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Buyouts drive up Ginnie Mae speeds sharply

| July 10, 2020

This document is intended for institutional investors and is not subject to all of the independence and disclosure standards applicable to debt research reports prepared for retail investors.

Efforts by Ginnie Mae servicers to buy loans in forbearance out of MBS, cure them and eventually repool them likely drove up the agencies prepayment speeds sharply in June. Speeds in Ginnie Mae I programs jumped month-over-month by 118% and in Ginnie Mae II by 44%. Bank servicers likely played a leading role. Speeds in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac MBS also came in slightly faster than expectation, likely lifted by processing lags and possibly by increased use of appraisal waivers.

Ginnie Mae speeds explode

Ginnie Mae’s prepayment speeds exploded higher in June, almost certainly due to buyouts. Ginnie I pools jumped 118% overall and more than 100% across the stack. Ginnie II speeds increased 44% overall and most coupons increased between 40% and 50%. Buyouts were far greater in seasoned vintages, likely because far more of those loans are serviced by banks. For example, the 2017 3.5%s increased 35.1% and had 13.1% of its loans in forbearance as of June 1, while the 2013 3.5%s increased 129.4% while only 10.2% of its loans were in forbearance. The Ginnie I program consists primarily of seasoned pools, which explains why its prepayment speeds increased so much more.

CARES Act forbearance programs have created new incentives for servicers to buy out FHA loans from Ginnie Mae MBS. Ginnie Mae rules allow servicers to buy out loans after three months of missed payments. Loans in forbearance qualify. Since FHA rules allow servicers to cure loans in forbearance simply by deferring missed payments to the end of the loan, it becomes profitable for servicers to buy out loans at par, cure and quickly repool the loans at premium prices. Profits are particularly high for banks with a low cost of funds for financing loans until repooling.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac print faster than expected

Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s 30-year prepayment speeds came in higher than expected for the third straight month, although by a much smaller margin than before. Fannie Mae’s 30-year speeds increased 14% and Freddie Mac’s speeds increased 13%, in contrast to the consensus prediction of a 5% increase. Amherst Pierpont had predicted roughly flat speeds, anticipating that that the surge in refis in March had finally worked its way through the pipeline. This would offset any increase in speeds from two additional business days and a rebound in housing turnover. Longer lags from application to closing were still the most likely reason for faster speeds. For example, some April applications likely closed in June. But the impact was much smaller, and is likely to decline further in the coming months.

Some of the additional conventional speed may be coming from increasing use of appraisal waivers for refinancing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans. The Covid crisis has made traditional appraisals more difficult in many markets, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac likely feel increasingly inclined to grant waivers in those markets, particularly for loans with enough amortization to build up their LTV since origination.

Looking ahead

Conventional prepayment speeds should increase another 10% in July as lagged mortgage rates fall another 5 bp and turnover continues to increase, while day count remains the same. Speeds should increase another 5% in August as refis continue to pickup, although the full increase is lower since August has one fewer business day.

Ginnie Mae prepayments could face a second round of buyouts from bank servicers as another batch of loans delinquent due to Covid-19 become buyout-eligible for the first time. The risk of buyouts from non-bank servicers is likely much lower due to Ginnie Mae’s new pooling restrictions that took effect July 1, but the rules may do little to deter banks from continuing their buyouts.

Exhibit 1: Ginnie Mae speeds surged faster from buyouts by banks

Source: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae, eMBS, Amherst Pierpont Securities

Data Tables

Exhibit 2: Prepayment Summary

Our short term forecast is shown in Exhibit 5 (Fannie Mae) and Exhibit 6 (Freddie Mac). Exhibit 4 shows the static rates used in the prepayment forecast.

Exhibit 3: Agency Speeds, Largest Cohorts

Exhibit 4: Mortgage Rate Forecast

Exhibit 5: Fannie Mae Short Term Forecast

Exhibit 6: Freddie Mac Short Term Forecast

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