SAN FRANCISCO — Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the long-term underlying rating on the California Housing Finance Agency’s home mortgage revenue bonds to Baa1 from A3, affecting $5.7 billion of outstanding debt.
The rating agency said the drop is mainly a result of the downgrade to Ba1 last month of Genworth Mortgage Insurance Corp., which has reinsured more than 40% of CalHFA’s single-family mortgage loans that are pledged as repayment for the revenue bonds.
Moody’s also said in a separate report Monday that the agency’s A2 issuer rating remains on review for a possible downgrade.
CalHFA’s revenue bonds are also expected to come under pressure from the expiration of a temporary credit and liquidity program at the end of the year, as well as the continued high level of mortgage-loan delinquencies and foreclosures in the state, Moody’s said in the reports released late Monday.
“Losses related to mortgage loans are a key concern because of the relatively high level of mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures,” analysts said.
“The severe decline in California house prices contributes to increased losses on loans that go to foreclosure,” Moody’s said. The revenue bond portfolio includes 25,000 mortgage loans, with an outstanding principal balance of $4.7 billion as of the end of last year.
Moody’s said mortgage delinquencies have leveled off since early 2011 and now stand at 9.14%.
Standard & Poor’s rates the mortgage revenue credit BBB.
Bruce Gilbertson, CalHFA’s director of finance, said Moody’s rating action was not a surprise since it has been on credit watch on and off for the last several years.
“We did a lot of lending from 2005 to 2008, which are the years that are most vulnerable for delinquencies, default and ultimately foreclosures,” Gilbertson said. “We have been working hard at managing the portfolio over the last three to four years and continue to do so.”
Though the revenue bonds are not a general obligation of CalHFA, Moody’s said the housing agency is obligated to make payments on interest rate swaps tied to the revenue bonds.
The home mortgage revenue bond program is CalHFA’s largest program by volume, according to Moody’s. The revenue bond rating remains on review for a potential downgrade pending a further assessment of the relationship with Genworth.
“Based on the outcome of that analysis, [home mortgage revenue bonds] rating could be affirmed at Baa1, or could be subject to further downgrade, including a multi-notch downgrade,” Moody’s said.
Enhanced ratings of Aaa and VMIG 1 on variable-rate demand obligations tied to the revenue bonds are based on support from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and are unaffected by the downgrade.
The report said the rating agency continues to asses CalHFA’s liquidity needs, including collateral for interest-rate swap agreements that may strain the housing agency’s resources if the rating on any of its senior unsecured debt is lowered.
Moody’s said the Housing Finance Agency management has worked proactively to address the financial challenges and liquidity balances have shown some improvement.
Analysts said CalHFA’s strategies of selling mortgage assets, bond redemptions and terminating interest rate swaps have helped improve its position. The rating agency said CalHFA’s multifamily mortgage portfolio continues to show strength with minimal delinquencies. Moody’s also said CalHFA continues to receive federal support.
Both the review of the issuer rating and the revenue bond rating is expected to be finished in 60 days.