Home >> Tag Archives: Top Stories of 2011

Tag Archives: Top Stories of 2011

Fannie, Freddie Release New HARP 2.0 Guidelines

Freddie

The same day that lawmakers deluged the GSEs and their regulator with criticism, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac finally released guidelines Tuesday for lenders and servicers about modifications to the Home Affordable Refinance Program. The Obama administration ended weeks of speculation when it announced the modifications ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô specific to HARP 2.0, as dubbed by the media ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô in October. New guidelines effectively took lenders and servicers off the hook by nixing their legal culpability for original loans before homeowners refinance with the GSEs.

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Feds Sue Allied Home Mortgage, Alleging $834M Fraud

Prosecutors slapped Allied Home Mortgage Capital Corp. with a lawsuit Tuesday, seeking to recoup $834 million in bad claims from two executives for their alleged roles in bilking the government over the course of a decade. The complaint accused president and CEO Jim Hodge and EVP Jeanne Stell of violating federal law by knowingly misrepresenting mortgages to authorities, failing to keep up with quality control guidelines, and originating federally insured loans at 600 unapproved branch offices.

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Nation’s Big Four Banks Sign Up for HARP Expansion

The nation's four biggest mortgage lenders recently signed up for modifications to the Home Affordable Refinance Program, adding credibility to a mass refinance opportunity that met with cheers and criticism this week. The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced this week that it would lift the 125-percent loan-to-value ratio for mortgages, do away with risk-based fees for borrowers with short-term loans, and extend the lifetime of the program until 2013. B of A, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo all came forward.

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Obama Refi Proposal Takes Shape in HARP Changes

Federal regulators announced their intentions Monday to expand the Home Affordable Refinance Program available via Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Among other modifications, the FHFA said it plans to eliminate a number of risk-based fees for short-term mortgage borrowers, take off the 125-percent loan-to-value ratio for loans guaranteed by the GSEs, and void requirements for new property appraisals in lieu of automated estimates. Market watchers around the industry offered reactions that ranged from skepticism to optimism.

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Senate Passes Bill to Raise Conforming Loan Limits

A bill squeaked by the Senate Thursday that would reverse lower limits for conforming loans backed by the federal government and reinstate the $729,750 threshold until 2013. Lawmakers adopted the amendment to a federal spending measure by a count of 60 to 38, giving backers of the bill the supermajority needed to avoid wrangling over the issue. Multiple news outlets reported that Congress had allowed the higher limits for conforming loans to ease in October despite a massive lobbying effort by companies and trade groups.

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Lawmakers Press Officials Over Mass Refinance Program

Sixteen lawmakers from both parties inked their names to a widely circulated letter Wednesday that called for the implementation of a massive refinance program first proposed by President Barack Obama. Addressing several high-ranking officials, the bipartisan group pressed in the letter for the elimination loan-to-value ratio caps, risk-based loan fees, and barriers like second lien holders. Supporters say an expanded refi program would allow for an unprecedented surge in refinancing activity.

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AppraiserLoft Closes Amid Rumors, Departures

Mortgage appraisal company AppraiserLoft has closed its doors following numerous executive departures, rumors of non-payment to appraisers, and an ongoing lawsuit brought against the company's CEO regarding alleged activities unrelated to the company. According to numerous trade publications, AppraiserLoft made employees aware of the shutdown last week in advance of its official closure. Current clients are instructed to contact the company via its help-desk e-mail account.

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Scam Artist Sting Successful in South Florida

The South Florida mortgage banking community is immersed in scandal, as a result of four indictments released this week by the U.S. Attorney├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós Office in Miami, Florida. The separate filings target 27 individuals who are accused of diverse fraud schemes waged against lenders and homeowners in the region. Charges encompass more than $30 million in faulty mortgage loans, plus mail fraud, insurance fraud, and arson. Twenty-five of the 27 indicted individuals are in custody, and each could ultimately face up to 20 years in jail.

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Mortgage Rates Fall on Debt-Deal News

Market worries cooled Monday as news reports confirmed a tentative debt-ceiling deal by public officials Sunday, a last-minute agreement that would avert the next financial crisis predicted by economists. In response to the possible deal, mortgage rates stepped down from nominal highs from last week. According to Headline News, Bank of America reported that 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 4.37 percent, down several basis-points from last week. Fellow mortgage giant Wells Fargo yielded 30-year loans at 4.50 percent.

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12 Mortgage Fraud Cases, Over $12M in Losses

Twelve defendants appeared in court around the country this week to answer for charges related to mortgage fraud, conspiracy to commit mortgage fraud, and making false information to financial institutions, among others. The estimated combined losses for lenders and families: some $12.4 million. Unaccounted-for: the number of delayed dreams, shattered finances, and lives adversely impacted by the crimes, alleged and otherwise. Several news agencies reported the news.

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