Statement: FHFA’s Updates to Private Mortgage Insurers’ Eligibility Requirements (PMIERs)
WASHINGTON — U.S. Mortgage Insurers (USMI) President Lindsey Johnson issued the following statement on the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) newly released changes to its Private Mortgage Insurer Eligibility Requirements (PMIERS). PMIERS are a set of requirements implemented in 2015 for private mortgage insurance companies to be approved to insure loans acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac:
“The existing robust capital and operational standards brought by PMIERS have provided exactly what Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the GSEs) and other market participants sought in the role of private mortgage insurers (MI)—greater confidence as permanent, dedicated sources of first loss credit risk protection and as trusted ‘second sets of eyes’ to protect long-term value in the housing finance system. PMIERs, which are the set of requirements for mortgage insurers to be approved to insure loans acquired by the GSEs, were developed after a public notice and comment period that the FHFA initiated in 2014. Since being implemented in 2015, PMIERs nearly doubled the amount of capital each mortgage insurer is required to hold, resulting in a minimum MI level of capital assets over 7 percent of risk insured. USMI member companies have maintained levels significantly over the PMIERs requirements, with each company holding millions in excess—and USMI members collectively holding nearly $2.6 billion in excess of these requirements.
“USMI members appreciate the opportunity to provide feedback to the GSEs and FHFA on proposed changes and the incremental improvements made in PMIERs 2.0. We look forward to continuing to work with the GSEs and FHFA in the future to build upon the strong credit enhancement that the mortgage insurance industry provides to protect lenders, the GSEs, and taxpayers. As publicly traded companies, private MIs have a keen interest in ensuring that the process for the development of any changes to PMIERs is transparent and that proposed changes are based on an econometric rationale that can be modeled and explained to investors, industry stakeholders and, importantly, to borrowers. Further, as the only GSE counterparties that have gone through a public notice and comment period for capital and operational requirements when PMIERs were initially developed and implemented, and that are currently transparent to all market participants and stakeholders, there should be greater consistency in the development and application of these same or equivalent capital standards for all sources of credit enhancement who take the same credit risk. This consistency will better ensure GSE counterparties are well capitalized, highly-regulated, are able to protect taxpayers through different market cycles, and will promote a more level playing field.
“PMIERs reflect that today’s MIs are highly capitalized, reliable counterparties. The MI industry provided significant protection against mortgage-related credit risk through the last financial crisis—paying more than $50 billion in claims through the downturn—before PMIERs were implemented. Today, the industry is on much better footing to further protect taxpayers during the next downturn.
“For more than 60 years, private MI has helped more than 30 million families qualify for a mortgage by bridging the gap between the down payment and home financing. In 2017 alone, MI helped more than one million borrowers safely purchase or refinance a mortgage. Today, the MI industry is stronger than it has ever been, and the requirements under PMIERs makes the industry even better poised to protect the GSEs and American taxpayers from mortgage credit risk in the future.”
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.