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Nomura, RBS First to Face FHFA in Trial

The non-jury trial in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York in Manhattan is scheduled to begin on Monday, March 16. If no last-minute settlement is reached, Nomura and RBS would be the first two financial institutions to go to trial out of the 18 lenders FHFA sued in 2011 to recoup U.S. taxpayer costs following the government's $188 billion bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2008, after which the government seized control of both Enterprises. The other 16 lenders have paid a combined total of about $24 billion to settle with FHFA, including $9.3 billion paid by Bank of America in March 2014.

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Access to Mortgage Increases

Mortgage credit availability reached its peak in August 2004, recording an index score of 134.6. Access began to drop over the next several years. Then, in May 2007, both the housing and mortgage availability began a multiple year plunge, leaving home values down more than 22 percent and credit the tightest it had been in years. In September 2010, the ZMAI bottomed out at 9.6. Today, the ZMAI currently sits at 71.5 and access to mortgage credit has improved significantly, and is roughly two-thirds of the way back to the 2002 pre-crisis level of 100.

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Congressman Exploring New Strategy to Amend Dodd-Frank Act

n January, the house passed the bill by a vote of 271 to 154, with 29 Democrats voting in favor of it. However, Senate Democrats led by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) vowed to fight the bill and it failed to pass. Democrats, including Warren, have said they worry that bills that claim to be aimed at relieving regulatory burdens for small banks are being used to roll back Dodd-Frank for the benefit of the largest financial institutions.

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Freddie Mac Survey Shows Mortgage Rate Increase

Kiefer, who will be a keynote speaker at the upcoming Five Star Government Forum in Washington, D.C. on March 18, said in Freddie Mac's March 2015 Economic and Housing Market Outlook the big reason for the bright outlook for housing is the improved job market for Millennial home buyers. Analysts agree the future of housing depends on taping into this key demographic. Last year, nearly 20 percent of Millennials were unemployed. That number is slowly decreasing and employment among this generation is inching closer to its peak level of 2008.

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FHFA Criticizes Hiring of Fannie Mae Senior Official

Hiring of the current CAE, John Forlines, was flawed for multiple reasons. One, he had not been identified for the CAE role in the senior management’s Succession Plan. The Succession Plan found that there was no internal candidate who was “ready now” for the CAE position and that a permanent successor would require an “external” candidate. Fannie Mae decided to compile a list of internal candidate six months after the Succession Plan was released.

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Millennials Largest Group of Recent Home Buyers for Second Year

The median age of millennial homebuyers was 29, their median income was $76,900 and they typically bought a 1,720-square foot home costing $189,900. The typical Gen X buyer was 41 years old, had a median income of $104,600 and purchased a 1,890-square foot home costing $250,000. When asked about the primary reason for purchasing a home, a desire to own a home of their own was highest among Millennials at 39 percent. Younger boomers were the most likely to buy because of a job-related relocation or move, and a change in a family situation, most likely the birth of a child, was the highest among Gen X buyers.

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Bill Seeks to Amend Truth in Lending Act

In 2013, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued guidelines to expand the range of loan products that can be considered high-cost mortgages under the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA). According to the senators, the CFPB guidelines went into effect in January 2014 with the CFPB failing to recognize how unique manufactured home loans can be. After the guidelines were released a large percentage of small-balance loans used for the purchase of affordable manufactured housing were classified as high cost loans. As a result, lender liabilities associated with making and obtaining HOEPA high cost mortgage has increased. This could lead to a loss of credit available to those seeking to purchase manufactured housing.

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Supervisions Show Dodd Frank Violations by Mortgage Originators

The report also found improper use of lender credit and failure to provide Goof Faith Estimate (GFE) in a timely manner as other violations. Supervision found instances where lender amounts disclosed to HUD exceeded the GFE, due to inadequate training and policies. GFEs were delayed beyond the three-business day requirement at some institutions due to policies and procedures that did not properly define when an application was received. The CFPB also found social media advertising was not monitored by institutions, a violation of Regulation Z which requires disclosures to be posted with any advertisements.

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HUD Secretary Proposes Budget for 2016

Secretary Castro said combatting homelessness is a crucial component to the budget. According to Secretary Castro living in a safe, stable home is one of the biggest predictors of a child’s success in both school and overall health. He said that’s why the HUD budget is also “proposing funding that would effectively end chronic homelessness and make significant strides in our work to end homelessness among families and youth.”

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