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Monday Morning Cup of Coffee: Ally sets deadline for mortgage mods

A look at stories across HousingWire’s weekend desk, with more coverage to come on bigger issues:

Ally Financial gave borrowers a deadline to accept mortgage modifications under the $25 billion settlement.

Ally was one of the five mortgage servicers to settle with state attorneys general and federal prosecutors in March over alleged documentation problems and foreclosure abuses. It must provide $250 million in principal reduction, refinancing and other relief as part of the deal.

“We are committed to providing loan modifications to all eligible borrowers who accept a modification offer within three months of the solicitation. We have also agreed to provide loan modifications to borrowers who accept a modification offer within six months of the solicitation, unless and until total borrower relief provided exceeds $250 million,” Ally said in a financial filing late Friday.

The modifications began in the second quarter, Ally said.

A bankruptcy filing on the ResCap mortgage unit could cost parent company Ally Financial between $400 million and $1.25 billion, according to a financial disclosure by the bank.

On April 17, Ally disclosed the troubled mortgage unit missed an interest payment on its debt and would be considered in default if it wasn’t made within 30 days. More than $473 million on the debt is outstanding.

The White House may not be offering a future housing finance proposal “anytime soon,” but some ideas are still surfacing.

Anthony Sanders, a professor of finance at George Mason University, will give a presentation this week at the Mercatus Center highlighting three options of his own that could eliminate if not limit the government guarantee.

Barring the political will for such a system, Sanders said government officials could either limit Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac role to a government reinsurance system without the Federal Housing Administration or to regulate the two firms with no retained portfolio, transparency on loan purchases, no affordable housing mandates.

Fears of eliminating the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will be overblown he said because demand will still be there for the product and more expensive home loans will still be cheaper than the still ongoing bailouts.

“Spreads between GSE 30 yr MBS and 10 yr Treasuries reveal that Fannie, Freddie MBS are just Treasury substitutes,” Sanders wrote. “Private-label MBS could attract more investors with higher yields.”

In response to news of a Senate effort to expand the Home Affordable Refinance Program, analysts at JPMorgan Chase (JPM) pushed back against the idea.

“The main thrust is to increase cross-servicer refis, but it also includes a provision to extend the HARP cut-off date. Changing the HARP date would offer limited benefit at the risk of disrupting the incentive structures for banks to participate in HARP,” according to a research note released over the weekend.

Others claimed last week relieving the new servicer of representation and warranty risk would expand competition and save borrowers upfront costs.

Regulators shut down five banks over the weekend, pushing the total to 22 for 2012.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency closed three banks. The first was Inter Savings Bank. The Great Southern Bank in Missouri will assume all $473 million in deposits and entered into a loss-share transaction with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on $413 million in assets.

The closing, one of the largest in some time, should cost the fund $117 million.

The OCC also closed Plantation Federal Bank. The First Federal Bank in South Carolina assumed all $440 million in deposits and entered into a loss-share transaction on $221.7 million of the $486.4 million in assets.

The FDIC estimates the closing to cost $76 million.

The OCC also shuttered Palm Desert National Bank in California. The Pacific Premier Bank will assume all $122.8 million in deposits and purchase essentially all $125.8 million in assets.

The cost to the fund is estimated to be $20.1 million.

The Maryland Commissioner of Financial Regulation closed two banks itself. The first was the Bank of Eastern Shore. The FDIC created a replacement bank to handle insured deposits and will retain all $166.7 million in assets for later distribution.

The closing is expected to cost the DIF $41.8 million.

The second closing was the HarVest Bank of Maryland. Virginia-based Sonabank will assume all $145.5 million in deposits and agreed to purchase essentially all $164.3 million in assets.

The FDIC estimates the closing to cost $17.2 million.

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