Tag Archives: Foreclosure Prevention


Mortgage-Related Jobs Are on the Rise: Report

The third quarter of 2011 saw a net increase of 2,738 mortgage-related jobs, according to recent industry data. This increase is the first recorded in five quarters.

The recent increase in refinances – encouraged by remarkably low interest rates – sparked a demand for loan originators and processors, while continuing high levels of delinquencies and foreclosures bolstered the need for servicing staff.

The third quarter saw 2,502 layoffs countered by 5,240 hirings, according to the Third-Quarter 2011 Mortgage Employment Index released by MortgageDaily.com.

The 2,738 gain compares to a net loss of 464 jobs in the previous quarter and a loss of 936 jobs a year ago.
JPMorgan Chase was a major source of the rise in hirings in the third quarter with 3,314 hirings of its own.
MetLife added 351 jobs, and CashCall Mortgage added 230.

Wells Fargo (-686), CoreLogic (-600), and Bank of America (-364) all lost jobs during the quarter.
California-based CoreLogic anticipates about 1,000 layoffs during the second half of 2011, according to MortgageDaily.com.

With an increase of 699 mortgage-related jobs, Texas posted the largest increase, and according to the index, “[t]he Dallas area has become a Mecca for mortgage servicers.”

Iowa, on the other hand, saw a decrease of 159 positions, largely due to Wells Fargo’s downsizing.
So far, the fourth quarter is seeing more hirings than layoffs.

This article is from DSnews.com.


Big Four Set to Participate in HARP 2.0

The industry’s four largest mortgage servicers all say they will be taking part in the revamped Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP).

Bank of America, Chase, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo have each expressed their support of the program and the changes that will allow more underwater homeowners to refinance at today’s lower interest rates.
Government officials expect the program’s revisions – particularly the GSEs’ waiver on representations and warranties – to increase competition for mortgage refinancing.

An executive with JPMorgan Chase told the company’s investors this week that HARP 2.0 will facilitate “cross-servicing refinancing” because with the rep and warranty waiver, the new lender is not required to assume responsibility for underwriting deficiencies that may have occurred with the original loan.

Chase explains that HARP may be used to replace an adjustable-rate or interest-only loan with a standard fixed interest rate loan, and typically reduces the borrower’s monthly payment.

Frank Bisignano, CEO of mortgage banking at Chase, estimates that with the new HARP guidelines, thousands of Chase customers could lower their mortgage payments by an average of $2,500 a year.

Citi said in an emailed statement that it “supports the program and expects to participate.”
Wells Fargo, likewise, said in a statement that it “welcomes the addition of the new HARP features.”
Veronica Clemons, a spokesperson for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, says the company is waiting for specific guidelines and requirements from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in order to put the changes into practice.

She adds that once the company’s mortgage servicing team has the guidelines in hand, “it will take us some time – depending on the complexity of the guidelines – to make the necessary systems changes to begin offering the new enhancements to our customers.”

The GSEs’ regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), says Fannie and Freddie plan to issue guidance with operational details about the HARP changes by November 15th.

“Since industry participation in HARP is not mandatory, implementation schedules will vary as individual lenders, mortgage insurers, and other market participants modify their processes,” FHFA said.

Bank of America says it will participate in the enhanced Home Affordable Refinance Program announced by the administration, and it expects the new guidelines and eligibility criteria to go into effect after December 1st.
“Despite ongoing economic challenges, nearly 90 percent of our customers remain current on their mortgage,” BofA spokesperson Rick Simon said. “HARP helps these homeowners who remain current on their mortgage with options to lower their monthly payment when, otherwise, conventional funding options are limited.”

The GSEs have removed the 125 percent loan-to-value (LTV) cap under the program. Now any borrower with an LTV ratio above 80 percent is eligible for a HARP refinance, as long as the loan was sold to Fannie or Freddie prior to May 31, 2009, and the borrower is not delinquent on their payments.

Since HARP was launched in 2009, nearly 900,000 loans have been refinanced through the program. Government officials estimate that an additional 1 million homeowners will receive assistance under the new guidelines.
In its announcement of the program changes, FHFA encouraged borrowers to “contact their existing lender or any other mortgage lender offering HARP refinances.”

Article from DSnews.com.


Administration Announces Refinance Program for Underwater Borrowers

It’s official. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) unveiled a new, revamped government mortgage refinancing program Monday.

The initiative involves a series of rule changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) to allow more underwater homeowners to reduce their mortgage debt by taking advantage of today’s rock-bottom interest rates.
Mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and originally sold to the GSEs on or before May 31, 2009 are eligible for the program.

Under the revised HARP guidelines, the 125 percent loan-to-value (LTV) ceiling has been eliminated. Previously, only borrowers who owed up to 25 percent more than their home was worth could participate in HARP. That limitation has now been removed. The program will continue to be available to borrowers with LTV ratios above 80 percent.

The new program enhancements address several other key aspects of HARP that industry participants say have restricted its impact, including eliminating certain risk-based fees for borrowers who refinance into shorter-term mortgages and lowering fees for other borrowers, as well as allowing mortgage insurers to automatically transfer coverage from the original loan to the new loan.

In addition, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have done away with the requirement for a new property appraisal where there is a reliable AVM (automated valuation model) estimate already provided by the GSEs, and they’ve agreed to waive certain representations and warranties on loans refinanced through the program.

Not only are loans eligible for HARP considered “seasoned loans,” but a refinance helps borrowers strengthen their household finances, reducing the risk they pose to the GSEs. Thus, FHFA feels reps and warranties are not necessary for some of these loans.

With Monday’s announcement, the end date for HARP has been extended from June 30, 2012 to December 31, 2013.
The GSEs will release program instructions to lenders by the middle of next month, and FHFA expects some lenders will be ready to accept applications by December 1.

Since HARP was rolled out in early 2009, approximately 1 million homeowners have refinanced their mortgage loans through the program. FHFA estimates that with the revised guidelines, another 1 million will be able to take advantage of the program.

To qualify, borrowers must be current on their mortgage payments, but government officials believe by opening HARP up to more homeowners with higher thresholds of negative equity, it will help to prevent foreclosures by erasing the primary motivation behind strategic defaults.

Economists at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business estimate that roughly 35 percent of mortgage defaults are strategic. Numerous industry studies have found that homeowners who owe significantly more than their home is worth are more likely to throw in the towel and walk away from their mortgage debt even if they have the ability to continue making their payments.

“We anticipate that the package of improvements being made to HARP will reduce the Enterprises credit risk, bring greater stability to mortgage markets, and reduce foreclosure risks,” FHFA stated in its announcement Monday.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also released statements in response to the announcement.

Michael J. Williams, Fannie Mae’s president and CEO, called the program a “welcome development.”
“By removing some of the impediments to refinance, lenders can more easily participate in the program allowing more eligible homeowners to take advantage of the low interest rates,” Williams stated.

Charles E. Haldeman, Jr., CEO of Freddie Mac said, “These changes mark another step on the road to recovery for the nation’s housing market.”

Article is from DSnews.com.


Congressmen Propose Using Retirement Funds to Pay Mortgages

Two Georgia congressmen are proposing a bill they believe will help some homeowners keep up with their mortgage payments and avoid foreclosure. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) and Rep. Tom Graves (R-Georgia) introduced the Hardship Outlays to protect Mortgagee Equity (HOME) Act, which would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 “to provide penalty free distributions from certain retirement plans for mortgage payments with respect to a principal residence and to modify the rules governing hardship distributions,” states the bill.

“Many Americans who have been responsible enough to save for retirement in the past now find themselves out of work,” Graves states. “Unfortunately, under current tax law these men and women cannot withdraw retirement funds to pay for their homes without paying a ten percent penalty to the IRS – often resulting in late payments, oreclosures, and at a minimum punishing a taxpayer who has saved responsibly in the past.”

Under the HOME Act, individuals may withdraw up to $50,000 or half of their 401(k) account – whichever is smaller – for the express purpose of making mortgage payments on their principal residence.

If the funds are used for mortgage payments within 120 days of withdrawal, the individual will not face penalties.
Deferred income tax, however, would not be waived for these withdrawals under the proposed bill.

“This legislation will simply place taxpayers who have saved responsibly on the same level as those who have not, all the while reducing foreclosures, eliminating red tape, and accomplishing a goal that all Members of Congress can support – keeping Americans in their homes,” Graves states.

“I am delighted to join Congressman Graves in introducing the HOME Act today,” Isakson stated. “This bill will help Americans who risk foreclosure use their own resources to make their mortgage payment on time without being penalized by the federal government.”

He continued: “I firmly believe that economic recovery in this country will not occur until the housing market bounces back.”

“To that end, this legislation will help strengthen the American housing market because it will lead to a reduction in foreclosures and in turn will help stabilize home values,” Isakson concluded.

Article is from DSnews.com.