When we repurchase a HECM loan that is not in default from an HMBS pool, we must fund such repurchase until we convey the repurchased HECM loan to and receive reimbursement from the FHA, which generally occurs within 90 days of repurchase (assuming the repurchased loan continues to perform during such time and there are no other factors that cause a delay in conveying the repurchased HECM loan to the FHA). If a repurchased HECM loan goes into default (e.g., if the borrower has failed to pay real estate taxes or property insurance premiums) following our repurchase of such loan from an HMBS pool but prior to our conveyance of such loan to the FHA, or is in default at the time we repurchase such loan from an HMBS pool, the FHA will not accept such loan and we must continue to service such loan until the default is cured or we otherwise satisfy FHA requirements relating to foreclosure of the loan and sell the underlying property. Thus, we are exposed to financing risk when we must repurchase a HECM loan from an HMBS pool, which risk is exacerbated if such loan is in default at the time of repurchase or goes into default prior to our conveyance of such loan to the FHA. In addition, we may be exposed to risk of loss of principal when a HECM loan goes into default, which risk is exacerbated for defaulted loans we seek to foreclose upon. Foreclosure of a HECM loan can be an expensive and lengthy process that could have a substantial negative effect on our anticipated return on the foreclosed HECM loan, especially in circumstances where we make an appraisal-based claim to the FHA with respect to a HECM loan because we have not been able to liquidate the underlying property for an acceptable price within the timeframe established by the FHA. The number of appraisal-based claims we make to the FHA is impacted by a variety of factors, including real estate market conditions and the geographic composition of our HECM loan portfolio. If we make a significant number of appraisal-based claims to the FHA this could have a material adverse effect on our business, liquidity, financial condition and results of operations.
During 2018, our HECM repurchases amounted to approximately $1.8 billion, with a balance of approximately $1.1 billion at the end of 2018, an increase from approximately $808.5 million at the end of 2017. We expect our repurchase obligations to increase in 2019, but the amount of repurchase obligations we will incur in any specific period in the future is uncertain, as it will be affected by, among other things, the rate at which borrowers draw down on amounts available under their HECM loans. In addition, the balance of funds we must commit to repurchases (and the related cost of such funding) will depend in part on how long we must hold and service such loans after repurchasing them, and recent regulatory changes and practices have adversely affected the amount of time we must hold and service such loans following repurchase. As our funding needs increase for repurchased HECMs, we will seek to enter into new, or increase the capacity of existing, lending facilities to provide a portion of such funds; however, we cannot be certain such new facilities will be available or that our existing facilities will be extended or increased.
When we securitize HECM loans into HMBS, we are required to covenant and warrant to Ginnie Mae, among other things, that the HECM loans related to each participation included in the HMBS are eligible under the requirements of the National Housing Act and the Ginnie Mae Mortgage-Backed Securities Guide, and that we will take all actions necessary to continue to ensure the HECM loans continued eligibility. The Ginnie Mae HMBS program requires that we repurchase the participation related to any HECM loan that does not meet the requirements of the Ginnie Mae Mortgage-Backed Securities Guide. Significant repurchase requirements could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations.
If we are unable to fund our HECM repurchase obligations, for example because new or increased lending facilities are not available or in the event that our repurchase obligations in any period significantly exceed our expectations, face delays in our ability to make such repurchases, or are unable to convey repurchased HECM loans to the FHA, our business, liquidity, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
We may suffer operating losses as a result of not being fully reimbursed for certain costs and interest expenses on our HECM loans, or if we fail to originate or service such loans in conformity with the FHA’s guidelines.
The FHA will reimburse us for most HECM loan losses incurred by us, up to the maximum claim amount, if, upon disposition of the collateral a deficit exists between the value of the collateral and the loan balance. However, there are certain costs and expenses that the FHA will not reimburse. Additionally, the FHA pays the FHA debenture rate instead of the loan interest rate from the date the loan becomes due and payable to the date of disposition of the property or final appraisal. In the event the note rate we are required to pay to an HMBS investor exceeds the FHA debenture rate, we will suffer an interest rate loss.
To obtain such reimbursement from the FHA, we must file a claim under the FHA mortgage insurance contract. Under certain circumstances, if we file a reimbursement claim that is inaccurate, we could be the subject of a claim under the False Claims Act, which imposes liability on any person who knowingly makes a false or fraudulent claim for payment to the U.S. government. Potential penalties are significant, as these actions may result in treble damages.
Additionally, if we fail to service HECM loans in conformity with the FHA’s guidelines, we could lose our right to service the portfolio or be subject to financial penalties that could affect our ability to receive loss claims or result in the curtailment of FHA debenture rate reimbursement. The FHA may also at its discretion request indemnification from a lender on a possible loss on a HECM loan if it determines that the loan was not originated or serviced in conformity with its rules or regulations.