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January 2014 Archive


Mortgage Business Picks Up as Rates Drop
Coming out of the holiday week, new mortgage business was modestly higher. Another week of lower interest rates helped lift refinance activity.

Mortgage Market Index 168 for week ended Jan. 31

Fannie New Business, Delinquency Continue Sliding
Secondary activity fell to the lowest level in more than three years at the Federal National Mortgage Association. Also moving lower were its book of business and delinquency rate.

U.S. More Than Doubles Amount Sought in BofA Suit
The federal government is asking a judge to more than double the amount it originally sought against Bank of America Corp. now that a jury has ruled against the Charlotte, N.C.-based company.

HEL Lending Tightens as Banks Loosen CRE Requirements
Among all types of lending at banks, underwriting standards have increased the most on home-equity products. A sizable share of commercial real estate lenders, however, have eased requirements, and CRE risk is projected to rise.

CA Jumbo Market Takes Off
California loan originators who specialize in jumbo mortgages benefited from a huge gain in the sale of jumbo properties.

Mortgage Rates Down, Could Go Lower
Fixed interest rates on residential loans retreated this week, and all indications are that they could fall further.

CFPB Touts Actions Against Mortgage Servicers
A new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rehashes previously announced actions against servicers of home loans and touts other regulatory activity last year.

FHA Embracing E-Signatures
The Federal Housing Administration is taking steps to expand the use of digital signatures on loans it insures.

Dodd Frank Drives Some Banks to State Charters
Some banks that had been federally regulated prior to the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 are opting to switch to a state charter.

Cordray Spars With GOP
The head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau made his way to Capitol Hill this week to deliver his semiannual report to lawmakers.

Video of testimony before House Financial Services Committee

2 Big Banks Fare Worst Among HAMP Servicers
The special inspector general for the federal program created during the height of the financial crisis to restore confidence in the banking system has issued a report spotlighting excessive complaints against two major servicers for their handling of loan modifications.

HELs & HELOCs Making a Comeback
Banks seeking to replace lost profits from a decline in refinance production, are returning to home-equity loans and lines of credit.

Special Servicer Adding N.Y. Jobs
After scouting out sites in three states, a special servicer has decided to open a new office in the Empire State that could house nearly 200 new employees.

Stearns' Servicing Portfolio Up, Production Sinks
Despite a steep drop in residential loan production at Stearns Lending Inc., the company continued to grow its mortgage servicing portfolio. In line with the slowdown in business, headcount was trimmed.

Fannie Updates Servicer Incentives
The amount of incentives paid to mortgages servicers for repayment plans is being increased by Fannie Mae, while payments for short sales and mortgage releases are also being adjusted.

Freddie's Maxes Out Multifamily Volume
Apartment financing facilitated by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. reached the maximum level set by its regulator and the second-highest level ever.

PHH Latest Target in M.I. Kickback Actions
PHH Corp. and four of its subsidiaries are facing regulatory actions for allegedly operating an illegal mortgage insurance kickback scheme beginning nearly two decades ago.

Majority of Lenders Put Borrower Data at Risk
An overwhelming majority of mortgage lenders utilize systems that enable borrowers to provide sensitive private data through insecure delivery channels.

Foreclosures Improve in 2013
The report card for last year is in, and mortgage servicers raised their grades across the board. Serious delinquency declined, the foreclosure rate moved lower and the number of repossessions was whittled down.

Navy FCU's Servicing Grows, Annual Originations Up
Residential loan production during the final three months of last year tumbled at Navy Federal Credit Union. The financial institution, however, increased annual activity and managed to grow its mortgage servicing portfolio last year.

Home Prices Show Signs of Cooling
For the first time in a year, home prices in the nation's biggest cities declined. Still, prices soared compared to a year earlier.

4-Year Low for CMBS Delinquency
Delinquency on securitized commercial real estate loans has moved lower for 13 consecutive months and now stands at its lowest level in four years.

Mortgage Servicing Portfolio Grows at HomeStreet
Despite a steep drop in residential loans originations at HomeStreet Inc., the mortgage servicing portfolio and residential investments both expanded.

Foreclosure Rate Slips as Delinquency Rises
Deterioration in early stage residential delinquency offset a decline in the foreclosure rate last month. But loan performance was significantly better than a year earlier.

Huntington Mortgage Originations Down, Servicing Up
Residential loan production during the final three months of last year was down at Huntington Bancshares Inc. But the company managed to grow its residential servicing portfolio and assets while reducing delinquency.

Radian Eliminates Overlay for Downpayment Requirements
Following the lead of Genworth Mortgage Insurance, Radian Guaranty Inc. is eliminating its overlay for borrower downpayment requirements.

New Home Sales Slow
New home sales turned lower last month, though there was one region of the country that saw a healthy gain.

Potential Mortgage Fraud Increases Again
The likelihood of mortgage fraud on new residential loan applications during the latest quarterly period moved higher again.

Costly Bank Failure Friday
The failure last week of a bank in Oklahoma is expected to cost the nation's bank insurance fund around $70 million.

Offshore Firm Hiring in Dallas
A mortgage industry service provider that has been operating from India is now establishing a presence in the United States.

S.C. Lender Finds QM Groove
After two years of getting to know the new Qualified Mortgage rule, a mortgage banker operating out of South Carolina has significantly reduced turnaround while complying with the rule.

BofA Eliminating Va. Mortgage Jobs
Several hundred Virginia mortgage jobs are being eliminated by Bank of America Corp., though most of the impacted employees will be reassigned to non-mortgage positions.

Weekly Mortgage Business Drops in Holiday Week
The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday put a damper on new mortgage business, though falling interest rates helps mitigate the decline. Rates are positioned for a further decline.

Mortgage Market Index 157 for week ended Jan. 24

Business Continues Falling at Provident Funding
Home loan originations were down for the fifth consecutive quarter at Provident Funding Associates LP, while annual activity was down by more than half.

Annual Originations Up at United Shore
Quarterly mortgage production moved lower at United Shore Financial Services LLC, with direct and indirect business falling. But annual activity turned higher.

The Case for 30-Year Mortgages
Although there are a number of reasons why fixed-rate 30-year mortgages shouldn't be part of the U.S. mortgage market, the costs of eliminating long-term mortgages could outweigh the benefits.

Freddie Reports Strong Month
The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. turned in a strong performance last month, with secondary activity increasing, the book of business expanding and serious delinquency falling to the lowest level in nearly five years.

HECM Networks Could Improve Market
The current marketplace for home-equity conversion mortgages leaves much room for abusing rate locks, and online third-party networks could be the solution.

New Business Plummets at Fifth Third
Fifth Third Bancorp's quarterly mortgage production was down by more than half from a year earlier. The good news is that delinquency was lower and the servicing portfolio grew.

Mortgage Rates Slip, Could Slide Further
Fixed interest rates on home loans were little moved this past week, though a decline is likely ahead.

CMBS Underwriting Deteriorates
Thanks to relaxed underwriting standards, risk on securitized commercial real estate loans has deteriorated to levels not seen in nine years.

Genworth Eases Downpayment Requirements
Genworth Mortgage Insurance has relaxed its guidelines on purchase financing transactions where the borrower's required downpayment is derived from gift funds.

Loan Modification Activity Continues Slide
With government-funded loan modifications leading the way, monthly activity slowed. Volume has plummeted compared to a year prior thanks mostly to proprietary programs.

Fundings Fall as Flagstar Repositions Mortgage Biz
Residential loan production at Flagstar Bancorp Inc. was off on a quarter-over-quarter basis and sank on a year-over-year basis. The company significantly cut its servicing portfolio and announced significant staff reductions.

Risk on Fannie Loans Rises as Freddie's Eases
The level of risk on residential loans originated last month moved lower. On just Fannie Mae loans, risk rose, while it was down on Freddie Mac loans. Both companies saw deterioration from a year earlier, though Fannie's was worse.

Treasury Official Discusses Mortgage Market Reform
A Treasury Department official warned attendees at an asset-backed securities conference about allowing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to remain in their current form. He also expressed his opinion about expanding the Home Affordable Refinance Program.

Execs Warn of Rules' Higher Costs, Tougher Approvals
Some mortgage executives are worried that new mortgage rules will make if more difficult to qualify for a loan and raise the cost of borrowing.

Las Vegas Layoffs Continue at Citi
Just months after announcing plans to reduce its mortgage workforce in Las Vegas, Citigroup Inc. is planning another round of layoffs in Sin City.

Ocwen to Acquire MSRs on Nearly $40 Billion in Loans
As Ocwen Financial Corp. announced a planned acquisition of the servicing on a non-agency portfolio, a new report raises concerns about its rapid growth.

U.S. Bank Turns in Weak Mortgage Performance
In addition to a big drop in residential loan originations at U.S. Bancorp, mortgage earnings sank and home loan delinquency increased.

Zillow Report Highlights Minority Mortgage Disparity
A report issued by Zillow Inc. and a civil rights organization indicates that blacks and Hispanics are less likely than their white counterparts to apply for a home loan, more likely to be denied when they do apply and unlikely to see the same appreciation rates.

SunTrust Sued by ResCap Unit
A lawsuit filed by a unit of bankrupt Residential Capital LLC against SunTrust Mortgage Inc. is the latest in a series of legal actions alleging the lender sold poorly underwritten home loans.

Mortgage Metrics Deteriorate at Regions
On a quarter-over-quarter basis, Regions Financial Corp.'s mortgage lending business saw lower originations, less income and higher delinquency.

MSRs on Over $1 Billion in Loans on the Market
Mortgage servicing rights on more than $1 billion in agency mortgages are up for sale. Three separate offerings are involved.

The QM Effect
Many mortgage lending stakeholders continue to express concern about the impact of new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rules.

Serious Mortgage Delinquency Declines
Although serious delinquency on other types of consumer credit products was higher last month, the rate on residential loans improved.

Record Annual Originations at Quicken
Despite a drop in quarterly mortgage production at Quicken Loans Inc., annual activity reached the highest level on record.

Hard Money Lender Hires Former First Franklin CEO
The former chief of a major subprime mortgage lender has taken the reins at a national hard money lender.

Best Mortgage Employers
Five mortgage-related companies have been ranked among the hundred best employers in the country. The highest ranking among mortgage-related firms was the third biggest lender in the country.

FHFA Wins Lawsuit
The regulator of the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. has scored a victory in a lawsuit filed by counties in Kentucky.

Risks, Rewards for Fast Growing Servicers
Residential loan servicers are seeing improved performance in all facets of their operations. Three rapidly growing servicers have more to gain in the short run as the environment improves. But longer term, pressure to originate nonprime mortgages, as well as other factors, could pose a risk for the trio.

First Bank Failure of 2014 Was Over 100 Years Old
The first bank failure of this year was a financial institution that was more than a century old. Meanwhile, Citigroup Inc.'s mortgage subsidiary is battling the former owner of a previously failed firm.

Mixed Mortgage Results at SunTrust
Despite a drop in new mortgage business at SunTrust Banks Inc., mortgage earnings and delinquency improved from the previous quarter. The company reduced its mortgage servicing portfolio, while its mortgage investments grew.

Weekly Mortgage Business Up 3 Weeks in a Row
Driven primarily by improved interest rates, new mortgage activity was up for the third consecutive week. Refinances made the most headway. Interest rates on jumbo mortgage were much better.

Mortgage Market Index 172 in week ended Jan. 17

BB&T Performance Deteriorates
Residential loan production, home loan delinquency and mortgage earnings were all worse BB&T Corp. during the latest quarter.

Mortgage President Accuses NH Officials of Corruption
The president of one of the largest mortgage firms in New Hampshire is using valuable marketing space to accuse state officials of being corrupt. But it's not clear whether prior actions against his company are motivating the attacks.

For Sale: Agency MSRs
Mortgage servicing rights on thousands of agency loans are up for sale. Properties securing the loans are concentrated in the Northeast.

Citi Laying Off Hundreds of Servicing Employees
The sale of mortgage servicing rights on more than $10 billion in residential loans is prompting Citigroup Inc. to reduce its staff by hundred of positions.

PNC Originations Worse, Earnings Better
Although mortgage production tumbled at The PNC Financial Services Group Inc., quarterly mortgage earnings were vastly improved and annual company-wide income was at an all-time high. Loan performance was also better.

REMN Annual Originations Increase
Last year's home loan production at Real Estate Mortgage Network Inc. climbed to the highest level in at least five years.

Lender Hit With Consent Order for Illegal Kickbacks
A mortgage lender out of Missouri has been hit with a consent order over illegal kickbacks paid to a bank for referrals.

MSRs on $10 Billion in Fannie Loans Trading Hands
A deal has been struck for the sale of mortgage servicing rights on more than $10 billion in Fannie Mae loans.

Mortgage Rates Drop, Likely to Stay There
Bad economic news drove interest rates on home loans lower, and the latest signs point to similar rates in the next report.

Massive Layoffs at Flagstar
For the second time in the past year, hundreds of mortgage jobs are being eliminated by Flagstar Bancorp Inc.

Freddie Cuts 2014 Origination Forecast
The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. reduced its estimate of last year's industry-wide originations and lowered its expectations for this year 's activity.

Originations Sink at Citi
Home loan production tumbled to the lowest level in at least a decade at Citigroup Inc., and another decline appears to be ahead. Residential loan delinquency, however, improved.

Retail HECM Originations Rise as Wholesale Drops
Monthly retail production of government-insured reverse mortgages increased from the year-earlier period, while wholesale activity was lower. Non-government reverse lending was led by Urban Financial Group.

December Foreclosures Rise as Annual Filings Fall
Foreclosure activity fell to a six-year low in 2013 even as filings turned higher in December. It took longer to complete a foreclosure last year than any of the prior five years. Nearly one-in-five repossessions during 2013 were in Florida.

115,342 filings in December

Guaranteed Lifts Annual Originations
Annual residential loan production increased at Guaranteed Rate Inc., while the servicing portfolio grew. Quarterly originations and staffing, however, retreated.

Chase Reinstates Blacklisted Appraiser
A real estate appraiser who claims he was placed on Chase Manhattan Bank's black list because he refused to violate ethics requirements has been reinstated.

Servicers Over-Reimbursed for Property Inspections
Mortgage servicers that were reimbursed for more than allowed on pre-foreclosure property inspections might be returning the excess funds.

Bank Closes Wholesale Lending Subsidiary
A New Jersey bank has thrown in the towel on its wholesale lending business thanks to the current regulatory environment.

Fannie Refunding Borrower Short Sale Contributions
Some distressed borrowers who were improperly required to make contributions in short sale transactions on properties located in California or in short sales processed through the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives program will be getting their money back.

AVM Accuracy Improved
Enhancements to one automated valuation system promise to improve the accuracy of estimated values while expanding the number of properties that can be valued.

Lending Standards Ease in December
The final month of 2013 saw credit standards decline to the lowest level of last year. Credit scores fell from November, while loan-to-value ratios and debt-to-income ratios increased.

BofA's HEL Activity Doubles as 1st Mtg Volume Tumbles
As quarterly first mortgage originations plummeted at Bank of America Corp., home-equity production has more than doubled over the past year. Reductions in mortgage assets, servicing and staffing continued.

Business Slows at McLean Mortgage
Quarterly home loan originations at McLean Mortgage Corp. were down by nearly a fourth. The lender did manage, however, to build up its staffing and increase annual activity.

Impac Unloads Branches
In its quest to slim down its business, Impac Mortgage Holdings Inc. has sold some of its mortgage branches. The buyer is interested in more acquisitions.

Mortgage Production Plummets at Wells Fargo
Quarterly and annual mortgage originations tumbled at Wells Fargo & Co. The country's biggest lender trimmed its mortgage staffing, reduced its servicing portfolio and fell short on mortgage earnings.

Quicken Opting Out of Non-QM Lending
The chief executive officer of Quicken Loans Inc. said the lender has no plans to make loans that aren't designated as Qualified Mortgages.

Mortgage Bankers Lower 2014 Expectations
The outlook for this year's residential loan originations has been lowered. Refinancing and purchase financing were equally impacted.

Mortgage Originations Plunge at Chase
Quarterly mortgage production at JPMorgan Chase & Co. plummeted to the lowest level in more than a decade, though home-equity originations moved higher. The New York-based firm trimmed its mortgage servicing rights and investment holdings -- cutting delinquency in the process. Mortgage staffing was reduced by more than 10,000 last year.

Annual Originations, Staffing and Servicing Up at Guild
Quarterly production slowed at Guild Mortgage Co. But annual activity was higher as the company grew the size of its staff and its servicing portfolio.

GSE MSR Portfolio Up for Grabs
Mortgage servicing rights on more than $500 million in agency conventional loans are up for grabs. The loans are concentrated in one state.

PRMI Staffing Grows Despite Declining Production
Residential loan originations were down again at Primary Residential Mortgage Inc. Also coming in lower was the servicing portfolio. But the lender managed to expand its staff.

2014 Mortgage Origination Outlook Lowered
Expectations for this year's mortgage production have been lowered, and the outlook for refinances took the biggest hit. Next year, adjustable-rate mortgages are expected to account for nearly one-in-five loans.

Mortgage Rules Likened to Obamacare
In an editorial from Pittsburgh's major newspaper, new mortgage rules are projected to have the same impact on mortgage lending as the Affordable Care Act is having on medical care.

I.O. Loans Still Available for Wealthy
One of the few nontraditional mortgage products that will survive a bevy of new rules implemented last week is the interest-only loan -- though only affluent borrowers are expected to benefit.

5-Year Low for Ginnie Issuance
A month-over-month improvement in the issuance of multifamily securities wasn't enough to prevent overall new business at the Government National Mortgage Association from falling to the lowest level in more than five years. Still, annual activity was the third-highest on record.

ARMs, Jumbos Lead Rise in Mortgage Business
With inquiries for jumbo loans and adjustable-rate mortgages leading the way, mortgage business improved. Interest rates fell and are likely to be even lower in the next report.

Mortgage Market Index 164 in week ended Jan. 10

HAMP Growth Turns Lower
The latest report on government-supported loan modification activity indicates that monthly growth slowed. There was some jockeying between mortgage servicers.

922,067 active permanent modifications as of November

CFPB Exam Procedures Updated for New Rules
Procedures for conducting mortgage examinations have been updated to reflect previously issued mortgage rules. The updates impact both origination and servicing exams.

Annual Mortgage Production Slows at Fairway
Residential loan originations at Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp. turned lower in 2013 thanks to a second-half slump. But the company finished the year with a bigger staff.

FHA Delinquency, Originations Worsen
After delaying reporting by two months, the Federal Housing Administration finally released monthly operational numbers -- and they weren't good. One bright spot, however, was a doubling of monthly reverse mortgage applications.

Lenders Continue Cutting Jobs
Staffing in real estate finance continued to contract as lenders reduced human resource expense. Among all industries, job growth slowed dramatically -- sending bond yields sharply lower. One good piece of news was a five-year low for the unemployment rate.

New Business Worse Again at MGIC
New business fell to the lowest level in 10 months and has been down for five consecutive months at MGIC Guaranty Insurance Corp. Annual activity, however, strengthened as delinquency fell for the 17th consecutive month.

Mortgage Rates Mixed
Long-term fixed rates moved lower, while short-term fixed rates and hybrid-adjustable rates moved higher. Rates remain volatile ahead of a key economic report.

Compliance Services Strictly for Servicers
A new company is being touted as the only service provider dedicated solely to helping residential loan servicers comply with a host of important rules, regulations and requirements.

New Disclosures Fall Short on Helping Consumers
New mortgage disclosures that go into effect next year fall short on helping consumers make the best mortgage decisions. Annual percentage rates are at issue.

Home Equity Performance Improves
The quarterly performance of home-equity products at financial institutions was better. Loans for property improvements, however, saw deterioration.

5-Year Low for Serious Delinquency
Mortgage servicers continued to make headway on serious delinquency, pulling the rate down to the lowest level in five years. Foreclosure metrics also showed a nice improvement.

U.S. Home Equity Position Continues Improving
The number of homes with significant negative equity diminished in the fourth quarter, while the count with significant equity grew.

The Warehouse Line
Warehouse lines are the life blood of a traditional mortgage banker, and they've been hard to come since the financial crisis. But some warehouse lenders have been promoting their programs with a focus on one niche or another.

Bill Would Require More Disclosure on Mortgage Settlements
Bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate would require federal agencies to disclose more details about settlements with financial services firms. The proposed law is targeting settlements like the one reached last year with the nation's biggest servicers.

Mortgage Firms Recruit Business Development Execs
Among the many recent management appointments in real estate finance were at least seven new business development executives. Meanwhile, the government-sponsored enterprises have beefed up their boards.

G-Fee Increase Put on Hold
The new director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency has followed through with a promise he made before being sworn in.

Radian Business Slows for 5th Consecutive Month
Although new business has worsened for five consecutive months at Radian Guaranty Inc., full-year activity was up by more than a quarter. In addition, the delinquency rate has improved for 24 straight months.

QM Toolbox
Two services aim to educate lenders and their employees about the Qualified Mortgage rule and help them maintain compliance. One of the services additionally addresses the Federal Housing Administration QM requirements.

2014 Mortgage Conference Calendar Filling Up
Among the topics to be covered at several upcoming mortgage events are appraisals, reverse mortgages and high-ticket Asian real estate financing.

QM M.I. Webinar
A webinar is being held to educate lenders about the new Qualified Mortgage rule and how it applies to mortgage insurance.

7 Straight Months of CMBS Delinquency Improvement
With a little help from office, multifamily and retail property loans, the rate of past-due payments on securitized commercial real estate loans moved lower for the seventh consecutive month.

Credit Index Inches Up
Credit availability for prospective mortgage borrowers expanded slightly last month as lenders appear to have already updated their guidelines to keep pace with upcoming rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Black Knight Rises
A newly created mortgage service provider powerhouse has been formed that will provide technology, data and analytics to the real estate finance industry.

Servicers Win in Ohio Ruling
Mortgage servicers with loans in Ohio are likely to be pleased with a recent appellate court decision on foreclosures.

Bankruptcies Fall to 6-Year Low
Consumer bankruptcy filings were down for the second consecutive month, while annual activity fell to the lowest level in six years.

Record MTA Streak Likely to Continue
The Monthly Treasury Average achieved another all-time low last month, and the streak of record-setting months appears poised to continue for at least another month.

CA Bank Going Off QM Grid
A financial institution out of California says that it will continue to make interest-only home loans even after Qualified Mortgage rules go into effect.

Departing LO Accused of Stealing Customer Info
The decision by a resigning loan originator to take customer information from her prior employer prompted the company to warn clients about a data breach.

Watt Sworn in as FHFA Director
After five years in office, President Barack Obama finally has his own man overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the more than $5 trillion they manage.

Housing Finance Predictions for 2014
This year will see more home purchase financing than in 2013, according to Southern California economists and real estate experts. Another prediction is that the number of prospective borrowers will increase, while some expect lenders to ease standards.

Consolidation Leads to CoreLogic Layoffs
Several dozen people in Southern California are being laid off by CoreLogic Inc. as the company consolidates its tax service division.

New Mortgage Business Picks Up
Coming out of the Christmas holiday and going into New Years Day, loan originators picked up the pace on new business. Government loan demand soared.
Mortgage Market Index 133 in week ended Jan. 3

Fewer Real Estate Agents See As Good Time to Sell
A survey of real estate agents found that fewer see it as a good time to sell, though a majority continue to believe it is a good time to buy despite low inventories.

CFPB Moves to Improve Mortgage Closing Process
Consumers and lenders who don't like the closing process for a home loan are getting an opportunity to air their grievances to the supreme mortgage regulator. Technology solutions are sought.

Acquisition of LPS a Done Deal
A provider of data and services for real estate finance has been acquired by its former parent in a cash-and-stock deal, and more acquisitions could be ahead.

Uncertainty As New Mortgage World Evolves
The mortgage and real estate industries are bracing for new federal rules intended to prevent reckless lending practices. Some hiccups are anticipated.

Hundreds of Hawaii LOs Didn't Renew Licenses
Hundreds of mortgage loan originators in Hawaii failed to renew their licenses with the state by the year-end deadline.

Portable Appraisals Would Improve Mortgage System
Enabling real estate appraisals that are acceptable to any lender to be ordered by prospective borrowers would improve the mortgage process and the value of rate lock commitments.

GSEs Becoming Too Good to Fail
With their finances improving and their hefty dividend payments to the Treasury Department continuing, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are fast becoming too good to close down.

Walter Unit is Biggest Reverse Lender
Last year's largest originator of federally insured reverse mortgages was a subsidiary of Walter Investment Management Corp. A month-over-month downturn for the industry as a whole was offset by a year-over-year gain.

Fixed Mortgage Rates Rise
Interest rates on fixed rate mortgages moved higher this past week, while short-term adjustable rates were idle.

REIT Funds Correspondent Program
A new correspondent lending program is being financed through a partnership deal with a real estate investment trust.

Accounting Firm Buys Mortgage Compliance Business
A large accounting firm in the Twin Cities is betting that mortgage compliance service providers are a good investment.

JV Survives Wells Fargo Exit
A mortgage firm that was operated as one of Wells Fargo & Co.'s joint ventures has re-emerged as a new business.

Short Sale Tax Exemption Ends
A tax break for distressed borrowers involved in short sale transactions has expired, though pending federal legislation could extend it.

Nearly $8 Billion in 2013 FHFA MBS Settlements
The regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reported that it recovered nearly $8 billion in losses from private-label securities last year. The total could double.

M.I. Business Continues to Weaken
For the fourth consecutive month, mortgage insurers wrote less new business. Business hasn't been this slow since early 2012.

Agency MBS Issuance at Lowest Level in Years
Monthly agency securitizations fell to the lowest level in more than two years. The Government National Mortgage Association and the Federal National Mortgage Association each saw monthly issuance drop by around $3 billion, while the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. mostly maintained its business.

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