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Author Archives: Seth Welborn

Seth Welborn is a contributing writer for DS News. He is a Harding University graduate with a degree in English and a minor in writing, and has studied abroad in Athens, Greece. An East Texas native, he also works part-time as a photographer.

HARP Refinances Recover from Previous Spike

The drop in HARP refinance volume follows a spike in Q3 and Q4 2016. The FHFA reports that borrowers completed 13,425 refinances through the Home Affordability Refinance Program (HARP) in Q1 2017, bringing the total amount of HARP refinances to 3,461,096. Of all refinances that quarter, HARP represented 3 percent.

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Defaults on the Downward Slope

The default rate has been steady and falling as home prices continue to rise in most parts of the country and sales of both new and existing homes increase. The default rate for both first and second mortgages fell in April. Additionally, most cities saw declining default rats, with the exception of New York.

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Home Builders Stay Confident

Builder confidence in the housing market rises as demand for newly-built, single-family homes rises. Based on a monthly survey from the NAHB, the HMI measures the health of the housing market on a point system from 0 to 100 based on three factors. The survey asks participants to rate market conditions for the sale of new, single-family homes at present, the market conditions for the sale of new, single-family homes in the next six months, and the traffic of prospective buyers of new homes.

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Mortgage Revenue Took a Hit in Q1

Nationstar Holdings reported declining income in Q1. The market overall saw declines in mortgage revenue with PNC Financial Services Group, Wells Fargo, and JPMorgan Chase all reporting reductions in mortgage revenue in the quarter, but what drove Nationstar in Q1 was its strong servicing segment.

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Speculation Surrounds the Fed Balance Sheet

As the Federal Reserve begins to normalize their balance sheet, speculators believe that the final product may be up to three times larger than it was before the financial crisis, if not bigger. The balance sheet refers to the portfolio of securities, such as various types of Treasury debt and mortgage-backed securities (MBS), that it has purchased. Rising interest rates are sure to drive up rates in the housing market, and the Fed’s decision to pullback from mortgage-backed securities will only add to the rising rates.

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Philadelphia: Wells Fargo Violated the FHA

According to the City of Philadelphia, black borrowers of Wells Fargo loans were over twice as likely to receive high-cost or high-risk loans than white borrowers, while Hispanic borrowers were around twice as likely, and home in predominantly minority neighborhoods were 4.7 times more likely to be foreclosed. Two weeks before this case, the Supreme Court had ruled that Miami could sue Bank of America for predatory lending practices that allegedly increased segregation.

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Supreme Court: Late Bankruptcy Claims Not Subject to FDCPA Lawsuits

In a decision on Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), debt collectors that knowingly pursue stale debt in bankruptcy proceedings do not run the risk of facing potential consumer protection lawsuits, Law360 reports. The ruling came after the high court voted 5-3 to overturn an Eleventh Circuit decision which had found Midland Funding LLC, a purchaser of unpaid debt, potentially liable under the FDCPA.

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The Week Ahead: Moving into Summer

On Tuesday, Fannie Mae will release its May 2017 Economic and Housing Outlook report. The Outlook is a forecast of economic trends in the housing and mortgage-finance markets, analyzing current and historical data. The previous Outlook from April 2017 saw weak overall economic patterns, while housing activity stayed relatively strong, which Fannie Mae tied to warmer weather.

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RBS Plans to Settle Litigation

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) CEO Ross McEwan has stated that the bank is in talks to settle one of the two major U.S. investigations into allegations it mis-sold mortgage-backed securities. The bank had previously felt a reprieve in the case following the firing of acting Attorney General Sally Yates. McEwen stated that the bank could settle a lawsuit by the Federal Housing Finance Agency apart from another investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ investigation has been stalled due to the changes in the U.S. government since President Trump’s election, Reuters reports.

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Financial CHOICE Faces Further Opposition

Following several heated hearings within the Financial Services Committee, the Financial CHOICE Act (H.R. 10) has faced further opposition from the Ranking Members of several House Committees. Financial Services Committee Chairman and H.R. 10 author Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) has defended the CHOICE Act, stating that Dodd-Frank was a mistake and Wall Street and Washington must be held accountable. The Financial CHOICE Act "ends taxpayer-funded bank bailouts, and unleashes America’s economic potential," said Hensarling.

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