Fannie Mae to Start Foreclosure Process on Reverse Mortgage Defaults

…are you sure about that?

June 6th, 2010  |  by Neil Published in Reverse Mortgage Daily

Against the backdrop of a recent New York Times story about borrowers in the forward mortgage world electing to stop paying their debt – and living sometimes for years cost-free – concerns in the reverse world about prolonged defaults is drawing more attention, and some official government action.

To wit: Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM) reportedly has been reminding reverse servicers they must follow HUD guidelines regarding tax and insurance defaults for HECM customers. In the past, Fannie has elected not to have servicers follow these established guidelines – that is, beginning foreclosure when taxes, insurance or maintenance are not current – because of so-called “headline risk.”

 Now, however, servicers have been instructed to submit troubled loans to HUD to get approval to start the foreclosure process. Once approved, a demand letter is sent to the borrower(s) who has six months to cure the default. After that, the servicer must start the foreclosure process – one exception is when a borrower refuses to take necessary curative action, at which time the foreclosure process begins immediately.

“Tax and insurance defaults have gone up dramatically in the last few years,” says one servicer, who believes reactive changes now “would turn us into collection agencies.”

At the moment, the industry is waiting for HUD to issue a promised Mortgagee Letter regarding tax and insurance (T&I) defaults. An agency spokesman told RMD: “FHA is working closely with Fannie Mae and servicers of reverse mortgages to develop a plan to notify seniors of the delinquency and provide the necessary support and outreach to these seniors to find solutions to bring delinquent taxes and insurance current.”

Considering low default balances

According to Ryan LaRose, chief operating officer of Celink – a reverse mortgage servicer – an industry committee “presented HUD with a white paper awhile back that included industry recommendations for how to deal with the existing T&I default population. It included an analysis of the loan’s LTV [loan-to-value] and took into consideration those borrowers with a low default balance and put them into a ‘monitoring’ program,” according to LaRose, who is a member of that committee.

“If FHA is smart,” says another servicer, “they will approve foreclosing on high claim amounts because [if they don’t] the situation will come back to haunt us,” he warns, adding: “Fannie wants more loans assigned to HUD.” What’s missing in all this, he says, “is that the industry has no real loss mit program for seniors.”

In the aggregate, T&I defaults are relatively small. HUD’s Erica Jessup puts the current number at less than 2 percent of all reverse mortgages extant. Cheryl MacNally, national sales manager, senior products group, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, puts a finer point on those numbers: “If we have someone in T&I default for only $500, we don’t want to foreclose [especially] if they have a 700 FICO score – we don’t torture them” with foreclosure threats. However, MacNally predicted that as more full draws are taken on reverse mortgage balances, “T&I defaults will increase.”

As to the aforementioned headline risk, John LaRose, CEO of Celink, expresses concern “over the possibility of thousands of senior homeowners being placed into foreclosure by the end of the year. The timing could not be worse,” he declared, because “those who have a proclivity for making negative comments about our industry could be energized to be even more aggressive in their attacks on us,” said LaRose.

Written by Neil Morse

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A little too Late…crash happened! HUD reconsiders RESPA rule on incentives

Now if “steering” was involved…

WASHINGTON – June 4, 2010 – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is taking a closer look at the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act’s (RESPA) prohibition against the “required use” of affiliated settlement service providers. DinSFLA: They need to take a closer look if these were part of “Appraisal Fraud” & “Illegal Kickbacks”.

It violates RESPA if a consumer is required to use a particular mortgage lender, title company or other settlement service provider that’s affiliated with another business in their mortgage transaction. However, it’s less clear whether it’s a RESPA violation if it is offered as a discount or other incentive to steer them to a lender, title company, etc. DinSFLA: COERCION or not COERCE is the Question! I wonder what they would think of the Mills using their own title companies to close on their foreclosures? Any violations?

HUD is currently trying to determine if incentives violate the “required use” requirement. As part of the process, HUD published a notice about the issue and is seeking public comment.

HUD took the step because it has received a number of consumer complaints, many of which focused on a home builder that might reduce the cost of a home (by adding free construction upgrades or by discounting the home price) if the homebuyer uses the developer or builder’s affiliated mortgage lender. In some cases, the incentives may not represent true discounts if the homebuyers ultimately pay more in total loan costs.

According to HUD, consumers also say that the timing of the contract with the builder precludes them from shopping around, and the builder’s lender can then charge higher settlement costs or interest rates not competitive with non-affiliated lenders. HUD says that the steering of clients ” effectively violates” the “required use” ban in RESPA.

“It is our intent to keep an open mind on how to approach this vexing question over what is, and what is not, ‘required use,'” says David Stevens, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Housing/Federal Housing Commissioner. “Clearly, consumers are complaining that they are being presented offers they believe they can’t refuse, and are essentially being required to use certain affiliated service providers.”

HUD’s current definition of “required use” reads:

“Required use means a situation in which a person must use a particular provider of a settlement service in order to have access to some distinct service or property, and the person will pay for the settlement service of the particular provider or will pay a charge attributable, in whole or in part, to the settlement service. However, the offering of a package or (combination of settlement services) or the offering of discounts or rebates to consumers for the purchase of multiple settlement services does not constitute a required use. Any package or discount must be optional to the purchaser. The discount must be a true discount below the prices that are otherwise generally available, and must not be made up by higher costs elsewhere in the settlement process.”

HUD’s call for comments is published in the Federal Register. To view the document (PDF format), go to:http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-13350.pdf

Comments must refer to the docket number and title:

Docket No. FR–5352–A–01 RIN 2502–A178 Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA): Strengthening and Clarifying RESPA’s “Required Use” Prohibition Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

Comment due date: Sept. 1, 2010.

HUD strongly encourages people to submit comments electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal atwww.regulations.gov.

Comments can also be mailed to:

ANPR to the Regulations Division Office of General Counsel Department of Housing and Urban Development

451 7th Street, SW. Room 10276

Washington, DC 20410–0500

No FAX comments are accepted.

© 2010 Florida Realtors®

RELATED STORY:

ARE FORECLOSURE MILLS Coercing Buyers for BANK OWNED homes? ARE ALL THE MILLS?

Struggling housing markets to receive $1B in federal dollars: The HILL

Umm…look at where the funds are going…BACK TO THE BANKS!

Follow the money trail…

By Vicki Needham – 05/18/10 02:34 PM ET

Areas hardest hit by the nation’s housing crisis could get a share of up to $1 billion in reallocated federal funds.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said during a breakfast with reporters Tuesday that his department intends to create a new formula for allocating dollars from an existing program launched by the George W. Bush administration.

Funding in the Neighborhood Stabilization Program will be shifted to communities hit hardest by foreclosures, vacancy rates, falling home values and unemployment during the recession, Donovan said.

The Bush administration spread funding more broadly, with each state government receiving a base allocation of $19.6 million, Donovan said.

The reallocation could offer big benefits to states such as Nevada, California and Arizona that are among the hardest hit by the housing crisis. Donovan said the reallocation could help Las Vegas more than any other single place.

The reallocated funding will be shifted from communities that haven’t committed to projects.

The idea behind the program is to avoid blight. Much of the funding will be used to demolish or revamp vacant properties. Those properties would then be sold to new buyers.

Funds would also be used to create “land banks” to assemble, temporarily manage and dispose of foreclosed homes, Donovan said.

Funds could also be used to help some homeowners avoid foreclosure, and to help prospective low- to middle-income homebuyers with a down payment or closing costs.

“We want this to produce a quality product that will create demand,” Donovan said.

Under the program, 17,000 homes so far have been renovated. HUD estimates that more than 63,000 homes will be demolished or fixed up.

The Neighborhood Stabilization Program has received $6 billion in funding — $4 billion to improve housing and $2 billion in targeted stimulus funding, which was awarded in December, Donovan said.

Donovan said he intends to work with Congress to procure more funding for the housing program and new foreclosure counseling efforts. The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 provided $150 million for counseling to provide options for struggling homeowners.