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March 2012 Archive


Anger Grows Over FHFA Chief
California's attorney general is calling for the ouster of the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Another California Democrat calls him a "random idiot."

Business Slips Despite Rate Improvement
Fewer mortgage pricing inquiries were made this week even though interest rates fell. But jumbo business was better, and refinances held steady.
Mortgage Market Index 215 for the week ended March 30

Private Mortgage Insurers See Improved Business
The nation's mortgage insurers managed to increase new business and reduce defaults, though the runoff in their portfolios continued.

Lender Projects More than $1 Billion in HARP 2.0 Production
A mortgage lender operating in the Southeast has high expectations for the Home Affordable Refinance Program.

PennyMac's Servicing Ability Assessed
PennyMac Loan Services' mortgage servicing portfolio is nearing $10 billion. Its ability to handle collections is better than average, while its handling of distressed loans is on par with its peers. But there is some concern about its servicing stability due to its ownership structure and tenure in the industry.

Falling Rates Could Keep Slipping
The 30-year mortgage turned lower and once again fell below 4 percent. All indications are that the 30 year could be even lower in the next report.

Government Struggling With Housing Finance
The two government entities that oversee most of the nation's residential mortgage transactions face ongoing hurdles, according to a pair of government reports. Among the issues outlined are uncertainty about the future of the government sponsored enterprises, poor management of a technology infrastructure overhaul and inadequate management of risk.

Shifting Payment Priorities Promising
A trend that started four years ago of borrowers giving more priority to credit card payments than home loan payments is continuing to abate.

LOS Integrates FHA Scorecards
Automated underwriting for government-insured mortgages has been integrated into a popular loan origination system.

90-Day Delinquency Deteriorates, Foreclosures Fall
The proportion of home loans that were seriously past due took a turn for the worse on a month-over-month basis. But mortgage servicers completed fewer foreclosures.

Big Bump in Outlook for 2012 Loan Production
A 15 percent improvement in projected purchase production and 5 percent rise in refinance originations has the forecast for this year's overall residential loan originations $100 billion higher that was estimated just last month.

Foreclosure Schemes Keep Courts Busy
The foreclosure crisis spawned a shadow industry of foreclosure-rescue firms that collected huge fees and provided little if any help to distressed borrowers -- many who lost their homes anyway. While much of the activity has been stomped out by state attorneys general, courtrooms are still filled with civil and criminal cases against many of the players. One recent case involves a counselor with a gambling problem, while another had a pastor luring his parishioners.

Foreclosure Rescues and Mortgage Fraud
It's a scenario that happens again and again. Delinquent borrowers are convinced by a foreclosure-rescue company to hand over the titles to their properties, and they can remain as tenants until their financial situations improve -- at which point they can buy back their homes. Instead, however, the operators use mortgage fraud to extract any remaining equity, and the borrowers are eventually evicted anyway.

Foreclosure Attorneys Defending Themselves
Many licensed attorneys are caught up in civil and criminal legal actions accusing them of providing faulty foreclosure services or deceiving delinquent borrowers. In most of the cases, it is the government that is filing the litigation.

Investor Actions Continue, But Settlements Retreat
Plenty of shareholder and investor lawsuits continue to wind their way through the legal system. But the pace of settlements in securities class actions has slowed considerably, according to a university report.

Banks Raise Mortgage Investments, Balloon Share & LTVs
A new report indicates that U.S. financial institutions are diverting mortgage originations from private conduits to their own portfolios. The report also found that the company that acquired the biggest share of banks' third-party business last year wasn't even among the five-biggest players two years ago. Meanwhile, balloon originations and loan-to-value ratios are increasing.

CFPB Files Friend of Court Brief in TILA Case
The nation's regulator of consumer financial products has indicated in an appeals court filing that borrowers should be able to maintain their ability to sue a lender beyond three years in cases where required disclosures weren't provided as long as a notice of rescission was given to the lender within three years.

Freddie Lifts New Business Again as Delinquency Dips
For two months running now, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. has seen increased secondary market activity. In addition, the government-controlled enterprise ended a string of monthly increases in late payments on its home loans.

Wells Disputes Need for SEC Subpoena
The Securities and Exchange Commission has accused Wells Fargo & Co. of withholding documents requested in its investigation of nearly $60 billion in residential mortgage-backed securities.

Firm Hit With Lawsuits, Penalties and FHA Termination
Following a class action filed by former production workers, an overtime lawsuit filed by former originators and a civil money penalty in excess of $100,000 -- a Texas-based lender has now lost its approval to close Federal Housing Administration loans and been hit with an even bigger penalty.

FHFA Loses Big Michigan Fee Case
A decision last week from a federal judge in Michigan could have huge implications for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. and mortgage servicers.

FHA Purchase Activity Tumbles, Delinquency Improves
Government-insured mortgages originated to finance home purchases sank last month, bringing down overall volume. But reverse mortgage volume managed a gain. For the first time in a year and a half, the number of government-insured mortgages outstanding was lower, while delinquency improved for the first time in nearly a year.

Distressed Servicer Adds 300 Employees, New COO
A new chief of operations has been named to a growing special servicer that has added nearly 300 employees in just the past month.

HMBS Issuance Up at Ginnie Despite Overall Decline
Monthly loan securitizations were lower at the Government National Mortgage Association. One bright spot, however, was reverse mortgage activity. Commercial mortgage issuance was unchanged.

Seattle Bank Returns from the Brink
Nearly three years ago, HomeStreet Bank's board of directors lived in constant fear of failing.

Difficult Market Drives CA Appraisers Out of Industry
The number of real estate appraisers in California has fallen by nearly half since the peak of the housing market, according to attendees at an Appraisal Institute conference.

Texas Thrift Thrives as Others Fail
Colonial Savings is a Texas thrift that has survived two economic calamities that took down many of its rivals.

Another Georgia Bank Goes Down
Including one of two bank failures last week, more than a quarter of all federally insured banks to fail this year have been in Georgia. In all, four financial institutions were closed down last week. Meanwhile, a third-party lender has re-entered a market that it recently exited.

Weekly FHA, Home Purchase Business Jumps
With home-purchase financing and government mortgage inquiries leading the way, new mortgage activity increased this week. The rise came despite worsening rates as prospective borrowers apparently rushed to lock in interest rates before they rose even further. But Treasury market activity indicates that there might be some rate relief in the next report.

Mortgage Market Index 220 for the week ended March 23

Credit Unions Claim Growing Share of Mortgage Market
During the past four years, the share of first mortgages originated by credit unions has more than doubled, according to new data.

BofA Tests Deed-in-Lieu Rentals
A new program being tested by Bank of America Home Loans on a limited number of delinquent mortgages would enable borrowers to hand over the titles to their properties but stay on as renters. The program could be expanded if it proves successful.

OIG Report Criticizes GSE Conference Spending
The inspector general of the agency that regulates the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. has issued a report that calls into question around $300,000 that the two housing finance giants spent for a recent convention.

Alt-A, Jumbo RMBS Performance Improves
The quarterly performance of Alt-A and jumbo loans that are included in residential mortgage-backed securities improved. But foreclosure timelines are expected to deteriorate, with turnaround in judicial states more than double the time frames in their non-judicial counterparts. One mortgage servicer was cited for its deteriorating performance that is the result of a recent acquisition.

Rates Might Retreat
Rates surged this past week on good economic news. But activity in the Treasury market suggests they might be lower in the next report.

Business Declines at Fremont
Residential loan originations were down 13 percent last year at Fremont Bank. But that didn't stop the firm from nearly tripling its earnings.

New Lender Looking to Grow as Large as Quicken Loans
A new player in the online home lending market told investors that it hopes to originate as much in residential loans as Quicken Loans Inc.

LOS Enhancements Benefit Traditional, CRE & Reverse Originators
Recent enhancements to loan origination systems include features that help simplify loan origination commission calculations, avoid fallout from cyber-criminals and comply with agency lending requirements as well as other mortgage regulations. Among several mortgage firms to implement new LOS technology were a third-party lender, a commercial real estate lender and a reverse mortgage lender.

OIG Says Oversight of Fannie Underwriting Standards Inadequate
The regulator of the Federal National Mortgage Association has done too little to ensure that underwriting standards at the government-controlled enterprise are sufficient, according to a new report. But actions are underway to address the concerns.

Mortgage Fees Litigated, Legislated & Regulated
Several lawsuits in various states have been filed by counties that seek to recover lost fees on documents that were never recorded, and some have been certified as class actions. One state and a federal regulator have banned private transfer fees. Borrowers, meanwhile, have been suing lenders over allegedly charging illegal fees.

Shadow Inventory Far Less than Previously Forecasted
A projection last year suggested that 2 million negative-equity mortgages were likely to flood the shadow inventory. Fast forward a year and the inventory has fallen by around 200,000 units, while the time needed to clear out the properties has declined by three months.

Big Improvement in Monthly Loan Performance
The share of residential mortgages with past-due payments tumbled more than 40 basis points last month. While the foreclosure rate was lower, it was newly delinquent home loans that had the biggest impact on the overall performance.

WaMu Returns From the Dead
In 2006, Washington Mutual Inc. was the third-biggest home-loan lender in the country, originating $191 billion in residential mortgages. By the following year, its ranking fell to No. 6 as the company's condition quickly deteriorated.

CMBS Lates Lower Again, But Might Surge
The balance of past-due outstanding loans included in commercial mortgage-backed securities fell for the fourth month in a row, while the rate of delinquency sits at the lowest level since 2010. But concerns about market conditions could push the rate up 100 basis points. Industrial property loans were the worst performers.

New Radian Unit Approved by GSE
A subsidiary of Radian Group Inc. that was recently created to enable the mortgage insurer to operate in states that won't provide a waiver to its capital ratio has been approved by the Federal National Mortgage Association.

CFO's Guilty Plea is 8th Taylor Bean Conviction
The former chief financial officer of Taylor Bean and Whitaker Mortgage Corp. has admitted his role in a fraudulent scheme that brought down the former subprime lender and its bank.

Branch Business Reports Strong Growth
A mortgage branch operator launched just last year is hiring employees, recruiting new branches and expanding its operations center.

Serious Delinquency Less Serious
The rate of serious delinquency on first mortgages was down for the second month in a row, while past-due payments on second mortgages fell to the lowest level in at least three years.

8 More Servicers Face Sanctions, Fines
Last month's $25 billion mortgage servicer settlement included Federal Reserve Board orders for $767 million in monetary sanctions. The orders were the result of unsafe and unsound processes and practices in residential mortgage loan servicing and processing.

CRE Loan Prices Increase
New data indicate that the price of commercial mortgage trades rose in January. Recent secondary transactions in the commercial mortgage sector include a government portfolio, performing loans and non-performing assets.

Interest Seen in Agency Servicing
Several recent sales of mortgage servicing rights involved agency mortgages. But non-agency servicing portfolios are also seeing plenty of action.

The Secondary Monitor
Residential loan portfolios that recently traded hands include performing, non-performing and real-estate-owned assets. Second-lien and securitized loans were also among the trades. Some of the assets will be turned into rental properties.

HUD Updates Requirements for Tenants in Foreclosed Properties
New requirements for tenants who live in foreclosed properties that were financed with government-insured loans go into effect in three months.

Default Risk Retreats
It's been several years since the risk of default on home loans has been as low as it is now. In addition, conditions are ripe for further improvement.

Refinance Forecast Raised by Nearly $100 Billion
The latest housing forecast has mortgage originations coming in 8 percent higher than was predicted just last month thanks to a nearly $100 billion boost to expected refinance activity. But the outlook for purchase production deteriorated.

U.S. Nets Tidy Profit from MBS Investments
More than $200 billion in agency mortgage-backed securities acquired by the U.S. government at the height of the financial crisis has netted taxpayers a more than 10 percent return.

CitiMortgage Chief Leads Lender Through Darkest Days
CitiMortgage Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer Sanjiv Das took over the Citigroup Inc. unit in 2008 just before the financial crisis peaked. He came from Morgan Stanley, though he previously spent eight years during the prior decade at Citi.

Courts Decide Disputed Loan Titles
Lost notes have created problems for several mortgage firms that have been trying to foreclose. Courts around the country have been ruling in favor of mortgage lenders in cases involving the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. -- especially in Oregon. Other lawsuits involving disputed title have emerged from criminal actions tied to mortgage fraud and fraudulent or botched lien releases.

Home Purchase Financing Jumps
Although refinance activity dragged down overall loan inquiries this past week, more people inquired about loans to finance home purchases. Also higher were government-insured mortgage inquiries.

Home Purchase Financing Jumps

Q2 Origination Outlook Upped
Mortgage bankers raised their expectations for second-quarter originations as the outlook for refinances was boosted by nearly a quarter. But the projection might be trimmed in the next forecast given a recent surge in rates.

Rapidly Growing Lender Defaults
A firm that just last year announced plans to grow from a 12-state lender to a national operator has defaulted on its warehouse lines of credit.

Mortgage Service Provider Hiring Hundreds in PA
Heightened mortgage lending regulations and record-low interest rates have prompted the need for more employees at a mortgage service provider.

Rising Rates Likely to Increase Again
Mortgage rates increased this week, and it looks like an even bigger leap is in store for next week's report. The good news is that the economy is improving.

Former AG Joins Compliance Firm
A former state attorney general has been recruited by a mortgage compliance firm based in the nation's capitol. It's the second recent high-profile addition for the company.

Best Servicers of 2011
Among the Federal National Mortgage Association's 11 biggest mortgage servicers, five have been identified as better than their peers.

Florida Has Worst Rate of Serious Delinquency, Foreclosures
Only two major metropolitan areas have a foreclosure rate in the double digits -- and both are in Florida. The serious delinquency rate and foreclosure rate was worse in the Sunshine State than any of its counterparts.

Florida Foreclosures Deteriorate Despite U.S. Improvement
While new foreclosure filings and completed foreclosures were lower for the nation as a whole last month, Florida saw significant deterioration. The Sunshine State had more foreclosures completed than any other state.

206,900 U.S. properties faced a filing during February

Fannie Revises Guidelines on Forced-Placed Insurance
New guidelines on lender-placed insurance have been issued for servicers approved by the Federal National Mortgage Association.

Lenders One CEO Departs
The chief executive officer of Lenders One Mortgage Cooperative has left. His replacement spent time at CitiMortgage Inc. and two other firms that are no longer originating new business.

Wave of Whistleblower Actions Ahead for Mortgage Firms
A trio of recent multi-million dollar awards to whistleblowers -- including a borrower, two mortgage brokers and a mortgage executive -- combined with attorneys who have exhausted whistleblower cases in another industry could mean that an onslaught of such cases against mortgage firms is on the way. But there are steps that companies can take to minimize the fallout from potential false claims cases.

BofA Passes Stress Tests as Citi Fails
The Federal Reserve Tuesday released the results of its stress tests on 19 of the nation's biggest banks. The tests examined how the banks would fare if unemployment shot up to 13 percent, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted by half and home prices sank 21 percent.

HUD OIG Reports Paint Ugly Picture of Servicers
Reports released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development's inspector general in conjunction with the servicer settlement paint an ugly picture of mortgage servicers' actions before and during the investigation. The reports detail accounts of turbo-charged robo-signing, hindering of the investigation and complacent executives.

SEC Sues Former Execs of Failed Jumbo Lender
Former senior executives of Thornburg Mortgage Inc. have been sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission over allegations they covered up pending margin calls and hid losses as the company was on the brink of failure. But the defendants say they did nothing wrong and that the lawsuit twists the chain of events and statements they made.

FHA Short Refis Enhanced
A Federal Housing Administration refinance program for negative-equity borrowers has been extended. In addition, several enhancements include the ability for delinquent borrowers to qualify, more flexible debt-to-income ratios and second-lien payoffs.

PHH Mortgage President Departs
PHH Mortgage, which ranked as last year's sixth-biggest mortgage lender, has lost its top executive. It's the third senior executive to recently depart PHH.

HECM Closings Increase
Monthly originations for federally insured reverse mortgages improved in both the retail and wholesale channels, though the wholesale sector continues to struggle with year-over-year declines. The biggest reverse mortgage lender closed more than twice as many loans as the next-biggest player.

Improvement in Subprime Performance Evaporating
Following three years of improvement, performance on subprime residential mortgage-backed securities has begun to wane. Behind the deterioration are changes in the makeup of the collateral, declining home prices and diminishing credit enhancement.

Servicer Settlement Terms Detailed in Filing
Documents filed in federal court Monday provide more details about the settlement between the five largest servicers and a consortium of state attorneys general.

Missing Broker Disclosures at Issue in LendingTree Settlement
Proceeds from a $3 million LendingTree LLC settlement have started being disbursed. The settlement resolved litigation that alleged the company failed to make the required mortgage broker disclosures on loans in South Carolina.

Private Citizen Reaps $18 Million from Servicer Settlement
As part of the massive mortgage servicer settlement that was filed Monday, a smaller settlement was disclosed that resolves alleged abuse on government-insured mortgages. That agreement was the result of a lawsuit filed by a whistleblower who will see $18 million from the settlement.

Chase Continues Arizona Expansion
Following a recruiting campaign that involved hundreds of Arizona mortgage jobs, JPMorgan Chase & Co. said it is looking to add hundreds more.

Unpaid OT at Issue in Several Mortgage Lender Lawsuits
Several mortgage companies are still battling claims by current and former loan originators and other production employees that they are owed wages for unpaid overtime. Some of the employers aren't even in business anymore. Another case filed by an originator alleges he was forced out of his job because he wouldn't sell toxic mortgages.

Private Money Lender Among Recent Casualties
A private-money lender out of New York has vanished. It was also the end of the line for a Chicago bank and a net branch business in Michigan.

New Business Slows This Week
With adjustable-rate mortgages leading the way, new mortgage inquiries fell this week. Both jumbo loans and 15-year mortgages were more competitive over the past seven days. But rates are likely to be higher in next week's report.

Mortgage Market Index 225 for the week ended March 9

Servicer Settlement Being Filed
The massive $25 billion settlement recently reached between the country's biggest mortgage servicers and state attorneys general was expected to be filed in court as early as Friday.

BofA Discloses Side Deal on Servicer Settlement
As many as 200,000 homeowners with negative equity could benefit from a side deal Bank of America Corp. reached as part of the recently announced mortgage servicer settlement.

BofA CEO Turns Focus to Investors
With less uncertainty lingering now that the mortgage servicer settlement has been reached, the chief executive officer of Bank of America Corp. is forging ahead to improve returns for his shareholders.

FHFA Bows to Pressure on Exec Compensation
The regulator of government-controlled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has softened his stance on executive compensation at the two secondary lenders and agreed to significantly cut the maximum compensation that top management can receive. Meanwhile, the latest request for taxpayer assistance pushes total bailout costs for the pair to nearly $190 billion so far.

Mortgage Jobs Tumble
While U.S. employment posted its third consecutive monthly gain of at least 200,000 jobs, the news wasn't so good for the mortgage industry. Mortgage brokers took the biggest hit.

15-Year Mortgage Shines
In addition to falling to a record-low this week, the 15-year mortgage increased its discount over the 30-year mortgage. The long-term mortgage was also lower this week, as was the hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage -- though rates could be higher in the next report. The one-year ARM, meanwhile, worsened over the past seven days.

Flagstar Recruiting Hundreds for Mortgage Lending
The banking subsidiary of Flagstar Bancorp Inc. has hundreds of job openings in mortgage lending.

Consent Order Action Plans Released
The next step in consent orders issued last year against the country's biggest mortgage servicing firms is being taken by the Federal Reserve Board.

CRE Lenders Land New Leaders
A trio of commercial mortgage lenders, including one that specializes in government lending, has made executive appointments. One of the firms named a new chief executive officer.

Smaller Lenders Recruit from Big Firms
Several executives from the nation's biggest mortgage lenders have found new homes at smaller firms. Some of the new recruits worked at companies that have exited real estate finance or plan to close down.

Nationstar Debuts on NYSE
Shares of Nationstar Mortgage Holdings Inc. have started trading on the New York Stock Exchange, though not at the price the company expected just two weeks ago.

$104 Mil Suit Filed against Failed Bank's Directors, Officers
Immediately after it was ordered by bank regulators to improve lending operations, Broadway Bank approved two of the worst loans it had ever made -- contributing to its 2010 failure. Now former officers and directors of the bank are being sued for more than $100 million in an attempt to recover some of the nearly $0.4 billion in estimated losses.

United Guaranty Reducing M.I. Premiums
Just a day after the Federal Housing Administration announced plans to cut mortgage insurance premiums on refinance transactions, United Guaranty Corp. said it will also cut premiums.

Ocwen Disputes Notion it Can't Service Agency Loans
Ocwen Financial Corp., which is poised to improve its ranking among the biggest U.S. mortgage servicers, says there is no truth to reports that it is unable to service agency mortgages.

Obama Continues Assault on FHFA
The White House continued its assault on the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency -- who refuses to let Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac be used as entitlement tools for upside-down borrowers. The latest attack is on mortgage servicing oversight.

LIBOR Manipulation Could Lead to Overhaul
Concerns that banks in the United Kingdom might have manipulated the London Interbank Offered Rate in order to make themselves appear healthier have U.K. officials taking a closer look at the process involved in calculating the index.

Commercial Mortgage Delinquency Trending Lower
An analysis of commercial real estate loan performance indicates that delinquency finished the year down, with securitized commercial mortgages turning in the biggest decline. The improving trend has continued into the New Year.

Loan Performance Continues Improving at Radian
Delinquency has declined for two consecutive months at Radian Group Inc. While there was no month-over-month change in new polices written, activity more than doubled from the same month last year.

MGIC Performance Improves
As it reduces its inventory of delinquent loans and increases its cures, Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corp. has managed to cut its delinquency rate.

Bankruptcies Climb
Last month saw an increase in bankruptcy filings over January. But a decline was reported from a year earlier.

SunTrust Servicer Rating Lowered
The mortgage servicer rating at SunTrust Mortgage Inc. has been downgraded because of potential liability for large servicers that weren't among the five that already settled.

FHA to Cut MIPs on Streamlined Refis
The Federal Housing Administration said it will reduce mortgage insurance premiums on refinances of seasoned FHA loans and make it easier to qualify. The move contrasts a planned increase on premiums for new FHA borrowers.

Criminal Elements in Real Estate Finance
The latest roundup of mortgage-related crimes includes three bid-rigging cases in California, corporate fraud by senior executives and mortgage fraud. Other cases involve embezzlement and fraudulent reporting on more than $2 billion in subprime residential mortgage-backed securities.

Mortgage Daily Publishes Over 15,000 Pages of News
Mortgage Daily, a leading online news publication for the mortgage industry, announced that it has published more than 15,000 pages of news.

Closings Climb at Cooperative
Lenders One Mortgage Cooperative reported that residential originations reached an all-time high last year. In addition, a record number of new members came on board.

Aurora Agrees to Unload Servicing Assets
Just a week after disclosing plans to end originations, Aurora Bank FSB has agreed to unload servicing assets. The transaction will create the nation's ninth-biggest residential mortgage servicer.

80% of SARs for Fraud from at Least 3 Years Prior
Banks and credit unions filed far fewer reports of suspected mortgage fraud in the latest quarter, though year-over-year activity was up. Four out of five reports filed were on fraud that happened at least three years prior. Repurchase demands are driving a big share of the most recent filing.

Rising Treasury Yield Fails to Stop MTA's Record Run
Despite an uptick in the underlying one-year Treasury note yield, the Monthly Treasury Average managed to set a new record. The index, which is used to determine payment adjustments on some home loans with variable rates, has fallen each month for nearly five years now.

Hotel, Apartment Loans Pull Down CMBS Delinquency
Driven by an improvement in hotel and apartment loans, monthly delinquency on securitized commercial real estate loans took a turn for the better. Performance was impacted by new issuances and ballooning mortgages.

Government Correspondent Lender Emerges
The pool of buyers for closed loans continues to expand, with the latest entrant focusing on government mortgages.

9 Net Branch Casualties Uncovered
A quarter of the nation's bank failures so far this year were institutions located in the state of Georgia. An investigation by Mortgage Daily found that nine net branch operators that had been recruiting during the past three years have virtually disappeared. Meanwhile, the number of correspondent casualties continued to climb.

Refi Plan Going Nowhere Without Congress
A proposed plan to refinance upside-down borrowers into government-insured mortgages is going nowhere without Congressional action, according to the head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Government Lifts HAMP Payment Suspension
After suspending payments to the two biggest producers of federally supported loan modifications, the government said it will release the payments.

Purchase Inquiries Lift Mortgage Business This Week
Helped by a healthy increase in purchase financing, new mortgage inquiries were higher this week. Also lifting business was a surge in jumbo business, though coming off of a holiday week didn't hurt.

Mortgage Market Index 229 for the week ended March 2

Almost a Third of All HAMPs in 5 Cities
Nearly one-third of all government loan modifications are in five metropolitan areas. Monthly U.S. activity sank to the lowest level on record based on the latest data.

Active permanent modifications up 5,934

Quicken Recruiting Over a Thousand
More than a thousand hirings are planned at Quicken Loans Inc., and a majority of those jobs are permanent positions in a variety of departments including technology.

HARP 2.0 Overcomes Growing Negative Equity
The share of U.S. properties that were valued at less than their mortgage balances has grown. But despite deterioration in the collective equity position, the latest incarnation of the government's refinance program has an additional 4 million upside-down borrowers potentially qualifying for the program.

Sharp Decline in Number of Reverse Lenders
The Federal Housing Administration has endorsed more reverse mortgages for two consecutive months so far this year. Meanwhile, the number of firms originating federally insured reverse mortgages has plunged more than 60 percent over the past year.

HUD Tightens Guidelines on Related Party Transactions
Federal Housing Administration loans used to finance home purchases between related parties require reduced loan-to-value ratios. An update to this policy expands the definition of related parties.

Retreating Rates Likely to Rise
Fixed rates dropped this week but look to be headed higher in next week's report. The 15-year mortgage became a less attractive option this week.

FHA Business Growing, But Delinquency Deteriorating
It's been nine months since government mortgage delinquency has improved, and the serious delinquency rate is poised to surge past 10 percent. Monthly government originations, meanwhile, were stronger and look to be headed even higher. Refinance business led the way.

Appraisals Putting Less of a Dent in Home Sales
Many in real estate and home lending say that today's appraisal reports are hurting home sales. But one of the nation's leading economists says that while appraisals had been impeding home sales, that is less the case today.

COFI Rises
It was less than a basis point, but it was still an increase for the Cost of Funds Index. COFI has been a boon for borrowers who rely on the index for rate adjustments to their mortgages.

Freddie Lifts Agency Issuance Higher
Despite declines at its secondary rivals, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. was able to improve its issuance of mortgage-backed securities in February.

Calif Democrats Propose Borrower Bill of Rights
Democrats in California's legislature have proposed what has been dubbed the California Homeowner Bill of Rights.

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