The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is officially axing Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae’s controversial adverse market refinance fee.
Starting in August, lenders will no longer be required to pay the government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) a fee of 50 basis points when they deliver refinanced mortgages.
FHFA Acting Director Sandra Thompson said the elimination of the fee will help families take advantage of the current low rate environment.
“Today’s action furthers FHFA’s priority of supporting affordable housing while simultaneously protecting the safety and soundness of the Enterprises,” said Thompson.
The elimination of the fee is one of a number of changes the mortgage industry has asked the federal regulatory agency to make. Pete Mills, senior vice president of residential policy at the Mortgage Banker’s Association, said the move was “very positive for borrowers” and “appreciated” by the mortgage industry.
The low-rate environment won’t last forever, and both lenders and servicers need to be able to keep their costs down while managing volume fluctuations once things start to normalize.
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“The forbearance exiting process has gone well, the rate of exits is accelerating and the job market is strong,” Mills said. “All of those things bely the notion that we’re still in an adverse market.”
FHFA began charging the adverse market fee on most refinanced mortgages last year, due to “increased costs and risk” to the agency as a result of Covid-19.
Critics of the policy, however, said that it was simply a way for the GSEs to increase their capital levels during last year’s historic refinance boom.
The elimination of the adverse market fee is one of the first decisive policy actions the agency has taken since a long-awaited Supreme Court decision allowed President Joe Biden to fire the FHFA’s director at-will. Within hours of the decision, Biden removed FHFA Director and Trump-appointee Mark Calabria, a libertarian economist, and installed Thompson to lead the agency.
In her first weeks directing the federal regulatory agency, Thompson has said expanding access to credit in communities of color is a top priority.
In June, FHFA also announced that its servicers must adhere to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s additional procedural requirements governing the foreclosure process a full month before it takes effect.