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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


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  • Fannie expands underwriting eligibility to help "credit invisible" borrowers

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On December 6, Fannie Mae announced enhancements to its Desktop Underwriter to create more homeownership opportunities for “credit invisible” borrowers by changing its automated underwriting system to expand eligibility and further simplify the borrowing process for loans where borrowers do not have a credit score. Fannie noted that close to 15 percent of Black and Latino/Hispanic people are credit invisible (as compared to nine percent of their white and Asian counterparts), explaining that these imbalances lead to racial disparities in access to credit and quality affordable housing. “We believe consumers should benefit from their responsible money management habits and a steady stream of income when buying a home, even if they don’t have an established credit history,” Mallory Evans, Executive Vice President and Head of Single-Family Business at Fannie Mae, said in the announcement. “Traditional lending practices make it hard for borrowers with no credit score to access credit, so we’ve taken steps that may help them responsibly qualify for a home loan using data that provides a more holistic view of how they manage their money.”

    Beginning December 10, enhancements made to the Desktop Underwriter will (i) update borrower eligibility criteria for those with no credit score to align with Fannie’s standard selling guide requirements; (ii) enable the system to evaluate “a borrower’s monthly cash flow over a 12-month period to potentially enhance their credit risk assessment”; and (iii) simplify the mortgage process by automating the current selling guide requirement for documenting nontraditional sources of credit.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues Fannie Mae Mortgages Consumer Finance Underwriting

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  • CFPB says TILA does not preempt NY law on commercial disclosures

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On December 7, the CFPB issued a preliminary determination that New York’s commercial financing disclosure law is not preempted by TILA because the state’s statute regulates commercial financing transactions and not consumer-purpose transactions. The CFPB issued a Notice of Intent to Make Preemption Determination under the Truth in Lending Act seeking comments pursuant to Appendix A of Regulation Z on whether it should finalize its preliminary determination that New York’s law, as well as potentially similar laws in California, Utah, and Virginia, are not preempted by TILA. Comments are due January 20, 2023. Once the comment period closes, the Bureau will publish a notice of final determination in the Federal Register.

    Explaining that recently a number of states have enacted laws to require improved disclosures of information contained in commercial financing transactions, including loans to small businesses, in order to mitigate predatory small business lending and improve transparency, the Bureau said it received a written request to make a preemption determination involving certain disclosure provisions in TILA. While Congress expressly granted the Bureau authority to evaluate whether any inconsistencies exist between certain TILA provisions and state laws and to make a preemption determination, the statute’s implementing regulations require the agency to request public comments before making a final determination.

    While New York’s Commercial Financing Law “requires financial disclosures before consummation of covered transactions,” the Bureau pointed out that this applies to “commercial financing” rather than consumer credit. The request contended that TILA preempts New York’s law in relation to its use of the terms “finance charge” and “annual percentage rate”—“notwithstanding that the statutes govern different categories of transactions.” The request outlined material differences in how the two statutes use these terms and asserted “that these differences make the New York law inconsistent with Federal law for purposes of preemption.” As an example, the request noted that the state’s definition of “finance charge” is broader than the federal definition, and that the “estimated APR” disclosure required under state law “for certain transactions is less precise than the APR calculation under TILA and Regulation Z.” Moreover, “New York law requires certain assumptions about payment amounts and payment frequencies in order to calculate APR and estimated APR, whereas TILA does not require similar assumptions,” the request asserted, adding that inconsistencies between the two laws could lead to borrower confusion or misunderstanding.

    In making its preliminary determination, the Bureau concluded that the state and federal laws do not appear “contradictory” for preemption purposes based on the request’s assertions. The Bureau explained that the statutes govern different transactions and disagreed with the argument that New York’s law impedes the operation of TILA or interferes with its primary purpose. Specifically, the Bureau stated that the “differences between the New York and Federal disclosure requirements do not frustrate these purposes because lenders are not required to provide the New York disclosures to consumers seeking consumer credit.”

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues CFPB State Issues New York Commercial Finance Disclosures TILA Regulation Z Preemption

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  • NYDFS proposes virtual currency firms to pay supervision fees

    Recently, NYDFS announced it is seeking public comment on a proposed rule establishing how certain licensed virtual currency businesses would be assessed for the costs of their supervision and examination. According to NYDFS, the proposed regulation establishes a provision in the state budget granting NYDFS new authority to collect supervisory costs from virtual currency businesses that are licensed pursuant to the Financial Services Law, and will permit NYDFS “to continue adding top talent to its virtual currency regulatory team.” The proposed regulation states that it will apply only to licensed persons engaged in virtual currency business activity and that the fees will only cover the costs and expenses associated with NYDFS's oversight of each licensee. Specifically, the draft regulation states that a licensee's total annual assessment fee will be the “sum of its supervisory component and its regulatory component” and that each licensee will be billed five times per fiscal year. According to the regulation, there will be four quarterly fees, each approximately 25 percent of the anticipated annual amount, and a final fee based on the actual total operating cost for the fiscal year. The proposed regulation is subject to a 10-day pre-proposal comment period, followed by a 60-day comment period upon publication in the State Register.

    Licensing State Issues Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Digital Assets New York NYDFS Virtual Currency Supervision

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  • Fed solicits feedback on proposed climate-related risk principles

    On December 2, the Federal Reserve Board issued a notice requesting public comments on proposed Principles for Climate-Related Financial Risk Management for Large Financial Institutions. The proposed principles would provide a high-level framework for the safe and sound management of exposures to climate-related financial risks for the largest financial institutions (those with over $100 billion in total consolidated assets), as well as address the physical and transition risks associated with climate change. Notably the notice acknowledged that all financial institutions, regardless of size, can have material exposures to climate-related financial risks. Intended to support large financial institutions’ efforts in addressing climate-related financial risk management, the proposed principles cover six major areas related to: (i) governance; (ii) policies, procedures, and limits; (iii) strategic planning; (iv) risk management; (v) data, risk measurement, and reporting; and (vi) scenario analysis. The Fed noted that the proposed principles are substantially similar to those issued by the OCC and FDIC (covered by InfoBytes here and here), and said that the agencies intend to issue final interagency guidance to promote consistency. Comments on the proposed principles are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

    Governor Bowman stated that while she voted in favor of seeking input on the proposed principles, she reserves the right to vote against its finalization. She also emphasized that excluding financial institution with less than $100 billion in assets from the guidance “is appropriate based not only on the size of such firms, but also in light of the robust risk management expectations already applicable to such firms.”

    However, Governor Waller issued a dissenting statement: “Climate change is real, but I disagree with the premise that it poses a serious risk to the safety and soundness of large banks and the financial stability of the United States. The Federal Reserve conducts regular stress tests on large banks that impose extremely severe macroeconomic shocks and they show that the banks are resilient.”

    Bank Regulatory Federal Issues Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve Climate-Related Financial Risks Risk Management Supervision

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  • Fed finalizes updates to policy on payment system risk

    On December 2, the Federal Reserve Board finalized clarifying and technical updates to its Policy on Payment System Risk (PSR). The changes, which are adopted largely as proposed in May 2021 (covered by InfoBytes here), expand depository institutions’ eligibility to request collateralized intraday credit from the Federal Reserve Banks (FRBs), and ease the process for submitting such requests. The final updates also clarify eligibility standards for accessing uncollateralized intraday credit; modify the PSR policy to support the launch of the FedNow instant-payments platform, which is scheduled for mid-year 2023 (covered by InfoBytes here); and simplify and incorporate the related Overnight Overdrafts policy into the PSR policy. Updates related to FedNow and the Overnight Overdrafts policy will take effect once the FRBs start processing live transactions for FedNow. The remaining updates are effective 60 days following publication in the Federal Register.

    Bank Regulatory Federal Issues Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve Federal Reserve Banks Payments FedNow Risk Management

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  • HUD increases FHA loan limits for 2023

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On December 1, HUD announced the 2023 loan limits for Single Family Title II Forward and Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) insurance programs. (See also Mortgagee Letter 2022-20 and Mortgagee Letter 2022-21). For FHA case numbers assigned on or after January 1, 2023, the maximum loan limits for FHA forward mortgages will increase in 3,222 counties and remain unchanged in 12 counties. The HECM maximum claim amount will also increase from $970,800 to $1,089,300. 

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues FHA Mortgages HECM HUD

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  • FHA extends temporary partial waivers for specific HECM policies

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On November 28, FHA announced FHA INFO 2022-98 to extend two temporary partial waivers to its Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) loss mitigation policies for senior borrowers impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic who continue to experience significant financial difficulties. The first temporary partial waiver concerns Mortgagee Letter 2015-11. FHA notes that the waiver “allows mortgagees to offer repayment plans to HECM borrowers with unpaid property charges regardless of their total outstanding arrearage.” The second waiver—concerning Mortgagee Letter 2016-07—“permits mortgagees to seek assignment of a HECM immediately after using their own funds to pay property taxes and insurance on or after March 1, 2020, by temporarily eliminating the three-year waiting period for such assignments.” Both waivers were set to expire at the end of December, but are now effective through December 31, 2023.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FHA HECM Mortgages Consumer Finance HUD Loss Mitigation Covid-19

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  • CFPB sets 2023 FCRA asset threshold

    Federal Issues

    On November 22, the CFPB announced the annual adjustment to the maximum amount that consumer reporting agencies are permitted to charge consumers for making a file disclosure to a consumer under the FCRA. According to the rule, the ceiling on allowable charges under Section 612(f) of the FCRA will increase to $14.50, which is a $1.00 increase from the ceiling on allowable charges for 2022. The rule is effective January 1, 2023.

    Federal Issues Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB FCRA Consumer Finance Consumer Reporting Agency

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  • FCC says consent is required for ringless voicemails

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On November 21, the FCC issued a declaratory ruling that entities using ringless voicemail products must first obtain a consumer's consent prior to using the product to leave voicemails. According to the FCC, it receives “dozens of consumer complaints annually related to ringless voicemail.” The unanimous ruling establishes that ringless voicemails are “calls” that require consumers’ prior express consent, and further clarifies that a ringless voicemail is a form of a robocall, and therefore subject to the TCPA robocall prohibition, which prohibits making any non-emergency call with an automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice to a wireless telephone number without the prior express consent of the called party.

    The FCC’s declaratory ruling denied a 2017 petition filed by a company that distributes technology that permits voicemail messages to be delivered directly to consumers’ voicemail services. The petitioner argued that ringless messages, and the process by which the ringless voicemail is deposited on a carrier’s platform, is neither a call made to a mobile telephone number nor a call for which a consumer is charged and, therefore, is a service that is not regulated. The FCC rejected the petitioner’s argument that ringless voicemail is not a TCPA call because it does not pass through a consumer’s phone line and that the TCPA protects only calls made directly to a wireless handset, and does not result in a charge to the consumer for the delivery of the voicemail message. The ruling noted that “consumers cannot block these messages and consumers experience an intrusion on their time and their privacy by being forced to spend time reviewing unwanted messages in order to delete them.” The ruling also noted that a “consumer’s phone may signal that there is a voicemail message and may ring once before the message is delivered, which is another means of intrusion. Consumers must also contend with their voicemail box filling with unwanted messages, which may prevent other callers from leaving important wanted messages.” According to a statement by FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, the rule makes it “crystal clear" that ringless voicemails are subject to the TCPA and that the Commission's rules "prohibit[] callers from sending this kind of junk without consumers first giving their permission to be contacted this way.”

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues FCC Robocalls TCPA

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  • FHA to accept private flood insurance for FHA-insured mortgages

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On November 21, FHA published a final rule in the Federal Register to allow homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages to obtain flood insurance policies that meet FHA requirements from private insurance providers. Specifically, the Acceptance of Private Flood Insurance for FHA-Insured Mortgages final rule updates agency regulations to give borrowers the option to purchase a comparable private insurance policy that conforms to FHA requirements in lieu of a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policy for FHA-insured mortgages secured by properties located in FEMA-designated special flood hazard areas (SFHAs). Previously, only flood insurance obtained through the NFIP was accepted. The final rule applies to all FHA-insured single family Title II mortgages, including home equity conversion mortgages, and loans insured under FHA Title I programs. Lenders should refer to Mortgagee Letter 2022-18 for guidance on implementing the final rule’s requirements, which are effective December 21.

    Concurrently, HUD issued a press release stating that beginning December 21, “FHA will require lenders to provide detailed flood insurance coverage information when electronically submitting mortgages for FHA insurance on properties in SFHAs.” According to HUD, “[t]his data collection is an objective included in HUD’s Climate Action Plan and will allow FHA to capture and analyze flood insurance information on mortgages in its portfolio at a more granular level than has been possible previously.”

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues HUD FHA Mortgages Flood Insurance Flood Disaster Protection Act National Flood Insurance Program

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