Monday Morning Cup of Coffee

[Update 1: clarifies downgrades to Re-REMIC tranches, not entire deals] A look at news across HousingWire's weekend desk, with more coverage to come on bigger issues: Ratings agency DBRS downgraded only 53 tranches (out of 1997 tranches total) from 117 re-REMICs some originally rated triple-A, the highest possible rating. Triple-A is often sold on its strong credit structure -- meaning Re-REMIC investors bought in to the tranche least likely to be downgraded. DBRS said the deals are held within real estate mortgage investment conduits, backed by prime and Alt-A residential mortgages, and also sounded a warning to investors holding similar paper. At the same time, DBRS discontinued 64 classes of similar transactions due to the repayment of underlying notes. "Given the combination of current delinquencies and corresponding potential significant losses, along with expectations for future delinquencies and defaults, current credit support is not expected to sufficiently cover anticipated losses," DBRS said. "In many cases, subordinate classes have already been impaired, further weakening the available credit support for the remaining senior and mezzanine classes." The Re-REMIC deals will continue to be negatively impacted by a stalled housing market, high unemployment and more loan defaults, DBRS said. Over the weekend, Moody's Investors Service continued piling onto the billions of dollars worth of subprime RMBS deals downgraded in the past two weeks. In one case, the ratings agency downgraded $25 million in subprime RMBS issued by Ownit Mortgage Loan Thrust. The impacted deals were first issued in 2004. Meanwhile, the collateral backing the RMBS transaction in question is made up of first-lien, fixed and adjustable subprime mortgages. "The actions are a result of deteriorating performance of subprime pools securitized before 2005," Moody's said, in reference to tightened ratings methodology it is applying to deals proceeding said year. The downgraded deal will be added to a slew of deals worth more than $2 billion that were downgraded by Moody's in the past two weeks. Previous downgrades included subprime deals issued by Carrington, Soundview and Wells Fargo Home Equity Trust (WFC). Lawmakers in Washington state want homeowners and loan servicers to try to reach a meeting of the minds early in the foreclosure process to save distressed properties from foreclosure. To meet this goal, state lawmakers filed House Bill 1362, otherwise known as the Foreclosure Fairness Act, which, if passed, would provide homeowners immediate access to a neutral third party to assist them before a home is lost to foreclosure. The proposed policy is in response to the state's rising foreclosure and joblessness rate and the fact that Washington's nonjudicial foreclosure process does not automatically grant distressed borrowers face-to-face contact with foreclosure mediators and lenders. The bill is designed to encourage homeowners to seek the help of professional housing counselors early in the foreclosure process. It also creates guidelines requiring homeowners and lenders to communicate early in the process to find a mutual resolution and to provide a process for foreclosure mediation. American International Group (AIG) is still trying to convince the Federal Reserve Bank of New York that AIG's offer to buy back $15.7 billion in residential mortgage-backed securities is a good deal for the American taxpayers who bailed out AIG, the Wall Street Journal reported. As HousingWire previously covered, AIG proposed to buy back the securities in early March, saying it's "in the best interest of U.S. taxpayers, the government and AIG." The New York Fed said at the time, "Any decision on a possible disposition of these assets will be made in a way that maximizes the proceeds to the taxpayer and that is consistent with the goal of fostering financial stability." The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that AIG is still promoting the deal with no definitive answer yet in sight. AIG, which received $85 billion in federal bailout funds three years ago, said it made the offer to ensure the Federal Reserve Bank earns a profit on the securities and to remove more AIG assets from the Fed's balance sheet. It's unlikely a bill that would require mortgage servicers to pay $20,000 to local California communities for each foreclosure proceeding filed in the state will pass the California legislature, Rick Sharga, Senior Vice President of RealtyTrac said. The bill in question was filed by California State Assembly member Bob Blumenfeld (D-San Fernando Valley). The proposed legislation would distribute monies raised on foreclosure filing fees to public education, local police, fire departments, small businesses and programs designed to mitigate foreclosures. "Very unlikely that such a bill would pass, but it would very likely have the effect of causing most mortgage providers to either stop writing mortgages in California entirely, or make the credit and downpayment requirements so severe that it would have virtually the same effect," Sharga told HousingWire.  "It's also curious that the bill would go after the servicers rather than the noteholders, since the servicers are merely acting on behalf of the investor or financial institution that actually owns the note," Sharga added. The bill is scheduled to be heard in committee March 22. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. did not take any banks into receivership Friday. Write to Kerri Panchuk.


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