Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

April 13, 2015

Reiss on Mortgage Lingo

By David Reiss quoted me in 10 Terms of Mortgage Industry Lingo for Potential Homeowners to Learn. It reads, in part,

The mortgage industry is no different from the rest of the financial or tech world and is fraught with odd terminology, tons of acronyms and other confusing jargon.

While it appears to be a great deal of inaccessible blather, learning what these terms really mean can save homeowners thousands of dollars as they are negotiating the terms of their mortgage.

Unpacking the lingo is the first step as you sink your hard-earned money into a house for the next 30 years. Pretty soon you can banter about points and closings just like the rest of the experts.

Here are ten terms that we demystify as you prepare you as you embark on one of the largest commitments in your lifetime.

Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and Ginnie Mae – Is There a Family Connection?

Just who exactly are Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae? What about Ginnie Mae? This trio was created by the federal government to support a national market for mortgage credit, said David Reiss, a law professor at Brooklyn Law School in New York. None of these entities interacts directly with homebuyers. Instead, all have the goal to make it easier for mortgage lenders to sell mortgages to investors by promising “those in mortgage-backed securities that they will receive their payments of interest and principal in a timely manner in case borrowers default on their payments,” he said.

After a wave of foreclosures following the Great Depression, Ginnie Mae was created by the government to support affordable housing in the U.S. Now it provides funding for all government-insured or government-guaranteed mortgage loans.

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Real estate brokers and mortgage lenders discuss points quite often, especially as you get closer to finalizing the terms of your mortgage, since they are negotiable. This refers to the percentage points of the loan amount that a lender charges to a borrower for a loan, Reiss said. For instance, if a lender charges 1 point on a $200,000 loan, the borrower will owe an additional $2,000 to the lender at the time the loan is closed.

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Monday’s Adjudication Roundup

By Shea Cunningham

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April 10, 2015

The Future of Fannie and Freddie: The Definitive Panel!

By David Reiss

The  NYU Journal of Law & Business has published The Future of Fannie and Freddie (also on SSRN):

This is a transcript of a panel discussion titled, “The Future of Fannie and Freddie.” The panelists were Dr. Mark Calabria from the Cato Institute; Professor David Reiss from Brooklyn Law School; Professor Lawrence White from NYU Stern School of Business; Dr. Mark Willis from NYU’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. The panel was moderated by Professor Michael Levine from NYU School of Law. Panelists looked at economic policy and future prospects for Fannie and Freddie. My remarks focused on the goals of housing finance policy.

The actual panel occurred some time ago, but it remains current given the limbo in which housing finance reform finds itself.

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Friday’s Government Reports Roundup

By Shea Cunningham

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April 9, 2015

Foreclosures and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

By David Reiss

Bloomberg BNA quoted me in Third Circuit Says Foreclosure Complaint May Serve as Basis for Claims Under FDCPA (behind a paywall). The article opens,

A foreclosure complaint may form the basis of a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) claim, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held, saying foreclosure meets the broad definition of “debt collection” under the statute (Kaymark v. Bank of Am. N.A.2015 BL 97853, 3d Cir., No. 14-cv-01816, 4/7/15).

Dale Kaymark filed a class suit against Bank of America and Udren Law Offices, P.C., a Cherry Hill, N.J., law firm, including in its claims an allegation that Udren violated the FDCPA by listing in a foreclosure complaint not-yet-incurred fees as due and owing.

Kaymark also said the firm violated the statute by trying to collect fees not authorized by the mortgage agreement.

A district court dismissed those and other claims by Kaymark, but the Third Circuit reversed April 7, allowing all but one of his FDCPA claims against Udren.

According to the court, a 2014 Third Circuit ruling on debt collection letters also applies to foreclosure complaints.

“We conclude that a communication cannot be uniquely exempted from the FDCPA because it is a formal pleading or, in particular, a complaint,” Judge D. Michael Fisher said. “This principle is widely accepted by our sister Circuits,” he said.

Wide Impact Seen

Udren Law Offices did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the case. In separate briefs filed in August 2014 and December 2014, lawyers for the firm predicted that application of the FDCPA to foreclosure complaints might allow any state foreclosure action to spark an FDCPA suit, with ill effects for legal practice.

A Bank of America spokeswoman April 8 declined to comment on the ruling. The FDCPA claim was directed only at the law firm, not the bank. Lawyers for Kaymark also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Brooklyn Law School Professor David Reiss, the Research Director of the Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship, said the decision highlights increased judicial sensitivity in some areas of the law.

“It’s a well-reasoned ruling that clarifies application of the statute in the foreclosure context and that will affect contacts that lawyers have with alleged debtors,” said Reiss, who maintains a real estate finance blog. “In terms of practical effects, it won’t necessarily mean thousands of new lawsuits, but it does mean that lawyers will have to be very careful about how they communicate fees and estimates. It’s going to mean, to some extent, a cleaning-up of informal practices in the foreclosure bar, such as treating not-yet-accrued costs as accrued costs,” Reiss told Bloomberg BNA.

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Thursday’s Advocacy & Think Tank Round-Up

By Serenna McCloud

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April 8, 2015

A Call to ARMs

By David Reiss quoted me in A Call to ARMs As Homeowners Opt for Lower Interest Rates. It opens,

Some homeowners are choosing adjustable rate mortgages instead of the traditional 30-year mortgages to take advantage of lower interest rates for several years.

The biggest benefit of an ARM is that they have lower interest rates than the more common 30-year fixed rate mortgage. Many ARMs are called a 5/1 or 7/1, which means that they are fixed at the introductory interest rate for five or seven years and then readjust every year after that, said David Reiss, a law professor at Brooklyn Law School. The new rate is based on an index, perhaps LIBOR, as well as a margin on top of that index.

The main disadvantage is that the rate is not fixed for as long as the interest rate of a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, but younger homeowners may not consider that a negative factor.

Younger Owners Should Consider ARMs

While many homeowners gravitate toward a 30-year mortgage, younger owners “should seriously consider getting an ARM if they think that they might move sooner rather than later,” he said. If you are single and buying a one-bedroom condo, it is likely you could enter into a long-term relationship and have kids.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate is 3.50% as of April 7 while a 5/1 ARM is 2.83% as of April 7, according to Bankrate’s national survey of large lenders.

While ARMs expose the borrower to rising interest rates, they typically come with some protection. Interest rates often cannot rise more than a certain amount from year to year, and there is also typically a cap in the increase of interest rates over the life of the loan, said Reiss. During the height of the housing boom, lenders were originating 1/1 ARMs that reset after the first year, but now they reset frequently after the fifth and seventh year.

An ARM might have a two-point cap for one-year increases; that means, an introductory rate of 4% could only increase to 6% tops in the sixth year of a 5/1 ARM, Reiss said. That ARM might have a six-point cap over the life of the loan, which means a 4% introductory rate can go to no higher than 10% over the life of the loan.

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April 8, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments