is a broad band of loan limits for single-family forward mortgage loans set at 115 percent of median house prices. The forward limits vary according to MSA and county. The changes in the loan limits are the result of ... [ Chart ]

Congress Passes Short-Term Spending Bill, Avoids Shutdown

Congress on Thursday passed a stopgap-spending bill to prevent a potential government shutdown and to give lawmakers time to negotiate crucial issues. The House voted 235-193 to pass the measure. A short time later, the Senate quickly approved it 81-14. The temporary spending bill will keep the government running through Dec. 22. The continuing resolution or CR, that has kept the government open would have expired on Dec. 8. Both the House and Senate are scheduled to adjourn on Dec. 15. Congress will need to pass a final appropriations bill or another continuing resolution to keep the government operating after Dec. 22. Despite differences over tax reform, FY 2018 budget, immigration, health care and other issues, lawmakers do not want a shutdown, mortgage industry sources said. Republicans, in particular, hope to enact their $1.5 trillion tax package by Christmas. On the other hand, ...

FHA to Cease Insuring Loans on Properties with PACE Assessments

FHA this week announced it will stop insuring new mortgages on properties encumbered with a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) lien as part of a larger effort to protect borrowers and the FHA mortgage insurance fund. “FHA can no longer tolerate putting taxpayers at risk by allowing [PACE] obligations to be placed ahead of the mortgage itself in the event of a default,” said Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. Carson said PACE assessments are potentially dangerous for the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund and could adversely affect a borrower’s ability to repay or refinance their mortgage or sell their home. FHA also expressed concern about PACE obligations having seniority over pre-existing FHA loans that are already outstanding. The post-endorsement placement of PACE assessments on an FHA-insured mortgage creates a lack of transparency, making it difficult for ...

VA Originations Swing Back Up in 3Q17, Purchase Loans Fuel Surge

VA posted an 11.6 percent increase in originations in the third quarter, reversing a downward slide that began in early 2017. VA lenders ended the period with $45.5 billion in new originations, up from $40.8 billion in the previous quarter. The nine-month VA volume totaled $129.1 billion with purchase mortgages providing a strong boost. Streamlined refinancing, or Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loans, accounted for 16.8 percent of VA loans originated and securitized during the nine-month period. The top five VA lenders in sequential order – USAA, Veterans United Home Loans, Quicken Loans, Navy Federal Credit Union and Freedom Mortgage – ended the third quarter with a combined $11.05 billion in originations and a 24.7 percent share of the market. Top-ranked USAA reported a 17.0 percent drop in VA lending in the third quarter from the previous quarter. Over the nine-month period, it racked up ... [charts]

USDA Loan Guarantees Down Slightly As of End of October

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has provided guarantees to 10,366 rural mortgage loans under its Section 502 Single Family Housing Guarantee program in 2017. As of the end of October, USDA provided $1.5 billion in rural home loan guarantees, down from $1.6 billion (11,678 loans) at the same time last year. In addition, USDA guaranteed more than $55.1 million of loans made under the Section 502 Direct program, which offers mortgages for low- and very low-income homebuyers in rural areas. Borrowers with very low-income account for 36.2 percent of loans under the program. Furthermore, the USDA guaranteed 66 repair-and-rehabilitation loans totaling $385,836, up from this time last year. No grants were obligated in October. For its multifamily housing program, the USDA obligated 188 rural housing vouchers totaling $762,506 as of the end of October. No vouchers were obligated in the ...

Rural Purchase Loans Up, Denial Rates High for Rural Minorities

Rural home purchase lending rose for the fifth straight year in 2016 although volume remains below pre-recession levels, according to new research by the Housing Assistance Council based on Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data. HAC, a nonprofit organization that supports and tracks affordable housing efforts in rural areas, estimated that 55 percent of the 1.05 million rural home loans originated last year were first-lien purchase mortgages. The increase was substantial compared to 2012 and 2013, when two-thirds of rural originations involved refinance, the group noted. The U.S. Department of Agriculture guaranteed 9 to 12 percent of all rural home purchase loans originated in each of the last three years, the study found. Of the 16.3 million HMDA submissions by covered institutions, an estimated 2.0 million involved funding for homes in rural or small-town communities, researchers found. While mortgage activity ...

Senate Vote on FHA Nominee may Occur Before Yearend, Says Source

The Senate could vote on Brian Montgomery’s nomination as FHA commissioner and assistant secretary for housing before the end of the year. The nomination appears to be on a fast track to get Montgomery, a mortgage industry and FHA veteran, on board at the Department of Housing and Urban Development by early January, according to an industry participant who requested anonymity. Last week, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs voted 18 to 5 to advance Montgomery’s nomination. Twelve Republicans and six Democrats voted in favor of the nominee. Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-OH, and Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, opposed Montgomery’s nomination due to concerns that his work as a private consultant with the mortgage industry might influence his judgment as FHA commissioner. Montgomery, a principal with The Collingwood Group, is no stranger to the job. He served as ...

VA’s National Portfolio Servicer Farms Out Work to Third Party

Vendor Resource Management, which the VA hired in June to service its nationwide mortgage portfolio and real estate-owned assets, has subcontracted a significant portion of the servicing to BSI Financial Services. According to VRM, BSI took over the servicing of the VA’s national portfolio beginning Dec. 1, 2017. VRM retained the REO servicing. VRM was first awarded the servicing contract in 2012, and the company initially subcontracted Ditech Financial to service VA’s larger national portfolio. The contract was later amended to facilitate a pilot whereby a portion of VA properties would be managed under the award. A new 10-year contract was awarded subsequently to VRM, which became effective on July 1, 2017. Based in Irving, TX, BSI Financial is a loan subservicer and a provider of technology and outsourcing services to banks and institutional investors in the ...

Around the Industry

FHFA Announces Maximum Conforming Loan Limits for 2018. On Nov. 28, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced the maximum baseline loan limits in 2018 for one-unit properties, which are increasing to $453,100, and up to $679,650 in most high-cost areas. Loan limits may be higher for Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. TOTAL Scorecard Database Upgrade Postponed. FHA has postponed its planned upgrade of the TOTAL Scorecard database that was scheduled initially on Nov. 22, 2017. Additional details will be forthcoming. VA Data Collection: Lender Satisfaction Survey. The VA is seeking approval from the Office of Management and Budget to conduct a survey to gauge lender satisfaction with the various aspects of the VA Home Loan Guaranty program. PennyMac Provides Update to FHA DTI Overlay. Previously, PennyMac’s debt-to-income ratio requirements for ...

Poll

With originations expected to drop in 2018, will your shop turn to non-QM/non-prime mortgage products as a way to bolster volumes?

Yes, definitely. We’re planning a launch.

33%

No. It’s still difficult compliance/regulatory-wise.

20%

Maybe. It’s under consideration.

33%

Not now. But things could change as 2018 progresses.

13%