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May 2011 Archive


COFI Continues Free Fall
It's been 10 straight months now that the 11th District Cost of Funds Index has fallen. The last time that the index was this low was in 2009.

M.I. Firms Turn In Weak Performance
Mortgage insurers wrote fewer policies last month, while the balance of outstanding policies retreated and delinquency edged higher.

2nd Lien Servicer Rating Raised at Green Tree
A "unique" servicing structure was a factor in the upgrading of Green Tree Servicing LLC's junior-lien servicer rating.

2 Cities Defy Double Dip
Home values in 18 of the 20-largest cities turned lower -- with prices in 12 cities falling to new lows. But two cities -- one on the West Coast and one on the East Coast -- managed an increase.

Mortgage Laundry List for CFPB
On July 21, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau takes over enforcement of several key regulations impacting mortgage lenders and banks.

Banks Feel Pain of Housing Market
Bank stocks -- especially those of the largest institutions -- have been hit hard this year. A double dip in housing prices could place more downward pressure on shares -- though that possibility might already be factored into prices. But an upward move in interest rates could be a boon for big banks.

Wholesaler, Bank Push 2011 Casualties to 65
A mortgage business owned by an East Coast bank is abandoning third-party originations, while a West Coast bank was seized by state regulators. So far this year, 65 mortgage-related casualties have been tracked.

Judge Casts Cloud Over Oregon Foreclosures
A federal judge in Oregon has blocked a foreclosure in a case involving Mortgage Electronic Registration System -- casting a cloud over thousands of foreclosures. Lenders and MERS have turned to Oregon's legislature for help.

Inside the Boardroom of Failing Bank
As the Bank of Illinois neared failure, directors were pre-occupied with personal liability for the bank's demise and a concentration of loans to a single borrower.

O/O Foreclosures Frozen in Hawaii
Foreclosures on owner-occupied properties in Hawaii have been frozen because of a new law that prohibits nonjudicial foreclosure sales until borrowers participate in a dispute resolution program that might not even be available until Oct. 1. The program will be funded through a $250 fee lenders pay each time they initiate a nonjudicial foreclosure.

YSPs At Issue in $1 Million Settlement
A settlement in a class-action lawsuit will cost Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp. more than a million dollars. At issue are alleged undisclosed yield spread premiums and claims of mortgage fraud by a Missouri originator.

Jumbo Rates Dive
While mortgage rates showed a slight improvement this week, the cost of a jumbo mortgage tumbled. But better rates weren't enough to overcome a drop in conventional refinances.

MMI 222 for the week ended May 27, 2011

Former Fannie Exec Defends Hiring of Frank's Companion
Retired Fannie Mae executive Gerald McMurray, who hired the former companion of U.S. Rep. Barney Frank two decades ago, claims that the prominent Democrat didn't influence his decision to make the hire.

Former FHA Lender Fights SEC, HUD
A defendant in a civil securities case who is also the target of a criminal investigation by the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Inspector General says that mortgagees on government-insured loans are unjustly being accused of criminal fraud because of their underwriting decisions and not because of actual criminal activity. He hopes to have the case against him dismissed.

2-Year Low for Fannie Business
Fannie Mae's secondary marketing activity fell to the lowest level in more than two years. Delinquency, however, improved.

Bad Values Lead to Big Discounts on 2005-2007 Vintages
Discounts on real-estate-owned sales are rising, and a new report has identified three vintages that are responsible for most of the decline. Much of the problem lies with properties that were overvalued at origination.

Countrywide, Saxon Settle Military Foreclosures
WASHINGTON -- Countrywide Home Loan Servicing and Saxon Mortgage Services Inc. agreed to pay more than $20 million between them to settle allegations of wrongful foreclosures on properties owned by members of the military.

Refi Rally Brewing
It was a small decline -- but enough to mark six weeks in a row that fixed rates fell. And by one key measure, the outlook is for a further decline -- placing mortgage rates within 25 basis points of a refinance wave.

Rep. Frank Defends Fannie Connection
The former chairman of the House Financial Services Committee is dismissing claims that he improperly used his public position to help a former companion land a lucrative career at Fannie Mae. But a prominent journalist described a relationship where the government-sponsored enterprise forked over tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions and "rolled out the red carpet" for the companion while effectively curbing efforts to increase regulation.

The Negative Equity Dilemma
Half of borrowers who choose to strategically default have a credit score that is higher than 660. While lenders are getting a hand identifying which of their own borrowers are likely to walk away, a former mortgage broker is helping borrowers push real estate investment losses to their lenders.

Private Label MBS Revival Not Happening Soon
A new ratings agency report suggests that no near-term recovery is expected in the non-agency securitization market.

NV Borrowers Join National Class Action Against BoA
A group of borrowers that sued Bank of America Corp. in a Nevada court over loan modifications has joined a national class-action lawsuit against the bank.

Updates at Freddie Impact Fees, Appraisals
The latest updates to Freddie Mac's underwriting guidelines impact requirements for appraisals, borrower assets and manufactured housing loans. Changes are also being made to rules for fees and registration requirements for Mortgage Electronic Registration System loans.

BoA, GMAC Help Borrowers in Hard Hit States
Two of the nation's biggest mortgage lenders have signed on to help struggling borrowers in hard-hit states take advantage of a federal program.

2 States Subpoena LPS
Lender Processing Services Inc. has been subpoenaed by attorneys general in two states over alleged robo-signing on foreclosure documents. Another service provider faces a similar subpoena.

GOP Rips CFPB Chief
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama's choice to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau faced House Republicans -- who were sometimes less than cordial.

Video of Elizabeth Warren testimony at House hearing

Freddie Business Falls to Post-Crisis Low
The last time that secondary activity was this low at Freddie Mac was near the peak of the financial crisis. But the good news is that late payments were lower on home loans.

Quicken Launches Correspondent Channel
A new correspondent lending business at Quicken Loans Inc. is targeting small financial institutions.

Foreclosure Litigation Battles Rage On
Disputed foreclosures are not uncommon. But borrowers in a number of states have had some success fighting servicers in court, and several have been in Florida or Michigan.

Refis Drag Down FHA Volume
Declining refinance and reverse mortgage activity has overall government lending lower -- though purchase production has perked up and appears to be headed higher. Delinquency declined on government-insured loans.

Wholesaler Growing Fast
A California-based wholesale lender that only recently launched operations now does business in 25 states and is hiring more account executives as part of its plan to go national.

Over 10,000 Banks Gone Since Mid-80s
Banks earned more money, cut their direct holdings of mortgages and boosted their securitized assets, according to the latest quarterly gauge of bank profitability. The number of federally insured banks has fallen by more than 2,000 institutions during the past decade. Since peaking a quarter century ago, the total is down by more than 10,000.

Earnings up, delinquency down at FDIC-insured banks

Vulture Banks Flourish in Georgia
Georgia has seen more than its share of bank failures, prompting several startups to jump into the market for failed banks.

Top-10 FHA Lender Announces Acquisition
A little more than a year after a former Quicken Loans Inc. executive launched his own company, another firm is taking over the business and hiring him as its retail chief. The acquiring firm claims to be among the nation's 10 biggest originators of Federal Housing Administration loans.

photo of David Hall

Ginnie Lifts Issuance Volume
Issuance of mortgage-backed securities that are guaranteed by the Government National Mortgage Association was higher last month. The improvement was noted with securities backed by apartment loans and home loans.

Pockets of Strength for Some Originators
While most home lenders saw a recent decline in originations, a few players are reporting strength in their production. The good news is being delivered by residential and commercial real estate lenders. Meanwhile, credit unions have gained market share.

New CA Unit to Tackle Lending Crimes
A new unit formed by California's attorney general will target issuers of mortgage-backed securities, mortgage advertisers and foreclosure consultants. The state hopes to prevent a repeat of the crisis that wiped out $0.6 trillion in wealth.

PHH Breaks Into Top 5
Business at the nation's mortgage lenders was hurt by rising interest rates, according to the First Quarter 2011 Mortgage Lender Ranking from MortgageDaily.com. But a new lender managed to land a spot on the list of the five biggest originators.

Wholesaler Joins 3 Banks on Casualty List
Three banks were seized by state regulators last week, while a wholesale lender is calling it quits. In all, more than five dozen mortgage lending operations that were shut down this year have been tracked by Mortgage Daily.

Jumbo Pricing Shows Improving Trend
When the U.S. Mortgage Market Index was launched in December 2009, jumbo mortgages were priced more than a hundred basis points higher than conforming loans. Today, that spread sits below 60 BPS.

MMI 233 for the week ended May 20, 2011

U.S. Bank Settles on FHA Loans
Alleged violations of Federal Housing Administration underwriting standards on dozens of mortgages have prompted U.S. Bank to agree to a more than $1 million settlement.

Supreme Court Considers Unearned Fee Case
A judgment in favor Quicken Loans Inc. is being considered for review by the U.S. Supreme Court. At issue are alleged unearned fees.

Purchase Outlook Darkens
Fannie Mae's latest projection for the 30-year fixed-rate is 20 basis points better than last month's estimate. But while the improved forecast for rates helped inflate the current quarter's origination outlook, a steeper decline in production is now seen for the second half of the year and in 2012. The culprit: purchase-money transactions.

Fixed Rates Hit 2011 Low, ARMs Up
Fixed rates fell to their lowest levels so far in 2011 and don't appear headed higher over the next week, though adjustable-rate products climbed. The longer-term outlook is for rates to rise another half percent by the end of the year.

Lenders Face up to 20 New Regulatory Requirements
In addition to recently implemented requirements for appraiser independence, loan originator registration and loan originator compensation -- as many as 20 new mortgage lending requirements are in the regulatory pipeline.

Refi Forecast Lifted as Purchase Outlook Dims
Mortgage bankers nudged up their expectations for this year's originations -- largely a result of a jump in second-half refinance activity. But purchase-transaction expectations were lowered, and next year's U.S. outlook was cut by more than $50 billion.

Mixed Delinquency Data
Seasonally adjusted delinquency was higher on residential loans, as were late payments on subprime loans and Veterans Affair's mortgages. But overall defaults declined more than a hundred basis points when no seasonal adjustments are made. States with judicial foreclosure requirements appear to be the same states that will suffer the longest with bloated inventories.

Mortgage Fraud Prevention Secrets
LAS VEGAS -- A panel at this week's Global Technology Summit tackled mortgage fraud and talked about practical ways to prevent mortgage fraud at lending institutions.

Lender Feedback Sought for Disclosures
The nation's new financial watchdog is looking for lender feedback on two proposed disclosures.

Foreclosures Lower, New Defaults Up
Despite a monthly improvement in the foreclosure rate, new defaults dragged overall delinquency higher.

Mortgage Master Settles Discrimination Allegations
Mortgage Master has settled allegations that it charged black borrowers in Massachusetts more than non-black borrowers.

How Much Should Appraisers Earn?
LAS VEGAS -- Ask two people how much an appraiser should be paid for completing an appraisal report and you'll likely get two different answers. But panelists and audience participants at the Global Technology Summit 2011 did their best to put a number on it.

Originations Increasing, 100s Hired at CA Lender
It was the best year in history for a California firm that has hired hundreds of employees. Helping the mortgage banker to attract high-volume originators is its approval as a Fannie Mae lender.

Wholesaler Launches Branch Business
A national wholesale lender has launched a new branch business that promises to help mortgage brokers navigate the increasingly complex regulatory and compliance landscape.

1st Lien Lates Lower, 2nds Deteriorate
First-lien delinquency has improved for five consecutive months, but junior-lien defaults were worse last month.

Chase CEO Acknowledges Foreclosure Mistakes Amid Protests
As demonstrations were going on outside, the chairman and chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co. told shareholders that the company has made mistakes with foreclosures.

CMBS Lates Inch Higher
Defaults on loans included in commercial mortgage-backed securities deteriorated last month, though apartment delinquency was lower.

Nationstar Seeks $400 Million in IPO
Nationstar Mortgage LLC hopes to pull in $400 million from an initial public offering.

Delinquency Slides
Despite a prior forecast that said first-quarter delinquency would rise -- the rate retreated and is likely to improve for the rest of the year.

Jumbo Conforming Ends Soon
In just a few months, super-conforming loans that helped keep mortgage money flowing through higher-priced cities during the financial crisis will be eliminated. But at least one renowned real estate expert doesn't see a big blow to the market as a result.

Dodd Frank Dominating Conferences
A look at the agendas for several mortgage-related conferences uncovers an array of sessions that address the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. A technology conference being held this week in Sin City has a U.S. congressman fielding questions about Dodd Frank.

Appraisers Can't Ignore REO Sales
Distressed sales account for nearly 40 percent of the national market -- a level that has a big impact on estimated fair market values. The chief of a trade group that counts a quarter of U.S. appraisers as its members says appraisers are earning lower fees while being asked by appraisal management companies to turn around appraisals more quickly.

Q1 Mortgage Fraud Index Up 44%
The first three months of this year brought a 44 percent increase in the dollar volume of mortgage fraud case activity, according to the First-Quarter 2011 Mortgage Fraud Index from MortgageDaily.com. The report, which is being announced from the floor of the Global Technology Summit 2011, indicated that prosecution of mortgage fraud occurs around four years after the crime.

Retreating Rates Stimulate Refis
An increase in new refinance activity was more than enough to offset a drop in purchase business this week. The improvement was concentrated in conventional transactions. Jumbo mortgages were priced more competitively this week.
Mortgage Market Index 234 for the week ended May 13, 2011

SunTrust Recruiting Production Employees
Like many of its bigger brethren, SunTrust Banks Inc. reported a decline in quarterly originations. But unlike its competitors, the company is adding production staff.

Lead King Moving Out of Originations
The king of mortgage leads is getting out of the loan origination business. The buyer has been in the home-loan business before.

Survey Respondents Say End HAMP
A poll conducted by a trade group that represents the bankruptcy sector of the legal community found that an overwhelming majority of respondents would prefer to end the government's unsuccessful modification program.

Top Regulators Warn about Repurchases, Debt Ceiling
WASHINGTON -- More than $20 billion has been paid by sellers to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to cover loan losses, and the outgoing chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is warning of further repurchase costs. The chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, meanwhile, warned of possible dire consequences if the budget ceiling isn't raised.

Mortgage Bankers Support GSE Bill
Mortgage bankers are throwing their support behind proposed legislation which would replace the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. with scaled-down organizations and limit the government's involvement in the secondary market.

Plummeting Rates Likely to Reverse and Rise
Mortgage rates fell to their lowest level since last year. But next week could be a different story.

CA Borrowers Eliminating 2nds in Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy lawyers say delinquent borrowers in California are increasingly turning to Chapter 13 bankruptcy to eliminate their second liens while avoiding foreclosure.

Drop In Foreclosure Filings Won't Last
Last month saw a 9 percent decline in foreclosures -- though the improvement was largely the result of a bloated inventory that has yet to hit the market. Filings were up more than two-thirds in one state and down more than a third in another.

BoA CEO Addresses Mortgage Business
As mortgage servicers met in the nation's capitol to negotiate a settlement with state and federal officials, which some insiders speculate will cost $5 billion, the man in charge at Bank of America Corp. defended the company's mortgage practices to shareholders. He spoke of how regulators, who strongly supported the acquisition of Countrywide Financial Corp. in 2008, have changed their tune.

A Decade of Rising Fraud
The number of reports of mortgage fraud filed by mortgage lenders was higher for the 10th year in a row and reached an all-time high.

Rate Forecast Improves
The latest forecast for interest rates has the 30-year mortgage 30 basis points better than last month's outlook.

PMI Cuts Rates on High Credit Score Borrowers
Prospective borrowers with high credit scores are getting a break from PMI Mortgage Insurance Co. In addition, borrowers with lower credit scores are being given access to programs with higher loan-to-values.

Secondary Marketing Litigation Log
Losses suffered on loans traded in the secondary market have prompted some major players to file legal actions that seek repurchases, reversals of court decisions and reimbursement for losses. Among the defendants are investment bankers, title insurers and mortgage originators. But not all of the litigation activity involves big firms.

Protest Planned at BoA Annual Meeting
Demonstrators at Bank of America Corp.'s annual meeting today plan to bring attention to thousands of faulty mortgage documents filed in one North Carolina county -- and possibly tens-of-thousands filed around the state.

FDIC Sues AMC
Alleged faulty appraisals have the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. looking to the courts to recover more than $150 million in losses on loans from a failed bank. But the defendant, an appraisal management company, claims it was mostly reviewing appraisals completed by other firms.

Massive Wave of MBS Litigation Hits
Investors in residential mortgage-backed securities have been on a litigation binge accusing banks, trustees and other parties of putting them in sour investments. But the defendants claim that it was not them -- but the floundering economy and ailing housing market that impaired the investments.

Quicken Loses Ruling in Timesheet Fraud Case
On the heels of its victory in a seven-year-old federal lawsuit filed by its former loan officers, Quicken Loans Inc. suffered a blow in another federal lawsuit filed by a former secretary who claims the company asked her to lie on her timesheet.

FDIC Chief Leaving in 2 Months
After what has arguably been one of the toughest periods for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the chairman of the insurance company has set an official departure date.

photo of Sheila Bair

Warehouse Lender Goes Correspondent
Less than a year after launching a new warehouse lending division, a Texas-based bank announced plans to start a correspondent lending program.

Another MTA Record; More to Come
The Monthly Treasury Average has become like the woman in the television commercial who has fallen and can't get up. After breaking below 0.30 percent in March, the index reached a new low and appears to be headed even lower.

Mortgage Fraud Diminishes in 2010
Mortgage fraud reports tumbled last year, and almost all of the fraud reported occurred prior to 2010. Appraisal fraud continues to be a problem.

Biggest Wholesale HECM Title Changes Hands Again
Wholesale reverse mortgage lenders continued to jockey for top position -- with the title changing hands for the fourth time in six months. Based on retail and wholesale reverse originations -- the gap was so wide between the biggest lender and its rivals that combined volume at No. 2 and No. 3 was still less than No. 1.

Top Mortgage Exec Leaving Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Co.'s top mortgage executive will be gone by next year and likely replaced by an insider. It's the executive's second attempt at retiring.

Servicers Slow HAMP Production
Just one month after doubling, the monthly volume of government loan modifications tumbled. But the number of modifications at the biggest producer tripled.

29,840 HAMP modifications in March

Bank Casualties Reach 40
The failure of a Florida bank Friday brought to 40 the number of federally insured banking institutions to fail this year. In all, three financial institutions were seized last week.

Wells Lifts Litigation Reserves
Citing potential fines and penalties related to its mortgage practices, Wells Fargo & Co. has disclosed that its reserves for mortgage litigation have been increased by $500 million.

Bank Sues Former Mortgage Employees Over Stolen Data
Six defendants have been accused in a federal lawsuit of brazenly stealing detailed information on more than 2,000 customers from their former bank employer and starting a competing origination unit. Among the defendants are a former vice president and a former assistant vice president.

Refis Surge
Declining rates this week helped spark lots of new refinance activity, though a healthy increase was also recorded for purchase business. Meanwhile, the spread between jumbo mortgages and conforming loans tumbled.

MMI 227 for the week ended May 6

Dozens of Cease-and-Desist Orders Terminated
Out of more than 125 recent actions by bank and credit union regulators -- more than 20 percent were the termination of cease-and-desist orders.

MetLife Growing Staff
Despite a big drop in mortgage production at MetLife Bank, N.A., the company has added nearly 200 new mortgage employees this year while staffing has increased by a quarter over the past year.

Mortgage Staffing Slashed
Thousands of jobs in real estate finance have been wiped out as a result of rising rates -- with brokers taking the biggest hit. But recently falling rates raise the prospect of elevated refinance demand. And since big employers who have been busy reducing headcount might not be in any rush to staff up again -- mortgage brokers and small mortgage bankers might be in a good position to seize the opportunity.

CRE Originations Off a Quarter
While quarterly commercial mortgage production fell an estimated $12 billion from the final quarter of last year, every facet of the business has improved compared to a year ago. Life insurers, multifamily lenders and industrial property originators have more than doubled originations during the past 12 months -- and private-label securitizations are up more than 400 percent.

Improving Rates Headed Lower
Mortgage rates fell for the third consecutive week and appear to be headed even lower.

Setback for Wells in Discrimination Lawsuit
A lawsuit filed in 2009 by the City of Memphis, Tenn., against Wells Fargo & Co. can move forward, according to a decision from a federal judge. The lender is accused of discriminating against blacks.

BoA to Triple Number of Mortgage Assistance Centers
Delinquent borrowers can meet face-to-face with Bank of America Corp. loan professionals at more than two dozen assistance centers planned in several states.

SC Foreclosures Suspended
A South Carolina appeals court has ordered a suspension of all foreclosures in the state. But the action might not be as bad as it sounds.

BoA Cuts NY Staff
Mortgage employees of Bank of America Corp. in the State of New York are being laid off because of falling production.

Freddie Earns a Profit
Quarterly net income exceeded $600 million at the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. But the positive results aren't expected to be ongoing.

Unfair Margin Calls Alleged in Thornburg Lawsuit
A lawsuit has been filed against several investment bankers alleging that they demanded more in margin calls from Thornburg Mortgage during its final months than they were entitled to -- leading to the company's eventual collapse.

PHH Outperforms Rivals
PHH Corp. saw new business drop off a quarter -- though that was better than most of its competitors. The company, which plans to adjust its staffing levels, said its servicing portfolio has grown and delinquency has fallen. PHH found a partner for its appraisal business.

BoA Servicer Ratings Downgraded
Challenges from its acquisition of Countrywide Financial Corp. three years ago have home-loan servicing metrics deteriorating at Bank of America Corp. -- resulting in downgrades on its prime and nonprime servicer ratings. Ongoing concerns about the company's foreclosure process could lead the ratings to be lowered again.

MortgageIT Sued Over Faulty FHA Loans
SAN FRANCISCO -- In a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Government, MortgageIT is accused of breaking Federal Housing Administration rules and disregarding suitability. The litigation came as FHA insurance claims on MortgageIT business have reached nearly $400 million.

Bankruptcies Retreat After Vicious Month
Following an explosive jump during March, consumer bankruptcy filings subsided last month.

FDIC Executes Securitization Sale
A portfolio of commercial mortgages has been securitized by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Ally Originations Off by Half
Quarterly home-loan originations were down by 49 percent at Ally Financial Inc., while earnings were off and the servicing portfolio fell. Performance looked better, however, when compared to a year ago.

Setback for Reverse Originators
Led by a 35 percent drop at the nation's biggest lender, government-insured reverse mortgage production fell back to the lowest level in six months.

Residential Demand Eases, CRE Strengthens
Lower demand at banks for home loans was offset by rising demand for commercial real estate loans.

AMC Guarantees Against Repurchases
A national appraisal management company is providing a guarantee that its reports will stand up to repurchase demands.

Study IDs Successful Originator Traits
A new report takes a look at the practices used by high-volume originators. This elite group spends more time on customer acquisition, is well-informed and relies heavily on trade publications.

Agency Issuance Sinks to 2-Year Low
It's been more than two years since aggregate issuance by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae has been this low. One entity was responsible for the poor performance.

Employment is Litigious Affair
Lawyers for recently defeated employees in an overtime case have vowed to fight on and pursue further litigation against the same lender. Other active employment cases involve whistle blowers, alleged stolen customer records and claims of labor code violations.

Bank Failure Follows CEO's Death
One of Friday's five bank failures is expected to cost more than $300 million, while the chief of another of Friday's closings was recently found dead with a gunshot wound to the head. In all, more than $600 million in losses are expected from last week's bank failures.

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