BofA & Countrywide Products, FNMA/FHLMC Step Up, MLS Web Standards

If you think that mortgage banking is tough, try living in Florida.

Bank of America said it expects to implement new lending guidelines after it combines operations with Countrywide Financial Corporation. In testimony before the Federal Reserve in Chicago, Bank of America unveiled new mortgage lending guidelines. The combined entity will offer retail customers the following types of first lien mortgages: Conforming loans underwritten to standard guidelines of government-sponsored enterprises and the government, including FHA and VA loans and other loans designed for low-and moderate-income borrowers; Interest-only fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) that are subject to a 10-year minimum interest-only period; and Fixed-period ARMs. They will not originate subprime mortgages, discontinue option-ARMs, and decrease the number of low documentation loans. I have not heard any new reports on correspondent or wholesale lending.

What property listings are on the web, and how are they presented? Good question. The National Association of Realtors worked out a proposal for standards with MLS Assistant, MLS Listings Inc., MLSPIN, New Jersey MLS, TREND MLS, Realtor.com-operator Move Inc., Bridge Interactive, Bainbridge, Cevado Technologies, CLRsearch, eNeighborhoods, eShowings, FBS Data Systems, Google, Homescape, Marketlinx, Oodle, Point2, PropBot, Prudential Preferred CRE, RealEstate.com, Realtracs, ThreeWide, Trulia, Vast, Yahoo and Zillow. “We are making it easier for Realtors to feed their clients’ property listings to multiple real estate sites in one format, saving them time and money.”

The super conforming pricing has been all over the map, but Freddie has agreed to make 90-day commitments to Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan and Citigroup on how much it will pay for the loans based on benchmarks in the pricing of mortgage-backed securities. Based on the current pricing plans, interest rates on conforming jumbo loans are likely to be around 0.50 to 0.75 percentage points above those on loans of $417,000 and below. A Fannie Mae spokesman had no immediate comment on whether that company planned similar arrangements. Fannie and Freddie are imposing numerous restrictions on conforming jumbo loans. For instance, Freddie won’t buy such loans in cases where the borrower’s mortgage debt exceeds 90% of the home’s appraised value or 85% in areas where house prices are falling. Freddie also says borrowers must fully document their income and assets.

“Due to current market conditions, Colonial National Mortgage will suspend wholesale lending operations in California, Nevada and Hawaii. Colonial National’s California office will close as of May 15. Our corporate underwriting center in Fort Worth, Texas will continue to process and serve our brokers in other lending states without interruption.”

Industry-wide loan applications dropped 14.2% with purchases -6.4% and refinance activity down -20.2%. Today there is little other news, although the US Treasury will sell $30 billion in 2-year notes. With the current 2-yr yielding 2.19% it is questionable how well the auction will go, although if the alternatives include “risky” stocks and “risky” mortgage securities, demand may be decent. Keep in mind that overnight Fed Funds are 2.25% and with the market expecting another rate cut to 2.0% next week. So far our friends the mortgage-backed securities are unchanged from yesterday