Mortgage Guaranty Insurance — Market Collapsing, Insurers Next?, by Gavin Magor, Weissratings.com

This week, President Obama announced that the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) would be extending the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) to an estimated additional one million homeowners.  In practice what this means is that homeowners that have a Fannie Mae (OTCBB: FNMA) or Freddie Mac (OTCBB: FMCC) backed loan and owe more than 125% of the value of their home may qualify for a restructuring.

Mortgage insurers were pummeled by claims in the first half of the year, losing $2.4 billion in the six months through June–$618 million in the first quarter plus another $1.7 billion in the second quarter. The third-quarter numbers are not yet available; however, with no sign of significant improvement in the economy for the remainder of the year it appears that 2010 losses will be matched in 2011.

 

Gavin Magor, senior financial analyst at Weiss Ratings, has more than 25 years of international experience in credit-risk management, insurance, commercial lending and analysis. He leads the firm’s insurance ratings division and developed the methodology for Weiss’ Sovereign Debt Ratings.

 

http://weissratings.com/news/articles/mortgage-guaranty-insurance-market-collapsing-insurers-next/

 

Given the state of the mortgage guaranty market, will the insurers even be there to support these loans, or more broadly, any loans?

The mortgage guaranty industry is dominated by six insurance groups.  Subsidiaries of MGIC Investment Corporation (NYSE: MTG), Radian Group (NYSE: RDN), Genworth Financial (NYSE: GNW), PMI Group (NYSE: PMI), American International Group (NYSE: AIG) and Old Republic International Corporation (NYSE: ORI) wrote 93% of the $4.4 billion of premiums in 2010 with just five companies writing 80% of the total.

These same companies also recorded $1.7 billion or 71% of the combined $2.4 billion losses.  United Guaranty Residential Insurance Co (an AIG subsidiary) is the only large insurer that recorded a profit during 2010 and for the first two quarters of 2011.  Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corp (MGIC) recorded a profit in 2010 after reserve adjustments.

Mortgage Insurance Companies of America, a group representing the major mortgage insurers, reports that new insurance written increased each month from April through August. It is this business that reflects an improved borrower profile according to the insurers and is expected to perform better than the pre-2008 policies.

On the downside, it reports that primary defaults have increased each month since March and the cure rate, reflecting the resolution of defaults, has declined as many months as it has improved, but the trend is down. A report from RealtyTrac on October 13 reported that first-time defaults rose 14% between July and September 2011 over the prior quarter.  Consequently, in-force insurance declined on a month-by-month basis, since February, down a total of $27.1 billion or 4.4% to $598.6 billion at the end of August.

Earned premiums dropped 7.9% during 2010, with the larger insurers dropping 9.1%.  With $3.5 billion out of the $4.4 billion of premiums earned by the largest insurers, only Radian Guaranty Inc experienced a rise in premiums, increasing 3.5%.  The remainder experienced declines anywhere from 6.4% to 21.6%.  

Capital and surplus reported by mortgage insurers dropped 7% from the first to second quarters of 2011, and $1 billion or 13% since December 2010. Assets declined $608 million or 2.3% between March and June.

Two substantial groups, PMI and Old Republic, wrote 24.6% of 2010 earned premiums but were forced to effectively withdraw from the market at the end of the third quarter of 2011. Two PMI subsidiaries were placed into receivership by the state insurance regulator.  One, PMI Mortgage Insurance Company, recorded 11.6% of the total mortgage premiums earned in 2010.

The market for mortgage guaranty paper has therefore shrunk. The line of business is not profitable at this stage for the majority of insurers. The concern is that the losses will continue to grow and, with limited growth in real estate sales requiring mortgage insurance, there will be additional withdrawals from the market and or potential failures.

Two of the largest mortgage insurers are Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation (MGIC), a subsidiary of Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corp. and Genworth Mortgage insurance Corporation (Genworth), a subsidiary of Genworth Financial Inc.  These two companies, ranking first and third respectively in market share, hold 35% of the market with Radian sandwiched in between. 

Despite the apparent similarities, they could not have more disparate approaches and confidence in the mortgage guaranty market. Both companies write only one line of business and both increased their market penetration in 2010, but the similarities end there.  MGIC represents 72% of the assets of its parent while Genworth only represents 2.5% of its parent and thus  is not the major focus of the group. This difference in relevance within each group is demonstrated in the contrasting approaches to the current market difficulties.

  1. MGIC slightly increased its market penetration during 2010, from 22.9% to 23.1%, despite a 7.3% fall in earned premiums from $1.1 billion to $1.02 billion. This increase did not translate into profits however. Only a $619 million release ofclaims reserves prevented a loss in 2010.  It’s noteworthy though that MGIC was profitable for each of the “Great Recession” years of 2007 to 2009.
  2. Although MGIC recognizes that the loan origination market is not growing, it contends that it is positioned to operate in the restricted market and that it is sufficiently capitalized to take advantage of the better quality business now available.
  3. Like MGIC, Genworth slightly increased its market penetration during 2010, from 11.7% to 11.9%, despite a 6.4% fall in earned premiums from $558.2 million to $522.6 million. Unlike MGIC it recorded losses in each of the years from 2008 to 2010.
  4. On the other hand, Genworth sees that the future of the mortgage insurance market lies in the regulatory and legislative actions taken to change the real estate market. It recognizes that there could be some industry consolidation.

What these two insurers appear to be demonstrating clearly is that whether the mortgage guaranty business is core to a group or not the odds are currently stacked against them because of the legacy business. 

Mortgage insurers have traditionally, like most property and casualty insurers, earned substantial income from investments. A drop in investment income should be expected to continue based on the current interest rate environment and bond pricing, drying up this revenue source

The investment dilemma is a challenge for all P&C insurers.  There is a growing reliance on investments for profits; at the same time there are reduced yields in the current investment environment. With unsustainable underwriting losses, insurers must navigate among undesirable alternatives:  1) seeking higher investment returns by purchasing riskier securities; or 2) increasing premiuns at the risk of dampening demand for mortgages

This is another area where MGIC and Genworth have differed. Genworth has increased its junk bond investments from 1.7% of its total portfolio in 2008 to 3.4% in 2010.  This is in line with the general trend among all P&C insurers. MGIC has, on the other hand, reduced its junk holdings which has resulted in an annualized decline of 21% in investment income putting additional pressure on the profitability of the main underwriting business.

Something has to give and, as we saw in the third quarter, both PMI and Old Republic International Corp were forced to stop writing new policies due to insufficient capital.  PMI is on the brink of collapse, and two subsidiaries were seized by the regulator in September. Despite opportunities to write more, and presumably profitable, business with a smaller competitive field it seems reasonable to assume that there will be additional insurers that withdraw from the market, are seized by regulators, or are sold. 

Genworth appears to be a prime example of a company in the wrong place at the wrong time and it could be jettisoned by its parent sooner rather than later.  MGIC on the other hand IS the business and appears to be girding its loins for the fight ahead, hoping that it will be able to successfully get through the unprofitable pre-2008 book of business and emerge stronger, with a profitable book of new business and positioned to take advantage of future recoveries in the housing market.

 

The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP): What You Need to Know, by Hayley Tsukayama, Washington Post

On Monday, the federal government announced that it would revise the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), implementing changes that The Washington Post’s Zachary A. Goldfarb reported would “allow many more struggling borrowers to refinance their mortgages at today’s ultra-low rates, reducing monthly payments for some homeowners and potentially providing a modest boost to the economy.”

The HARP program, which was rolled out in 2009, is designed to help. Those who are “underwater” on their homes and owe more than the homes are worth. So far, The Post reported, it has reached less than one-tenth of the 5 million borrowers it was designed to help. Here’s a quick breakdown of what you need to know about the changes.

What was announced? The enhancements will allow some homeowners who are not currently eligible to refinance to do so under HARP. The changes cut fees for borrowers who want to refinance into short-term mortgages and some other borrowers. They also eliminate a cap that prevented “underwater” borrowers who owe more than 125 percent of what their property is worth from accessing the program.

Am I eligible? To be eligible, you must have a mortgage owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, sold to those agencies on or before May 31, 2009. The current loan-to-value ratio on the mortgage must be greater than 80 percent. Having a mortgage that was previously refinanced under the program disqualifies you from the program. Borrowers cannot not have missed any mortgage payments in the past six months and cannot have had more than one missed payment in the past 12 months.

How do I take advantage of HARP?According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the first step borrowers should take is to see whether their mortgages are owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. If so, borrowers should contact lenders that offer HARP refinances.

When do the changes go into effect?The FHFA is expected to publish final changes in November. According to a fact sheet on the program, the timing will vary by lender.

Real Estate News On The National Scene, by Phil Querin, Q-Law.com

The credit and real estate meltdowns, coupled with the subsequent foreclosure crisis, caused many politicians, all with differing motives, to shift into high legislative gear.  Without commenting on motivation, which is an admittedly fertile area for discussion, let’s take a look at the national legislative scene to see what has occurred[1], and whether things are better today than in 2008.

MERS. I am addressing this issue at the beginning, primarily to get it out of the way.  I for one am suffering from “MERS Fatigue,” which is a malady afflicting many of us who watch and wait for something new to occur on this front.

It’s important to understand that MERS, which is the catchy acronym for the “Mortgage Electronic Registration System”, was never a creature of statute.  It was born and bred by the lending and title industries in the late 1990s, for reasons that most people already know.  But because of its national scope – affecting approximately 60% of all home mortgages – MERS bears mentioning here.

Despite all the national attention, the MERS controversy is really one that can only be resolved on the local level, since real estate recording and foreclosure statutes occur on a state – not national – level.  In Oregon, although there have been several federal court rulings, MERS’ legality is still up in the air.  This is because the local federal judges, who are supposed to follow Oregon law, have no binding Oregon appellate court precedent to follow when it comes to MERS.  The result is that there have been divergent federal court rulings.  And, the topic is so contentious at the Oregon legislature that there is little political appetite to tackle the problem, since few can agree on a solution.

So, the news is that there is no news.  It will take months for the one state court case currently on appeal to find its way to the Oregon Court of Appeals or Supreme Court.  And, although there is a slight chance of a breakthrough in the upcoming session, 2012 does not appear to be a year in which we will see a legislative answer.

Fannie and Freddie. Since the fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008, these two Government Sponsored Enterprises or “GSEs” have come under government ownership and control.  For a summary of the issues from the Congressional Budget Office, go to  the link here.  Since the private secondary mortgage market effectively disappeared between 2007-2008, this means that today, there is no viable buyer of residential loans except the federal government. To some observers, depending on their political bent, this is a good thing; but to others, it’s bad.

One thing is certain; as long as the federal government, through Fannie and Freddie, dictate borrower qualifications, LTVs, and conforming loan limits[2], the conventional mortgage market will continue to be tight.  This does not bode well for higher end homes, especially.  Unfortunately, we don’t have to go back very far in time to remember what happened in the “private label” secondary mortgage market (i.e. non-GSE market) where home loans were handed out like party favors, and those who should never have qualified did.

While there is much talk about doing away with Fannie and Freddie, it is unlikely any time soon.  However, what is occurring, albeit slowly and somewhat quietly, is a move to shift some of the GSEs’ loans to the private sector, where the risk would not be backed by the federal government.  If this works, perhaps more will follow.  While there may be some investors for such loans, it is likely that without a governmental safety net, the nascent private secondary market will demand a higher rate of return to offset the higher risk.

 

In the meantime, the loans of choice appear to be through the FHA.  While the paperwork may be daunting, the LTVs are good and the bar to borrower qualification is much lower and more flexible than conventional loans.

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. In recognition of Wall Street’s role in the credit and mortgage meltdowns, Congress established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) through the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. On July 21 of this year, it was opened for business. This is no ordinary federal agency.  It is a super agency, responsible for regulating many, many areas of consumer finance and mortgage loans.[3]

Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor and Presidential Advisor, was the driving force behind the Agency’s creation.  She was a zealous advocate for the consumer.  Unfortunately, the political reality was that she may have been too zealous.  Instead of being appointed director, Richard Cordray, former Ohio Attorney General, was appointed to head the agency.  However, his nomination is currently tied up in Congress, and he may not be confirmed.  Many Republicans oppose the idea of so much power being wielded by a single person rather than a board of Senate-confirmed appointees.  So as it stands, the CFPB – this mega agency that was created to oversee so many aspects of consumer law – has a website, is hard at work making manuals and processing paperwork, yet has no director to oversee enforcement of anything.

Risk Retention, Skin in the Game, and the QRM. Mindful of the risks created when banks used their own safety net capital to trade in high risk loans, known as “proprietary trading,” the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act enacted Section 619, which placed severe restrictions on the ability of banks to use their funds to place risky bets (known as the “Volker Rule”).  Billions of dollars of these bets failed in 2008, leading up to the massive government bailouts that taxpayers funded.  What is the status of the Volker Rule today?  It’s still out for public comment, with banks arguing that the Rule will reduce their revenues and thereby force them to increase the cost of loans to borrowers. Given that big banks are still suffering the reputational fallout from the bailouts, the Volker Rule -with most of its teeth – may actually become law. When? Who knows.[4]

Also mindful of the risks created through sloppy underwriting of securitized loans, Dodd-Frank sought to require that banks retain a 5 percent interest in the risk of loss on those loans. This risk retention rule has been referred to as “skin in the game,” and was intended to require banks to share a portion of the risks they securitized to others.  Instead of investors taking on the entire risk of a slice of securitized loans, banks would have to hold back 5% on their own balance sheet.

However, the law made a major exception; it provided that through rule making, a standard be set for certain loan types with statistically lower default rates for which risk retention would be unnecessary.  This exception became known as the “Qualified Residential Mortgage” or “QRM.”  The QRM rules were intended to impose high standards for documentation of income, borrower performance, low debt-to-income ratios and other quality underwriting requirements.  Although they were to be the exception, not the rule, today, most lenders want these standards to be flexible rather than inflexible, so that there is more wiggle room for their loans to qualify as QRMs and thereby remain exempt from risk retention.  The argument in favor of looser loan standards is the fear that an inflexible QRM exemption will impair access to home loans by low and moderate income borrowers. This debate continues today, and there is some reason to believe that these rules will be substantially diluted before becoming law.

 

PCQ Editorial Comment: It was not so long ago that certain banks criticized borrowers of 100% home financing as creating “moral hazard” – i.e. they took risks because they had no financial risk of default since they had no down payment to lose.  Today, the concept of “moral hazard” seems to have been forgotten by those same banks opposing risk retention rules.  They now expect their borrowers to have “skin in the game” – hence the higher down payment rules – but deny the need to do so themselves.  “Pot meet Kettle.”

Conclusion. So, notwithstanding the fact that this country teetered on the brink of disaster in 2008, the politicians’ rush to legislate has continued to move at a snail’s pace.  Query:  Is the American consumer really better off today than in 2008?


[1] This article will not cover Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (“MARS”), since the much ballyhooed national law was never intended to apply to Realtors®, even though that realization did not come soon enough to avoid all sorts of unnecessary industry handwringing and forms creation. All of the Oregon-specific legislation has been discussed in my prior articles.

[2] On September 30, 2011, Fannie’s high loan limits for certain high housing cost parts of the country expired.  In portions of California, this may result in otherwise qualified buyers having to wait a year or two to save for the additional down payments.

[3] Here is a listing of its responsibilities: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve: Regulation B (Equal Credit Opportunity Act); Regulation C (Home Mortgage Disclosure); Electronic Fund Transfers (Regulation E); Regulation H, Subpart I (Registration of Residential Mortgage Loan Originators); Regulation M (Consumer Leasing); Regulation P (Privacy); Regulation V (Fair Credit Reporting); Regulation Z (Truth in Lending); Regulation DD (Truth in Savings); FDIC: Privacy of Consumer Financial Information; Fair Credit Reporting Registration of Residential Mortgage Loan Originators; Office of the Comptroller of the Currency: Adjustable Rate Mortgages Registration of Residential Mortgage Loan Originators; Privacy of Consumer Financial Information; Fair Credit Reporting;  Office of Thrift Supervision: Adjustments to home loans; Alternative Mortgage  transactions; Registration of Mortgage Loan Originators; Fair Credit Reporting; Privacy of Consumer Financial Information; National Credit Union Administration: Loans to members and lines of credit to members; Truth in Savings; Privacy of Consumer Financial Information; Fair Credit Reporting Requirements for Insurance; Registration of Mortgage Loan Originators; Federal Trade Commission: Telemarketing Sales Rule; Privacy of Consumer Financial Information; Disclosure Requirements for Depository Institutions Lacking Federal Depository Insurance; Mortgage Assistance Relief Services; Use of Pre-notification Negative Option Plans; Rule Concerning Cooling-Off Period for Sales Made at Homes or at Certain Other Locations; Preservation of Consumers’ Claims and Defenses; Credit Practices; Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Disclosure Requirements and Prohibitions Concerning Franchising Disclosure Requirements and Prohibitions Concerning Business Opportunities Fair Credit Reporting Act Procedures for State Application for Exemption from the Provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act; Department of Housing and Urban Development: Hearing Procedures Pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act; Civil Monetary Penalties; Land Registration Purchasers’ Revocation Rights; Sales Practices, and Standards Formal Procedures and; Rules of Practice Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act; Investigations in Consumer Regulatory Programs. For source, link here.

[4] It is rumored that Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, both of whom changed their charters from securities firms to become “banks”, in order to be eligible for taxpayer funded bailout money, are now considering exiting that status, precisely so they will not have to comply with the Volker Rule – if it passes.

What the heck does “loan-to-value” mean?

There are lots of terms we use in the mortgage industry that aren’t part of everyday parlance. Today, I’ll talk a little bit about “loan-to-value”, or LTV for short.

In fact, I have a video that’s less than 90 seconds long if you’re in a hurry:

Loan-to-value

So, just to recap what I said in the video, your loan-to-value is the percentage of your home’s value that you finance with your home loan.

Whether you a purchasing a home, or refinancing your existing mortgage, LTV is an extremely important factor in making an educated decision about your home loan.

I’ll give you an example:

FHA – When purchasing a home using an FHA home loan, you can finance up to 96.5% of the appraised value of the property. If you are refinancing, you have two options: “rate & term” or “cash-out”. Rate & term means you are refinancing to lower your rate or change the length of your loan. A rate & term refinance is capped at a 97.75% LTV for FHA. Cash-out FHA refinances are limited to 85 per cent of the value of your home. If your current mortgage is an FHA loan, you can refinance with an FHA streamline, which does not have an LTV limitation.

So your needs define your loan-to-value, which helps define what home loan program you are going to apply for.

If you would like to learn more about loan-to-value, other mortgage terminology, or home loans in Oregon and Washington, I invite you to visit my site or contact me. I am long on answers and short on sales pitches 🙂

Thanks for taking a minute to read this post!

Picture: Jason HillardJason Hillard – homeloanninjas.com

Mortgage Advisor in Oregon and Washington MLO#119032

Pinnacle Mortgage Bankers

a div of Pinnacle Capital Mortgage Corp

503.799.4112

jason@mypmb.us

1706 D St Vancouver, WA 98663

NMLS 81395 WA CL-81395

Equal Housing Lender

Is The National Association Of Realtors Hurting The Real Estate Market? by Brett Reichel, Brettreichel.com

Yesterday, a fairly sophisticated home buyer called me about a pre-approval.  He and his wife own a home, and a vacation home.  This is a successful business couple who are doing well in the residential construction market despite the current economy.  He indicated that they wanted to buy a new primary residence.  His question to me was “We can get together about 10% down.  Can we even buy a new home with less than 20% down?”

It’s no wonder they are confused.  Every other article where leadership of the National Association of Realtors is quoted, every press release they issue usually has the quote that “tight lender guidelines are hurting the real estate market”  or “buyers need to have 20% down and be perfect to accomplish a purchase” or some words like that. 

Unfortunately, these types of statements are blatantly untrue in most markets, and are very damaging to the real estate market at large and to home buyers and sellers everywhere. 

It’s true that lenders are giving loan applications MUCH greater scrutiny than they have in any time since 1998.  Rampant mortgage fraud on the part of borrowers, Realtors, lenders, and mortgage originators have required lenders to check and recheck everything represented in a loan application.  Unfortunatley, until we get everyone to realize that the “silly bank rules” they are breaking consititutes a federal crime we are stuck with the extra scrutiny.  Fortunately, the new national loan originator licensing and registration systems should make loan officers everywhere realize the seriousness of this issue and root out fraud before it get’s to the point of a loan being funded.  The safety of our banking and financial systems is too important to allow the kinds of games that have been played over the last few years. 

The National Association of Realtors is right about appraisals.  Appraisals remain a very serious issue.  Pressure from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on lenders results in pressures by lending institutions on appraisers to bring in appraisals very conservatively.  It’s common for appraisers to use inappropriate appraisal practice due to the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac form1004mc, which results in innacurate appraisal (see previous posts).

It’s also true that underwriting guidelines are stricter than they were during the golden age of loose underwriting (1998 thru 2008).  What people don’t realize that underwriting guidelines are easier now than they’ve been in any previous time frame.  In fact, it’s a great time to buy for many folks who have been priced out of markets previously.

How can I make that type of claim?  Because I remember the “bad old days”…..Prior to 1997-1998, debt-to-income ratio’s were much stricter than they are now.   A debt-to-income ratio compares your total debt to your total income.  In the old days, if you put 5% down on a conventional loan, you couldn’t have more than 36% of your total income go towards your debt.  Now?  If you’ve been reasonably careful with your credit, have decent job stability, and a little savings left over for emergency it’s pretty easy to get to a ratio of 41%!  With only 5% down!  On FHA loans, it’s really easy to go to 45% DTI with only 3.5% down!   In fact, there are times that we go even higher.

Is that obvious in the mass media?  No.  They paint a dire picture based, in part, on the statements of NAR. 

So, if you are a Realtor, press NAR to paint a more positve picture of financing.  Nothing that is “puffed up”, just reality.  If you are a buyer, don’t be fooled by what you read in the mainstream press.  Talk to a good, local, independent mortgage banker.  They’ll give you a clear path to home ownership and join the ranks of homeowners!

 

 

Refinancing your Underwater Fannie Mae home loan

The Fannie Mae DU Refi Plus home loan program is extended through this year and into 2012. This program may be able to help you refinance if you owe more than your home is worth. Check out this quick video:

The Fannie Mae DU Refi Plus – Basics

First of all, you need to make sure that your current loan is owned by Fannie Mae. You can check that at Fannie Mae’s website. All you need is your full address.

You also need to be on time with your mortgage payments. If you are behind in your mortgage, you will need to discuss loan modification or other options with your lender.

The biggest impediment when discussing the DU Refi Plus program is the issue of mortgage insurance. The best case scenario is if you do not have mortgage insurance on your current home loan.

If you need to figure out your options when it comes to refinancing your home in Oregon or Washington, shoot me an email. You may not always like the answer, but knowing is better than the alternative.

Thanks for taking a minute to check this post out!

 

Picture: Jason HillardJason Hillard – homeloanninjas.com

Mortgage Advisor in Oregon and Washington MLO#119032

Pinnacle Mortgage Bankers

a div of Pinnacle Capital Mortgage Corp

503.799.4112

jason@mypmb.us

1706 D St Vancouver, WA 98663

NMLS 81395 WA CL-81395

Equal Housing Lender

The Boogeyman, Loch Ness Monster, and Custom home loans

I’ve really been on a tear lately when it comes to listening to advertisements from other lenders. It used to really piss me off when I saw misleading, deceptive, or otherwise “BS” mortgage ads.

Now I choose to laugh.

And poke a little fun. Here’s a video I made about the idea of “custom” home loans:

Custom Home Loans – Really?!

Mortgages are not the financial equivalent of an “a la carte” menu.

The investors that buy home loans don’t have short order cooks catering to individual preference.

Home loan programs are basically boxes. Some people offer different boxes, some people have more boxes. Most of these boxes have familiar names – FHA, VA, USDA, Conventional.

It is the job of a Licensed Mortgage Professional to explain all the boxes to you, tell you which ones your situation fits in, and help you devise a plan of action if you don’t immediately fit in the box you want.

If you have questions about  the boxes available to you, I am here to answer all of your questions about Oregon & Washington home loans. There’s a lot of boxes out there, and chances are you fit into one of them.

Picture: Jason Hillard

Jason Hillard – homeloanninjas.com

Mortgage Advisor in Oregon and Washington MLO#119032

Pinnacle Mortgage Bankers

a div of Pinnacle Capital Mortgage Corp

503.799.4112

jason@mypmb.us

1706 D St Vancouver, WA 98663

NMLS 81395 WA CL-81395

Equal Housing Lender

Bank of America Offers $20,000 Short-Sale Incentive to Homeowners, by Kimberly Miller, The Palm Beach Post

Bank of America, the nation’s largest mortgage servicer, is offering Florida homeowners up to $20,000 to short sale their homes rather than letting them linger in foreclosure.

The limited-time offer has received little promotion from the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank, which sent emails to select Florida Realtors earlier this week outlining basic details of the plan.

Only homeowners whose short sales are submitted for approval to Bank of America before Nov. 30 will qualify. The homes must have no offers on them already and the closing must occur before Aug. 31, 2012.

A short sale is when a bank agrees to accept a lower sales price on a home than what the borrower owes on the loan.

Realtors said the Bank of America plan, which has a minimum payout amount of $5,000, is a genuine incentive to struggling homeowners who may otherwise fall into Florida’s foreclosure abyss.

The current timeline to foreclosure in Florida is an average of 676 days — nearly two years — according to real estate analysis company RealtyTrac. The national average foreclosure timeline is 318 days.

“I think this is a positive sign that the bank is being creative to try and help homeowners and get things moving,” said Paul Baltrun, who works with real estate and mortgages at the Law Office of Paul A. Krasker in West Palm Beach. “With real estate attorneys handling these cases, you’re talking two, three, four years before there’s going to be a resolution in a foreclosure.”

Guy Cecala, chief executive officer and publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance, called the short sale payout a “bribe.”

“You can call it a relocation fee, but it’s basically a bribe to make sure the borrower leaves the house in good condition and in an orderly fashion,” Cecala said. “It makes good business sense considering you may have to put $20,000 into a foreclosed home to fix it up.”

Homeowners, especially ones who feel cheated by the bank, have been known to steal appliances and other fixtures, or damage the home.

“This might be the banks finally waking up that they can have someone in there with an incentive not to damage the property,” said Realtor Shannon Brink, with Re/Max Prestige Realty in West Palm Beach. “Isn’t it better to have someone taking care of the pool and keeping the air conditioner on?”

A spokesman for Bank of America said the program is being tested in Florida, and if successful, could be expanded to other states.

Wells Fargo and J.P. Morgan Chase have similar short-sale programs, sometimes called “cash for keys.”

Wells Fargo spokesman Jason Menke said his company offers up to $20,000 on eligible short sales that are left in “broom swept” condition. Although the program is not advertised, deals are mostly made on homes in states with lengthy foreclosure timelines, he said.

And caveats exist. The Wells Fargo short-sale incentive is only good on first-lien loans that it owns, which is about 20 percent of its total portfolio.

Bank of America’s plan excludes Ginnie Mae, Federal Housing Administration and VA loans.

Similar to the federal Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives program, or HAFA, which offers $3,000 in relocation assistance, the Bank of America program may also waive a homeowner’s deficiency judgment at closing.

A deficiency judgment in a short sale is basically the difference between what the house sells for and what is still owed on the loan.

HAFA, which began in April 2010, has seen limited success with just 15,531 short sales completed nationwide through August.

But Realtors said cash for keys programs can work.

Joe Kendall, a broker associate at Sandals Realty in Fort Myers, said he recently closed on a short sale where the seller got $25,000 from Chase.

“They realize people are struggling and this is another way to get the homes off the books,” he said.

The Home Loan Application, by Jason Hillard , Homeloanninjas.com

Applying for a home loan is quite a process. A good place to get familiar with the process is the home loan application. I made a video awhile back showing the different sections of the loan application:

Some things to know when you apply for a home loan:

  • Detailed residence history for the last 2 years
  • Detailed employment history for the last 2 years
  • Knowledge of your various bank accounts, retirement accounts, and other liquid assets
  • Social Security number
  • A good idea of your credit history – dates of bankruptcy discharge, etc

Obviously, there’s more to it than that. But those items might be things you wouldn’t usually think about. It helps to have the following put together when you fill out the loan application:

  • Most recent 30 days of paystubs for all borrowers
  • Most recent bank statements; all pages, all accounts
  • Most recent retirement or 401k statements
  • Last 2 years Federal tax returns; all pages, with w2s
  • Business tax returns if applicable
  • Divorce decree/child support paperwork if applicable
  • Award letters for Social Security/VA/Disability if applicable
  • Pension letters/Annuity statements if applicable
  • Bankruptcy Discharge paperwork if applicable

That sounds like a lot of stuff to put together, but the truth is it will help your Mortgage Professional put your application together, and the underwriter will need to document and verify all of those items anyway.

You might as well begin prepared.

For more information about the home loan application, and a copy you can download and get familiar with, check out my website. I try to provide valuable information about home loans in Oregon and Washington, rather than empty sales pitches. Thanks!

Picture: Jason Hillard

Jason Hillard – homeloanninjas.com

Mortgage Advisor in Oregon and Washington MLO#119032

Pinnacle Mortgage Bankers

a div of Pinnacle Capital Mortgage Corp

503.799.4112

jason@mypmb.us

1706 D St Vancouver, WA 98663

NMLS 81395 WA CL-81395

Equal Housing Lender

Portland Real Estate Developer Betting With the House as He Develops Family-Owned Treasure, by (EON: Enhanced Online News

No one would call Reed Dow, of Reed Dow & Associates, a gambler- but he is betting nearly $1 million that the renaissance of Division Street that has been moving along for the last several years will help breathe new life into a 10,000 square foot former commercial warehouse that his family has owned since 1965.

The building located at 3525 Southeast Division Street is getting more than just a facelift. While the original character of the Art Deco façade will be preserved to blend seamlessly into the urban Division-Clinton neighborhood, the interior of the building was gutted down to the poured-in-place concrete walls and wood frame roof. Now that permitting is complete, plans call for a new roof with exterior insulation, rooftop HVAC units, electrical system, storefront glass and common area restrooms.

The newly branded ‘Dow Building’ is hoping to attract a restaurant or café for the prime corner space on SE Division and 35th Place and several other boutique retailers for the remaining store front spaces along Division.

“The building was constructed in 1925 at the peak of the Deco period, and over the years it has been home to a drug store, my family’s disaster recovery business, a tavern and many other establishments,” said Dow. “With the city targeting low impact, high density living for this area, we’re hoping that the restored charm of our building will attract a handful of new, locally-owned business that will complement the neighborhood.”

Josh Bean of Doug Bean & Associates, Inc. is the building’s leasing agent. According to Bean, the project may have up to six different tenants.

“We can accommodate five different retail tenants along Division Street and one creative/production tenant in the remaining space facing SE 35th Place. Over the past few years, even during the peak of the recession, Division Street has enjoyed a steady revitalization. Several developers have built new mixed-use projects or converted tired old buildings into vibrant new properties,” said Bean. “Division Street has become home to some of the city’s top chefs and restaurants including Andy Ricker of Pok Pok and David Machado of Lauro Mediterranean Kitchen. By the time our renovation and restoration are complete in November, we fully expect that we’ll be adding new interest to the block.”

“It brings me special pleasure to be a part of the restoration of a building that has been in my family for generations,” Dow added. “My family has a life-long commitment to the success of this friendly neighborhood that few in the area can equal. Our roots are in this neighborhood and with this project we’ll be sinking them just a little deeper.”

For leasing information please visit the website of Doug Bean & Associates, Inc., http://www.dougbean.com

Contacts

Reed Dow & Associates

Chris Daly, media

703-435-6293

chris@dalygray.com

Oregon’s Shadow Inventory – The “New Normal”?, by Phil Querin, Q-Law.com

The sad reality is that negative equity, short sales, and foreclosures, will likely be around for quite a while.  “Negative equity”, which is the excess by which total debt encumbering the home exceeds its present fair market value, is almost becoming a fact of life. We know from theRMLS™ Market Action report that average and median prices this summer have continued to fall over the same time last year.  The main reason is due to the volume of  “shadow inventory”. This term refers to the amorphous number of homes – some of which we can count, such as listings and pendings–and much of which we can only estimate, such as families on the cusp of default, but current for the moment.  Add to this “shadow” number, homes already 60 – 90 days delinquent, those already in some stage of foreclosure, and those post-foreclosure properties held as bank REOs, but not yet on the market, and it starts to look like a pretty big number.  By some estimates, it may take nearly four years to burn through all of the shadow inventory. Digging deeper into the unknowable, we cannot forget the mobility factor, i.e. people needing or wanting to sell due to potential job relocation, changes in lifestyle, family size or retirement – many of these people, with and without equity, are still on the sidelines and difficult to estimate.

As long as we have shadow inventory, prices will remain depressed.[1] Why? Because many of the homes coming onto the market will be ones that have either been short sold due to negative equity, or those that have been recently foreclosed.  In both cases, when these homes close they become a new “comp”, i.e. the reference point for pricing the next home that goes up for sale.  [A good example of this was the first batch of South Waterfront condos that went to auction in 2009.  The day after the auction, those sale prices became the new comps, not only for the unsold units in the building holding the auction, but also for many of the neighboring buildings. – PCQ]

All of these factors combine to destroy market equilibrium.  That is, short sellers’ motivation is distorted.  Homeowners with negative equity have little or no bargaining power.  Pricing is driven by the “need” to sell, coupled with the lender’s decision to “bite the bullet” and let it sell.  Similarly, for REO property, pricing is motivated by the banks’ need to deplete inventory to make room for more foreclosures.  A primary factor limiting sales of bank REO property is the desire not to flood the market and further depress pricing. Only when market equilibrium is restored, i.e. a balance is achieved where both sellers and buyers have roughly comparable bargaining power, will we see prices start to rise. Today, that is not the case – even for sellers with equity in their homes.  While equity sales are faster than short sales, pricing is dictated by buyers’ perception of value, and value is based upon the most recent short sale or REO sale.

So, the vicious circle persists.  In today’s world of residential real estate, it is a fact of life.  The silver lining, however, is that most Realtors® are becoming much more adept – and less intimidated – by the process.  They understand these new market dynamics and are learning to deal with the nuances of short sales and REOs.  This is a very good thing, since it does, indeed, appear as if this will be the “new normal” for quite a while.

House is Gone but Debt Lives On; Expect Huge Surge in Deficiency Lawsuits, by Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Forty-one states allow lenders to sue for mortgage debt if a home fetches less than the mortgage in a foreclosure sale. It always will. Such lawsuits are one of the reasons I have consistently advised people to consult an attorney before walking away.

For a nice write-up on deficiency judgments please consider the Wall Street Journal article House Is Gone but Debt Lives On.

Joseph Reilly lost his vacation home here last year when he was out of work and stopped paying his mortgage. The bank took the house and sold it. Mr. Reilly thought that was the end of it.

In June, he learned otherwise. A phone call informed him of a court judgment against him for $192,576.71. It turned out that at a foreclosure sale, his former house fetched less than a quarter of what Mr. Reilly owed on it. His bank sued him for the rest.

The result was a foreclosure hangover that homeowners rarely anticipate but increasingly face: a “deficiency judgment.”

Until recently, “there was a false sense of calm” among borrowers who went through foreclosure, Mr. Englett says. “That’s changing,” he adds, as borrowers learn they may be financially on the hook even after the house is gone.

Some close observers of the housing scene are convinced this is just the beginning of a surge in deficiency judgments. Sharon Bock, clerk and comptroller of Palm Beach County, Fla., expects “a massive wave of these cases as banks start selling the judgments to debt collectors.”

Because most targets have scant savings, the judgments sell for only about two cents on the dollar, versus seven cents for credit-card debt, according to debt-industry brokers.

Silverleaf Advisors LLC, a Miami private-equity firm, is one investor in battered mortgage debt. Instead of buying ready-made deficiency judgments, it buys banks’ soured mortgages and goes to court itself to get judgments for debt that remains after foreclosure sales.

Silverleaf says its collection efforts are limited. “We are waiting for the economy to somewhat heal so that it’s a better time to go after people,” says Douglas Hannah, managing director of Silverleaf.

Investors know that most states allow up to 20 years to try to collect the debts, ample time for the borrowers to get back on their feet. Meanwhile, the debts grow at about an 8% interest rate, depending on the state.

Laws vary from state to state and things may depend on whether or not the loan is a recourse loan or not. Once again, before walking away, and before considering a short-sale or bankruptcy, please consult an attorney who knows real estate laws for your state.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

Why Isn’t The Unemployment Crisis a National Emergency?, Economist’s View Blog

Even though the president has pivoted “from deficit reduction to job creation,” and even though job creation was the theme of the weekly address Obama gave today, I can’t say I’m any more encouraged about the prospects for a significant job creation package than I was when I wrote this.]

Labor markets are in terrible shape. Fourteen million people are unemployed, long-term unemployment remains near record highs, the ratio of job seekers to job openings is 4.3 to 1, and the employment to population ratio has dropped precipitously. Even if the economy grows at a robust average of 3.5% beginning in 2013, labor markets won’t fully recover until 2017. And if average growth is only 3.0% – well within the range of possibility – it will take until 2020. In short, labor markets are in crisis and the longer the crisis persists, the more permanent and growth-inhibiting the damage becomes.

So it was welcome news to see President Obama pivot from deficit reduction to job creation in his widely anticipated speech last week. The president proposed a combination of spending and tax reduction policies, and he surprised many people with the boldness of his proposals and his passion and commitment to the issue. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to do much to help with the unemployment problem.

There plenty of time to provide help, the dismal prospects for recovery detailed above make that clear. So the time it takes to implement job creation policies – the objection that there are not enough shovel ready projects – is not the issue. And while concerns over the deficit are valid for the long-run, they shouldn’t prevent us from doing more to help the jobless. The long-run debt problem is predominantly a health care cost problem, and whether or not we help the jobless doesn’t much change the magnitude of the long-run problem we face.

The problem is the political atmosphere. Republicans may go along with doing just enough to look cooperative rather than obstructionist, but no more than that and the policies that emerge are unlikely to be enough to make a substantial difference in the unemployment problem. It won’t be anywhere near the $445 billion program the president has called for, which itself is short of what is needed to really make a difference.

I don’t expect we’ll get much more help from the Fed either. There is quite a bit of disagreement among monetary policymakers over whether further easing would do more harm than good, and inflation hawks are standing in the way of those who want to aggressively attack the unemployment problem. As with Congress, the Fed is likely to adopt a compromise position and do the minimum it can while still looking as though it is trying to meet its obligation to promote full employment.

Thus, despite the President’s newfound interest in job creation, and the call from some at the Fed to treat the unemployment problem the same way they would treat elevated inflation – as though “their hair was on fire” – the actual policies that come out of Congress and the Fed are unlikely to be sufficient to make much of a dent in the problem.

It’s time for this to change. The loss of 8.75 million payroll jobs since the recession began should be a national emergency. But it’s not, and the question is why. Why has deficit reduction taken precedence over job creation? Why is our political system broken to the extent that a whole segment of the population is not being adequately represented in Congress?

That brings me to an important difference between the response to this recession and the policies that followed the Great Depression. Many of the policies that were enacted during and after the Great Depression not only addressed economic problems, they also directly or indirectly reduced the ability of special interests to capture the political process. Polices that imposed regulations on the financial sector, broke up monopolies, reduced inequality through highly progressive taxes, accorded new powers to unions, and so on shifted the balance of power toward the typical household.

But since the 1970s many of these changes have been reversed. Inequality has reverted to levels unseen since the Gilded Age, monopoly power has increased, financial regulation has waned, union power has been lost, and much of the disgust with the political process revolves around the feeling that politicians have lost touch with the interests of the working class. And it would be hard to disagree with that sentiment.

We need a serious discussion of this issue, followed by changes that shift political power toward the working class, but who will start the conversation? Congress has no interest in doing so, things are quite lucrative as they are. Unions used to have a voice, but they have been all but eliminated as a political force. The press could serve as the gatekeeper, but too many outlets are controlled by the very interests that the press needs to take on and this gives them the ability to cloud most any issue. Presidential leadership could make a difference, and Obama’s election brought hope for change, but this president does not seem inclined to take a strong stand on behalf of the working class despite the surprising boldness of his job creation speech.

Another option is that the working class itself will say enough is enough and demand change. There was a time when I would have scoffed at the idea of a mass revolt against entrenched political interests and the incivility that comes with it. We aren’t there yet – there’s still time for change – but the signs of unrest are growing and if we continue along a two-tiered path that ignores the needs of such a large proportion of society, it can no longer be ruled out.

Battle Brews Over Responsibility For Defaulted West Coast Bank Home Loans in Oregon, By Jeff Manning, The Oregonian The Oregonian

Did former Bend banker Jeff Sprague go rogue during the housing boom and make a series of dishonest loans egregious enough to get him charged with bank fraud?

 
Or was he a low-level flunky just following orders from his bank-executive bosses who knew and approved of what he was doing?
 
Those are the questions at the heart of a legal battle between Sprague and his former employer, West Coast Bank. Sprague, facing criminal fraud charges stemming from a series of 2007 loans he handled to employees of Desert Sun Development, has subpoenaed the Lake Oswego bank attempting to force it to hand over internal documents, including the findings of its own investigation into loans that Sprague handled.
 
Federal prosecutors have asked for many of the same documents.
 
The bank has handed over some of the requested material. But it has refused to give up about 100 documents claiming they are protected by attorney-client privilege.
 
The material could shine a new light on the behavior and lending standards of the Lake Oswego bank during the crazy days of the real estate boom. Banks all over the country dispensed with their characteristic caution during much of the last decade and made billions of dollars worth of residential loans with little if any due diligence.
 
The industry came to regret its recklessness after borrowers defaulted in enormous number. The industry’s slipshod lending helped send the American economy into a tailspin from which it has yet to recover.
 
Robert Sznewajs, West Coast Bank CEO, declined comment, as did the bank’s Portland attorney David Angeli.
 
Sprague’s fight over the documents may be a long-shot. Attorney-client privilege is a well-accepted legal doctrine that ensures the confidentiality of communications between a client and attorney.
 
But the bank’s refusal also begs the question: What is it hiding?
 
CRIMES AND INVESTIGATIONS

The stakes are high for Sprague. He and his former assistant, Barbara Hotchkiss, were among 13 indicted on fraud or related charges in November 2009 in the Desert Sun case. Prosecutors allege that the Central Oregon real estate developer convinced West Coast and several other banks to loan the company or its employees $41 million through falsified and forged loan applications.
 
 
The West Coast loans handled by Sprague went to Desert Sun employees, who were participating in the company’s home ownership program. Designed to capitalize on Central Oregon’s red-hot housing market, the company offered to build homes for employees and associates and then split the sales proceeds. But Desert Sun allegedly pocketed the loan proceeds, sometimes completing little if any work on the home for which the employee now owed hundreds of thousands of dollars.
 
 
Several of the defendants have agreed to plead guilty, including Shannon Egeland and Jeremy Kendall, two former senior executives of the company. Desert Sun CEO Tyler Fitzsimons maintains his innocence.
 
 
Scott Bradford, the Eugene-based prosecutor leading the case for the government, declined to comment.
 
 
Desert Sun remains the biggest criminal case in Oregon to emerge from the housing boom and bust. It is also one of the few cases nationally in which bankers were charged with crimes. Senior executives from the financial industry have gone virtually untouched in the subsequent wave of investigations and prosecutions.
 
 
No West Coast executives have been accused of wrongdoing, either in criminal or civil jurisdictions.
 
 
Federal prosecutors allege that Sprague and Hotchkiss knowingly helped originate and process phony loans. The loan applications contained forged signatures and inflated claims of the borrowers’ financial wherewithal.
 
 
Attorneys for Sprague and Hotchkiss say their clients were simply following the West Coast Bank playbook.
 
 
Sprague helped originate so-called stated-income loans, a widely use during the boom in which the lender made no effort to verify an applicant’s earnings. Sprague routinely offered general guidelines to loan applicants as to the income or assets they would have to list in order to qualify.
 
 
“I think the bank is hiding that they knew that this loan process was in place and that they approved of it,” said Marc Friedman, a Eugene attorney representing Sprague.
 
 
John Kolego, attorney for Hotchkiss, agreed. “I think these lending practices originated pretty high up in the organization,” he said. “There’s a pretty good chance there’s a smoking gun here, if we could just get the documents.”
 
 
Hotchkiss was Sprague’s assistant who did the routine work of processing loans. “She worked for the bank for less than two years,” Kolego said. “She was making $28,000 a year.”
 
 
Sprague did decidedly better, earning both a salary and commissions on loans he originated. Reports that Sprague was bringing home a six-figure salary during the boom is an exaggeration, Friedman said, adding that he didn’t know exactly how much his client made.
 
 
In any case, the material withheld by the bank is necessary to support Sprague’s defense and “may, in fact, show that he initiated the investigation after discovering hints of fraudulent activity,” according to his court filings.
 
 
Court filings make clear the bank did hand over to the government material it did not feel was privileged. Following the typical rules of discovery, the U.S. attorney’s office then shared those documents with Friedman and other attorneys for the defendants.
 
 
Court filings also include a list of about 100 other documents the bank refused to hand over. It filed a motion to quash Sprague’s subpoena arguing that the materials are shielded from discovery under attorney-client privilege.
 
 
Federal Magistrate Thomas Coffin is expected to rule shortly on the bank’s motion.
 
 

FAILURE DOESN’T EQUAL FRAUD

 
 
The scrap over the documents is another reminder of West Coast Bank’s ill-fated “two-step” loan program.
 
 
Though not historically a big home mortgage lender, the bank pushed aggressively into some of the hotter housing markets around the Northwest with its “two-step” program, a short-term construction loan. By most accounts, the program was the brainchild of David Simons, a bank senior vice president and manager of residential lending.
 
 
West Coast linked up with U.S. Funding, a Vancouver mortgage brokerage, for more client referrals. Two-step was geared for flippers, investors who had every intention of immediately selling the new home rather than living in it. Bank officials agreed to 100 percent financing even for borrowers they never met.
 
 
By the end of 2007, West Coast had grown its two-step portfolio from next to nothing to $341 million, more than 16 percent of its total loans.
 
 
Then, the boom ended.
 
 
The bank’s loan portfolio suffered on all fronts, but its two-step loans went bad in enormous numbers. In Lebanon, where West Coast loaned home flippers nearly $16 million for about 45 homes in a new, relatively high-end subdivision, it eventually repossessed more than 40 of them. In all, the bank repossessed 422 properties from failed two-step loans, according to SEC filings.
 
 
West Coast reported in its 2009 10-k annual report that its non-performing two-step loans peaked at $127.7 million in the third quarter of 2008, nearly a third of the total.
 
 
Sprague and Simons left the bank after its Desert Sun investigation.
 
 
Criminal investigators from the FBI and other federal agencies continue to probe West Coast’s two-step lending in Lebanon, Happy Valley and elsewhere.
 
 
Ken Roberts, a Portland attorney noted for his work with local banks, said its unfair to equate the failure of West Coast’s two-step program with fraud or other wrongdoing. Thousands of banks jumped on the housing bandwagon last decade and few of them anticipated the boom ending, let alone a painful crash leading, millions of foreclosures and 30 percent declines in home values, Roberts said.
 
 
Federal and state bank regulators did single out West Coast in October 2009, issuing a cease and desist order requiring the bank to raise new capital and clean up its act. The FDIC and the Oregon Department of Finance and Corporate Securities did so after they had determined the bank “had engaged in unsafe and unsound practices.” The agencies ordered the bank to, among other things, cut all ties with employees, borrowers or anyone else suspected of fraudulent activity.
 
 
That same month, West Coast raised $155 million by essentially selling an 80 percent equity stake in the bank to outside investors. The transaction and the new capital probably saved the bank. It also vastly diluted the value of the stock held by existing investors.
 
 
The West Coast board of directors in 2010 awarded CEO Sznewajs $870,89, a hefty raise from the $407,545 he got paid the year before.
 
 
Sprague, meanwhile has left banking and is working as a carpenter. His marriage ended. “He’s taken some really big hits,” Friedman said.