During the quantitative easing years of 2008 through 2014, the Fed acquired trillions of dollars of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae mortgage-backed securities (Agency MBS) and U.S. Treasuries. Its balance sheet grew from under $1 trillion to over $4 trillion. The Fed stopped adding to its holdings a few years ago, but has maintained a policy to reinvest principle payments received, thus maintaining a steady level of investments. At times over the last few years when refinance activity was high and the Fed was reinvesting the principle payments it received, the Fed was the buyer of the vast majority of all newly issued Agency MBS. Even recently, the Fed has been the buyer of approximately 25% of newly issued Agency MBS. The demand from the Fed for Agency MBS has had a positive effect on mortgage rates. For the past few months, Fed speakers have been saying that the time to begin “normalizing their holdings was near. But few details were provided. The minutes of the Fed’s May 3nd meeting, released on May 24th, provided some details about their plan. Although many details remain unknown. The plan calls for the Fed to tell investors the maximum amount it [...]
In a long awaited speech this morning, new FHFA Director Mel Watt laid out several changes in the direction for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from that proposed by former Acting Director Edward DeMarco. The most significant of which deals with loan limits. Watt will not force the Agencies to reduce their current loans limits, as DeMarco had planned. In addition, Watt proposed a renewed focus on expanding credit availability, loosening rules requiring loan buy-backs, and said he will seek public input before any increase in guaranty fees.
Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates fell in the week through November 21, with 30-yrs hitting 4.22%, from 4.35% the prior week. While the survey results are released on Thursday, the timing of the data collection means that the data better reflects changes from Monday to Monday or Tuesday to Tuesday than Thursday to Thursday each week. The Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS) is sent on Monday with a response due back by Wednesday. Most responses are completed and submitted on Monday or Tuesday. The responses are averaged and the results are released on Thursday. The survey results, therefore, reflect the average rate and points borrowers were being offered on Monday and/or early Tuesday. Changes in the market since Monday/Tuesday can make the published data misleading when compared to rates and points actually being offered on Thursday. This week, mortgage rates have increased substantially since the survey period earlier in the week. If the survey were conducted this morning, the results for 30-yr rates would show an increase of about 5 basis points from last Thursday.
There has been no progress today toward a resolution to the government shutdown. Fortunately, the initial impact of the shutdown on mortgage originations has been small. The biggest concerns are obtaining transcripts from the IRS and social security verifications from the SSA. Certain Government produced economic reports will not be available. The Construction spending report due out this morning was not issued. The Non-Farm Payrolls report due on Friday may be affected. The impact on the mortgage market of this lack of data is difficult to anticipate. At this time, Fannie, Freddie, and Ginnie say they will continue to operate as normal. VA says that they, too, will have no disruptions in services. FHA, however, expects delays due to reduced staffing. Origination companies, correspondent banks, and warehouse lenders may react differently as they access the risks associated with an extended shutdown.
In a press conference this afternoon, President Obama laid out his plan for restructuring the GSEs. His plan sounds very similar to what is being proposed in the Senate, so there were no big surprises. His plan includes a wind down of Fannie and Freddie (no specific timetable provided) to make room for the private sector. His plan includes some form of government backstop, as necessary to encourage a liquid market for mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and the 30 year fixed rate product. The government backstop would insure investor recovery of principal and interest, but would only be paid after substantial private capital has been depleted. He acknowledged that this will take a long time. He offered a couple of things that could be done much sooner, like creating a common Fannie/Freddie platform for issuing new MBS and reducing Fannie’s and Freddie’s mortgage holdings. He emphasized that any restructuring needs to provide adequate opportunity for first time home buyers.
Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates rose in the week through June 27, with 30-yrs hitting 4.46%, from 3.93% the prior week. This was the largest weekly increase in 26 years. While the survey results are released on Thursday, the timing of the data collection means that the data better reflects changes from Monday to Monday or Tuesday to Tuesday than Thursday to Thursday each week. The Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS) is sent on Monday with a response due back by Wednesday. Most responses are completed and submitted on Monday or Tuesday. The responses are averaged and the results are released on Thursday. The survey results, therefore, reflect the average rate and points borrowers were being offered on Monday and/or early Tuesday. Changes in the market since Monday/Tuesday can make the published data misleading when compared to rates and points actually being offered on Thursday. This week, mortgage rates have improved substantially since the survey period earlier in the week. If the survey were conducted this morning, the results for 30-yr rates would be 20 to 25 basis points lower.
On August 31st, FHFA announced another increase in the guarantee fee (G-fee) charged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on the loans they insure. The amount of the increase is set to average 10 basis points, but the amount of the increase may vary by product and seller. The increase is to be effective on loans sold directly to Fannie or Freddie beginning in November and for any loans to be pooled in a mortgage-backed security (MBS) with a December 1st or later issue date. Longer term locks already reflect this increase. Short term locks may as well, depending who is buying the loan and whether the loan will be pooled in a MBS. If they don't now, they will very soon. G-fees are paid by the borrower from the interest paid on the loan or are collected upfront as a cost to the borrower. The cost is approximately five times the increase in G-fee. The effect of this increase in G-fee on the borrower has been masked somewhat by recent price increases in the MBS market. Loans locked at prices before the G-fee increase was added will incur heavy extension fees, if required, so timely delivery of well documented, [...]
FHFA has answered a couple of the questions we raised on Tuesday regarding the Congressionally mandated increase in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guarantee fees (G-fees). Effective April 1st all G-fees charged by Fannie and Freddie will be increased by 10 basis points. In addition, FHFA said that during the first part of 2012 they will determine whether the new law will require additional increases in the G-fees. Since G-fees are paid from the interest on a loan, this increase will cause mortgage rates on loans going into Fannie and Freddie mortgage-backed securities after April 1st to rise by a similar amount.
This morning, FHFA announced their enhancements to the HARP refinancing program. Operational details of the plan are to be released on November 15. Only loans that were purchased or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac on or before May 31, 2009 and have a current LTV over 80% are eligible. In addition, the loan must be current, no late payments in the last six months and no more than one late in the last 12 months. There are no restrictions on who may refinance these loans. Program guidelines include: *No limit on LTV, if new loan is a fixed rate loan (current LTV must be above 80%) *Loans previously refinanced under HARP not allowed *Certain agency fees will be waived if new loan is a shorter term loan *Appraisals not required where Agency AVM is available *Certain originator Reps and Warrants will be waived Borrowers can determine if their loan is owned or guaranteed by Fannie or Freddie at http://www.fanniemae.com/loanlookup/ or http://www.freddiemac.com/corporate/ If you need additional information about this blog post, please visit our website MBSQuoteline.com or call 800-627-1077.
QRM Update: The FDIC has voted to release its proposed definition of a Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM). QRMs will be exempt from risk retention requirements. Under the proposed definition Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, and VA loans will be QRMs. For non-agency loans to meet the definition and to avoid being subject to risk retention, among other requirements, they must have down payments of 20% or more and DTI of 28% / 36% or less.