THE BASIS POINT

Mortgage Insurance Changes, Mortgage Apps Highest in 5 Years, Fannie/Freddie New Appraisal Process

Today is a tough day for employees and companies. Any employee at work is wishing that they didn’t have to work today. They would much rather be skiing, or buying next year’s gift wrap and ribbon, or sleeping in, or running errands. And every company knows it – but those loans need to be set up for month-end funding, right?

Appraisal Process For Fannie/Freddie
Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director James B. Lockhart announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (they’re not the same company yet?) will implement a revised Home Valuation Code of Conduct effective May 1st. The Code is based on an agreement between the Enterprises, the New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and FHFA to “improve the reliability of home appraisals”. The Code applies to lenders that sell single-family mortgage loans to the Enterprises beginning May 1st. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be providing information on the Code to market participants, like you and me, in early January to address implementation questions in advance of the May 1, 2009 effective date. http://www.ofheo.gov/media/news%20releases/HVCCFinalCODE122308.pdf

Mortgage Applications Up
Did apps pick up last week? Yes they did, yours and everyone else’s. Applications surged to the highest level in over five years in the latest week, mostly due to lower rates. More lenient underwriting criteria were not cited as a reason. The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage applications, which includes both purchase and refinance loans, for the week ended December 19 soared 48%, the highest reading since the week ended July 18, 2003. Let’s hope they fund!

Mortgage Insurance Changes
Genworth Mortgage Insurance, for third party originated loans, will make the following changes for all MI applications received on or after January 17, 2009. Loans originated by a Broker Third Party Mortgage Originator “will be subject to the following Third Party Originated Lending Restrictions in addition to our standard guidelines: Maximum Loan to Value = 90%, Minimum Credit Score = 720, Occupancy = Primary Residence Only, Purpose = Purchase, Property Type = 1 Unit – Single Family Dwelling, Manufactured Home, Condominium, or Co-op Unit, Ineligible in Declining/Distressed Markets.” Genworth defines a Broker Third Party Origination as “a loan for which any of the loan origination or processing functions, including taking the loan application and ordering documents, and for which all underwriting and final loan approval are performed by an entity other than the entity closing, funding or ordering the MI (the Insured).”

Markets Quiet
Market-wise, there is little to report, after closing early on Wednesday, all of the markets were closed yesterday. Today there is no scheduled economic news, and the rates reflect it: mortgages are unchanged in price from Wednesday afternoon, and the 10-yr sits at 2.19%.

Daily Humor
Signs that you’re at a “lame” New Year’s Eve party:

The “Party Hats” look suspiciously like stolen traffic cones.

There’s a “Happy 2002” sticker on the packet of shrimp you’ve been eating all night.

It’s January 6th.

Prison regulations require lights out at 10:00PM.

The guests have decided to start the midnight countdown at 10,000.

At midnight everyone gathers around to watch your Uncle Earl’s pants drop.

You hear a guy doing a count down before using the bathroom.

The ‘Champagne’ tastes suspiciously like apple juice mixed with Alka Seltzer.