Freddie Mac

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Posted by kaori 03/29/2009 @ 22:13

Tags : freddie mac, mortgages, finance

News headlines
Freddie Mac: Mortgage rates fall again - Bizjournals.com
Freddie Mac's weekly rate report says 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to an average 4.82 percent, down from 4.86 percent last week. A year ago, 30-year mortgages were averaging about 6 percent. Long-term fixed rate mortgages are now on par with many...
Freddie Mac: 30-year mortgage average edges down - MarketWatch
"Long-term fixed-rate mortgage rates have remained below 5% for the past 10 weeks as the US Treasury and Federal Reserve act to keep interest rates low through security purchases," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist....
Investors expand fraud claims against Freddie Mac - Reuters
By Martha Graybow NEW YORK, May 20 (Reuters) - Freddie Mac (FRE.N) investors have filed expanded court claims accusing the mortgage finance company and three former executives of committing fraud by misleading them about risky loan practices and...
Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac still face weaknesses-FHFA - Reuters
NEW YORK, May 18 (Reuters) - Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the largest providers of residential mortgage funds, are still falling short in addressing management concerns that led the US government to seize the companies eight months ago, their federal...
Freddie Mac to sell $3 bln in bills on Tuesday - Reuters
NEW YORK, May 22 (Reuters) - Freddie Mac (FRE.N) said Friday it plans to sell $3.0 billion of reference bills on Tuesday. The bills will be sold on Tuesday, instead of it's regularly scheduled Monday sale, due to the Memorial Day holiday....
Freddie Mac needs another $6.1B in aid - CNNMoney.com
More NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Freddie Mac asked for another $6.1 billion in government aid Tuesday, after reporting a $9.9 billion quarterly loss. Including the most recent request, Freddie Mac (FRE, Fortune 500) has drawn $51.7 billion of its $200...
Mortgage trouble? Contact approved HUD agencies - Seattle Times
Only loans owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are eligible for the refinancing program. MakingHomeAffordable.gov outlines how to determine whether you are eligible and allows you to link with the list of HUD-approved foreclosure-counseling agencies....
US mortgage rates rise from record low: Freddie Mac - Reuters
Interest rates on US 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose to 4.84 percent for the week ending May 7, up from the previous week's 4.78 percent, equaling the all-time low, according to a survey released on Thursday by home funding company Freddie Mac (FRE....
Top SC court lifts stop on home foreclosure sales - Daily Mail - Charleston
On May 4, Toal ordered South Carolina judges to stop finalizing foreclosure sales on thousands of properties guaranteed by Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae or any other mortgage company that has signed on to a federal assistance program, so homeowners could...
Energy studies now on the MBA menu - Hindu Business Line
They were then bundling these mortgages together — just like the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages — except that these were not even conforming mortgages that should never have been allowed to be sold. But they found buyers keen on a higher return....

Freddie Mac

The FHLMC was created in 1970 to expand the secondary market for mortgages in the US. Along with other GSEs, Freddie Mac buys mortgages on the secondary market, pools them, and sells them as mortgage-backed securities to investors on the open market. This secondary mortgage market increases the supply of money available for mortgages lending and increases the money available for new home purchases. The name, "Freddie Mac", was a creative acronym of the company's full name that had been adopted officially for ease of identification (see "GSEs" below for other examples).

On September 8, 2008, Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) director James B. Lockhart III announced he had put Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under the conservatorship of the FHFA (see Federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). The action has been described as "one of the most sweeping government interventions in private financial markets in decades".

Moody's gave Freddie Mac's preferred stock an investment grade rating of A1 until August 22, 2008 when Warren Buffett said publicly that both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae had tried to attract him and others. Moody's changed the credit rating on that day to Baa3, the lowest investment grade credit rating. Freddie's senior debt credit rating remains Aaa/AAA from each of the major ratings agencies Moody's, S&P, and Fitch. As of the start of the conservatorship, the United States Department of the Treasury had contracted to acquire US$1 billion in Freddie Mac senior preferred stock, paying at a rate of 10 percent a year, and the total investment may subsequently rise to as much as US$ 100 billion.

Home loan interest rates may go down as a result, and owners of Freddie Mac debt and the Asian central banks who had increased their holdings in these bonds may be protected. Shares of Freddie Mac stock, however, plummeted to about one U.S. dollar on September 8, 2008 . The yield on U.S Treasury securities rose in anticipation of increased U.S. federal debt.

From 1938 to 1968, the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) was the sole institution that bought mortgages from depository institutions, principally savings and loan associations, which encouraged more mortgage lending and effectively insured the value of mortgages by the US government. In 1968, Fannie Mae split into a private corporation and a publicly financed institution. The private corporation was still called Fannie Mae, and its charter continued to support the purchase of mortgages from savings and loan associations and other depository institutions, but without an explicit insurance policy that guaranteed the value of the mortgages. The publicly financed institution was named the Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae) and it explicitly guaranteed the repayments of securities backed by mortgages made to government employees or veterans (the mortgages themselves were also guaranteed by other government organizations). To provide competition for the newly private Fannie Mae and to further increase the availability of funds to finance mortgages and home ownership, Congress then established the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) as a private corporation through the Emergency Home Finance Act of 1970. The charter of Freddie Mac was essentially the same as Fannie Mae's newly private charter: to expand the secondary market for mortgages and mortgage backed securities by buying mortgages made by savings and loan associations and other depository institutions.

The Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act ("FIRREA") of 1991 revised and standardized the regulation of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Prior to this act, Freddie Mac was owned by the Federal Home Loan Bank System and governed by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, which was reorganized into the Office of Thrift Supervision by the Act. The Act severed Freddie Mac's ties to the Federal Home Loan Bank System, created an 18-member board of directors, and subjected it to HUD oversight.

Freddie Mac was put under a conservatorship of the U.S. Federal government on Sunday, September 7, 2008: Federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Freddie Mac's primary method of making money is by charging a guarantee fee on loans that it has purchased and securitized into mortgage-backed security bonds. Investors, or purchasers of Freddie Mac MBS, are willing to let Freddie Mac keep this fee in exchange for assuming the credit risk, that is, Freddie Mac's guarantee that the principal and interest on the underlying loan will be paid back regardless of whether the borrower actually repays.

Both Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke have spoken publicly in favor of greater regulation of the GSEs, because of the size of their holdings and the widespread perception that they are government backed. Freddie Mac is currently regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and its Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO). The United States House of Representatives passed HR 1427 (Federal Housing Finance Reform Act of 2007) to consolidate oversight for Freddie, Fannie, and the Federal Home Loan Banks into a single regulator.

The GSEs are allowed to buy only conforming loans, which limits secondary market competition for non-conforming loans. The law of supply and demand accordingly renders the non-conforming loan harder to sell (fewer competing buyers); thus it would cost the consumer more (typically 1/4 to 1/2 of a percentage point, and sometimes more, depending on credit market conditions). OFHEO annually sets the limit of the size of a conforming loan in response to the October to October change in mean home price. Above that conforming loan limit, a mortgage is considered a non-conforming jumbo loan. The conforming loan limit is 50 percent higher in such high-cost areas as Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and the US Virgin Islands, and is also higher for 2-4 unit properties on a graduating scale.

In mid July 2008 there was widespread speculation that the US government would move to provide Freddie Mac with additional guarantees of capital, because of widespread instability in the financial markets and public perceptions of looming insolvency. On Sunday July 13 The Secretary of the Treasury announced that the US government would seek legal permission to invest in Freddie Mac, which it later obtained as part of a Congressional housing bill. In addition, the Federal Reserve offered Freddie access to its emergency borrowing facility, the Discount Window(see also press release of the Fed), a resource traditionally reserved for banks. While, many are calling this move tantamount to a bailout, the Treasury has not yet invested in Freddie Mac and has in fact announced that it has no plans to do so; rather, the Congressional permission constituted a last-resort.

The FHLMC states, "securities, including any interest..., are not guaranteed by, and are not debts or obligations of, the United States or any agency or instrumentality of the United States other than Freddie Mac." The FHLMC and FHLMC securities are not funded or protected by the US Government. FHLMC securities carry no government guarantee of being repaid. This is explicitly stated in the law that authorizes GSEs, on the securities themselves, and in public communications issued by the FHLMC.

There is a wide belief that FHLMC securities are backed by some sort of implied federal guarantee, and a majority of investors believe that the government would prevent a disastrous default. Vernon L. Smith, 2002 Nobel Laureate in economics, has called FHLMC and FNMA "implicitly taxpayer-backed agencies." The Economist has referred to "he implicit government guarantee" of FHLMC and FNMA.

Freddie Mac announced on February 27, 2007 that it will buy a subprime adjustable rate mortgage only if the borrower qualifies for the maximum rate of the loan, rather than merely a low introductory (so-called teaser) rate.

Freddie Mac was named one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers in 2004 by Working Mothers magazine.

Freddie Mac was ranked number 50 in Fortune 500's 2007 rankings.

Freddie Mac was ranked 20 in Forbes' Global 2,000 public companies rankings for 2008.

In 2003, Freddie Mac revealed that it had understated earnings by almost $5 billion, one of the largest corporate restatements in U.S. history. As a result, in November, it was fined $125 million--an amount called "peanuts" by Forbes.

On April 18, 2006 Freddie Mac was fined $3.8 million, by far the largest amount ever assessed by the Federal Election Commission, as a result of illegal campaign contributions. Freddie Mac was accused of illegally using corporate resources between 2000 and 2003 for 85 fundraisers that collected about $1.7 million for federal candidates. Much of the illegal fund raising benefited members of the House Financial Services Committee, a panel whose decisions can affect Freddie Mac. Notably, Freddie Mac held more than 40 fundraisers for House Financial Services Chairman Michael Oxley, R-Ohio.

Officially, Freddie Mac is not given any backing, insurance, or statutory support by the US Government. Unofficially, it has long been assumed that the corporation, along with its sister GSE, the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), were "too big to fail". Both companies often benefited from an implied guarantee of fitness equivalent to truly federally-backed financial groups. Now Asian investors await that guarantee.

As of 2008, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac owned or guaranteed about half of the U.S.'s $12 trillion mortgage market. This made both corporations highly susceptible to the subprime mortgage crisis of that year. Ultimately, in July of that year, the speculation was made reality, when the US government took action to prevent the collapse of both corporations. The Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve took several steps to bolster confidence in the corporations, including extending credit limits, granting both corporations access to Federal Reserve low-interest loans (at similar rates as commercial banks), and potentially allowing the Treasury Department to own stock. This event also renewed calls for stronger regulation of GSEs by the government.

Bush recommended a significant regulatory overhaul of the housing finance industry in 2003, but many Democrats opposed it fearing that tighter regulation could greatly reduce financing for low-income housing, both low and high risk.

Bush opposed two other House Bills: Senate Bill S-190 Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005 was introduced in the Senate on Jan 26, 2005, sponsored by Hagel and co-sponsored by Dole and Sununu. S-190 was discussed in the Senate Banking Committee on July 28, 2005 with the result: "Ordered to be reported with an amendment in the nature of a substitute favorably". The bill died in a Republican controlled committee and never came to the floor of the Senate or back to the Senate Banking Committee for reconsideration.

On May 23, 2006, the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, issued the results of a 27 month long investigation.

On May 25,2006, Senator McCain joined as a co-sponsor to the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005 (first put forward by Sen. Charles Hagel ) where he pointed out that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's regulator reported that profits were "illusions deliberately and systematically created by the company's senior management". However, this regulation too met with opposition from both Democrats and Republicans. Note that McCain did not co-sponsor the more recent Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2007.

The Democrats who served as top Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac executives include Franklin Raines, former Clinton Budget Director and current Housing Policy advisor to Barack Obama, CEO from 1999 to 2004; James Johnson, former aide to Democratic Vice-President Walter Mondale and ex-head of Obama's Vice-Presidential Selection Committee, CEO from 1991 to 1998; and Jamie Gorelick, former Clinton Deputy Attorney General, Vice-Chair from 1998 to 2003. In their positions, Johnson earned an estimated $21 million; Raines earned an estimated $90 million; while Gorelick earned an estimated $26 million. All three top executives were also involved in mortgage-related financial scandals.

John McCain received $21,550 from these GSEs in the 19-year, 1989-2008, timeframe. In addition, various Republican committees, of which the McCain campaign was one, received a total of $169,000 in campaign contributions directly from lobbyists, directors and officers of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (. Freddie Mac also contributed $250,000 to the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota according to FEC filings . The organizers of the Democratic National Convention have not yet submitted their filings on how much they received from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (the latter of which tends more to support Democratic candidates).Yahoo! News No news stories that we are aware of have reported to total contributions of Fanny and Freddie to Democratic Committees. The top five recipients of campaign contributions from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae during the 1989 - 2008 time period are Christopher Dodd, (D-CT) $133,900, John Kerry, (D-MA) $111,000, Barack Obama, (D-IL) $105,849, Hillary Clinton, (D-NY) $75,550, and Paul Kanjorski,(D-PA) $65,500..

On September 7, 2008, Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director James B. Lockhart III announced pursuant to the financial analysis, assessments and statutory authority of the FHFA, he had placed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under the conservatorship of the FHFA. FHFA has stated that there are no plans to liquidate the company. The announcement followed reports two days earlier that the Federal government was planning to take over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and had met with their CEOs on short notice. Under the reported plan, the federal government, via the FHFA, would place the two firms into conservatorship, and for each entity, dismiss the chief executive officer, and dismiss the present board of directors and elect a new board of directors, and cause to be issued new common stock to the federal government. The value of the common stock to pre-conservatorship holders would be greatly diminished, in the effort to maintain the value of company debt and of mortgage-backed securities. The authority of the U.S. Treasury to advance funds for the purpose of stabilizing Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac is limited only by the amount of debt that the entire federal government is permitted by law to commit to. The July 30, 2008, law enabling expanded regulatory authority over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac increased the national debt ceiling by US$800 billion, to a total of US$ 10.7 Trillion in anticipation of the potential need for the Treasury to have the flexibility to support the federal home loan banks. On September 7, 2008, the U.S. Government took control of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Daniel Mudd, CEO of Fannie Mae and Richard Syron, CEO of Freddie Mac have been replaced. Herbert M. Allison former vice chairman of Merrill Lynch will take over Fannie Mae, and David M Moffett, former vice chairman of US Bancorp, will take over Freddie Mac. It is estimated that the liabilities of both companies could cost U.S. taxpayers tens of billions of dollars.

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Federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Fannie Mae headquarters at 3900 Wisconsin Avenue, NW in Washington, D.C.

The federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac refers to the placing into conservatorship of government sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by the U.S. Treasury in September 2008. It was one financial event among many in the ongoing subprime mortgage crisis.

On September 7, 2008, the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), James B. Lockhart III, announced his decision to place two Government sponsored enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Association) and Freddie Mac (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation), into conservatorship run by the FHFA.

The following day, Herbert M. Allison was appointed chief executive of Fannie Mae. He came from TIAA-CREF, where he fired 500 employees (8 percent of the work force).

The combined GSE losses of US$14.9 billion and market concerns about their ability to raise capital and debt threatened to disrupt the U.S. housing financial market. The Treasury committed to invest as much as US$200 billion in preferred stock and extend credit through 2009 to keep the GSEs solvent and operating. The two GSEs have outstanding more than US$ 5 trillion in mortgage backed securities (MBS) and debt; the debt portion alone is $1.6 trillion. The conservatorship action has been described as "one of the most sweeping government interventions in private financial markets in decades," and one that "could turn into the biggest and costliest government bailout ever of private companies".

With a growing sense of crisis in U.S. financial markets, the conservatorship action and commitment by the U.S. government to backstop the two GSEs with up to US$ 200 billion in additional capital turned out to be the first significant event in a tumultuous month among U.S.-based investment banking, financial institutions and federal regulatory bodies. By September 15, 2008, the 158 year-old Lehman Brothers holding company filed for bankruptcy with intent to liquidate its assets, leaving its financially sound subsidiaries operational and outside of the bankruptcy filing. The collapse is the largest investment bank failure since Drexel Burnham Lambert in 1990. The 94 year-old Merrill Lynch accepted a purchase offer by Bank of America for approximately US$ 50 billion, a big drop from a year-earlier market valuation of about US$ 100 billion. A credit rating downgrade of the large insurer American International Group (AIG) led to a September 16, 2008 rescue agreement with the Federal Reserve Bank for a US$85 billion dollar secured loan facility, in exchange for a warrants for 79.9% of the equity of AIG.

In 2005, the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act, sponsored by Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and co-sponsored by Senators Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), John McCain (R-AZ) and John Sununu (R-NH), would have increased government oversight of loans given by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Like the 2003 bill, it also died in the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, this time in the 109th Congress. A full and accurate record of the congressional attempts to regulate the housing GSEs is given in the Congressional record prepared in 2005.

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008—passed by the United States Congress on July 24, 2008 and signed into law by President George W. Bush on July 30, 2008 — enabled expanded regulatory authority over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by the newly established FHFA, and gave the U.S. Treasury the authority to advance funds for the purpose of stabilizing Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac, limited only by the amount of debt that the entire federal government is permitted by law to commit to. The law raised the Treasury's debt ceiling by US$800 billion, to a total of US$10.7 trillion, in anticipation of the potential need for the Treasury to have the flexibility to support Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or the Federal Home Loan Banks.

The September 7 conservatorship was been termed by The Economist as the "second" bailout of the GSEs. Prior to the enactment of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, on July 13, 2008, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced an effort to backstop the GSEs based on prior statutory authority, in coordination with the Federal Reserve Bank. That announcement occurred after a week in which the market values of shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac fell almost by half (from a previously diminished value of approximately half of year-earlier market highs). That plan contained three measures: an increase in the line of credit available to the GSEs from the Treasury, so as to provide liquidity; the right for the Treasury to purchase equity in the GSEs, so as to provide capital; and a consultative role for the Federal Reserve in a reformed GSE regulatory system. On the same day, the Federal Reserve announced that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York would have the right to lend to the GSEs as necessary.

The agreement the Treasury made with both GSEs specifies that in exchange for future support and capital investments of up to US$ 100 billion in each GSE, at the inception of the conservatorship, each GSE shall issue to the Treasury US$ 1 billion of senior preferred stock, with a 10% coupon, without cost to the Treasury. Also each GSE contracted to issue common stock warrants representing an ownership stake of 79.9%, at an exercise price of one-thousandth of a U.S. cent ($ 0.00001) per share, and with a warrant duration of twenty years.

The conservator, FHFA signed the agreements on behalf of the GSAs. The 100 billion amount for each GSE was chosen to indicate the level of commitment that the U.S. Treasury is willing to make to keep the financial operations and financial conditions solvent and sustainable for both GSEs. The agreements were designed to protect the senior and subordinated debt and the mortgage backed securities of the GSEs. The GSEs' common stock and existing preferred shareholders will bear any losses ahead of the government. Among other conditions of the agreement, each GSE’s retained mortgage and mortgage backed securities portfolio shall not exceed $850 billion as of December 31, 2009, and shall decline by 10% per year until it reaches $250 billion.

The on- or off-balance sheet obligations of the two GSEs, which are "independent" corporations rather than federal agencies, are just over $5 trillion, a significant amount when compared to the $9.5 trillion of officially reported United States public debt at the time of the takeover. The September 7, 2008 conservatorship and the subsequent planned Treasury infusion of capital support the senior liabilities, subordinated indebtedness, and mortgage guarantees of the two firms. Some observers see this as an effective nationalization of the companies that ultimately places taxpayers at risk for all their liabilities. The federal government follows specialized accounting standards set by the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board. The net exposure to taxpayers is difficult to determine at the time of the takeover and depends on several factors, such as declines in housing prices and losses on mortgage assets in the future. The Congressional Budget Office director Peter R. Orszag announced on September 9, 2008 that the CBO intended to incorporate the assets and liabilities of the two companies into their federal budget planning, due to the degree of government control over the entities. The White House Budget Director Jim Nussle, on September 12, 2008 indicated their budget plans would not incorporate the GSE debt into the budget because of the temporary nature of the conservator intervention.

Bloomberg reported that according to CMA Datavision of London that "five-year credit-default swap contracts on U.S. government debt increased 3.5 basis points on September 9, 2008 to a record 18, up from 6 basis points in April," in reaction to concerns about the potential rise in U.S. debt from bailouts.

Many commercial banks in the United States own Freddie and Fannie preferred shares. Those shares have had their dividends suspended, and are junior to the senior preferred stock issued to the Treasury in the restructuring of the two companies. The market value of the preferred shares plunged after the restructuring announcement and suspension of dividends. Banks were required to write down the value of Freddie and Fannie preferred stock held in their portfolios, compounding capitalization concerns for certain U.S. banks. Gateway bank agreed to be bought out by Hampton Roads Bankshares Inc. to make up for a writedown of $40 million on its stock in Fannie and Freddie, which put it below regulatory requirements to be considered adequately capitalized.

In the credit default swap (CDS) market, the standard contracts typically used between parties to a swap define the action of placing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into conservatorship to be equivalent to bankruptcy, because of the change in management control. In CDS parlance, this is termed a credit event, and that triggers the settling of outstanding contracts for the derivatives, which are used to hedge or speculate on the potential risk that a company will default on its bonds. The two GSEs have approximately US$ 1.5 trillion in bonds outstanding, and since the market in credit default swaps is not public, there is no central reporting mechanism to verify how many credit default swaps are linked to those bonds. One estimate floated is US$ 500 billion, and that the entire CDS market has a notional value in the vicinity of US$ 62 trillion. Settlement on the contracts, will likely be the largest in the market's decade-long history. Credit-default swaps on Fannie and Freddie have been among the most actively traded the several months leading up to the conservatorship. "Thirteen 'major' dealers of credit-default swaps agreed 'unanimously' that the rescue constitutes a credit event triggering payment or delivery of the companies' bonds," according to a memo circulated by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) after the conservatorship announcement. The day after the conservatorship announcement, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, which sets industry standardized contracts for financial derivatives and swaps, announced it was working on a protocol on how to evaluate and settle Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac credit default swaps.

Paradoxically (in relation to typical experiences when a company issuing bonds has a "credit event"), the value of the two GSEs bonds rose to the vicinity of par value after the conservatorship. This means, that some owners of swaps that were hedging against the risk of a bond default, may be worse off, since the value of the bonds may be higher than when they purchased the swap. Cash auctions are reported to be scheduled for October 2008 to settle CDS contracts in relation to the GSEs.

The immediate reactions in the finance markets on Monday September 8, the day following the seizure, appeared to indicate satisfaction with at least the short-term implications of the Treasury's intervention. Governor of the Bank of Japan Masaaki Shirakawa stated "We expect the action would lead to stabilize the U.S. market, financial market and the international financial market." Governor of the People's Bank of China, China's central bank, Zhou Xiaochuan stated "From my point of view this is positive".

Over 98 percent of Fannie's loans were paying timely during 2008. Both Fannie and Freddie had positive net worth as of the date of the takeover, meaning the value of their assets exceeded their liabilities. However, Fannie's total assets to capital (leverage ratio) was about 20:1, while Freddie's was about 70:1. These numbers increase significantly if one includes all of the mortgage-backed assets they guaranteed. These ratios are considerably higher than investment banks, which leverage around 30:1.

However, there was concern that the GSEs' liquidity was insufficient to handle growing delinquency rates, such that although viable in September 2008, the scale of loss in the future would be sufficient that insolvency would occur and that knowledge of this future failure would induce immediate or near-immediate failure due to buyers refusing to buy debt. Both GSEs roll-over large amounts of debt on a quarterly basis and failure to sell debt would lead to failure due to lack of liquidity. A slower form of failure would be the issuing of debt at high cost (to compensate buyers for risk) and this would greatly diminish the earning power of both GSEs, rendering them unable to earn the money they would need to handle expected future losses. Both GSEs counted large amounts of deferred tax assets towards their regulatory capital, which were considered by some to be of "low quality" and not truly available capital. The deferred tax assets would only have value if the companies were profitable and could use the assets to offset future taxes. Both companies had experienced significant losses and were likely to face more over the next year or longer.

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Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (Pub.L. 110-289, 122 Stat. 2654, enacted July 30, 2008) designed primarily to address the subprime mortgage crisis, was passed by the United States Congress on July 24, 2008 and signed by President George W. Bush on July 30, 2008. It authorizes the Federal Housing Administration to guarantee up to $300 billion in new 30-year fixed rate mortgages for subprime borrowers if lenders write-down principal loan balances to 90 percent of current appraisal value. It's intended to restore confidence in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by strengthening regulations and injecting capital into the two large U.S. suppliers of mortgage funding. States will be authorized to refinance subprime loans using mortgage revenue bonds. It also establishes the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) out of the Federal Housing Finance Board (FHFB) and Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO).

Through the powers granted to FHFA, created by the act, on September 7, 2008, FHFA director James B. Lockhart III announced he had put Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under the conservatorship of the FHFA. The action is "one of the most sweeping government interventions in private financial markets in decades".

Includes a first-time home buyer refundable tax credit for purchases on or after April 9, 2008 and before July 1, 2009 equal to 10 percent of the purchase price of a principal residence, up to $7,500.

The Act provides emergency assistance for the redevelopment of abandoned and foreclosed homes.

As of February 2009, only 451 applications had been received and 25 loans finalized, far short of the estimated 400,000 homeowners who were expected to participate. This was attributed to high fees, high interest rates, the need for a reduction in principal on the part of the lender, and the requirement that the federal government receive 50% of any appreciation in value of the house. Congress began hearings on the program in February.

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Mortgage loan

Banknotes.jpg

A mortgage loan is a loan secured by real property through the use of a note which evidences the existence of the loan and the encumbrance of that realty through the granting of a mortgage which secures the loan. However, the word mortgage alone, in everyday usage, is most often used to mean mortgage loan.

A home buyer or builder can obtain financing (a loan) either to purchase or secure against the property from a financial institution, such as a bank, either directly or indirectly through intermediaries. Features of mortgage loans such as the size of the loan, maturity of the loan, interest rate, method of paying off the loan, and other characteristics can vary considerably.

According to Anglo-American property law, a mortgage occurs when an owner (usually of a fee simple interest in realty) pledges his interest as security or collateral for a loan. Therefore, a mortgage is an encumbrance on property just as an easement would be, but because most mortgages occur as a condition for new loan money, the word mortgage has become the generic term for a loan secured by such real property.

As with other types of loans, mortgages have an interest rate and are scheduled to amortize over a set period of time; typically 30 years. All types of real property can, and usually are, secured with a mortgage and bear an interest rate that is supposed to reflect the lender's risk.

Many other specific characteristics are common to many markets, but the above are the essential features. Governments usually regulate many aspects of mortgage lending, either directly (through legal requirements, for example) or indirectly (through regulation of the participants or the financial markets, such as the banking industry), and often through state intervention (direct lending by the government, by state-owned banks, or sponsorship of various entities). Other aspects that define a specific mortgage market may be regional, historical, or driven by specific characteristics of the legal or financial system.

Mortgage loans are generally structured as long-term loans, the periodic payments for which are similar to an annuity and calculated according to the time value of money formulae. The most basic arrangement would require a fixed monthly payment over a period of ten to thirty years, depending on local conditions. Over this period the principal component of the loan (the original loan) would be slowly paid down through amortization. In practice, many variants are possible and common worldwide and within each country.

Lenders provide funds against property to earn interest income, and generally borrow these funds themselves (for example, by taking deposits or issuing bonds). The price at which the lenders borrow money therefore affects the cost of borrowing. Lenders may also, in many countries, sell the mortgage loan to other parties who are interested in receiving the stream of cash payments from the borrower, often in the form of a security (by means of a securitization). In the United States, the largest firms securitizing loans are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are government sponsored enterprises.

Mortgage lending will also take into account the (perceived) riskiness of the mortgage loan, that is, the likelihood that the funds will be repaid (usually considered a function of the creditworthiness of the borrower); that if they are not repaid, the lender will be able to foreclose and recoup some or all of its original capital; and the financial, interest rate risk and time delays that may be involved in certain circumstances.

There are many types of mortgages used worldwide, but several factors broadly define the characteristics of the mortgage. All of these may be subject to local regulation and legal requirements.

The two basic types of amortized loans are the fixed rate mortgage (FRM) and adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) (also known as a floating rate or variable rate mortgage). In many countries, floating rate mortgages are the norm and will simply be referred to as mortgages; in the United States, fixed rate mortgages are typically considered "standard." Combinations of fixed and floating rate are also common, whereby a mortgage loan will have a fixed rate for some period, and vary after the end of that period.

In a fixed rate mortgage, the interest rate, and hence periodic payment, remains fixed for the life (or term) of the loan. In the U.S., the term is usually up to 30 years (15 and 30 being the most common), although longer terms may be offered in certain circumstances. For a fixed rate mortgage, payments for principal and interest should not change over the life of the loan, although ancillary costs (such as property taxes and insurance) can and do change.

In an adjustable rate mortgage, the interest rate is generally fixed for a period of time, after which it will periodically (for example, annually or monthly) adjust up or down to some market index. Common indices in the U.S. include the Prime rate, the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), and the Treasury Index ("T-Bill"); other indices are in use but are less popular.

Adjustable rates transfer part of the interest rate risk from the lender to the borrower, and thus are widely used where fixed rate funding is difficult to obtain or prohibitively expensive. Since the risk is transferred to the borrower, the initial interest rate may be from 0.5% to 2% lower than the average 30-year fixed rate; the size of the price differential will be related to debt market conditions, including the yield curve.

Additionally, lenders in many markets rely on credit reports and credit scores derived from them. The higher the score, the more creditworthy the borrower is assumed to be. Favorable interest rates are offered to buyers with high scores. Lower scores indicate higher risk for the lender, and higher rates will generally be charged to reflect the (expected) higher default rates.

A partial amortization or balloon loan is one where the amount of monthly payments due are calculated (amortized) over a certain term, but the outstanding principal balance is due at some point short of that term. This payment is sometimes referred to as a "balloon payment" or bullet payment. The interest rate for a balloon loan can be either fixed or floating. The most common way of describing a balloon loan uses the terminology X due in Y, where X is the number of years over which the loan is amortized, and Y is the year in which the principal balance is due.

Upon making a mortgage loan for purchase of a property, lenders usually require that the borrower make a downpayment, that is, contribute a portion of the cost of the property. This downpayment may be expressed as a portion of the value of the property (see below for a definition of this term). The loan to value ratio (or LTV) is the size of the loan against the value of the property. Therefore, a mortgage loan where the purchaser has made a downpayment of 20% has a loan to value ratio of 80%. For loans made against properties that the borrower already owns, the loan to value ratio will be imputed against the estimated value of the property.

The loan to value ratio is considered an important indicator of the riskiness of a mortgage loan: the higher the LTV, the higher the risk that the value of the property (in case of foreclosure) will be insufficient to cover the remaining principal of the loan.

The concept of equity in a property refers to the value of the property minus the outstanding debt, subject to the definition of the value of the property. Therefore, a borrower who owns a property whose estimated value is $400,000 but with outstanding mortgage loans of $300,000 is said to have homeowner's equity of $100,000.

In most countries, a number of more or less standard measures of creditworthiness may be used. Common measures include payment to income (mortgage payments as a percentage of gross or net income); debt to income (all debt payments, including mortgage payments, as a percentage of income); and various net worth measures. In many countries, credit scores are used in lieu of or to supplement these measures. There will also be requirements for documentation of the creditworthiness, such as income tax returns, pay stubs, etc; the specifics will vary from location to location.

Some lenders may also require a potential borrower have one or more months of "reserve assets" available. In other words, the borrower may be required to show the availability of enough assets to pay for the housing costs (including mortgage, taxes, etc.) for a period of time in the event of the job loss or other loss of income.

Many countries have lower requirements for certain borrowers, or "no-doc" / "low-doc" lending standards that may be acceptable in certain circumstances.

Many countries have a notion of standard or conforming mortgages that define a perceived acceptable level of risk, which may be formal or informal, and may be reinforced by laws, government intervention, or market practice. For example, a standard mortgage may be considered to be one with no more than 70-80% LTV and no more than one-third of gross income going to mortgage debt.

A standard or conforming mortgage is a key concept as it often defines whether or not the mortgage can be easily sold or securitized, or, if non-standard, may affect the price at which it may be sold. In the United States, a conforming mortgage is one which meets the established rules and procedures of the two major government-sponsored entities in the housing finance market (including some legal requirements). In contrast, lenders who decide to make nonconforming loans are exercising a higher risk tolerance and do so knowing that they face more challenge in reselling the loan. Many countries have similar concepts or agencies that define what are "standard" mortgages. Regulated lenders (such as banks) may be subject to limits or higher risk weightings for non-standard mortgages. For example, banks in Canada face restrictions on lending more than 75% of the property value; beyond this level, mortgage insurance is generally required (as of April 2007, there is a proposal to raise this limit to 80%).

There are various ways to repay a mortgage loan; repayment depends on locality, tax laws and prevailing culture.

The most common way to repay a loan is to make regular payments of the capital (also called principal) and interest over a set term. This is commonly referred to as (self) amortization in the U.S. and as a repayment mortgage in the UK. A mortgage is a form of annuity (from the perspective of the lender), and the calculation of the periodic payments is based on the time value of money formulas. Certain details may be specific to different locations: interest may be calculated on the basis of a 360-day year, for example; interest may be compounded daily, yearly, or semi-annually; prepayment penalties may apply; and other factors. There may be legal restrictions on certain matters, and consumer protection laws may specify or prohibit certain practices.

Depending on the size of the loan and the prevailing practice in the country the term may be short (10 years) or long (50 years plus). In the UK and U.S., 25 to 30 years is the usual maximum term (although shorter periods, such as 15-year mortgage loans, are common). Mortgage payments, which are typically made monthly, contain a capital (repayment of the principal) and an interest element. The amount of capital included in each payment varies throughout the term of the mortgage. In the early years the repayments are largely interest and a small part capital. Towards the end of the mortgage the payments are mostly capital and a smaller portion interest. In this way the payment amount determined at outset is calculated to ensure the loan is repaid at a specified date in the future. This gives borrowers assurance that by maintaining repayment the loan will be cleared at a specified date, if the interest rate does not change.

The main alternative to capital and interest mortgage is an interest only mortgage, where the capital is not repaid throughout the term. This type of mortgage is common in the UK, especially when associated with a regular investment plan. With this arrangement regular contributions are made to a separate investment plan designed to build up a lump sum to repay the mortgage at maturity. This type of arrangement is called an investment-backed mortgage or is often related to the type of plan used: endowment mortgage if an endowment policy is used, similarly a Personal Equity Plan (PEP) mortgage, Individual Savings Account (ISA) mortgage or pension mortgage. Historically, investment-backed mortgages offered various tax advantages over repayment mortgages, although this is no longer the case in the UK. Investment-backed mortgages are seen as higher risk as they are dependent on the investment making sufficient return to clear the debt.

Until recently it was not uncommon for interest only mortgages to be arranged without a repayment vehicle, with the borrower gambling that the property market will rise sufficiently for the loan to be repaid by trading down at retirement (or when rent on the property and inflation combine to surpass the interest rate).

For older borrowers (typically in retirement), it may be possible to arrange a mortgage where neither the capital nor interest is repaid. The interest is rolled up with the capital, increasing the debt each year.

These arrangements are variously called reverse mortgages, lifetime mortgages or equity release mortgages, depending on the country. The loans are typically not repaid until the borrowers die, hence the age restriction. For further details, see equity release.

In the U.S. a partial amortization or balloon loan is one where the amount of monthly payments due are calculated (amortized) over a certain term, but the outstanding capital balance is due at some point short of that term. In the UK, a part repayment mortgage is quite common, especially where the original mortgage was investment-backed and on moving house further borrowing is arranged on a capital and interest (repayment) basis.

In most jurisdictions, a lender may foreclose the mortgaged property if certain conditions - principally, non-payment of the mortgage loan - obtain. Subject to local legal requirements, the property may then be sold. Any amounts received from the sale (net of costs) are applied to the original debt. In some jurisdictions, mortgage loans are non-recourse loans: if the funds recouped from sale of the mortgaged property are insufficient to cover the outstanding debt, the lender may not have recourse to the borrower after foreclosure. In other jurisdictions, the borrower remains responsible for any remaining debt. In virtually all jurisdictions, specific procedures for foreclosure and sale of the mortgaged property apply, and may be tightly regulated by the relevant government; in some jurisdictions, foreclosure and sale can occur quite rapidly, while in others, foreclosure may take many months or even years. In many countries, the ability of lenders to foreclose is extremely limited, and mortgage market development has been notably slower.

In the U.S., the process by which a mortgage is secured by a borrower is called origination. This involves the borrower submitting an application and documentation related to his/her financial history and/or credit history to the underwriter. Many banks now offer "no-doc" or "low-doc" loans in which the borrower is required to submit only minimal financial information. These loans carry a higher interest rate and are available only to borrowers with excellent credit. Sometimes, a third party is involved, such as a mortgage broker. This entity takes the borrower's information and reviews a number of lenders, selecting the ones that will best meet the needs of the consumer.

Loans are often sold on the open market to larger investors by the originating mortgage company. Many of the guidelines that they follow are suited to satisfy investors. Some companies, called correspondent lenders, sell all or most of their closed loans to these investors, accepting some risks for issuing them. They often offer niche loans at higher prices that the investor does not wish to originate.

If the underwriter is not satisfied with the documentation provided by the borrower, additional documentation and conditions may be imposed, called stipulations. The meeting of such conditions can be a daunting experience for the consumer, but it is crucial for the lending institution to ensure the information being submitted is accurate and meets specific guidelines. This is done to give the lender a reasonable guarantee that the borrower can and will repay the loan. If a third party is involved in the loan, it will help the borrower to clear such conditions.

The following documents are typically required for traditional underwriter review. Over the past several years, use of "automated underwriting" statistical models has reduced the amount of documentation required from many borrowers. Such automated underwriting engines include Freddie Mac's "Loan Prospector" and Fannie Mae's "Desktop Underwriter". For borrowers who have excellent credit and very acceptable debt positions, there may be virtually no documentation of income or assets required at all. Many of these documents are also not required for no-doc and low-doc loans.

There is concern in the U.S. that consumers are often victims of predatory mortgage lending . The main concern is that mortgage brokers and lenders, operating legally, are finding loopholes in the law to obtain additional profit. The typical scenario is that terms of the loan are beyond the means of the borrower. The borrower makes a number of interest and principal payments, and then defaults. The lender then takes the property and recovers the amount of the loan, and also keeps the interest and principal payments, as well as loan origination fees.

An option ARM provides the option to pay as little as the equivalent of an amortized payment based on a 1% interest rate, (please note this is not the actual interest rate). As a result, the difference between the monthly payment and the interest on the loan is added to the loan principal; the loan at this point has negative amortization. In this respect, an option ARM provides a form of equity withdrawal (as in a cash-out refinancing) but over a period of time.

The option ARM gives a number of payment choices each month (for example, the equivalent of an amortized payment where the interest rate 1%, interest only based on actual interest rate, actual 30 year amortized payment, actual 15 year amortized payment). The interest rate may adjust every month in accordance with the index to which the loan is tied and the terms of the specific loan. These loans may be useful for people who have a lot of equity in their home and want to lower monthly costs; for investors, allowing them the flexibility to choose which payment to make every month; or for those with irregular incomes (such as those working on commission or for whom bonuses comprise a large portion of income).

One of the important features of this type of loan is that the minimum payments are often fixed for each year for an initial term of up to 5 years. The minimum payment may rise each year a little (payment size increases of 7.5% are common) but remain the same for another year. For example, a minimum payment for year 1 may be $1,000 per month each month all year long. In year 2 the minimum payment for each month is $1,075 each month. This is a gradual increase in the minimum payment. The interest rate may fluctuate each month, which means that the extent of any negative amortization cannot be predicted beyond worst-case scenario as dictated by the terms of the loan.

Option ARM mortgages have been criticized on the basis that some borrowers are not aware of the implications of negative amortization; that eventually option ARMs reset to higher payment levels (an event called "recast" to amortize the loan), and borrowers may not be capable of making the higher monthly payments; and that option ARMs have been used to qualify mortgages for individuals whose incomes cannot support payments higher than the minimum level.

Lenders may charge various fees when giving a mortgage to a mortgagor. These include entry fees, exit fees, administration fees and lenders mortgage insurance. There are also settlement fees (closing costs) the settlement company will charge. In addition, if a third party handles the loan, it may charge other fees as well.

Mortgage lending is a major category of the business of finance in the United States. Mortgages are commercial paper and can be conveyed and assigned freely to other holders. In the U.S., the Federal government created several programs, or government sponsored entities, to foster mortgage lending, construction and encourage home ownership. These programs include the Government National Mortgage Association (known as Ginnie Mae), the Federal National Mortgage Association (known as Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (known as Freddie Mac). These programs work by buying a large number of mortgages from banks and issuing (at a slightly lower interest rate) "mortgage-backed bonds" to investors, which are known as mortgage-backed securities (MBS).

This allows the banks to quickly relend the money to other borrowers (including in the form of mortgages) and thereby to create more mortgages than the banks could with the amount they have on deposit. This in turn allows the public to use these mortgages to purchase homes, something the government wishes to encourage. The investors, meanwhile, gain low-risk income at a higher interest rate (essentially the mortgage rate, minus the cuts of the bank and GSE) than they could gain from most other bonds.

Securitization is a momentous change in the way that mortgage bond markets function, and has grown rapidly in the last 10 years as a result of the wider dissemination of technology in the mortgage lending world. For borrowers with superior credit, government loans and ideal profiles, this securitization keeps rates almost artificially low, since the pools of funds used to create new loans can be refreshed more quickly than in years past, allowing for more rapid outflow of capital from investors to borrowers without as many personal business ties as the past.

The greatly increased rate of lending led (among other factors) to the United States housing bubble of 2000-2006. The growth of lightly regulated derivative instruments based on mortgage-backed securities, such as collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps, is widely reported as a major causative factor behind the 2007 subprime mortgage financial crisis.

A group called second-layer lenders became an important force in the residential mortgage market in the latter half of the 1960s. These federal credit agencies, which include the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., the Federal National Mortgage Association, and the Government National Mortgage Association, conduct secondary market activities in the buying and selling of loans and provide credit to primary lenders in the form of borrowed money. They do not have direct contact with the individual consumer.

The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, sometimes known as Freddie Mac, was established in 1970. This corporation is designed to promote the flow of capital into the housing market by establishing an active secondary market in mortgages. It may by law deal only with government-supervised lenders such as savings and loan associations, savings banks, and commercial banks; its programs cover conventional whole mortgage loans, participations in conventional loans, and FHA and VA loans.

The Federal National Mortgage Association, known in financial circles as Fannie Mae, was chartered as a government corporation in 1938, rechartered as a federal agency in 1954, and became a government-sponsored, stockholder-owned corporation in 1968. Fannie Mae, which has been described as "a private corporation with a public purpose", basically provides a secondary market for residential loans. It fulfills this function by buying, servicing, and selling loans that, since 1970, have included FHA-insured, VA-guaranteed, and conventional loans. However, purchases outrun sales by such a wide margin that some observers view this association as a lender with a permanent loan portfolio rather than a powerful secondary market corporation.

The Government National Mortgage Association, which is often referred to as Ginnie Mae, operates within the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In addition to performing the special assistance, management, and liquidation functions that once belonged to Fannie Mae, Ginnie Mae has an important additional function — that of issuing guarantees of securities backed by government-insured or guaranteed mortgages. Such mortgage-backed securities are fully guaranteed by the U.S. government as to timely payment of both principal and interest.

To be able to provide homebuyers and builders with the funds needed, financial institutions must compete for deposits. Consumer lending institutions compete for loanable funds not only among themselves but also with the federal government and private corporations. Called disintermediation, this process involves the movement of dollars from savings accounts into direct market instruments: U.S. Treasury obligations, agency securities, and corporate debt. One of the greatest factors in recent years in the movement of deposits was the tremendous growth of money market funds whose higher interest rates attracted consumer deposits.

By the early 1990s, UK building societies had succeeded in greatly slowing if not reversing the decline in their market share. In 1990, the societies held over 60% of all mortgage loans but took over 75% of the new mortgage market – mainly at the expense of specialized mortgage loans corporations. Building societies also increased their share of the personal savings deposits market in the early 1990s at the expense of the banks – attracting 51% of this market in 1990 compared with 42% in 1989. One study found that in the five years 1987-1992, the building societies collectively outperformed the UK clearing banks on practically all the major growth and performance measures. The societies' share of the new mortgage loans market of 75% in 1990-91 was similar to the share level achieved in 1985. Profitability as measured by return on capital was 17.8% for the top 20 societies in 1991, compared with only 8.5% for the big four banks. Finally, bad debt provisions relative to advances were only 0.4% for the top 20 societies compared with 2.8% for the four banks.

The UK mortgage market is one of the most innovative and competitive in the world. Unlike some other countries, there is little intervention in the market by the state or state funded entities and virtually all borrowing is funded by either mutual organisations (building societies and credit unions) or proprietary lenders (typically banks). Since 1982, when the market was substantially deregulated, there has been substantial innovation and diversification of strategies employed by lenders to attract borrowers. This has led to a wide range of mortgage types.

To make matters more confusing these rates are often combined: For example, 4.5% 2 year fixed then a 3 year tracker at BoE rate plus 0.89%.

With each incentive the lender may be offering a rate at less than the market cost of the borrowing. Therefore, they typically impose a penalty if the borrower repays the loan within the incentive period or a longer period (referred to as an extended tie-in). These penalties used to be called a redemption penalty or tie-in, however since the onset of Financial Services Authority regulation they are referred to as an early repayment charge.

Mortgage lenders usually use salaries declared on wage slips to work out a borrower's annual income and will usually lend up to a fixed multiple of the borrower's annual income. Self Certification Mortgages, informally known as "self cert" mortgages, are available to employed and self employed people who have a deposit to buy a house but lack the sufficient documentation to prove their income.

This type of mortgage can be beneficial to people whose income comes from multiple sources, whose salary consists largely or exclusively of commissions or bonuses, or whose accounts may not show a true reflection of their earnings. Self cert mortgages have two disadvantages: the interest rates charged are usually higher than for normal mortgages and the loan to value ratio is usually lower.

Normally when a bank lends a customer money they want to protect their money as much as possible; they do this by asking the borrower to fund a certain percentage of the property purchase in the form of a deposit.

100% mortgages are mortgages that require no deposit (100% loan to value). These are sometimes offered to first time buyers, but almost always carry a higher interest rate on the loan.

A development of the theme of 100% mortgages is represented by Together/Plus type mortgages, which have been launched by a number of lenders in recent years.

Together/Plus Mortgages represent loans of 100% or more of the property value - typically up to a maximum of 125%. Such loans are normally (but not universally) structured as a package of a 95% mortgage and an unsecured loan of up to 30% of the property value. This structure is mandated by lenders' capital requirements which require additional capital for loans of 100% or more of the property value.

UK lenders usually charge a valuation fee, which pays for a chartered surveyor to visit the property and ensure it is worth enough to cover the mortgage amount. This is not a full survey so it may not identify all the defects that a house buyer needs to know about. Also, it does not usually form a contract between the surveyor and the buyer, so the buyer has no right to sue if the survey fails to detect a major problem. For an extra fee, the surveyor can usually carry out a building survey or a (cheaper) "homebuyers survey" at the same time.

Within the European Union, the Covered bonds market volume (covered bonds outstanding) amounted to about EUR 2 billion at year-end 2007 with Germany, Denmark, Spain, and France each having outstandings above 200.000 EUR million. In German language, Pfandbriefe is the term applied. Pfandbrief-like securities have been introduced in more than 25 European countries – and in recent years also in the U.S. and other countries outside Europe – each with their own unique law and regulations. However, the diffusion of the concept differ: In 2000, the US institutions Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac together reached one per cent of the national population. Furthermore, 87 per cent of their purchased mortgages were granted to borrowers in metropolitan areas with higher income levels. In Europe, a wider market has been achieved: In Denmark, mortgage banks reached 35 per cent of the population in 2002, while the German Bausparkassen achieved widespread regional distribution and more than 30 per cent of the German population concluded a Bauspar contract (as of 2001).

A study issued by the UN Economic Commission for Europe compared German, US, and Danish mortgage systems. The German Bausparkassen have reported nominal interest rates of approximately 6 per cent per annum in the last 40 years (as of 2004). In addition, they charge administration and service fees (about 1.5 per cent of the loan amount). In the United States, the average interest rates for fixed-rate mortgages in the housing market started in high double figures in the 1980s and have (as of 2004) reached about 6 per cent per annum. However, gross borrowing costs are substantially higher than the nominal interest rate and amounted for the last 30 years to 10.46 per cent. In Denmark, similar to the United States capital market, interest rates have fallen to 6 per cent per annum. A risk and administration fee amounts to 0.5 per cent of the outstanding debt. In addition, an acquisition fee is charged which amounts to one per cent of the principal.

July 28, 2008, US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced that, along with four large US banks, the Treasury would attempt to kick-start a market for these securities in the U.S., primarily to provide an alternative form of mortgage-backed securities. Similarly, in the UK "the Government is inviting views on options for a UK framework to deliver more affordable long-term fixed-rate mortgages, including the lessons to be learned from international markets and institutions". More specifically, Mr. George Soros issued a Wall Street Journal Opinion: Denmark Offers a Model Mortgage Market. - A survey of European Pfandbrief-like products was issued in 2005 by the Bank for International Settlements; the International Monetary Fund in 2007 issued a study of the covered bond markets in Germany and Spain, while the European Central Bank in 2003 issued a study of housing markets, addressing also mortgage markets and providing a two page overview of current mortgage systems in the EU countries.

While the idea originated in Prussia in 1769, a Danish act on mortgage credit associations of 1850 enabled the issuing of bonds (Danish: Realkreditobligationer) as a means to refinance mortgage loans . With the German mortgage banks law of 1900, the whole German Empire was given a standardized legal foundation for the emission of Pfandbriefe. An account from the perspective of development economics is available.

Mortgage insurance is an insurance policy designed to protect the mortgagee (lender) from any default by the mortgagor (borrower). It is used commonly in loans with a loan-to-value ratio over 80%, and employed in the event of foreclosure and repossession.

This policy is typically paid for by the borrower as a component to final nominal (note) rate, or in one lump sum up front, or as a separate and itemized component of monthly mortgage payment. In the last case, mortgage insurance can be dropped when the lender informs the borrower, or its subsequent assigns, that the property has appreciated, the loan has been paid down, or any combination of both to relegate the loan-to-value under 80%.

In the event of repossession, banks, investors, etc. must resort to selling the property to recoup their original investment (the money lent), and are able to dispose of hard assets (such as real estate) more quickly by reductions in price. Therefore, the mortgage insurance acts as a hedge should the repossessing authority recover less than full and fair market value for any hard asset.

The Sharia law of Islam prohibits the payment or receipt of interest, which means that practising Muslims cannot use conventional mortgages. However, real estate is far too expensive for most people to buy outright using cash: Islamic mortgages solve this problem by having the property change hands twice. In one variation, the bank will buy the house outright and then act as a landlord. The homebuyer, in addition to paying rent, will pay a contribution towards the purchase of the property. When the last payment is made, the property changes hands.

Typically, this may lead to a higher final price for the buyers. This is because in some countries (such as the United Kingdom and India) there is a Stamp Duty which is a tax charged by the government on a change of ownership. Because ownership changes twice in an Islamic mortgage, a stamp tax may be charged twice. Many other jurisdictions have similar transaction taxes on change of ownership which may be levied. In the United Kingdom, the dual application of Stamp Duty in such transactions was removed in the Finance Act 2003 in order to facilitate Islamic mortgages.

An alternative scheme involves the bank reselling the property according to an installment plan, at a price higher than the original price.

Both of these methods compensate the lender as if they were charging interest, but the loans are structured in a way that in name they are not, and the lender shares the financial risks involved in the transaction with the homebuyer.

Like any other legal system, the mortgage business sometimes uses confusing jargon. Below are some terms explained in brief. If a term is not explained here it may be related to the legal mortgage rather than to the loan.

Advance This is the money you have borrowed plus all the additional fees.

Base rate In UK, this is the base interest rate set by the Bank of England. In the United States, this value is set by the Federal Reserve and is known as the Discount Rate.

Bridging loan This is a temporary loan that enables the borrower to purchase a new property before the borrower is able to sell another current property.

Disbursements These are all the fees of the solicitors and governments, such as stamp duty, land registry, search fees, etc.

Early redemption charge / Pre-payment penalty / Redemption penalty This is the amount of money due if the mortgage is paid in full before the time finished.

First time buyer This is the term given to a person buying property for the first time.

Loan origination fee A charge levied by a creditor for underwriting a loan. The fee often is expressed in points. A point is 1 percent of the loan amount.

Sealing fee This is a fee made when the lender releases the legal charge over the property.

Subject to contract This is an agreement between seller and buyer before the actual contract is made.

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Source : Wikipedia