Banks Likely to Gain FHA Relief Under Foreclosure Servicing Settlement

Sources say a settlement between state and federal officials and the nation’s biggest mortgage servicers likely will release banks from liability for treble damages related to loss-mitigation efforts on delinquent FHA loans. It is uncertain whether servicers will be released from claims tied to mortgage originations, but they would not be released from liability for fraud or representation or warranty claims. Given that state attorneys general have different expectations, it remains to be seen whether HUD’s efforts to strike a deal will lead to a final settlement or simply provide incentive for servicers to negotiate.

From “Banks Likely to Gain FHA Relief Under Foreclosure Servicing Settlement” American Banker (11/28/11) Berry, Kate


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BB&T Gets Good Marks for Mortgage Satisfaction

BB&T’s home mortgage lending got good marks for customer satisfaction in the latest survey by J.D. Power and Associates The Winston-Salem, N.C.-based bank scored 781 points out of a possible 1,000 on the survey, behind No. 1 Quicken Loans as well as SunTrust Mortgage and ING Bank. Wells Fargo, which has gained a major presence in North Carolina since absorbing Wachovia, scored 741 points, slightly lower than the industry average. Bank of America came in last on the survey, with 710 points.

From “BB&T Gets Good Marks for Mortgage Satisfaction” Business Journal of the Greater Triad Area (11/21/11) Evans, Matt

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Congress Increases the Ceiling on Size of Mortgages

Capitol Hill legislators on Nov. 17 raised the maximum size of home loans that can be guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration. Lawmakers passed a broad spending bill that contained a provision to restore to $729,750 the ceiling on mortgages that can be insured by the agency. The measure now goes to the desk of President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.

From “Congress Increases the Ceiling on Size of Mortgages” Wall Street Journal (11/18/11) P. A6 Zibel, Alan

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Housing Numbers Look Much Better

The Mortgage Bankers Association reports that the delinquency rate fell to about 8 percent in the third quarter, its lowest point since 2008, as the share of Americans late on their mortgage payments has declined slowly since peaking at 9.9 percent two years ago. The data does not include the 4.4 percent of U.S. loans in foreclosure. “While the delinquency picture changed for the better in the third quarter, the foreclosure data indicated that we are not out of the woods yet,” said MBA’s Michael Fratantoni.

From “Housing Numbers Look Much Better” Columbus Dispatch (OH) (11/18/11) Weiker, Jim

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4 Million Borrowers Eligible for Foreclosure Review

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency says more than 4 million borrowers who underwent foreclosure between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2010, will receive letters explaining how they can have their cases independently reviewed. The audits will decide how borrowers should be compensated if errors or abuses on the part of mortgage servicers are detected. Servicers will cover the cost of the reviews, but borrowers must request them by April 30, 2012. According to OCC, information on the length of the reviews, type of compensation, and whether borrowers would have to forfeit certain rights to receive that compensation is forthcoming.

From “4 Million Borrowers Eligible for Foreclosure Review”
Washington Post (11/02/11) P. A14 Dennis, Brady
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Refis Back in Play?

As government data released last week indicated that the economy might be improving, rates shot up and refinance activity retreated.

Now, as Greece’s prime minister is calling for a referendum on the bailout package from its European neighbors, that country’s increased likelihood of default has rattled markets and driven down the 10-year Treasury yield.

The movement suggests that the 30-year mortgage could slip below 4 percent again — potentially putting a refinance rally back in play.

source: Mortgage Chronicle 11/1/2011
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Home Lending Revamp Planned

U.S. regulators plan to unveil efforts to revamp the Home Affordable Refinance Program, which allows borrowers with loans insured by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as of June 2009 to refinance to lower their mortgage payments in response to falling home prices. The changes will qualify borrowers even if they owe more than 125 percent of their home value, eliminate appraisals and tough underwriting requirements for those current on their payments, waive fees for borrowers refinancing into loans with shorter terms, eliminate “buy back” risks of HARP mortgages and extend the program through 2013.

From “Home Lending Revamp Planned” Wall Street Journal (10/24/11) P. A1 Timiraos, Nick

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CFPB Makes Mortgage Servicing a Top Priority

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said on Thursday it will make oversight of the mortgage servicing industry a top priority as it boosts its oversight of banks. “We are going to take a close and measured view to ensure that servicers and financial institutions are in compliance with the federal consumer financial laws,” Raj Date, the Treasury official leading the bureau, said in a conference call with reporters. A senior CFPB official told reporters on the conference call the agency has a wide range of actions it can take, including imposing fines, depending on what problems it finds during examinations. The agency will initially focus its supervision efforts on the 105 banks, thrifts and credit unions that have more than $10 billion in assets. Among the areas it will scrutinize is whether a borrower being moved through the foreclosure process is being charged duplicative or illegal fees.

From “CFPB Makes Mortgage Servicing a Top Priority”
Reuters (10/13/11) Clarke, Dave


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Geithner: Refinancing Program Coming in ‘Next Couple Weeks’

The Federal Housing Finance Agency is likely to provide detailed plans for a refinancing program in the next couple of weeks, reports Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Speaking to the Senate Banking Committee, he said the initiative would allow more homeowners to refinance into loans with better interest rates; and it could have a significant impact on the housing market. He declined to quantify how many homeowners would benefit, noting that there have been dramatic overestimates of the impact of past housing programs.

From “Geithner: Refinancing Program Coming in ‘Next Couple Weeks’” American Banker (10/07/11) Wack, Kevin


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Buy your dream home years before retirement?

Fortunate enough to take advantage of today’s beaten down home prices and record-low interest rates, some baby boomers are buying their dream retirement homes — years before leaving the workforce.

“We’re seeing people purchasing homes five, six, seven years or more ahead of retirement,” said William Filbin, a Re/Max broker in Marco Island, Fla.

It’s an opportunity that’s hard to resist: Home prices nationwide are down 32% from their mid-2006 peak, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index. Meanwhile, mortgage rates are at historic lows with the 30-year fixed-rate hovering around 4.2%.

The question is: What to do with the property when you have so many years to kill before retirement?

To help cover the expenses of an extra mortgage and other bills — like utilities and property taxes — some pre-retirees are renting their homes out on long-term leases; others who bought in vacation hot spots rent to vacationers, said Mike Sannes, a Keller Williams broker with Big Bear Real Estate in San Bernardino County, Calif.

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