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April 2012 Archive

COFI At Lowest Level Ever
Borrowers whose interest rates and monthly payments adjust based on movement in the Cost of Funds Index were treated to a record-low index last month.

HARP 2.0 Holdups
Loan officers at U.S. financial institutions were surveyed about obstacles to originating home loans. While some banks are participating in the government's refinance program for negative-equity borrowers, many see too many impediments to utilize the program.

Fannie's New Business at Nearly 3-Year High
It's been nearly three years since new business acquisitions at the Federal National Mortgage Association have been this high. Serious home-loan delinquency hasn't increased for more than two years.

MetLife Winding Down Mortgage Business
Residential originations plummeted by more than 90 percent from the prior quarter at MetLife Inc. as it winds down its mortgage business. Attrition appears to be taking its toll on staff size.

Subprime-Era Journalist Loses Battle With Cancer
LendingTree (NASDAQ: TREE), the nation's leading online source of competitive home loan offers and information, has selected Ocean Media (, one of the country's largest independent media planning and buying firms, as its agency of record for advertising planning and buying.
Neil J. Morse passes away

FHA Performance Improves
Refinance endorsements drove monthly government mortgage lending higher, but purchase production appears poised to take the spotlight. The elevated origination activity didn't spill over, however, into the reverse mortgage sector. Serious delinquency has improved for each of the past two months.

Strong Month for M.I. Firms
Mortgage insurers lifted monthly business by more than a quarter, and volume surged by more than half from a year earlier. The sector also reported a decline in defaults.

Chase, Investment Bankers Big Targets in MBS Litigation
JPMorgan Chase & Co. and several others in the investment banking community are fighting off a host of lawsuits and other actions filed by investors of mortgage-backed securities, insurers of mortgage-related securities and regulators. Former executives of one defunct financial institution have been sued for aggressively investing in risky MBS, and the defendant in another case is accused of providing too much information on the loans it services.

BofA Buried Deep in MBS Litigation
Legacy liability on securitized loans from its Merrill Lynch and Countrywide Financial Corp. acquisitions has kept Bank of America Corp. busy in federal and state court defending its capital. Among the plaintiffs are life insurance companies and insurers of residential mortgage-backed securities, while a range of BofA subsidiaries are among the defendants.

Tragic Week for Banks
It's been a while since this many banks were closed down in a single week. Federal losses forecasted for the latest round of failures exceed $270 million.

MERS Sued by Kentucky Counties Again
County clerks in Kentucky are at it again. Earlier this year, a federal lawsuit filed against the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. was dismissed. Now, another federal lawsuit has been filed against the registry firm as well as some big banks and mortgage finance agencies.

Jumbo Business Strengthens
Despite a slight retreat in loan pricing inquiries this week that was fueled by less interest in Federal Housing Administration mortgages, jumbo business was better. Helping to pump up jumbo activity was more competitive pricing versus conforming loans -- as was the case for 15-year mortgages. Rates were lower and could slip a little further.

Mortgage Market Index 202 for the week ended April 27

Office Loans Drive Up CMBS Defaults
With commercial real estate loans on office properties leading the way, quarterly defaults on securitized commercial mortgages increased during the first-three months of 2012. But the good news is that performance for all of this year is expected to be in line with 2011.

Quicken Seeing Success With Technology Recruiting Campaign
Earlier this month, Quicken Loans Inc. and its affiliates reached out to technology employees who were notified they would be laid off at Yahoo! So far, there has been plenty of interest.

Jumbo Premium, 15-Year Discount Decline
Compared to conventional 30-year mortgages, jumbo loan pricing improved over the past seven days and 15-year pricing wasn't as good. Fixed rates are hovering just above their lowest levels ever.

HUD Chief: FHA Returning to Mandated Reserve Level by 2015
Problem mortgages at the Federal Housing Administration were endorsed prior to the Obama administration, according to Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan. But he said that while FHA's capital reserve ratio fell below the congressionally mandated level three years ago, it should be back in compliance within another three years.

MetLife Exit Leaves Urban Financial as New No. 1 Reverse Lender
For the second time in one year, the biggest reverse mortgage lender is exiting the business. The departures leave Urban Financial Group Inc. as the biggest fish in a quickly evaporating pond.

Another Quicken Record
Quicken Loans Inc. followed up its best quarter ever in mortgage production with a new quarterly origination record -- more than doubling its activity from a year earlier. Headcount, meanwhile, continued to climb.

Ally Mortgage Production Plummets
Home-loan originations at Ally Financial Inc. sank by nearly half from the final quarter of last year. But earnings were a different story. Both originations and earnings were impacted by a retreat from correspondent lending.

30-Year Forecast Lowered, ARM Share Raised
The share of adjustable-rate originations during the first-three months of 2012 turned out to be higher than originally forecasted. The outlook for mortgage rates, meanwhile, has been lowered.

Another Correspondent Lender Emerges
Several new players have recently entered the correspondent lending space, and now a Texas firm has thrown its hat into the ring.

Aurora Continues Dismantling
Following word that Aurora Bank FSB is closing its origination unit, laying off more than a hundred Missouri employees and unloading a servicing portfolio -- the company now plans hundreds of layoffs in Indiana and Nebraska.

Option One Settles Allegations of Securities Fraud
The former subprime lending arm of H&R Block Inc. has agreed to a settlement over alleged deception in the sale of residential mortgage-backed securities. At issue was its commitment to repurchase bad loans even though it was incapable of meeting that commitment.

Freddie's Secondary Activity Highest Since 2010
Secondary acquisitions at the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. climbed to the highest level since 2010, while delinquency fell again and now stands at the lowest level in seven months.

Originations and Delinquency Down at Regions
Quarterly mortgage loan originations fell at Regions Financial Corp. But delinquency on home loans, home-equity products and commercial mortgages improved, while earnings soared.

Loan Performance Continues to Improve
The rate of past-due payments on residential loans continued to fall -- down for the fourth month in a row. A decline in performing loans again drove the improvement, as foreclosure activity was mixed.

New ULDD App Available
A new loan delivery application for the Uniform Loan Delivery Dataset requirements has been launched.

Realtors Oppose REO-to-Rental Program
The Federal Housing Finance Agency recently began qualifying investors to purchase pools of real-estate-owned assets in some of the nation's worst housing markets from Fannie Mae and Freddie and convert them to rental properties. But the strategy is opposed by some local California Realtors who stand to lose commissions on such bulk sales.

Nearly $30 Billion in Mortgage Fraud Reported in 2011
Repurchase demands continued to drive the number of mortgage fraud reports higher last year -- with a growing share of the reports made on loans that were never funded. Occupancy fraud was most frequently involved in the reports -- though income and appraisal fraud were also busy categories. An analysis of government data indicates that reports of mortgage fraud were made last year on nearly $30 billion in mortgages.

Stellar Quarter at SunTrust
Driven by impressive increases in correspondent acquisitions, retail originations and government-subsidized refinances, residential production at SunTrust Banks Inc. was up 12 percent. It appears that growth in home-loan fundings will continue based on new loan applications. Delinquency in most real estate categories was lower, and corporate earnings were substantially better.

MGIC Boosts Business, Decreases Delinquency
MGIC Investment Corp. reported that its operating subsidiary increased new monthly business by nearly a quarter. Delinquency, meanwhile, was down nearly 60 basis points and has improved by more than 100 BPS compared to a year previous.

Brokers Call for Support on QRM Legislation
The head of the trade group that represents mortgage brokers is calling on the sector to support legislation that would leave more income available for loan originators.

Video of NAMB chief's call to action

New App Enables Orders from iPad
A new application for iPads enables loan originators to put in orders for a variety of services while on the go. The offering is just one of many being touted at a mortgage technology conference this week.

FHA Rule Impacts Outstanding Collections
Applicants for government-insured mortgages who have disputed or outstanding collection accounts had been able to qualify for a loan with a manual underwriting. But that will soon change.

OCC Seizes NJ Bank
The nation's federal banking regulator stepped in to close down a bank in New Jersey, and many of the failed firm's assets couldn't be unloaded. Meanwhile, a warehouse lender has been getting some pretty bad press lately.

Military Foreclosure Lawsuit Seeks Class Action
An Army veteran learned while he was in Iraq that HSBC Mortgage Services had foreclosed on his Minnesota home. So he has sued the bank, and attorneys in the lawsuit hope to certify the case as a class action.

Refi and FHA Business Slows This Week
Refinance and government activity helped drag down overall loan inquiries this week even though rates slipped. But one category that was busier was adjustable-rate mortgages.

Mortgage Market Index 207 for the week ended April 20

CMBS Performance Takes Turn for Worse
For four months in a row, past-due securitized loans backed by commercial real estate were lower. But that changed last month. Leading the deterioration were loans secured by office properties.

Outsourcing Firm Adding Mortgage Jobs by the Hundreds
A heavier regulatory burden for mortgage companies has been keeping an international outsourcing firm busy recruiting.

Citi Hirings Hundreds
In its effort to comply with a federal banking consent order and the multi-state servicer settlement, Citigroup Inc. is beefing up staffing at its mortgage unit. The company is also adding employees to handle elevated refinance activity.

Mortgage Firms Expand Branch Systems
Mortgage bankers are enhancing retail presence through the addition of local branches. While much of the activity involves employees recruited to work at a new branch, some firms instead recruit entire existing branches.

GSE Multifamily Business Growing
The volume of new financing for apartment properties has grown at both the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp.

Rates Inch Up, But Not Hybrid ARM
Fixed rates were higher this week, as was the one-year adjustable-rate mortgage. But it was a different story for the five-year hybrid ARM.

Fifth Third Earnings, Delinquency Improve as Closings Slip
Serious delinquency was down at Fifth Third Bancorp, while new originations slowed. Earnings at the bank-holding company were stronger both on a quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year basis.

BB&T Slashes Delinquency
Loan originations slipped at BB&T Corp., though business was up more than 40 percent from a year earlier. The rate of delinquency was down more than 100 basis points from the prior quarter and more than 200 BPS lower than a year previous.

2012 Origination Forecast Raised by Over $100 Billion
The latest outlook for this year's overall home-loan production was lifted by more than $100 billion. But the revision for expected home purchase financing was negative. The runoff in the U.S. residential loan portfolio looks to be coming to an end.

ResCap Liquidity Concerns Impact Servicer Rating
A mortgage servicer rating for an Ally Financial Inc. unit has been placed on ratings watch due to liquidity concerns.

Originations Sink as BofA Makes Headway on Staff Cuts
In September, Bank of America Corp. said it planned to reduce its staff by around 30,000 employees. The latest earnings data indicate that the company is about a third of the way there. Originations, meanwhile, have been slashed by nearly three quarters over the past year.

Mortgage Litigation Costs Sting PNC
The PNC Financial Services Group Inc. previously recorded a $240 million fourth-quarter charge for "mortgage foreclosure-related expenses primarily as a result of ongoing governmental matters." Much of the charge was due to legacy issues from the 2008 acquisition of National City Corp.

Former HUD Official Indicted
Lavern Charles Hester was a director for the St. Louis office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Foreclosure Disputes Litigated from Sea to Shining Sea
Mortgage servicers are battling disputed foreclosures from the West Coast to the East Coast. Several have been busy in the Buckeye State. A pair of negative decisions was handed down by Massachusetts courts.

Servicers Win Some Motions in Florida Foreclosure Cases
Florida borrowers continue to find every judicial opportunity to put off final foreclosure. Issues holding up the process include lost notes, substitute service and outstanding discovery items. But some decisions have been made in favor of mortgage servicers.

New Jersey is the New Florida
It used to be that Florida had a lock on obstructing the foreclosure process for lenders. But judges in New Jersey are increasingly ruling in favor of delinquent borrowers who are challenging the servicer's right to foreclose.

CRE Risk Outlook
A pair of reports on the commercial real estate market indicated that multifamily is the best performing sector as tenant quality is on the rise. Vacancy levels are a concern for retail properties and suburban office buildings.

Q2 Origination Outlook Increased by Nearly $30 Billion
Expectations for quarterly residential lending volume have been lifted 10 percent by mortgage bankers. All of the improvement in loan production is concentrated in the refinance category.

MO Lender Increases Staffing, Originations
A mortgage banker operating from Missouri pushed annual production up last year and hopes to increase originations by another third this year. The company plans to continue recruiting additional staff to support its growth.

Impressive Performance at PNC 
Delinquency declined as earnings, originations and mortgage assets increased at The PNC Financial Services Group Inc. Performance, however, on government mortgages has deteriorated over the past year.

Closing Times Reduced
The time it took to close a loan was cut by two days last month, with purchase financing showing the biggest improvement. The same report indicated that purchase transactions have a far better closing ratio than refinances.

Short-Sale Deadlines Established
Mortgage servicers on conventional agency loans face revised deadlines for handling short-sale offers. But the effort will align short-sale requirements at the Federal National Mortgage Association with those at the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp.

Missed ResCap Payment Not Yet a Default
An interest payment was missed by Residential Capital LLC, according to a disclosure by its parent company. But the missed payment hasn't yet triggered a formal default -- though bondholders have previously postured for a potential bankruptcy.

Fraudulent Appraisals Used in HECM Scheme
Inflated appraisals were used in a mortgage fraud scheme that utilized federally insured reverse mortgages and targeted seniors in seven states. The owner of a title agency, who was convicted along with three loan originators, held back funds that were supposed to be used to pay off existing liens.

Strong Quarter at U.S. Bank
During the first three months of this year, home-loan production was 10 percent stronger, residential delinquency was 30 basis points better and net income was up nearly $0.2 billion at US Bancorp.

United Guaranty Reduces M.I. Premiums in Many Markets
Dozens of U.S. markets will see lower mortgage insurance premiums from United Guaranty Corp. It's the second time in as many months that the company announced lower premiums.

Government-Controlled Lender Backing Away from Gov Mortgages
Despite the controlling stake in Ally Financial Inc. held by the U.S. government, the lending giant will pare back its government mortgage originations. The move follows a decision to wind down a securitization unit and layoff traders and analysts.

Ginnie Issuance Strengthens
Securitization of home loans and apartment loans that are guaranteed by the Government National Mortgage Association grew last month on both a month-over-month and year-over-year basis.

Freddie Releasing HARP 3.0 AU
Freddie Mac has fined tuned its automated underwriting process for the Home Affordable Refinance Program in a move that is expected to generate approvals for borrowers who were previously denied for the program.

Citi Originations Sink
Citigroup Inc., which disclosed plans to stop taking business from mortgage brokers, saw quarterly loan fundings tumble by nearly a third. But delinquency improved from the final quarter of last year.

Banks Hold Down Mortgage Casualties
Thanks to fewer bank failures, mortgage-related casualties fell. If the trend continues, this year's count could land under a hundred for the first time since 2006.

27 mortgage casualties in Q1 2012

8 Servicers in Second Wave of Settlements
A second wave of servicer settlements will follow the first tier of five servicers that already agreed to a $25 billion settlement in February.

Refis Lift Business
New mortgage activity was stronger this week thanks to a renewed interest in refinances as rates fell. But government-insured business tumbled, and purchase activity was slower.

Mortgage Market Index 223 for the week ended April 13

Institutions Accountable to CFPB for Service Providers
Financial firms have been advised that they could be liable if third-party contractors fail to comply with regulations or the law. While the concept is not new, it has received more attention lately.

Wells Increases Originations
Quarterly home-loan production increased at Wells Fargo & Co., contrasting results from the No. 2 originator. The bank has increased its mortgage investments and mortgage servicing portfolio.

Chase Adds 10,000 Mortgage Jobs in 1 Year
Helped by interest in the government refinance program, mortgage applications ticked higher at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in an early indication of second-quarter business for all residential lenders. Nearly 10,000 people have been hired by Chase over the past year to support its mortgage operations, and its quarterly mortgage earnings have improved by more than $2 billion during the intervening period. When it comes to repurchase demands, the 2007 vintage is causing the most problems.

15-yr Record Could Be Short-Lived
Loan applicants who chose 15-year mortgages were treated to an all-time record low rate this week, though the latest market data suggest rates could rise by next week's report. While 30-year loans were similarly lower, many adjustable-rate applicants were hit with a rate increase.

Healthy Hiring Pace at Mortgage Consulting Firm
A growing consulting firm that counts several of the biggest mortgage lenders as its customers nearly tripled in staff size over the past two years. More recruiting will help the hiring to continue through the end of this year.

Falling Foreclosures Fail to Stop Dire Warning
Foreclosure filings fell to the lowest levels in years. Still, the chief of the company that reports the numbers is providing a dire warning about an explosion of upcoming foreclosures and the impact on the real estate market. The time it takes to complete a foreclosure lengthened and is nearing three years in New York.

198,853 U.S. properties hit with filing during March

SIGTARP Report Finds Hardest Hit Funds Barely Utilized
The Housing Finance Agency Innovation Fund for the Hardest Hit Housing Markets was established in February 2010 through the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The program was to be funded with $7.6 billion intended to reduce mortgage principal on negative-equity properties, provide assistance for unemployed or under-employed borrowers and help eliminate second liens as well as cover costs for delinquent payments, short sales and deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure.

Complaints Against FL Lawyers Balloon
More than a thousand complaints against real estate attorneys have Florida Bar investigators buried.

California Bill Targets Hard-Money Brokers
A bill is moving through California's legislature that would increase disclosure requirements and strengthen regulatory oversight for hard-money brokers.

Government CRE Share Nearly a Third
Led by a surge in apartment lending, the origination of commercial mortgages has increased for two consecutive years. The outlook is for a continued rebound this year. Nearly a third of all new commercial mortgages are supported by the government.

Mobile Origination Apps for LOs
Mobile technology isn't only for bill-paying consumers. It's also becoming more common among mortgage lenders, with vendors providing systems that use iPad applications to take mortgage loan applications and import loan data. Financial institutions have continued to aggressively expand into mobile banking with a stream of new applications.

Report Looks at FDIC Conference Expenses
A report on conference spending by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. found that it wasn't compliant when it exceeded policies for meal expenses and allowable entertainment expense at a gathering of 800 FDIC employees and their spouses. Otherwise, the organization generally complied with its conference policies.

Revision Leaves Serious Delinquency Stabilized
It originally looked liked the serious delinquency rate for home loans had turned higher on a month-over-month basis. But revised statistics have the rate of late payments nearly frozen for the past nine months.

Radian Defaults Slow, New Policies Grow
Mortgage insurance policies written by units of Radian Group Inc. increased in March. Defaults, meanwhile, declined and potentially provide an early peek at overall U.S. residential delinquency last month.

Complaint Alleges REO Discrimination at Wells
An alliance that advocates for minority issues has filed a complaint against Wells Fargo. Maintenance of foreclosed properties allegedly was disparate between white and minority neighborhoods, while marketing also fell short with real-estate-owned assets in minority areas.

Appraisals Prepared from Mobile Devices
A new application enables appraisers to access their appraisal management systems through phones and tablets.

Strategic Modifiers Pose Threat to GSE Principal Forgiveness
The regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has found that enhancements to the government's loan modification program could make it profitable for the two housing finance agencies to offer principal forgiveness. But "strategic modifiers" could wipe out any benefit from the program. The regulator's preference is to offer principal forbearance.

Final Servicing Rule Targeted for Jan. 2013
New servicing regulations that are brewing would require mortgage servicers to respond to borrowers' inquiries within a week and resolve the issues within a month. The target date for a final rule is early next year.

New No. 2 Reverse Lender
As the leading reverse mortgage lender saw a decline in monthly originations, the third-biggest lender leapt past the second-biggest company to become the new No. 2. Government insured reverse mortgages originated through the wholesale channel were stronger on a month-over-month basis, but retail activity drifted down.

Laid Off Yahoo! Employees Courted by Detroit Mortgage Mogul
Dan Gilbert, the Detroit billionaire who owns the Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Inc., is sending a message from his companies to laid off Yahoo! employees: Come to Detroit.

Cordray Addresses Mortgage Brokers
The man in charge at the federal regulator that oversees consumer financial transactions, including mortgages, participated in a webinar with mortgage brokers. He talked about the loan originator rule, integrated disclosures and licensing disparities between mortgage brokers and mortgage bankers. A rule that covers some of the concerns discussed, including appraisal issues, is expected to be finalized early next year.

Loan Modifications Hid Bank Losses
The aggressive use of loan modifications by two senior executives of a Texas thrift enabled the financial institution to hide bad loans and artificially inflate earnings. But the bank failed, and the two executives now must defend their actions in court.

HAMP Activity Up as Non-HAMP Modifications Slow
Monthly government loan modification volume grew, though the level of proprietary modifications slowed. But compared to a year earlier, both government and proprietary activity was down.

Completed HAMPs increase 13,836 during February

HUD Chief Grilled on Housing Market
The head of the Housing and Urban Development talked with reporters about a range of issues including additional funding for the Federal Housing Administration, investors complaints about the mortgage servicer settlement and writing down principal on loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Mortgage Market Index 215 for the week ended April 6

Mortgage Litigation Index Sets New Record
Foreclosure cases dominated quarterly litigation activity tied to mortgage banking and show no sign of relenting -- helping to push the Mortgage Litigation Index to an all-time high. Among categories to show the worst deterioration were criminal, servicing and mortgage fraud. But investor actions have been slowing.

Fourth-Quarter 2011 Mortgage Litigation Index 244

Servicer Settlement Sealed
A federal judge has formally approved the $25 billion multi-state settlement with the nation's largest mortgage servicers. The agreement was announced in February.

Class Action Filed Over M.I. Kickbacks
A bank and six mortgage insurance companies have been named as defendants in a lawsuit that alleges illegal kickbacks. Plaintiffs seek class-action certification.

Politics Invade Mortgage Conferences
Among the featured speakers at upcoming mortgage-related conferences are a former president and the brother of a former president. Also slated for are members of Congress. Mortgage technology is a big theme at some of the events that are around the corner, though legislation, compliance and mortgage fraud are also issues being addressed. More than 90 events are on Mortgage Daily's conference calendar for April, May and June.

Purchases Up as Refis Slip and Rate Set to Slide
An uptick in purchase, jumbo and adjustable-rate activity this week was offset by easing in refinance and government business. Mortgage rates slipped this week and might tumble in the next report.

Mortgage Market Index 215 for the week ended April 6

Mortgage Jobs Strengthen
The number of people working in real estate finance grew on a monthly basis, and a disappointing report on the total number of U.S. jobs could increase pressure for the mortgage sector to add more jobs. In addition, home lending jobs for a year earlier were revised up by nearly 25,000 positions.

Fed Cuts Banks Slack on REO Rentals
Given the current state of the housing market, the Federal Reserve is easing its policy for the banks it regulates to convert foreclosed properties into rentals.

BofA Servicer Ratings Downgraded
Three of Bank of America's mortgage servicer quality ratings were downgraded and could be cut even further.

Even Lower Rates Might Be Ahead
Mortgage rates slipped during the past week and might fall even further by next week's report. However, a government report due out tomorrow could change that outlook.

Home Equity Performance Improves
Quarterly performance on home-equity products was better at the nation's banks. In fact, past-due payments improved in 11 categories of consumer loans to the lowest level in four years.

Servicing Profits Down
Servicers of residential mortgages earned less per loan during the final three months of 2011 even though they handled more loans per employee, according to a survey of smaller mortgage servicers. Average servicing portfolios grew on a quarter-over-quarter basis, but there has been a contraction on a year-over-year basis.

Warehousing Income, LO Production Improve
The average loan originator upped individual production during the final three months of last year, as did the average mortgage banker. While warehousing income has been on the rise, overall earnings per loan stumbled on a quarter-over-quarter basis. Loan origination fees on bigger loans were actually less than fees on smaller loans.

LendingTree Affiliate Settles With HUD
Settlements have been reached between the Department of Housing and Urban Development and two lenders, including an affiliate of At issue is alleged discrimination involving women on maternity leave.

Chase Chief Provides Detailed Assessment of Mortgage Business
The mortgage crisis took its toll on JPMorgan Chase & Co., which was hit with an overwhelming amount of distressed loans and a barrage of litigation from mortgage-backed securities investors. The financial institution faced the monumental task by beefing up its servicing staff, integrating its servicing technology and utilizing a host of programs to deal with delinquent borrowers. However, Chase has no plans to get out of the mortgage business and even hopes to double its portfolio -- with plans to add a thousand more loan originators this year alone.

Top-4 CRE Lenders Maintain Pecking Order
The four-biggest originators of commercial mortgages maintained their standing in the latest annual survey. A huge merger three years ago propelled the biggest lender to the top spot -- where it has remained since.

Multifamily Performances Drives Up CMBS Delinquency
Balloon payments are beginning to take their toll on securitized commercial real estate loans, with delinquency jumping more than 30 basis points last month. Apartment loans were the worst performers, while mortgages on hotels have seen consistent improvement.

Consumer Bankruptcies Rise
The bad news is that consumer bankruptcies worsened on a month-over-month basis. But the good news is that bankruptcies have improved from a year earlier and are expected to decline for the full year.

Lenders Being More Selective on Refis
Credit scores on government refinances are climbing, according to a new monthly reading on loan originations. Meanwhile, conventional lenders are becoming more conservative about debt-to-income ratios on refinances.

ING Exits 3rd-Party Originations
The mortgage broker and correspondent lending origination channels at ING Mortgage are shutting down. The move follows the recent acquisition of the company's parent.

Saxon Sale Signed, Sealed & Delivered
The sale of former nonprime lender Saxon Mortgage Services Inc. has been completed. While the deal will likely create a top-10 servicer, it also resulted in hundreds of layoffs and a consent order against a Wall Street giant.

Service Provider Adding Mortgage Jobs
A mortgage service provider has just added a huge client and recruited more than two dozen mortgage professionals to service the customer. By the end of next year, more than a hundred more hirings are anticipated.

HARP Hesitation
Some mortgage lenders, many that are concerned about repurchase liabilities, are shunning all but existing customers for the expanded Home Affordable Refinance Program. Borrowers who do refinance under the program are being given terms that make the transactions more profitable for the lenders.

Bayview Servicer Rating Raised
Improvements to its distressed servicing process, the replacement of a servicing system and the elimination of an outside vendor used for foreclosure processing all contributed to an upgraded servicer quality rating at Bayview Loan Servicing LLC.

Nation's Top-Producing LO
The loan officer who originated the most volume last year reported more than a quarter billion dollars in mortgage production. But he closed around half as many loans as the top producer in 2010.

MTA Decline Slows, Though Still a New Record
The Monthly Treasury Average set another record, but the pace of decline has slowed to a trickle. A related index for adjustable-rate mortgages, meanwhile, has recently drifted higher.

Reverse Originations Plummet
Federally insured reverse mortgage production fell last month to the lowest level in more than six years. But one lender managed to push business higher. Meanwhile, the number of companies originating government reverse mortgages, which has fallen by nearly two-thirds from a year earlier, was up on a month-over-month basis.

New York Lender Sued Over Discriminatory Pricing
The federal government has filed a lawsuit against a New York-based lender over allegations that it charged blacks and Hispanics higher interest rates and fees than similarly situated white borrowers.

HUD Approves New Loan Servicing Contractor
A new servicing contractor has been approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development for residential HUD-owned assets, including government-insured reverse mortgages and various subordinate mortgages.

Radian Cuts Pricing
Mortgage insurance premiums are being reduced by Radian Guaranty Inc. The improved pricing will benefit borrowers with high credit scores. The mortgage insurer also cut its monthly adjustments and integrated its rate quotes into a loan origination system.

New Branch Program Launched
A new branch program launched last month targets mortgage brokers as well as other production personell. Recruits will have a national platform to offer conventional and government programs with an emphasis on the government-funded refinance program.

New Jumbo Loans Performing Well
Newly securitized jumbo mortgages are performing very well, according to a new report.

Ocwen Acquisition Resulting in More Servicing Layoffs
For the second time in as many years, a mortgage servicing operation being acquired by Ocwen Financial Corp. will layoff hundreds of employees. The majority of Ocwen's employees are outside the country.

February Issuance Slips at Fannie
Secondary activity at the Federal National Mortgage Association was lower in February, though business was better than a year ago. The rate of seriously past-due payments on home loans improved and has not seen any deterioration for two years now, while commercial mortgage delinquency was down 9 basis points for the month.

Ocwen Executive Talks About Challenges
Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC claims to be the biggest subprime mortgage servicer in the country. It has entered into more than a thousand pooling-and-servicing agreements with investors.

Fannie Drives Huge Rise in Agency MBS Issuance
Thanks to a strong increase in business at the Federal National Mortgage Association, agency mortgage-backed securities issuance leapt to the highest level since mid-2009.

2 Financial Institutions Fail
Two financial institutions, one with more than $800 million in assets and another with less than $1 million in assets, were seized by regulators. One was liquidated, and the other was acquired.

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