Apr. 1, 2013: Mortgage jobs; tax implications of cancelled mortgage debt; thoughts on keeping the 30-yr mortgage
Rob Chrisman


The previous e-mail & April Fool’s Day aside, Happy Dyngus Day! Huh? Yes, it is for real, especially in Buffalo, NY, where they take the Monday after Easter seriously, and thanks to Linda J. for sending this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Kz9CfmcWWQ&list=PLF33D4BD99DA5B5BA&index=8.


Metropolitan Mortgage is hiring loan officer, branch manager, and area managers. The company has been growing, and Bob Adams has joined Metropolitan Home Mortgage (http://www.metrohmc.com/) to help accelerate the growth of its rapidly expanding retail platform.  Metropolitan Home Mortgage is a mortgage banker founded in 1993 and so has been in business nearly 20 years, and is a HUD approved FHA direct endorsement lender as well as an approved Fannie Mae seller servicer. For more information about the LO, Branch Manager, or Area Manager opportunities, please contact Mr. Adams directly at badams@mthm.com.


On the other side of the nation, Norcom Mortgage is currently recruiting in New England for retail Loan Officers and Branch Managers, with both in-office and remote opportunities available. Established in 1990, Norcom Mortgage is a privately held lender licensed in 14 states and focused on continuing to expand its market share. Norcom’s lending channels include wholesale, retail, correspondent, and branching, and it is growing its servicing portfolio, hiring a compliance attorney, and beefing up its offering of marketing support. All interested individuals should send a confidential e-mail to its Corporate Recruitment Officer Josh Gillooly at josh@norcom-usa.com. Learn more about the company at www.NorcomMortgage.com.


Every FHA lender in the nation knows that the monthly Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) for FHA will be increasing with all case numbers pulled after April 1, 2013. What perhaps fewer know is when borrowers are able to stop paying MIP. Currently if a borrower has a loan with a term greater than 15 years and the loan to value is greater than 78%, then they will have MIP for 5 years and must pay the loan down to 78% LTV based on the original sales price (unlike a conventional loan which will use current market value to determine LTV). After today, not only is the MIP going up, the amount of time the borrower has MIP is changing too. For loans with an LTV greater than 78% up to 90% LTV they will be living with MIP for 11 years. If the LTV is greater than 90% they are in for life of the loan (ouch). Bailing out of MIP using LTV is out – it will become strictly a function of time. Something else that is being seen as a trend in FHA lending is that the market is seeing signs that lenders are increasingly using premium pricing as a way to offset borrower closing costs. (There is a “deeper dive” on the factors moving current Ginnie pricing at the STRATMOR Group web site located at www.stratmorgroup.com.)


Do you know an appraiser that harmed by the whole move toward AMC’s? Well they can check out the recent legislation from Kentucky at http://www.appraisalinstitute.org/ano/DisplayArticle/Default.aspx?volume=14&numbr=5/6&id=19681.


There continues to be a debate about whether or not 30-yr mortgages/liens are a good idea or not. The MBA’s president – Dave Stevens – weighed in on the argument last week. “On the one hand it could be argued that the fully pre payable 30 year fixed rate loan was not a necessity in looking back historically. There is some truth to that - to be clear - mortgage interest rates have been on a steady decline for over three decades since their peak in 1980. While clearly home-owner preference for the 30 year mortgage has been high, borrowers would have clearly benefited from an adjustable rate product that would have adjusted naturally downward over the past three decades. In hindsight, borrowers would have avoided all of the expense and time associated with refinancing as mortgage interest rates essentially dropped from their peak of 18% down to about 3.5% at bottom a few short weeks ago. Yes, there were a few spikes along the way, but these were very short lived and would have been more than offset by the eventual rate declines that followed these infrequent corrections. So yes, to those that that argue this point, they are correct - in hindsight. And hindsight is always perfect.”


Mr. Stevens note goes on. “The concern I have is the effect of a mortgage market that is absent the 30 year fixed rate on a forward looking basis where almost absolute certainty calls for interest rate increases. Let’s think about a few variables associated with this climate we currently face. 1. The Spike - Hybrid Arms or Balloon loans have a built in adjustment period where the borrower has to face an interest rate adjustment. We know that the future won't be anything like the past, that there is little hope for further rate declines; after all you can't go below zero. The planning of the rate change at the first adjustment in an ARM or Balloon can be modeled by risk managers. The "spike" is something that ARM investors have long modeled as they had to plan for prepayments, either from default rates or wealthy borrowers who would pay off their loan. The question is how does a senior citizen on a fixed income deal with a spike? If a 5 year balloon was at 3.5% on a $300,000 loan and rates rise 2%, their payment would climb $350 per month. If on a fixed income, this could cause defaults to those individuals. The point is non-fixed rate mortgages pose significant default risks to borrowers in a rising rate scenario - we just haven't experienced that.....yet.”


And furthermore, “2. Compensating factors - One thing we know is that the largest segment of home-ownership demand over the next decade will come from first time buyers. The borrowers will have low down-payments. Layering risks of low down-payment mortgages combined with a shorter term mortgage that will have a spike, leaves little cushion for the borrower. I'm not passing judgment here on whether lower home-ownership rates are good or bad, but the impact to home-ownership rates could be implicated as a result of the higher risk of these combined effects. 3. TBA - The 30 year fixed rate predominance is largely the result of the ability of the GSE's (Freddie and Fannie) and GNMA to make a market, hedge basis risk forward, and drive enough liquidity to provide this nation with the 30 year mortgage. In the United Kingdom, as a comparison, there is no 30 year mortgage. The vast majority of mortgages are 5 year balloon loans that require larger down-payments. "Generation Rent" is the outcry in England as the home-ownership rate has been dropping and access has become a huge concern. Those that would completely eliminate government support for housing should look at the UK as a model for what the market in the US could look like. 4. Private Sector Role - One thing we have learned in history is that the banking industry is not good at long rate mortgages. Lending long and borrowing short has created enormous issues for the banking sector, once having been the fuel for the savings and loan crisis of a few decades ago that cost the taxpayer hundreds of billions of dollars in bailout funds. We should not expect to see a viable, functioning 30 year market without some formal support.”


And lastly he states, “Look, I'm not advocating to keep Fannie and Freddie in their current state, I have spent a lot of time working with others on ideas to transition them and yet consider the need for liquidity in the mortgage markets. I am saying that I don't think anyone can forecast how important the fixed rate mortgage will be in the years ahead as rates move in the opposite direction from where they came and perhaps expose our nation’s housing market and millions of Americans to a very serious set of challenges that could have their own systemic impacts. Getting this right, in a balanced way, will be critically important as we move forward.”


It’s tax month! Here is some information that LOs may want to read if they are advising borrowers on cancelled or forgiven mortgage debt. If your lender cancelled or forgave your mortgage debt, you generally have to pay tax on that amount. But there are exceptions to this rule for some homeowners who had mortgage debt forgiven in 2012. The IRS has released some facts about mortgage debt forgiveness. Cancelled debt normally results in taxable income, but you may be able to exclude the cancelled debt from your income if the debt was a mortgage on your main home. To qualify, you must have used the debt to buy, build or substantially improve your principal residence. The residence must also secure the mortgage. The maximum qualified debt that you can exclude under this exception is $2 million. The limit is $1 million for a married person who files a separate tax return. You may be able to exclude from income the amount of mortgage debt reduced through mortgage restructuring. You may also be able to exclude mortgage debt cancelled in a foreclosure. You may also qualify for the exclusion on a refinanced mortgage. This applies only if you used proceeds from the refinancing to buy, build or substantially improve your main home. The exclusion is limited to the amount of the old mortgage principal just before the refinancing. Proceeds of refinanced mortgage debt used for other purposes do not qualify for the exclusion. For example, debt used to pay off credit card debt does not qualify. If you qualify, report the excluded debt on Form 982, Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness. Submit the completed form with your federal income tax return. Other types of cancelled debt do not qualify for this special exclusion. This includes debt cancelled on second homes, rental and business property, credit cards or car loans. In some cases, other tax relief provisions may apply, such as debts discharged in certain bankruptcy proceedings. Form 982 provides more details about these provisions. If your lender reduced or cancelled at least $600 of your mortgage debt, they normally send you a statement in January of the next year. Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt, shows the amount of cancelled debt and the fair market value of any foreclosed property. Finally, check your Form 1099-C for the cancelled debt amount shown in Box 2, and the value of your home shown in Box 7. Notify the lender immediately of any incorrect information so they can correct the form. But here you go: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/Important-Facts-about-Mortgage-Debt-Forgiveness.


Turning to the markets, it was a quiet Easter weekend after the markets were closed on Friday. Not only are many markets closed around the world today (most of Europe along w/Hong Kong, Australia, and others, are all shut Monday), but many school districts have Spring Break. The Fed is continuing to expand its balance sheet at $85 billion per month, and there was no indication last week that they would change the bond buying program. The fed is expected to hold interest rates near zero until 2015 and future changes between now and then are expected to only affect the pace of bond buying. Again, the Fed repeated a promise to hold interest rates near zero until unemployment reaches its target of 6.5% and inflation stay below the 2% target.


U.S. Treasuries prices continued to gain for a third straight week as investors renewed their fears over the euro zone. 10-year notes closed Thursday at 1.85% coming off highs of 2.09% back on March 8th. Many still expect to see yields to move higher as the economy continues to strengthen – but rates are not expected to move that much higher. Generally speaking, U.S. economic data from the first quarter shows sustained momentum in the early stages of fiscal tightening, something that is not a “one and done” event, but rather a process that will continue for much of 2013.


But this is a new week, and although we’re off to a quiet start, there is some meaningful economic news coming out peaking on Friday with the unemployment data. (The unemployment rate equals the number of unemployed divided by the total number of persons in the labor force, but is full of statistical nuances.) If there’s any report that can move the markets, this is it. Wall Street reacts dramatically when the results falls outside expectations. Until then, today we’ll have Construction Spending & ISM Manufacturing, tomorrow is Factory Orders and a slew of European & Asian news, Wednesday is the ADP employment numbers & ISM Non-manufacturing composite, and Thursday is Challenger Job Cuts & Initial Jobless Claims.


We start off with the 10-yr, which closed at 1.85% Thursday, at 1.88% and MBS prices roughly unchanged/worse a tad.



One day, shortly after joining the PGA tour in 1965, Lee Trevino, a professional golfer and married man, was at his home in Dallas, Texas mowing his front lawn, as he always did.

A lady driving by in a big, shiny Cadillac stopped in front of his house, lowered the window and asked, "Excuse me, do you speak English?”

Lee responded, "Yes Ma'am, I do.” 

The lady then asked, "What do you charge to do yard work?"

 Lee said, "Well, the lady in this house lets me sleep with her.” 

The lady hurriedly put the car into gear and sped off.



If you're interested, visit my twice-a-month blog at the STRATMOR Group web site located at www.stratmorgroup.com. The current blog is, “How Changes in FHA Loan Pricing Will Lead to Changes in Investor Demand." If you have both the time and inclination, make a comment on what I have written, or on other comments so that folks can learn what's going on out there from the other readers.


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http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/channels/pipelinepress/default.aspx or www.TheBasisPoint.com/category/daily-basis. For archived commentaries or to subscribe, go to www.robchrisman.com. Copyright 2013 Chrisman LLC. All rights reserved. Occasional paid job listings do appear. This report or any portion hereof may not be reprinted, sold or redistributed without the written consent of Rob Chrisman.)




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