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On February 15, HUD released Mortgagee Letter 2019-01, which provides guidance on the use of third-party verification (TPV) services for FHA-insured mortgages. Effective immediately, FHA now allows mortgagees to use TPV services for verification of a borrower’s employment, income, and asset information. The Letter provides specific requirements for each category of information but, in all circumstances, a borrower must authorize the mortgagee’s use of a TPV vendor for the verification (whether direct or electronic).
On February 11, the OCC released a statement from Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting supporting the CFPB’s proposed rule rescinding certain requirements relating to underwriting standards for short-term small-dollar loans. (Covered by InfoBytes here.) Calling the proposal “important and courageous,” Otting praised the Bureau, noting that it was “[t]he shrinking supply and steady demand” that “drove up prices and promoted much less favorable terms.” He continued to state that a framework of rules that allows responsible lenders to compete in the market will make the market “work better for everyone.”
As previously covered by InfoBytes, in May 2018, the OCC released a Bulletin encouraging banks to meet the credit needs of consumers by offering short-term, small-dollar installment loans subject to the OCC’s core lending principles.
Fannie Mae announces updates to multifamily small mortgage loan, hybrid ARM loan, and property inspection protocol
On February 1, Fannie Mae issued Lender Memo 19-02 to provide updated guidance for multifamily lenders. The following adjustments have been made to the Multifamily Selling and Servicing Guide and are effective February 4:
- The maximum small mortgage loan amount eligible for underwriting is increased to $6 million and will apply to all markets.
- The maximum Hybrid ARM Loan amount has also been increased to $6 million.
- Property Inspection Protocols and Financial Analysis of Property Operations associated with small mortgage loans have been updated to align asset management requirements with the increases described above. Fannie Mae noted that quarterly financial reporting will not be required—nor will a waiver be needed—for a mortgage loan secured by a cooperative property or a small mortgage loan provided it is not on Fannie Mae’s watchlist or does not have a rating of 4 or 5 on its most recent property inspection.
On February 6, the CFPB released two notices of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) related to certain payday lending requirements under the agency’s 2017 final rule covering “Payday, Vehicle Title, and Certain High-Cost Installment Loans” (the Rule). As previously covered by InfoBytes, last October the Bureau announced plans to reconsider the Rule’s mandatory underwriting requirements and address the Rule’s compliance date.
The first NPRM proposed will rescind certain provisions of the Rule related to underwriting standards for payday loans and related products scheduled to take effect later this year. Specifically, the CFPB proposes to rescind the portion of the Rule that would make it an unfair and abusive practice for a lender to make covered high-interest rate, short-term loans or covered longer-term balloon payment loans without reasonably determining that the consumer has the ability to repay. The proposed changes would also rescind prescribed mandatory underwriting requirements for making the ability-to-repay determination, provisions exempting certain loans from the mandatory underwriting requirements, as well as related definitions, reporting, and recordkeeping requirements. The CFPB explains that it now initially determines that the evidence underlying the identification of the unfair and abusive practice in the Rule “is not sufficiently robust and reliable to support that determination, in light of the impact those provisions will have on the market for covered short-term and longer-term balloon-payment loans, and the ability of consumers to obtain such loans, among other things.” If finalized, the proposals represent a significant change to the Rule as finalized during the tenure of former Bureau Director Richard Cordray in October 2017. (See Buckley Special Alert for more detailed coverage on the Rule.) Comments will be accepted for 90 days following publication in the Federal Register.
The second NPRM seeks to delay the Rule’s compliance date for mandatory underwriting provisions from August 19, 2019 to August 19, 2020. Notably, the Bureau states in a press release announcing the NPRMs that the proposal to delay the effective date does not extend to the Rule’s provisions governing payments, which “prohibit payday and certain other lenders from making a new attempt to withdraw funds from an account where two consecutive attempts have failed unless consumers consent to further withdrawals.” Lenders also will still be required to provide written notice to consumers both before the first attempt to withdraw payment from their accounts, as well as prior to subsequent attempts involving different dates, amounts, or payment channels. These provisions are not under reconsideration and will take effect August 19, 2019. Comments will be accepted for 30 days following publication in the Federal Register.
On December 4, Fannie Mae issued SEL-2018-09, which announces updates to the Selling Guide, including a new self-employment income calculation tool and an updated policy for appraisal waivers for disasters. Specifically, the guide now addresses the use of an approved vendor tool to assist lenders in calculating self-employment income: Fannie Mae “will provide representation and warranty enforcement relief on the accuracy of the calculation of the amount of self-employment income” to lenders that use this tool and enter the income calculated into Fannie Mae’s Desktop Underwriter. Additionally, the guide now allows lenders to exercise appraisal waiver offers on loans in process at the time of a disaster. If a property was damaged during a disaster, but the damage does not affect the safety, soundness, or structural integrity of the property and the repair items are covered by insurance, the lender may still deliver the loan to Fannie Mae; however, the lender must obtain a cost estimate for the repair and ensure that funds are available to the borrower to guarantee the completion of the repairs. The appraisal waiver change is available starting on or after the weekend of December 8. Among other things, the updates also include changes to (i) commission income and unreimbursed business expenses; (ii) Desktop Underwriter Version 10.3; (iii) small business administration loans; and (iv) duplicative provisions regarding flood insurance coverage.
On December 3, the OCC released its Semiannual Risk Perspective for Fall 2018, identifying and reiterating key risk areas that pose a threat to the safety and soundness of national banks and federal savings associations. The report focuses on risks to the federal banking system based on five areas: the operating environment, bank performance, special topics in emerging risk, trends in key risks, and supervisory actions. Overall, loans and bank profitability grew in 2018 as the U.S. economy continued to grow. Moreover, recent examination findings indicate incremental improvements in banks’ general risk management practices. Specific risk areas of concern noted by the OCC include: (i) the origination quality of new loans and potential embedded risks from previously successive years of relaxed underwriting standards; (ii) an increasingly complex operating environment, including the continually evolving threat to cybersecurity; (iii) elevated money-laundering risks; and (iv) rising market interest rates, including certain risks associated with heightened competition for deposits.
The report also notes that outstanding enforcement actions continue to decline since peaking in 2010, which, according to the OCC, reflects an overall improvement in, among other things, banks’ risk management practices. The leading cause of current enforcement actions continues to be compliance or operational failures.
On December 29, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued Circular 26-17-43 to clarify its policy that lenders may use third-party vendors to verify borrower income, employment, and asset information subject to the following caveats: (i) lenders must retain full responsibility for verifying the accuracy of information provided in the borrower’s loan application; (ii) lenders must initiate and receive all verifications related to employment and deposits, credit report requests, and credit information; (iii) lenders must assume responsibility for the quality and accuracy of information provided to the VA collected from third-parties; (iv) lenders must disclose the third party vendor relationships on VA form 26-1820, Report and Certification of Loan Disbursement, and (v) lenders must not charge veterans for the cost of obtaining third-party verification of borrower income, employment, or asset information. Where a real estate broker/agent or any other party requests borrower income, employment, or asset information, lenders must (i) identify the parties as their agents, (ii) ensure that report(s) are returned directly to them, and (iii) ensure completion of the required certification on the loan application.
On December 19, Fannie Mae announced updates to its Selling Guide, including guidance related to underwriting a loan for borrowers who have frozen their credit files at one or more of the three national credit repositories. The Selling Guide now states that a credit report is acceptable for manual underwriting or “Desktop Underwriter” when a borrower’s credit information is frozen at only one of the credit repositories as long as credit data is available from two repositories, a credit score is obtained from at least one of those two repositories, and the lender requested a three in-file merged report. If the borrower’s credit file is frozen at two or more of the credit repositories, the loan will not be eligible for either form of underwriting. Other notable updates to the Selling Guide include, (i) adding requirements on premium pricing to the mortgage eligibility policy; (ii) relief from the enforcement of selling representations and warranties for mortgages that are subject to a disaster-related forbearance plan, where the disaster impacting the loan occurred on or after August 25, 2017 and other requirements are met; (iii) additional details about minimum requirements for internal audit and management controls for all seller/servicers; and (iv) consolidation in the Selling Guide of individual mortgage loan file records retention provisions from the Servicing Guide (as previously covered by InfoBytes here).
Freddie Mac Announces Guide Bulletin 2017-26 Covering Changes to Eligibility for Certain Mortgage Products
On November 15, Freddie Mac announced the issuance of Guide Bulletin 2017-26 (Bulletin), which, among other things, expands borrower options for mortgage financing, eases certain underwriting requirements, and adds non-discrimination language. Specifically, the Bulletin announces the availability of 5-year ARMs as a newly eligible product under “Home Possible,” “Freddie Mac Relief Refinance,” and “Financed Permanent Buydown” mortgage programs. Freddie Mac is also removing the requirement that all income reported on Home Possible Mortgage applications must be verified. Additionally, effective March 15, 2018, consistent with the FHFA Minority and Women Inclusion Amendments Final Rule, all covered sellers “must not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, marital status, disability, veteran status, genetic information (including family medical history), pregnancy, parental status, familial status, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or other characteristics protected by law.”
- Buckley Webcast: Maintaining privilege in cross-border internal investigations
- Moorari K. Shah to discuss "State regulatory and disclosures" at the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association Legal Forum
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "The state of the BSA 2019: What’s working, what’s not, and how to improve it" at the West Coast Anti Money-Laundering Forum
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- Brandy A. Hood to discuss "Flood NFIP in the age of extreme weather events" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
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- Kathryn L. Ryan to discuss "Major state law developments" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Leveraging big data responsibly" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Kathryn L. Ryan to discuss "State examination/enforcement trends" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Benjamin K. Olson to discuss "LO compensation" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- APPROVED Webcast: State and SAFE Act licensing requirements for banks
- John C. Redding to discuss "TCPA compliance in the era of mobile" at the Auto Finance Risk Summit
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- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Keep off the grass: Mitigating the risks of banking marijuana-related businesses" at the ACAMS AML Risk Management Conference
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Mid-year policy update" at the ACAMS AML Risk Management Conference
- Benjamin W. Hutten to discuss "Requirements for banking inherently high-risk relationships" at the Georgia Bankers Association BSA Experience Program