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Opinion, commentary, and analysis on everything that makes the U.S. housing economy tick -- not to mention the ghosts in the machine, too. Written by HW's team of editors and reporters each business day.

Is HomeStreet getting back into jumbo mortgages?

Yes, no, maybe so

February 19, 2014

The residential mortgage side of the business for HomeStreet Bank is stalling.

According to their fourth-quarter report, closed loan volumes declined 34.9% from the third quarter of 2013.

HomeStreet is Washington-state-chartered savings bank with a network of 30 retail bank branches and 48 home loan centers. To put some numbers around the above, in the fourth quarter closed single-family loan volume is down $414 million to $773 million.

The bank may be looking at originating jumbo mortgages to counter the slide. And, based on their request for an assessment from Moody's Investors Service it is not out of this world to think they way wish to securitize those loans.

Moody's gave HomeStreet and 'average' rating as a jumbo originator.

From the report:

Areas of the bank's strength include its loan sourcing, which comes predominately from retail loan officers, its strong property valuation oversight, and its seasoned and diverse management.

Areas of the bank's weakness include a lack of automation or formalization in its loan processing and operating systems, a small jumbo loan underwriting staff, below-average technology and dependence on investor underwriting guidelines.

When asked if this meant HomeStreet would begin offering jumbo mortgages, as there is no mention of the product in the fourth-quarter report, Moody's couldn't confirm and responded:

"If they want a deal rated by us, getting an originator assessment from us is required — it checks off a box," said Thomas Lemmon.

So is HomeStreet getting back into jumbo mortgages?

Terri Silver, vice president of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications only responded laconically.

"We have offered jumbo mortgage loans previously," she said.

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