Thursday, February 09, 2012

Policy Updates: Mortgage Settlement Reached, Greek politicians agree on Debt Deal

by Bill McBride on 2/09/2012 10:28:00 AM

Back in January I listed several policies and agreements that were expected soon.

There were several key announcements today:

• From the WSJ: U.S., Banks Agree on Foreclosure Pact

The agreement covers five banks: Ally Financial Inc., Bank of America Corp.,Citigroup Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., and Wells Fargo & Co. Together, the five handle payments on 55% of all outstanding home loans ...

The agreement will include at least 49 states, and officials were finalizing a separate accord with one remaining holdout, Oklahoma.
Following this agreement, I expect the lenders to start reducing the foreclosure backlog. This will be a combination of more modifications (with principal reductions) and more foreclosures. In some states - especially judicial states like New York and Florida - this will probably lead to more REO sales (lender Real Estate Owned), but overall I don't think there will be a large flood of REOs on the market.

Here is the press release from the Dept of Justice: Federal Government and State Attorneys General Reach $25 Billion Agreement with Five Largest Mortgage Servicers to Address Mortgage Loan Servicing and Foreclosure Abuses

• From the WSJ: Greek Political Leaders Reach Austerity Deal
Leaders of political parties backing Greece's caretaker government agreed Thursday on an austerity package to comply with demands set by international creditors for another bailout deal ... Euro-zone finance ministers were set to meet here late Thursday to take stock of the latest political talks in Athens to decide whether to push ahead with new aid for Greece.
It seems likely that Greece will receive another round of financing.

• And on the ECB's 3 year Long Term Refinancing Operation (LTRO) from the Financial Times Alphaville: Here be Draghi, on ECB collateral
RTRS-DRAGHI-NEW COLLATERAL RULES WILL BE MORE RISKY

RTRS-DRAGHI=BUT RISK IS BEING MANAGED VERY WELL

RTRS-ECB’S DRAGHI – HAIRCUTS WILL REDUCE NEW COLLATERAL BY TWO-THIRDS

RTRS-ECB’s DRAGHI – EXPECT SUBSTANTIAL TAKEUP IN SECOND 3-YR TENDER, AROUND SAME AS DEC ONE
This means more collateral will be acceptable for the second LTRO on Feb 29th. The first 3 year LTRO was for €489 billion, and the second one could be over €1 trillion.

A few other policies to come:

• A surge in refinance activity in March. Not a new policy - this was announced last October when the FHFA made changes to Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) to allow more homeowners with GSE loans and with negative or near negative equity - and who are current on their mortgages - to refinance into lower interest rate loans. But as I mentioned in the January post, the elimination of Reps and warrants for the original loans applies to Desktop Underwriter® (DU) and that will not be updated until March.

• Extension of payroll tax cut and extended unemployment benefits: The two month extension expires Feb 29th, and I expect these two programs will be extended through the end of the year.

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