Lee Farkas, the former chairman of Taylor, Bean and Whitaker Mortgage Corp., was found guilty on all 14 charges stemming from a seven-year, multibillion-dollar fraud scheme that led to the collapse of his firm and Colonial Bank. Even the photo can make you cringe. WSJFarkas 

At this point Mr. Farkas is probably not interested that Cantor Fitzgerald sold $635 million of bonds backed by commercial mortgages in its first sale of the securities. Congrats to Cantor, who started its real-estate finance business in September. The company is "catching the wave" since banks have arranged about $8.6 billion of commercial-mortgage backed securities this year, compared with $11.5 billion for all of last year, per Bloomberg.  Issuance hit $234 billion in 2007 and $3.4 billion in 2009. And, per the article, top-rated securities tied to commercial property loans are yielding 1.93 percentage points more than Treasuries, compared with 2.28 percentage points on Dec. 31, according to a Barclays Plc. index.

At this point Mr. Farkas is probably not interested in the bank earnings that are coming out. US Bank's profit jumped 56% to $1.05B coming in above estimates due to improved asset quality and lower provisions. Loan growth was 2.4%. Zions posted an unexpected profit of $53mm (vs. a loss last 1Q) due to a 65% drop in provision expense. Comerica posted a higher than expected profit of $102mm (vs. a loss last 1Q) due to improved credit quality and a 72% drop in provisions. Keycorp earned $184mm (vs. a loss last 1Q) due to improved credit quality and lower provisions. Wells Fargo came in this morning, with net charge-offs decreasing dramatically. 1st quarter revenue dropped slightly due to a decline in mortgage banking fee income.

How about this note that I received? "I have been originating mortgages Georgia for almost 20 years, and done my best to stay away from 'steering' my borrowers to any loans they either couldn't afford or shouldn't be in. But when are the Realtors going to face the consequences of steering borrowers into homes they can't really afford, and then collecting their 5 or 6% commissions based on that higher-priced house? Why doesn't Dodd Frank include them?"   

Dodd Frank is indeed the gift that keeps on giving. Earlier this week the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) requested public comment on a proposed rule under Regulation Z that would require creditors to determine a consumer's ability to repay a mortgage before making the loan and would establish minimum mortgage underwriting standards. (So let's take away Fannie & Freddie, and have regulators set underwriting guidelines for private mortgage bankers?) The proposal would apply to all consumer mortgages (except home equity lines of credit, timeshare plans, reverse mortgages, or temporary loans). The proposal would also implement the Dodd-Frank Act's limits on prepayment penalties. But wait - the FRB will not even finalize the rules, since this authority will be transferred to the CFPB before the comment period ends! Are we having fun yet?

The Community Mortgage Banking Project wrote, "(It) is important for consumers and the mortgage industry because it will allow for a side-by-side comparison with the proposed Qualified Residential Mortgage exemption and the Risk Retention regulations. These two regulations will be influential in determining the future shape of the mortgage market of the future, thus it is vital that we achieve the goal of harmonizing those two sets of regulations to the greatest extent possible. The proposed ability-to-repay regulations present two options for the Qualified Mortgage. One option reportedly offers lenders and investors in mortgages a true safe harbor from the significant liability under the Truth in Lending Act that results from failure to meet the ability-to-repay rules.  If this option does offer a true legal Safe Harbor, lenders and investors will have the legal certainty necessary to provide low cost mortgage credit without the added expense of excessive defensive measures undertaken strictly to ward off class action attorneys."

At this point Mr. Farkas is probably not interested that for investors, BNP Paribas said the proposed rule would be "a positive for mortgages in the intermediate and longer term due to lower supply and reduced negative convexity." To read the entire proposal, go to FedRes or check out the summary at MNDQualifiedMortgageTIL

 A week or two ago Citi announced a name change for correspondents, and several months ago AmTrust became NYCB. Another recent name change to take note of is "US Mortgage Corporation dba Mortgage Concepts", which is now officially "US Mortgage Corporation," its original name from the mid-90's. Currently licensed in over 20 states, it has plans to go nationwide - nothing other than the name is impacted by this change. And for more information on the company, visit USMortgage.

At this point Mr. Farkas is probably not interested that investor changes continue. M&T Bank suspended its FHA Streamline product line.

ING reminded its brokers that the new compensation rules prohibit steering or directing the borrower to a loan solely to increase broker compensation. To this end, although the Rule does not require the use of any new specific disclosure, beginning April 20th brokers sending loans to ING will be required to certify on the ING Broker Gateway prior to the submission of a loan that the Borrower was not directed or steered to a loan solely to increase the Broker compensation. "Further, you will certify that you met the 'safe harbor' provisions by disclosing the following options to the Borrower: Loan with the lowest rate; Loan with the lowest total dollar amount for origination points or fees and discount points; and Loan with the lowest interest rate and no risky features such as negative amortization, prepayment penalty, interest-only payments, balloon payment in first 7 years of loan, demand feature or shared equity or appreciation."

The future impact of Basel III is continuing on. It came to light that Citi is selling $12.7 billion of assets, much of it mortgages, ahead of compliance: CitiBaselIII 

Flagstar has a lengthy series of training sessions. Reg. Z Compensation Changes. "Let our professional training staff outline Reg. Z changes and show you how Flagstar makes compliance easy. Classes are offered daily. Don't delay. Class sizes are limited." FlagstarTraining


Housing Starts and Building Permits were both a little stronger than expected - good news for the housing biz although they remain low by historical standards. The MBA came out with its weekly index, shopping a little pop last week of 5.3%. Refi's were up almost 3%, and purchases were up 10% (driven by FHA/VA production). The percentage that refi's constitute of overall business continues to drop, and is now about 58% - the lowest in almost a year. And ARM share increased to 6.5%. FULL STORY WITH CHARTS

Rate-wise, yesterday was uneventful. The data was limited to Housing Starts, not a big market-moving number. Agency MBS prices closed around unchanged and the Treasury's 10-yr settled around 3.36%. A trader reported that "mortgage banker supply remained minimal." This morning rates are a shade higher, with the 10-yr at 3.40% and agency MBS prices worse by about .125.


Although this is not a joke in the traditional sense, it did make me laugh out loud....

Regardless of how bad things get, just be happy you're not a servicing manager in the District of Columbia trying to comply with the new "District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking's 'Saving D.C. Homes from Foreclosure Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2011'.

" Even though it is exciting to have several new forms to use (like FM-1, or FM-2, like radio in England) you can deal with, "...before a residential mortgage lender may initiate foreclosure proceedings in the District, the regulations require lenders to provide notice to borrowers in the form specified on the newly released Form FM-1. The form provides borrowers with details of the amount owed on the loan, the amount required to be paid in order to bring the loan current, and a description of loan modification or other alternatives available from the District. Lenders must note that the issuance of this notice requires strict compliance. Indeed, the issuance of any notice that does not follow the prescribed form will be automatically voided. According to the Program, lenders are not only responsible for providing Form FM-1 notice, but the regulations also set forth several additional disclosure requirements. Among others, borrowers must receive (i) a Borrower Assistance and Resource Information Form (Form FM-1BA), providing resources where the borrower may obtain assistance with mortgage problems and other housing issues; (ii) a Mediation Election Form (Form FM-2), providing instruction on how to opt-in to the new mediation program; (iii) contact information for which the borrower may use to reach an agent or representative of the lender with the authority to explain the mediation process; and (iv) a description of all loss mitigation programs available from the lender and applicable to the residential mortgage for which the notice of default is being issued. If the borrower opts out of the mediation after the receipt of a Notice of Default, a Mediation Certificate is provided to the lender and the lender may then initiate a Notice of Foreclosure. If, however, the borrower, within 30 days after the receipt of a Notice of Default, elects to participate in mediation, then the lender is required to participate in "good faith" in the mediation with the borrower. Any lender that fails to mediate in good faith may be subject to penalties. Although the final determination of whether a lender has acted in good faith is left to the Mediation Administrator, generally the District requires the lender at mediation to (i) evaluate the borrower's eligibility for alternatives to foreclosure (including reinstatement, loan modification, forbearance, short sale, deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, etc.); (ii) offer the borrower a loan modification (if eligible); and (iii) if the lender does not reach a settlement with the borrower during mediation, the lender must be able to demonstrate that the net present value of receiving payments pursuant to a modified mortgage is less than the anticipated net recovery following foreclosure."

(And yes, trying to wade through that is the joke of the day.)