Residential Briefs

FHFA Releases 2019 Performance/Accountability Report

The Federal Housing Finance Agency released its Performance and Accountability Report, which details FHFA’s activities as regulator of the Federal Home Loan Bank System and as regulator and conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during fiscal year 2019.

The report said for the 11th consecutive year, FHFA received an unmodified audit opinion on its FY 2019 financial statements from the Government Accountability Office. The report can be accessed at https://www.fhfa.gov/AboutUs/Reports/ReportDocuments/FHFA-2019-PAR.pdf.

FHFA Extends Deadline on Request for Input on Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac UMBS Pooling Practices

The Federal Housing Finance Agency will extend, from Dec. 19 to Jan. 21, 2020, the deadline for interested parties to provide input on potential changes to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Uniform Mortgage-Backed Security pooling practices.

FHFA announced on Nov. 4 it was seeking input on the GSEs’ pooling practices for the formulation of “To-Be-Announced”-eligible UMBS. FHFA is also seeking public input about other policies and practices that might affect UMBS fungibility, including the GSEs’ oversight of UMBS prepayment speeds and alignment.

The Request for Input can be accessed at https://www.fhfa.gov/Media/PublicAffairs/PublicAffairsDocuments/Pooling_RFI-ext.pdf.

BAI: Disconnect Between Consumers and Bankers Regarding Technology Expectations in 2020

BAI, Chicago, released new research addressing top concerns on bankers’ minds and changing consumer attitudes in 2020 based on a survey of more than 600 consumers.

The results found improving the customer digital experience is the top business challenge for financial services organizations. The top request from consumers is to be able to customize their own solutions, from products to the digital experience. Despite 65% of consumers preferring to open new deposit accounts online, nearly half of financial services organizations do not allow the first account to be opened online. The majority of consumers (60%) expect to see open banking become in a reality in the U.S. within the next one to five years, compared to only 48% of bankers.

“The financial services industry has changed dramatically over the past decade, and leaders are preparing for an even more competitive landscape in 2020 and beyond,” said Karl Dahlgren, managing director of research with BAI. “It is vital for financial services leaders, particularly those from traditional institutions, to both listen to and address the rapidly evolving consumer demands to stay successful, relevant and competitive in the coming decade.”

Survey results can be accessed at https://www.bai.org/research/bai-banking-outlook.   

Origence Mortgage Platform Receives Certification for Fannie Mae Day 1 Certainty Initiative

Origence, Irvine, Calif., said its mortgage lending platform has received certification from Fannie Mae’s Day 1 Certainty program. By automating the verification of a borrower’s identity, employment, income and assets, the Origence platform enables lenders to achieve Day 1 Certainty from Fannie Mae, while accelerating the borrower’s experience and closing loans faster.

The Origence platform combines point-of-sale and loan origination system tools that accelerate a lender’s loan production and reduce process cycle time, while reducing costs.

ARMCO Enhances ACES’ Workflow Capability

ACES Risk Management, Pompano Beach, Fla., announced several product enhancements to its auditing platform, ACES Audit Technology. This upgrade introduces a new parallel workflow capability designed to save time and reduce turn times while maintaining quality of staff output.

ACES’ new parallel workflow increases efficiency by enabling multiple analysts to concurrently evaluate different parts of the same loan. It also automates task prioritization to assure the fastest cycle times for each loan.

Fannie Mae to Use ARRC Recommended Fallback Language for Single-Family ARMs

Fannie Mae, Washington, D.C., said it supports the Alternative Reference Rate Committee’s recommendation to replace the London Interbank Offered Rate with a new index based on the Secured Overnight Financing Rate to ensure a seamless transition away from LIBOR by the end of 2021.

As part of this transition, Fannie Mae said it intends to use the fallback language that the ARRC has recommended for newly originated adjustable-rate mortgages. “We anticipate publishing in the first quarter of 2020 updates to our uniform ARM notes to incorporate the recommended fallback language for all newly-originated ARMs. Fannie Mae will work closely with the ARRC, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Freddie Mac, and other industry participants throughout the transition away from LIBOR,” Fannie Mae said in a statement.

Notarize Partners with Ellie Mae for Online Closings

Notarize, Boston, partnered with Ellie Mae, Pleasanton, Calif., on an integration with Encompass, enabling lenders to access Notarize’s digital closing platform to provide borrowers with the ability to close online, from hybrid to full remote online closings.

Through the integration, Ellie Mae customers can automate key workflow to determine online closing eligibility.

HUD Issues RFI on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing

HUD published a Request for Information seeking public comment on federal, state, local and tribal laws, regulations, land use requirements and administrative practices it says “artificially raise” costs of affordable housing development and contribute to shortages in America’s housing supply.

HUD seeks information on the following:

•           Specific HUD regulations, statutes, programs and practices that directly or indirectly restrict the supply of housing or increase the cost of housing;

•           Policy interventions, solutions, or strategies available to state, local, and federal decision makers to incentivize State and local governments to review their regulatory environment or aid them in streamlining, reducing or eliminating the negative impact of state and local laws, regulations and administrative practices;

•           Ways that state-level laws, practices and programs contribute to delays in the construction industry and specific laws, practices, and programs that could be reviewed;

•           Common motivations or factors that underlie local governments’ adoption of laws, regulations and practices that demonstrably raise the cost of housing development, and whether such factors vary geographically;

•           Peer-reviewed research and/or representative surveys that provide quantitative analyses on the impact of regulations on the cost of affordable housing development;

•           Performance measures, quantitative and/or qualitative, the Council should consider in assessing the reduction of barriers nationally or regionally and advantages and disadvantages of each measure; and

•           Recommendations on how to best utilize HUD’s Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse for states, local governments, researchers and policy analysts who are tracking reform activity across the country.

The notice can be accessed at https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=HUD_FRDOC_0001-5420.

Fitch Ratings: FICO Score Variances Complicate Assessing Consumer Default Risk

Fitch Ratings, New York, said assessing downside risk of U.S. consumer credit can be more difficult if different versions of credit scores are used when lending, underwriting standards are relaxed amid a supportive economy or when lenders are reaching for growth.

Fitch said current higher FICO score trends in mortgages are partly attributable to a higher percentage of originations from the prime segment following the financial crisis amid the benign economic environment. “Borrowers are paying their bills, as is to be expected given strong labor markets, rising wages, and low unemployment and interest rates,” Fitch said. “FICO scores are also improving as a result of the extended duration of the favorable economic environment, as past payment history with higher delinquency levels falls off.”

QuestSoft Adds CRA Saleability Analysis to Compliance EAGLE Platform

QuestSoft Corp., Laguna Hills, Calif, added a CRA Saleability module to Compliance EAGLE, the company’s mortgage compliance platform. The new module enables lenders to uncover additional opportunities for revenue generation through the identification of CRA-qualified loans in low- and moderate-income areas at the point of application.

The CRA Saleability tool helps lenders identify potential investors based on geographic location. Lenders can conduct their own analysis on each loan, and identify investors based on CRA assessment area. The tool also helps banks enhance their CRA compliance by identifying loans in LMI areas to help the institution better serve their community.

HUD Announces New Incentives for Opportunity Zones

HUD announced the Federal Housing Administration will offer a new incentive for borrowers interested in rehabilitating homes in Opportunity Zones through an expansion of its Limited 203(k) Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance Program, available to owner occupant homebuyers and existing occupant homeowners, for purchase and/or rehabilitation of single-family homes located in Opportunity Zones across the nation.

Beginning December 16, homebuyers seeking to purchase a home in a qualified Opportunity Zone can use the Limited 203(k) program to finance rehabilitation costs up to $50,000 into the total mortgage amount. This is an increase of $15,000 over the Limited 203(k) rehab maximum amount of $35,000 allowed through the program on single family homes not located in Opportunity Zones. Existing homeowners with homes in Opportunity Zones can also use the larger allowable rehabilitation amount when refinancing to rehabilitate their existing homes.

The Limited 203(k) program permits homebuyers and homeowners to finance rehabilitation costs into their mortgage to repair, improve or upgrade their home, allowing them to tap into cash to pay for property repairs or improvements, such as those identified by a home inspector or an appraiser. Allowable improvements include connecting to public water and sewage systems, repairing or replacing plumbing, heating, air conditioning or electrical systems, and covering lead-based paint stabilization costs.

Genworth Mortgage Insurance Completes Mortgage Insurance-Linked Note Transaction

Genworth Mortgage Insurance, Richmond, Va., announced its indirect wholly owned subsidiary, Genworth Mortgage Insurance Corp., obtained $302.8 million in fully collateralized excess of loss reinsurance coverage from Triangle Re 2019-1 Ltd. on a portfolio of existing mortgage insurance policies written from January through September.

Triangle Re funded its reinsurance obligations by issuing three classes of mortgage insurance-linked notes, which have a 10-year legal final maturity with a 7-year call option, to qualified institutional investors in an unregistered private offering. The ILNs are non-recourse to Genworth Financial Inc. or its subsidiaries and affiliates.

FormFree Partners with Teo

FormFree, Athens, Ga., announced a partnership with Teo, a lead generation platform and AI assistant that helps mortgage lenders close loans. Teo will leverage FormFree’s Passport verification service to help assess quality of incoming prospects.

After incoming leads are pre-screened to ensure quality, Teo’s AI assistant manages follow-up communication using the prospect’s preferred channels to convert leads to loans by engaging prospects through a synchronized cadence of video, audio and media-rich messaging across Facebook, text, voice and email.

loanDepot Expands with Arizona Operations Center

loanDepot opened its newest operations site in Chandler, Ariz., marking the brand’s continued expansion within the state and across the country.

The Chandler operations center will be home to a host of loan processors, underwriters, closers and other mortgage origination professionals, who will support loanDepot’s wholesale, direct and retail efforts. Leading the charge in Chandler for loanDepot Wholesale are Andrew Hutcheson, VP of Operations; Matt Bowers, Site Operations Leader; Jeff Carter, VP of Underwriting; and Corey Williams, Site Underwriting Leader. Matthew Wimer, VP of Underwriting, will oversee production operations for loanDepot Direct.