5 Real Estate What If’s That Make Me Lose Sleep

What if:

1 – The government forces all delinquent/underwater mortgages to be modified? Those of us who do pay our mortgages look like suckers.

2 – Retirees cannot retire.

3 – The 30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage goes away?

4a – QRM becomes law

The proposal would allow participants to avoid the 5% requirement when they securitize “qualified residential mortgages (QRM),” deemed relatively safe from default by borrowers. To fit this category, a mortgage would require a borrower with a solid credit rating who will make a down payment of at least 20%. Studies have shown that borrowers are less likely to default if they have made large down payments, which represent equity that would be lost in a foreclosure. Many of the bad loans issued a few years ago required little or no down payment.

4b – I know I’m simplifying this, but if a buyer is required to have some skin in the game, why shouldn’t the lender? From the NAR:

NAR also has concerns about the proposed risk retention regulation under the Dodd-Frank Act that requires lenders that securitize mortgage loans to retain 5 percent of the credit risk unless the mortgage is a qualified residential mortgage (QRM). High down payment requirements are being proposed by federal regulatory agencies as part of the QRM exemption. Most Americans still consider having enough money for down payment and closing costs to be the biggest obstacles to buying a home. According to NAR estimates it could take as many as 14 years for the average family to save for their down payment. Higher down payments do not have a meaningful impact on default rates; NAR supports a reasonable and affordable cash investment requirement coupled with quality credit standards, strong documentation and sound underwriting.

4c – Let’s not forget one of the main reasons we got in the mess we were/are in: (I originally noted this in 2007)

The key reason the Subprime problem exists as it does today has to do with the wanton disassociation of risk inherent in the machine that churns out Subprime loans. Unlike the S&L crisis of the 1980s, the mortgage lenders of today aren’t taking their own balance sheet risk when underwriting loans. These brokers get paid for quantity REGARDLESS of quality. The balance sheet risk is transferred through three entities in less than 90 days from origination. The originator will originate ANYTHING he can sell to a whole loan buyer to pass the hot potato on. Whole loan buyers are simply the aggregators of loans at the Wall St. firms that aggregate, package, tranche, and sell as quickly as they possibly can to the clueless buyer. This transference of risk is the crux of the Subprime situation. Just think about it…if you were a 20-something making mortgage loans in California using someone else’s balance sheet and being paid per loan (with no lookback to performance of the loan), how many dubious loans would you underwrite?

5 – There is so much fraud in our systems that no one cares and/or no one knows what to do about it.

This revelation, that HUD audits of the biggest servicers over a mere two-month period, showed extensive fraud, is proof that abuses were extensive. It also establishes that the effort by Tom Miller to settle the 50 state attorneys general investigation quickly and and the recent “see no evil” Federal consent orders are a cover up. The fact that HUD found extensive misconduct over a similar time frame as the Foreclosure Task Force, which Assistant Treasury Secretary Michael Barr described as a ““11-agency, 8-week review of servicer practices, with hundreds of investigators crawling all over the banks” proves that the latter to be pure regulatory theater.

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