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  • HUD permits use of third-party verification services

    Federal Issues

    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).

    Federal Issues HUD FHA Third-Party Underwriting Mortgages

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  • Mortgage lender settles FCA allegations

    Federal Issues

    On February 13, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California announced a $3.67 million joint settlement with HUD and the Fair Housing Administration (FHA) to resolve allegations that a mortgage lender violated the False Claims Act by falsely certifying compliance with FHA mortgage insurance requirements. According to the settlement agreement, between 2007 and 2009, the mortgage lender, a participant in HUD’s Direct Endorsement Lender program, allegedly knowingly submitted false claims to the FHA loan insurance program by failing to ensure the loans qualified for FHA insurance when they were originated. The announcement notes that the settlement relates solely to allegations, and that there has been no determination of actual liability by the mortgage lender, which did not admit to liability in the settlement.

    Federal Issues HUD FHA False Claims Act / FIRREA DOJ Mortgages Mortgage Insurance

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  • Waters announces subcommittee chairs, including newly formed Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion

    Federal Issues

    On January 24, Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, Maxine Waters, announced that Joyce Beatty (D-OH) will serve as the first Chair of the newly formed Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion. According to Waters’ policy speech on January 17, the new Subcommittee will be “dedicated to looking at diversity and inclusion issues under the Committee’s jurisdiction.” Specifically, Waters cited to low representation of minorities and women in the financial services industry, particularly at the management level, as a reason for the creation of the subcommittee. Using the Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion of the federal financial services regulators as an example, Waters suggested that the subcommittee be responsible for overseeing diversity in management, employment, and business activities in the financial industry. In addition to diversity and inclusion, Waters noted that, among other things, fair housing, including conducting “robust oversight” of HUD, and fintech would be top priorities for the subcommittee.

    Federal Issues Diversity House Financial Services Committee Congressional Oversight Congressional Inquiry HUD Fintech

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  • HUD issues FHA loan limits for 2019

    Federal Issues

    On December 14, HUD issued two Mortgagee Letters (here and here) providing the mortgage limits for FHA-insured forward mortgage case numbers and for FHA-insured Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs) for 2019. Beginning on January 1, 2019, FHA’s nationwide forward mortgage limit “floor” and “ceiling” for a one-unit property are $314,827 and $726,525, respectively, and the HECM maximum nationwide claim will be $726,525.

    Federal Issues HUD FHA Mortgages Reverse Mortgages HECM

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  • HUD-OIG report examines top management challenges

    Federal Issues

    Earlier this fall, the HUD Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG) published an annual report, which examines top management challenges facing the agency in 2019 and beyond. According to HUD-OIG, the six top challenges are a result of “critical unaddressed internal or external risks” that impede the success of HUD’s programs. Identified challenges impacting HUD’s performance relate to (i) the availability of safe, affordable housing; (ii) the ability to protect FHA’s mortgage insurance funds due to, among other things, a lack of sufficient safeguards, losses due to home equity conversion mortgages, increases in Ginnie Mae’s nonbank issuers, and emerging digital mortgage risks attributed to technology and information security problems; (iii) the inability to implement and institute adequate monitoring and oversight of its operations and program participants; (iv) identified inefficiencies in administering disaster recovery assistance; (v) a failure to modernize technology and properly oversee the information technology infrastructure, which leaves the agency vulnerable to data breaches; and (vi) the ability to institute sound financial management governance, internal controls, and systems due to a “lack of strong, consistent leadership over an extended period.” HUD-OIG states it will continue to identify challenges and assist in implementing solutions to remediate weaknesses.

    Federal Issues HUD FHA Ginnie Mae Disaster Relief Mortgages

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  • Agencies issue disaster relief guidance for California wildfires

    Federal Issues

    On November 13, the OCC, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and HUD issued disaster relief guidance related to the California wildfires. The OCC issued a proclamation permitting OCC-regulated institutions, at their discretion, to close offices affected by wildfires and high winds “for as long as deemed necessary for bank operation or public safety.” In issuing the proclamation, the OCC noted that it expects that only those bank offices directly affected by potentially unsafe conditions will close and that they should make every effort to reopen as quickly as possible to address the banking needs of their customers. The proclamation directs institutions to OCC Bulletin 2012-28 for further guidance on natural disasters and other emergency conditions.

    Fannie Mae reminded servicers of available mortgage assistance options for homeowners impacted by the wildfires: (i) qualifying homeowners are eligible to stop making mortgage payments for up to 12 months without incurring late fees and without having delinquencies reported to the credit bureaus; (ii) servicers may immediately suspend or reduce mortgage payments for up to 90 days without any contact with homeowners believed to have been affected by a disaster; and (iii) servicers must suspend foreclosures and other legal proceedings for homeowners believed to be impacted by a disaster. Freddie Mac similarly reminded servicers of these mortgage relief options.

    HUD announced an automatic 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of FHA-insured home mortgages for covered properties and is further making FHA insurance available to those victims whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged.

    Find continuing InfoBytes coverage on disaster relief here.

    Federal Issues Fannie Mae Freddie Mac OCC HUD Mortgages Disaster Relief

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  • FHA streamlines claim payment requirements for HECM program

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On October 22, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) issued Mortgagee Letter 2018-08, streamlining documentation requirements for Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) servicers when assigning FHA-insured reverse mortgages to HUD for claims payments. Effective immediately, servicers may now submit alternative supporting documentation, such as (i) documentation from a current hazard insurance provider in lieu of a declaration page; and (ii) alternative evidence of a borrower’s death, such as an obituary or healthcare documents in lieu of a death certificate. Servicers must now also submit evidence that any mobile home is “real property” under the laws of the particular state for which the home is located. FHA reminds servicers that claims for insurance benefits must be filed within 60 calendar days after receiving preliminary title approval, and notes that servicers must now provide a detailed explanation of all pre-due and payable corporate advances in the compliance package, including the date of the disbursement, the expense that was paid, and any information related to received repayments. According to a FHA’s press release, streamlining the requirements and reducing the documentation burden will help accelerate the claim payments process for servicers.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FHA Reverse Mortgages Insurance HECM HUD

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  • 17 state Attorneys General urge HUD not to change Disparate Impact Regulation

    Federal Issues

    On August 20, 17 state Attorneys General in a comment letter urged HUD to not make any changes to its 2013 Disparate Impact Regulation (regulation), which implements the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact standard, as well as the 2016 Application of the Fair Housing Act’s Discriminatory Effects Standard to Insurance (supplement). The comment letter responded to HUD’s June advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR), which sought comments on whether the 2013 regulation and the 2016 supplement are consistent with the 2015 Supreme Court ruling in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. (Covered by a Buckley Sandler Special Alert.) 

    In the letter, the Attorneys General state that the regulation “strikes the proper balance between promoting an integrated society and protecting housing providers from unmeritorious discrimination claims” and is “entirely consistent” with the Supreme Court decision. The letter cites to multiple federal and state court decisions, which have held that the regulation is “‘adopted’ by, or consistent with, the Supreme Court decision” and emphasizes that, to their awareness, no court has held the regulation to be inconsistent. Conversely, even if the Supreme Court decision left room for revisions to the regulation, the letter notes that the issues of segregation and discrimination in the housing and lending market have not dissipated in the five years since the regulation was finalized and therefore, no revisions are warranted. Lastly, among other points, the Attorneys General conclude that any revisions would “reduce clarity and add uncertainty because any revision would likely fail to rely on the half century of disparate impact case law.”

    The letter was led by North Carolina Attorney General, Josh Stein. The other state Attorneys General included California, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington as well as the District of Columbia.

    Federal Issues Disparate Impact HUD State Attorney General Fair Lending

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  • FHA updates loss mitigation options for mortgages in certain areas of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

    Federal Issues

    On August 15, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) released Mortgagee Letter 2018-05 (ML 2018-05), which updates loss mitigation options for certain FHA-insured mortgages located in Puerto Rico or Virgin Islands. The properties must be located in Presidentially-Declared Major Disaster Areas (PDMDAs) as a result of Hurricane Maria. In adition, FHA is also instituting a 30-day foreclosure moratorium on certain properties located in Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands that FEMA has declared to be eligible for individual assistance. (As previously covered by InfoBytes, ML 2018-03 had extended an existing moratorium through August 16.) Additionally, in order to reduce foreclosures and minimize losses to the Insurance Fund, ML 2018-05 provides updated loss mitigation options “designed to provide greater alternatives to foreclosure for mortgagees to use with borrowers in the designated PDMDAs.” The new options supersede the previous ones offered in ML 2018-01 and rearrange the loss mitigation waterfall in order to provide expedited permanent loss mitigation solutions by considering “Disaster Standalone Partial Claims” earlier. This option would allow borrowers, among other things, to maintain their pre-disaster monthly payment of principle and interest and does not change interest rate and term of the mortgage. These loss mitigation options must be implemented by September 15 and expire May 1, 2019. The foreclosure mortgage moratorium is effective immediately and applies to the initiation of foreclosures and foreclosures already in process.

    Federal Issues FHA HUD Disaster Relief Loss Mitigation Mortgages Foreclosure

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  • HUD releases ANPR on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulations

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On August 13, HUD announced an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) seeking comment on potential amendments to its 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulations. As previously covered by InfoBytes, AFFH was aimed at helping communities who receive HUD funding meet their fair housing obligations to provide affordable housing in more communities; however, HUD now states that the rule “proved ineffective, highly prescriptive, and effectively discouraged the production of affordable housing.” The ANPR requests public comment on changes that will, among other things, (i) minimize regulatory burden; (ii) create a process focused on accomplishing positive results; (iii) provide for greater local control; (iv) encourage actions that will increase housing choice; and (v) efficiently utilize HUD resources. The ANPR also details a list of substantive questions HUD is interested in commenters responding to, including “[w]hat type of community participation and consultation should program participants undertake in fulfilling their AFFH obligations?” and “[h]ow should HUD evaluate the AFFH efforts of program participants?” Comments on the ANPR must be received by October 15.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues HUD Fair Lending

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