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FHFA Analysis on Principal Forgiveness


The FHFA released their analysis on the effectiveness of principal reductions for Fannie and Freddie loans. The FHFA analysis showed that principal reductions would be more costly for taxpayers than other alternatives.

Here is the letter: FHFA Releases Analysis on Principal Forgiveness As Loss Mitigation Tool

Here is the analysis: FHFA Analyses of Principal Forgiveness Loan Modifications.

In considering principal forgiveness, FHFA compared taxpayer losses from principal forgiveness versus principal forbearance, which is an alternate approach that the Enterprises currently undertake to fulfill their mission at a lower cost to the taxpayer. FHFA based its conclusion that principal forgiveness results in a lower net present value than principal forbearance on an analysis initially prepared in December 2010, which is attached, along with updated analyses produced in June and December 2011, which are also attached.

Putting this determination in context, as of June 30, 2011, the Enterprises had nearly three million first lien mortgages with outstanding balances estimated to be greater than the value of the home, as measured using FHFA’s House Price Index. FHFA estimates that principal forgiveness for all of these mortgages would require funding of almost 0 billion to pay down mortgages to the value of the homes securing them. This would be in addition to the credit losses both Enterprises are currently experiencing.

Another factor to consider is that nearly 80 percent of Enterprise underwater borrowers were current on their mortgages as of June 30, 2011. (Even for more deeply underwater borrowers – those with mark-to-market loan-to-value ratios above 115 percent, 74 percent are current.) This trend contrasts with non-Enterprise loans, where many underwater borrowers are delinquent.

Given that any money spent on this endeavor would ultimately come from taxpayers and given that our analysis does not indicate a preservation of assets for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac substantial enough to offset costs, an expenditure of this nature at this time would, in my judgment, require congressional action.

While it is not in the best interests of taxpayers for FHFA to require the Enterprises to offer principal forgiveness to high LTV borrowers, a principal forgiveness strategy might reduce losses for other loan holders. Indeed, in several of the examples cited, such as Ocwen and Wells Fargo, principal forgiveness is being offered to borrowers whose loans the investor or servicer purchased at a discount, which would likely change the analytics significantly. … Additionally, less than ten percent of borrowers with Enterprise loans have negative equity in their homes (9.9 percent in June 2011), whereas loans backing private label securities were more than three times more likely to have negative equity (35.5 percent in June 2011).

This is reminder that Fannie and Freddie loans were much better than the private label loans.

As an aside: Here is a table from the report (as of June 30, 2010). This shows the total loans, the UPB (Unpaid Principal Balance) and the number of loans current. Of course house prices have fallen over the last 18 months, and there have been other changes (refinances, foreclosures, home sales), but this gives an idea of the number of HARP eligible loans for refinancing once the program becomes automated in March. HARP will apply to all current loans with LTV greater than 80% (about 7 million loans).

Note: There are just over 50 million first mortgage liens, so as of June 2010, Fannie and Freddie held about 60% of the mortgages – but a much smaller percentage of the delinquent loans.

Fannie and Freddie: MTM LTV Distribution June 30, 2010
  UPB ($ Billions) Total Loans (000s) Percent of UPB Current (000s) Percent Current
LTV Missing .5 346 1.1% 315 91.0%
LTV <= 80% ,994.4 21,547 71.2% 20,821 96.6%
80 < LTV < 105 ,206.5 6,461 21.4% 5,801 89.8%
105 < LTV < 115 0.2 704 2.3% 512 72.8%
115 < LTV <= 150 5.9 1,069 3.5% 804 75.2%
LTV > 150% .6 135 0.4% 43 31.8%
Total ,634.1 30,262 100.0% 28,296  
Source: Historical Loan Performance dataset. Excludes modifications and foreclosure alternatives. LTVs updated using FHFA’s Monthly Purchase Only House Price Index.

Calculated Risk

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