AmTrust Bankrupt, Dubai Update, Holiday Shopping, MBS Volume

I usually try to keep my opinions out the daily commentary. But I am really becoming irked by the press. One day they complain about our industry having foreclosure problems and the credit crisis here in the US and in the world. And then the next day they complain about the declining rate of mortgage approvals and fewer people qualifying for home loans in the US. And then on the third day they will have some story about how it makes sense for a borrower to walk away from their home loan obligation. Geez! (I’d read on the web that one guy, who was forcefully complaining about his parking ticket in front of his dad, got this response from the father: ” Just pay the parking ticket. Don’t be so outraged. You’re not a freedom fighter in the civil rights movement. You double parked.”)

FHA Hits LendAmerica
Besides worrying about capital reserves and RESPA, the FHA has not been idle. The FHA imposed $512,000 in penalties on Lend America for allegedly violating FHA requirements, including failing to document borrowers’ income and creditworthiness, and for submitting false certifications. The move prohibits the company, owned by Ideal Mortgage Bankers, from making new mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration or issuing mortgage-backed securities insured by Ginnie Mae. No word yet on a counter action by Lend America, based in Long Island.

AmTrust Bankrupt
The parent company of AmTrust Bank (AmTrust Financial – Cleveland) has filed for bankruptcy, but the filing does not include the bank’s 66 branches in Northeast Ohio, Florida and Arizona. All of AmTrust Bank’s branches are open as normal, the company said. The request for bankruptcy protection, filed in Cleveland, comes less than two weeks after its third-quarter financial report showed its financial strength fell nearly in half in a year when regulators ordered the bank to improve its finances. Instead, the numbers went the other way.

How has our friend the Fed been lately in buying production (old and new)? For the week ending on November 25th, the Federal Reserve’s MBS program was a net buyer of $16 billion agency MBS, which was the same as the previous week. The YTD purchases of agency MBS is now at $1,039 billion.

Dubai Credit Crunch
Overseas, the Dubai situation continues to be watched carefully. Dubai World, it seems, has $59 billion of debt out of $80 billion in total Dubai debt. In a world-wide economic crisis, can a struggling borrower (with no oil) missing their payments be a shock? One trader asked, “Did S&P and the creditors really not see this coming?” The trader went on to liken this situation to the speculative overbuilding/overcapacity in Las Vegas and Phoenix.

Holiday Shopping and MBS Buys
Yesterday it was estimated that originators sold about $2 billion of new production (so if the Fed is buying $3 billion a day…), and mortgage prices are pretty much tracking the 5-yr Treasury note’s price movement. Analysts are pouring over the shopping numbers. At this point it seems that there were 13% more shoppers but each shopper spent 8% less than last year. And online shopping continues to grow – why battle the crowds to buy Uncle Milton’s Ant Farm?

Market/Economy Update
We had a little surprise from the Chicago Purchasing Manager’s Index, announced on Monday, which shot up expectedly to its highest level in over a year. Sales were up and inventories were down, and “New Orders” were at their highest level since May 2007. Today we have three 10AM EST numbers. (Not to be confused with the typically-more-important 8:30AM EST numbers.) We have Construction Spending, the ISM Services survey, and Pending Home Sales. Ahead of those it was quiet overnight, and we find the 10-yr at 3.22% and mortgages roughly unchanged from Monday afternoon.

Lender Guideline Roundup
Last week Bank of America Home Loan correspondent’s channel told patrons that effective the day before Thanksgiving the maximum total price, for Conventional and Government loans, will increase for all loan programs to 105.00 for Best Efforts and Mandatory locks. (If they’re paying 105, originators had better hope that the loan stays on BofA’s books for a while!)

SunTrust reminded clients that “the deadline for loans currently in the pipeline that reflect DU Refi Plus eligibility; but will close as a ‘Standard Limited Cash Out Refinance (Rate/Term)’ transaction must have been locked by November 18, 2009 (instead of November 16, 2009) and delivered to SunTrust BY December 31, 2009. Lock-in extensions and relocks will not be granted.” And loans delivered after December 31 with DU Refi Plus eligibility and processed as a Standard Limited Cash-out Refinance (Rate/Term) transaction, must be submitted to DU exercising the Opt Out Option. Lock-in extensions and relocks will not be granted.

Wells Fargo’s wholesale group announced that their “External Contract Underwriting” will be discontinued on 12/15, and any of these loans in process should be received by Wells by 12/14. (They will continue to allow this type of loan for enhanced warehouse transactions.) They also reminded clients of their maximum DTI ratio requirements (no exceptions please): “For all conventional conforming loans, the DTI cannot exceed: 41.00% for LTVs greater than 80%, or 45.00% for LTVs less than or equal to 80%.” Lastly, in spite of HUD holding off taking the hard line on enforcing the RESPA changes starting 1/1, Wells’ wholesale (and thus their clients) is staying with the effective date.

Flagstar’s clients, and most everyone else, know that during the weekend of December 12, 2009, Fannie Mae will implement Desktop Underwriter (DU) Version 8.0. New requirements will apply to loans on the Fannie Mae High Balance Program, and their eligibility grid, lock deadline and delivery requirements have been updated. “Flag’s” clients should know that Fannie High Balance loans that do not meet the new requirements must be locked on or before 12/11, broker loans must be closed and funded by 2/26, and correspondent loans must be delivered and purchased by 2/26 also.

Daily Humor
They were bound to come…

Tiger Woods is so rich that he owns lots of expensive cars. Now he has a hole in one.
What’s the difference between a car and a golf ball? Tiger can drive a ball 400 yards.
Tiger Woods wasn’t seriously injured in the crash, but he’s still below par.
What were Tiger Woods and his wife doing out at 2.30 in the morning? They went clubbing.
Tiger Woods crashed into a fire hydrant and a tree. He couldn’t decide between a wood and an iron.
Perhaps Tiger should be using a driver?
This is the first time Tiger’s ever failed to drive 300 yards.
After a wayward drive, Tiger Woods found water before nestling behind a tree
Apparently, the only person who can beat Tiger Woods with a golf club is his wife.

Apparently, Tiger admitted this crash was the closest shave he’s ever had. So Gillette has dropped his contract.