MReport July 2019

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TH E M R EP O RT | 45 SERVICING THE LATEST O R I G I NAT I O N S E R V I C I N G DATA G O V E R N M E N T S E C O N DA R Y M A R K E T The Perks of Paying on Time Here's why more Americans are paying their mortgage on time more often. A mericans are paying their mortgages on time more often than they have in nearly two decades, according to the American Institute of CPAs' (AICPA) Q1 2019 Personal Finan- cial Satisfaction Index (PFSi). The PFSi states that loan delin- quencies dropped 5.5% (1.8 points) from the previous quarter, with the improvement mostly driven by mortgages. While the amount of delinquencies dropped to its lowest level since 2007, the rate is still higher than what was seen between 1994–2003. The PFSi is calculated as the Personal Financial Pleasure Index (Pleasure Index) minus the Personal Financial Pain Index (Pain Index). Positive readings signal Americans are feeling more financial pleasure than pain. "No one wants to pay any more taxes than they owe. Now is the perfect time to use the information in your tax return and underlying documents to build a tax-efficient financial plan," said Michael Landsberg, CPA/PFS member of the AICPA's Personal Financial Planning Executive Committee. "This was the first year with most provi- sions of the new tax law on the books. As many have discovered, the changes went far beyond a reduction to income tax brackets. If you haven't already considered the new tax law changes, now is the opportune time to review and update your financial plan." Taxes and money are an im- portant component of the Pain Index, especially when measur- ing financial satisfaction. The report states that when income taxes change, Americans notice because it impacts the amount of money they take home. Americans also hope for a lower tax burden, which, for some, can be reflected in a higher refund. Americans received an average tax refund of $2,899 in 2017. In 2018—the first under the new law—the average tax fell to $2,795, according to the IRS. The Q1 2019 PFSi measured 36.1, an 11.3% (3.7 points) increase from the prior quarter. The increase was due to a 2.4-point increase in the Pleasure Index combined with a 1.3-point decrease in the Pain Index. Stocks surged in the first quar- ter of 2019 after a sharp decline in the fourth quarter of 2018. Gains in the stock market, combined with an improved job market, pushed American's personal finan- cial satisfaction to a new record high, according to the AICPA's Q1 2019 PFSi. The PFSi bounced back from its first decline in two years to reach its sixth record high in seven quarters. The Search for Better Foreclosure Solutions The New Jersey Governor signed nine bills expanding homeowner protections into law. N ew Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, aiming to reverse the state's ongo- ing foreclosure crisis, signed what he called a "bipartisan legislative package" of nine bills into law that are geared toward expanding homeowner protections. reported that many of these measures were recommended in a September 2018 report by the Special Committee on Residential Foreclosure, which was created by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. "The foreclosure crisis has hurt our economy and jeopardized economic security of too many New Jersey families," Murphy said. "Our communities cannot succeed while vacant or foreclosed homes sit empty or while families live in limbo. I am proud to sign these bills into law [Monday] and get New Jersey closer to ending the foreclosure crisis." Black Knight's 2018 Mortgage Monitor report had New Jersey's foreclosure rate at the end of 2018 at 1.77%, trailing only Mississippi (2.36%), Louisiana (2.05%), and West Virginia (1.81%). One new law (A-4997), also known as the "Mortgage Servicers Licensing Act," requires anyone working as a mortgage servicer to obtain a license from the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance for each main office and each branch office where business is conducted, unless the person is exempt under provi- sions outlined in the bill. "A major part of the foreclosure crisis has been mortgages that were serviced by individuals who were not properly trained and in many cases, simply operated using unethi- cal practices," said Vincent Mazzeo of Atlantic County, one of the bill's co-sponsors. "This new law creates checks and balances of sorts as it pertains to mortgage services." A mortgage servicer that is exempt from licensure will still be required to maintain records of each residential mortgage loan transac- tion and produce related records as requested. Upon assigning the servicing rights on a residential mortgage loan, the servicer will be required to make certain disclosures to the mortgagor as per the law. Insider New Jersey stated the Commissioner of Banking is now authorized to investigate and examine mortgage servicers and suspend, revoke, or refuse to renew a servicer license for reasons defined in the bill. Violators can be penalized with a third-degree crime and subjected to civil penal- ties up to $25,000. The law will take effect in 90 days. "The nine bills signed into law are the first of many steps we'll take to address foreclosure process concerns in the state," Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin of Middlesex County said. "More ef- ficiency and ensuring fairness in the current system protects the interests of our homeowners, our neighbor- hoods, and communities. These creative solutions to this complex problem will better the lives of thousands of New Jersey residents."

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