FHA and Ginnie Mae Kick Out Lend America

By Steve Cook Real Estate Economy Watch  |  Dec. 1, 2009 at 9:24 AM
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A national mortgage lender known for full-page newspaper ads and television infomercials to solicit business from homeowners facing foreclosure can no longer originate or underwrite FHA loans or issue Ginnie Mae securities.

Yesterday the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae) today withdrew approval for Lend America to participate in the FHA single family insurance program.

FHA also imposed civil money penalties against the Melville, N.Y. lender for $512,500 based upon two notices of violation issued to the Company last month. Lend America has 30 days to challenge the withdrawal action and the imposition of civil money penalties before an Administrative Law Judge. The action taken today follows a Quality Assurance review that found Ideal violated a number of HUD/FHA requirements.

Lend America has originated some 11,300 FHA-backed loans over the last two years, ranking them No. 22 among FHA lenders by volume.

"We have no tolerance for lenders who abuse their FHA-approval," said FHA Commissioner David Stevens. "The evidence in this case points to a disturbing pattern of senior officials and underwriters, either not knowing what they were doing, or not caring. Therefore, Ideal has been immediately withdrawn from participating in the FHA-insured mortgage program."

"FHA's action triggers an immediate default in the Ginnie Mae program," said Ginnie Mae Executive Vice President Mary Kinney. "We have taken these steps to protect the integrity of our MBS program and the American taxpayer."

"The company is surprised and disappointed by today's action by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Mortgagee Review Board. The Company is currently reviewing all possible options and remedies in response to this action, and will respond shortly once a decision has been reached," said Lend America in a statement.

In October, the Justice Department filed suit at HUD's request to bar Lend America from making government-backed loans, accusing the company of falsely certifying borrowers who received $14 million in FHA-backed loans. However, U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Bianco denied the government's request for a temporary restraining order that would prevent Lend America from making such loans while a civil fraud injunction against the company and one of its senior managers is being decided.

Lend America was the first lender in the country to receive approval from HUD to underwrite, close and insure Hope for Homeowners loan transactions without prior HUD review. In May, it launched a $500,000 a month advertising campaign with the tagline "Relief Comes In The Form Of Hope" featuring full page ads in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and Newsday. In addition, it launched a series of 60 second format TV commercials and cable TV infomercials featuring fake anchors for the "Mortgage Loan Network."

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