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November 2007 Archive

More Ratings Scrutiny of Underwriting, Fraud
Mortgage fraud and sloppy underwriting on a sample of loans analyzed by one ratings agency led to an overhaul of its process for rating residential transactions. The agency will look more closely at origination and acquisition practices. Meanwhile, no end appears in sight for downgrades on subprime deals, while ratings activity continued to be mostly positive on commercial transactions.

M.I. Usage, Premiums to Increase
As losses mount and the use of mortgage insurance grows, at least one major mortgage insurer plans to boost premiums.

Mixed M.I. Activity
The volume of traditional mortgage insurance written jumped last month, though bulk policies sank.

Business of Mortgage Leads
As a host of mortgage lead programs and updates were launched, one lead generation company is getting into loan originations to compete with its customers -- many who have recently collapsed.

Plans Call for Widespread Modifications
Among federal and state plans being floated to stem an expected flood of foreclosures are widespread loan modifications for subprime borrowers who could afford to continue to pay their mortgages at their teaser start rates. Other foreclosure prevention activity includes local town hall meetings, unsecured loans to catch up delinquent payments and a call for investment banking executives to donate holiday bonuses to a fund for borrowers facing foreclosure.

Losses Force Firms to Seek Capital
As mortgage woes continue to pound the earnings of financial services companies, some major players are raising some major capital. Among those companies is Citigroup, which today announced it would consolidate two mortgage units.

Jumbo, HEL Performance Continues Decline
Delinquency on home equity and jumbo loans backing loan securitizations continued to ascend while prepayments continued to decline, according to a ratings agency report.

Countrywide BK Claims Probed by U.S. Trustee
Countrywide Financial Corp. is being investigated by a U.S. trustee to determine, among other things, whether it inflated the amount it is owed on bankruptcy claims. Counsel for Countrywide said the actions by the trustee, who has entered more than 16 cases involving lenders in at least five states, are random instances of prosecution without cause.

Falling Rates Fail to Spark App Rally
Fixed mortgage rates fell to their lowest level in over two years -- though the decline has yet to stimulate 1003 activity.

More Option ARM Litigation
For the second time this year, Wachovia Corp. has been sued by borrowers who claim they didn't fully understand the terms of their adjustable-rate mortgages with payment options. Both lawsuits seek class-action certification.

Digital Support for Mortgage Lending
Recent innovations in credit reporting technology aim to help mortgage companies maintain compliance and increase available loan prospects. Other digital advances include online authentication using wireless phones and a number of electronic alliances.

Foreclosure Filings Continue to Climb
Foreclosure filings continued their ascent last month, rising marginally from September. But two states, Vermont and Delaware, offered positive data in an otherwise bleak report.

Displaced BoA Employees Hired for FHA
Some of the roughly 700 employees whose jobs were cut because of Bank of America's decision last month to close its wholesale lending division will transfer to a Texas government lending center. The move reflects the rapid growth in government loan programs at the bank.

Anatomy of ABX Indices
A new ratings agency report provides some insight into the ABX.HE indices and confirms that the transactions included in them closely track the performance of all subprime securitizations. The study identified factors that closely correlated to actual performance -- though credit scores and loan-to-values were not among them.

Bank Earnings Tumble
Driven by a sharp increase in loan loss provisions, earnings at federally insured banks tumbled.

Wells Moves to Stem HEL Losses
Wells Fargo & Co. announced it will move home equity loans originated by mortgage brokers and correspondent lenders into a portfolio that it plans to liquidate. The bank will take more than $1 billion in charges against those loans.

BoA Correspondent Exit Nets Layoffs
Bank of America's exit from the correspondent mortgage market will result in South Carolina layoffs.

5 More Halt New Business
Five more mortgage companies have fallen victim to the mortgage meltdown. Among them are Charter One Bank's specialty lending group, Valley Vista Mortgage and New State Mortgage. The other two, BrooksAmerica Mortgage Corp. and Paul Financial, hope to be operating again soon.

Billions in Subprime Securities Downgraded
An update to loss forecasting assumptions led to negative ratings actions on over $1 billion in subprime securitizations, while more than $5 billion in collateralized debt obligations saw negative actions being of credit deterioration at the issuers. Meanwhile, another $30 billion in CDOs was downgraded due to credit deterioration in underlying collateral and changes to the default forecasting assumptions.

Midwest Most Affordable
Borrowers on purchase money loans in Midwest areas are likely to have the lowest debt ratios, a new report from the nation's homebuilders suggests. But the findings contrast the high level of foreclosures for the region.

Wells Stops Standalone Seconds
Wells Fargo Wholesale Home Equity Lending has notified its mortgage brokers that it will halt some of its second mortgage programs.

Economic Impact of Foreclosure Crisis
Major metropolitan areas will lose more than $160 billion as a result of the foreclosure crisis, according to a study from the nation's mayors.

Chase Cuts Nonprime Jobs
Hundreds of nonprime mortgage employees at JPMorgan Chase & Co. will lose their jobs by yearend.

Big 10-Year Rally
The 10-year Treasury yield tumbled today -- falling below 4 percent to its lowest level in more than three years.

Subprime Bankruptcy, Liquidation & Losses
The latest corporate activity in mortgage lending involved the bankruptcy of Fieldstone Mortgage Co., the liquidation of the former parent of a subprime lender and estimates of billions of dollars in subprime losses at Freddie Mac. Still, one merger managed to surface.

Senator Targets Massive Countrywide Borrowings
Following his request for expanded lending at two government sponsored enterprises, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is now calling on regulators to restrict lending at another GSE to Countrywide Bank.

Formula Boosts Closings
Knowledge, skill and motivation are three components essential to sales success -- especially as the overall market struggles, according to a new sales book reviewed by

Severed CEOs Not Suffering
The subprime meltdown has cost chief executive officers at three major financial firms their jobs. But a report released earlier this month estimated two of the terminated chiefs will receive over $200 million in severance pay while other major firms would be liable for $800 million if their CEOs are terminated.

Retail Rules
While retail properties dominated the latest round of commercial lending activity, one multifamily deal came through and an industrial building secured the largest amount of funds.

Recent commercial mortgage transactions

ResCap Scrambling to Survive
The parent of Residential Capital LLC is scrambling to help the lender maintain required net worth covenants. Among possible moves are a sale of all or part of the company as well as the possible integration into a foreign mortgage lender that its parent is currently negotiating to acquire.

Rates Reach 6 Month Low
Fewer mortgage prospects visited originator shops even as rates improved.

Servicers Accused of Overstating Loan Balances
Mortgage servicers frequently disregard bankruptcy law and submit inadequate or erroneous claims, a university law professor alleged in a recent 48-page report that indicated lenders and borrowers disagreed on the balance owing in most cases. She suggested illegal fees regularly tacked on to balances without sufficiently identifying the nature of the fees are symptomatic of servicing in general.

Downgrade Nightmare Continues
Two ratings agencies continued their assaults on subprime mortgage-backed securities, though there were some positive actions on commercial deals.

Thrift Earnings, Originations Worse
The good news is that thrifts increased mortgage market share and decreased adjustable-rate originations. The bad news is that thrift earnings sank, delinquency jumped and problem thrifts more than doubled. But the sector's regulator is optimistic about the ability of thrifts to weather the worsening storm.

Countrywide Accused of Interest Overcharges
A lawsuit has been filed against Countrywide Financial Corp.'s servicing subsidiary. The company is accused of overcharging interest on mortgage loans after they were paid in full, according to the lawsuit which seeks class action status.

Major Mortgage Sector Shakeups
Freddie Mac is in need of more capital while Countrywide Financial Corp. says it is liquid. And problems at Option One Mortgage Corp., which could soon be shut down, led to yet another executive casualty.

Digitized Originations
One technology company aims to make it easier for originators looking to step into reverse lending while another is targeting underwriters with a product that scores the likelihood on unemployment for prospective borrowers. Also among the latest mortgage technology innovations was an integration of a loan pricing system into a popular loan originations system.

Bankruptcy Possible at ResCap
If $1.5 billion in equity investments in real estate held by Residential Capital LLC turn sour, the owners of the unit could send it into bankruptcy, according to an analyst report.

Freddie Business Deteriorates
Business deteriorated at Freddie Mac, which reported a decline in monthly purchases, an increase in delinquency and a $2 billion quarterly loss.

Reverse Lending Outlook
Reverse mortgage loans offer hope to a battered mortgage industry, though it is not retiring Baby Boomers but their parents who will provide demand. However, a potential flood of entrants into the growing market troubles some established players.

UBS Closes Wholesale Unit
UBS AG, a worldwide financial services giant that analysts say is preparing for a big write down, is closing it U.S.-based wholesale mortgage business.

Foreclosures: Mitigate, Litigate & Legislate
Minnesota, Texas and Virginia are taking more steps to prevent foreclosures. Meanwhile, federal government regulators are also weighing in.

Citi Downgraded on Subprime Exposure
Shares of Citigroup Inc., which said earlier this month it would take subprime related charges of as much as $11 billion, were downgraded by a Wall Street investment banking firm that forecasts even higher losses for the financial services giant.

Wells CEO Touts Performance
At a recent conference, the president of Wells Fargo & Co. said the company has mostly avoided many of the risky mortgages and securities that are dogging its competitors. He warned the country has not seen this bad of a residential real estate market since the Great Depression.

Mortgage Casualties Mount
Impac Mortgage Holdings Inc. warned stockholder equity has been wiped out, while Franklin Credit Management Corp. has halted operations. Meanwhile, international fallout from the U.S. subprime crisis continued to mount.

Broker Partnerships Shut Down
First American Title Insurance Co. has settled with government regulators for millions of dollars allegations it set up 84 Florida partnerships -- some with mortgage brokers -- to circumvent the prohibition of referral fees.

Senators Legislate Mortgage Lending
U.S. senators have been busy moving mortgage legislation through both houses. One prominent legislator said nearly one third of subprime borrowers from a region in his state could have qualified for conforming loans.

Groups Oppose Industry's Positions
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Easing the mortgage lending crisis requires assignee liability, the elimination of both yield premiums and risk-based pricing, and more federal involvement in mortgage lending, according to a panel of community activists who met this week at a reporters' roundtable. Their positions are starkly opposed by mortgage groups.

Apartment, Office & Retail Buildings Financed
Multifamily activity again dominated the latest commercial mortgage activity, though multiple office transactions were originated. Deals tracked in this edition totaled nearly $200 million.

Recent commercial mortgage transactions
States Target Brokers
Mortgage lenders in Massachusetts have been granted more time and further clarification on a controversial new broker regulation that was supposed to take effect yesterday. But there was no reprieve for brokers in Colorado, Illinois or Michigan. Ohio mortgage lenders, meanwhile, have raised the ire of Ohio's chief attorney.

MBS Downgrades Persist
The methodology for rating collateralized debt obligations has been modified by one agency to reflect the magnitude of the deteriorating performance of subprime loans backing mortgage securitizations. Commercial deals continued to be among the few bright spots in this latest edition of ratings activity on mortgage-backed securities.

Full House Passes H.R. 3915
The full U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3915 today. Those happy with its passage include mortgage brokers -- who successfully lobbied for the preservation of yield spread premiums. But the president and mortgage bankers oppose it.

Missing Assignments Delay OH Foreclosures
Federal judges in Cleveland are tossing out foreclosure cases, contending that lenders and investors need to document a chain of ownership of loans being foreclosed. The cases underscore emerging issues from the subprime meltdown.

30-Year Freezes, ARMs Up
The long-term mortgage average was stuck in a time warp this week, and the forecast is more of the same. But adjustable-rate activity heated up.

Commercial Activity Tumbles
Led by a big decline in hotel financing, quarterly commercial mortgage originations were off by nearly a third. Fundings through securitizations were also way down. But a growing number of baby boomers apparently sent health care property deals soaring.

Foreclosures and Solutions
So far, a few metropolitan areas have been able to avoid the surge in foreclosures. One area that has not been so lucky, however, is getting some help from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Bankruptcy Possible at NovaStar
NovaStar Financial Inc., which has become a mortgage broker, had a quarterly loss of more than $500 million -- wiping out all stockholder equity. The company acknowledged bankruptcy is a possibility.

International Losses Mount from U.S. Subprime
International firms continue to be plagued by billions of dollars in charges from U.S. subprime mortgages, and more charges are expected. Among the latest companies to disclose massive mortgage related charges were the Royal Bank of Canada, Japan's Mizuho Financial Group Inc. and the U.K.'s HSBC Holdings -- though there were still plenty of losses domestically.

MortgageIT Shuts Down Retail
Deutsche Bank is closing the retail side of its MortgageIT unit -- though the company will continue to operate its wholesale lending division, has learned.

World of Warehousing
DALLAS -- Warehouse lending is not going away, though it has tightened up, according to panelists at a Texas mortgage banking conference this week. The sector, which operates on the basis of short term financing, has become saddled with mortgages from failed customers.

Accredited Attempts Revival
Accredited Home Lenders, armed with new account executives, a fresh slate of brokers, new nonconforming mortgage products and a $100 million capital infusion from Lone Star Funds, is reviving its business. The move, however, appears to be an uphill battle in the face of a collapsed secondary market.

E-LOAN Layoffs
E-LOAN Inc. has given pink slips to over half of its staff. The company attributed the move to the current mortgage environment.

National Mortgage Banking Law Firm To Provide Content and Analysis To Online News Publication
WASHINGTON, D.C, and DALLAS -- Weiner Brodsky Sidman Kider PC, one of the premiere law firms specializing in financial services, and, a dominant online news publication for the mortgage industry, have announced an innovative strategy that will enable real estate finance executives, analysts and regulators to have more timely and comprehensive access to important industry issues.

Volatility Ahead for CMBS
While commercial mortgage-backed securities continued to see upgrades, one agency warned volatility in the sector could rise. On nonprime deals, the downgrades continued.

Digital Finance
As the number of wholesale lending programs diminish, the technology for finding and interacting with wholesalers continues to grow. Meanwhile, two recent technology offerings promise to help originators improve relationships with prospective borrowers.

Alt-A Company Done
A Maryland mortgage company that reportedly specialized in Alt-A programs and employed 200 people as of last year has been driven out of business by a dried up secondary market.

Countrywide Improves
Countrywide Financial Corp. reported an increase in monthly production and a decrease in its foreclosure rate.

Some E*TRADE Recovery After Bankruptcy Warning
Shares of E*TRADE Financial Corp. recovered some of yesterday's stinging losses that were prompted by an analyst's warning of possible bankruptcy.

Foreclosure Prevention Journal
Ohio servicers refused to get on board with a plan from the state's attorney general -- prompting him to initiate an investigation into subprime lenders. Other states and at least one lender are pouring money into foreclosure prevention programs.

How to Be a Mortgage Broker
One of the steps to take to become a megaproducing originator is to remember it's not about making money, it's about helping clients achieve their own goals. Do that and the money takes care of itself, according to a new book on how to be a mortgage broker.

Broker Grows Despite Meltdown
While he may not be earning the $10 million he earned in 2003, a Massachusetts mortgage broker is still increasing loan closings and adding more originators.

Mortgage broker Leif Thomsen adding employees, closing more

Multifamily Deals Dominate Activity
Multifamily property deals accounted for half of the latest commercial loan transactions tracked by, though they accounted for nearly 90 percent of the dollar volume.

Sector Earnings Sink, Countrywide Faces Junk Rating
As as billions of dollars in write downs on nonconforming mortgage securities continued at a host of companies, Countrywide Financial Corp. warned its debt ratings could be cut to junk status -- which would impair its access to capital. And while earnings also deteriorated at Fannie Mae, the company is now current with required securities filings.

RMBS Ratings Suffer as CMBS Shine
Billions of dollars in residential securities continued to be impacted from an ongoing wave of ratings downgrades. But a wave of commercial upgrades also continued.

Countrywide Still Committed to 7,500 TX Jobs
Nearly three years ago, Countrywide Financial Corp.'s chairman and chief executive officer committed to create 7,500 jobs in Texas by 2011. Today, the Calabasas, Calif.-based company confirmed it still plans to meet that commitment.

PHH Volume, Earnings & Delinquency Worse
Origination activity eased, earnings worsened and delinquency climbed at PHH Mortgage.

Lawsuit Over Denied M.I. Claims
A bankrupt mortgage servicer has filed a lawsuit against a mortgage insurer because of rejected claims. But the insurance company claims mortgage fraud on the loans in question relieves it of liability.

NovaStar Lays Off Over Half of Staff
NovaStar Mortgage Inc.'s recent sale of most of its servicing rights wiped out hundreds of Missouri jobs.

As Losses Mount, Investors Sue
With almost $4 billion more in subprime related charges announced yesterday by two financial giants, investors are becoming extremely litigious. But one mortgage company acquisition did manage to close.

Hundreds Terminated at Delta
Delta Financial Corp. today announced nearly 500 layoffs and is looking for more working capital.

Rates, Apps Slip
Fixed mortgage rates slipped while average adjustable rates tumbled. Meanwhile, most forecasts have mortgage rates heading higher.

Wholesaling Updates
Mortgage brokers are likely to be impacted from a number of updates announced by Freddie Mac. Other wholesale program activity included the launch of a jumbo lender and the promotion of a commercial mortgage training program.

Mortgage Technologists Advance
Improvements to loan origination systems were dominant among the latest mortgage technology innovations. Other activity included a pricing engine that alerts originators when rates improve on individual unclosed loans, a study that linked online activity to customer quality and lead targeting based on current lender and loan type.

ResMAE Halts New Business
After successfully emerging from bankruptcy earlier this year with fresh capital, ResMAE Mortgage Corp. has apparently become the latest victim of the subprime industry meltdown.

2nds, Subprime Downgraded
Poor second lien performance has led to a wave of downgrades on residential mortgage-backed securities. Subprime ratings continued to be hammered though there were several upgrades to commercial transactions.

HR 3915 Approved by Committee
HR 3915 advanced through the House Committee on Financial Services. The proposed legislation would limit yield spread premiums and push more loans into the burdensome, high cost category.

Attorney General Gone Wild
New York's attorney general has expanded his investigation of appraisal fraud at eAppraiseIT to determine whether Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac helped Washington Mutual in an alleged conspiracy to inflate fair market values. One major appraisal trade group was quoted in the state's announcement as saying that the allegations are proof that mortgage lenders are responsible for bad appraisals.

Commercial Mortgage Transactions
Healthcare, office and multifamily properties secured many of the latest commercial mortgage transactions tracked by Fannie Mae funded a senior housing deal while Freddie Mac acquired one of several multifamily deals.

3 Head to the Graveyard
Three recent subprime casualties include companies based in Arizona, California and New Jersey.

Originators Certifiable
Loan originators can enhance their image with a seal of approval from various mortgage organizations.

HOPE NOW for Foreclosures
Dominant among national foreclosure prevention activity is the HOPE NOW alliance -- a coalition of counselors, servicers, investors, and other mortgage market participants. Other, more local, prevention activity has emerged in Los Angeles, New York and New Jersey.

Allied Employees Collect
Allied Home Mortgage Corp. has paid nearly $2 million in back wages to hundreds of employees.

CMBS Volume Headed Lower
As numerous negative ratings continued on residential mortgage-backed securities, one agency warned lower volume is ahead for commercial deals.

Mortgage Market Chaos Continues
Mortgage mergers were overshadowed this week by the collapse of a wholesale operation, the forced closing of a credit union and the planned divestiture of a mortgage unit. As earnings at financial institutions continued to be dragged down by subprime problems, one subprime lender saw its credit lines cut further.

Refi, Cashout Volume Sinks
The share of refinances and cashouts increased during the third quarter -- though the dollar volume sank.

Big IndyMac Loss, Lower Volume
IndyMac Bancorp saw quarterly production fall as it reported a loss of more than $200 million.

Mortgage Guidelines, Demand Constricts
As U.S. banks continued to tighten mortgage guidelines, prospective borrowers showed less interest.

Foreclosure Filings Jump
Foreclosures worsened, though the news wasn't as bad as it looked.

WMC Down to Dozens
After the latest round of layoffs, just 100 employees remain out of thousands employed earlier this year by WMC Mortgage Corp., though a buyer is still sought for the remaining business.

Environment, Appearance Enhance Sales Skills
Confidence, personal organization and a pleasant environment are all pieces of the successful selling puzzle, according to the latest sales book reviewed by

Digitally Price, Close & Analyze Loans
From better program selection to better forecasting of loan performance, mortgage technology providers are moving forward with improvements to all facets of the loan life cycle.

Enormous Charges, Shakeup at Citi
Citigroup Inc. will take subprime related charges of as much as $11 billion as its chairman steps aside and a former Clinton Treasury secretary steps in.

FTC Calls for Simpler Disclosures
In a report to federal banking regulators, the Federal Trade Commission suggested current subprime loan disclosures only confuse prospective borrowers and often don't convey the real terms of the loan.

MTA Better
The Monthly Treasury Average continued to improve.

2nd Lien Programs Halted
Two correspondent lenders have stopped buying second lien loans.

Office Financing Activity Heats Up
The latest journal of commercial mortgage transactions was dominated by $184 million in office building loans -- though, at more than $100 million, there was no shortage apartment building deals.

HUD Forced to Delay DPA Rule
A federal judge has determined that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development cannot selectively grant waivers to its rule disallowing seller-funded downpayment assistance on loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration, and has ordered the agency to temporarily halt implementation of the regulation. The move clears the way for all DPA firms to continue offering their services to FHA borrowers for an additional four months.

Mortgage Jobs Off 100k From 2006
Nearly 100,000 people have given up careers in mortgage lending since last year.

NY Lawsuit Alleges Massive Appraisal Fraud
The State of New York has filed a lawsuit against eAppraiseIT alleging the company conspired with Washington Mutual Inc. to produce fraudulent appraisals. But the accusations are primarily based on just a few e-mails that marginally support the state's case.

Massive Loss, Lower Fundings at ResCap
Losses at Residential Capital LLC continued to mount even as originations were less than half the level 12 months earlier.

Falling Rates to Rise
As loan applications and the share of refinance activity climbed, mortgage rates tumbled -- though they are forecasted to rise.

Brokers to Fight Expanded YSP Disclosures
Mortgage brokers blasted an expanded Good Faith Estimate proposed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. They are concerned the proposed disclosure of yield spread premiums will give an unfair advantage to mortgage bankers.

Merger Activity Up, Earnings Down
An investment firm took a major position in two major mortgage bankers as the acquisition of three other mortgage and banking companies was completed. Meanwhile, mortgage related charges of more than $2.5 billion hurt the earnings of two international financial institutions.

RMBS, CMBS Ratings Continue Divergence
Fitch Ratings lowered ratings on a series of Alt-A residential mortgage backed-securities.

Foreclosures Jump, Prevention Programs Soar
Foreclosures showed no signs of abating during the latest quarter, and one senior government official said the catastrophe is still unfolding.

Fraud Index Jumps
Activity on civil and criminal mortgage fraud cases deteriorated during November -- though the dollar amount eased.



Week Ending November 30

Week Ending November 23

Week Ending November 16

Week Ending November 9

Week Ending November 2


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