House Panel Approves Data Security and Condo Bills

The House Financial Services Committee approved a bill Tuesday that would direct the Federal Housing Administration to relax restrictions on its condominium loan program.

Sponsored by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., the bill would streamline the FHA’s certification requirements for condo projects, allow more commercial space in FHA-approved condo buildings and relax owner-occupancy requirements.

Supporters of the condo bill claim it would open up homeownership opportunities for first-time buyers and urban families. The bill would also provide the Rural Housing Service with direct endorsement authority for the first time. Currently, RHS officials must approve each loan package. The committee approved the legislation by a 44-10 vote.

The House committee also approved a data security bill that would require all financial companies to have similar security protections and notification requirements as banks.

The bill, sponsored by Reps. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, and John Carney, D-Del […]

U.S. existing home sales plunge; new rules seen as drag

U.S. home resales posted their sharpest drop in five years in November, a potential warning sign for the health of the U.S. economy although new regulations on paperwork for home purchases may have driven the decline.
The National Association of Realtors said on Tuesday existing home sales plunged 10.5 percent to an annual rate of4.76 million units. That was the sharpest decline since July 2010. October’s sales pace was revised slightly lower to 5.32 million units.
Housing has been providing a sizable boost to U.S. economic growth this year as a strengthening labor market and low interest rates have helped young adults to leave their parents’ homes.
Economists had forecast sales rising to a rate of 5.35 million units last month.

NAR economist Lawrence Yun said most of November’s decline was likely due to regulations that came into effect in October […]

What Banks Need to Know About Speaker Paul Ryan


Rep. Paul Ryan’s expected rise to House Speaker this week may ultimately prove a boon for the banking industry – especially for critics of the Dodd-Frank Act and the current mortgage finance system.

The Wisconsin Republican, the former vice presidential candidate to Mitt Romney and a longtime member of the House, agreed to take the role of Speaker last week, likely providing some needed stability after weeks of surprises for the Republican party.

Speaker John Boehner announced last month that he would leave Congress and make way for a new leader. His would-be successor, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, then abruptly backed out of the race for the top job.

Though Ryan was at first hesitant to step up, he’s seen by many as a central player to help mend the fractured Republican Party.

Below we answer some frequently asked questions about Ryan and what his impact will […]

Ocwen Fails Four Servicing Tests But Makes Progress


Mortgage servicer Ocwen Financial failed four servicing tests in the second half of 2014 but is “beginning to show progress” in fixing its problems, said Joseph A. Smith Jr., the monitor of the $25 national mortgage settlement.

In a report released Thursday, Smith found that Ocwen also had major shortcomings on seven other tests because of the potential harm to borrowers from its backdating of foreclosure letters.

“I visit them regularly, I talk with their management regularly, and they’re working on these issues very hard,” said Smith, a former banking commissioner of North Carolina. “We’re not taking the Ocwen situation lightly.”

The Atlanta company emphasized that the report covers conditions from last year and that a lot has changed since then.

“Ocwen is committed to being fully compliant with all rules and regulations related to our business, and we continue to invest in our risk and compliance management […]