FBR’s Youngblood to Leave, Will Start Mortgage Fund

Getting into mortgage investments, whether distressed assets or agency paper, is turning into a trend of sorts amid the still-smoldering industry wreckage. The latest to hear the clarion’s call on raising money for a fund is FBR Investment Management Inc.‘s Michael Youngblood, who said Friday that he was leaving the investment research firm to launch — what else? — his own mortgage fund. “We expect to commence a new weekly publication in early July from our new company, and to continue to share with you our insights into US mortgage and housing markets since we have done since May 15, 1986,” Youngblood wrote in a note to investors. The Mortgage Opportunities Fund he’ll be working to launch will invest in both agency and non-agency mortgages, he said. Youngblood has a long industry pedigree, having served as director of residential mortgage research and product manager at Salomon Brothers Inc., working for industry legends Henry Kaufman and Lewis Ranieri. He also developed mortgage research units at Banc of America Securities, Chase Securities, and Smith Barney, according to FBR’s Web site. We’re personally never going to forget his May 2006 BusinessWeek story — “Why the Housing Bubble Won’t Burst” — one of the more spectacularly wrong assessments made right before the housing bubble did, in fact, burst. Not that Youngblood was alone at the time, by the way; and he’s since become one of the better-respected analysts as the housing market has continued to lose momentum, known for not pulling punches in his take on housing conditions.

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