February 24, 2015

Tuesday’s Regulatory & Legislative Round-up

By Serenna McCloud

  • House of Representatives Introduced Bill H.R. 855 to Permanently Extend the New Markets Tax Credit which was designed to spur new or increased investments into operating businesses and real estate projects located in low-income communities. The NMTC Program attracts investment capital to low-income communities by permitting individual and corporate investors to receive a tax credit against their Federal income tax return in exchange for making equity investments in specialized financial institutions called Community Development Entities (CDEs).
  • Banking Regulators Seek Public Comment - The Agencies are asking the public to comment on regulations in the Banking Operations, Capital, and the Community Reinvestment Act categories to identify outdated or otherwise unnecessary regulatory requirements imposed on insured depository institutions and their regulated holding companies.

February 24, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments

February 23, 2015

Mortgage Assignment Mayhem

By David Reiss

Judge Drain issued a biting Memorandum of Decision on Debtor’s Objection to Claim of Wells Fargo Bank, NA in the case In re Carrsow-Franklin (No. 10-20010, Jan. 29, 2015). The Court granted the debtor’s claim objection “on the basis that Wells Fargo is not the holder or owner of the note and beneficiary of the deed of trust upon which the claim is based and therefore lacks standing to assert the claim.” (1)

This blog, and many other venues, have documented the Alice in Wonderland world of mortgage assignments in which something is true because the the foreclosing party, like the Red Queen herself, says it is.

Judge Drain adds to the evidence with ALLCAPS, a touch I can’t remember seeing in another judicial opinion that I have blogged about:

Because Wells Fargo does not rely on the Assignment of Mortgage to prove its claim, the foregoing evidence is helpful to the Debtor only indirectly, insofar as it goes to show that the blank indorsement, upon which Wells Fargo is relying, was forged. Nevertheless it does show a general willingness and practice on Wells Fargo’s part to create documentary evidence, after‐the‐fact, when enforcing its claims, WHICH IS EXTRAORDINARY. (17-18, emphasis in the original, footnote omitted)

In retrospect, legal historians will be shocked by the lending industry’s practices which seemed to ignore the law in favor of convenience. MERS, and the practices which arose from it, was an attempt to circumvent clunky laws in favor of efficiency. For many years, many judges went along with this regime. Since the foreclosure crisis began, however, more and more judges are engaging in a more rigorous analysis of the documents in a particular case and the applicable law governing mortgage notes and foreclosures. When these judges find that a transaction does not comply with the relevant law, it is incumbent upon them to deny the relief sought by the foreclosing party as Judge Drain did here.

February 23, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments

Monday’s Adjudication Roundup

By Shea Cunningham

February 23, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments

February 20, 2015

Reiss on Buying a Home

By David Reiss

Mainstreet.com quoted me in Potential Homeowners Should Seek Counseling Before Making First Purchase. It reads, in part,

Many consumers have made buying their first home less of a daunting task by seeking housing counseling from a non-profit organization.

In 2014, more than 73,000 people received housing counseling from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling’s member agencies, making it the highest volume experienced during the past five years. The renewed interest in housing counseling could be an indicator that many people are considering home ownership as an affordable option.

*     *     *

Homeowners should look at a range of mortgages before committing to one since the typical American homeowner moves every seven years, said David Reiss, professor of law at the Brooklyn Law School in N.Y. For example, obtaining a “relatively expensive 30-year fixed rate mortgage may not make sense,” he said, if you can save a lot in monthly payments with an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM).

ARMs have a certain period of time where the interest rate remains the same, such as 84 months for a 7/1 ARM or 120 months for a 10/1 ARM and then it adjusts each year for the remainder of the mortgage.

“This might be particularly true for very young households or for empty nesters, both of whom may have different needs in five or ten years,” Reiss said. “It is hard to predict where interest rates and prices are going, so holding off on buying when it seems like the right time to do so for your personal situation is risky.”

February 20, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments

Friday’s Government Report Roundup

By Shea Cunningham

February 20, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments

February 19, 2015

Treasury Gives RMBS a Workout

By David Reiss

The Treasury has undertaken a Credit Rating Agency Exercise. According to Michael Stegman, Treasury

recognized that the PLS market has been dormant since the financial crisis partly because of a “chicken-and-egg” phenomenon between rating agencies and originator-aggregators. Rating agencies will not rate mortgage pools without loan-level data, yet originator-aggregators will not originate pools of mortgage bonds without an idea of what it would take for the bond to receive a AAA rating.

Using our convening authority, Treasury invited six credit rating agencies to participate in an exercise over the last several months intended to provide market participants with greater transparency into their credit rating methodologies for residential mortgage loans.

By increasing clarity around loss expectations and required subordination levels for more diverse pools of collateral, the credit rating agencies can stimulate a constructive market dialogue around post-crisis underwriting and securitization practices and foster greater confidence in the credit rating process for private label mortgage-backed securities (MBS). The information obtained through this exercise may also give mortgage originators and aggregators greater insight into the potential economics of financing mortgage loans in the private label channel and the consequent implications for borrowing costs.

While this exercise is very technical, it contains some interesting nuggets for a broad range of readers. For instance,

The housing market, regulatory environment, and loan performance have evolved significantly from pre-crisis to present day. Credit rating agency models appear to account for these changes in varying ways. All credit rating agency models incorporate the performance of loans originated prior to, during, and after the crisis to the degree they believe best informs the nature of credit and prepayment risk reflected in the market. Credit rating agency model stress scenarios may be influenced by loans originated at the peak of the housing market, given the macroeconomic stress and home price declines they experienced. The credit rating agencies differ, however, in how their models adjust for the post-crisis regime of improved underwriting practices and operational controls. Some credit rating agencies capture these changes directly in their models, while other credit rating agencies rely on qualitative adjustments outside of their models. (10)

It is important for non-specialists to realize how much subjectivity can be built into rating agency models. Every model will make inferences based on past performance. The exercise highlights how different rating agencies address post-crisis loan performance in significantly different ways. Time will tell which ones got it right.

February 19, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments