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DC Firm Postures to Help FHA Mortgagees

FHA News

A consulting firm operating from the nation’s capitol has made an acquisition that will help Federal Housing Administration mortgagees avoid and deal with enforcement actions.

Last July, the Department of Housing and Urban Development disclosed that the FHA Mortgagee Review Board took action against 240 mortgagees that failed to meet the board’s requirements over the prior year. The actions included monetary settlements, civil money penalties and the loss of FHA approval. In some cases, mortgagees agreed to indemnify HUD for losses on some loans.

HUD noted at the time that more than 2,300 administrative actions had been taken against FHA lenders since 2009, including a record 1,600 actions in 2010. A prior report from HUD indicated that actions were taken against more than a thousand mortgagees between July 10, 2008, and March 18, 2010.

HUD’s biggest settlement ever was with ABN AMRO Mortgage Group in 2006. The $41 million settlement included a $17 million cash payment and an agreement not to submit claims on defaulted FHA loans that was valued at around $24 million.

ABN AMRO, which was acquired in early 2007 by Citigroup Inc., allegedly falsified “documents in tens of thousands of loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration,” HUD said.

The July 2011 mortgagee actions included a $13,600 civil money penalty against a Texas mortgage servicer, Amarillo National Bank, because of deficiencies in its quality control plan and failure to notify HUD of loan defaults.

A company that specializes in helping mortgagees with risk management on government loans was acquired last week by The Collingwood Group in Washington, D.C.

Collingwood, whose founders include former FHA commissioner Brian Montgomery and former Ginnie Mae president Joseph Murin, said last week that it acquired GWN Consulting LLC.

GWN is reportedly well-versed in FHA compliance, risk and claims management. It reviews, analyzes and helps with the implementation of quality control plans and also helps lenders become approved as FHA lenders and Ginnie issuers.

GWN, which will operate as part of Collingwood’s risk management and compliance division under Montgomery, has “extensive experience supporting lenders’ responses to FHA and HUD Office of Inspector General audits, as well as Credit Watch and Direct Endorsement Authority terminations,” the statement said.

The founder of GWN, Karen Garner, has held leadership positions in FHA’s quality assurance division, according to the announcement. In addition, two GWN principals, David Hintz and Jack Kinkaid, previously served as Mortgagee Review Board secretaries.

“As FHA volume has grown to historically high levels, lenders and issuers can reasonably expect a corresponding increase in the level of FHA audit and enforcement actions,” Montgomery said in the news release.

Mortgagee actions can result in significant reputational risk, according to Collingwood, and the reputational risk may far outweigh the monetary penalty.

Collingwood plans to hold a conference call entitled Myths, Misconceptions and Facts about FHA enforcement early next month to help mortgagees deal with potential HUD actions.

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