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February 2013 Archive


Record Low for COFI
After edging up in December, the Cost of Funds Index reversed course and fell to the lowest level on record.

Insured Mortgages Expand
New mortgage insurance business was little changed last month and likely was little changed in February. But total outstanding mortgages that are insured have grown each of the past eight months.

Mortgage Rates Improve, Could Hold
Interest rates on home loans fell this week and might hold steady over the short term. On a longer-term basis, rates are headed higher.

Impac Annual Mortgage Originations Double
More than half of home loans originated by Impac Mortgage Holdings Inc. are generated through the wholesale channel, and mortgage production more than doubled last year.

Delinquency Drops, Repos Rise
Nearly a million borrowers on residential loans have moved out of the non-current category over the past year. Last month saw delinquency decline and foreclosures in process subside, but the number of repossessions moved higher.

CFPB Compliance Conference Sessions Packed
Two sessions at a mortgage servicing conference that addressed compliance with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau servicing rules and examinations were packed.

Quicken Plans Further Growth
One of the factors noted in a review of Quicken Loans Inc.'s home-loan production process was the role of loan processors -- which differs substantially from the industry standard. The company has grown to become one of the largest mortgage lenders and has aggressive plans for further growth.

Home Prices Continue Higher
On the heels of good news for the recovering U.S. real estate market, more positive data has been released. The latest reports point to continued home-price appreciation.

Mortgage Bankers Trim Refi Forecast
The outlook for refinance originations was lowered, prompting a reduction to the overall annual forecast for mortgage business this year and next year.

Hotels Lead Continued Improvement in CMBS Delinquency
Last month saw the lowest delinquency in nearly three years for loans backing commercial mortgage-backed securities. Helping to reduce the rate was a healthy improvement in the performance of lodging loans.

Quicken LOs Lose Licenses Due to Time Off
Some loan originators that needed to take time off last year from Quicken Loans Inc. had their originator licenses terminated.

Risk of Valuation Fraud Increases
Mortgage lenders are more likely to be deceived about the valuation of a property than they are about any other mortgage fraud category, according to the latest set of mortgage fraud risk indices.

Chase Eliminating Thousand of Mortgage Jobs
Thousands of mortgage staffing cuts are planned this year and next year by JPMorgan Chase & Co. The company has already disclosed the elimination of more than a thousand mortgage jobs this year.

Investors Take Hit on Write-Downs
Ratings on hundreds of classes of residential mortgage-backed securities that were impacted by principal write-downs have been lowered. Large loans originated with alternative documents back a majority of the impacted classes.

Chase Sells Florida Operation
JPMorgan Chase & Co. has been reducing its mortgage servicing staffing as the need for such positions has diminished. But some Florida servicing jobs won't suffer the same fate as a result of a deal to sell the unit to a growing special servicer.

Real Estate Recovery Continues
The number of bank and non-bank loan originators included in the national registry continued higher in the final three months of 2012. A decline in the number of federally registered originators in Alaska was offset by an increase in state-licensed originators.

Mortgage Originator Ranks Expand
The number of bank and non-bank loan originators included in the national registry continued higher in the final three months of 2012. A decline in the number of federally registered originators in Alaska was offset by an increase in state-licensed originators.

Opportunity Seen in Radian Shares
When the housing market was suffering, Mad Money's Jim Cramer says that he advised his audience to get out of Radian Guaranty Inc.'s stock.
Video of Jim Cramer speculating on mortgage insurance opportunity
Mortgage Business Jumps 30% in 2012
Mortgage companies closed a greater volume of loans last year, and there was some shifting among the five-biggest firms. Drilling down to just the fourth quarter, a new No. 3 mortgage lender has emerged. Among residential mortgage servicers, three growing players have ascended to the top-10 club. Volume during the first three months of this year is likely to be lower than the final three months of 2012.

Small Lenders Report Strong 2012 Mortgage Production
Smaller mortgage lenders generally reported that residential loan originations during last year were stronger than in 2011, and some have reported that they broke prior records. One commercial real estate lender grabbed a big share of the apartment financing market.

2012 Mortgage Originations Strong at Credit Unions
Home-loan originations were up by nearly half last year at the nation's credit unions. In addition, credit unions expanded their share of the mortgage market. Some of the financial institutions reported record activity.

New Business Improves
New mortgage business improved this week, with refinances leading the way. The only category to see a decline was the jumbo loan category, and that appears to be the result of a wider jumbo-conforming spread.

Mortgage Market Index 192 for week ended Feb. 22

Ocwen Unloads Nonperforming Loans
A pool of non-performing loans with an aggregate principal balance in excess of $100 million has been sold by Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC.

Rural Refi Program Waives Appraisal Fee, VOEs
A pilot program from the government cuts the cost of refinancing some rural properties and eliminates some of the verifications normally associated with refinance transactions.

Origination Forecast Cut
A reduction in expected residential loan production by all U.S. lenders was driven by a more dismal outlook for refinances.

30-Year Mortgage Up But Could Ease
Long-term fixed rates rose this week but could retreat by the time next week's report is released. Short-term fixed rates and hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages didn't move, while the one-year ARM was higher.

Servicers Ahead of Schedule on Settlement
The first report card is in for the multi-state mortgage servicer settlement, and the results are ahead of schedule.

Mortgage Loan Performance Improves Again
Fewer home loans were past-due during the fourth quarter, and the improvement hit most states. It was the second consecutive decline in the rate of late payments. Performance improved more on prime mortgages than on subprime loans. There was nearly a thousand-basis-point spread between the delinquency rate in the best and worst states.

BofA Touts Settlement Progress
While Bank of America Corp.'s share of the multi-state servicer settlement was less than $12 billion, its borrowers have seen nearly $30 billion in relief so far.

Servicer Adding Hundreds of Jobs
As residential loan performance slowly improves, staffing needs for distressed mortgage servicing are quickly fading. But some servicers are still adding employees.

Firms Collaborate to Offer Several New Default Services
Prompted by annual conventions for the mortgage servicing industry, a number of default servicing offerings were unveiled this week by companies that cater to the sector. Several of the new products are the result of collaboration between providers.

Jobs Coming Back to Former Center of Subprime Mortgage Universe
Orange County, which at one time was the center of the subprime mortgage universe, lost thousands of jobs when the subprime industry collapsed. But the job market in the pricey California county is making a comeback -- though not necessarily the mortgage job market.

Security Hole in Mortgage Phone Calls
A security gap in the way mortgage companies communicate by telephone with current and prospective borrowers leaves consumers vulnerable to mortgage fraud and identity theft. But steps can be taken to prevent malice by dubious callers.

Countrywide Wins Appeal Against Former Executive
A multi-million dollar judgment against Countrywide Financial Corp. in favor of a former executive who claims he was wrongfully terminated after the company was sold to Bank of America Corp. has been reversed on appeal.

Refinance Metrics Strengthen
The turnaround time on refinance transactions sped up last month, while refinance closing rates increased and refinance share climbed to the highest level since at least 2011. But the closing rate on purchase financing diminished, while government-insured share fell to the lowest level in at least a year and a half.

Record Production at Bank of Oklahoma
When it comes to home-loan production, BOK Financial Corp. closed more loans in the fourth quarter than during any other three-month period in its history.

Business Nearly Doubles at Fremont Bank
Annual home-loan production at Fremont Bank nearly doubled compared to 2011. The bank also expanded its mortgage staffing, though its mortgage servicing portfolio contracted.

Serious Delinquency Reverses Rising Trend
Following three consecutive months of deterioration, serious delinquency on residential first mortgages retreated last month. Junior lien performance, meanwhile, was stable.

Hundreds More Being Laid Off by Homeward
In addition to notifying hundreds of employees in Florida that they will be terminated, Homeward Residential Inc. has advised hundreds of Texas employees that they will suffer the same fate.

Sharp Rise in Monthly HARP Activity
The latest reading on refinances closed through the Home Affordable Refinance Program indicates a 42 percent month-over-month jump in activity -- with the Golden State seeing the most activity. Nearly 10 percent of all loans refinanced through the government program have been non-owner occupied, while the investor share jumps on mortgages with loan-to-value ratios above 125 percent.

Walter Investment to Acquire Third-Party Lending Businesses
Walter Investment Management Corp., which has been busy negotiating and completing the acquisition of companies, operating platforms and servicing portfolios, is now acquiring a wholesale and correspondent mortgage lending business.

Mortgage Merger Wagon Keeps Rolling
Several mortgage mergers and acquisitions have been recently completed, while a number of agreements have been reached for upcoming acquisitions. A variety of companies involved include commercial, nonprime and reverse mortgage firms.

Mortgage Firms Wade Through Corporate Bankruptcies
Activity continues in the corporate bankruptcy cases of some of the nation's former mortgage players. Several recent rulings involve payments to law firms.

Freddie Updates Distressed Loan Requirements
Updates to Freddie Mac's guidelines for handling distressed loans impact foreclosures, loan modifications and short sales.

Big Losses from Small Bank's Failure
The failure of a small bank in Illinois is expected to generate significant losses. Other recent mortgage-related casualties include the demise of a financial institution in Virginia and the liquidation of a former subprime mortgage lender.

LPS Avoids Criminal Prosecution
Lender Processing Services Inc. has agreed to a settlement that will enable it to avoid federal criminal prosecution. The agreement will cost it far less than a recent settlement with state attorneys general.

Florida Firm Launches Correspondent Division
A Florida lender that was recently acquired reached a production milestone last year, opened a correspondent division and has expanded its staff.

ClearPoint Capital to Be Acquired
A deal has been reached for the mortgage lending business of a investment banking firm to be acquired by a fast-growing mortgage company.

Jumbo Activity Picks Up as Spread Narrows
Dragged down by receding refinances, overall mortgage activity declined this week. But jumbo activity rose for the third consecutive week as the premium for a jumbo mortgage fell for the fifth consecutive week.

Mortgage Market Index 181 for week ended Feb. 15

WaMu Lawsuit Details Deteriorating Controls
Evidence filed as part of a federal lawsuit indicates that executives at Washington Mutual pressured employees in risk management and quality control as they sought to increase the share of higher-margin, high-risk lending in the origination business. A key turning point for the company was in 2005, when the chief risk officer departed and a new chief operating officer came on board.

Rates Frozen and Unlikely to Thaw
Fixed mortgage rates haven't budged over the past week, and the short-term outlook is for more of the same. But the long-term outlook is for rates to climb.

MetLife Completes Exit from Banking
A technology company that claims to touch one-in-five home loans originated in the country has announced that it now has a new Ivy League president.

New President at Ellie Mae
A technology company that claims to touch one-in-five home loans originated in the country has announced that it now has a new Ivy League president.

photo of Jonathan Corr

2 Years of Origination Declines Predicted
The latest mortgage finance outlook projects that this year's residential loan originations will retreat from 2012 then decline even further in 2014. However, a spike in purchase financing is expected in the second quarter of next year.

HUD Chief Warns of Consequences from Spending Cuts
Government spending cuts that could automatically go into effect next month if Congress fails to reach a budget deal could result in more foreclosures, riskier lending and employee cutbacks at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to the head of the agency.

U.S. Foreclosures Fall, But Not Florida's
Florida defied national activity last month with its foreclosure metrics taking a turn for the worse. National numbers were better, but the improvement was attributed to a new California law that is slowing down the foreclosure process.

150,864 properties face foreclosure filing in January

Over 200 Layoffs From Company Closing
Edwards Jones Mortgage LLC is closing down, and more than 200 employees are impacted.

Wells CFO Sees Declining Originations Continuing
New mortgage business has started to decline at Wells Fargo & Co., and the company's chief financial officer projects that the decline will continue. But the company is committed to home lending and still sees much opportunity.

CFPB to Help Mortgage Industry With Implementation of Rules
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has pledged to work with the mortgage industry to ensure compliance with a barrage of regulations that are slated to go into effect next year. Special steps are being taken to help small businesses that don't have the resources of their larger rivals.

Republicans Grill FHA Commissioner
The head of the Federal Housing Administration came under fire by House Republicans about the agency's financial standing. But the commissioner defended FHA and its mission, as did Democrats.

Appraisal Services Enhanced
Appraisal service providers continue to launch new and upgraded products and services with federal regulatory compliance in mind. One firm's approach is to commend good appraisers, while other companies have released new or upgraded products and services aimed at an efficient, reliable valuation process.

President Calls for Passage of Refi Legislation
President Barack H. Obama acknowledged that regulations are restraining mortgage originations. He called on legislators to pass legislation that will give all "responsible" borrowers a chance to refinance.

Comments made in state of the union address

Homeward Residential Layoffs Follow Ocwen Acquisition
Ocwen Financial Corp. has a history of acquiring mortgage servicing businesses and subsequently slashing headcount, and its acquisition of Homeward Residential Holdings Inc. is no exception.

Monthly Ginnie Issuance Off
Issuers of Government National Mortgage Association mortgage-backed securities generated less activity in January. The decline hit both multifamily and residential business, though jumbo and reverse mortgage issuances moved higher.

Foreclosures, Serious Delinquency Down in 2012
Last year was a good year for mortgage servicers. Serious delinquency declined, fewer foreclosures were filed, and repossessions retreated.

FHA Revises Serious Delinquency
A revision by the Federal Housing Administration to its reported level of serious delinquency means that the level of past-due payments declined less last year than originally reported.

QM, QRM to Have Huge Impact on Originations
A new report indicates that just half of loans currently being originated would meet eligibility requirements of the Qualified Mortgage rule's safe harbor, while the share drops even more when factoring in Qualified Residential Mortgage risk-retention requirements. Mortgages used to finance home purchases are more severely impacted than are refinances -- suggesting an even bigger hit as refinances retreat.

Delinquency Decline to Slow Due to Foreclosures
Delinquency on home loans improved for the fourth consecutive quarter and is expected to fall again. A more robust recovery, however, is being muted by the foreclosure process -- which exceeds two years in some states.

Mass. AG Expected to Call for Ouster of FHFA Chief
The attorney general for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is calling for the ouster of the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency who, she says, is personally responsible for holding up a real estate recovery in her state.

Massive MSR Sales Prompt Servicer Warnings
Following a string of super-sized sales of mortgage servicing portfolios, home-loan servicers are being warned about their legal obligations in a transfer of servicing.

Servicers Lift Loan Modification Volume
Including government-funded loan modifications and modifications completed through proprietary programs, mortgage servicers boosted the volume of quarterly activity. But annual activity was lower thanks to plunging government activity.

Improvement in CMBS Delinquency Driven by Hotel, Multifamily
Thanks to strong performance on apartment and hotel loans, overall delinquency on securitized commercial real estate loans was lower in January. It was a different story, however, for loans secured by retail and industrial properties. The state with the most bank failures last year is turning out to be a problem spot for CRE loans.

Final Rule on Disparate Impact Issued
Despite industry opposition, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued a final rule that can find mortgage lenders guilty of discrimination even if there was no intent to discriminate.

Several Repurchase Lawsuits Resolved
Several cases involving alleged breaches of representations and warranties have apparently been resolved through settlements or final judgments -- though litigation continues in plenty of other repurchase cases.

HAMP Activity Continues
More borrowers had an active government-supported loan modification in placed during the final month of last year, though the monthly gains have been diminishing. Activity might have been more robust if it weren't for several consecutive months of declines at one of the country's biggest mortgage lenders.

Active modifications up 5,635 in December

FHA Originations Up, Delinquency Down in 2012
Last month saw a decline in Federal Housing Administration loan originations. But volume climbed 17 percent for the year, while the rate of seriously delinquent residential loans declined by nearly a hundred basis points.

FHA Business Leads Overall Mortgage Activity Up
New government-insured activity led a resurgence in overall mortgage business this week. Jumbo activity lagged other categories even though the spread between conforming and jumbo mortgages has narrowed considerably.

Mortgage Market Index 206 for week ended Feb. 8

MGIC Solidly Starts Off 2013
During the first month of the new year, MGIC Guaranty Insurance Corp. maintained a brisk pace of new business and pulled delinquency lower. The performance looked even better when compared to the same month last year.

15-Year Mortgage, ARMs Fall as 30-Year Rate Unchanged
Mortgage rates didn't rise this past week, with 15-year and adjustable rates actually losing altitude. The benefit of taking a shorter-term loan increased this week, while jumbo pricing improved compared to its conforming counterpart.

Healthy Outlook for CMBS Issuance
Despite the challenges that lay ahead for issuers of commercial mortgage-backed securities, the volume of securitizations is expected to increase.

Guaranteed Rate's Business More Than Doubles
It was a banner year for Guaranteed Rate Inc., where residential loan originations more than doubled from 2011. The company has maintained a brisk pace of hirings.

Mortgage Production Nearly Doubles at Navy FCU
Annual mortgage production at Navy Federal Credit Union nearly doubled last year. Quarterly home-loan originations were also strong.

Strong Growth Continues at PennyMac
Correspondent lending activity at PennyMac Mortgage Investment Trust continued to surge, and the outlook is for further growth. While retail originations account for just a small fraction of overall activity, annual volume from the channel more than tripled. A new PennyMac holding company has been formed with plans to generate nearly $300 million from a public offering.

PHH Production Weak
Quarterly mortgage originations at PHH Mortgage moved little from the prior period, were slower compared to a year earlier and could weaken further. Delinquency was mixed.

Rapid Servicing Growth at Nationstar Prompts Cautious Outlook
Phenomenal growth in the size of Nationstar Mortgage Holdings Inc.'s mortgage servicing portfolio has led to a lower outlook for its mortgage servicer ratings.

HUD Extracts Another Maternity Settlement
An investigation started three years ago into allegations of discrimination by lenders who were underwriting applications for women on maternity leave had already yielded the Department of Housing and Urban Development six settlements. No. 7 was announced Wednesday.

Lenders Lose in Rescission Appeal
Despite compelling arguments from mortgage industry trade groups, an appeals court ruled against a mortgage lender in a case involving a rescission that was executed more than two years after the loan closed. The borrowers had the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in their corner.

Flagstar to Appeal Repurchase Judgment
A federal judge has ruled against Flagstar Bancorp Inc. in a lawsuit involving repurchase demands on nearly $1 billion in insured loans included in residential mortgage-backed securities. The bank has vowed to appeal the judgment.

Details Emerge in U.S. v S&P
The government's lawsuit against ratings agency Standard & Poor's paints a picture of company executives who misled investors about the quality of subprime mortgage securitizations and deceived the public about the securities' performance in order to maintain market share and profits.

Denied Loan Modifications Lead to Litigation
Several lawsuits filed by distressed borrowers alleged that mortgage servicers misled them about the loan modification process. Some borrowers claim they were wrongfully denied a modification, while others say they were victims of dual tracking.

CFPB Director Asserts His Standing
A recent ruling by a federal appeals court invalidating recess appointments made by President Obama has no impact on the president's appointment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's director, according to the director, himself.

Mortgage Compliance Changes and Challenges
There is no shortage of comments on the wave of mortgage regulations emanating from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other government agencies. Recently issued rules, as well as upcoming regulations, are rippling throughout the mortgage community -- and some could have potentially ugly consequences for consumers and for the industry itself.

Ally Mortgage Originations Sink, Could Fall Further
Annual home-loan originations were down by more than 40 percent last year at Ally Financial Inc., and business is expected to slow even more. The company has had strong interest in the potential sale of mortgage servicing rights.

Bankruptcy Filings Tick Up
While consumer bankruptcies have slowed over the past year, they picked up over the last month. The outlook, however, is for fewer bankruptcy filings this year.

CRE Market Conditions Improve
While demand for some types of residential lending has strengthened, other products have seen lighter demand. This year's outlook for residential loan performance is weaker for home-equity products than traditional mortgages. Market conditions on the commercial mortgage side have improved.

S&P Sued by U.S. Over Ratings on Mortgage Securities
The federal government has filed a lawsuit against one of the three major ratings agencies over the high ratings assigned to mortgage securities before the financial crisis exploded. Various other actions by the states are also moving forward.

Biggest CRE Loan Servicers
The latest ranking of the largest commercial real estate servicing portfolios is out, and an overall winner has been named. Also out is a list of the biggest servicers by category.

CRE Originations Reach Post-Crisis High
The origination of commercial real estate loans during the last three months of 2012 was the highest it's been in five years. A surge from the third quarter was noted for conduit originators and originators of hotel loans. Improved market conditions reportedly have the atmosphere at a CRE convention this week buzzing.

Non-Cashout Share Near Record High
New data indicates that a large share of borrowers who are refinancing their mortgages are staying away from cashout. The report also indicates that borrowers are reducing their interest rates at a pace not seen in nearly three decades.

MTA Rises
It was less than a basis point, but it was still an increase last month for the Monthly Treasury Average. The index has risen each of the last six months.

Mortgage Compliance Solutions
Mortgage professionals scrambling to stay abreast of existing and upcoming rules and regulations can turn to several service providers offering solutions aimed at maintaining compliance throughout the lending process. While a few providers are unveiling new offerings, several highlighted how existing products and services can help keep clients compliant.

MSR Purchases Boost Nationstar's Standing
With its latest acquisition of mortgage servicing rights, Nationstar Mortgage Holdings Inc. becomes the country's fifth-biggest mortgage servicer -- though that standing is likely to change with an upcoming acquisition by a rival servicer and additional planned MSR purchases by Nationstar. It's the third time that Nationstar has recently done an MSR deal with Bank of America Corp.'s banking subsidiary.

HECM Originations Increase
Reverse mortgage lenders lifted their government production during January to the highest level in a year. Last month's biggest producer is in the process of being acquired.

Agency MBS Issuance Up in January
After sinking in December, issuance of agency mortgage-backed securities made a partial recovery last month. The best performance was given by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., while monthly issuance declined at the Government National Mortgage Association.

Delinquency on Apartment Loans Leads Overall CMBS Rate Lower
A healthy improvement in the performance of securitized commercial real estate loans backed by apartment buildings helped the overall delinquency rate ease. Performance on retail property loans suffered a setback.

MGIC Releases Streamlined Program
A new program at Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corp. promises to automate the mortgage insurance process on agency mortgages.

Walter Now a Player
With its acquisition of an origination platform and agency mortgage servicing rights complete, Walter Investment Management Corp. is now a top-10 mortgage servicer with a platform from which it can become an origination player.

ARMs, Jumbos Defy Weekly Decline in Refinances
As rates inched up again, refinances slowed and a bigger share of prospective borrowers opted to lock in on an adjustable-rate mortgage. Also offsetting the weekly downturn in refinances was jumbo activity.

Mortgage Market Index 169 for week ended Feb. 1

Fannie Business at 9-Year High
It has been nearly a decade since annual secondary marketing activity at the Federal National Mortgage Association has been this strong. On a monthly basis, however, business sank. Home-loan delinquency remains at the lowest level in nearly four years.

Mortgage Jobs Contract
The mortgage industry lost more than 16,000 jobs during the final month of last year as mortgage servicers required fewer employees to handle distressed loans. Staffing expanded, however, from the end of 2011 thanks to growth in broker jobs.

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