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On November 26, the FHFA announced that it will raise the maximum conforming loan limits for mortgages purchased in 2020 by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from $484,350 to $510,400. In high-cost areas, such as Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., the maximum loan limit will be $765,600. For a county-specific list of the maximum loan limits in the U.S., click here.
On August 14, HUD published revisions in the Federal Register to the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) lender certification requirements originally issued in May. (Previously covered by InfoBytes here.) In response to comments received on its initial proposal, HUD released a proposed streamlined FHA Annual Lender Certification, which removes a broad statement regarding lenders certifying compliance with all HUD requirements in order to maintain FHA approval. Commenters generally recommended HUD: “(1) Rescind the annual certification statements since the National Housing Act does not require certification of compliance with FHA eligibility requirements or completion of an annual certification; or (2) revise the annual certification statements to a general acknowledgement of the existence of policies and procedures that are reasonably designed to ensure material compliance.” Comments are due September 13.
On May 9, HUD announced several proposed revisions to the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) lender certification requirements in an effort to provide lenders and servicers “greater certainty in how to satisfy the agency’s compliance requirements.” HUD stated that the revisions are in response to the White House’s March Memorandum on Federal Housing Finance Reform, which included a directive that FHA work to diversify the network of FHA-approved lenders. (Covered by InfoBytes here.) The proposed changes include:
- Loan-Level Certifications. FHA released proposed changes to the Addendum to the Uniform Residential Loan Application (Form 92900-A), reorganizing the Form in a “logical, easy to read, and understandable format” and eliminating “duplicative information collected elsewhere.”
- Annual Lender Certification Statements. FHA released proposed changes to the Annual Lender Certification Statements, including a side-by-side comparison of the current and proposed changes. The changes are intended to “better align [the certifications] with National Housing Act standards while continuing to hold lenders accountable for compliance with HUD eligibility requirements.” The proposed changes include deleting redundancies and replacing handbook references with a general certification to compliance with the requirements of 24 CFR § 202.5.
- Defect Taxonomy. FHA released proposed changes to the Defect Taxonomy. The draft of the Defect Taxonomy Version 2 includes (i) changes to the Severity Tier definitions; (ii) potential remedies that align with each Severity Tier; (iii) revised sources and causes in certain defect areas; (iv) new defect areas for servicing loan reviews; and (v) HUD policy references.
All proposals are posted on the FHA’s Drafting Table for 30-day feedback through June 8.
On March 26, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, in what appears to be the first significant decision on claims brought against a mortgage lender under the CFPB’s Ability-to-Repay/Qualified Mortgage Rule, granted summary judgment in favor of the lender. The court rejected plaintiff’s claims that his bank improperly relied on income under his spousal support agreement, stating that “[t]he fact that Plaintiff and [his spouse] did not keep the separation agreement and instead opted to divorce – a series of events which reduced Plaintiff’s income by an order of magnitude – was not an event that was reasonably foreseeable to the Bank.” The court also noted that, “[a]lthough Plaintiff is now in his eighties, he is a repeat player in the field of real estate and mortgages, and a consumer of above-average sophistication.” While this decision does not break new legal ground, it does provide useful insights into how courts may respond to inherently fact-specific claims about the underwriting of individual loans.
On November 27, the FHFA announced that it will raise the maximum conforming loan limits for mortgages purchased in 2019 by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from $453,100 to $484,350. The announcement marks the third consecutive year FHFA has increased the baseline loan limit. In high-cost areas, such as Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., the maximum loan limit will be $726,525. For a county-specific list of the maximum loan limits in the U.S., click here.
On November 8, a federal jury for the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota awarded the ResCap Liquidating Trust, the post-bankruptcy successor-in-interest to Residential Funding Company, LLC (RFC), a $27.8 million verdict in an indemnity case against a correspondent lender. Shortly after RFC’s bankruptcy plan was confirmed in 2013, the ResCap Liquidating Trust filed indemnity and breach of contract lawsuits against more than 80 correspondent lenders, alleging that the loans RFC purchased from the lenders did not comply with applicable representations and warranties, thereby causing RFC to incur liabilities in the form of bankruptcy-allowed claims.
Before trial, the court excluded certain of the lender’s expert witnesses and concluded that under the relevant contracts, the ResCap Liquidating Trust had sole discretion to determine whether a loan was in breach. Thus, the issues for the jury largely were limited to determining the applicability of certain contracts to the loans and assessing damages for the alleged breaches.
On September 11, the California governor approved SB 1201, which amends the state civil code to, among other things, require any supervised financial institution that negotiates a mortgage loan modification with a borrower primarily in Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, or Korean and offers the borrower a final loan modification in writing, to deliver to the borrower at the same time, a specified form summarizing the modified terms in the same language as the negotiation. The amendments require the California Department of Business Oversight (CDBO) to make available—using CFPB and Fannie Mae forms as guidance—certain disclosures and forms in those specified languages.
The amendments are generally effective on January 1, 2019, with the amendments relating to the new written disclosures to become operative 90 days following the issuance of forms by the CDBO, but not before January 1, 2019.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York (New York Fed) released a June 2018 Staff Report titled “Does CFPB Oversight Crimp Credit?” which concludes that there is little evidence that CFPB oversight significantly reduces the overall volume of mortgage lending. The report compared the lending outcomes of companies subject to CFPB oversight with smaller institutions below $10 billion in total assets that are exempt from CFPB supervision and enforcement activities, as well as lending outcomes before and after the CFPB’s creation in July 2011. Using HMDA data, bank balance sheets, and bank noninterest expenses, the report concluded, among other things, that (i) CFPB oversight may have changed the composition of lending—supervised banks originated fewer loans to lower-income, lower-credit score borrowers; (ii) there has been a drop in lending to borrowers with no co-applicant by CFPB supervised banks; and (iii) there has been an increase in origination of “jumbo” mortgage loans by CFPB supervised banks. The report noted that its results do not speak to the effect of the CFPB’s rulemaking, such as the TILA-RESPA integrated disclosure rule.
On May 8, the Department of Justice announced a settlement with a Minnesota community bank to resolve allegations that the lender excluded predominantly minority neighborhoods from its mortgage lending service in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA). According to the complaint filed in 2017, between 2010 and 2015, the bank engaged in unlawful redlining in and around Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota by meeting the residential credit needs of individuals in majority-white census tracts, but avoided serving similar needs in majority-minority census tracts. The settlement requires the bank to expand its banking services in predominantly minority neighborhoods, including opening one full service branch within the specified census tract. In addition to compliance monitoring and reporting requirements, the bank is also required to (i) employ a Community Development Officer and an Executive leader; (ii) spend a minimum of $300,000 on advertising, outreach, and education and credit repair initiatives; (iii) invest a minimum of $300,000 in a program for special purpose loan subsidies; and (iv) continue to provide fair lending training to all employees.
On December 22, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed legislation enacting amendments to the state’s residential mortgage lending act. HB 199, among other things, (i) updates certain definitions, such as modifying the definition of “nationwide mortgage licensing system and registry” to broadly include “persons providing non-depository financial services”; (ii) provides limits on the application of the current law to “unsecured loans and loans secured by other than residential real estate”; and (iii) updates requirements for applicants registering for mortgage loan originator licenses. The amended act takes effect March 23.
- 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
- Sasha Leonhardt to discuss "Cybersecurity basics for compliance staff" at a NAFCU webinar
- 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
- Melissa Klimkiewicz to discuss "Private flood insurance updates" at the MBA's Servicing Solutions Conference & Expo 2020
- 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