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Volume 17 - Number 24

December 1, 2017

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Buyback Activity Jumps Higher At Freddie, Slows at Fannie

A tiny portion of loans sold into Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage-backed securities trigger a buyback demand from either of the GSEs, and in most cases lenders are able to avoid an actual repurchase or indemnification. Lenders repurchased or provided other indemnification for $260.12 million of home loans during the third quarter of 2017, a 6.4 percent increase from the prior period, according to an Inside The GSEs analysis of quarterly disclosures made to the Securities and Exchange Commission. During the same period, Fannie and Freddie issued $223.6 billion of new single-family MBS. The third-quarter spike in buyback activity came all on the Freddie side of the market.

As ‘Zero Capital’ Day Approaches, Senate Moves to Create a GSE Bill

In roughly 30 days, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will see their capital buffers fall to zero, an event that has GOP legislators working feverishly over the past several weeks to come up with housing-finance reform legislation. In short, Republicans fear that in the event of a quarterly loss by one or both GSEs next year, these massive mortgage giants might need to tap a line of credit they have with the U.S. Treasury, which would result in another “taxpayer bailout” of the two. And since Republicans are in charge of both chambers of Congress, as well as the White House, they would get blamed. At least that’s how the situation was explained to Inside The GSEs.

Yearend May Have Industry, Trump Admin Scrambling for a Solution

As the end of the year nears, there’s been talk this week about negotiations underway between the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the Trump administration to address the capital situation at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Although no one is confirming the discussion, a Bloomberg report quoted an anonymous source as saying that FHFA officials want Fannie and Freddie each to keep a capital buffer of $2 billion to $3 billion on their books. In return, the report said, the administration wants to limit the GSEs’ activity in the market by tightening restrictions on the type of loans they buy. In late 2013, former FHFA Acting Director Ed DeMarco proposed implementing a loan size limit on...

FHFA Raises Baseline Conforming Loan Limit to $453,100

The Federal Housing Finance Agency raised the baseline conforming loan limit for GSE mortgages by $29,000 for next year. The new loan limit, announced Nov. 28, is $453,100, and represents just the second time since the 2007 housing downturn that the conforming loan limit has been raised. For 2017, it was increased by $7,100, to $424,100. The baseline loan limit was established by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and is closely reviewed each year to reflect any changes in the national home price index. In determining maximum loan amount under the terms of HERA, FHFA uses the expanded-data home price index. The expanded-data HPI increased 6.8 percent between the third quarters of 2016 and 2017.

Multifamily Lending Caps Lowered For 2018, Originations Slowing

In anticipation of a slight decline in multifamily mortgage originations, the Federal Housing Finance Agency last week lowered the multifamily lending caps for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2018. GSE multifamily business will be capped at $35.0 billion, down from the $36.5 billion level it’s been the past two years. FHFA analyzes the multifamily loan origination market size each quarter to decide if it will adjust the GSEs’ purchase limits. In the event the market picks up in 2018, the agency could raise the cap. And if the market slows even more than expected, it could lower the caps further.

KBW, IU Weigh in On Corporate Tax Reduction Impact on DTAs

If Congress succeeds in cutting the corporate tax rate next year, the GSEs would have to write down their deferred tax assets by somewhere between $13 and $19 billion or face having to take a draw from the Treasury, according to estimates from Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. The House Republican tax reform plan proposes to lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. It would be the largest reduction in the corporate rate in the nation’s history. But KBW also said having to take a draw because of the DTA write-down may not be that big of a deal.

Fannie Board Chair Defends Against ATL Mayor Land Claims

Fannie Mae’s board chairman and the mayor of Atlanta are in a heated dispute over roughly 100 acres of vacant land that the city said was supposed to serve the low-income population. In fact, Mayor Kasim Reed is suing Egbert Perry and has asked him to step down from his position as non-executive chairman of Fannie’s board. Perry, co-founder and CEO of the Integral Group, joined the GSE’s board in late 2008, and has been chair since 2014. He says he hasn’t done anything wrong. The argument stems from what the mayor calls a “secret deal” made with Integral in 2011 by Renee Glover, the former president and CEO of the Atlanta Housing Authority, who now serves on Fannie’s board.

FCC Seeks Comment Regarding FHFA’s TCPA Petition

The Federal Communications Commission is seeking feedback on a petition filed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency regarding the ability of mortgage servicers to contact borrowers in natural disaster areas. The FHFA petition is in reference to stipulations based on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. With three major hurricanes this fall, the FHFA said there’s a need for mortgage servicers to quickly contact borrowers whether by voice or automated messages. The agency filed the petition in hopes of getting a speedy response to two requests. The Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac regulator wants the FCC to declare that borrowers who are affected by disasters are considered to have given their consent to receive calls from their mortgage servicers.

Federal Home Loan Bank Advances Continue to Climb in Third Quarter

Banks and thrifts reported holding $575.4 billion of Federal Home Loan Bank advances at the end of September, a quarterly increase of 1.7 percent and the largest volume of advances in the past 12 months, according to an analysis by Inside The GSEs. That number is also well above the number of advances that were made in the third quarter of 2016. Year-over-year, third quarter advances were 6.2 percent higher than the $541.8 billion reported a year earlier. While JPMorgan Chase remains in the number one spot with $63.8 billion in advances, that was down 6.9 percent from $68.5 in the second quarter, and 19.8 percent below the level a year ago.

Lender Front-End Transactions Account for Small Share of CRTs

During the second quarter of 2017, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac transferred credit risk on $12.6 billion of unpaid principal balance loans through front-end lender risk sharing, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s latest credit-risk transfer progress report. While the GSEs have plans to grow front-end deals, they currently represent a small portion of the total $212.8 billion risk transferred during the second quarter. Lender risk sharing lets lenders invest directly in credit risk by retaining a portion of the credit risk on loans they originate or service. Lender risk sharing accounted for 5 percent of the GSEs’ $6.4 billion risk in force.

7th Circuit Rules Local Taxes Apply To Investors in GSE Properties

The Seventh Circuit Court recently reversed an earlier decision that held buyers purchasing property in Chicago from Fannie Mae were liable for state and local transfer taxes. The case involved real property transfer taxes imposed in 2013 and 2014 on purchasers who argued they were legally exempt from having to pay. The Illinois Department of Finance assessed the buyers for the tax. But since the property was purchased from a federal agency, the buyers believed they were exempt from having to pay. The buyers and Fannie then both sued the City of Chicago and asked the federal court to review the finance department’s decision.

Fannie CEO Said More Confidence Needed in Housing Market

Fannie Mae CEO Tim Mayopoulos said the housing crisis has made people cautious about buying a home and that confidence in the market needs to be restored. Speaking at the Detroit Economic Club last week, Mayopoulos emphasized the need for affordable housing, calling the issue “urgent.” More than one million starter homes have been lost since the crisis, according to Mayopoulos. He pointed out that from 2012 and 2015, the most affordable one-third of homes rose 38 percent in price, and the inventory dropped by 39 percent. In addition to the decline in the number of affordable homes, he said people aren’t as comfortable in making a home purchase as they were before the crisis.

GSE Roundup

Think Tank Makes a Case for GSEs to Become SIFIs. Alex Pollock, senior fellow at the R Street Institute, along with author Thomas Stanton, wrote Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin this week urging him to designate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as Systemically Important Financial Institutions (SIFIs). They said that it’s obvious the mortgage giants meet all the criteria specified by the Dodd-Frank Act and the Financial Stability Board for designation as SIFIs and they want the same protective capital and regulatory standards applied to the...

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.
No. It’s still difficult compliance/regulatory-wise.
Maybe. It’s under consideration.
Not now. But things could change as 2018 progresses.

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