DEC 6, 2013
What We're Hearing

Non QM Lending Poses Risks, but May Not Be All That Costly

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WE’RE HEARING that the few lenders willing to originate non-qualified mortgage loans are banks that can hold the loans in portfolio and satisfy their needs of their affluent customers. The rest of the business may be overly worried about litigation costs, though, since these could prove to be 10 basis points or lower.

Of course, this will not be a hardship for these banks because many have been ready originators and buyers of jumbo loans this year.

The folks at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are well aware non-QM loans are generally perceived to be dangerous creatures—because of the potential litigation risk. And most lenders will be very careful to stay within the QM parameters so they will be shielded from litigation.

That is why the bureau assigned Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-eligible loans qualified mortgage status. They didn't want the origination of conventional loans to come to a halt on Jan. 10 when the QM rule goes into effect.

It seems perfectly logical for lenders to be cautious since the industry has been deluged with lawsuits and loan repurchase demands for the past few years.

But lending standards are so tight these days and most of the exotic and dangerous loan products that caused so many problems are no longer available.

Meanwhile, CFPB officials have analyzed the possible litigation cost of originating non-QM loans. And they estimate it would be minimal.

“We have a hard time seeing it being any more than 10 basis points per loan,” says Peter Carroll, who is in charge of CFPB's Office of Mortgage Markets.

“Ten basis points would be the outer boundary,” he stressed, and it could be as low as 3 bps. He spoke at a Women in Housing and Finance event.

The analysis is based on a 3% default rate. The analysts estimated what portion of the troubled borrowers would file a complaint, how many would be able to attain legal counsel and the likelihood of those borrowers prevailing in court.

But lenders are not focused on the pricing of litigation risk. They are focused on the cost of one successful challenge and the damage to their reputation.

Under the Dodd-Frank Act, a bank could end up paying three years of interest payments and finance changes if the plaintiff's attorney can show the lender did not properly evaluate the borrower's ability to repay the loan. In addition, the bank would have to pay $4,000 in statutory damages and the borrower's attorney fees.

CFPB officials expect the market for non-QM loans will develop as lenders become more comfortable with the new QM lending regime and they gain the confident to take on more risk. But that may take several years.

COMMENT OF THE WEEK: The failure of healthcare.gov has sparked lots of palaver back and forth over health care reform recently. One commenter on our site this past week made an improbable stretch to connect health care and a certain big bank.Reader John Hudson responded to our report on nonprofit NFHA and its claims of the ills, literally and figuratively, of foreclosures: “1) where is the evidence linking foreclosure to obesity? Perhaps Wells is also guilty of the diabetes epidemic and should be forced to pay for the health care of America as well.”

SHOUT OUT: Those hardworking dudes and dudesses at Churchill Mortgage see the mortgage glass as half full, not half empty. They have been hiring like crazy all year and they’ve done it again. The Brentwood, Tenn., mortgage banker has hired 16 new staff in Georgia, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Nationwide numbers just out show that mortgage lenders are not in much of a hiring mood, but that the pace of recent firing has slowed.

MOST READ/MOST EMAILED: It’s not usual that the same content is the most read and the most emailed the same week on our site. This time, however, the two are one and the same: Lew Sichelman’s report from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Independent Mortgage Bankers meeting in Miami. With all the brouhaha about mortgage brokers changing over to mortgage bankers or “mini-correspondents,” the indies say the brokers should stay where they are. Don’t like the competition? Next year, the origination pickings are looking slim.

BLOG OF THE WEEK: We like Ted Cornwell’s take on the potential privatization of the GSEs, as brought on by investors wanting to buy chunks of them or their equities. As an analog, Ted brings up the privatization of Russia’s industry, which produced some billionaire oligarchs. Are there American oligarchs in the works, thinking of potential billions of dollars to be made? Maybe so. And what about the Russian oligarchs? They can invest in GSE equities, can’t they? Having a Boris or an Ivan on the board of a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac might not be such a bad thing. It would certainly be different!

Mark Fogarty is editorial director of the SourceMedia Mortgage Group and has been commenting on the mortgage market since 1984. Brian Collins is the group’s senior editor and D.C. bureau chief. He has worked the mortgage beat since 1988.

Comments (2)
I think the Jumbo Non QM loans are much less of a concern than the conforming non QM loans. Its easier to say a borrower on 1M loan was aware of program than a first time borrower on a 100k loan. A lot is perception.
Posted by 2Bsquared | Monday, December 09 2013 at 1:51PM ET
With only a 3% default rate - lenders will definitely get comfortable with writing NON-QM Loans sooner than later. "Rebuttable presumption" will be synonymous with something like managed risk. Let us not forget that lending is a RISK BASED business.
Posted by Dan Gutierrez, President - NM Assoc. of Mortgage Profesionals | Saturday, December 14 2013 at 11:05AM ET
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