Success Story: WestAmerica
Being acquired by a large corporation three years ago was the best thing that ever happened to WestAmerica Mortgage Co., according to its president. The lender has added news employees, boosted originations and is prepared to quickly add new products as demand arises.
States Seek Stiffer Subprime Statutes
State governments, largely reactionary by nature, are enacting or close to passing a rash of new laws inspired by the fallout of the subprime mortgage market.
Earnings, Assets & Operations
Mortgage assets continue to change hands as a major industry shakeout continues. But legal maneuvers -- and not successful company acquisitions -- are mostly responsible for the shift. Meanwhile, executives and regulators continue to grapple with falling earnings, troubled assets and waning operations.
Solid M.I. Volume
Monthly mortgage insurance activity jumped and appears headed higher -- though borrower defaults are also rising.
Moody's Sued Over Bad Ratings
|Ratings Agencies Blasted in Hearings
WASHINGTON D.C. -- In their second appearance before Congress this week, the credit rating agencies were grilled by a House of Representatives financial services subcommittee on the conflict of interest presented by their pay model and for not anticipating the problems now occurring in the credit markets.
Moody's Corp. and its chief financial officer have been accused in an investor lawsuit of assigning "excessively high ratings to bonds backed by risky subprime mortgages" which were "materially misleading to investors concerning the quality and relative risk of these investments." The lawsuit was filed as the credit ratings agencies face intense federal scrutiny over issuing glowing reports as they collected big fees from securitizers.
Freddie Settles with SEC for $50 Million
A $50 million settlement concludes active investigations into Freddie Mac's financial restatements and places the company one step closer to a boost in its investment limits.
Rates Up, Apps Off
Rates rose as projected but are likely to ease in the upcoming weekly report.
Commercial Production Soars
Quarterly commercial mortgage originations jumped.
RMBS Ratings Continue to Contrast CMBS
Two subprime servicers saw their ratings lowered, as did classes of several residential mortgage-backed securities. But favorable ratings actions on commercial MBS continued.
Borrower Behavior Shift Blamed for Bad Ratings
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The credit reporting agencies told Congress yesterday that a shift in borrower behavior prevented them from accurately predicting the performance of subprime loans backing residential mortgage-backed securities. One agency laid the blame on mortgage brokers and lenders for not doing their job. But senators suggested a major conflict of interest exists while the chief U.S. securities regulator is moving forward with an investigation.
Foreclosure Bill Approved by House Committee
Legislation that would help foreclosed borrowers avoid big tax bills made it through a congressional committee today. The bill would also extend the tax deductibility of mortgage insurance.
Fighting Future Foreclosures
As state housing finance agencies develop special financing programs to help reduce foreclosures, one ratings agency is warning that a spike in the volume of loans administered under the programs could impact the housing agencies' ratings. Other foreclosure prevention activity includes local events designed to enlighten borrowers about foreclosures.
HELOC Performance Deteriorates
Delinquency on home equity loans at the nation's banks eased during the latest quarter. But late payments soared to the highest level since 2001 on home equity lines-of-credit.
Successful Sales Start Inside
Successful salespeople start every day with internal statements of motivation, according to a new sales book reviewed by MortgageDaily.com. They picture the fruits of their success and maintain high self esteem.
Buyers Sought for Mortgage Leads
Among current opportunities being pursued by mortgage lead providers are reverse mortgage prospecting and the refinancing of borrowers whose lenders have failed. Meanwhile, as demand for leads dries up, one firm is pursuing the acquisition of other failing loan lead companies.
The latest digital innovations in mortgage lending included front-end and back-end integration and collaboration. Among upgrades to origination systems was the addition of a property valuation tool.
Business Off at Fannie
After improving in July, business eased at Fannie Mae.
Better Freddie Business
Business improved at Freddie Mac.
Jumbo Performance Worse
Following an improvement in July, jumbo performance slipped.
Mortgage Fraud Index Soars
Monthly mortgage fraud activity soared during August, according to a new mortgage fraud index created by MortgageDaily.com.
Discrimination Litigation Bewildering
A consumer advocate group has filed a complaint against one nonprime lender and its investment banker parent for not making loans to minorities, while another group has sued several lenders because they did make subprime loans to minorities.
P2P Network Exposed Private Borrower Data
The social security numbers and other personal information of more than 5,200 ABN AMRO Mortgage Group borrowers were inadvertently opened to access by anyone using an online file sharing network as a result of actions by a former employee.
Litigation Overshadows Corporate Activities
As lawyers continue their assault on struggling mortgage lenders, mergers managed some progress and a reverse lender received a capital injection to help fund its rapid growth.
ResMAE Restructure Results in Reductions
A restructuring at ResMAE Mortgage Corp. will result in layoffs across four states -- many in Dallas.
No Closing Cost Ads Misleading
An Atlanta-based mortgage broker settled for nearly $100,000 charges that radio advertisements it ran for loans with no closing costs were misleading.
Bankruptcy Sends Borrowers Scrambling
A Pennsylvania mortgage broker who specialized in creative refinancing filed for bankruptcy last week -- leaving 800 homeowners scrambling to find out what happened with their mortgage payments and the investment accounts the company managed for them.
Billionaire Sees Opportunity in American Home
Bankrupt American Home Mortgage's servicing unit is being sought by a billionaire investor.
25k Loan Mods for Countrywide in 07
Countrywide Financial Corp. said today it expects to modify nearly 25,000 mortgages this year.
Nationstar Closes Wholesale
The former subprime lending subsidiary of Centex Corp. is getting out of the broker business.
Wholesale Programs Expand
IndyMac Bank's return to nonconforming business includes plans for a new jumbo program and was complimented by a new reverse mortgage program at one of its subsidiaries. Other wholesale lending innovations include a California-based lender's offer to help brokers obtain approval to make government loans, an expanded menu at a Pennsylvania-based wholesale lender and a new vertical search engine for broker programs.
FHA Wave Builds
Ratings Activity Still Heavy
As legislation that will improve government mortgage programs makes its way through the nation's capital, a number of organizations are sprouting up to help mortgage companies that want to capitalize on this growing sector.
As the rating agencies continued their campaign of negative actions on subprime residential asset-backed securities and upgrades on commercial ABS, a group issued a scathing report accusing the agencies of deception and blaming them for the credit crisis.
HSBC Closes Subprime Unit
HSBC Finance Corp. will close its subprime wholesale lending channel and take more than $900 million in charges as a result.
Subpar Performance at Subprime Servicers
A lack of proactive moves by subprime mortgage servicers on loans facing resets may lead to another wave of downgrades, one agency is warning.
Mortgage Fraud Worsening
NEW YORK and Providence, R.I. -- A shrinking mortgage origination sector has only intensified the presence of mortgage fraud, according to panelists at a securities conference this week. One new scheme has emerged where individual mortgage loans are being sold to more than one investor. The meeting produced predictions that 2007 vintage loans will suffer the same performance problems as those created in 2006.
NV Stated Loans Banned
|CEOs, Regulators Testify
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In testimony on Capitol Hill yesterday, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives told lawmakers that boosting conforming loan limits would ease the credit crunch now facing the housing market. And, while the Federal Reserve and the Treasury didn't come out with a ringing endorsement of the idea, they weren't entirely opposed to it -- signaling a change in policy for the Bush administration. Also discussed was a national licensing system for mortgage brokers.
A law intended to improve Nevada's mortgage lending industry has instead caused widespread confusion and could cost borrowers, brokers and lenders loans. But mortgage groups are working feverishly with state officials -- including lawmakers, the attorney general's office and mortgage regulators -- in trying to come up with a solution to the confusion over the language in the law.
Treasuries Sour Late Thursday
Refinance demand shot up to the highest level since April as rates edged up. But Treasury activity late today points to an upcoming jump in fixed rates.
Wells Chairman Sees Growing Opportunities
Wells Fargo & Co.'s chairman of the board said his company is well positioned to capitalize on opportunities that are returning to the market.
Hundreds of millions of dollars are flowing into foreclosure aid -- with Congress pressing the mortgage industry for more. But counseling agencies are overwhelmed with delinquent borrowers looking for help.
The New Mortgage Market
NEW YORK -- The good news is that investors have started to return to the securities market, according to panelists at a securities conference Wednesday. The bad news is that they're so far steering clear of subprime mortgage-backed securities. But banks may step in to put some of the lost product in their portfolios.
Economics of Mortgage Lending
Recent moves to improve liquidity at Thornburg Mortgage Inc. weren't enough to stop one ratings agency from warning about possible debt downgrades, while IndyMac Bancorp Inc. saw its debt downgraded to junk status. Freddie Mac has agreed to acquire around $4 billion in residential mortgage-backed securities from a company that has given up on mortgage banking.
End of the Line for WMC
General Electric Company is finished with its subprime subsidiary WMC Mortgage Corp. Originations were halted, most of the loan portfolio has been sold off and the unit will be reported as a discontinued operation this quarter.
Texas Wholesaler Ends Operations
Some employees of a collapsed Texas wholesaler may find work at the parent company.
Erroneous Credit Reporting Costs Wells $1 Million
Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, as a mortgage servicer, has been ordered by a California Superior Court judge to pay more than $1 million for violations of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and the California Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act.
Recent advancements in mortgage technology stretched from loan origination systems to pricing engines, though there was plenty of activity in servicing, credit and banking technology. A host of technology vendors are promising to improve lender profits and business.
GSE Portfolio Restrictions Eased
The Bush Administration said it is providing additional flexibility for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to purchase more subprime and multifamily mortgages -- though there was no relenting on portfolio caps for the two.
Accredited Sale Salvaged
Accredited Home Lenders Holding Co. has salvaged a deal to be acquired by a Texas-based fund, albeit at a lower price. The latest agreement resolves pending litigation but leaves uncertain how Accredited plans to operate in a devastated subprime market.
FHA Legislation Passes
Reform legislation for Federal Housing Administration programs made it over the first major hurdle -- overwhelmingly passing in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill raises FHA-insured loan limits, reduces downpayments and removes the loan cap on home equity conversion mortgages. But President Bush is at odds with one trade group about a provision that makes it easier for mortgage brokers to become FHA approved.
|Multifamily Deals Surge
Multifamily activity has recently heated up, with apartment financings representing the majority of the 17 commercial mortgage transactions tracked by MortgageDaily.com during the latest week. But it was one loan on a Los Angeles office tower that helped push the dollar volume of activity to nearly $500 million.
A merger between two banking associations moved one step closer to closing while another deal is falling apart. Other recent corporate activity included the de-reitization of a subprime lender, a bank's $32 million settlement with regulators and a $700 million plunge in mortgage related revenues at an investment banking firm.
Driven by a jump in California and Florida, monthly foreclosure filings soared. More than half the latest month's filings occurred in just four states.
Accredited Warns About Ongoing Viability
Accredited Home Lenders Holding Co. said its ongoing viability is in doubt.
Impac Done With Alt-A, Warehouse Biz
Impac Mortgage Holdings Inc. is shutting down mortgage units and laying off more employees.
Broker Sues Former Execs, Bank
An Illinois mortgage broker has filed a lawsuit against two former executives who went to work for a company with a nearly identical name and a Web address "confusingly similar" to the broker's -- hiring away 30 of the broker's employees in the process.
E*TRADE Exiting Wholesale
E*TRADE Financial Corp. will abandon broker originations as it takes massive mortgage-related charges.
Acquisition Offers Branches Hope
A California investment firm has reached a deal to acquire a struggling net branch operation -- which it plans to turn around. It's the second time this year the company has been acquired, with the earlier deal turning out to be a lemon.
AEs Spared in First Franklin Layoffs
No account executives will be affected by layoffs at Merrill Lynch's subprime mortgage unit. The cutbacks follow similar moves at subsidiaries of rival investment banking firms.
Borrower Sues Over 1-Month Teaser Rate
Wachovia Mortgage Corp. and one of its subsidiaries are facing a lawsuit by a borrower who claims she was led to believe the initial rate on her option adjustable-rate mortgage would be fixed for more than the first month. Lawyers in the litigation hope to have the case certified as a class action.
CMBS Ratings Contrast RMBS
Asset-backed ratings activity on commercial deals continues to contrast actions on non-agency residential deals. One ratings agency explained commercial deals are well structured to weather the liquidity crisis.
National City Performance Declines
Originations are falling, delinquency is rising and a quarterly loss is now projected to be at the high end of estimates at National City Corp.
Mergers, Liquidity and Earnings
Earnings and liquidity continue to preoccupy executives and boardrooms of mortgage companies -- though some merger activity maintained. But as lenders grapple with unprecedented chaos in the mortgage market, class action attorneys are busy filing numerous lawsuits alleging investors were deceived.
Wholesale Goes Google
Nonconforming wholesale programs have significantly diminished as of late, and vertical search engines are pulling out all the stops to help mortgage brokers find available programs. Some wholesale search engines, which have seen their relevance balloon, now include credit reporting services in their offerings.
33 States On Board With Registry
Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia so far have committed to joining a nationwide registry that will allow mortgage professionals to apply online for licenses with a uniform application and enable regulators to better track bad players.
Downey Reverses Decline
Driven by strength in loans originated for its portfolio, Downey Financial Corp. reversed a string of monthly declines.
Repurchase Demands Litigated
Two mortgage bankers have been sued by a Wall Street investment bank that is trying to force them to honor $30 million in repurchase requests.
WaMu Realigns Resources
Washington Mutual has laid out plans to integrate subprime operations into its prime unit. The company said it migrated away from whole loan purchases and abandoned correspondent flow business. Related layoffs, however, will be completely offset by a boost to its sales force.
Mortgage Data Strengthens
Mortgage rates tumbled -- though they are projected to increase for the remainder of the year. Meanwhile, the level of mortgage applications improved.
Shifting Market Chronicled in HMDA Data
A government analysis of mortgage application data indicates broker market share is down, nontraditional loan programs are pushing delinquency higher and minorities still see a bigger share of high priced loans.
Market Drives Another Out
More than 80 employees face unemployment as the owners of a northern Ohio-based mortgage company, frustrated by the state of the industry and concerned about hard times ahead, have decided to get out.
Fundings Fall, Foreclosures Surge at Countrywide
If its pipeline activity is any indication, Countrywide Financial Corp., which reported lower monthly originations for last month, can expect originations to tumble this month. Meanwhile, foreclosures continued to surge.
10,000 AHM Borrowers Face Escrow Defaults
Bankrupt American Home Mortgage Investment Corp. is withholding loan files on nearly $1 billion in mortgages, including escrow account records. But it doesn't have access to the escrow funds and reportedly stopped making disbursements last month.
First Horizon to Layoff 1,500
First Horizon Home Loans will dismiss all but its best sales people, reduce its wholesale operation and cut costs in anticipation of significantly lower originations.
Best Builder Lenders
A new report indicates borrowers buying new homes prefer to use their builder's mortgage company. The report ranked the mortgage subsidiary of a Texas-based builder as the best in its class.
States Battle Foreclosures
As states scurry to beef up foreclosure prevention and assistance, one loss mitigation firm is warning that many mortgage servicers are not prepared to deal with the current volume of delinquent borrowers.
Countrywide Sued Over 401K Performance
A Seattle-based law firm has filed a class action complaint against Countrywide Financial Corp. because, it claims, employees were misled about 401(k) investments in shares of the company's stock.
Economists Say App Data Exaggerates
The Mortgage Bankers Association reported today that the level of new loan applications rose during the latest week. But a group of investment banking economists say the report exaggerates mortgage market activity.
End of the Line for Fla. Firm
A national mortgage company with about 1,000 employees working from 400 offices will shut down by next month. A cross town rival is slated to pick up some of the company's branch and headquarters staff.
Layoffs Mount at Option One
Another round of layoffs disclosed by Option One Mortgage Corp.'s parent brings to nearly 1,200 the number of job cuts expected this year at the subprime lender.
Unearned Closing Fee at Issue in Lawsuit
A federal appellate court has reinstated the legal claims of New York borrowers who claim JP Morgan Chase violated federal and state law by charging them a $225 post-closing fee.
Texas Employees Terminated
Lennar Corp. will shut down a Texas mortgage processing center and lay off the employees.
Mortgage Ads Violate TIL
A recent government review of mortgage industry advertising found that hundreds of companies may be deceiving prospective borrowers and violating the law. As a result, more than 200 mortgage advertisers were sent warning letters from a federal regulator.
Flood of Downgrades Continues
Fitch Ratings continued overhauling it ratings on several subprime residential-mortgage backed securities.
Wachovia Mortgage Operation Shines
Wachovia Corp.'s mortgage operation is thriving despite mortgage market turmoil. The company's chief told analysts yesterday that the portfolio lender is well positioned to benefit from the current chaos.
A national wholesaler that specialized in Alt-B programs and launched just last year is gone.
Many multifamily mortgages made their way through the commercial pipeline, while one deal on a Detroit motel closed despite the recent fallout in asset-backed markets.
Broker Market Deteriorates
Mortgage brokers are seeing more borrowers canceling, more wholesalers abandoning their commitments and fewer loans closing, according to a new survey. The declining activity has many originators submitting the same loan packages to more wholesale lenders.
Foreclosure Figures Worse
Foreclosure activity shows no signs of easing.
Companies Boost FHA Focus
IBM Lender Business Process Services Inc. said it has been approved and licensed to conduct origination services for government-insured loans.
Billions of dollars in residential mortgage-backed securities were downgraded as one agency followed through with its reassessment of the quality of subprime deals.
Countrywide Warns of Massive Layoffs
Countrywide Financial Corp. warned it will lay off as many as 12,000 people this year.
Lenders Long For Liquidity
As one mortgage merger squeezed through the pipeline, banks and lenders were preoccupied with liquidity and profits.
IndyMac to Cut 1,000 Jobs
IndyMac Bancorp Inc. plans to eliminate another 1,000 jobs.
How to Find New Mortgage Job
Laid off mortgage employees who are searching for new mortgage jobs typically go about it in the wrong manner. An outplacement firm has put together a presentation to help unemployed workers do a better job finding new mortgage positions.
Employees of Insolvent Lender Lose Lawsuit
A three judge panel ruled in favor of a Wall Street investment banking firm that forced out officers of a mortgage company after it was discovered they had defrauded creditors. Employees of the failed lender claimed in a class action lawsuit the investment banker became liable as their employer for two months' wages when it effectively took control of the organization.
Mortgage Job Decline Takes Breather
Monthly mortgage employment numbers eased during July -- though at nowhere near the pace of June. But a wave of job cuts last month is likely to have a chilling effect on the numbers in the next report.
CMBS Contrast RMBS Ratings
Negative ratings actions on residential mortgage-backed securities showed no signs of abating this week. But the picture was different for commercial deals.
More Details Emerge on FHA Program
More details were released about the new FHASecure program.
ARM Share, Yield Sink
The share of adjustable-rate mortgage applications sank -- though a big drop in the yield of the 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM may change that.
Massive Charge, Layoffs at National City
National City Corp. recently eliminated broker originated home equity business and cut its capacity to originate nonconforming loans -- eliminating over 1,000 positions in the process. The moves will wind up costing the company $200 million.
Lehman Lending Layoffs
Lehman Brothers has restructured its mortgage units and eliminated 850 mortgage jobs.
Countrywide Lays Off 900 More
Countrywide Financial Corp. has cut more jobs.
Subprime ARMs Drive Delinquency Surge
Late payments on subprime adjustable-rate mortgages have increased for eight consecutive quarters and currently sit near 17 percent, while delinquency improved on fixed rate mortgages and loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration. Fueled by activity in just four states, foreclosures continued to rise during the latest quarter.
Mortgage Technology Improves
Mortgage technology providers have enhanced their products with new features as well as integrated services from other vendors. New services added to one technology service contract are projected to save that customer as much as 45 percent.
IndyMac Continues Retail Expansion
IndyMac Bank FSB has picked up several branches from the retail subsidiary of First Magnus Financial Corp. -- which collapsed last month. The move marks IndyMac's second recent foray into retail expansion.
MTA Continues Lower
The Monthly Treasury Average fell for the fourth consecutive month.
Foreclosure Prevention by Government, Group
Federal regulators and consumer advocates laid out their plans to help mitigate rising foreclosures.
Regulators Explain Crisis
Federal regulators gave congressional testimony today about what caused the mortgage crisis of 2007.
RMBS Pricing in Chaos
As several residential mortgage-backed securities saw negative ratings actions, one ratings agency warned that current market disruptions are causing chaos in the pricing of deals. But two deals, including a commercial securitization, saw upgrades.
Hard Money Wholesaler Acquired
A hedge fund manager is bailing the country's biggest hard money wholesale lender out of bankruptcy.
FHLB Advances Jump
|Hotels, Condos, MUDs & Apts Financed
A variety of commercial properties found financing, including $425 million for a Soho condominium project, $101 million for a 4-star Chicago hotel and $64 million for three mixed used properties. Deals were also arranged for multifamily, office and retail properties.
Monthly activity soared at the Federal Home Loan Bank system.
Mergers, Acquisitions & Lawsuits
Corporate activity in the mortgage sector continues to by clouded by litigation -- though some mergers progressed.
The average Cost of Funds Index eased for the second consecutive month.
FHA To The Rescue
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provided more details on President Bush's plan to help delinquent borrowers.
Thornburg Moves Forward
Nonconforming lender Thornburg Mortgage Inc. has boosted its liquidity and is back on its feet originating loans again.
Dramatic NovaStar Reorganization
On the heels of a failed public offering, NovaStar Financial Inc. is dramatically scaling back operations and focusing on strategic alternatives for its servicing portfolio.
More Help for Struggling Lenders
While it is not quite the calvary, more help has arrived for ailing mortgage firms.
Lenders Lose MO Doc Prep Cases
A $125 document preparation fee paid by more than 1,000 mortgage borrowers to a St. Louis lender was illegal and will have to be repaid, with treble damages and other penalties, for a total of $1.2 million, according to a unanimous decision by all seven judges on the Missouri Supreme Court. The case follows multiple settlements by other lenders with tens of thousands of borrowers.