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Fitch Ratings Knocks Down Litton’s Servicer Ratings

Fitch Ratings downgraded mortgage servicer ratings for Litton Loan Servicing LLP following Litton's acquisition by Ocwen Financial Corp. The agency cut Litton's product servicer ratings in a number of categories, dropping them from RPS1 to RPS3. In addition, Litton's servicer rating for manufactured housing product dropped to RPS3 from RPS2, and its residential special servicer rating fell to RSS3 from RPS1. These drops illustrate a fall from Fitch's highest standards of servicing to average. The ratings downgrade comes in light of Ocwen's acquisition of Litton last year.

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Mortgage Rates Remain Near Record Lows as Europe Wavers

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hovered at 3.63 percent this week, up from record lows last week, with debt crises in Europe continuing to scare investors and drag down prospects for a steady economic recovery. Real estate Web site Zillow found the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage down to 3.63 percent, up from 3.59 percent last week. The 15-year home loan averaged 2.93 percent, while rates for 5-year and 1-year adjustable-rate mortgages reached 2.54 percent. Europe remains a sore spot for the economic recovery.

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Prices for Existing Homes See Strongest Gains in Six Years

Existing-home sales rose to 4.62 million at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in April from a downwardly revised March rate of 4.47 million, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday. Economists had forecast the April sales pace would be 4.66 million. The median price of an existing home climbed 10 percent to $177,400 in April 2011, the strongest year-to-year gain since January 2006. The median price in April reached its highest level since July 2010 when it was $182,100. For-sale homes rose to 2.54 million in April.

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Group: Housing Finds Sustainable Recovery Amid Threats

In its latest monthly report released Monday, Capital Economics painted a positive picture of the housing market, insisting the market has moved from bottoming-out to recovering. To those wondering whether Capital Economics' positive prophesies are merely a mirage soon to be dispersed much like the short-lived positive movement the market experienced in 2009 and 2010, the analytics firm pointed out a substantial difference between what occurred in 2009-2010 and what is occurring today.

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Credit Unions Originate Record Number of Mortgages

First-lien home loans helped move credit unions to set new records with loan originations over the first quarter. Callahan & Associates, a Washington, D.C.-based law firm, said Monday that first mortgage originations reached $26 billion by the end of the quarter, accounting for 36 percent of originations. Credit unions reportedly originated 160,746 first-lien loans, with mortgages averaging $161,549. Consumer loan originations ticked up 16.6 percent to reach $39 billion quarter-over-quarter but fell year-over-year.

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Fitch: G-SIFIs Need to Raise $566B Ahead of Basel III

Fitch Ratings published a report Thursday estimating that 29 global systemically important financial institutions may need to raise about $566 billion in common equity in order to satisfy new Basel III capital rules by the end of 2018. The $566 billion figure reflects a 23 percent increase relative to the institutions├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ó aggregate common equity of $2.5 trillion. Though the new Basil III rules will not be implemented until 2018, Fitch noted that the global banks will likely face market and supervisory pressure to meet those targets before then.

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Mortgage Builder Acquires GCC Servicing Systems

Loan origination software provider Mortgage Builder announced Tuesday that it has reached an agreement to acquire GCC Servicing Systems, a leading loan servicing software provider. GCC is the creator a G/Serv, a mortgage servicing software that automates servicing administration function and is commonly used among mid-tier lenders and mortgage companies, a market sector it shares with Mortgage Builder. The acquisition of GCC will allow Mortgage Builder to offer a new platform for lenders.

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Fannie Mae Forecasts ‘Sluggish’ Growth in 2012

Despite some slowdown in housing activity at the end of the first quarter, Fannie Mae projects that home sales will rise and the economy will continue to grow in 2012. Though the first quarter of the year saw substantial housing activity compared to last year, Fannie Mae's internal think tank noticed a drop in momentum late in the quarter. According to the group, this drop may be mirroring many economic indicators and may be a result of the year's unusually warm weather pulling activity slightly forward. Economic growth is at 2.2 percent.

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NTC Offers Support, Resources to Congress

Lawmakers came together with officers of Nationwide Title Clearing to discuss multiple issues in today's residential mortgage industry. In a company statement, NTC said that it hoped to offer the company's support as a resource as members of Congress strive to create industry-wide best practices.

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Bank of the West Touts Rise in Refinance Applications

HARP 2.0 is stimulating an uptick in mortgage applications for Bank of the West. The financial institution recently reported notable increases in loan applications during April as homeowners move to capitalize on the government's enhancements to the refinancing initiative. he California-based bank is currently predicting that roughly 20 percent of its loan volume for 2012 will come from refinancing borrowers taking advantage of HARP 2.0. Bank of the West has been savvy in its pursuit of homeowners interested in refinancing.

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