You have got to hear about these new loan products we have available … such as 20-financed properties, only ONE-year taxes for self-employed borrowers, asset-based loans, and more … watch today’s video!
Happy Easter everyone! You have got to hear about these new loan products we have available … such as 20-financed properties, only ONE-year taxes for self-employed borrowers, asset-based loans, and more … watch today’s video!
Everyone knows that mortgage rates have been at or near record lows since late 2008 … however there are still may who haven’t taken advantage yet. Watch today and find out why you should lock in your rate now. HARP 2.0 refi’s now available!
Yesterday, the Federal Reserve announced that they will not continue supporting the mortgage market and low interest rates. Watch today’s video as I give details and how this will impact purchase and refinance loans!
Major investment groups are currently spending hundreds of millions buying rental homes. Watch today’s video as I share why this will impact your local market and how you can profit!
A new survey is projecting an increase in new home sales by 2014. Watch today’s video as I explain why opportunity now exists for anyone wanting to make $$ in real estate. And, we are doing HARP 2.0 refinances in-house now!
Did you know that you are 20,000 times more likely to be in a car accident, than to win the lottery? But … almost everyone who calls about my Home Loan Lottery wins up to tens of thousands off their home loan … without paying any more monthly … Watch for details!
Did you know that your relative, fiance, domestic partner, or even employer can “gift” you the money needed for your down-payment and closing costs? Watch today for details!
If you need an FHA loan to buy a home or refinance, then you have until April 6th to call me, before the cost goes up. Plus, we have new updates on the HARP 2.0 government refi program, and it’s good news! Watch today’s video for details.
CoreLogic … today released negative equity data showing that 11.1 million, or 22.8 percent, of all residential properties with a mortgage were in negative equity at the end of the fourth quarter of 2011. This is up from 10.7 million properties, 22.1 percent, in the third quarter of 2011. An additional 2.5 million borrowers had less than five percent equity, referred to as near-negative equity, in the fourth quarter. Together, negative equity and near-negative equity mortgages accounted for 27.8 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage nationwide in the fourth quarter, up from 27.1 in the previous quarter. Nationally, the total mortgage debt outstanding on properties in negative equity increased from $2.7 trillion in the third quarter to $2.8 trillion in the fourth quarter.
“Due to the seasonal declines in home prices and slowing foreclosure pipeline which is depressing home prices, the negative equity share rose in late 2011. The negative equity share is back to the same level as Q3 2009, which is when we began reporting negative equity using this methodology. The high level of negative equity and the inability to pay is the ‘double trigger’ of default, and the reason we have such a significant foreclosure pipeline. While the economic recovery will reduce the propensity of the inability to pay trigger, negative equity will take an extended period of time to improve, and if there is a hiccup in the economic recovery, it could mean a rise in foreclosures.” said Mark Fleming, chief economist with CoreLogic.
Here are a couple of graphs from the report:
This graph shows the break down of negative equity by state. Note: Data not available for some states. From CoreLogic:
“Nevada had the highest negative equity percentage with 61 percent of all of its mortgaged properties underwater, followed by Arizona (48 percent), Florida (44 percent), Michigan (35 percent) and Georgia (33 percent). This is the second consecutive quarter that Georgia was in the top five, surpassing California (29 percent) which previously had been in the top five since tracking began in 2009. The top five states combined have an average negative equity share of 44.3 percent, while the remaining states have a combined average negative equity share of 15.3 percent.”
The second graph shows the distribution of equity by state- black is Loan-to-value (LTV) of less than 80%, blue is 80% to 100%, red is a LTV of greater than 100% (or negative equity). Note: This only includes homeowners with a mortgage – about 31% of homeowners nationwide do not have a mortgage.
Some states – like New York – have a large percentage of borrowers with more than 20% equity, and Nevada, Arizona and Florida have the fewest borrowers with more than 20% equity.
Some interesting data on borrowers with and without home equity loans from CoreLogic: “Of the 11.1 million upside-down borrowers, there are 6.7 million first liens without home equity loans. This group of borrowers has an average mortgage balance of $219,000 and is underwater by an average of $51,000 or an LTV ratio of 130 percent.
The remaining 4.4 million upside-down borrowers had both first and second liens. Their average mortgage balance was $306,000 and they were upside down by an average of $84,000 or a combined LTV of 138 percent.”
- 22.8 Percent of U.S. Homes Are Underwater (bingrealtygroup.wordpress.com)
- Number of Under Water Borrowers Rises (blogs.wsj.com)
- Housing Still Drowning in Underwater Mortgages (blogs.wsj.com)
- Two Thirds Of All Nevada Mortgages Are Underwater (zerohedge.com)
- Property market: How 2011 is shaping up (confused.com)
- There is ‘no silver bullet’ to address mortgage arrears, says financial regulator (teddyoshea.wordpress.com)
- Help for those trapped in negative equity (gateway-homes.co.uk)
- Mortgage delinquencies up in November, down for the year (agbeat.com)
- More Oregon, Portland-area mortgages underwater at year’s end (oregonlive.com)
- Why Those Pre Approval Letters Are So Important (nangoebel.wordpress.com)
Seventeen states have now introduced bills for state-owned banks, and others are in the works. Hawaii’s innovative state bank bill addresses the foreclosure mess. County-owned banks are being proposed that would tackle the housing crisis by exercising the right of eminent domain on abandoned and foreclosed properties. Arizona has a bill that would do this for homeowners who are current in their payments but underwater, allowing them to refinance at fair market value.
The long-awaited settlement between 49 state Attorneys General and the big five robo-signing banks is proving to be a majordisappointment before it has even been signed, sealed and court approved. Critics maintain that the bankers responsible for the housing crisis and the jobs crisis will again be buying their way out of jail, and the curtain will again drop on the scene of the crime.
We may not be able to beat the banks, but we don’t have to play their game. We can take our marbles and go home. The Move Your Money campaign has already prompted more than 600,000 consumers to move their funds out of Wall Street banks into local banks, and there are much larger pools that could be pulled out in the form of state revenues. States generally deposit their revenues and invest their capital with large Wall Street banks, which use those hefty sums to speculate, invest abroad, and buy up the local banks that service our communities and local economies. The states receive a modest interest, and Wall Street lends the money back at much higher interest.
According to a December Treasury report, only 10 percent of Rhode Island’s short-term investments reside in truly local in-state banks, namely Washington Trust and BankRI. Meanwhile, 40 percent of these investments were placed with foreign-owned banks, including a British-government owned bank under investigation by the European Union.
Further, millions have been invested by Rhode Island in a fund created by a global buyout firm . . . . From 2008 to mid-2010, the fund lost 10 percent of its value — more than $2 million. . . . Three of four of Rhode Island’s representatives in Washington, D.C., count [this fund] amongst their top 25 political campaign donors . . . .
Are Rhode Islanders and the state economy being served well here? Is it not time for the state to more fully invest directly in Rhode Island, either through local banks more deeply rooted in the community or through the creation of a new state-owned bank?
Hence observes that state-owned banks are “[o]ne emerging solution being widely considered nationwide . . . . Since the onset of the economic collapse about five years ago, 16 states have studied or explored creating state-owned banks, according to a recent Associated Press report.”
2012 Additions to the Public Bank Movement
Make that 17 states, including three joining the list of states introducing state bank bills in 2012: Idaho (a bill for a feasibility study), New Hampshire (a bill for a bank), and Vermont (introducing THREE bills—one for a state bank study, one for a state currency, and one for a state voucher/warrant system). With North Dakota, which has had its own bank for nearly a century, that makes 18 states that have introduced bills in one form or another—36% of U.S. states. For states and text of bills, see here.
Other recent state bank developments were in Virginia, Hawaii, Washington State, and California, all of which have upgraded from bills to study the feasibility of a state-owned bank to bills to actually establish a bank. The most recent, California’s new bill, was introduced on Friday, February 24th.
All of these bills point to the Bank of North Dakota as their model. Kyle Hence notes that North Dakota has maintained a thriving economy throughout the current recession:
One of the reasons, some say, is the Bank of North Dakota, which was formed in 1919 and is the only state-owned or public bank in the United States. All state revenues flow into the Bank of North Dakota and back out into the state in the form of loans.
Since 2008, while servicing student, agricultural and energy— including wind — sector loans within North Dakota, every dollar of profit by the bank, which has added up to tens of millions, flows back into state coffers and directly supports the needs of the state in ways private banks do not.
Publicly-owned Banks and the Housing Crisis
A novel approach is taken in the new Hawaii bill: it proposes a program to deal with the housing crisis and the widespread problem of breaks in the chain of title due to robo-signing, faulty assignments, and MERS. (For more on this problem, see here.) According to a February 10th report on the bill from the Hawaii House Committees on Economic Revitalization and Business & Housing:
The purpose of this measure is to establish the bank of the State of Hawaii in order to develop a program to acquire residential property in situations where the mortgagor is an owner-occupant who has defaulted on a mortgage or been denied a mortgage loan modification and the mortgagee is a securitized trust that cannot adequately demonstrate that it is a holder in due course.
The bill provides that in cases of foreclosure in which the mortgagee cannot prove its right to foreclose or to collect on the mortgage, foreclosure shall be stayed and the bank of the State of Hawaii may offer to buy the property from the owner-occupant for a sum not exceeding 75% of the principal balance due on the mortgage loan. The bank of the State of Hawaii can then rent or sell the property back to the owner-occupant at a fair price on reasonable terms.
Arizona Senate Bill 1451, which just passed the Senate Banking Committee 6 to 0, would do something similar for homeowners who are current on their payments but whose mortgages are underwater (exceeding the property’s current fair market value). Martin Andelman callsthe bill a “revolutionary approach to revitalizing the state’s increasingly water-logged housing market, which has left over 500,000 ofArizona’s homeowners in a hopelessly immobile state.”
The bill would establish an Arizona Housing Finance Reform Authority to refinance the mortgages of Arizona homeowners who owe more than their homes are currently worth. The existing mortgage would be replaced with a new mortgage from AHFRA in an amount up to 125% of the home’s current fair market value. The existing lender would get paid 101% of the home’s fair market value, and would get a non-interest-bearing note called a “loss recapture certificate” covering a portion of any underwater amounts, to be paid over time. The capital to refinance the mortgages would come from floating revenue bonds, and payment on the bonds would come solely from monies paid by the homeowner-borrowers. An Arizona Home Insurance Fund would create a cash reserve of up to 20 percent of the bond and would be used to insure against losses. The bill would thus cost the state nothing.
Critics of the Arizona bill maintain that it shifts losses from collapsed property values onto banks and investors, violating the law of contracts; and critics of the Hawaii bill maintain that the state bank could wind up having paid more than market value for a slew of underwater homes. An option that would avoid both of these objections is one suggested by Michael Sauvante of the Commonwealth Group, discussed earlierhere: the state or county could exercise its right of eminent domain on blighted, foreclosed and abandoned properties. It could offer to pay fair market value to anyone who could prove title (something that with today’s defective title records normally can’t be done), then dispose of the property through a publicly-owned land bank as equity and fairness dictates. If a bank or trust could prove title, the claimant would get fair market value, which would be no less than it would have gotten at an auction; and if it could not prove title, it legally would have no claim to the property. Investors who could prove actual monetary damages would still have an unsecured claim in equity against the mortgagors for any sums owed.
Rhode Island Next?
As the housing crisis lingers on with little sign of relief from the Feds, innovative state and local solutions like these are gaining adherents in other states; and one of them is Rhode Island, which is in serious need of relief. According to The Pew Center on the States, “The country’s smallest state . . . was one of the first states to fall into the recession because of the housing crisis and may be one of the last to emerge.”
Rhode Islanders are proud of having been first in a number of more positive achievements, including being the first of the 13 original colonies to declare independence from British rule. A state bank presentation was made to the president of the Rhode Island Senate and other key leaders earlier this month that was reportedly well received. Proponents have ambitions of making Rhode Island the first state in this century to move its money out of Wall Street into its own state bank, one owned and operated by the people for the people.
Ellen Brown is an attorney and president of the Public Banking Institute, http://PublicBankingInstitute.org. In Web of Debt, her latest of eleven books, she shows how a private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. Her websites are http://WebofDebt.com and http://EllenBrown.com.
Ellen Brown is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Ellen Brown
© Copyright Ellen Brown 2012
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization. The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.
- Move Our Money: Should we create more state banks? (energybulletin.net)
- New State Bank Bills Address Credit and Housing Crises (webofdebt.wordpress.com)
- North Dakota bank eyed by cash-hungry politicians (sfgate.com)
- Rhode Island drops Fordham 78-58 (newsok.com)
- Structural Reform: The Case for Public State Banks (beavercountyblue.org)
- Rhode Island En Route To Upgrading Crappy Civil Unions To Real Gay Marriages (queerty.com)
- Forget Texas, check out North Dakota (skydancingblog.com)
- Economic struggles spur calls for public banking (usatoday.com)
- A legislative solution for RI’s compassion centers? (wrnihealthcareblog.wordpress.com)
What we need to do is take a survey, the population being made up of mortgage borrowers between the years 2002-2008. Why these years would become apparent with the results, which can be predicted before ever tallying the results. It would be a one question survey:
“Upon loan origination, was it required, in addition to completing a loan 1003 loan application, that you also provide specific documents for verification and loan qualification purposes, or did you simply have to complete a loan 1003 loan application?”
My bet would be that most everyone who was in receipt of a loan prior to September 2005 was required to submit documents to a human person which were used to verify loan qualification. Most nearly everyone subsequent that date was not required to submit anything by way of supporting documents.
This gives us two separately defined groups:
GROUP A: borrowers whose loans were humanly underwritten and verified
GROUP B: borrowers whose loans were underwritten entirely by automation
We can argue about the underlying reasons for economic collapse all day long, as there are certainly many, but one fact remains as being integral. This is acknowledging that there were borrowers that never, ever should have been approved for a loan, yet were. It was this very small subset of borrowers in Group B however, those that defaulted nearly immediately, that is within the first through third months out of the gate. It was these ‘early payment defaults (EPD’s ) that spread throughout the investment community causing fear, bringing into question the quality of all loan originations, thereby freezing the credit markets in August 2007, a year later the entire economy collapsed.
Of course, it is much more complex than that, but the crucial piece that provided the catalyst was these EPD’s. It was the quality of the borrowers from these EPD’s that became the model by which was used to stigmatize all borrowers. What was needed was a fall guy, to first lessen the anger towards the bailouts in providing a scapegoat, and second to divert attention away from the facts underlying the lending standards the failed and/or intentionally purposeful failure of the automation. From my research, it was with purposeful intent come hell or high water is my mission in life to bring forth into the public light.
Putting intent aside for the moment and just focusing on the EPD’s and the domino effect they caused which resulted in millions of borrowers, from both Groups A and B, to lose their homes or struggling to hold on. How could one small group of failed borrowers affect millions of other borrowers, especially those who were qualified through the traditional methods of underwriting?
The answer is an obvious one, coming down to the one common element that is the structuring of the loan products, that as it relates to the reset. Anyone whose reset occurred just prior and certainly after the economic collapse was as the saying goes…..Screwed. It is within is this, that the Grand Illusion lay intentionally concealed and hidden. It is within the automation wherein all the evidence clearly points to the fact that a mortgage is not a mortgage but rather a basket of securities….Not just any securities, but debt defaultable securities. In other words, it was largely planned to intentionally give loans to those whom were known to result in default.
But, even without understanding any of the issues as to the ‘basket of securities” there is one obvious point that looms, hiding in plain sight, which I believe should be completely exploited. This as it directly relates to our mortal enemy, that which takes the name of MERS. I know there are those that disseminate the structure of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc and Merscorp as it relates to the MIN number and want to pick it apart, and all this is well and good. However, they miss the larger and more obvious point that clearly gives some definition.
There is one particular that every one of those millions upon millions of borrowers, those in both Group A and Group B along with the small subset of Group B, all have in common. ……MERS. MERS was integrated into every set of loan documents, slide past the borrowers without explanation without proper representation in concealing the implied contracts behind the trade and service mark of MERS.
MERS does not discriminate between a good or a bad loan, a loan is a loan as far it is concerned, whether it was fraudulently underwritten or perfectly underwritten. If it is registered with MERS the good, the bad, the ugly all go down, and therein lays an issue that is pertinent to discussion.
MERS was written into all Fannie and Freddie Uniform Security Instrument, not by happenstance, rather mandated by Fannie and Freddie. It was they who crafted verbiage and placement within the document. Fannie and Freddie are of course agency loans, however nearly 100% of non-agency lenders utilized the same Fannie and Freddie forms. Put into context, MERS covers both agency and non-agency, and not surprisingly members of MERS as well. Talk about fixing the game!!
It would seem logical, considering we, the American Taxpayer own Fannie Mae, that we should be entitled some answers to some very basic questions……The primary question: If Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mandated that MERS play the role that it does, why than were there no quality control measures in place, and should they not have been responsible for putting in some safety measures in place?
The question is a logical one; any other business would have buried in litigation had a product it sponsored or mandated, as the case may be here, resulted in complete failure. From the standpoint of public policy, MERS was a tremendous failure. Why? The answer derives itself from the facts as laid out above regarding the underwriting processes and the division of borrowers: Group A and B.
This becomes a pertinent taking into account Fannie Mae on record in its recorded patents.
US PATENT #7,881,994 B1– Filed April 1, 2004, Assignee: Fannie Mae
‘It is well known that low doc loans bear additional risk. It is also true that these loans are
charged higher rates in order to compensate for the increased risk.’
System and method for processing a loan
US PATENT # 7,653,592– Filed December 30, 2005, Assignee: Fannie Mae
The following from the Summary section states:
‘An exemplary embodiment relates to a computer-implemented mortgage loan application data processing system comprising user interface logic and a workflow engine. The user interface logic is accessible by a borrower and is configured to receive mortgage loan application data for a mortgage loan application from the borrower. The workflow engine has stored therein a list representing tasks that need to be performed in connection with a mortgage loan application for a mortgage loan for the borrower. The tasks include tasks for fulfillment of underwriting conditions generated by an automated underwriting engine. The workflow engine is configured to cooperate with the user interface logic to prompt the borrower to perform the tasks represented in the list including the tasks for the fulfillment of the underwriting conditions. The system is configured to provide the borrower with a fully-verified approval for the mortgage loan application. The fully-verified approval indicates that the mortgage loan application data received from the borrower has already been verified as accurate using information from trusted sources. The fully-verified approval is provided in a form that allows the mortgage loan application to be provided to different lenders with the different lenders being able to authenticate the fully-verified approval status of the mortgage loan application’
Computerized systems and methods for facilitating the flow of capital
through the housing finance industry
US PATENT # 7,765,151– Filed July 21, 2006, Assignee: Fannie Mae
The following passages taken from patent documents reads:
‘The prospect or other loan originator preferably displays generic interest rates (together with an assumptive rate sheet, i.e., current mortgage rates) on its Internet web site or the like to entice online mortgage shoppers to access the web site (step 50). The generic interest rates (“enticement rates”) displayed are not intended to be borrower specific, but are calculated by pricing engine 22 and provided to the loan originator as representative, for example, of interest rates that a “typical” borrower may expect to receive, or rates that a fictitious highly qualified borrower may expect to receive, as described in greater detail hereinafter. FIG. 2b depicts an example of a computer Internet interface screen displaying enticement rates.’
’If the potential borrower enters a combination of factors that is ineligible, the borrower is notified immediately of the ineligibility and is prompted to either change the selection or call a help center for assistance (action 116). It should be understood that this allows the potential borrower to change the response to a previous question and then continue on with the probable qualification process. If the potential borrower passes the eligibility screening, the borrower then is permitted to continue on with the probable qualification assessment.’
‘Underwriting engine 24 also determines, for each approved product, the minimum amount of verification documentation (e.g., minimum assets to verify, minimum income to verify), selected loan underwriting parameters, assuming no other data changes, (e.g., maximum loan amount for approval, maximum loan amount for aggregating closing costs with the loan principal, and minimum refinance amount), as well as the maximums and minimums used to tailor the interest rate quote (maximum schedule interest rate and maximum number of points) and maximum interest rate approved for float up to a preselected increase over a current approved rate. It should be appreciated that this allows the potential borrower to provide only that information that is necessary for an approval decision, rather than all potentially relevant financial and other borrower information. This also reduces the processing burden on system.’
The two patents above was Fannie Mae’s means of responding to its competition, that being the non-agency who had surpassed the agencies in sales volume (those stats I will have to dig up and repost as they are not handy at the moment), as the non-agencies had dropped all standards back in and around September 2005.
The point being though, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mad were the caretakers of MERS, so to speak, inasmuch as mandating MERS upon the borrowers. Had there been safety measures in place that caught the fact that the loans that were dumping out quickly, that is the EPD’s, there might have been a stoppage in place, thereby preventing MERS from executing foreclosures upon every successive mortgage.
I know that this is all BS though, because it is a cover up, a massive one that cuts into the heart of the United States government. This is perhaps one avenue by which to get there, as the questions asked are easily understood, as opposed to digging into the automation processes which people apparently are not ready to accept as of yet.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau‘s proposed statement is designed to provide clear information about the loan on a single page and wouldn’t change each time your loan is sold to a new servicer.
Your monthly mortgage bill soon could get easier to understand, and it wouldn’t change each time your loan is sold to a new servicer.
The prototype released Monday included a breakdown of how much of the monthly payment went to principal, interest and escrow. The form also detailed the outstanding principal, maturity date, prepayment penalty and, for adjustable-rate mortgages, the time when the interest rate could change.
“This information will help consumers stay on top of their mortgage costs and hold their mortgage servicers accountable for fixing errors that crop up,” said Richard Cordray, the agency’s director. “Given the widespread mortgage servicing problems we’ve seen over the past few years, consumers need clear disclosures they can count on.”
Although many servicers already provide such information on their monthly statements, there are no industrywide standards, the agency said.
Such standards are a good idea, and initial reaction from servicers to the agency’s proposal was positive, said Rod J. Alba, senior counsel in the mortgage markets division at the American Bankers Assn.
The agency posted a working draft of the standardized statement on its website,http://www.consumerfinance.gov to solicit input from the public and industry before a version of the form formally is proposed this summer.
Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, said simplified mortgage statements would help resolve the broad mortgage servicing problems that were at the heart of last week’s federal and state settlement with five of the nation’s largest banks over botched foreclosure paperwork.
The consumer agency is required under the 2010 financial reform law to put new mortgage servicing rules in place to help consumers, Cordray said. The law has specific requirements for mortgage statements, including a phone number and email address for the customer to get information about the loan, as well as information about housing counselors.
The new mortgage statement is the latest consumer financial paperwork the agency is trying to simplify.
In May, it released two prototypes for shorter, easier-to-understand disclosure forms that lenders would have to give home buyers before they close on a mortgage. The agency has been receiving comments on the forms and tested them last month in Philadelphia.
And in December, the agency proposed a simplified credit card agreement form to make it easier to understand interest rate terms and comparison shop.
The agency also is developing a new disclosure rule for hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages that would require consumers to be notified months before their first interest rate increase, as well as to be provided with a good-faith estimate of the new monthly payment.
- Factors Preventing the Home Loan Refinance Boom (loans.org)
- Getting to Know Your Adjustable Rate Mortgage (apmortgagemarin.wordpress.com)
- Tax Breaks and Home Ownership (turbotax.intuit.com)
- Mortgage Industry $25B Settlement, Who Wins who Loses? (rentersinsurance.com)
- The National Mortgage Complaint Center Will Help Homeowners With Home Loan Payment Issues With Their Bank (prweb.com)
- Types of Mortgage Loans in the Market (keshavmishra.wordpress.com)
- How Much House Can I Afford? (spgtalk.wordpress.com)
An overhaul of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is unlikely again this year despite recent Republican efforts to move the issue up the agenda.
Congressional Republicans, along with some Democrats — and even GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich — are renewing calls to craft an agreement to reduce the involvement of Fannie and Freddie in the nation’s mortgage market.
But without a broader accord, passage of any legislation this year is slim, housing experts say.
Jim Tobin, senior vice president of government affairs for the National Association of Home Builders, concedes that despite a mix of Democratic and Republican proposals, including a push by the Obama administration last year, congressional leaders probably won’t get far this year on a plan for Fannie and Freddie, the government-controlled mortgage giants.
Tobin said there are “good ideas out there” and while he expects the House to put some bills on the floor and possibly pass legislation, the Senate is likely to remain in oversight mode without any “broad-based legislation on housing finance.”
“We’re bracing for a year where it’s difficult to break through on important policy issues,” he said this week.
While the issue makes for a good talking point, especially in an presidential election year, congressional efforts are largely being stymied by the housing market’s sluggish recovery, prohibiting the hand off between the government and private sector in mortgage financing, housing experts say.
David Crowe, chief economist with NAHB, said that the market has hit rock bottom and is now undergoing a “slow climb out of the hole.”
The House has taken the biggest steps so far — by mid-July the Financial Services Committee had approved 14 bills intended to jump-start reform of the government-sponsored enterprises.
“As we continue to move immediate reforms, our ultimate goal remains, to end the bailout of Fannie, Freddie and build a stronger housing finance system that no longer relies on government guarantees,” panel Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) said last summer.
Meanwhile, a number of GOP and bipartisan measures have emerged — Democrats and Republicans generally agree Fannie and Freddie are in need of a fix but their ideas still widely vary.
There are a handful of bills floating around Congress, including one by Reps. John Campbell (R-Calif.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and another by Reps. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) and Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y), which would wind down Fannie and Freddie and create a new system of privately financed organizations to support the mortgage market.
“Every one of those approaches replaces them [Fannie and Freddie] with what they think is the best alternative to having a new system going forward that would really fix the problem and would really give certainty to the marketplace and allow housing finance to come back, and therefore housing to come back, as well,” Campbell said at a markup last month.
There’s another bill by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and bills in the Senate being pushed by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).
Corker, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, made the case earlier this week for unwinding government support for the GSEs while promoting his 10-year plan that would put in place the “infrastructure for the private sector to step in behind it.”
“A big part of the problem right now is the private sector is on strike,” Corker said.
He has argued that his bill isn’t a silver bullet, rather a conversation starter to accelerate talks.
“So what we need to do is figure out an orderly wind-down,” Corker said in November. “And so we’ve been working on this for some time. We know that Fannie and Freddie cannot exist in the future.”
He suggested getting the federal government this year to gradually wind down the amount of the loans it guarantees from 90 percent to 80 percent and then to 70 percent.
“And as that drops down, we think the market will send signals as to what the difference in price is between what the government is actually guaranteeing and what they’re not,” he said.
Even Gingrich, who has taken heat for his involvement with taking money while doing consulting work for the GSEs, called for an unwinding during a December interview.
“I do, in fact, favor breaking both of them up,” he said on CBS’ Face the Nation. “I’ve said each of them should devolve into probably four or five companies. And they should be weaned off of the government endorsements, because it has given them both inappropriate advantages and because we now know from the history of how they evolved, that they abused that kind of responsibility.”
In a white paper on housing last week, the Federal Reserve argued that the mortgage giants should take a more active role in boosting the housing market, although they didn’t outline suggestions for how to fix the agencies.
The central bank did argue that “some actions that cause greater losses to be sustained by the GSEs in the near term might be in the interest of taxpayers to pursue if those actions result in a quicker and more vigorous economic recovery.”
Nearly a year ago, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner asked Congress to approve legislation overhauling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac within two years — that deadline appears to be in jeopardy.
The Obama administration’s initial recommendations called for inviting private dollars to crowd out government support for home loans. The white paper released in February proposed three options for the nation’s housing market after Fannie and Freddie are wound down, with varying roles for the government to play.
About the same time last year, Bachus made ending the “taxpayer-funded bailout of Fannie and Freddie” the panel’s first priority.
While an overhaul remains stalled for now there is plenty of other activity on several fronts.
In November, the Financial Services panel overwhelmingly approved a measure to stop future bonuses and suspend the current multi-million dollar compensation packages for the top executives at the agencies.
The top executives came under fire for providing the bonuses but argued they need to do something to attract the talent necessary to oversee $5 trillion in mortgage assets.
Earlier this month, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced that the head of Fannie received $5.6 million in compensation and the chief executive of Freddie received $5.4 million.
Under the bill, the top executives of Fannie and Freddie could only have earned $218,978 this year.
Last week, Fannie’s chief executive Michael Williams announced he would step down from his position once a successor is found. That comes only three months after Freddie’s CEO Charles Haldeman Jr. announced that he will leave his post this year.
The government is being tasked to find replacements, not only for the two mortgage giants which have cost taxpayers more than $150 billion since their government takeover in 2008, but there is talk that the Obama administration is looking to replace FHFA acting director Edward DeMarco, the overseer of the GSEs.
In a letter to President Obama earlier this week, more than two dozen House members said DeMarco simply hasn’t done enough to help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure.
The lawmakers are pushing the president to name a permanent director “immediately.”
Also, in December, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued six former executives at Fannie and Freddie, alleging they misled the public and investors about the amount of risky mortgages in their portfolio.
In the claims, the SEC contends that as the housing bubble began to burst, the executives suggested to investors that the GSEs were not substantially exposed to sub-prime mortgages that were defaulting across the country.
- Can anyone save Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? (money.cnn.com)
- CEO who led Fannie Mae after government seizure to quit (usatoday.com)
- SEC Sues Former Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac Executives For Fraud (huffingtonpost.com)
- Fannie Mae CEO steps down during troubled times (agbeat.com)
- Fannie Mae CEO Steps Down, Despite Having “Long Way to Go in Housing” (inquisitr.com)
- The Future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (money.usnews.com)
- Fannie, Freddie CEOs Took Millions, Far More Than Gingrich (pjmedia.com)
- Lawmakers slam Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac CEOs over pay and bonuses (latimesblogs.latimes.com)