- Separate and Unequal: The American Dream, Peter C. LaGreca, 16 Rutgers Race & L. Rev. 183 (2015).
- Reverse Mortgage Loans: A Quantitative Analysis, Makoto Nakajima & Irina Telyukova, FRB of Philadelphia Working Paper No. 14-27.
- Reverse Mortgages: What Homeowners (Don’t) Know and How it Matters, Thomas Davidoff, Patrick Gerhard & Thomas Post.
- Housing Price Volatility and the Housing Ladder, James W. Banks, Richard W. Blundell, Zoé Oldfield & James P. Smith, NBER Working Paper No. w21255.
- The Financial Rewards of Sustainability: A Global Performance Study of Real Estate Investment Trusts, Franz Fuerst.
- A New Look at the U.S. Foreclosure Crisis: Panel Data Evidence of Prime and Subprime Borrowers from 1997 to 2012, Fernando V. Ferreira & Joseph Gyourko, NBER Working Paper No. w21261.
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Issues a Revised Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) notice, RAD which is the program by which Public Housing Authorities obtain funding for project based rental assistance. The revised notice, among other things, increases the maximum number of units per project, provides additional rights and protections for tenants and provides greater incentives for green initiatives.
June 29, 2015
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued its most recent Supervisory Highlights. The CFPB is “committed to transparency in its supervisory program by sharing key findings in order to help industry limit risks to consumers and comply with Federal consumer financial law.” (3)
There were a lot of interesting highlights relating to mortgage origination and servicing, including,
- one or more instances of failure to ensure that the HUD-1 settlement statement accurately reflects the actual settlement charges paid by the borrower.
- at least one servicer sent borrowers loss mitigation acknowledgment notices requesting documents, sometimes dozens in number, inapplicable to their circumstances and which it did not need to evaluate the borrower for loss mitigation.
- one or more servicers failed to send any loss mitigation acknowledgment notices. At least one servicer did not send notices after a loss mitigation processing platform malfunctioned repeatedly over a significant period of time. . . . the breakdown caused delays in converting trial modifications to permanent modifications, resulting in harm to borrowers, and may have caused other harm.
- At least one other servicer did not send loss mitigation acknowledgment notices to borrowers who had requested payment relief on their mortgage payments. One or more servicers treated certain requests as requests for short-term payment relief instead of requests for loss mitigation under Regulation X.
- At least one servicer sent notices of intent to foreclose to borrowers already approved for a trial modification and before the trial modification’s first payment was due without verifying whether borrowers had a pending loss mitigation plan before sending its notice. As the notice could deter borrowers from carrying out trial modifications, it likely causes substantial injury . . .
- at least one servicer sent notices warning borrowers who were current on their loans that foreclosure would be imminent. (14-18, emphasis added)
All of these highlights are interesting because they reflect the types of problems the CFPB is finding and it thus helps the industry comply with federal law. But from a public policy perspective, the CFPB’s approach is lacking. By repeating that each failure was found at “one or more” company, a reader of these Highlights cannot determine how widespread these problems are throughout the industry. And because the Highlights do not say how many borrowers were affected by each company’s failure, it is hard to say whether these problems are isolated and technical or endemic and intentional.
Future Supervisory Highlights should include more information about the number of institutions and the number of consumers who were affected by these violations.
- Massachusetts’s federal court found that a unit of Deutsche Bank AG failed to vet some residential mortgage-backed securities, which mislead Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.
- US Bank filed an amended complaint claiming that Citigroup Global Markets Realty Corp. and CitiMortgage Inc. in suit over bad mortgage-backed securities.
- After PHH Corp. was ordered to pay $109 million in penalties by the CFPB in a mortgage kickback scheme, it has asked to D.C. Circuit to reconsider.
- New York state court dismisses Commerzbank AG’s suit against UBS AG, Credit Suisse Group AG, and others due to the statute of limitations. Commerzbank brought suit alleging loan quality fraud in the sale of $1.9 billion in mortgage securities.
- NY federal court dismissed a derivative shareholder suit against American Realty Capital Properties Inc. as the suit did not fulfill the state law requirement that demand be made on the board of directors before bringing suit and this case did not meet the narrow futility exception to such demand. The shareholders brought suit over accounting issues that led to a sharp drop in stock value and destroyed a possible $700 million sale.
- In suit against Amazon for breach of contract, The Durst Organization will not be able to force Amazon to sign a $20 million per year lease. The court found that the letter of intent does not compel the retailer to execute the lease. However, Durst may be able to recover under the additional breach of duty and fraud claims.
- In a historical decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Fair Housing Act covers unintentional discrimination through disparate impact, citing to the deep racial divides in the 1960s.
- US Bank, as a trustee of Lehman XS Trust, brings suit against Bank of America and Countrywide Financial for $178 million for alleged breach of representations and warranties in sale of residential mortgage loans.
June 26, 2015
The Urban Institute has issued a report, Headship and Homeownership: What Does The Future Hold? The report opens,
Homeownership rates averaged around 64 percent until about 1990, when they began to climb dramatically, reaching 67.3 percent in 2006. The housing crisis that began in 2007 and the ensuing recession, from which the US economy is recovering slowly, resulted in a fall in the homeownership rate to 63.6 percent, according to the latest ACS numbers. Such a trajectory has generated important questions about the future of homeownership at all ages. The issues with young adults seem particularly acute. Will young adults want to own houses? Even if they do, will they be able to afford homeownership? The answers to these questions are still unclear, especially because millennials are not just slower to start their own households and purchase homes: they also are more likely to live in their parents’ homes than any generation in recent history. The rapidly changing racial and ethnic composition of the population also has profound implications for household formation and homeownership.
In this report, we dive deeply into the pace of household formation and homeownership attainment—nationally and by age groups and race/ethnicity over the past quarter-century—and project future trends. Considering the great uncertainty about household formation and homeownership, single-point forecasts of homeownership rates and housing demand could seriously mislead policymakers and obscure the potential implications of their decisions. Instead, we offer plausible competing scenarios for household formation and homeownership that generate a range of future national housing demand projections. (1)
I am not in a position to evaluate how well the report projects future trends, but some of its conclusions are worth considering together:
- the homeownership rate will decline from 65.1 percent in 2010 to 61.3 percent in 2030; (46)
- the rapid growth of the renter population will create significant demand for new rental housing construction and encourage shifting of owner-occupied dwellings to rentals; (47)
- very tight credit availability standards will retard homeownership attainment and may exacerbate the growing shortage in rental housing; (48) and
- the erosion of black homeownership needs to be addressed by more than mortgage policy. (48)
Taken together, these conclusions all point to a backsliding in the housing market: the American Dream disappearing for millions of Americans, particularly African Americans, who will end up living in overcrowded Pottersvilles straight out of It’s A Wonderful Life. Just like George Bailey, we have choices to make before that nightmare becomes a reality. But before we decide anything too hastily, we should consider the fundamental goals of housing policy.
I have argued that a “fundamental goal of housing policy is to assist Americans to live in a safe, well-maintained and affordable housing unit.” I am less convinced than most housing scholars that homeownership, given the state of today’s economy, is such a sure road to stable housing and financial well-being. So, instead of blindly focusing on increasing the homeownership rate, I would focus on increasing opportunities for sustainable homeownership. I believe the report’s authors would agree with this, but I think that housing scholars in general need to focus on policies that keep households in their housing, given how much income instability they now face.