Fannie Readies Launch of ‘Trended Data’ Initiative

by Brian Collins, National Mortgage News

WASHINGTON — Lenders and credit bureaus are gearing up for Fannie Mae’s June 25 launch of its “trended data” initiative, which provides a new data element to its automated underwriting process.

The program provides a snapshot of an applicant’s revolving credit payments in an attempt to better divine a borrower’s creditworthiness. The launch marks a significant change for the mortgage industry.

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Better Details Needed for FHA Back to Work & Conventional Loan Extenuating Circumstances

By Pam Marron

For past short sellers who have gone through the loss of a home and are eligible to return, criteria needed for a new mortgage is vague. The result is a partial story.

Proving “extenuating circumstances” and confining the timeline for an economic event is a struggle for loan originators and underwriters trying to comply with vague  criteria. Because of so many variables, lenders deny new loans for borrowers with a short sale or foreclosure in their past even when they may be eligible to repurchase again.

We HAVE to get this right. Detailing WHY the loss of a home is the hardest thing for affected consumers to provide… not because they can’t remember, but because they relive it.

In attempting to originate the FHA “Back to Work” loans, it would seem the process is simple. The criteria for “Back to Work” is to show a 20% reduction in income sustained for 6 months minimum that resulted from a loss of employment or reduction in income, which is considered the “economic event”.

Here’s the bigger problem. Most who had an “economic event” tried to hang on, wiping out assets along the way. But, while trying to hang on, homeowners accumulated more debt to stay solvent and in most cases, to stay current on their mortgage.  Then, another “economic event” hit, assets were gone and debt is so excessive that there is no choice but to short sell.

As a mortgage broker in Florida where it is common to see Boomerang Buyers (those eligible to re-enter the housing market after a short sale or foreclosure), I often hear the full story for those who have lost a home and want to re-try home ownership again. An economic event followed by a prolonged period of trying  to stay put, finally ended with another event where funds were no  longer available and the only choice was to short sale, occurred in a great deal of these cases.

Proof also exists to show a good number of these folks  had excessive debt that pushed up debt to income ratios incredibly high prior to the sale of their underwater home.

But, it gets confusing for a new mortgage. For the FHA “Back to Work” program, HUD approved counselors are able to determine hardship and can provide those who attempt a re-purchase one year after a short sale, foreclosure or bankruptcy with a housing counseling certificate.

However, that doesn’t mean the mortgage company will approve the mortgage. Because the economic event may have occurred years ago and short sale processes took months or years, documentation such as tax returns and bank statements needed to show a lack of assets may stretch over the previous five to seven years rather than the most recent two years that lenders are accustomed to evaluating.

Mortgage companies who offer  FHA “Back to Work” are reluctant to promote this almost two year old program due to few of these loans getting approved. Part of this is because loan originators don’t provide enough documentation, and the other problem is that there seems to be wide discrepancy between underwriting opinion on these files.

Varying opinion also exists for “extenuating circumstances” noted in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines for eligibility of a new mortgage under four  years. Underwriting interpretation of these guidelines vary greatly from lender to lender for the few mortgage companies who offer these loans.

For loans submitted with what seems to be an iron clad “extenuating circumstance” or proof of the 20% reduction in income for 6 months minimum for FHA’s “Back to Work” program, underwriter opinion seems to vary widely. Some underwriters think the decision to short sale was too soon, while others wonder why homeowners waited. It seems they are trying to justify the sale was “not strategic”.

The income, current credit and assets of borrowers who have gone through a short sale and are trying to re-enter the housing market is more than acceptable per current guidelines. They have to be next to perfect, and they know it. Other than knowledge of the past short sale, these are loans that any lender would want to have on their books.

Those who make policy need to talk directly with affected past short sellers. They need to come to where underwater home problems still exist and see for themselves what is really happening. This can truly help the housing industry recover.



Loan Originators: “DIG” and Document


Boomerang Buyers, (those who have had a past short sale or foreclosure) are coming back into the housing market and loan originators who assist these folks with a new mortgage are going to need to hone up on research skills.

Even though there had to be a valid hardship to get be approved for the actual short sale, the hardship and circumstances surrounding a short sale will be looked upon differently when applying for a new mortgage afterwards. Those who have been in the mortgage industry for any length of time probably remember the days of the RMCR where supplements needed to be added to correct credit errors. Today, lightning speed for credit reports done in seconds is required by the industry. But with the unprecedented events that have occurred in the last 7-8 years, the need for loan originators to slow down and “get the story and credit” right is more important now than ever before.

Lenders are starting to see an increase of mortgage files for boomerang buyers, but they caution us that loan originators need to thoroughly review documents to make sure that what is necessary to approve these clients is there upon submission. United Mortgage Corp. Sales Director Jason Frangoulis states, “it’s got to make sense. Hardship had to be apparent and it’s got to be documented.” And even though more lenders are underwriting those with a short sale or foreclosure in the past, these same lenders are reluctant to promote this as a service. “Some of the files we are getting are sloppy and not well documented. We look like the bad guy when we have to turn down one of these loans because it was not well put together,” claims an anonymous lender.

So we decided that has to be more than just a place where Boomerang Buyers and Distressed Homeowners get assistance. We also need to assist loan originators with what  documentation is needed. Letters of explanation need to be backed up with any matching documentation available, and credit MUST be correctly represented on the mortgage credit report. Yes, you may need credit supplements for accurate dates and you might have to submit to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac’s automated system more than once. Your borrower may need to go back to the short sale lender for missing documentation. There is no doubt this is not an easy job.

If it doesn’t make sense to you, it won’t to an underwriter. DIG DEEP. Get the details. Ask questions. Let there be no doubt your client had a hardship. And in the end, if the story does not make sense and can’t be proven, give your client future options.

The hope is that the Help Network on can grow with industry professionals that learn how to assist the 7.3 million projected consumers who will be eligible to  re-enter the housing market within the next 8 years.

Thank You, National Consumer Reporting Association!

Error of foreclosure placed on past short sale credit found in credit report code!

Renee Erickson, Acranet credit/NCRA board member, got the ball rolling….

Terry Clemans, NCRA Executive Director, wrote about this and took a group to Washington, D.C. to meet with U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), and Director, Richard Cordray. 

Brian Webster, who was put in charge of getting the problem fixed. Mr. Clemans, and the NCRA also worked with Fannie Mae.

The NCRA has 64 credit reporting agencies across the U.S. that work with mortgage companies and consumers to “get credit right….

“Thank you, National Consumer Reporting Association, and for your continued efforts to help consumers…”

How the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Helped!


The erroneous foreclosure code on past short seller credit was taken to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Senator Bill Nelson of Fl. demanded that the problem get fixed as it was affecting the state of Florida in a big way. The CFPB worked with Fannie Mae on a solution that came out on Nov. 16, 2013, but it did not work.

So, complaints started being placed with the CFPB on banks that would not change the credit code to other than a foreclosure….. and it worked!

It was also learned that in fact the code could be changed! On August, 16, 2014, Fannie Mae came out with a second workaround and changes have bee evident since then. The problem is still in the Freddie Mac system, but hopes are this will be corrected soon. Thank you to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Brian Webster with the CFPB, Fannie Mae, Senator Bill Nelson who got the ball rolling and pushed hard to get this problem resolved, and the National Consumer Reporting Association who took this to the CFPB in the 1st place and whose 64 members have been working diligently with mortgage consumers across the U.S.!

Hero… U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) May 7, 2013

On May 7, 2013, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida took the problem of short seller credit being erroneously coded as a FORECLOSURE to the Senate hearing on “Credit: What Accuracy and Errors Mean to Consumers.” Senator Nelson is a true hero… and took on the problem of short sale credit erroneously coded as a foreclosure that resulted in a mortgage denial for eligible past short sellers. He demanded that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) get this problem fixed in a Senate hearing on May 7, 2013. The Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) was also included in that hearing.

HOW Lender Required Mortgage Delinquency resulted in FORECLOSURE coding for Short Sellers

Lenders require mortgage delinquency in order for underwater homeowners to get a short sale approval.

When the mortgage goes delinquent past 120 days, the mortgage is credit coded as a FORECLOSURE.

Many past short sellers are not aware of this until they apply for a new conventional mortgage 2 years later.


FORECLOSURE Code in Conventional Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Loans

The first time the FORECLOSURE credit for past short sellers was seen was on new conventional Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac findings for eligible past short sellers trying to re-enter the housing market again.

FORECLOSURE code did not affect FHA or VA

The FORECLOSURE code did not affect FHA or VA loans due to the Total Scorecard secondary automated underwriting system that runs parallel to the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac automated system. Total Scorecard allows an approval but designates there may a property in foreclosure and requires that this be checked in underwriting.

How the National Consumer Reporting Association ( got involved!

We worked with Renee Erickson, of Acranet and a NCRA Board member, to show where past short seller credit was showing up as a FORECLOSURE even though the consumer had proof of past short sale. This resulted in denial in both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac automated underwriting systems. Renee took this to the NCRA (National Consumer Reporting Association).

Short Seller Credit Rebounds – Automated Error Confusion Persists

Short Seller credit is often surprisingly good, in spite of late payments required by their lender for the short sale. Loan files were acceptable for a new loan per Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac guidelines; yet both automated underwriting systems were turning past short sellers down and showing the short sale as a FORECLOSURE! And, there was a reluctance to downgrade the credit from a FORECLOSURE, even with proof in hand!

A Public “Thank You!” to Fannie Mae and a Request for Conventional Hardship Counseling Certification for Past Short Sellers

A Public “Thank You!” to Fannie Mae and a Request for Conventional Hardship Counseling Certification for Past Short Sellers

Dear Mr. Watts;

First, Thank You to Fannie Mae for the August 16, 2014 Desktop Originator [1]”fix” that provides  for past short sale credit reported as a FORECLOSURE to be corrected! This allows thousands of eligible past short sellers to  re-enter the housing market!

There is another problem we need your help with: confusion of real hardship with strategic default.

Underwriters are now reviewing more borrowers  who had a past short sale. Many underwriters have a problem with the fact that the mortgage was on time and then all of a sudden went delinquent right before the short sale and  assume these folks were strategic defaulters. However, an overwhelming majority of underwater homeowners were told by their lenders that they could not receive help unless the mortgage was delinquent. A massive number of short sellers will tell you they went delinquent because it was the only option given to them by their lender to get a short sale approval. Further, it can be proven that a massive number of these folks stayed in their homes until they could not do so any longer.

Staying current was a struggle. Hardship is what forced the short sale.

In the midst of  the worst recession in U.S. history, many underwater homeowners wiped themselves out, emptying 401K’s and savings to stay afloat. The hardship was the circumstance that occurred when these folks were at the end of their rope, and had no option left except to short sale.

And, yes, there were those who took advantage of the system. But the great majority continued to make payments, expecting to gain back equity and eventually move on. However, there are areas across the U.S. where appreciation has not happened fast enough and life events have resulted in continued short sales for underwater homeowners (approximately [2]9.1 million per RealtyTrac in July  of 2014).

FHA has “Back to Work” Certification

The Federal Housing Authority (FHA) has a [3]”Back to Work” program, where those who have had a past short sale, foreclosure or bankruptcy can get a certificate from a HUD Approved Counselor where hardship existed and where  a 20% reduction in income was sustained for 6 months or more. In acceptable circumstances, a new FHA mortgage can be approved one year after the short sale, foreclosure or bankruptcy as another option to the three year wait required now.

Could FHFA allow a Hardship Certification from a HUD Approved Counseling Agency or Private Mortgage Insurance Company (PMI) for conventional mortgages?

Why? Because underwriters unfamiliar with problems surrounding short sales are turning down qualified conventional borrowers with extenuating circumstances at the two year mark after a short sale.

Real Hardship Examples

A husband loses his job after a brain aneurysm. The medical crisis causes the couple to file bankruptcy, but they continue to pay the mortgage on the wife’s salary alone. Soon, it is evident the husband will no longer be able to work. It takes 18 months to get Social Security Disability for him and the underwater home is put up for a short sale. The short sale takes almost two years with two contracts that fall apart due to the lengthy short sale process.  The employed wife struggles to make the house payments, wiping out the 401K’s of both her and her husband. The wife is told she must go delinquent in order to get a short sale approval, so she does. Two years later, the wife attempts a new mortgage. The underwriter turns her down, stating she made the mortgage payments after the bankruptcy. The wife asks, “how hard does my hardship have to be?”

Another couple kept their underwater property as a rental. Both moved to another state for jobs, rented out their home and paid monthly for  the difference between rent received and the mortgage payment. 401K’s and savings reserves were wiped out to cover the difference of funds needed. When they lost their final tenant, the options were to short sale or go into foreclosure, as all funds were depleted. They short sold the property.

Please allow trained HUD Counselors or PMI Underwriters to provide a certification for hardship to prove Extenuating Circumstances.

Lenders will not approve a short sale unless a hardship exists. Questioning hardship requires that borrowers must revisit a difficult time all over again. Allowing those trained with allowable criteria to determine real hardship and provide borrowers with an option to layout their story to an unbiased third party can make a difference in the growth of the housing market.


Pam Marron NMLS#246438

Florida Mortgage Broker


[1] Desktop Originator/Desktop Underwriter Release Notes/DU Version 9.1 August Update/June 17, 2014
[2] U.S. Homes Underwater Stalls at 9.1 Million in Second Quarter as Home Price Appreciation Slows in Many 24, 2014/RealtyTrac           
[3]Back to Work Program: Get Your Certificate