FHFA published a final rule in the December 18 Federal Register implementing certain “Duty to Serve” provisions of the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992, as amended by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. Among other things, these provisions require that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac adopt formal plans to improve the availability of mortgage financing in a “safe and sound manner” for residential properties that serve “very low-, low-, and moderate-income families” in three specified underserved markets: manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation, and rural markets. FHFA’s new rule addresses this obligation by requiring both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to submit to FHFA a three-year “Underserved Markets Plan” that describes the activities and objectives they will undertake to meet their Duty to Serve requirements. The Plans will become effective January 2018, after which time, the new rule requires further that FHFA annually evaluate, rate, and report to Congress each Enterprise’s compliance with its Duty to Serve obligations as required by the statute.
On December 19, the FHFA published a final rule modifying, reorganizing and relocating the current regulation governing the Federal Home Loan Banks’ (FHLBs) Acquired Member Asset (AMA) programs. As required by the Dodd-Frank Act, the final rule removes and replaces references in the current regulation to ratings issued by a Nationally Recognized Statistical Ratings Organization. The rule also provides the FHLBs with greater flexibility in choosing a model for estimating the credit enhancement required for AMA loans. The final rule adds a provision allowing an FHLB to authorize the transfer of mortgage servicing rights on AMA loans to any institution, including a non-member of the FHLB System. The new rule also allows FHLBs to acquire mortgage loans that exceed the conforming loan limits where such loans are guaranteed or insured by a department or agency of the U.S. government. The final rule excludes a proposed provision that would have eliminated the use of private, loan-level, supplemental mortgage insurance in the member credit enhancement structure required for the AMA programs, but the final version does require FHLBs to establish financial and operational standards that insurers must meet before offering insurance on AMA loans. The new final rule goes into effect on January 18, 2017.
Also on December 19, FHFA issued another final rule (i) limiting the scope of “business activities” that would trigger an FHLB’s obligation to file a “new business activity” notice, (ii) modifying the submission requirements, and (iii) establishing new timelines for agency review and approval of such notices. The rule “narrows the scope of the [new business activity] regulation in two ways: (1) By limiting it to activities that introduce new material risks to the [FHLB]; and (2) By eliminating the need to file an NBA notice prior to accepting new types of collateral.” This new rule similarly goes into effect on January 18, 2017.
Last week, on November 23, the FHFA announced that it will raise the maximum conforming loan limits for mortgages purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2017 from $417,000 to $424,000. The announcement marks the first time FHFA has increased the baseline loan limit since 2006. In high-cost areas, such as Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., the maximum loan limit will be $636,150. Meanwhile, limits rose in all but 87 counties in the country. View the list of counties seeing increases here.
On November 22, FHFA announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s caps for multifamily lending will remain at $36.5 billion for 2017. The determination was based on the agency’s projection that the overall size of the multifamily finance market will remain roughly the same as it was in 2016. Multifamily loans in designated affordable and underserved segments will remain excluded from the caps.
On August 25, FHFA announced that the GSEs will implement a new refinancing offering for borrowers having high LTVs who meet certain criteria. The new offering contains a number of similarities to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), including not subjecting eligible borrowers to a minimum credit score, not establishing a maximum debt-to-income ratio or maximum LTV, and often not requiring an appraisal. Dissimilarities from HARP include not imposing eligibility cut-off dates and allowing borrowers to use the offering more than once to refinance their mortgage. Borrowers will not have access to the new offering until October 2017. As such, the FHFA directed the GSEs to extend HARP through September 30, 2017, ensuring that “high LTV borrowers who are eligible for HARP will not be without a refinance option while the new refinance offering is being implemented.”