As rumored, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) is proposing to revise its general qualified mortgage definition by adopting a loan pricing test. Specifically, under the proposal, a residential mortgage loan would not constitute a qualified mortgage (“QM”) if its annual percentage rate (“APR”) exceeds the average prime offer rate (“APOR”) by 200 or more

In a new era of double-digit unemployment resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be tough for a mortgage lender to predict the amount and stability of someone’s income in order to determine qualification for a home loan. Neither past nor even present levels of income may be reliable indicators of income levels going forward,

Today, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (“FHFA”) announced an eagerly awaited policy allowing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the “Agencies”) to address one aspect of the liquidity crisis for mortgage servicers facing mounting advance obligations due to forbearances. Going forward, once a servicer of single-family mortgage loans pooled into an Agency mortgage-backed security has advanced four months of missed payments on a loan in forbearance, it will have no further obligation to advance scheduled payments of principal and interest.[1] The FHFA reports that this applies to all Agency servicers.

This answers one of the four main questions that servicers have asked about forbearance required under the CARES Act in the context of Agency servicing advances. Whether a servicer has to advance for forborne payments is the first question. If so, for how long, is the second question. Third, when will a servicer be reimbursed by the Agencies for such advances. Last, will the Agencies, directly or through the Federal Reserve Board or Department of Treasury, provide a liquidity facility or financing for required advances?
Continue Reading Fannie and Freddie to Relax Servicer Advance Requirements for Loans in Forbearance

Any day now, maybe even today, Ginnie Mae will announce the details on its Pass-Through Assistance Program (“PTAP”), through which Ginnie Mae will provide a liquidity facility for issuers that need help meeting their obligation as issuers to pass-through payments of regularly scheduled payments of principal and interest, regardless of whether the loans are subject to forbearance.  While quickly trying to finalize PTAP program documents, on Monday April 7th, Ginnie Mae announced that it would recognize servicing advance financing facilities under its Acknowledgement Agreement. Previously, Ginnie Mae would not recognize a servicing advance receivable as  an independent component of mortgage servicing rights related to loans pooled into Ginnie Mae securities (“MSRs”).  This new recognition improves the ability of servicers to finance a valuable income stream, which has proven increasingly costly as the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly challenged liquidity in the housing market. But this recognition comes with limitations, which we detail below.

BACKGROUND

Like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae permits its servicers, called “issuers,” to grant a security interest in their MSRs to secure a commercial loan. Each also used its version of a master form Acknowledgment Agreement to spell out the relative rights and obligations of the servicer, the secured creditor and Ginnie Mae. Unlike Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, however, Ginnie Mae does not permit a servicer to grant a security interest in its MSRs to one secured creditor and a security interest in its servicing advance receivables to another; only one Acknowledgment Agreement by servicer is permitted by Ginnie Mae.

This difference in treatment is in part due to the fact that, unlike Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae does not itself reimburse servicers for advances. Servicers instead must instead look to subsequent mortgagor payments and mortgage insurance and guaranty proceeds on the underlying pooled mortgage loans. Moreover, a secured creditor is afforded a very “skinny” cure right, if a Ginnie Mae servicer defaults in its pass-through obligations. If the secured creditor fails to cure the monetary default (within one business day), its security interest is automatically extinguished. Ginnie Mae will neither reimburse the secured creditor for its outstanding debt, either directly or indirectly though net sales proceeds, nor require the successor servicer to remit to the secured creditor reimbursement of servicing advances as and when received.


Continue Reading Modest Improvements: Ginnie Mae’s Servicing Advance Facility Recognition