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Daily Dose

The Dichotomy of Prudent Lending and Credit Availability

In the post-crisis era, lenders face the challenge of striking a delicate balance between judicious lending practices and access to financing for creditworthy consumers. The deluge of mortgage defaults and foreclosures that has plagued the industry over the past half decade was set into motion by a subprime mortgage crisis characterized by lax lending standards, easy credit, and higher-risk mortgage products.

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SunTrust Agrees to Pay $320M in HAMP Settlement

SunTrust Banks, Inc., announced that it would pay up to $320 million to halt a criminal investigation into whether it had dealt inappropriately with homeowners who were looking to take advantage of the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). "Resolving this legacy matter enhances our ability to focus on the future and support the continued housing recovery," said Jerome Lienhard, SunTrust Mortgage, Inc., president and CEO.

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Consumer Spending Sinks in June

In a survey of nearly 15,000 U.S. adults, Gallup found the daily amount spent by Americans was an average $91, down from a six-year high of $98 the month prior and about level with last year. The June record for average daily spending is $104, achieved in 2008. Gallup writer Rebecca Riffkin said June's average "suggests a mixed bag for the economy."

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Home Price Gains Leave RMBS Cushioned Against Economic Stress

In its newest monthly prime jumbo trends report, Fitch Ratings finds weighted average combined loan-to-value ratios for residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) deals made in the last few have fallen substantially, fueled by ongoing gains in house prices. Together, the improvement in equity positions combined with stronger borrower credit profiles has helped keep delinquency down, Fitch reports.

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Consumers Mixed on Housing, Economic Sentiment

Looking ahead to the next 12 months, 46 percent of Americans polled expect home prices to rise, Fannie Mae reported in its latest National Housing Survey. That share is down from 48 percent in May and 50 percent in April. On average, respondents anticipate a home price change of 2.4 percent, down half a percentage point from the previous two surveys and the lowest forecast since January, when news of a slowdown in price gains affected attitudes.

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California Lender Fined Over Discrimination Claim

GFS Capital Holdings, formerly Greenlight Financial Services, settled a claim with HUD regarding discrimination of women on maternity leave. The company agreed to pay a total of $48,000 to individuals against which it allegedly discriminated. HUD investigated Greenlight after a family complained the company denied their refinance loan application because the wife was on maternity leave at the time.

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Report: Nationstar Temporarily Blocked from GSE Mortgages Last Year

A report released last week by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) outlined the possible risks that nonbank servicers could pose to the greater housing market. To illustrate a point, the OIG pointed to a specific instance where a nonbank servicer had fallen below the minimum threshold capital requirement required by Fannie Mae. The servicer was then prevented from acquiring the right to service Fannie Mae mortgages. Though the OIG did not name names, people familiar with the matter revealed to the Wall Street Journal that the servicer in question was Nationstar.

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Ginnie Mae on Track to Surpass Freddie

On Wednesday, the Urban Institute (UI) issued a report finding that, based on the latest numbers, Ginnie's book of business is now at $1.5 trillion—a rate of growth that has tripled over the last seven years. What this means is that at its current rate of growth, Ginnie Mae will soon surpass Freddie Mac as the silver medalist in the single-family mortgage securitization platform game, behind Fannie Mae.

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Mortgage Rates Dig In for Holiday Weekend

According to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) product was 4.12 percent (0.5 point) for the week ending July 3. Rates remained down year-over-year for the second straight week, "which should provide some help with homebuyer affordability in many markets," said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for Freddie Mac.

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Housing Trends Show Broadening Recovery

According to Realtor.com, the median listing price of homes in May this year was $214,900, a rise of 8 percent compared to year-ago levels. "This May's housing market stands in significant contrast to last year in which price increases were less generalized and more concentrated in specific metropolitan areas," the company said. "This broad increase in price suggests a more evenly distributed recovery and a healthier national housing market."

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