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March 2013 Archive


COFI Increases
After falling to an all-time low in January, the Cost of Funds Index inched higher. A much more popular index for adjustable-rate mortgages also rose but has since fallen.

Former Fannie REO Employee Indicted
A former sales associate working at the Federal National Mortgage Association has been arrested over allegations that he accepted kickbacks from real estate brokers.

Mortgage Insurance Business Slows
The business of insuring residential loans slowed somewhat on a month-over-month basis but has substantially strengthened over the past 12 months. Defaults declined from a month earlier and a year earlier.

New Business Falls Even as 30-Year Holds
A drop in conventional refinances weighed heavily on new mortgage business this week, which slowed despite no increase in long-term mortgage rates. Activity on jumbo loans took a hit as the premium for larger loans deteriorated.

Mortgage Market Index 212 for week ended March 29

Son, Father On Trial in Case of Failed Bank
A Virginia bank loan officer on trial along with his father and other former executives of a failed bank heard witnesses testify in court.

Fixed Rates Creep Up But Could Slip
Fixed mortgage rates inched up this week but could be better in the next report. One adjustable-rate mortgage program diverged from other mortgage rates and moved lower.

BofA Has Worst Mortgage Complaint Record
A database of complaints against mortgage lenders has been made public. Even though Bank of America Corp. is not the biggest mortgage lender or servicer, borrowers have filed more mortgage complaints about the company than any other mortgage firm. The biggest mortgage lender exhibited far more favorable metrics.

Former Wells Mortgage Chief Joins Service Provider's Board
The former head of the biggest residential lender in the country has joined the board of directors of a major mortgage service provider.

Outlook Improves for Refinances
Just a month after the annual forecast for refinance originations was reduced, it was boosted by more than $130 billion. The outlook for purchase financing, however, was lowered.

Fewer Foreclosures Finalized in February
Distressed loans converted to real-estate-owned assets at a slower pace last month, though the volume of homes being foreclosed remains elevated compared to the years before the financial crisis.

2013 Conference Calendar Filling Up
There are no shortage of topics to cover at upcoming mortgage industry events. Among subjects to be discussed are cyber-security, distressed asset management and regulatory compliance. Bankruptcies and reverse mortgages are also on the agenda. Dallas trailed Las Vegas as the most popular host city.

Mortgage Leaders Recruited
Mortgage firms are cultivating new executives at a healthy rate, and the new appointments are in full bloom. Aside from a few high-level departures, a bouquet of newly recruited and promoted leaders are positioned to move the industry forward.

Streamlined Modifications Announced for Seriously Delinquent Borrowers
A new program announced for conventional agency mortgages provides a streamlined loan modification process for seriously delinquent borrowers. Steps are being taken to minimize abuse in the program.

Freddie Delinquency Drops, New Business Slips
New business eased last month at the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. There has been no increase in serious residential delinquency or in multifamily delinquency at the government-sponsored enterprise since at least September of last year.

Force-Placed Proposal Impacts Most Servicers
Guidelines proposed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency would impose new limits on the use of force-placed insurance for conventional agency loans.

Appeals Court Ruling Good for FHA Mortgagees
A decision from a federal appeals means that Federal Housing Administration mortgagees will be hit with less in damages when they submit bad insurance claims to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Servicers Leaving Money on the Table
Mortgage servicers, home lenders and residential loan investors are missing out on income they might otherwise capture when they liquidate real-estate-owned assets.

Delinquency Sees Sustained Improvement
The proportion of residential loans that were considered to be non-current has declined for five consecutive months. The latest month saw improvement in both the past-due rate and the foreclosure pre-sale inventory rate.

Arizona Leads Improvement in Shadow Inventory
The nation's shadow inventory, a measure of potential supply that is not yet counted in the inventory of homes for sale, continued to shrink. One metric that is the main driver of shadow inventory improved most in Arizona.

BofA Closing Servicing Facility
More than a thousand employees work at a mortgage facility in New York that is being closed down by Bank of America Corp. But a deal with another firm means that hundreds of the employees will avoid a pink slip.

LA Real Estate Looks Good
Metrics for the U.S. real estate market were mixed on a monthly basis but greatly improved based on a year-over-year gains. A report that forecasts home-price increases and declines in the hundred-biggest markets indicates that Los Angeles will see the most appreciation. In fact, three of the markets with the best outlooks are in California.

Complaints Amended, Cases Remanded in CA Foreclosures
California foreclosures continue despite the lengthy process in the state's courts -- with a number of cases being sent back to lower courts for further legal proceedings. Several plaintiffs have obtained rulings in cases dealing with questions of oft-amended complaints.

Despite Settlement, Dual Tracking Concerns Continue
Mortgage companies say they are complying with the terms of the $25 billion servicer settlement announced a year ago. Although complaints are only being made by a fraction of delinquent borrowers, ongoing instances of dual tracking remain a concern.

HELOC Lending Returning
The origination of home-equity lines of credit took a hit as a result of the Great Recession. But with home prices on the mend, banks and borrowers see opportunity in reviving HELOC business.

Origination Outlook Increased for Q2, Q3
A healthier outlook for both refinance and purchase originations prompted mortgage bankers to increase their expectations for second- and third-quarter mortgage production. Refinance and purchase trend lines are moving inversely.

Mortgage Litigation Index Off Despite Deterioration in Disputed Foreclosures
The mortgage industry spent less time in court during the final three months of last year as litigation tied to employment and compliance slowed. But above-normal activity is expected to persist in the foreclosure, investor and regulator categories.

 Mortgage Litigation Index 223 in Q4-2012

PNC Promotes Executive to Mortgage CEO
A new executive is in charge of the mortgage business at The PNC Financial Services Group Inc. The newly installed leader takes over a top-15 mortgage lender.

photo of E. Todd Chamberlain

Refi, Conventional Business Soars
Refinance loan prospects rushed to lock in their interest rates this week as 30-year mortgage rates moved 8 basis points lower. The conventional category also contributed to the surge in new activity, as did home purchase financing. Jumbo rates were little different than conforming interest rates this week. Overall business has nearly doubled from 12 months earlier.

Mortgage Market Index 252 for week ended March 22

Biggest Commercial Mortgage Lenders
The biggest U.S. residential lender maintained its grip on the title of biggest commercial mortgage originator last year. A Wall Street investment banker financed more hotel loans than any other company, while the commercial real estate lending arms of The PNC Financial Services Group Inc. and Prudential Financial Inc. were among the biggest originators in several CRE categories.

Florida Town Hopes to Pick Up Hundreds of Jobs
Officials in Seminole County, Fla., are considering a proposal for a developer of mortgage risk analysis software to bring hundreds of jobs to a new center there.

Force Placed Settlement
An insurance company that provides force-placed insurance agreed to pay $14 million to settle charges that it engaged in reverse competition.

Rates Sink On Euro Concerns
A banking crisis in a small European island nation helped lop off nearly 10 basis points from long-term U.S. fixed mortgage rates this week.

Huge Drop in Hotel Delinquency Drags CMBS Rate Lower
A big improvement in hotel loan performance helped pull the rate of past-due payments on securitized commercial real estate loans to the lowest level in nearly three years. Industrial loans, however, saw substantial deterioration.

Distressed Loan Service Provider Casualties Mount
While recent improvement in the performance of residential loans is a boon for mortgage servicers and investors, it has led to demise of another distressed loan service provider.

Report Cites Noncompliance With Freddie Servicing Requirements
A new government report finds that some mortgage servicers are not complying with Freddie Mac requirements. The report criticizes Freddie for lax servicer oversight and faults its regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, for not ensuring that Freddie identifies the problems.

Quicken Projects Top-10 Servicer Status This Year
A deal reached by Quicken Loans Inc. to purchase mortgage servicing rights on agency loans will push its mortgage servicing portfolio past $100 billion and enable it to join the top-10 club.

Why So Many Small Banks Failed
Commercial mortgages played a big role in the failure of small banks during the credit crisis and the years that followed, according to a new government report. But other factors were also at play.

2013 Refi Forecast Pushed Up
The latest expectations for U.S. refinance originations this year were raised by more than $80 billion. But the outlook for purchase production was lowered.

QA Webinar From Fannie
Seller/servicers for the Federal National Mortgage Association can attend a free online webinar about the system that handles quality assurance reviews and resulting repurchase demands.

Originators Improve Closing Rate
Loan originators are finding their groove in today's new environment -- closing a bigger share of applications than during any month since at least 2011. Meanwhile, lenders have loosened their purse strings as refinances represented a smaller share of overall business.

NC Bank Exits Mortgage Business
A small bank in North Carolina has abandoned it home lending business less than a year after launching the operation.

Judgment Against FHFA Reversed on Appeal
A federal appeals court has overturned a lower court decision against the Federal Housing Finance Agency. At issue are loans on properties with special energy loans.

Frustration Grows Over Appraised Values
Real estate agents and home sellers are becoming increasingly frustrated with low appraisal values, while appraisers are tired of being blamed for holding back a more robust housing market recovery and point to market conditions as the culprit.

The FHA Report
Vested parties have recently swarmed interested entities with opinions related to recent Federal Housing Administration activity. FHA policies and updates centered around its financial health and boundaries of its protective borrower reach, while a handful of new private mortgage industry services have been unveiled.

2nd Mortgage Delinquency Inches Up as 1st Mortgage Lates Drop
The rate of serious delinquency on first liens improved again last month, but the story was different for second liens. Among the biggest metropolitan areas in the country, the city with the lowest delinquency rate saw deterioration, while the area with the highest rate improved.

Average LTV Improves 2.3 Percentage Points
The average loan-to-value ratio for all residential mortgages in the country improved by 2.3 percentage points from 2011 to 2012 as hundreds of thousands of financed properties moved out of a negative-equity position. One state has an average LTV of only 50 percent.

New Jersey Serious Delinquency Deteriorates Despite National Improvement
Serious delinquency declined and has not increased since 2011. But loan performance deteriorated in New Jersey -- the state with the second-highest delinquency rate.

United Shore Adding Hundreds of Employees
United Shore Financial Services LLC has already seen a rapid pace of growth, and plans are to continue expanding production and staffing.

Wholesaler Expands
Mortgage brokers in several states will have access to a relatively new wholesale mortgage lender operating from the Midwest. Employees are being recruited to handle the business.

Texas Sees Big Growth In Mortgage Staffing
Elevated refinance originations have prompted some national mortgage lenders to expand their mortgage staffing -- with Texas being a big beneficiary.

Hard Money Lender's President, Husband Arrested
The former president of a California company has been arrested along with her husband over allegations they ripped off investors.

Workshop for State Licensed Lenders
Mortgage firms with state licensing can get help using the national registry to file required forms with their respective states at an event being held next week.

Settlement Reached Over Sale of Distressed Borrower Data
One of the three major credit bureaus has agreed to a settlement over charges it sold data on borrowers who were past due on their home loans. Some of the data was used to generate leads for loan modifications.

Chicago Bank Becomes a Mortgage Player
A Chicago bank has been expanding its mortgage business and is now rivaling national players. The company has been aggressively recruiting new employees to keep pace with the growth.

Refi Business Sinks as Rates Rise
Increasing interest rates are having a negative impact on new mortgage activity, with conventional refinance business taking the biggest hit. Most categories have increased from a year ago -- with jumbo business seeing the biggest gain. The benefit of a shorter term loan improved this week.

Mortgage Market Index 165 for week ended March 15

Distressed Loan Service Provider Suspends Business
A company that was hired by Freddie Mac to collect documents from borrowers applying for loan modifications is throwing in the towel.

15-Year Loans Look Very Attractive
Fifteen-year mortgages became far more competitive this week as fixed rates leapt. Hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages, meanwhile, were the only product to improve over the last seven days. Mortgage rates aren't likely to be much different in the next report.

Senators Propose GSE Law
Legislation introduced in the Senate would prohibit raising guarantee fees charged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to offset government spending. It would also require that the Department of the Treasury to obtain congressional approval before selling its preferred shares of the secondary lenders.

Ocwen Sells MSRs to Related Firm
Ocwen Financial Corp., which has been busy trading portfolios on the secondary market, has reached an agreement to do another trade. The latest transaction involves a related company.

QM Legislation Introduced
Mortgage bankers are throwing their support behind proposed legislation that would modify the definition of a qualified mortgage and open up lending to more prospective borrowers.

HEL Ahead for Discover Home Loans
Discover Financial Services plans to build on its new mortgage platform and begin offering home-equity loans, the company's president told investors this week.

Completed Foreclosures Down, New Filings Up
Completed foreclosures fell to a multiyear low. But total filings turned higher, as did new filings. Florida has emerged as a persistent problem.

February filings climb 2%

Guidance for Advertising Online
Newly issued guidance tackles issues confronting online advertisers. Many of the requirements for online advertising are the same as for offline ads.

Mortgage Insurance Updates and Alliances
The latest influx of mortgage insurance-related activity includes policy updates and extensions, coverage expansion and new business relationships. Also emanating from the industry were new service offerings and even an international mortgage insurance company acquisition.

FHA Lifts New Business
Federal Housing Administration loan production picked up during the first month of 2013. An even bigger improvement was reported compared to a year earlier. Serious residential delinquency ticked up.

Refinances Plummet
Refinance activity sank during the final month of 2012, and the decline was even more steep for transactions processed through the Making Home Affordable program.

Republicans Seek Change in CFPB Leadership Structure
Senate Republicans are using the confirmation process as leverage to seek changes in the way that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is structured.

Ginnie Issuance Creeps Higher
New business inched up last month at the Government National Mortgage Association. Residential activity moved higher, while multifamily business slowed.

Ally Unloading Servicing Portfolio
Ally Bank has reached a deal to unload mortgage servicing rights on more than $100 billion in residential loans. It has also completed the sale of its third-party origination platform.

Mortgage Broker Swallowed by Golf Course
While playing golf on an Illinois golf course, a mortgage broker from Missouri was swallowed up on the 14th hole.

Study Suggests Disparate Impact
Early findings from a study of co-applicants for mortgage loans suggests that approval is more likely when a man is listed as the primary borrower.

CMBS Delinquency Down 9 Consecutive Months
Thanks to strong new issuance and loan modifications on two large loans, the rate of late payments on securitized commercial real estate loans has declined nine months in a row.

FDIC Settlements Stay Under Radar
While the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has extracted scores of settlements from mortgage banking firms and former executives of failed banks, many of the agreements have not been publicly reported.

Credit Reporting Journal
Federal agencies are playing hardball as they work to clean up credit reporting agencies pitching fouls detrimental to consumers. While regulators pinch hit for consumers with recent enforcement activities, policies and findings, a few corporate fielders revealed a few credit report servicing hat tricks of their own.

Bank Failures Slow Dramatically
While another bank has been forced out of business by regulators, the pace of bank failures has slowed considerably from the peak three years ago. Other recent mortgage casualties include a small credit union and an appraisal management company.

U.S. Bank Adding Mortgage Servicing Jobs
More than 300 mortgage servicing positions are being added in Kentucky at U.S. Bank Home Mortgage, and job candidates don't necessarily need to have a background in real estate finance.

HAMP Activity Ticks Up
The number of active loan modifications that were processed for the Home Affordable Modification Program saw a bigger gain in January than a month earlier and a year earlier.

856,154 active permanent modifications in January

HUD Chief Criticizes Accounts of Servicer Settlement
The chief of the Department of Housing and Urban Development has taken to a left-leaning news publication to criticize inaccurate media reports about progress made in the mortgage servicer settlement. He also defended the use of short sales.

M.I. Sector Turns Corner
After years of losses that drained capital levels, the outlook has improved for mortgage insurance companies. Among two firms to recently raise capital from investors was MGIC Investment Corp., which sold more than $1 billion in stock and notes.

New Business, Delinquency Lower at MGIC
MGIC Guaranty Insurance Corp. wrote less new business last month but managed to reduce its delinquency rate for the seventh consecutive month.

New Mortgage Business Drops, Could Fall Further
New mortgage business slowed this past week, with refinance activity suffering the greatest setback. The drop in activity was accompanied by an increase in mortgage rates, and it looks like interest rates will be even higher in the next report.

Mortgage Market Index 219 for week ended March 8

Fewer Mortgage Jobs in January
The bad news is that mortgage employers trimmed their staffing in January. The good news is that an upward revision to December's numbers more than offset January's job losses, while even better news is a big improvement the U.S. job situation.

Mortgage Rates Likely to Rise
Interest rates on home loans were little changed this week, but market data suggests that mortgage rates could jump by the time the next report rolls around.

Slight Rebound in Business at Freddie as Delinquency Drops
After tumbling in December, secondary marketing activity at the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. made up some of the lost ground the following month. Home-loan delinquency, meanwhile, fell to its lowest level in more than three years.

Judge Throws Out Criminal Case Against LPS Agents
Two former title agents for Lenders Processing Services who were accused of running a foreclosure robo-signing scheme have seen criminal charges against them dropped.

Chase Reducing SC Mortgage Staff
After recently laying off hundreds of employees at a mortgage office in South Carolina, JPMorgan Chase & Co. has disclosed a new round of job cuts at the location that involve even more casualties.

Appraisal Policy Updates
The ongoing firestorm of government rules is blurring borders, with federal regulators now aiming their regulatory rifles at the appraisal industry. The policies have prompted detailed comments and discussions. In other appraisal news, the government-sponsored housing enterprises fired off several updates, while another factor in the valuation of hotels has been added.

Nationstar Production Doubles, Projected to Double Again
Nationstar Mortgage Holdings Inc. funded twice as much in mortgage volume last year than it did in 2011, and this year's production is projected to double again. The company's mortgage servicing portfolio is on a similar trajectory. Nationstar now provides appraisal and closing services.

Delinquency Dives at Radian
The past-due share of Radian Guaranty Inc.'s book of business has fallen for 14 consecutive months. New business retreated last month but was still higher on a year-over-year basis.

Fannie Mae's Best Mortgage Servicers
The Federal National Mortgage Association has identified mortgage loan servicers that perform better than their peers. The servicers each fall into one of three categories.

HSBC Selling Over $4 Billion in Loans
London-based HSBC Holdings plc has reached an agreement to unload more than $4 billion in loans originated by its U.S. finance unit. A loan servicing facility is also trading hands.

Nevada Town Considers Eminent Domain
A controversial plan that would have municipalities utilize their power of eminent domain to seize performing securitized mortgages with negative equity at the expense of investors is under consideration by a Nevada town after being rejected by a California city.

AIG Launches Portfolio Correspondent Unit
American International Group Inc. -- one of the too-big-to-fail companies that stood at the edge of the cliff during the 2008 financial crisis -- has been weaned off government support and emerged with a new program to invest in mortgages for its own portfolio. Loans will be originated through a new correspondent unit.

Hundreds of Mortgage Jobs Coming to North Texas
North Texas will serve as the new dual headquarters for a relatively young California-based lender. The expansion is expected to create several hundred new jobs on top of hundred of other new employees the company has recently recruited.

Wells to Diversify Beyond Mortgages
Last year, Wells Fargo & Co. was hit with around $500 million in expenses tied to foreclosure reviews that were required as part of consent orders issued by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. This year, falling home-loan originations are expected to cut into revenues. So the company is focused on diversifying its revenue streams outside the mortgage business.

Banks, Thrifts Lead Improvement in CRE Delinquency
An improvement in delinquency rates on commercial real estate loans was across-the-board, with some sectors seeing the lowest level of late payments in five years. Commercial mortgages owned by financial institutions saw the biggest improvement in performance.

Bankruptcy Filings Turn Higher
More consumers resorted to bankruptcy last month than during January, though bankruptcy filings were down from a year ago.

New Secondary Marketing Platform to be Created
The regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac wants the two firms to jointly create a utility-like company that provides a securitization platform for both agency and non-agency loans. He indicated that guarantee fees will continue increasing while multifamily activity declines, and he noted how some real estate markets are lagging others.

FHFA chief says new entity to be created

Growing Mortgage Giants Dominate HECM Market
A trio of emerging giants are the proud parents of the three-biggest originators of government-insured reverse mortgages. One of the companies sees more than $1.7 trillion dollars in untapped equity for potential borrowers.

Servicers Struggle With Ohio Foreclosures
Mortgage servicers can't win for losing in Ohio courts. If a trial court judge doesn't rule against them in a foreclosure action, then an appeals judge will probably overturn the ruling. Still, some servicers are making headway.

Hotels Help Hold Down CMBS Delinquency
New business increased by nearly a quarter in January at the Federal National Mortgage Association, but indications are that business slowed in February. Serious delinquency on residential loans continued sliding, while delinquency on apartment loans ticked up.

ARM Index Announced for February
Treasury yield data have been collected, the numbers have been assembled and analyzed, and the latest Monthly Treasury Average has been determined.

Portfolio Jumbo Program Enhanced
Lending guidelines are being expanded and pricing is being lowered on a portfolio jumbo program available through all origination channels.

Ocwen Finds Success Offshore
Ocwen Financial Corp. got its start in West Palm Beach, Fla. But as it has grown, it is finding new offices and human resources in other areas -- including other countries. Its strategy helps keeps income taxes low.

Post-Crisis High for Mortgage Job Growth
Mortgage industry staffing expanded last year more than during any other year since the mortgage crisis first erupted. But the outlook has demand weakening for mortgage employees.

Multiple Mortgage Sectors See Layoffs
While big banks are making some significant reductions to their staffing levels, mortgage-related layoffs are also happening at service providers who cater to mortgage lenders and servicers.

Mortgage Jobs Added by Lenders, Service Providers
Among mortgage lenders, hiring demand is highest for production employees. Several service providers are also expanding staffing. One California county where interest in loan originators had diminished is seeing renewed demand for mortgage professionals.

New Business, Delinquency Better at Fannie
New business increased by nearly a quarter in January at the Federal National Mortgage Association, but indications are that business slowed in February. Serious delinquency on residential loans continued sliding, while delinquency on apartment loans ticked up.

MGIC Changing Cashout Requirements
MGIC is making changes to its underwriting requirements that impact required documentation and cashout availability. Also changing are mortgage insurance premiums.

Record Credit Union Earnings
A report from the federal regulator of credit unions indicates that earnings for U.S. credit unions climbed to the highest level on record last year.

New Mortgage Business Jumps Higher
New mortgage activity raced to the highest level in 12 weeks as borrowers rushed to lock in their interest rates on refinances -- though all categories lending were stronger. Helping to drive the second consecutive week of improvements were lower rates.

Mortgage Market Index 253 for week ended March 1

Settlements Formalized With 13 Mortgage Servicers
Banking regulators have formalized settlements with 13 mortgage servicers that resolve requirements from consent orders issued nearly two years ago. But three servicers didn't join the settlement as foreclosure reviews continue on nearly a half-million of their loans.

Agency MBS Issuance Eases in February
Monthly issuance was up the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. and Government National Mortgage Association but not enough to offset the decline at the Federal National Mortgage Association.

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