Monday Morning Cup of Coffee: JPM Chase agrees to massive mortgage settlement

Wells Fargo wins in Los Angeles’ predatory lending suit; Happy Birthday CFPB!

Monday Morning Cup of Coffee takes a look at news coming across HousingWire's weekend desk, with more coverage to come on bigger issues.

Friday was a rousing day of legal victories for the nation’s largest mortgage lender, Wells Fargo (WFC), with the bank securing dismissals against two of the nation’s largest municipalities, both of which accused the bank of predatory lending.

In one case, Cook County, Illinois, which includes Chicago, accused Wells Fargo of steering minority borrowers into higher-priced loans.

U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feinerman dismissed the lawsuit Friday, saying that while the county did have standing to Wells Fargo, it could not pursue a Fair Housing Act claim because it "alleges neither that it was denied a loan nor offered unfavorable terms – setting aside the obvious point that Cook County is not alleged to have a race or other protected trait."

But that wasn’t the only win in federal court for Wells Fargo on Friday.

According a report from the Los Angeles Times, U.S. District Judge Otis Wright II dismissed a suit brought against Wells Fargo by the city of Los Angeles, which also accused the bank of predatory lending practices targeted at minority borrowers.

Los Angeles sued Wells Fargo, along with Citigroup (C) and Bank of America (BAC), in 2013, accusing each bank of discriminatory lending, saying that the banks were to blame for a wave of foreclosures that blighted the city.

But Judge Wright disagreed with that contention.

From the Los Angeles Times report:

In a 28-page ruling Friday, U.S. District Judge Otis Wright II said the "undisputed facts" show that Wells Fargo, the nation's largest mortgage lender, did not violate the law during the two years in which the statute of limitations applied.

Part of the city's suit focused on minority borrowers winding up more frequently than whites in Federal Housing Administration loans, which are aimed at first-time and marginal borrowers.

The FHA loans carry low down payments and are easier to qualify for. But they are often more expensive than conventional mortgages because they require higher mortgage insurance costs.

Wright said FHA loans were intended to overcome precisely the barriers to ownership often experienced by minorities.

"The city is not a champion of minority rights as it declared in the complaint," Wright said, per the LA Times report. "While this case began with allegations that Wells Fargo trampled the rights of minorities, it ends with the city's failed attempt to engage in the exact same conduct."

Wells Fargo wasn’t the only bank to have a big day in court on Friday.

According to a Reuters report, JPMorgan Chase (JPM) agreed to a massive settlement, stemming from a lawsuit that accused the bank of misleading investors about the quality of pre-crisis residential mortgage-backed securities.

The lawsuit, brought against the bank by the Fort Worth Employees' Retirement Fund and other investors, charged JPMorgan with lying about the condition of more than $10 billion in RMBS deals in the run-up to the crisis.

According to the Reuters report, a settlement agreement was filed on Friday, with JPMorgan agreeing to pay $388 million to settle the case.

From the Reuters report:

The lawsuit, brought by Fort Worth Employees' Retirement Fund and other investors in offerings made before the 2008 financial crisis, accused JPMorgan of misleading them about the underwriting, appraisals and credit quality of the home loans underlying the certificates.

The lawsuit said that after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc failed, the certificates were worth at most 62 cents on the dollar.

Throughout the litigation process, JPMorgan has said that the poor performance of the certificates was not due to the quality of the loans, but was caused by the collapse of the overall economy.

The settlement is not yet finalized. It is subject to the presiding judge’s approval.

Tuesday marks the four-year anniversary of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau opening its doors.

Can you believe it’s been four years already? Time sure does fly when you’re confused and worried about what the CFPB is going to do next.

And whether you view the CFPB as the scourge or the savior of the financial services industry, the organization has significantly altered the landscape.

Keep an eye on HousingWire on Tuesday, as we’ll take a look at some of the CFPB’s greatest hits (and greatest misses) in its four-year history.

Later this week, we’ll see the latest round of existing-home sales data from the National Association of Realtors, the latest look at new home sales from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the latest house price index from the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

The FHFA’s home price index comes out on Wednesday morning, with a look at home price data from the month of May.

The index is based on home sales price information from mortgages sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Last month’s report showed a slight increase in April, inching up 0.3% from March.

A little later Wednesday morning will be the first look at June’s existing home sales data.

In May, existing-home sales increased to their highest pace in nearly six years, driven partly by an increase in the share of sales to first-time buyers.

According to NAR’s report detailing May’s existing home sales data, total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 5.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.35 million in May from an upwardly revised 5.09 million in April.

The report showed a year-over-year increase in sales for the eighth consecutive month.

And June’s figures are expected to climb even higher, according to a report earlier this month from’s June Real Estate Nowcast, which combines industry data, proprietary company transactional data and Google search activity to predict market trends as they are occurring, predicted that existing-home sales are projected to fall between seasonally adjusted annual rates of 5.4 and 5.74 million annual sales, with a targeted number of 5.57 million.

Those figures would represent a 4.1% increase from May and an 11.2% rise from last year at the same time.

And Friday, we’ll get a look at June’s new home sales data.

In May, sales of new single-family houses rose 2.2% from April, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 546,000.

On an annual basis, May’s total was 19.5% above the May 2014 estimate of 457,000.

Check back with HousingWire early and often for looks at the data as well as analysis of what it all means.

Up on Capitol Hill this week, our friends on the House Financial Services Committee are holding what might be an interesting hearing on Thursday.

The hearing, entitled “Ending ‘Too Big to Fail’: What is the Proper Role of Capital and Liquidity?”, starts Thursday at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.

The House Financial Services Committee’s website doesn’t have a list of speakers posted yet, but given the subject matter, you can bet HousingWire will be all over this one.

Last but not least, no banks were closed during the week ending July 17, according to the FDIC.

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