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October 2012 Archive

COFI Sets New Record as One-Year Yield Rises
Just when it looked like the Cost of Funds Index couldn't go any lower, a new record was established. A more widely used index for adjustable-rate mortgages, however, was higher.

HARP Productivity High
While banks haven't tightened lending requirements during the past six years on government-insured mortgages made to borrowers with moderate-to-high credit scores, the story is different for borrowers with lower scores. Banks see a high closing ratio for applications generated through the enhanced Home Affordable Refinance Program. Commercial mortgage lending showed signs of improvement.

M.I. Firms to Allow Short Sales, Deeds in Lieu Without Prior Approval
The nation's mortgage insurers have agreed to forego prior approval on short sales and deeds in lieu of foreclosure for loans owned or guaranteed by either the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. or the Federal National Mortgage Association.

Ocwen Delves Deeper Into Originations
Another upcoming acquisition by Ocwen Financial Corp. will build on the origination platform it is inheriting through other forthcoming acquisitions. However, the latest deal involves the quickly diminishing reverse mortgage business.

CMBS Delinquency Declines 4 Consecutive Months
Delinquency on securitized commercial real estate loans extended its improving run to four months, with performance on apartment loans leading the way. Delinquency on loans secured by healthcare properties nearly doubled in a single month, while hotel delinquency also surged.

Mortgage Aid Coming to Hurricane Victims
As details of the devastation from Hurricane Sandy emerge, steps are being taken by the federal government to provide assistance to the areas impacted by the destructive storm. Included in the assistance is help for distressed borrowers.

State Supreme Court Justice Suspected of Short Sale Fraud
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating a state supreme court justice in Michigan over the possibility that she deceived her mortgage servicer in order to obtain approval for a short sale on a $1.5 million waterfront property.

Mortgage Origination Scoreboard
Helped by the Home Affordable Refinance Program, several mortgage bankers became billion-dollar players in the third quarter. Plenty of mid-tier lenders continue to originate business from mortgage brokers.

Appraisal Service Providers Harness Data
With the abundance of home valuation data that has emerged, service providers are focusing on how to better analyze the information and provide more accurate estimations of property values while addressing increased scrutiny and regulations. Several appraisal executives talked at a convention last week about how their new offerings do just that.

3 Factors That Help Lenders Better Understand Loan Performance
A new study indicates that three factors -- seasoning, vintage and the economic environment -- all play a role in determining loan performance. By analyzing each of these factors separately, lenders can act more quickly and more effectively reduce losses while maximizing loan production.

Servicing Portfolio Spikes at Stearns Lending
Residential loan production climbed during the latest quarter at Stearns Lending Inc. The lender reported aggressive growth in its mortgage servicing portfolio -- which doubled from three months earlier.

Mortgage Business Grows at PrimeLending
Quarterly mortgage production picked up at PrimeLending as its parent company prepares for an upcoming merger.

Originations Improve at Provident Funding
Quarterly business picked up at Provident Funding Associates LP, with mortgage brokers being responsible for the bulk of the activity.

Quicken Loans Pushes Deeper Into Record Territory
For four consecutives quarters now, Quicken Loans Inc. has originated more residential loans than during any prior quarter in its 27-year history.

125-Year-Old PA Bank Fails
After two years of operating under regulatory orders, a Pennsylvania bank that was established in the 1800's has failed and will be liquidated. Nearly $0.1 billion in losses are projected from the bank's demise.

Wells Compensates Borrowers for Steering Into FHA Loans
Wells Fargo & Co. has mailed checks to thousands of borrowers for steering them into more expensive mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration between 2009 and 2011 even though they qualified for conventional products.

Jumbo Activity Tumbles as FHA, Purchases Rise
Led by a decline in new jumbo business, overall mortgage activity slumped this week. But inquiries for purchase financing, government-insured loans and adjustable-rate mortgages strengthened. Rates edged up but might edge back down in the next report.

Mortgage Market Index 223 for week ended Oct. 26

ResCap Finds Buyer for $1.5 Billion in Portfolio Loans
Just one day after disclosing the potential sale of its origination and servicing platforms, Residential Capital LLC said it has accepted a bid to unload tens of thousand of portfolio mortgages.

Projected Additional GSE Bailout Costs Diminishing
The cost of keeping the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. solvent is dropping fast, and neither of the government-controlled enterprises is expected to require any further taxpayer assistance after this year.

Mortgage Regulations to Have Huge Impact on Originations
A new study suggests new mortgage regulations that have emerged in the wake of the financial crisis could eliminate as much as a fifth of residential loan originations over the next three years -- cutting into home sales, reducing jobs and hurting the nation's gross domestic product. Six key features have been identified that will have greatest impact.

Ally Exploring Exit from Agency Servicing
Ally Financial Inc.'s banking unit is looking at alternatives for its remaining servicing portfolio of agency mortgages. The financial institution is also considering scaling by residential originations -- though it is still interested in originating non-conforming loans for its own portfolio.

Fixed Rates Inch Up, Could Keep Climbing
As signs of a housing recovery are beginning to emerge, more borrowers were out shopping for a loan to finance a home purchase this past week -- leading overall activity slightly higher. Most other categories put in a lackluster performance. Despite improved jumbo spreads this week, fewer jumbo shoppers were out.

ResCap Sale Could Impact 1,000 Iowa Employees
Almost a thousand Residential Capital LLC employees could be impacted by the bankruptcy sale of servicing and origination assets approved this week as the work will likely be moved offshore.

Freddie Accused of Resisting HARP Expansion
Freddie Mac, the taxpayer-owned mortgage giant, made it harder for millions of Americans to refinance their high-interest-rate mortgages for fear it would cut into company profits, present and former Freddie Mac officials disclosed in recent interviews.

Mortgage Business Explodes at Flagstar
Home-loan production has more than doubled over the past year at Flagstar Bancorp Inc. and is poised to remain strong. While the company was able to reduced its mortgage assets, the mortgage servicing portfolio expanded.

New Business Off, Delinquency Up at Freddie
After making it through seven straight months without an increase in late payments, delinquency rose last month at Freddie Mac. Secondary activity, meanwhile, slipped.

$1 Billion Lawsuit Alleges Countrywide, BofA Deceived GSEs on Loan Sales
In another blow to Bank of America Corp., the U.S. government accuses Countrywide Home Loans, through its former subprime sister, of operating a scheme that rapidly sped up the loan closing process by avoiding quality control, abandoning mortgage underwriters and creating incentives to abuse automated underwriting on conventional agency loans.

HAMP Class Action Advances in Court
A federal judge in Illinois has denied a servicer's motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed on behalf of a borrower who claims she never heard anything back from her servicer after completing a trial payment plan under the Home Affordable Modification Program. Attorneys in the case seek class-action certification.

Ocwen Wins Bid to Become No. 5 U.S. Servicer
With its winning bid to acquire the mortgage servicing portfolio of Residential Capital LLC, Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC is on its way to becoming the fifth-biggest residential mortgage servicer in the nation.

Forecast Improves for Purchase Financing
The estimate of last year's purchase financing was lifted nearly 15 percent, this year's outlook has been raised by more than a quarter, and next year's forecast has increased by nearly a third -- and that was on top of an improved outlook for refinance production. While government share has been reduced, expectations for total government volume are greater.

More Cities Accuse BofA of REO Discrimination
A consortium of private, nonprofit fair housing groups has expanded the number of cities included in a complaint against Bank of America Corp. alleging discrimination in the maintenance of foreclosed properties.

Huge Boost in Origination Outlook from Mortgage Bankers
The latest update to expected originations has this year coming in at the highest level in three years thanks to a stronger outlook for refinance volume. Next year's forecast was increased by even more. Even the projection for purchase production was pushed up by a quarter for this year and last year -- though next year's purchase outlook was scaled back.

MBA Chief Lays Out Aggressive Strategy
Mortgage Bankers Association Chief Executive Officer David H. Stevens sat down with Mortgage Daily at the trade group's annual conference this week in Chicago to talk about qualified mortgages, agency representations and warranties, and real estate appraisals. He also took an aggressive posture with convention attendees about the impact that the industry should strive to have in the development of regulations.

Mortgage Daily interviews David Stevens

New Delinquency Surges
The latest report on residential delinquency showed that following a three-month run of declining late payments, early-stage delinquency had significant uptick last month. The foreclosure rate, however, was lower.

New Business Slips at SunTrust
Quarterly mortgage originations were off at SunTrust Banks Inc., while delinquency held and mortgage earnings were worse.

Banks Miss Boat on Originations
A new survey suggests that some financial institutions are missing out on a substantial share of home-loan originations from existing clients even though those very same loan prospects want to do business with them. An even bigger finding was that prospective borrowers are willing to pay more to deal with their primary bank -- especially if they are treated better or find it easier to complete the origination process.

Mortgage Bankers Admit to Deceiving Warehouse Bank
Two former senior executives of a failed mortgage banking firm have admitted that they deceived their warehouse lender about funded loans and their financial statements -- leaving the bank unable to repay capital received from the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Private Label Lender Launches Jumbo Correspondent Channel
A company that provides loan fulfillment services is getting into the correspondent lending business.

Mortgage Production Surges at United Shore
Residential loan production at United Shore Financial Services LLC continued at a torrid pace as the mortgage banker beefs up its staff to accommodate rapid growth.

2 of 3 Bank Failures Friday in Florida
Three bank failures on Friday included two Florida financial institutions and one in Missouri. Nearly $90 million in losses are projected for the latest round of casualties. Despite the elevated weekly activity, this year's bank failures still stand at just half the number that didn't make it through 2011. Meanwhile, a decline was reported in the number of troubled credit unions.

Purchase Financing Leads Small Rise in Weekly Mortgage Activity
As signs of a housing recovery are beginning to emerge, more borrowers were out shopping for a loan to finance a home purchase this past week -- leading overall activity slightly higher. Most other categories put in a lackluster performance. Despite improved jumbo spreads this week, fewer jumbo shoppers were out.

Mortgage Market Index 226 for week ended Oct. 19

More Details Emerge on New Reps & Warranties Framework
More details have been provided on upcoming updates to repurchase policies recently announced by Fannie Mae.

Appraisal Services Increase Accuracy, Reduce Risk
When it comes to appraisal services, integration among service providers is the name of the game in today's environment. The latest round of valuation service improvements focus on improved accuracy and compliance with a plethora of rules and requirements.

Low Rates Poised to Rise
Fixed mortgage rates fell this week -- with shorter-term loans establishing a new record. But mortgage rates are likely to be as much as 10 basis points higher in next week's reports.

Originations, Servicing Portfolio Increase at BB&T
Home-loan originations edged up, the mortgage servicing portfolio nearly achieved a $100 billion milestone and the mortgage investment portfolio increased at BB&T Corp. But delinquency deteriorated and overall earnings slipped despite improved mortgage earnings.

2012 Refi Outlook Increases Nearly $200 Billion
The forecast for this year's refinance originations was increased by nearly $200 billion, while next year's outlook was boosted by even more. Even the estimate for last year was lifted. Although expectations for 2013's purchase production also improved, current market conditions point to an even better outlook.

Fifth Third Production Slips
Fifth Third Bancorp grew its residential servicing portfolio and cut its home-loan delinquency rate. But delinquency on home-equity and commercial real estate loans crept higher as residential origination drifted lower.

NV HOAs Accused of Abusing Super Priority Lien Positions
State law in Nevada gives home owners associations a "super-priority" first lien position for past-due HOA fees. The law limits the lien amounts to nine months' HOA assessments.

BofA Lifts Production But Shrinks Mortgage Business
Although Bank of America Corp. increased its quarterly mortgage production, the lender remains a shell of its former self prior to the financial crisis. BofA cut its mortgage holdings and reduced its servicing portfolio. Meanwhile, the rate of residential delinquency inched higher -- with delinquency on government-insured loans jumping 13 basis points.

Strategic Defaulters to Be Increasingly Pursued
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could be leaving money at the table when capable borrowers opt to strategically default. But recommendations in a new government report could put an end to that.

Ginnie Lifts Annual, Quarterly MBS Issuance
The Government National Mortgage Association finished its fiscal year with 11 percent more in mortgage securitizations than the previous year. Quarterly volume was also better, but monthly issuance was lower.

Closing Rate Improves as Turnaround Slows
While it is taking longer to close a home loan, the closing ratio has improved -- especially on refinance transactions.

Performance Weakens at U.S. Bank
U.S. Bancorp is the only major mortgage lender so far to report a decline in quarterly home-loan originations. Early-stage delinquencies, meanwhile, deteriorated. But the company did manage to grow its servicing portfolio and mortgage holdings.

New Penn Loans to Be Securitized
A filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission has been made in preparation for the securitization of non-agency loans originated by New Penn Financial LLC.

Fannie Increases HARP Share
As the Home Affordable Refinance Program continues to gain momentum, Fannie Mae is increasing its share of production generated through the government program. More than a quarter of all monthly HARP activity was on properties that are the most deeply underwater. Three of the states that were hit hardest by the housing crisis are seeing the most benefit from HARP.

Solid Quarterly Results at PNC
The PNC Financial Services Group Inc. increased quarterly home-loan production, grew its residential servicing portfolio and held mortgage delinquency. Mortgage earnings went from a huge loss to a tidy profit.

Mortgage Performance Continues Improvement
Late payments on home loans fell again last month and now stand at the lowest level since the Great Recession. Junior liens are outperforming first mortgages.

Citi CEO and President Out
The executive who was appointed to lead Citigroup Inc. just as the financial crisis was getting underway is leaving the global giant -- prompting the president to also resign. Taking the top spot is an executive who oversaw the company's toxic assets.

Morgan Stanley Sued for Financing New Century Loans
Morgan Stanley has been sued in federal court because it provided mortgage funding for failed New Century Financial Corp. on allegedly predatory mortgages in black communities.

Lender Wins Lawsuit Over Mass Branch Exodus
A federal judge has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to a mortgage lender that claims it was harmed when a Florida branch manager took 18 employees to a new company and convinced loan originators to hold off on processing numerous loans until they went to work for the new employer.

Citi's Originations Up, Delinquency Down
Home-loan production picked up from the second quarter at Citigroup Inc., though business lags the level of volume generated a year ago. A decline was reported in the size of the residential servicing portfolio and the home-loan delinquency rate. Company-wide earnings worsened thanks to a one-time charge. 

Closer Look at Proposed LO Compensation Rule
The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau's current proposal for loan originator compensation, while clarifying many aspects of the current rule, also could lead to violations of some state laws, or even Internal Revenue Service codes, according to a recent online event on the subject. The deadline for public comments on the proposal is Tuesday.

Government Lawsuits Target Foreclosure Rescue Firms
Attorneys general in several states, along with federal regulators, have commenced litigation to stop dozens of foreclosure firms from collecting illegal fees and deceiving distressed borrowers about the likely outcome from promised loan modification services. Judgments were obtained against several of the defendants.

Defendants Sentenced, Prosecuted in Foreclosure Scams
State and federal prosecutors have been busy with criminal cases involving foreclosure rescue and modification schemes. Their work has yielded guilty pleas, convictions and prison sentences.

Dozens Prosecuted for California Foreclosure Rescue Schemes
Dozens of foreclosure rescue schemes operated in California have resulted in criminal prosecutions. The cases involve tens of millions of dollars in stolen equity, thousands of distressed borrowers and mortgage fraud. Some of the defendants have used fraudulent bankruptcy filings in their schemes.

Increasing Rates Hurt New Mortgage Activity
As mortgage rates inched higher this week, new mortgage activity drifted lower -- with jumbo business taking the biggest hit. But market signs indicate that rates could ease in the next report. Spreads improved for jumbo and shorter-term mortgages. Inquiries for government-insured loans fared the best.

Mortgage Market Index 224 for week ended Oct. 12

Wells Fargo's Rising Originations Likely to Fall
Quarterly home-loan production was higher at Wells Fargo & Co. but is likely to fall in the fourth quarter. The lender's balance sheet grew as a result of retaining conforming loans for investment.

Non-Agency Resurgence Predicted
After a near-death experience, the market for mortgages securitized by private issuers is forecasted to return.

Chase Originations Rise and Headed Higher
Despite a drop in retail originations, quarterly residential production at JPMorgan Chase & Co. was higher thanks to its correspondent business and is poised to increase again. Home-loan assets, delinquency and earnings were all lower, as was the number of mortgage employees.

PNC Sues Mortgage Insurer Over Denied Subprime Claims
A federal lawsuit filed by the banking subsidiary of The PNC Financial Services Group Inc. alleges that mortgage insurance claims are wrongly being denied on subprime mortgages it inherited with the December 2008 acquisition of National City Corp.

Rates Rise But Could Retreat
Mortgage rates bounced off their record lows but could be better in next week's report. The spread between shorter- and longer-term loans widened this week, making shorter terms more attractive. 

Radian Performance Weakens
Following a five-month winning streak, business slowed last month at Radian Guaranty Inc. While the number of delinquent mortgage insurance policies inched higher, the delinquency rate was lower.

Completed Foreclosures Rise in September
Despite a nice improvement in the number of foreclosure filings and the foreclosure rate, more foreclosures were completed last month than in August. Although many states have seen improving foreclosure trends, Florida judges who continue to block mortgage servicers' attempts to liquidate distressed assets are contributing to deepening troubles in the Sunshine State. Meanwhile, the amount of time needed to complete a U.S. foreclosure is on the rise.

U.S. REO filings up 2.3%

FL Firm Has $100 Million for Distressed CRE Investments
An investment firm out of Florida has assembled a $100 million war chest to acquire distressed commercial real estate loans.

Non-Agency RMBS Investors Earn Higher Yields in Texas
When it comes to property values, Texas has fared well during the housing market downturn -- leaving the state's mortgages with better equity positions than loans in other states. But despite its standing, investors of private-label residential mortgage-backed securities are earning far higher yields than on loans in other states.

SARs Filed on Over $7 Billion in Mortgages During Q2
The latest reading on mortgage fraud activity indicates that instances of suspected mortgage fraud have plummeted by 41 percent over the past year. But the year-earlier total appears to have been aberration tied to a surge in repurchase demands, and activity didn't let up from the previous quarter. More than an estimated $7 billion in home loans were tied to the latest quarter's activity.

Ellie, DocMagic Settle Lawsuit
A three-year-old lawsuit against Ellie Mae Inc. alleging that the mortgage technology giant cut off a document preparation firm from its transaction platform then attempted to deal directly with the company's clients has been settled.

Settlement Reached Over Sale of Pre-Screened Lists
Government settlements have been reached with a major credit bureau and a mortgage lead provider over the sale of data on distressed mortgage borrowers.

GSEs to be Sued by Alabama County
An Alabama county will follow the lead of counties in several other states and file a lawsuit against the Federal National Mortgage Association, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. and the Federal Housing Finance Agency in an attempt to collect unpaid recording fees.

Reverse Mortgage Retailers See Uptick in Business
While reverse mortgage production has fallen considerably from a year ago, retail originators turned up the volume on a month-over-month basis. Wholesale lenders, however, barely maintained their pace of production.

Growth Continues in Fannie's Multifamily Issuance
The quarterly volume of apartment loan securitizations at Fannie Mae jumped by one fourth. A new government report indicates that the multifamily share of Fannie's portfolio has traditionally been lower than Freddie Mac's. It also showed that the combined share of the multifamily market for the two firms peaked in 2009 and has since fallen back.

Wells Fargo Sued for FHA Fraud
A lawsuit filed against Wells Fargo & Co.'s banking unit seeks hundreds of millions of dollars for alleged reckless underwriting and fraudulent loan certification on thousands of defaulted government-insured loans originated through its retail loan originators.

Hundreds Indicted for Foreclosure Rescue Schemes
Hundreds of criminal defendants allegedly responsible for more than $1 billion in losses have been prosecuted by the federal government over the past year for allegedly committing crimes against distressed borrowers. In addition, hundreds more defendants were hit with civil actions.

California Realtors Oppose Eminent Domain
California's real estate community does not want to see eminent domain used to seize performing mortgages so that the principal on the loans can be written down for a windfall to local communities.

FHFA Lays Groundwork for Private Secondary Market
With no end in sight for the conservatorships of the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., their regulator and conservator has laid out a new strategic plan for the two firms that prepares the secondary market for an existence without government support.

Decline in Distressed Assets Cuts Shadow Inventory
After some hefty revisions to prior periods, the number of distressed residential assets included in the nation's shadow inventory declined. The latest numbers suggest further strengthening in the U.S. housing market.

Lenders Fight Allegations of Discrimination
Alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act have landed multiple lenders in court to defend themselves against claims of discrimination. One discrimination case was de-certified as a class action following a recent Supreme Court ruling. Meanwhile, bankers are urging federal regulators to abandon the use of a legal theory recently borrowed from employment law cases for finding fault in cases alleging lender discrimination.

Bankruptcy Filings Tumble
After turning higher in August, bankruptcy filings relented last month and stand 21 percent below the level of activity in a year ago. This year is on pace to have fewer filings than any year since before the financial crisis erupted.

New Business Slows at MGIC
A six-month run of increasing business at MGIC Guaranty Insurance Corp. came to an end last month. But delinquency maintained its improving streak -- falling for the 14th consecutive month.

Hostile Eminent Domain Session at Realtor Event
A proposal to seize non-agency mortgages through the process of eminent domain could earn a Southern California community $35 million, according to participants in a closed-door public policy forum held at a state Realtor convention last week. The forum was characterized by one attendee as hostile.

Jumbo Lending Grows in Southern California
Non-conforming lending to prime borrowers, which took a beating after the subprime mortgage crisis, is now on the rise in Southern California.

Ginnie Issuance Strengthens, Headed Higher
The monthly issuance of mortgage-backed securities by the Government National Mortgage Association reached the highest level in nearly three years, and it looks like more improvement is ahead for the housing finance agency. Fiscal-year 2012 is poised to finish with an increase over the previous year.

Wells Assembles Lobbying Force
An army of state lobbyists has been assembled by Wells Fargo & Co., while the bank spends more than its rivals on federal lobbying.

Refis Retreat, Rates to Rise
Mortgage rates maintained their record-low levels, but that wasn't enough to lure more mortgage shoppers out into the market. Adjustable-rate activity took the biggest hit. Record-low rates aren't likely to remain low for long.

Mortgage Market Index 240 for week ended Oct. 5, 2012

HAMP Portfolio Expands
The collective mortgage servicing portfolio of loans modified through the government's program grew by nearly 1 percent in the latest monthly housing report.

Active permanent HAMPs up 1% in August

Ocwen Acquisition Adds Stress to Operations
A major upcoming acquisition will increase stress on the operations at Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC -- prompting at least one ratings agency to issue a warning.

Mortgage Jobs Maintain Growth
The monthly increase for the country's mortgage workforce was greater, while staffing in the sector has expanded by even more over the past year. Beyond real estate finance, U.S. unemployment fell to the lowest level in more than three years.

Record Rates Poised to Rise
Rates won't remain long in record territory based on Thursday's Treasury market activity. But the wild card is Friday's employment report.

Q2 Home Equity Performance Suffers
Performance on bank-owned home-equity products took a turn for the worse in the second quarter. While closed-end delinquency was up, the rise in open-end late payments was more pronounced.

Credit Providers Expand Offerings
For the first time ever, debt collection and credit reporting agencies will be subject to federal supervision by a single regulator. Other credit reporting news includes an increase in allowable charges for extra consumer credit reports, a study revealing potential differences between credit scores sold to consumers and lenders and a federal testimony on the importance of credit oversight. Meanwhile, several companies are providing a tidal wave of new and expanded services to help navigate through these definitive, regulated financial market waters.

Pricing Engines Enhanced
Providers of product and pricing engines are enhancing their offerings through technology advancements and alliances with other service providers. At least two mortgage insurance companies have moved to include their pricing on some of the engines.

Nonprime RMBS Outperforms Older Prime
A new report on non-agency residential mortgage-backed securities has found that performance on nonprime mortgages has been improving even as delinquency on prime vintages has been on the decline.

Mortgage Boards Shaken Up
While there has been plenty of recent executive activity at mortgage banking firms, the composition has changed for several lenders' boards of directors.

Issues Addressed at Mortgage Conferences
Prominent issues being discussed at upcoming mortgage and real estate industry conferences include compliance, purchase and refinance markets, and the future of the economy and how it affects real estate finance. The impact of the presidential election will also be on some agendas.

CMBS Market, Delinquency Improve
Loan performance for commercial mortgage-backed securities improved again, and mortgages secured by apartment buildings saw the biggest decline. The outlook for the CMBS market has brightened considerably as spreads diminished and projections for new issuance grew.

Battle for No. 6 Servicer Heats Up
With Ocwen Financial Corp.'s proposed acquisition of Homeward Residential Holdings Inc., three mortgage servicers will be battling for the title of sixth-biggest servicer. The proposed transaction will also put Ocwen in the loan origination business.

SunTrust Recruiting Production Personnel
The parent of SunTrust Mortgage Inc. announced a new residential loan production facility in North Carolina and is staffing up the operation. It's the second consecutive year that the lender has executed a recruiting campaign in the region.

Ammunition for Mortgage Compliance War
Mortgage compliance service providers are expanding their businesses through new partnerships and alliances and by expanding their client bases as mortgage lenders grapple with increased compliance challenges. The solutions promise to help lenders meet requirements imposed by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau and federal laws.

Pace of HECM Production Hits 6-Year Low
The pace of originations for government-insured reverse mortgages was slower last month than it has been in six years. Meanwhile, the number of companies actively originating reverse mortgages has fallen by more than half over the past year.

Short Sales Dominate Servicer Settlement Activity
Out of the $25 billion involved in the mortgage servicer settlement, $20 billion is targeted at direct borrower relief -- with the majority of that relief coming in the form of principal reduction. But most of the aid thus far has been in the form of short sales.

FL Mortgage Banker Being Acquired
The acquisition of Florida mortgage banker is expected to give a century-old investment firm a foot in the door of the mortgage industry. It's also expected to create new jobs.

Bear RMBS at Heart of Chase MBS Lawsuit
An investment banking unit acquired by JPMorgan Chase & Co. is accused by New York's attorney general of misleading investors in the issuance of billions of dollars in securities backed by home loans. More than $20 billion in losses are alleged.

Agency Issuance Lifted by Fannie
While monthly issuance of mortgage-backed securities was lower at the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. and barely changed at the Government National Mortgage Association, business at the Federal National Mortgage Association was strong enough to push overall agency issuance higher last month.

MGIC Wins Capital Concessions
The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. has relaxed requirements necessary for MGIC Investment Corp. to remain an approved mortgage insurance provider.

No Decline in MTA for 5 Months
The Monthly Treasury Average has not been lower in any of the last five months, and underlying fundamentals are placing upward pressure on the index.

Obama Calls on Congress to Pass Refi Legislation
Congress is being urged by President Obama to pass legislation that would enable more U.S. borrowers to refinance.

BofA Extinguishing 2nd Liens
As part of the $25 billion multi-state mortgage servicer settlement, Bank of America is forgiving the entire principal on some second liens.

August Was a Winner for Fannie
August was the second-best month this year for new business at Fannie Mae. The secondary lender's book of business has expanded two months in a row, past-due payments on home loans continued lower and delinquency on apartment loans was down for the ninth consecutive month.

Sustained Drop in Bank Failures Behind Fewer Mortgage Casualties
This year is on pace to see fewer mortgage-related closings and failures than any since the subprime crisis erupted. Bank failures, which have fallen each of the past four quarters, supported the latest improvement. Mortgage brokers lost access to more wholesale lenders.

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