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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

CFPB issues interpretive rule on determining underserved areas

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB HMDA TILA Regulation Z Underserved

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

On June 23, the CFPB issued an interpretive rule to provide guidance for creditors and others involved in mortgage origination on the CFPB’s process for determining which counties and areas are considered “underserved” for a given calendar year. This interpretive rule supersedes certain parts of the official commentary to Regulation Z that became obsolete when HMDA data points were replaced or otherwise modified by the 2015 HMDA Final Rule. Lenders use the CFPB’s annual list of rural counties and rural or underserved counties when determining qualified exemptions to certain TILA regulatory requirements, such as “the exemption from the requirement to establish an escrow account for a higher-priced mortgage loan and the ability to originate balloon-payment qualified mortgages,” and use the CFPB’s Rural or Underserved Areas Tool to assess whether a rural or underserved area qualifies for a safe harbor under TILA’s Regulation Z. Under the interpretive rule, the CFPB will determine whether an area is considered “underserved” by counting first-lien originations from HMDA data from the preceding calendar year. The interpretive rule also discusses certain “covered transaction” exclusions that will not be counted related to (i) construction methods and total units; (ii) open-end lines of credit and reverse mortgages; (iii) business or commercial purposes; and (iv) demographic information where both the applicant’s and co-applicant’s ethnicity, race, sex, and age are all reported as “not applicable.” The interpretive rule is effective upon publication in the Federal Register.

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