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October 2006 Archive

Chase Deals Dominate Mortgage M&As
JPMorgan Chase & Co. dominated the latest mortgage related mergers, acquisitions and other corporate activity.

Wholesale Program Databases
A recently launched wholesale loan search database promises to hook mortgage brokers up with the best loan options for free. But a competitor warns that you get what you pay for.

Mortgage Fraud Lawsuit
A national mortgage lender has filed a lawsuit against six businesses and 28 individuals -- including several mortgage brokers and originators -- alleging that it has been the victim of a complex sting operation, causing the company to approve 19 loans that have all defaulted.

Colo Leads Rising Foreclosures
Foreclosure activity increased in the latest quarter. While the Centennial State continued to lead the nation, a mortgage industry group noted the rate is low compared to historical standards.

Banks Report Weak Mortgage Demand
Banks underwriting standards remained unchanged over the past three months, despite falling home loan demand.

Unlicensed Online Marketing
An Arizona-based mortgage broker calls it mainly a clerical error and misunderstanding that the state of Washington believes he was operating an unlicensed mortgage operation.

Originations Off at PHH
Production slowed at PHH Corp.

Mortgage Execs Offer Gloomy Outlook
Four senior mortgage banking executives speaking in Chicago last week delivered uniformly dour forecasts of market performance next year.

Fannie Purchases Surge
A September surge pushed Fannie Mae's quarterly business higher.

New Century Servicing Improves
New Century Mortgage Corp. improved its handling of subprime loans.

Net Branch Additions
The largest net branch operation expanded its footprint -- once again.

'06 Mortgage Fraud may Reach $4.2 Billion
Fraud for housing is growing faster than fraud for profit as "rates have moved up and put homes out of reach" for more people, according to a mortgage banking panel session this week.

Layoffs at ABN AMRO
ABN AMRO Mortgage Group Inc. is consolidating its servicing operations, resulting in hundreds of layoffs.

$3 Million Bankrate Settlement
Bankrate Inc. has agreed to pay $3 million to settle a lawsuit brought by a mortgage lender who claimed that the popular purveyor of consumer interest rate data looked the other way while other lenders used the company's Web site to deceive prospective borrowers.

JPMorgan Chairman Stepping Down
JPMorgan Chase & Co. will start the new year with a new chairman.

Reverse Production Explodes
The number of reverse mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration almost doubled over the year, with California markets leading the way.

Rates Edge Higher
Application volume held steady as rates nudged up.

Brokers Drive Early Defaults
A recent analysis revealed that just a few brokers are responsible for a big share of early payment defaults.

$25 Million Inside Job
Mortgage loan officer Elizabeth Hessel and Angela Parenza, her office manager, "would do anything" to close a loan.

Record American Home Activity
Fundings increased to a new record at American Home Mortgage Investment Corp.

ResCap Originations Rise
The mortgage-lending arm of GMAC pushed quarterly and annual fundings higher.

2,500 Countrywide Job Cuts
In anticipation of a worsening marketplace, Countrywide Financial Corp. is beefing up its salesforce and cutting thousands of jobs that don't generate revenue.

Mortgage Phishing
Borrowers are receiving e-mail messages from what appears to be their mortgage lenders. But the e-mails, as well as the Web sites they link to, are totally fake and designed to trick the borrower into providing personal data.

NV Warns about Fake VODs
Nevada regulators are warning mortgage brokers and lenders about a company that is offering phony asset verifications.

Freddie Reports Uptick
Monthly purchases edged down but quarterly business ticked up for Freddie Mac.

Fraud Brokers Shut Down
Georgia state regulators are yanking the licenses of two Atlanta mortgage brokers.

MBA Chief Chosen
The upcoming frontman of the Mortgage Bankers Association has been appointed.

Colo Probing Originator Ads
Colorado officials have launched an investigation to stop mortgage originators from using deceptive advertising -- a practice contributing to the state's leading foreclosure rate.

New Chase Chief
A new mortgage chief presides at Chase.

American Home Upgraded
American Home Mortgage Servicing Inc. improved its servicing.

Alt-A Up, Rest Down
Nontraditional activity maintained momentum despite an overall slowdown in residential originations.

Integrated Warehouse Platform
An upcoming system promises to optimize the operations of warehouse lenders by enabling direct front- and back-end communication with brokers, correspondents, warehouse borrowers and investors.

Exec Appointments Abound
The government has approved the merger of what will be the 15th biggest bank in the United States.

Alt-A Business Doubles
The largest mortgage bankers grabbed a bigger share of the market last year as Alt-A originations took off, according to a recent 94-page report from Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's regulator.

e-Signatures Set to Explode
A growing number of mortgage banking firms are exploring electronic signatures.

Tough Times at First Horizon
First Horizon National Corp. fundings fell and earnings plummeted.

Major Lenders Sued Over Spam
When the president of a California business noticed her company's e-mail servers had suddenly started receiving loads of junk mail from what appeared to be actual mortgage companies, she decided to do some sleuthing.

Lead Company Shuts Down
A Charlotte, N.C., lead generation company that abruptly closed its doors is trying to make amends with its customers and the 75 employees it left behind.

GreenPoint Activity Weakens
Residential loan production eased at GreenPoint Mortgage.

BoA Business Slips
Mortgage volume slowed at Bank of America.

Market Softens
Rates retreated from their ascension, but so did applications.

Nonprime Warnings
Strong competition in the subprime sector prompted Accredited Home Lenders Holding Co. to warn investors about earnings.

Citi Business Weaker
Citigroup Inc.'s quarterly mortgage fundings fell.

WaMu Mortgage Business Worsens
A decision to exit correspondent lending helped slow mortgage production for the fourth consecutive quarter at Washington Mutual Inc., which announced negative earnings from its mortgage unit. Adjustable-rate originations accounted for nearly three-quarters of the thrift's latest fundings.

Deadline Looms for Colo Brokers
Jason Berman isn't panicking -- at least not yet -- even though it appears most of Colorado's mortgage brokers have yet to apply for the licenses they will need to operate in the state after Jan. 1.

Record Alt-A Volume
Residential mortgage securitizations have been flat or declined during the first half of this year. But Alt-A issuance, fueled by affordable mortgage demand, hit a record -- and is not expected to wane.

SunTrust Down
SunTrust Banks Inc. could not sustain its record pace of production.

Wholesaler Customer Management
A California company is offering a new service that manages the entire broker and correspondent approval process for wholesale mortgage lenders.

Slower Fundings at JPMorgan
Mortgage production weakened at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

150 Jobs Coming to Ohio
A new call center in Ohio will result in the addition of 150 nonprime mortgage jobs by 2008.

Aborted Audit Excruciates Auditors
Auditors have settled for nearly $40 million a lawsuit charging them with failing to notify investors of an audit that was aborted upon the discovery of financial fraud. The settlement caps the sensational history of a mortgage banker that used hundreds of millions of dollars intended to fund mortgage loans for his own lavish lifestyle -- buying himself a yacht, giving his adult-film actress girlfriend a mansion, and driving his company into a massive bankruptcy.

Reverse RMBS Planned
Mortgage bankers embraced Ginnie Mae's plan to securitize pools of federally-insured reverse loans.

Downey Business Sinks
Downey Financial Corp. production fell for the seventh consecutive quarter and may be further affected by the recent federal guidance on nontraditional loans.

Broker Running for Mayor
Experience as a real estate agent and mortgage broker is helping a Kentucky man develop a competitive platform in his race for mayor of Russellville.

National City Fundings Maintain
Defying an early third quarter trend, mortgage volume held steady at National City Corp.

Credit Score Lawsuit
A lawsuit filed against the three major credit bureaus accuses the trio of using false and misleading claims to promote adoption of their own credit scoring product. But the lawsuit, which was anticipated, was without merit, the bureaus contend.

Quicken Adding AZ Employees
The nation's largest online retail mortgage lender will add hundreds of high-earnings jobs in the Grand Canyon State.

Wells Biggest Servicer
Wells Fargo & Co. leapfrogged past Countrywide Financial Corp. to become the biggest residential servicer in the country.

Mixed REIT Performance
Real estate investment trusts have done well at managing their balance sheets, though mergers in the sector haven't been as positive.

Jumbo Performance Weakens
Monthly jumbo performance worsened.

New Freddie CFO
A new chief financial officer now presides at Freddie Mac.

Reverse Redlining Ruling Reaffirmed
Pennsylvania's top court has decided to let stand a lower court decision against a mortgage broker that Pennsylvania law forbids "reverse redlining."

Wachovia Fundings Dip
Mortgage volume slipped during the third quarter for Wachovia Corp.

M&A Activity Thins
Mortgage merger activity has slowed. But some deals, including the acquisition of a mortgage lender for credit unions, are still active.

IRS e-Verifications
A new Internal Revenue Service form enables mortgage lenders to electronically verify income with the agency.

HUD Settlements
The parent companies of three mortgage bankers settled with the Department of Housing and Urban Development charges that they engaged in captive title reinsurance practices.

NetBank Unloads Portfolio
NetBank Inc. will take a multimillion dollar hit from selling a majority of its mortgage servicing rights.

Maryland Originators Face Deadline
Thousands of mortgage originators in Maryland may be prohibited from doing business come January due to an expected rush of license applications -- far more than the state may be able to process.

New Century Updates Underwriting
New Century Financial Corp. is tightening debt ratio requirements, stepping up confirmation of income on stated income loans and increasing the transparency of its mortgage products.

Rates Get Ugly
Rates jumped in response to inflation concerns and pushed application activity down.

Marginal Benefits from Longer Terms
Loans with terms in excess of 30 years do not yield a substantially lower payment for the borrower. Yet these longer amortizations have dramatically increased -- prompting one ratings agency to develop new criteria for longer term loans.

10 Years for Broker
A $6 million mortgage fraud scheme will cost a southern California mortgage broker more than 10 years in prison.

Broker Scams Dominate Fraud
Mortgage broker schemes are the single biggest mortgage fraud risk, according to an analysis of millions of loans.

WaMu Loses Upcharging Appeal
A California state appellate court has found Washington Mutual Inc. liable for upcharging for settlement services provided by third-parties. In so ruling, the court reversed an earlier decision against the Los Angeles-area borrowers who had challenged the controversial business practice.

Foreclosure Activity Worsens
Foreclosures continued climbing during the latest quarter, and the outlook points to more increases.

Bear Buys Subprime Unit
An investment banker has agreed to buy the subprime wholesale assets of a troubled mortgage banker.

Repurchasing a Healthy Process
Mortgage loan repurchases have recently been on the rise, according to new report. But the increase does not necessarily indicate a troubling trend.

Countrywide Production Down
Quarterly fundings fell at Countrywide Financial Corp.

SEC Sues Former Mortgage Exec
The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a lawsuit against the former president of a California mortgage company -- accusing him of fraudulently raising more than $30 million to pay off personal gambling debts and fund a lavish lifestyle.

Pros, Cons of Commercial Originations
Commercial mortgage originations can be very lucrative for residential mortgage brokers. But these complicated transactions take more time, require more work and experience more fallout than their residential counterparts.

More Mass. Brokers Busted
Massachusetts regulators have issued cease and desist orders against two mortgage brokers for alleged fraud and four mortgage companies that were operating without required licenses.

New Century Originations Off
Quarterly volume dipped at New Century Financial Corp.

Banks Dominate M&As
Banks were buzzing with activity during the latest week.

Service Guaranteed Higher Credit Scores
The state of Missouri has shut down a credit repair service that allegedly did nothing for the nearly $500 it charged. The owner of the company, who falsely claimed to carry a mortgage license, has been shut down before under another business name.

Maine Targets Trigger Leads
Mortgage leads generated from credit report inquiries are being used by deceitful originators who are claiming to be affiliated with the companies that pulled the reports.

Recruitment Spawns Lawsuit
Connecticut regulators are accusing CTX Mortgage Co. of illegally recruiting the employees and stealing secret information from a competitor.

Subprime ARMs Waning
Subprime adjustable-rate mortgages are showing signs of weakness in high priced markets.

MTA Keeps Climbing
The Monthly Treasury Average continued its relentless climb in September.

States Developing National License Registry
Mortgage bankers oppose a national licensing program being developed by state mortgage regulators.

Mortgage Jobs Expand
Jobs in real estate finance held their ground during the latest month.

Money Store Resurrected
The Money Store is back. But don't look for subprime loans, TV commercials or Phil Rizzuto this time around.

Refis Surge
The latest week held little change for interest rates, but that didn't stop refinance applications from jumping.

Mortgage Exec Sentenced
A mortgage executive and a binge-drinking Realtor have been sentenced to prison for their roles in a $50 million mortgage fraud scheme.

State Stops Seconds
An Ohio homebuilder may have to refund interest on as many as 300 loans because it was not licensed to make second mortgages.

Originating Costs Rise
Despite higher volume, annual mortgage profits per loan were slashed by more than a half.

Subprime Servicer Upgraded
The mortgage servicing subsidiary of Merrill Lynch & Co. received a ratings upgrade for its handling of subprime loans.

Overtime Ruling Favors Employers
The mortgage industry, which is still facing lawsuits and federal enforcement actions over originator overtime, has been handed a reprieve for the second time this year in the form of an opinion letter recently released by the U.S. Department of Labor. But employers must analyze whether the job duties of exempted employees match those laid out in the ruling.

Help for Delinquent 2nds
Servicers of delinquent second lien loans can get help from a new company.

HEL Servicer's Ratings Raised
An Indiana-based company that is shedding its conforming operations is doing a better job at servicing its junior liens.

RMBS Unit Shuddered
A prominent investment banker will stop underwriting mortgage-backed securities as part of a broader restructuring plan.

Mortgage Ops Being Divested
As one merger started falling apart over a loan adjustment, several others successfully closed. Meanwhile, mortgage operations are being divested.

Spanish Speaking Borrowers Duped
A Texas-based mortgage broker has settled with the Federal Trade Commission charges that it offered less favorable loan terms in English-only closing documents than what borrowers were verbally promised in Spanish.

Harassment Lawsuit Filed by EEOC
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against a Utah-based residential mortgage lender alleging female workers were sexually harassed by the owner and other employees. But an attorney for the defendants claims an internal investigation by the company paints a different picture.

Branches Terminated from FHA
Two mortgage company branches had their authority to originate single-family FHA loans terminated by HUD.

MI Activity Up
Private mortgage insurance issuance improved in August.

Fremont Ratings Improved
Fremont Investment & Loan is better at subprime loan servicing.

COFI Rises Again
The West Coast-based index for adjustable-rate mortgages continued past the five-year-high mark.

Pricing, Prequals Integrated Into LOS
Enhancements to a widely used loan origination system will reportedly enable mortgage originators to shop multiple wholesalers simultaneously and earn an average of $600 more per transaction. A similar integration previously done at a competing company has resulted in "huge increases in productivity."

Exotic Mortgage Guidance Issued
Federal banking regulators have issued guidance that calls for clearer disclosures and tighter underwriting on exotic loans. But mortgage bankers say the new underwriting standards will choke innovation.

Mortgage Fraud a $1 Billion Industry
Losses from mortgage fraud ballooned to $1 billion last year, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation is blaming mortgage brokers for the increase. Meanwhile, Los Angeles is the star in an upcoming FBI report.

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