Consumers Down In The Dumps On Homebuying Despite Optimism About Personal Finances

As inflation slowly cools, consumers are feeling a lot more secure in their personal finances. But when it comes to homebuying, they’re still in the dumps. Leaders at Fannie Mae said the Home Purchase Sentiment Index increased by 4 points YOY in July as consumers responded positively to the job security and mortgage rate components. When asked to describe their feeling about the housing market, consumers became much more pessimistic, however, with 82% reporting that it’s a “bad time to buy” a home. This is a record high, up from 78% in June and above the last all-time high in October 2022. “While consumers are reporting confidence in the components related to their personal financial situations, it’s unlikely we’ll see…

Rates Fall, Breaking Upward Streak

Mortgage rates declined last week, breaking a three-week streak of increases. Officials at Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.71%, down from 6.79% the week prior. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 5.23%. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage also fell from 6.18% to 6.07%. A year ago, it averaged 4.38%. “Mortgage rates decreased after a three-week climb,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “While elevated rates and other affordability challenges remain, inventory continues to be the biggest obstacle for prospective homebuyers.” Elevated rates are keeping prospective home sellers locked in their current homes, unwilling to give up the super-low rates they scored during the pandemic housing boom. Builders are building, but not…

Ravi Shankar Returns To Freddie Mac As SVP

Ravi Shankar has joined Freddie Mac as senior VP and head of Single-Family Portfolio and Servicing, the GSE announced in a press release. Shankar is returning to Freddie Mac, having served as an executive for the GSE from 2013 to 2019. In that period, he served as SVP for Single-Family Portfolio Management and deputy head of Investments and Capital Markets, respectively. He is a member of the company’s senior operating committee and reports to its president, Mike Hutchins. “Ravi Shankar brings substantial experience to the company as a respected financial services leader, portfolio manager, and Freddie Mac alum. I am pleased to welcome him back to the company,” said Mike Hutchins, President of Freddie Mac. “I look forward to working…

Gig Workers Have More Borrowing Options Thanks To Loosening GSE Standards

Loosening lending standards are making it easier than ever for gig workers to finance homes. These workers often make enough money to qualify for a loan, but often have a difficult time proving that to lenders. “It is a phenomenon with this gig economy where people can drop in and have an Amazon play, and they’re pulling in $10,000 a month from it. So, these are not traditional type borrowers,” Eric Morgenson, VP of business development at Angel Oak, said on a panel discussing loans for gig workers. Self-employed borrowers are typically asked for contract work 1099s, copies of the last 12 to 24 months of business and personal bank statements, and year-to-date profit-and-loss statements that report revenue, expenses, and…

Priscilla Almodovar Named Fannie Mae CEO

Priscilla Almodovar has been named Fannie Mae’s CEO and member of the Board of Directors, the GSE announced in a press release. Almodovar will succeed former interim CEO David C. Benson, who will remain in the role of President. “It’s an honor to join Fannie Mae and lead the company as it carries out its vital role in the housing finance market and works to help ensure that equitable, affordable housing is available to people in communities across the country,” Almodovar said.  “I look forward to working with the Board, Management, and my new colleagues at Fannie Mae to continue this important work, which has benefited so many people over the company’s more than 80-year history.” She offers three decades…

Staircase Launches New GSE API

Staircase launched a new application programming interface that allows lenders and servicers to embed automated underwriting technology into their applications and sync to their point of sale (POS) and loan origination systems (LOS). The interface gives lenders an option besides the technology included in most POS and LOS products. The standard fare is equipped with AUS tech provided by the GSEs, which Staircase says are “typically static and offer fixed functionalities.” Staircase offers same-day GSE integration that can be synced across multiple systems. As a result, lenders can push loan decisions further up in the origination process. “Our GSE API is a real game changer,” said Staircase Co-founder and CEO Adam Kalamchi.  “By pulling AUS logic upstream as far as…

Forbearances Rose Due To Mid-Month Slowdown

Another mid-month slowdown in exits brought on a 1% increase in active forbearance plan totals, according to Black Knight’s blog, Vision. Approximately 8,000 homeowners entered new forbearance plans this week.  Loans held by portfolio and PSLs had the largest increase, with a 4.5% jump of 12,000 new plans. FHA/VA loans in forbearance fell by 4,000, down 1%. GSE loans stayed flat. The total share of active plans is down by 125,000, or 12%, month-over-month. Black Knight noted that little is expected to change between now and the end of the year.  “The next opportunity for meaningful declines will occur in early January with nearly 200,000 plans scheduled for extension or removal through the end of the year, nearly half of…

Fannie, Freddie Offer Mortgage Disaster Relief

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced Wednesday that temporary assistance is available to homeowners impacted by a natural disaster, including the wildfires on the West Coast and the Hurricane Sally in the Gulf region. Fannie and Freddie urged homeowners impacted by the disasters to contact their mortgage servicers after the disaster to determine what assistance they may be entitled to. Assistance includes suspending or reducing payments for up to 90 days, suspending foreclosures, and forbearance on mortgage payments for up to a year. “The priority is for homeowners to get themselves and their loved ones safely out of harm’s way,” said Bill Maguire, Freddie Mac’s Vice President of Single-Family Servicing Portfolio Management. “Once out of harm’s way, homeowners whose homes…

Calabria Defends Adverse Market Fee

Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria on Wednesday defended his agency’s much maligned “adverse market fee” that is designed to help cover losses at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. “Conservative estimates price COVID-19 related costs for the Enterprises at roughly $6 billion … (and) $4 billion is from expected loan losses due to projected forbearance defaults,” Calabria testified before the House Committee on Financial Services. “The expected losses associated with the foreclosure moratorium amount to at least $1 billion. Other forbearance-related expenses and fees, such as the $500 fee the Enterprises pay to servicers for loss mitigation, account for another $1 billion.” The fee on refinances – which drew criticism from members…

FHFA Again Extends Flexible Loan Origination Policies

As the coronavirus pandemic drags into summer, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced Thursday that it is extending flexible loan origination policies for another month. The Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac policies, which had been set to expire at the end of July, will be extended until the end of August. They include: Alternative appraisals on purchase and rate term refinance loans;Alternative methods for documenting income and verifying employment before loan closing; andExpanding the use of power of attorney and remote online notarizations to assist with loan closings.…