On January 12, the FHFA issued a final rule amending membership eligibility in the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLBank) system. The final rule, which follows the FHFA’s September 2014 proposal to revise the requirements for financial institutions applying for and retaining membership in the FHLBank system, removes two provisions from the proposal “that would have required FHLBank members to maintain ongoing minimum levels of investment in specified residential mortgage assets as a condition of remaining eligible for membership.” In addition, the final rule defines “insurance company” to exclude captive insurers, rendering such entities ineligible for FHLBank membership. According to the FHFA, a captive insurer’s primary business is to underwrite insurance for its “parent company or for other affiliates, rather than for the public at large.” According to the FHFA, “REITs and other entities have been forming captives solely for the purpose of providing ineligible institutions access to Bank advances,” and the FHFA’s final rule is “intended to prevent further use of captives to circumvent the membership eligibility of the Bank Act.” The final rule allows current captive insurer members who joined prior to the 2014 proposal up to five years to terminate their membership, and captive insurers who joined after the issuance of the 2014 proposal have one year to terminate. The final rule becomes effective 30 days from publication in the Federal Register.
On July 7, the FHFA released an update entitled An Update: An Implementation of the Single Security and the Common Securitization Platform (the Update) regarding Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s (collectively, the GSEs) joint venture – Common Securitization Solutions (CSS) – to develop and implement a Common Securitization Platform (CSP). As part of a multi-year initiative beginning as early as February 2012, the FHFA has been developing and reporting on the principles and functions for a new securitization platform that supports single-family residential mortgage-backed securitization activities guaranteed by the GSEs. FHFA’s recently issued Update outlines the CSS’s progress made to date, describes expected upcoming milestones, and summarizes the various phases of required testing for Release 1 and Release 2 of the CSP. Importantly, Release 1 will allow Freddie Mac to use the CSP and its Data Acceptance, Issuance Support, and Bond Administration modules to “perform activities related to its current single-class, fixed-rate securities—Participation Certifications (PCs) and Giant PCs—and certain activities related to the underlying mortgage loans (such as tracking unpaid principal balances).” Release 2 will allow both GSEs to use the CSP’s Data Acceptance, Issuance Support, Disclosure, and Bond Administration modules to “perform activities related to their current fixed-rate securities, both single- and multi-class; to issue Single Securities, including commingled resecuritizations; and to perform activities related to the underlying loans,” as well as to allow the GSEs to use the CSP “to issue and administer certain non-TBA mortgage securities, including Fannie Mae securities backed by adjustable rate mortgages.” According to the Update, the Single Security features of the CSP described in the FHFA’s May 2015 update have not been altered and are final. The Single Security features are fundamentally the same as those of the current Fannie Mae MBS and include: (i) payment delay of 55 days; (ii) certain pooling prefixes; (iii) mortgage coupon pooling requirements; (iv) minimum pool submission amounts; (v) general loan requirements such as first lien position, good title, and non-delinquent status; and (vi) seasoning requirements. As outlined in FHFA’s December 2015 publication of the 2016 Scorecard for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Common Securitization Solutions, the GSEs are expected to implement Release 1 in 2016 and Release 2 in 2018.
Second Circuit Upholds District Court Decision, Applies New York’s Six-Year Limitations Period on Contractual Claims
On November 16, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the Southern District of New York’s decision to dismiss a leading global bank’s complaint against a nonbank mortgage lender alleging breach of contractual obligations to repurchase mortgage loans that violated representations and warranties. Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co. v. Quicken Loans Inc., No. 14-3373 (2nd Cir. Nov. 16, 2015). The bank, under its right as Trustee of the loans, alleged that the lender breached aspects of representations and warranties contained in a 2006 Purchase Agreement, including those related to (i) borrower income; (ii) debt-to-income ratios; (iii) loan-to-value and combined loan-to-value ratios; and (iv) owner occupancy. The bank’s complaint also alleged that it sent the lender a series of notification letters between August 2013 and October 2013 demanding cure or repurchase of the loans, which the lender allegedly failed to do without justification. The bank challenged the District Court’s decision by arguing that New York’s six-year statute of limitations on contractual claims did not apply because the terms of the representations and warranties contained an “Accrual Clause” placing future obligations on the lender. Read more…
On May 20, the FHFA announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac released updates to their operational and financial eligibility requirements for single-family mortgage Seller/Servicers. Because of changes in the servicing industry, the FHFA directed Fannie and Freddie to update their Seller/Servicer standards to “help ensure the safe and sound operation of the Enterprises and provide greater transparency, clarity and consistency to industry participants and other stakeholders and reflect feedback received over the past several months.” Fannie Mae’s revised operational standards will take effect by September 1, 2015, and Servicers must implement the financial eligibility changes by December 31, 2015. Operational standards for Freddie Mac Servicers will take effect August 18, 2015; financial eligibility revisions must be in place by December 31, 2015.
On May 8, FHFA Director Mel Watt spoke at the 22nd Annual Economic Summit, focusing on the agency’s conservatorship activities with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSEs). Most significantly, Director Watt announced that the agency is extending the GSEs’ participation in HAMP and HARP until the end of 2016. Since their 2009 inception, the two programs have relieved many borrowers of high monthly payments. HARP, allowing borrowers who regularly make their mortgage payments to refinance their loans and take advantage of low income rates, and HAMP, providing significant payment reductions tied to borrowers’ income, have prevented a number of foreclosures. Since HARP and HAMP were never intended to be permanent programs, this will be FHFA’s final extension of the GSEs’ participation. Looking forward, the agency plans to “consider how best to build on the lessons of HAMP for 2017 and beyond,” exploring possible streamlined modifications and refinance solutions for borrowers.