If you're looking for next investment property, the nearest "college town" may serve you well. According to research from Clear Capital, out of the top 35 cities where home prices have appreciated since 2004, 10 were college towns and 9 of the 10 were included in the top 15. Ithaca, NY was ranked number 2 on the list, where Ithaca College and Cornell University are located. This city saw a home-price appreciation increase 52% since 2004, which was surpassed by Honolulu, HI with a 64% appreciation. Austin, TX home to University of Texas was number 3 on the list, with a 46.8% appreciation since 2004. Corvallis, OR home to Oregon State University, ranked number 4, with a 41.2% home appreciation since 2004, (one of the many reasons why many believe Oregon State University is better than University of Oregon). Rounding out the top ten include, Charleston, WV, Champaign-Urbana, IL, San Jose, CA, Portland, OR, Syracuse, NY, and Nashville, TN.

What is NICAR? It is the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting, and includes tools for investigative reporters and editors. Apparently the HMDA data for 2013 is now up on the site and "perusable" - for a price. It is just amazing the groups and clubs that are out there...

Switching gears, Vance Edwards with MGIC writes, "A hot topic in the media is student loan debt. While somewhat exaggerated by the media at times, a very real problem for many would be home buyers. But there are things mortgage professionals can do to assist this group and one way was covered last week in MGIC's blog examining how Loan Officers and Underwriters should not always rely on the '2% exception' when calculating payments on deferred student loans. It is a short read, but I believe a valuable one." Thank you Vance!

And regarding instructing youngsters in personal finance, Kelli Morgan contributes, "I'm not sure what other states do but Missouri requires all high school students to complete a semester course in Personal Finance." Show me! (No, I don't mean that literally - it is the state's unofficial slogan.)

For Agency news, the Community Mortgage Lenders of America reports that earlier this year HUD had proposed that Congress authorize them to impose and collect a 4 basis points fee from lenders for each FHA loan that was insured. It is rumored that HUD has persuaded the Senate to include authority to levy and collect the fee into the Continuing Resolution needed to fund the government beyond December 11th of this year. The House will probably agree with the language in the Continuing Resolution on this fee when they eventually reconcile the different versions of the Continuing Resolution that each branch of Congress is expected to pass in the next couple of weeks.

CMLA's letter notes, "The CMLA opposes the provision as currently written in the Transportation, HUD and Related Agencies Appropriations bill S. 2438 that would authorize the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to retroactively assess a per loan fee on FHA single family mortgage insurance program lenders. This provision responds to a request in the Administration FY 2015 budget to levy a fee on lenders in order to fund an enhanced quality improvement program for single-family FHA insured loans. This proposed fee however would, in fact, harm home buyers as lenders will be compelled to pass the new fee onto homebuyers and the fee would thus become a federal tax on home ownership." Any questions should be directed to Executive Director Glen Corso.

I continue to be asked about the Supreme Court and HUD. The new ruling against HUD's Disparate Impact Rule makes you think twice about the validity of the laws that these agencies are creating. The federal court vacated HUD's Disparate Impact Rule stating the language of the Fair Housing Act only allows permits claims based on intentional discrimination and found that HUD surpassed its authority when it created the rule. U.S. District Judge, Richard Leon dismissed the government's argument that current laws allowed them to apply the method to fair housing laws, calling it "wishful thinking on steroids." Leon wrote, "This is yet another example of an administrative agency trying to desperately write into law that which Congress never intended to sanction." The judge stated that applying FHA law to insurance raises concerns about extensive federal infringement upon state insurance regulation. This ruling comes in the wake of the holding of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois that HUD's response to the insurance industry's concerns regarding the Disparate Impact Rule was arbitrary and capricious and remand to HUD for further explanation.

As a reminder, the Veterans Administration issued two circulars addressing appraisal policy changes; the first was CIRC. 26-14-27: Policy Changes Affecting Value Adjustments and Photographs, the second CIRC. 26-14-29: Agreement of Sale/Sales Contract to be Provided to the Fee Appraiser. The appraisal value adjustments and photographs circular announces the continuation of two previously active policy positions, value adjustments to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Notice of Value (NOV) by Lender's Staff Appraisal Reviewers (SARs), and the requirement for interior photographs of subject properties. The later circular is to announce the continuation of previously active policy that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) requires a copy of the agreement of sale or sales contract be provided to the fee appraiser by the requester of the VA appraisal immediately upon assignment.

Word is slowly spreading to those impacted of HUD's changes regarding Section 184 American Indian Mortgages that the cost is going up.

FHA revised the existing HECM Property Charge Set Aside structure, and introduced additional policy changes. Changes include origination and servicing requirements for a single Life Expectancy Set Aside that may be fully funded or partially funded if required based on the results of the Financial Assessment; policy allowing lenders to order a credit report prior to the completion of HECM counseling; and 12-month seasoning requirement for existing forward mortgages and other liens that will be paid off with HECM proceeds. Click the attached link to view the complete revisions of 2014-21. Revisions were also made to HECM Financial Assessment and Property Charge Guide. Revised list of documents required for, and the stacking order of these documents in, the Case Binder, expanded guidance on documenting and evaluating income/expenses, credit history, extenuating circumstances, compensating factors, and use of HECM funds and guidance for determining when, and in what amount, mortgagees must require a Life Expectancy Set Aside to pay property charges, based on the result of the Financial Assessment are included in the revision. The complete mortgagee letter 2014-22 is available for review.

Ginnie Mae announced it will discontinue production of the legacy HMBS Monthly Pool Disclosure file and the legacy HECM Saver Disclosure file from the Disclosure Data Download page effective February 1, 2015. To review the bulletin, click here.

HUD published information regarding FHA Refinance of Borrowers in Negative Equity Positions (Short Refi): Program Extension, which extends the expiration date of the program through December 31, 2016, and reiterates the permitted use of proceeds from government entities and instrumentalities of government to extinguish a portion of a borrower's negative equity. All loans originated under the Federal Housing Administration's (FHA) Short Refi program must close on or before that date. All other provisions announced in ML 2010-23, and amended in ML 2012-05, remain in effect. The information can be viewed with the following link: ML 2014-23.

And NAR spread the word on the Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act. "It is a bipartisan bill that would prevent homeowners from paying taxes on forgiven mortgage loan debt. This bipartisan legislation would extend an expired provision that has helped many families by allowing tax relief when lenders have forgiven a portion of the mortgage debt. There are still homeowners who are struggling to meet their mortgage obligations, about 5.3 million homes are still under water and more than 1 million are in the process of foreclosure. If the act is not passed, homeowners who did a short- sell or received a loan reduction will have to pay income tax on "phantom income." Click here to take action now and encourage congress to pass the bill.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced that Mischler Financial Group, Cabrera Capital Markets, LLC, G.X. Clarke & Co., and Loop Capital Markets LLC have been selected to participate in the recently announced Agency Mortgage-Backed Counterparty Pilot Program. (MFG is the securities industry's oldest investment bank/institutional brokerage owned and operated by a service-disabled veteran's business enterprise.) "According to the New York Fed, the intent in conducting this pilot program is to explore ways to broaden access to open market operations and to determine the extent to which firms beyond the Primary Dealer community can augment the New York Fed's operational capacity and resiliency in its monetary policy operations." The New York Federal Reserve Bank formal announcement can be found at the NYFRB website.

It is certainly hard to say that housing is wallowing. Yes, we had some mediocre numbers in the first half of 2014, but since then things have picked up somewhat. Existing home sales rose more than expected in October and are now back above year-ago levels. The median price is up 5.5 percent from a year earlier. Housing Starts fell 2.8 percent in October but the drop came from the volatile multifamily component. Single-family starts increased 4.2 percent and are now up 15.4 percent over the past year.

It is the last funding week of the month, and plenty of companies are seeing good fundings. For news, stocks are rallying strongly pretty much everywhere on the planet due to news headlines (Draghi's speech and the China PBOC actions). Here in the U.S. - Wednesday is the Big Day if anyone on Wall Street is still at work to move bond prices. There is zip today. Tomorrow is GDP, Personal Consumption Expenditures, and the FHFA House Price Index, Consumer Confidence, and the S&P Case Shiller series of numbers (showing values from two months ago). On Wednesday, November 26th are Jobless Claims, the University of Michigan Consumer Confidence number, Pending Home Sales, New Home Sales, Durable Goods Orders (new orders placed with domestic manufacturers for immediate and future delivery of factory hard goods), Personal Income and Consumption, and the Chicago Purchasing Manager's Survey. There is no scheduled news of consequence for Friday, although the markets are open. For numbers, we had a 2.32% close Friday on the 10-yr T-note and this morning we're at 2.33% and agency MBS prices are worse about .125 in price.



On the jobs side of things, MountainView Risk Advisors, a provider of mortgage servicing rights enhanced valuation and risk analytics, is seeking an experienced MSR valuation and risk manager to complement its team. The Denver-based position will focus on assisting banks and mortgage companies with their MSR valuation and risk management needs, including consulting on industry modeling best practices, model calibration efforts, and interest rate and mortgage capital markets modeling. The role includes developing and managing relationships across MSR market participants that hold and trade mortgage and MSR assets. The ideal candidate should appreciate working in a quantitative finance field that integrates knowledge of the capital markets, statistical analysis, cash flow modeling, and risk management into a single role. Interested candidates can find more information on MountainView's website.

And Florida's Capital Markets Cooperative continues to grow and is searching for a National Sales Manager. The position will manage CMC's regional sales representatives to expand CMC's product offering nationally. Responsibilities include but are not limited to managing CMC's mortgage banking sales efforts including servicing co-issue, cooperative services, pipeline risk management and servicing valuation. The position will work closely with executive management to develop sales strategy and implement corporate initiatives. Since 2003 CMC has leveraged the collective power of a nationwide network of mortgage bankers to negotiate better pricing, products and service during the process and sale of mortgages. Members choose from a wide array of services including risk management and hedging solutions; a full roster of preferred investor and service providers; MSR valuations and analytics; and servicing acquisitions through its wholly- owned subsidiary, CMC Funding. For a complete job description, or to submit confidential inquiries, contact Laura LaMontagne.