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January 2013 Archive


COFI Bounces Off Record Low
After falling to the lowest level on record, the Cost of Funds Index took a turn for the worse during the final month of last year.

Mortgage Rates Surge
Signs of strength in the U.S. economy helped drive mortgage rates higher this week. Long-term fixed rates jumped more than 10 basis points, while adjustable-rate loans rose more moderately.

CMBS Terms Easing
Competition is heating up in the market for commercial mortgage-backed securities, leading conduit originators to ease requirements for amortization and reserves.

Provident Pushes Up Production, People and Portfolio
Staffing increased during the fourth quarter at Provident Funding Associates LP, as annual mortgage production grew by more than half and the servicing portfolio expanded.

M.I. Business Climbs to 5-Year High
Despite the loss of multiple mortgage insurers, the sector managed to turn in its best performance in five years. Policies in force have expanded for seven consecutive months.

LPS Agrees to Multi-state Settlement
A settlement announced between Lender Processing Services Inc. and most state attorneys general resolves allegations of robo-signing by a now-defunct subsidiary. LPS also settled two other lawsuits.

Multifamily Business Climbs to Record at Freddie
The financing of apartment buildings last year by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. climbed 13 percent from 2011 and broke the all-time record. One company boasted several transactions with the secondary lender.

Associated Finishes 2012 Strong
The final three months of last year saw an uptick in residential loan originations at Associated Bancorp, helping to push annual home-loan production up more than a third. Mortgage staffing expanded, as did the mortgage servicing portfolio.

FHA Guidelines Tightening
As the Federal Housing Administration works to improve the health of its Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund, several changes are being made to FHA underwriting guidelines. Loans with credit scores less than 620 and jumbo mortgages are impacted, as are advertisements to borrowers with prior foreclosures.

Fixed-Rate HECMs Consolidated
The Federal Housing Administration is consolidating its fixed-rate programs for federally insured reverse mortgages.

FHA Raising Annual Premiums
As part of its plan to bolster its capital reserves, the Federal Housing Administration is raising annual mortgage insurance premiums, with jumbo loans taking an extra hit. FHA is also reversing a policy to eliminate premiums once a loan reaches a specified equity level.

Bad Appraisals Enable $100 Million in PA Mortgage Fraud
A Pennsylvania mortgage broker has been convicted of originating more than $100 million in fraudulent mortgages by using inflated appraisals prepared by unlicensed appraisers.

MO Supreme Court Rules Against Loan Originator
A mortgage loan originator who was denied a Missouri license because of a felony record took his case to court and won. But the decision was reversed by the state's top court.

Top-Producing LO Calls for Appraisal Process Overhaul
One of the nation's top-producing loan originators says that the appraisal process is broken and needs to be overhauled, while an appraisal industry veteran says appraisers are getting a bad rap and are just trying to mirror the market.
Discussion about appraisal values

Mortgage Fraud Litigation
Alleged victims of mortgage fraud, including mortgage lenders deceived into granting loan approvals and consumers who lost their homes, are using the civil courts to pursue reparations. The government, however, tends to use criminal courts to pursue defendants.

Servicer Rating Cut at Citi
The servicer rating for Citigroup Inc.'s mortgage unit has been reduced as a result of issues uncovered from internal audits.

Triad Headed for Bankruptcy
With cash running out and no viable business model to generate new capital, Triad Guaranty Inc. indicated that it is likely to dissolve itself through bankruptcy. In addition, Triad has moved its headquarters from Winston-Salem, N.C., to Birmingham, Ala.

Record Mortgage Originations at Stearns
Last year's home-loan fundings at Stearns Lending Inc. more than doubled, pushing annual mortgage production to an all-time high.

CMBS Delinquency Falls to Lowest Level in Years
It has been years since the delinquency rate on securitized commercial mortgages has been this low. The latest month saw stellar performance on loans backed by hotel properties.

Fairway Lifts Annual Volume, Staffing
Annual mortgage production was higher last year at Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp., In addition, the Sun Prairie, Wis.-based firm's staff of employees grew.

Regions Production Slows
Regions Financial Corp. finished the year with a drop in quarterly mortgage originations, though annual activity was stronger. Residential and home-equity delinquency were both higher, as were late payments on commercial mortgages.

Potential Mortgage Fraud Rises in Some States, Falls in Others
A comparison of quarters indicates that the possibility of mortgage fraud worsened. While there were plenty of markets that improved, deterioration in other markets offset the gains.

2013 Outlook Strong for AZ, FL and TX Housing Markets
Home values across the country are increasing, as are home sales. Sales volume might be even higher if it weren't for limited housing supply. Markets in Arizona, Florida and Texas are all among areas expected to see solid home-price appreciation this year. Some east coast markets, however, aren't expected to fare so well.

PrimeLending Annual Production Up Over Half
Home lending at PrimeLending was up by more than half last year. In addition, dozens of employees were added to its mortgage staff, and its mortgage servicing portfolio expanded.

U.S. Bank Hiring Hundreds for Mortgage Servicing
At a time when other major home lenders are laying off mortgage servicing employees, U.S. Bank is recruiting employees for its servicing division.

Eminent Domain Rejected by San Bernardino
A proposal that drew fierce opposition from the mortgage industry has been shot down by the California community that first raised eyebrows by considering it. But the proposal is still on the table in other communities.

Invalidation of Recess Appointments Impacts Cordray Appointment
A federal appeals court ruling means that President Barack Obama's appointment of the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was unconstitutional -- potentially throwing some of the recently issued mortgage regulations into jeopardy and giving non-bank lenders a reprieve from enforcement actions. The decision gives Republicans significant leverage in how the regulator is run.

Appeals court issues ruling

United Shore Annual Mortgage Originations Triple
Thanks to a surge in business from mortgage brokers, home-loan production at United Shore Financial Services LLC was up by nearly half on a quarterly basis. On an annual basis, business skyrocketed by more than 200 percent. Growth in new business is being complimented by an aggressive recruiting campaign.

Mortgage Market Metrics Deteriorate
New mortgage business slowed this past week as interest rates rose -- with refinance activity taking the biggest hit. Compared to a year earlier, however, most metrics have improved considerably. The government's share of the mortgage market was fatter, and jumbo pricing improved.

Mortgage Market Index 170 for week ended Jan. 25

Wells Hiring Hundreds in GA
Improvement in the mortgage market and increased demand for other financial products has prompted Wells Fargo & Co. to boost its staffing in the state of Georgia. The recruiting campaign follows similar moves in other states.

Freddie's Business Sinks
New business at the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. during the final month of 2012 dropped by nearly half. But annual activity was the best it's been in three years. Delinquency on loans secured by apartment buildings fell to a 38-month low.

Annual Business Doubles at New American Funding
Residential loan originations have been on a steady incline almost every quarter for the past two years at New American Funding. Annual business doubled.

Fixed Rates Rise, ARMs Unchanged
Fixed mortgage rates were higher this week, while no movement was recorded for adjustable-rate mortgages. Although rates are expected to rise this year, no changes appear imminent.

Mortgage Master Lifts Mortgage Production
Residential mortgage production grew by half last year at Mortgage Master Inc., with business surging during the final three-month period. Quarterly activity was also better as the company grew its headcount.

Annual Flagstar Production Doubles
Last year's home-loan originations at Flagstar Bancorp Inc. more than doubled, and the third-party servicing portfolio was up 20 percent over the same period. The quarterly gain in residential production was far more subdued, while the servicing portfolio shrunk on a quarter-over-quarter basis.

Record MBS Trading Volume in 2012
Record trading volume for mortgage-backed securities last year was driven by the low-rate environment. A potential expansion of the government-supported refinance program could impact this year's volume.

Fannie Lifts Origination Forecast
The latest economic forecast from the Federal National Mortgage Association has a stronger outlook for this year's residential loan originations. It was the 13th consecutive month that the 2013 outlook improved. The secondary lender, which finances roughly half of U.S. mortgage originations, expects mortgages outstanding to reverse a decline and climb past $10 trillion next year.

Lenders Vs. Mortgage Insurers
Home lenders and mortgage insurance companies are battling in federal and state courts over denied claims -- though at least one case was peacefully resolved. Some of the cases are tangled up in corporate bankruptcies.

BofA Confirms Servicing Job Cuts
Lower delinquency on residential loans serviced by Bank of America Corp. has prompted a reduction in the number of employees that handle distressed mortgages.

Texas Lender Opening Correspondent Channel
A company that already operates a branch recruiting division is now looking to the correspondent channel for growth and is hiring employees for the new unit -- which is being utilized to help build a servicing portfolio. It's just one of several companies to fill the void left by the exit of several big players.

Decline in Foreclosures Offsets Rise in Newly Delinquent Mortgages
Nearly a million fewer home loans were delinquent in December than at the end of 2011. Improvement in the foreclosure rate compared to the prior month was enough to offset deterioration in early-stage delinquencies.

Proposed Social Media Guidance Issued
While there are many benefits to the use of social media, a host of risks exist for lenders and banks. Mortgage firms, in particular, need to ensure that their social media communications comply with existing laws and regulations. Federal financial regulators have issued proposed guidance for use of the medium.

Risks, Benefits of Broker-to-Correspondent Conversion
Mortgage brokers that transition to a correspondent lender can earn more, close more quickly and improve their image. But there is a cost to making the conversion. One of the most difficult steps in the process is securing a warehouse line.

Chase Eliminates Texas Servicing Jobs
More than a hundred mortgage servicing employees in Texas are being laid off by JPMorgan Chase & Co. The job cuts bring to nearly a thousand the number of layoffs resulting from a recent settlement with federal banking regulators.

Events Explore Impact of New CFPB Rules
A series of conference calls are being held to help executives get their arms around the thousands of pages of mortgage rules recently issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Fifth Third Reports Increase in Mortgage Originations
Residential loan originations expanded by more than a fifth in the final quarter of 2012 at Fifth Third Bancorp, while annual production grew by more than a third. Earnings also improved.

Multifamily Issuance Inflates at Fannie
The securitization of apartment loans leapt by nearly 40 percent last year at the Federal National Mortgage Association. Quarterly activity surged by more than a fourth.

Genworth Simplifies Underwriting
Genworth Mortgage Insurance is making changes that promise to make underwriting a simpler process for mortgage originators by eliminating some of its overlays.

Bank Execs Sued for Making Subprime Loans at Outset of Crisis
Former executives of a failed New Mexico bank are being sued in federal court for $8 million by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. for making subprime mortgages through a subsidiary that "no reasonable financial institution would have made at any time" in the years leading up to the bank's failure.

Annual Mortgage Production Surges at SunTrust
Although quarter-over-quarter mortgage originations at SunTrust Banks Inc. were off, annual volume leapt nearly 40 percent. Earnings from mortgage production were much stronger thanks to repurchase activity, but servicing income was worse.

Final Rule Issued on LO Comp
A final rule on loan originator compensation aims to eliminate incentives for originators to steer borrowers into high-cost loans.

Big Losses from Small Bank's Failure
Losses from the failure of the financial institution are expected to reach more than 20 percent of the bank's assets.

Another Servicer Settlement
First it was 10 of the largest mortgage servicers. Next, it was a pair of Wall Street investment banking behemoths. Now, a London-based banking giant has agreed to a settlement with U.S. banking regulators over its mortgage servicing practices.

BB&T Reports Record Mortgage Production
Business was better at Branch Banking and Trust, which reported more mortgage originations than during any other quarter in its history. Earnings also improved, while its servicing portfolio climbed past $100 billion. But home-loan delinquency moved up from the third quarter.

Conventional Refi Business Surges
New mortgage business jumped this past week and has improved for three consecutive weeks now. Conventional refinances fueled the surge in new business, though jumbo activity saw the biggest increase.

Mortgage Market Index 218 for week ended Jan. 18

Repurchases Put Dent in PNC Earnings
Quarterly mortgage production jumped 16 percent at The PNC Financial Services Group Inc., while delinquency dropped. Repurchase losses on older vintage agency loans dragged down overall earnings at the bank.

More Mortgage Jobs Open at Wells Fargo
Less than two weeks after disclosing plans to hire hundreds of mortgage production employees, Wells Fargo & Co. is at it again.

Outlook for ARM Originations Impacted by Falling Fixed Rates
Mortgage bankers now see lower fixed rates during the first three months of this year, prompting lower expectations for annual adjustable-rate mortgage activity. Meanwhile, although loan originators can expect refinance production to diminish -- purchase financing is projected to pick up.

Uniform SAFE Test for LOs Ahead
A national uniform test for loan originators to meet the requirements of the Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act will replace state-specific tests required in two dozen states.

loanDepot Adding Arizona Employees
loanDepot.com LLC is recruiting employees to fill openings at a facility in Arizona. Jobs in production and human resources are available.

Rates Mixed, Could Rise
Long-term fixed rates moved lower, while shorter term fixed rates didn't move at all. It was a similar situation for adjustable-rate products. Rates could inch higher by the next report.

Fewer Mortgages Above 100% LTV
Thanks to the improving health of the U.S. real estate market, the share of borrowers with negative equity was lower.

Mortgage Originations Up at Citi
Citigroup Inc. managed to lift mortgage originations from the third quarter but fell short on annual production. Earnings tumbled at the company. The Citi Holdings unit closed nearly three-quarters of its branches during the period.

Ocwen Outlines Origination Expectations
Having established itself as a leader in the mortgage servicing industry, Ocwen Financial Corp. has now set its sites on growing residential originations through its new correspondent lending platform.

FNF Servicer Rating Raised
FNF Servicing saw is special servicer rating upgraded. Among the reasons cited for the improved rating were an increase in the use of short sales, a reduction in the amount of time it takes to complete a foreclosure and the addition of more employees. However, the servicer could do more to modify loans.

BofA Annual Mortgage Production Drops By Half
Thanks to its exit from the correspondent lending channel, annual mortgage originations at Bank of America Corp. dropped by half. Huge losses were reported for the mortgage unit. But the banking behemoth reported an increase in quarterly originations and a decrease in residential delinquency.

GSEs Approve New Mortgage Insurer
A new mortgage insurance company has been approved to insure conventional agency mortgages later this year.

Final Servicing Rules Issued
Mortgage servicing rules proposed last year have been finalized by the federal agency responsible for regulating consumer financial products.

Completed Foreclosures Tumble in 2012
Mortgage servicers completed 38 percent fewer foreclosures last year than in 2011, while total filings retreated and the foreclosure rate improved. U.S. foreclosure metrics also were better in December, with total filings falling to a 68-month low. Repossessions in Florida, however, have been growing.

December filings fall 10%

Record Mortgage Production at U.S. Bank
Mortgage originations ascended to an all-time high, delinquency was down more than 50 basis points and company-wide earnings reached a record level at U.S. Bancorp. The financial institution, which was established in the midst of the civil war, is making progress on its repurchases.

More Mortgage Servicing Settlements Emerge
Two more settlements over mortgage servicing practices have been reached with the nation's central bank. The latest round involves a pair of venerable investment bankers.

Chase Mortgage Originations Up But Poised to Fall
Mortgage originations climbed to the highest level since before the financial crisis at JPMorgan Chase & Co. But new loan applications suggest business will fall in the current quarter.

FHLBs Double Mortgage Production
The volume of home loans closed through the Federal Home Loan Banks' Mortgage Partnership Finance Program last year more than doubled compared to a year earlier. Also rising was the number of financial institutions participating in the program.

Closing Rates Rise, Refi Turn Times Slow
Last month, the number of days it took to close a home loan slowed mostly as a result of longer processing times on refinances. But a bigger share of overall loan applications are converting to funded loans.

Final Rule Issued for Appraisals on Higher-Priced Loans
Mortgage lenders originating loans that are considered to be higher-priced mortgages will be subject to a final rule on appraisals.

First Jumbo RMBS Deal of 2013 Heading to Market
The first issuance this year of jumbo residential mortgage-backed securities is coming to market. The deal contains a significant concentration of loans from a single originator, and more than 40 percent of the loans are backed by properties in one state.

Purchase Financing Outlook Cut Again
For the second consecutive month, the outlook for purchase mortgage production has been reduced, while expected refinance originations were again raised. Adjustable-rate mortgages are expected to account for a growing share of business.

Servicing Issues Dominate Upcoming Mortgage Conferences
While numerous topics to be covered at more than a dozen upcoming mortgage-related conferences include appraisals, mortgage fraud and litigation -- it is servicing and default issues that dominate the events. Compliance, licensing and technology are also subjects being discussed as are regulation and commercial mortgages. Texas is the favorite destination for conference goers, though Florida isn't far behind.

Serious Delinquency Worsening
The rate of serious delinquency on residential first mortgages has risen each of the last three months. Even second mortgage delinquency moved higher in the final month of 2012.

Chase Continues Servicing Layoffs
More than 500 mortgage servicing employees are being laid off by JPMorgan Chase & Co. as it scales back staffing needs in light of the recent servicer settlement. The latest round of layoffs follows job cuts resulting from improved performance on its residential loans.

Ohio 1st State to Offer Out-of-State Originators Transitional Licensing
Ohio has become the first state to allow loan originators who are licensed in other states to originate loans using a temporary license.

Improvement Continues With Serious Delinquency
The rate of serious delinquency improved for the fourth consecutive month. While government loan modifications initially helped pull delinquency lower, more recent improvements in performance are being attributed to foreclosure resolutions. This year's performance will be determined by employment and home prices.

Proprietary Modifications Outpace HAMP
While proprietary loan modifications completed by mortgage servicers have generally been increasing each month, the pace of government-funded modifications completed has mostly been slowing.

HAMP volume slows in November

1st Bank Failure of 2013
This year's first bank failure wasn't a big financial institution, but losses exceeded 20 percent of its assets. Another first for this year was the first credit union failure.

New York is MBS Lawsuit Central
When it comes to litigation filed on behalf of investors of mortgage-backed securities, much of the action is handled in state and federal courts located in New York City. Among recent actions in MBS cases was an appellate affirmation of the dismissal of a lawsuit filed against the three major ratings agencies.

Issuers Tangle With Regulators in Court Over MBS
Regulators have taken an aggressive posture against issuers of mortgage-backed securities -- filing new lawsuits and extracting settlements on behalf of injured investors. Some of the activity involves failed financial institutions.

Despite Settlement, BofA MBS Litigation Battles Go On
Although Bank of America Corp. has apparently moved past two legal actions it had been battling, plaintiffs are still lined up around the block trying to collect on losses from mortgage-backed securities investments.

The FHFA MBS Litigation Journal
More than a dozen lawsuit previously filed by the regulator of the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Corp. allege that the two secondary lenders were deceived into investing in private-label residential mortgage-backed securities. A federal judge in New York has been busy deciding on scores of motions filed in the cases.

FHA Endorsements Fall, Outstandings Grow
New mortgage business was better for a second consecutive week. Although jumbo mortgages were priced worse relative to their conforming counterparts, the category was one of the strongest during the latest week. As mortgage rates moved higher, shorter term loans became more attractive and adjustable-rate activity jumped by more than a quarter.

Hotel Loans Lead CMBS Delinquency Lower
Driven by improvement in the performance of hotel loans, delinquency on securitized commercial real estate loans was lower last month. While multifamily loans were the only category to deteriorate in December, apartment loan delinquency has plummeted more than 400 basis points over the past year.

Group, Senator Call for Investigation Into BofA-Fannie Settlement
An agreement reached this week between Bank and America Corp. and Fannie Mae will resolve repurchase claims on more than $1 trillion in mortgages and cost BofA more than $10 billion. But a watchdog group and a U.S. senator say BofA got off too easy, and both are calling for an investigation.

GSEs Sued Again for Unpaid Real Estate Taxes
Several lawsuits have been filed against the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. by local governments who claims that they've been cheated out of real estate taxes by the housing finance giants. The latest action is out of Washington.

Mortgage Activity Climbs Despite Rising Rates
New mortgage business was better for a second consecutive week. Although jumbo mortgages were priced worse relative to their conforming counterparts, the category was one of the strongest during the latest week. As mortgage rates moved higher, shorter term loans became more attractive and adjustable-rate activity jumped by more than a quarter.

Mortgage Market Index 166 for week ended Jan. 11

Wells Fargo Originations Decline, Headed Lower
Home-loan production at Wells Fargo & Co. fell 10 percent from the third quarter, and application activity suggests that the current quarter will be even slower. The nation's biggest mortgage lender continued to move some of its new originations onto its balance sheet instead of into the secondary market.

Rules Issued for High Priced Loans
Final rules issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on high-cost mortgages are expected to help prospective borrowers better understand the real homeownership costs while protecting them from harmful practices that can trap them in high-cost mortgages.

Mortgage Rates Mixed and Unlikely to Change
Longer-term fixed rates moved up more this week than shorter-term rates. All signs point to little movement in fixed rates over the next seven days. While hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages were lower, the one-year ARM increased.

Fed Earns Windfall on MBS Investments
Federal Reserve investments in agency mortgage-backed securities and U.S. Treasury bonds have been a boon for borrowers who have been able to refinance into the lowest rates of their lifetimes. But the investments are also earning income that is benefiting U.S. taxpayers.

Bexil Mortgage Acquires Southeast Lender
The acquisition of a residential lender doing business in the Southeast has brought agency approvals to Bexil American Mortgage.

Significant Share of Mortgages Have 0% LTVs
A new report indicates that a significant share of U.S. homeowners have no mortgages against their home. Given the demographics of much of this group, the share is likely to expand.

Details Emerge on New QM Rule
A long-awaited rule on suitability and what constitutes a qualified mortgage has been finalized. The rule is expected to protect unsuspecting consumers from overzealous originators who disregard the borrower's ability to repay the loan in order to generate commissions. But some insiders warn about further tightening in an already frigid credit environment.

Production Roles Dominate Mortgage Executive Appointments
Although there is plenty of recruiting happening for executives in senior management roles, mortgage servicing and commercial real estate lending -- much of the recent activity has been concentrated in production. Other busy areas for executive recruiters are correspondent lending and branch recruiting.

Employees Take Hit from Servicer Settlement
Hundreds of employees are out of a job as a result of this week's settlement between federal banking regulators and the country's largest mortgage servicers. The layoffs are happening in at least four states.

Record Mortgage Fundings as Quicken Jumps Into Servicing
Quicken Loans Inc. was the first major lender to report fourth-quarter results, and if its activity is any indication -- the final three months of 2012 were a blockbuster for U.S. lenders. Quicken has now moved into mortgage servicing.

Ellie Improves Platform
Hundreds of updates have been made to Ellie Mae Inc.'s mortgage lending platform. The improvements are designed to provide easier correspondent lending, increased mortgage compliance and enhanced document management. Some of the updates directly impact reverse mortgages and lines of credit secured by residential properties.

Strong Year at Ginnie
Driven by weakness in residential activity, last month's issuance of mortgage-backed securities that are guaranteed by the Government National Mortgage Association eased from November. But full-year activity was up by more than a quarter.

Radian Maintains Productive Pace
New business more than doubled last year at Radian Guaranty Inc. Delinquent insured loans have fallen over the past year but increased from the prior month. However, growth in the number of loans insured likely kept a lid on the delinquency rate.

Minnesota Region Hot for Bank Acquisitions
Banks in the Minnesota region are growing through acquisition, with many prospective targets available. Increasingly burdensome regulations are motivating smaller financial institutions to merge.

Florida Appellate Courts Reverse Foreclosure Judgments
While mortgage servicers are making some progress in Florida foreclosure cases, many recent decisions involve overturned foreclosures or other negative rulings for lenders. Much of the action is happening at the state's fourth district court of appeal.

Wells Recruiting Hundreds for Production
Sustained elevated originations at the nation's biggest residential lender mean hundreds of job opportunities in mortgage production out West.

Warehouse Lines a Big Factor in Production
Achieving multi-billion dollar annual mortgage production involves a number of factors not least of which is the ability to obtain an adequate warehouse line of credit.

CFPB Looks to Finalize Several Rules
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's agenda calls for several proposed mortgage-related rules to soon become final. Loan originators and mortgage servicers are impacted by the new regulations.

2012 A Good Year for MGIC
Seventy percent more loans were insured last year at MGIC Guaranty Insurance Corp. than in 2011. The mortgage insurer has also improved its delinquency rate by more than 200 basis points over the past 12 months.

Chase Eliminates Hundreds of East Coast Mortgage Jobs
Improved performance on its residential loans means that staffing needs in distressed servicing have diminished at JPMorgan Chase & Co. As a result, hundreds of employees located on the East Coast have been laid off.

Servicer Settlement Ends Foreclosure Reviews
The country's biggest mortgage servicers have reached an agreement with federal banking regulators that will end foreclosure reviews required under consent orders issued nearly two years ago.

Walter Continues Acquisition Spree
Walter Investment Management Corp. has recently had a voracious appetite for production and servicing assets, and now the growing firm has inked a deal to pick up another servicing platform.

MTA Edges Higher
Despite a decline in the underlying rate, the Monthly Treasury Average moved higher last month. Also recently higher was the share of prospective borrowers who are opting for adjustable-rate mortgages.

Merger Creates 3rd-Largest AMC
An acquisition by a prominent appraisal management company promises to create the third largest AMC in the country.

Mother of All Repurchase Disputes Resolved
An agreement reached between the Federal National Mortgage Association and Bank of America Corp. will resolve one of the largest repurchase rifts ever in mortgage banking history. In addition, servicing on more than $200 billion in residential loans is trading hands as part of the transaction and shaking up top-servicer rankings.

Mortgage Casualties Drop to Pre-Crisis Levels
The number of mortgage-related businesses to end operations during the final three months of 2012 was down by half from a year earlier. Full-year casualties fell to the lowest level since prior to the subprime crisis.

82 mortgage-related firms close or fail in 2012

BofA a Top Performing Stock
It wasn't long ago that investors worried Bank of America Corp.'s July 2008 acquisition of Countrywide Financial Corp. was a money pit that would continue to place a drag on earnings.

Florida Legislation Would Speed Up Foreclosures
A bill submitted in the Florida legislature would fast-track the foreclosure process in the state and reduce liability on completed foreclosure sales. But the legislation proposes strict documentation requirements and a reduction in the statute of limitations for collecting a deficiency judgment.

LOs Revive Post-Holiday Mortgage Business
Following three consecutive weeks of decline, loan originators managed a healthy post-holiday bump in new business. While new refinance business was strong, an even bigger jump was recorded for jumbo and adjustable-rate mortgages.

Mortgage Market Index 149 for week ended Jan. 4

Servicers Battle Ohio Courts
Ohio's top court decided that website notice of foreclosures -- a policy change made to accommodate a shrinking municipal budget -- failed to satisfy due process requirements, and several lenders are finding that homeowners continue to fight foreclosures with accusations that the lenders weren't filing the right paperwork. In another case, a mortgage servicer's appeal of a trial court decision in a foreclosure turned out to be the right move financially as the appellate court enlarged the judgment on appeal.

Servicer Settlement Would Resolve Consent Order Foreclosure Reviews
A potential $10 billion settlement with the nation's biggest mortgage servicers would resolve foreclosure review requirements under previously issued consent orders and eliminate substantial fees being paid to the independent consultants hired to conduct the reviews.

Fewer Borrowers Resort to Bankruptcy in 2012
A decline in the number of bankruptcies filed by U.S. consumers last month contributed to a 14 percent overall decline in bankruptcy filings for 2012 by consumers and business entities.

Brokers Sustain Mortgage Jobs
Mortgage brokers were able to overcome monthly job losses at their mortgage banking counterparts to push overall employment higher in real estate finance. Both categories have fared well over the past year.

Mortgage Rates Set to Rise
Fixed mortgage rates slipped this week and stand barely above the record lows reached less than two months ago. But interest rates are likely to be 10 basis points higher by the time the next report comes out.

Office CMBS Performance Deteriorates
While delinquency levels were down last month on most types of securitized loans backed by commercial real estate, the past-due rate on office property mortgages jumped 29 basis points and has soared 169 BPS over the past year.

Delinquency Up on Bank Home-Equity Assets
Quarterly performance on home-equity products owned by banks worsened, and year-over-year performance wasn't much better. But other consumer lending categories supported an overall improvement in delinquency.

HUD Eases Reporting Requirements for Small Lenders
Smaller federally regulated financial institutions that make loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration are being exempted from some annual reporting requirements.

2012 HECM Volume Slowest in Years as Landscape Changes
The federal government insured fewer reverse mortgages last month, while annual production has slowed to the lowest level in years. But new leaders emerging in the sector have some up-and-coming traditional lenders behind them.

Jumbo Lending Conditions Improve
Jumbo mortgage options, which had diminished during the financial crisis, have been making a return recently. In addition, jumbo-conforming spreads are more narrow.

Shadow Inventory Contracting
Hungry investors are expected to eat up the nation's shadow inventory, which has fallen and is expected to continue contracting.

Walter Delves Deeper Into Reverse Mortgages
On the heels of a reverse mortgage acquisition, Walter Investment Management Corp. is doubling down on the sector with a second acquisition.

Annual Agency Issuance at 3-Year High
The issuance of mortgage-backed securities on behalf of the Federal National Mortgage Association, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. and the Government National Mortgage Association was higher during 2012 than either of the prior two years. Fannie Mae is on track to see its strongest year in nearly a decade. During just December, however, overall business slowed -- with Freddie Mac leading the decline.

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