How We Beat Irma

Newsletter – October 2017

As you probably know, we had a very unwelcome visitor by the name of Irma blow through our town last month. Though she lost a lot of her punch by the time she got to Clearwater, she was still pretty tough. Our county (Pinellas) was the worst hit for power outages in the state of Florida!

However, we were very fortunate to be one of the first to get power back on at our office Tuesday morning, two days after the storm. As I write this – nearly a week later – there are still thousands of homes and businesses without power in Clearwater, and I pray for their relief after this terrible storm.

Starting in August, I make the National Hurricane Center (NOAA) the first page that I open on my browser in the morning, and watch… every day. I do this for the next 61 days, when I feel I can relax a bit on October 1st. I’ve done this for years.

I have to say that there seems to be something about the Tampa Bay area that deflects these storms (or the worst parts, at least) from us year after year – but of course, you can’t plan on that. In 2004, Charlie was barreling up the west coast of Florida, predicted to hit Clearwater dead on. At the last minute, it turned east and hit Punta Gorda (about 140 miles south of us) and for the most part, left us alone. (We did lose power for over a week though, so you can imagine my fears with Irma!)

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Mortgage Servicing Experts: Simplify and Standardize the Rules to Help Lenders – and Borrowers

Newsletter – September 2017

In the debate over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, all sides seem to agree:

While the regulations created in the wake of the housing bust were well-intended, they are unnecessarily complex and costly and have suppressed lending – and change is needed.

So the Urban Institute opened a dialogue this summer by hosting an online discussion where industry leaders could talk about ways to reduce the costs of regulation and servicing without increasing risks to consumers and the housing market.

“First and foremost, the multitude of distinct federal, state and agency policies should be harmonized and unified into a single set of practical standards and requirements,” said Meg Burns, SVP of Mortgage Policy at Financial Services Roundtable.

In fact, the overriding theme of the discussion was the need for consistency, an idea mirrored by the proposal recently sent to the CFPB by the National Mortgage Servicers Association, looking to standardize key definitions, guidance and best practices surrounding the maintenance of vacant properties.

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Have Regulators Made a Mess of the Mortgage Market?

Newsletter – August 2017

There has been a lot of discussion over the last six months about whether mortgage-industry regulations and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) are doing more to help consumers or hurt the economy.

Let’s set aside the rhetoric for a moment and look at the hard numbers – namely this one: 615.

That is the number of pages in the average mortgage loan today.

Yep, you read that right – 615 pages.

It wasn’t always like this…

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Zero-Down Mortgages – Ghosts of the Housing Bust – Return

Newsletter – July 2017

They’re ba-aaaaack!

Zero-down mortgages, which were some of the biggest losers for everyone · lenders, investors and borrowers · during the housing bust, are making a comeback.

And while there are significant differences between the no-down-payment mortgages of a decade ago and the ones being offered today, mortgage risk analysts are asking:

Are we courting disaster?

Today’s no-down-payment programs aren’t technically “zero down” like VA loans, where 100% of the loan is financed. These borrowers actually START with a 3% equity stake in their mortgage.

Top 10 retail home lender Movement Mortgage has introduced a financing option that gives eligible first-time buyers a grant of up to 3%, allowing borrowers to qualify for a 97% loan-to-value ratio conventional mortgage.

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Weighing the Pros and Cons of the Financial CHOICE Act

Newsletter – June 2017

After passing through the House Financial Services Committee last month, the Financial CHOICE Act is headed to the House floor, where lawmakers could vote on it as soon as this month.

We thought now would be a good time to weigh both sides of the bill.

The CHOICE Act was introduced by Texas Republican Jeb Hensarling as a replacement for the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was created in response to the financial crisis of 2008.

Republicans argue that Dodd-Frank has created costly regulations that have suffocated economic growth by crushing small banks and limiting the little guys’ access to capital.

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