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On January 16, the FHFA issued a notice requesting public comment on prospective policy changes to its residential energy retrofitting programs, or Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs. According to the request for comment, PACE programs are “financed through special state legislation enabling a ‘super-priority lien’ over existing and subsequent first mortgages.” Because the loans are only recorded in tax rolls and not in land records, they do not show up in title searches. This may potentially cause problems for prospective buyers and mortgage lenders. Additionally, the programs are not uniform across states and the GSEs cannot buy properties encumbered by PACE loans.
Comments must be received by March 16.
On January 13, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) issued SR 20-2, “Frequently Asked Questions on the Tailoring Rules” (FAQs) applicable to bank holding companies, savings and loan companies, U.S. intermediate holding companies with $100 billion or more in total assets, and certain depository institutions. In October, as previously covered by InfoBytes, the Fed and the OCC released a jointly developed framework that set out four categories to be used to classify these banking entities for the purposes of determining regulatory capital and liquidity requirements based on risk. The FAQs provide guidance on the tailoring rules, including answers to questions about Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR) requirements, recognition of Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income, compliance requirements for foreign banking organizations with less than $100 billion in U.S. assets, and the interpretation of “quarterly” in relation to stress testing frequency.
On January 14, the FDIC again published a notice and request for comments in the Federal Register on innovation pilot programs. The FDIC first solicited comments on innovation pilot programs in November, with comments due by January 6. As no comments were submitted, the agency is once again requesting comments on the programs, which, as previously covered by InfoBytes, it hopes will spur collaboration “with innovators in the financial, non-financial, and technology sectors to, among other things, identify, develop, and promote technology-driven innovations among community and other banks in a manner that ensures the safety and soundness of FDIC-supervised and insured institutions.”
Comments must be received by February 13.
On January 10, the OCC issued a request for public input (RFI) to aid the OCC and the FDIC in determining how their joint notice of proposed rulemaking might be revised to ensure the final rule achieves the purpose of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). A previously covered by a Buckley Special Alert, the NPR generally focuses on expanding and delineating the activities that qualify for CRA consideration, providing benchmarks to determine what levels of activity are necessary to obtain a particular CRA rating, establishing additional assessment areas based on the location of a bank’s deposits, and increasing clarity, consistency, and transparency in reporting. The RFI “seeks bank-specific data and information to supplement currently-available data and to inform potential revisions to modernize and strengthen the CRA regulatory framework,” and specifically requests four types of bank data covering the past three years: (i) retail domestic deposit activities; (ii) total qualifying activity data; (iii) data on qualifying retail loans originated and sold within 90 days; and (iv) other retail loan data by census tract. Comments on the RFI are due March 10.
On January 8, Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard discussed the Fed’s approach to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) modernization process, explaining why the agency chose not to join the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) issued in December by the OCC and the FDIC. As previously covered by a Buckley Special Alert, the NPR generally focuses on expanding and delineating the activities that qualify for CRA consideration, providing benchmarks to determine what levels of activity are necessary to obtain a particular CRA rating, establishing additional assessment areas based on the location of a bank’s deposits, and increasing clarity, consistency, and transparency in reporting. The NPR was published in the Federal Register on January 9, with comments due March 9.
According to Brainard, “it is more important to get the reforms done right than to do them quickly.” This includes, Brainard emphasized, “giving external stakeholders sufficient time and analysis to provide meaningful feedback on a range of options for modernizing the regulations.” Specifically, the Fed’s proposed approach for measuring banks’ CRA compliance uses “a set of tailored thresholds that are calibrated for local conditions” through the creation of two tests: (i) a retail test, applicable to all retail banks, that “would assess a bank’s record of providing retail loans and retail banking services in its assessment areas”; and (ii) a community development test, applicable to large banks, wholesale banks, and limited-purpose banks, “that would evaluate a bank’s record of providing community development loans, qualified investments, and services.” Banks would then be provided a dashboard related to its retail lending activity, as well as metrics concerning its community development performance.
Brainard also commented that separating evaluations into two different tests is important because “an approach that combines all activity together runs the risk of encouraging some institutions to meet expectations primarily through a few large community development loans or investments rather than meeting local needs.” She explained that having separate tests would ensure that performance metrics are tailored for banks of different sizes and business models, and would “provide greater scope to calibrate the evaluation metrics to the opportunities available in the market, which can differ for retail lending and community development financing.” Further, Brainard stated that using metrics based on a bank’s retail output on the number of loans rather than the dollar volume would help to measure how well a bank is serving the needs of both low- to moderate-income communities and “avoid inadvertent biases in favor of fewer, higher-dollar value loans.”
On January 7, HUD published its proposed replacement for the 2015 version of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule. According to HUD, the proposed AFFH rule will provide state and local government participants with more straightforward advice “to help them improve affordable housing choices in their community.”
In August of 2018, HUD suspended requirements under the 2015 rule for HUD grant recipient communities to submit assessments of fair housing. Additionally, as previously covered in InfoBytes, HUD solicited comments on amendments to the 2015 AFFH regulations, which, according to the agency, “proved ineffective, highly prescriptive, and effectively discouraged the production of affordable housing.” The proposed rule suggests a change to the definition of AFFH to “advancing fair housing choice within the program participant’s control or influence,” and seeks to move the focus away from anti-segregation planning and toward creation of affordable housing options.
According to the proposed rule, fair housing choice includes (i) “[p]rotected choice, meaning absence of discrimination”; (ii) “[a]ctual choice, meaning not only that affordable housing options exist,” but that state and local governments are encouraged to educate the public on their rights; and (iii) “[q]uality choice, meaning that the available and affordable housing is decent, safe, and sanitary, and, for persons with disabilities, accessible as required under civil rights laws.” The proposed rule will be available for public comment at an undetermined date.
On January 7, the Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection noted that the Commission has made “three major changes” in its data security orders to “improve data security practices and provide greater deterrence” by focusing on specificity, accountability, and responsibility. The first change increases the specificity of data security orders to “make the FTC’s expectations clearer” and “improve order enforceability.” The second change increases the accountability of the third-party assessors who review the comprehensive data security programs that the orders exact, by requiring assessors to include specific evidence for each determination and to accommodate requests from the FTC to review the assessments. The third change emphasizes executive responsibility. Yearly, companies will be required to present their data security programs to board and senior company executives who must certify the company’s compliance to the FTC. The announcement also pointed to a number of 2019 orders to demonstrate the “significant improvements” the agency has made with the three changes.
On December 31, the Federal Reserve Board, the OCC, and the FDIC announced the joint annual adjustments to CRA asset-size thresholds used to define small and intermediate small banks and small and intermediate small savings associations. A “small” bank or savings association is defined as an institution that, as of December 31 of either of the prior two calendar years, had less than $1.305 billion in assets. An “intermediate small” bank or savings association is defined as an institution that, as of December 31 of both of the prior two calendar years, had at least $326 million in assets, and as of December 31 of either of the past two calendar years, had less than $1.305 billion in assets. This joint final rule became effective on January 1.
On December 18, the CFPB published two guides to assist with TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule (TRID) compliance for construction-only and construction-permanent loans. The Bureau notes that under Regulation Z, “a creditor may treat a construction-permanent loan as either one, combined transaction or as two or more separate transactions.” Disclosure options are (i) one, combined loan estimate along with one, combined closing disclosure; or (ii) two or more loan estimates and two or more closing disclosures for each phase of the construction-permanent loan. Appendix D in both the Combined Guide and the Separate Guide provides methods that may be used for estimating construction phase financing disclosures. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the Bureau previously released FAQs in May concerning the application of TRID to construction loans.
On December 18, the CFPB announced final rules adjusting the asset-size thresholds under HMDA (Regulation C) and TILA (Regulation Z). Both rules take effect on January 1, 2020.
Under HMDA, institutions with assets below certain dollar thresholds are exempt from the collection and reporting requirements. The final rule increases the asset-size exemption threshold for banks, savings associations, and credit unions from $46 million to $47 million, thereby exempting institutions with assets of $47 million or less as of December 31, from collecting and reporting HMDA data in 2020.
TILA exempts certain entities from the requirement to establish escrow accounts when originating higher-priced mortgage loans (HPMLs), including entities with assets below the asset-size threshold established by the CFPB. The final rule increases this asset-size exemption threshold from $2.167 billion to $2.202 billion, thereby exempting creditors with assets of $2.202 billion or less as of December 31, from the requirement to establish escrow accounts for HPMLs in 2020.
- Andrew W. Schilling to moderate "Expectations of in-house counsel from their law firm partners" at the ACI's 7th Annual Advanced Forum on False Claims and Qui Tam
- Buckley Webcast: Tips for navigating changes to the FHA recertification process
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "A 20/20 view on 2020’s legislative and regulatory outlook" at the ACAMS Anti-Financial Crime and Public Policy Conference
- Kari K. Hall and Michelle L. Rogers to discuss "Overdrafts and regulatory trends" at the CLE Alabama Banking Law Update
- Kathryn L. Ryan to discuss "Industry open forum session on NMLS usage" at the NMLS Annual Conference & Training
- Kathryn L. Ryan to discuss "Regulating innovative consumer lending products" at the NMLS Annual Conference & Training
- Daniel P. Stipano to moderate "Washington update" at the 17th Puerto Rican Symposium of Anti Money Laundering 2020 conference
- APPROVED Checkpoint Webcast: CFL overview
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Pathway of the SARs: Tracking trajectories of suspicious activity reports from alerts to prosecution" at the ACAMS moneylaundering.com 25th Annual International AML & Financial Crime Conference
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Which bud’s for you? A deep-dive into evolving marijuana laws" at the ACAMS moneylaundering.com 25th Annual International AML & Financial Crime Conference