Monday, October 20, 2014

FHFA Director Watt: Reps and Warrants to be Clarified in Coming Weeks, "sensible and responsible guidelines" for Lower Downpayments

by Calculated Risk on 10/20/2014 02:56:00 PM

From FHFA Director Melvin Watt: Prepared Remarks of Melvin L. Watt, Director, FHFA, At the Mortgage Bankers Association Annual Convention

On lower downpayments:

To increase access for creditworthy but lower-wealth borrowers, FHFA is also working with the Enterprises to develop sensible and responsible guidelines for mortgages with loan-to-value ratios between 95 and 97 percent. Through these revised guidelines, we believe that the Enterprises will be able to responsibly serve a targeted segment of creditworthy borrowers with lower-down payment mortgages by taking into account “compensating factors.” While this is a much more narrow effort than our work on the Representation and Warranty Framework, it is yet another much needed piece to the broader access to credit puzzle. Further details about these new guidelines will be available in the coming weeks as we continue to advance FHFA’s mission of ensuring safety, soundness and liquidity in the housing finance markets.
On Reps and Warrants:
We know that the Representation and Warranty Framework did not provide enough clarity to enable lenders to understand when Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac would exercise their remedy to require repurchase of a loan. And, we know that this issue has contributed to lenders imposing credit overlays that drive up the cost of lending and also restrict lending to borrowers with less than perfect credit scores or with less conventional financial situations.

To address this problem, FHFA and the Enterprises have worked to revise the Framework to ensure that it provides clear rules of the road that allow lenders to manage their risk and lend throughout the Enterprises’ credit box. These revisions are consistent with our broader efforts to place more emphasis on upfront quality control reviews and other risk management practices that provide feedback on the quality of loans delivered to the Enterprises earlier in the process.
...
As I committed FHFA to do when I announced these refinements in May, we have continued to engage in an ongoing process to address the issue of life-of-loan exclusions. Life-of-loan exclusions are designed to protect Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from instances of fraud or other significant noncompliance, and, as a result, they allow the Enterprises to require lenders to repurchase loans at any point during the term of the loan. The current life-of-loan exclusions are open-ended and make it difficult for a lender to predict when, or if, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac will apply one of them.

So, we have continued to address this issue, and I can report that we have reached an agreement in principle on how to clarify and define the life-of-loan exclusions. These changes are a significant step forward that will result in a better Representation and Warranty Framework and facilitate market liquidity without compromising the safety and soundness of the Enterprises.

First, we are more clearly defining the life-of-loan exclusions, so lenders will know what they are and when they apply to loans that have otherwise obtained repurchase relief. These exclusions fall into six categories: 1) misrepresentations, misstatements and omissions; 2) data inaccuracies; 3) charter compliance issues; 4) first-lien priority and title matters; 5) legal compliance violations; and 6) unacceptable mortgage products.

Second, for loans that have already earned repurchase relief, we are clarifying that only life-of-loan exclusions can trigger a repurchase under the Framework. This is a straightforward clarification, but one that we believe will reduce confusion and risks to lenders.

The Enterprises will provide details about the updated definitions for each life-of-loan exclusion in the coming weeks ...
emphasis added