Here is a roundup of recent news in the housing finance industry, including the unveiling of USMI’s new logo to commemorate 60 years of making homeownership possible through private mortgage insurance and housing policy developments in Congress and in the executive branch.
- The private mortgage insurance industry turns 60. USMI unveiled its new logo to commemorate 60 years of private mortgage insurance (MI) making homeownership possible for millions of Americans. Since 1957, private MI has served as a reliable and affordable method of expanding homeownership, while simultaneously protecting American taxpayers and the government from exposure to mortgage credit risk. Stay tuned for more activities!
- USMI and others send letter to Congress on g-fees. Scotsman Guide reported on a letter sent by USMI and 13 other industry trade groups to Reps. Mark Sanford (R-SC) and Brad Sherman (D-CA) on a bill they introduced to ensure that guarantee fees (g-fees) charged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the “GSEs”) are used solely to insure against the credit risk of home mortgages. In 2016, the mortgage finance industry successfully fought off a legislative proposal to use g-fees collected by the GSEs to fund highway projects. The letter reads: “G-fees are a critical risk management tool used by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to protect against losses from loans that default. Increasing g-fees for other purposes imposes an unjustified burden on homeowners who would pay for any increase through higher monthly payments for the life of their loan. … whenever Congress has considered using g-fees to cover the cost of programs unrelated to housing, we’ve informed lawmakers that homeownership cannot, and must not, be used as the nation’s piggybank. By preventing g-fees from being scored as a funding offset, H.R. 916 gives lawmakers a vital tool to prevent homeowners from footing the bill for unrelated spending. We are grateful to you for introducing this bipartisan legislation and urge its consideration by the House.”
- Carson confirmed as HUD Secretary. On March 2, Dr. Ben Carson was confirmed as the new Secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). USMI released a statement congratulating Secretary Carson on his confirmation and welcoming the opportunity to work with the Secretary and his team to promote a stronger and more equitable mortgage finance system, as well as an expanded role for private capital.
- Investopedia has good video explaining MI. USMI’s website features a new video courtesy of Investopedia to help people better understand what private MI is and how it helps people who cannot afford a 20 percent down payment to buy a home. To watch the video, click here.
USMI Statement on Senate Confirmation of Ben Carson as HUD Secretary
WASHINGTON — Lindsey Johnson, President and Executive Director of the U.S. Mortgage Insurers (USMI), today issued the following statement on the United States Senate confirmation of Ben Carson as Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD):
“USMI congratulates Secretary Carson on his Senate confirmation to lead the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a critical federal agency that is a component of the more than $10 trillion U.S. single-family outstanding mortgage debt market. We look forward to collaborating with Secretary Carson and HUD on a comprehensive and coordinated housing policy to promote a stronger and more equitable mortgage finance system that serves American taxpayers, homebuyers and lenders.
“The U.S. mortgage insurance industry welcomes Secretary Carson’s statements that more private capital needs to be brought into the mortgage market and USMI members stand ready to do more, building on the industry’s 60-year history as an effective and time-tested source of credit loss protection. Private MI shields the government and taxpayers from mortgage-related risks in the U.S. housing market that is available during both good and bad housing market cycles.
“In the past six decades, private capital in the form of MI has helped more than 25 million families get into homes; in 2016 alone, MI helped nearly 830,000 families purchase or refinance homes – nearly 50 percent of whom were first-time homebuyers. We look forward to working with Secretary Carson and his team to continue serving American families while also reducing risk to taxpayers and the government.”
U.S. Mortgage Insurers (USMI) is dedicated to a housing finance system backed by private capital that enables access to housing finance for borrowers while protecting taxpayers. Mortgage insurance offers an effective way to make mortgage credit available to more people. USMI is ready to help build the future of homeownership. Learn more at www.usmi.org.
Here is a roundup of news surrounding recent developments in President-elect Donald Trump’s housing policy, key legislative proposals and also reports on the benefits of front-end credit risk sharing with deep cover mortgage insurance, and a new USMI blog post on unnecessary upfront risk fees (loan-level price adjustments) imposed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac:
- Nominee for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Announced. Earlier this week, President-elect Donald Trump announced that he would nominate Dr. Ben Carson as his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
- GSE Credit Risk Transfer Legislation Introduced in Congress. HousingWire and American Banker report that on December 8 Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Gwen Moore (D-Wisc.) introduced a new bill in the House of Representatives that would require the GSEs to offload more credit risk onto the private sector. The Taxpayer Protections and Market Access for Mortgage Finance Act of 2016 (H.R. 6487) seeks to require Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSEs) to transfer more credit risk through front-end credit risk transfer (CRT) transactions to mitigate losses and risks to taxpayers and the federal government. In addition to other provisions, H.R. 6487 calls for a five-year pilot program to increase the amount of risk transferred away from the government before it reaches the GSEs’ balance sheets by using front-end CRT with private mortgage insurance (MI). This front-end MI-based CRT method is consistent with recommendations to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) from USMI and others, and builds upon the current, effective use of private mortgage insurance in the GSE system that has been in practice for decades.
- Treasury Secretary Nominee Calls for GSEs to Exit Conservatorship. In recent comments, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, called for the GSEs to exit conservatorship, adding that government ownership of the companies displaces private capital in the housing finance system and that the Trump administration “will get it done reasonably fast.” President-elect Trump’s transition team noted that the need to structurally reform the GSEs has bipartisan agreement.
- Housing Expert Extols Benefits of Front-End Credit Risk Transfer and Deeper Cover Mortgage Insurance. In a recent article, Faith Schwartz, a housing finance policy expert who has worked extensively with the federal government in the US housing market, wrote on the benefits of front-end credit risk transfer (CRT), including through the use of deeper cover mortgage insurance (MI). Schwartz notes that front-end CRT and deeper cover MI allow for greater transparency, more options in a counter-cyclical volatile market, inclusive institutional partners and borrower process, and allows the GSEs to reach their goals in de-risking their credit guarantee. Schwartz concludes her article by saying: “In summary, whether it is recourse to a lending institution or participation in the front-end MI cost structure, pricing this risk at origination will continue to bring forward price discovery and transparency. This means the consumer and lender will be closer to the true credit costs of origination. With experience pricing and executing on CRT, it may become clearer where the differential cost of credit lies. The additional impact of driving more front-end CRT will be scalability and less process on the back-end for the GSE’s. By leveraging the front-end model, GSE’s will reach more borrowers and utilize a wider array of lending partners through this process.”
- Consumer and Civil Rights Groups Raise Concerns about LLPAs. The MReport writes that 21 groups sent a letter to FHFA Director Mel Watt and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on December 8 “expressing concern that too many creditworthy low- and moderate-income borrowers are being denied access to mortgage credit.” These groups state that “The increase in the Enterprises’ guarantee fees and risk-based pricing (LLPAs) has had a number of effects to varying degrees that some predicted, including more banks are holding fixed-rate loans on portfolio, more financing of lower-credit score borrowers by the Federal Housing Administration, and fewer originations to the underserved overall.”
- ICYMI: Lindsey Johnson writes on Loan-Level Price Adjustments (LLPAs). In a new blog post, USMI President Lindsey Johnson highlights the need for the reduction or elimination of upfront risk fees (LLPAs) based on a borrower’s credit score and down payment. In the blog, Johnson explains how this risk is already protected by private mortgage insurance, paid for by the homeowner. LLPAs, which were put in place in 2008, are increasingly unnecessary following the enactment of stronger underwriting standards for privately insured mortgages and in essence double charge a borrower for the same risk. Johnson encourages the FHFA and the GSEs to continue to work to manage risk, however LLPAs have become arbitrary fees that make homeownership more expensive or puts homeownership out of reach for many middle and lower income homebuyers. USMI was part of a group of 25 organizations that wrote a letter to FHFA Director Mel Watt in June calling for FHFA and the GSEs to reduce to eliminate LLPAs.