I don’t know if Angelo Mozilo knows the difference between a curve ball and a split-finger, but given that his 40-year reign as the head of Countrywide Financial is coming to an end, it seems appropriate to reflect on his career as well as his legacy.
While the Mortgage Banker’s Association doesn’t have a Hall of Fame for lenders, two years ago, Mozilo would have been a shoe-in as a first-round inductee if such a distinction existed.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve had some time to go back and read the landmark agreement NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo struck with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and OFHEO a few weeks ago. Designed to prevent brokers from ordering appraisals and lenders from having an ownership interest in an appraisal company, I’ll readily admit that I was one of the first to hail the move.
As I recently listened to Neil Young proclaim in his classic song that "Rock-n-roll will never die," I couldn’t help but wonder about wholesale lending.
Although there’s a good chance Neil doesn’t know the difference between a yield spread premium and a prepayment penalty, in the same way his career was at a critical point when the song was originally released, wholesale lending now finds itself at a similar crossroads.
Is FICO still relevant to the mortgage industry?
I can see it now: no matter how this question gets answered, it’s certain to elicit some response, which in fact, is the reason for the article.
As an industry that migrated with some reservation but eventually went "all-in" with the belief that FICO was a true indicator of performance, it’s a question that deserves discussion, particularly given the issues we’re facing.
It’s not official yet, but it looks like New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo may be close to taking the first, in what will hopefully be a series of much needed steps, to fix the systemic issues plaguing the appraisal industry.
Ever since he announced that the state of New York was suing Washington Mutual and eAppraisal for what he described as a collusive effort to sign off on overvalued appraisals, the pressure to make changes to the appraisal process have been enormous.
RealtyTrac announced today that foreclosures are up markedly. While the number of foreclosure filings, which includes default notices, auction sales notices, and bank repossessions, rose 8% in January compared to the previous month, the new figures represent a 57% increase compared to a year ago.
While the number of subprime mortgages, especially those that were written in 2006 when rational lending guidelines took a hiatus, is a major factor contributing to this increase, another trend that’s emerging is painting a disturbing picture.
With the recent turnover in leadership at the Federal Housing Finance Agency, we may be standing at the precipice of great change in the government’s role in supporting the mortgage market through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.