The return of the joint venture might be nigh upon us.

Last week, the Federal Reserve lifted its hand off of Flagstar Bancorpterminating its Supervisory Agreement with the company.

The agreement has been hanging over FBC since January 2010, prohibiting FBC from paying dividends, repurchasing stock, incurring or renewing holding company debt or engaging in affiliate transactions without the Fed’s OK.

Flagstar President and CEO Alessandro DiNello and his company are feeling light-as-a-feather sans the agreement, and are now free to move unfettered, possibly into the joint venture space hitherto quashed by regulations.

"This is a major milestone for our company, representing the last major regulatory issue with the old Flagstar,” DiNello said in a statement.

"This action reflects our successful effort in building a strong financial institution that can deliver solid results within the framework of a strong risk and compliance structure. The lifting of the agreement ushers in a new era for our holding company, providing more flexibility in entering into strategic transactions,” he added.

The Fed’s relinquishment of its helicopter-parent-role at the national level could signal a sea-change in the industry, opening up joint venture opportunities that the previous administration would have put the kibosh on.

Just five years ago, Wells Fargo exited eight joint ventures in the mortgage lending space citing burdensome regulations as the reason for its hasty exits.

So, will the new regulatory climate break the joint-venture ice?

It looks like it might.

At the regional level, there has already been some activity in the space, which could be a harbinger of future joint-venture activity.

Bell Bank Mortgage and Assured Mortgage of Brookfield joined up to swell their mortgage business portfolio.

“We are thrilled to join forces with a highly-respected and talented team of professionals at Assured Mortgage,” Tony Weick, president of Bell Bank Mortgage, said in a statement regarding the two companies impending merger.

“The Milwaukee market is also an attractive strategic fit for our regional growth, but more importantly, our shared culture and philosophy of providing exceptional integrity-driven service makes this venture a great fit for both companies.”

It is possible that tag teams like the one between Assured Mortgage and Bell Bank are the next iteration of the trend toward consolidation that has been spreading through the mortgage industry this year.

This trend appears to be gaining momentum, and you can expect to see an increase in mergers, acquisitions and joint-ventures as competition and other market conditions force consolidation.