Yes, smaller lenders sue each other. The latest verdict announced was a decision between Stearns and Prospect Mortgage. And we have the latest settlement, this time between the Department of Justice and U.S. Bank for "only" $200 million.
Here's a quick aside. "Rob, have you heard anything about the Agencies and FinCen?" You bet - on June 20, Fannie Mae issued Servicing Guide Announcement SVC-2014-11, which reminds servicers that under a recent FinCEN rule, Fannie Mae is considered a financial institution subject to BSA requirements. The announcement advises servicers subject to the AML provisions of the BSA that they are obligated to be in compliance with the BSA, and to report to Fannie Mae: (i) all instances of noncompliance, compliance failures, or sanctions related to BSA/AML requirements; (ii) suspicious activity related to Fannie Mae loans or business activities; and (iii) changes in ownership interest. Servicers may implement these requirements immediately, but are required to do so no later than August 25, 2014.
A Deloitte survey of 2,500 corporate and private equity respondents finds 84% expect a sustained to accelerated rate of M&A activity in the next 2 years due to cash stockpiles (more cash to buy), rising equity prices (a stronger currency for acquiring companies to use), low interest rates (providing easier borrowing), and a moderate expected economic growth rate (not fast enough for some firms). Sure enough, bank M&A continues, more likely due to the increased cost of doing business and being able to compete against the big guys. Just in the last week we learned of several. MidFirst Bank ($9.5B, OK) will acquire Steele Street Bank & Trust ($525mm, CO). United Community Bank ($7.4B, GA) will acquire nonbank SBA lender Business Carolina, Inc. (BCI Lending Services, SC) for an undisclosed sum. BCI offers commercial loans to small businesses for $50k to $5mm and operates in GA, NC and SC. In Illinois (state motto: "Please Don't Pronounce the 'S'") the Bank of Marion ($344k) will acquire Herrin Security Bank ($104mm) for an undisclosed sum. In Georgia ("Wisdom, Justice, Moderation") State Bank and Trust Co. ($2.6B) will acquire First Bank of Georgia ($523mm) for about $82mm in cash and stock (about 1.35x tangible book).
In other bank news, Umpqua Holdings in Portland, Ore., will close 27 branches by the end of this year as part of its integration of Sterling Financial in Spokane. In Oklahoma (motto: labor conquers all things) the Freedom State Bank in Freedom is now pushing up daisies, having been closed by regulators and folded into Alva State Bank & Trust Company. Banco Popular Español has agreed to buy the consumer banking business in Spain from Citibank for an undisclosed sum. Banco Popular picks up $2.B in assets, $3.2B in assets under management, 45 branches, the ATM network and 1.2mm customer accounts. Utah's CIT Bank ($16.8B) will acquire small business financing company Direct Capital Corp. (NH) for an undisclosed sum. Direct Capital has provided $2.3B in financing to over 80,000 small businesses since its formation in 1993. In New Jersey (You Want A ##$%##! Motto? I Got Yer ##$%##! Motto Right Here!) Spencer Savings Bank, SLA ($2.0B) will acquire NJM Bank ($605mm) - NJM is a subsidiary of New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Co, who is getting out of the banking business. Over in South Carolina (While I breathe, I hope) First Community Bank ($796mm) will acquire $43mm in deposits and $9mm in loans from First South Bank (289mm) for about a 1.86% premium.
LEAP has been in the news lately, and not for the best of reasons. I received this note from Henry Chavez, Senior Audit Manager with Spiegel Accounting. "Spiegel processes financial statement data for many of our clients into the LEAP system and can provide assistance to anyone who cannot figure that how the financial statement and other related information should be input into the system. We don't know if this information would be of interest to your readers, but wanted to let you." Thanks Henry!
The dust has settled from last week's announcement by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. He announced (i) a new financing partnership between Treasury and HUD designed to support the FHA's multifamily mortgage risk-sharing program; (ii) an extension of the Making Home Affordable (MHA) program for at least one year; and (iii) a new effort to help jumpstart the private label securities market. Under the Treasury-HUD partnership, the Federal Financing Bank (FFB) will finance FHA-insured mortgages that support the construction and preservation of rental housing. The extended MHA program is aimed at allowing the Administration to continue assisting borrowers facing foreclosure and with underwater homes. Finally, the Treasury Department will publish a Request for Comment and plans to host a series of meetings with investors and securitizers to explore ways to increase private lending.
Prior to actually announcing it, the press was filled with what he was going to say. There aren't many surprise announcements anymore. So the industry was ready for Lew to announce additional policies to assist struggling homeowners, provide more affordable housing options for renters, and expand access to credit for borrowers. "Secretary Lew will announce the program changes as part of his closing comments at the end of the Making Home Affordable Fifth Anniversary Summit. The media advisory detailing the forthcoming announcement can be accessed here."
Although the HAMP coffer remains full, the operational limitations that hampered the program in the past remain which leads analysts to believe that the scope of the announcement is somewhat narrow. In fact, someone said it was "narrowly targeted and largely symbolic." Ouch! Few believe that Secretary Lew's announcement on Thursday will materially impact the effectiveness of the Making Home Affordable (MHA) program, the umbrella foreclosure mitigation initiative. Private mortgage insurers would stand to benefit from increased cures and specialty servicers with larger portfolios of HAMP-eligible delinquent loans could benefit if HAMP modification incentives are increased.
HAMP has certainly helped plenty of lenders over the last few years make some nice coin. While there are approximately 1 million permanent and trial modifications ongoing under HAMP, the program has fallen far short of the White House's original goal of helping 4 million borrowers. Furthermore, the HAMP's impact has lessened in recent months as the number of HAMP trials started has declined by roughly 40% year-over-year, in spite of there being over $20 billion available under the flagship MHA program.
In spite of it being a holiday week, and seemingly many in the biz already on vacation, it is worthwhile to take a look at upcoming training and events to keeps the mind sharp! In no particular order:
Edward Pinto, Resident Fellow and co-director of International Center on Housing Risk, from the American Enterprise Institute will be speaking at the upcoming American Mortgage Conference. Edward's topic of discussion will be "The Road to a Stable Housing Finance Market". He will be speaking during the morning session, September 9, 2014; the full conference runs September 8-10 and is sponsored by the North Carolina Bankers Association.
Management changed the name from Mortgage Training Today to Mortgage Training and Compliance, LLC "to let everyone know that we are now assisting with compliance. We have designed a Compliance Management System that will make compliance cost effective, and allow large and small companies to meet the CFPB's requirements. We are holding free webinars to demo the system on all of the Wednesday's in July, and can schedule individual demos upon request. Anyone interested can email us at info@MortgageTC. com and we will send them the webinar information."
If you fancy a trip in September to Florida, FAMP's 2014 State Convention and Trade Show is something you might want to visit. It is September 4-6 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort. "On Thursday, September 4th, we will be celebrating NAMB's 40th Anniversary with NAMB President Don Frommeyer and hearing directly from Florida's Office of Financial Regulation regarding big changes on a state level for our industry. In addition, on Friday, September 5th, we are pleased to announce that our keynote speaker for our luncheon event will be Jim Carley, CFPB's Regional Director for the Southeast Region!"
MBA Education has scheduled Foreclosure Mediation in the Era of Compliance and Operational Efficiency Webinar on Wednesday, July 29. Member price $199 and non-member price is $249. To register, visit MBA webinar.
Despite some strong news Monday, the bond market barely budged. NAR told us that Pending Home Sales were up over 6% in May. NAR's chief economist expects improving home sales in the second half of the year. "Sales should exceed an annual pace of five million homes in some of the upcoming months behind favorable mortgage rates, more inventory and improved job creation," he said. "However, second-half sales growth won't be enough to compensate for the sluggish first quarter and will likely fall below last year's total." First time homebuyers accounted for 27% of new sales. Again, most of the action has been at the higher price points, while sales for homes under $250k are actually down 10%. Meanwhile, apartment rents are expected to increase 8% over the next few years.
(Read More: Pending Home Sales Rise at Fastest Pace Since 2010)
Today we can look forward to June's ISM manufacturing report, along with construction spending for May. Don't look for much excitement. As a proxy for the bond market and agency MBS prices, let's take a look at the 10-yr T-note yield. It closed last week around 2.53%, began Monday at 2.52%, ended Monday at 2.53%, and this morning is at 2.55% (agency MBS prices are worse a shade) - not much volatility.
The latest on jumbo IOs? Reporter Dan Goldstein addressed the subject in the weekend edition of the WSJ. They aren't dead, and may be coming back to haunt us...
In jobs & expansion news, CMG Financial has more than 200 positions open nationwide today and is opening multiple locations on a monthly basis. Consumer Services (Retail) is looking for Branch Managers and licensed Mortgage Consultants in most states and a Regional Sales Manager in the Northwest region. Wholesale Lending is searching for Account Executives in the Northeast region (PA, NJ, ME, NH, WV), Western Region (CA, HI, AZ), Southern region (TX, MS, AL), Southeast region (KY, TN, FL) and a Regional Sales Manager in the Great Lakes region. CMG offers competitive compensation, excellent benefits, a world-class culture and industry-leading innovation, including the proprietary All-In-One loan product (previously known as the Home Ownership Accelerator) and their new Asset Based Jumbo programs. For more information, please contact Amy Gallow or visit CMG.
And New American Funding announced additional Operations positions are open in Tustin and Riverside for underwriters, processors, production assistants, and funders. This is on top of New American's full Operations Center developing in Dallas: all retail sales and operations positions are open. Underwriters and processors are sought in San Diego, Missouri, and Arizona, as well. "Join the team of over 1000 'happy' people, funding $480 million per month with over 70% of the business being purchase transactions. Founded in 2003, New American Funding, a mortgage banker headquartered in Tustin, California, made Inc. Magazine's exclusive list of the nation's fastest growing private companies, two years in a row, and was awarded Top Workplaces 2012 and 2013 by The Orange County Register and OC Business Journal. NAF is licensed in 35 states and is a Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae direct Seller/Servicer, FHA Direct Endorsement and VA Automatic mortgage lender. Send your confidential resume to recruiters@nafinc. com.
Congrats to Keith Frachiseur, who Envoy Mortgage named to the new post of regional vice president for the Pacific Northwest territory. "A highly experienced mortgage banker and a well-known industry figure in the area, Frachiseur will lead the company's expansion in the tri-state region through organic growth and strategic branch acquisitions."