Sunday, March 08, 2009

Rising EPDs on FHA Loans

by Calculated Risk on 3/08/2009 08:50:00 AM

The Washington Post has an article on Early Payment Defaults (EPD) for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans.

From the WaPo: More FHA-Backed Mortgages Go Bad Without a Single Payment

Many borrowers are defaulting as quickly as they take out the loans. In the past year alone, the number of borrowers who failed to make more than a single payment before defaulting on FHA-backed mortgages has nearly tripled, far outpacing the agency's overall growth in new loans, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal data.

Many industry experts attribute the jump in these instant defaults to factors that include the weak economy, lax scrutiny of prospective borrowers and most notably, foul play among unscrupulous lenders looking to make a quick buck.

If a loan "is going into default immediately, it clearly suggests impropriety and fraudulent activity," said Kenneth Donohue, the inspector general of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which includes the FHA.
...
More than 9,200 of the loans insured by the FHA in the past two years have gone into default after no or only one payment, according to the Post analysis.
...
The agency's share of the mortgage market is up from 2 percent three years ago to nearly a third of the mortgages now made ...

Congress has substantially increased the amount a homeowner can borrow on an FHA loan in pricey areas, thrusting the agency into markets it was previously shut out of, such as California, where plunging home prices have made people more vulnerable to foreclosure. Moreover, lawmakers last year put the FHA in charge of a program created to address the roots of the financial crisis by helping delinquent borrowers refinance into new mortgages.
The authors don't mention the term "Downpayment Assistance Programs" (DAPs), but they do provide an example of a builder writing zero down loans. With DAPs the seller gives the buyer the downpayment through a charity to avoid the FHA rules on downpayments - and DAPs led to significantly higher defaults - and might be a bigger contributor to EPDs than the FHA's "HOPE for Homeowners" refinance plan for borrowers in trouble. I'd like to see a breakdown of EPDs between DAPs, HOPE, and loans made in high priced areas.