Bane of Bad Loans Continues for Lenders

Government-backed enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have asked banks to buy back over $ 30 billion of loans last year – a ten percent increase over 2010. The rising cost of repurchasing soured home loans is a problem that banks had hoped was one of the past. Although banks don’t typically pay the entire amount, during the second half of 2011, the firms collected more than $ 11 billion from banks, compared with under $ 7 billion in the first half of last year.

These figures are indicative of the enduring struggle between mortgage-originators and the mortgage industry giants over how to spit the bill for bad loans. Fannie and Freddie don’t make loans themselves, but package them into securities that are sold to investors. These firms can require banks to buy back loans found to contain faulty appraisals and other defects.

A number of companies have reported an increase in repurchase demands from Fannie in the past few months. One major bank increased its repurchase liability in order to meet the higher than anticipated demand from Fannie. Another bank was unable to renew an agreement with Fannie because of a dispute over large volumes of unresolved repurchase requests.

Banks have argued that Fannie and Freddie, both taken over by the government four years ago, are being too demanding in forcing back loans that default due to reasons that are unrelated to underwriting, as when a borrower loses their job. Other complaints from banks include a claim that Fannie is now screening loans that default after a longer period of timely payments. Fannie denies that it has adjusted its policies and says that the accusing bank is the one who has changed its behavior.

In recent days, Bank of American announced that they will be sending special refinancing terms to borrowers who fell victim to the robo-sighing scandal.

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