Posted on 29 Mar 2011
Tuesday morning, the FDIC will release and vote on proposed risk retention rules for the mortgage market. This includes the "Qualified Residential Mortgage" definition. A QRM would be exempt from risk retention, where the banks have to hold on to 5 percent of the risk when securitizing loans.
The QRM will likely require a 20 percent down payment on the loan, as well as other underwriting criteria, and loans sold to Fannie and Freddie (while still in conservatorship), as well as FHA loans, would be exempt. At the same time, Fannie, Freddie and the FHA are making themselves more expensive, as they try to shrink their currently overwhelming market share.
Barely a few hours after the vote, House Republicans will introduce a slew of, possibly six, bills designed to reform/shrink/eliminate Fannie and Freddie. Then comes more at a hearing on Thursday on housing finance. All of this begging the question: Without Fannie and Freddie, does the 30-year fixed still exist in a fully private market? And what are the dangers if it doesn't?
"We continue to believe that low cost, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are the best way to support the housing market and see anything that threatens this product as negative for those with housing exposure as it will slow the eventual housing recovery," writes Jaret Seiberg at MF Global. "That means negative pressure on the big banks, the mortgage insurers, and the home builders."
It also means mortgages will get more expensive.
"There's no question if the government gets out of the business of backing mortgages, rates should go up, underwriting will be tougher, down payments will go up," Toll Brothers CEO Douglas Yearley Jr. said today on CNBC. "It’s going to affect all of us. It would be a head wind."