Washington Weekly Update - January 23, 2017

January 19, 2017

Market Reports

Results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS) show mortgage rates decreased for the third consecutive week. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.09 percent for the week ending January 19th. This time last year, the FRM averaged 4.12 percent. The 15-year FRM averaged 3.34 percent for the week. Year-over-year, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.10 percent.

Mortgage applications increased during the week ending January 13th, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).  The Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey saw a 0.8 percent increase in total mortgage applications.  The Refinance Index increased 7 percent and the unadjusted Purchase Index increased 25 percent.  The refinance share of total mortgage applications decreased to 53 percent last week.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) requested public input on the Duty to Serve program. The FHFA sought input on chattel loan pilot initiatives for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the proposed Evaluation Guidance under the final rule on Duty to Serve Underserved Markets. FHFA requests input through its dedicated webpage, www.FHFA.gov/DTS, on potential manufactured home chattel loans pilots by Feb. 17, 2017 and on its proposed Evaluation Guidance by May 15, 2017.

The US Department of Labor announced last week that initial unemployment insurance claims  decreased from the previous week ending January 14, 2016.  The four-week moving average was 234,000 a decrease from last week’s average.  The insured unemployment rate was 1.5 percent for the week ending January 7, unchanged from the previous week’s unrevised rate.

Housing starts ran at a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.23 million in December, 11.3% higher than in November and 5.7% higher than the year-ago rate. December marked the second-highest monthly tally of the recovery, behind October. Builders applied for permits at a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.21 million, 0.2% lower than in November and 0.7% higher than a year ago. Since permit applications foreshadow future activity in starts, that suggests flat growth ahead.

CFPB

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) took action against the nation’s largest student loan company for failing borrowers. Navient, formerly part of Sallie Mae, created obstacles to repayment by providing bad information, processing payments incorrectly, and failing to act when borrowers complained. Additionally,  the company also illegally cheated struggling borrowers out of their rights to lower repayments, causing them to pay much more than they had to for their loans. The Bureau seeks to recover significant relief for the borrowers harmed by these illegal servicing failures.

HUD

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) charged landlords with discriminating against a grandmother.  The property owners, operator, and office manager of a multifamily property in Wichita, Kansas  were charged with violating the Fair Housing Act by terminating the lease of a resident who had asked that her grandchild be allowed to live with her. HUD’s charge alleges that the owner told her “doesn’t want kids on the property.” If it is determined that illegal discrimination has occurred, a judge may award actual and punitive damages, order injunctive or other equitable relief to deter further discrimination, and order that defendants pay the family’s attorney fees.