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  • FHFA requests information on its FHLBank Affordable Housing Program

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On June 20, FHFA released its request for input (RFI) on the application process for the Federal Home Loan Banks’ (FHLBanks) Affordable Housing Program (AHP). FHFA invited input on all aspects of the AHP application process, with a deadline for submissions no later than August 19. The AHP housing program was designed to provide funding to purchase, construct, and rehabilitate housing for very low-, low-, and moderate-income households. Each FHLBank provides funding through either a competitive application program that funds both rental and homeownership projects or a homeownership set-aside program that supports owner-occupied housing for income-eligible households. The RFI focused on the competitive application programs and posed eight questions related to the AHP application process, including the use of consultants to apply for AHP funds, and opportunities for improvements to the application process.

     

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FHFA RFI FHLB Affordable Housing

  • CFPB releases RFI on mortgage closing costs

    Federal Issues

    On May 30, the CFPB announced a request for information (RFI) regarding mortgage “junk fees” and their impact on borrowers and lenders. The CFPB identified an increase of over 36 percent in median total loan costs for home mortgages from 2021 to 2023 in its analysis, with median mortgage closing costs of $6,000 in 2022. The Bureau argued these fees and costs, many of which are fixed, can reduce home equity and may undercut home ownership.

    The RFI requested public input on whether the fees are subject to competition, how fees are set, who profits from them, and how fee changes, if any, impact consumers and the mortgage market. The CFPB was particularly interested in the factors driving fee increases, such as hard-pull tri-merge credit report costs, and how such fees are affecting housing affordability and access to homeownership. The CFPB also highlighted the potential impact of title insurance and mortgage origination fees.

    The RFI included nine specific questions related to

    (i) whether there are fees that are particularly problematic or burdensome for consumers;

    (ii) whether there are unnecessary fees charged for loan closure;

    (iii) whether and to what extent consumers compare closing costs across lenders;

    (iv) whether and to what extent consumers shop for closing costs across settlement providers;

    (v) the determination of fees, the beneficiaries, and lenders’ influence over third-party costs;

    (vi) which fees have increased, and what are their causes;

    (vii) factors contributing to rising closing, credit report, and credit score costs, the roles of various entities in the credit report chain, competitive pressures on these costs, and their consumer impact;

    (viii) lenders’ ability to negotiate closing costs more effectively than consumers; and

    (ix) the potential impact of closing costs on housing affordability, homeownership access, or home equity.

    Comments in response to the RFI must be received by August 2.

    Federal Issues CFPB Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Mortgages Fees RFI

  • Borrower’s RESPA claim stays afloat in District Court

    Courts

    The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, granted in part and denied in part defendant mortgage servicer’s motion to dismiss claims for RESPA Qualified Written Requests violations. Defendant approved plaintiffs for a trial payment plan for their mortgage loan. After plaintiffs completed that plan, defendants sent an initial modification agreement with a misspelled plaintiff name. Plaintiffs notified defendant of the error but continued making payments pursuant to the initial modification agreement. Defendant then sent a corrected version which plaintiffs signed, and defendants recorded with the Delaware County Recorder’s office. However, defendants did not update the new terms in its billing system and, after realizing the agreement contained terms different from what it intended, sent a third version of the modification agreement to plaintiffs with an adjusted principal balance and interest rate. Plaintiffs refused to sign the third modified agreement, and defendants refused to honor the recorded version or accept payments, stating that plaintiffs were in default on their mortgage.

    In making its judgement, the court considered how defendant handled plaintiffs’ qualified written requests (QWR). Regarding defendant’s response to plaintiffs’ notice of error, plaintiffs claimed defendant did not conduct a reasonable investigation, inadequately explained the discrepancy between the modification agreements’ interest rates and fee charges to their account, and entirely ignored the change in principal balances between the initial and the recorded modification agreements. Defendant argued that its conclusion, that no enforceable loan modification existed, would not change had it conducted the investigation. The court found that defendant could not bypass its responsibility to conduct a reasonable investigation, and that defendant did not address the difference in principal balance between the initial and recorded modification agreements.

    On the issue of defendant’s response to plaintiffs’ request for information (RFI), plaintiffs claimed defendant’s response did not address their claims of missing records, nor did it mention that such records were unavailable. Plaintiffs also claimed defendant failed to produce requested documents. Refuting defendant’s argument that plaintiffs did not “even hint” that they suffered damages from the RFI portion of the QWR, the court found that plaintiffs’ damages were legally cognizable. However, the court dismissed plaintiffs’ claim as to the RFI because it did not satisfy the necessary standing requirements. 

    Courts RESPA Ohio Qualified Written Request RFI Mortgages Consumer Finance

  • FHFA announces GSE equitable housing goal plans

    Federal Issues

    On September 7, FHFA announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSEs) will submit Equitable Housing Finance Plans to FHFA by the end of 2021. According to FHFA the GSEs will identify and address barriers to sustainable housing opportunities, including their goals and plans of action to advance equity in housing finance for the next three years. In addition, FHFA will require the GSEs to submit annual progress reports regarding which actions were taken to implement their plans. FHFA is issuing a Request for Input, which invites public input through October 25, to aid the GSEs in preparing their first plans and to aid FHFA in overseeing the plans. Acting Director Sandra L. Thompson noted that by identifying and addressing the barriers to equitable housing finance opportunities, the GSEs “can responsibly reduce the racial and ethnic disparities in homeownership and wealth that still exist today.”

    Federal Issues FHFA RFI GSEs

  • CFPB issues CARD Act RFI

    Federal Issues

    On August 25, the CFPB announced a Request for Information (RFI) on the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act), consistent with the requirements of Section 610 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), which specifies that agencies should review certain rules within 10 years of their publication to consider the rules’ effect on small businesses. Specifically, the Bureau is seeking comments from stakeholders on the economic impact of the CARD Act on small entities and whether regulations should be adjusted to address those impacts. Additionally, the RFI seeks information, pursuant to section 502(a) of the CARD Act, related to the consumer credit card market. Among other things, the Bureau requests stakeholders comment on (i) the terms of credit card agreements; (ii) the effectiveness of credit card disclosures; (iii) the cost and availability of credit cards; and (iv) credit card product innovation.

    Comments on the RFI will be due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

    Federal Issues CFPB RFI CARD Act Small Business Lending

  • CFPB seeks feedback on TRID

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On November 20, the CFPB issued a request for information (RFI) regarding the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosures Rule (TRID Rule) assessment, which is required by Section 1022(d) of the Dodd-Frank Act. Section 1022(d) requires the Bureau to conduct an assessment of each “significant rule or order” no later than five years after its effective date. The Bureau issued the TRID Rule in November 2013, and the rule took effect on October 3, 2015. In addition to comments received on this RFI, the Bureau notes that it is also considering the approximately 63 comments already received regarding the TRID Rule from the 2018 series of RFIs issued on the adopted regulations and new rulemakings, as well as the inherited regulations (covered by InfoBytes here and here).

    The RFI seeks public feedback on any information relevant to assessing the effectiveness of the TRID Rule, including (i) comments on the feasibility and effectiveness of the assessment plan; (ii) recommendations to improve the assessment plan; (iii) data and information about the benefits, costs, and effectiveness of the TRID Rule; and (iv) recommendations for modifying, expanding, or eliminating the TRID Rule.

    Comments must be received within 60 days of publication in the Federal Register.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance TRID RFI Mortgages Mortgage Origination Dodd-Frank TILA RESPA CFPB Disclosures

  • FCC seeks comment on whether an opt-out clarification text violates TCPA

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On November 7, the FCC released a public notice seeking comment on a petition filed by a financial institution requesting a declaratory ruling on whether a company can send a follow-up clarification text message in response to an opt-out message from a consumer without violating the TCPA. More specifically, in connection with informational texts that the consumer previously consented to receive, the institution desires to “discern the scope of that opt-out,” because “[s]ome customers want to opt-out of all texts; others merely want to opt-out of the specific category of text message alert they received most recently.” The institution notes it filed the petition “in an abundance of caution” in light of the highly technical nature of TCPA compliance, and that it believes the FCC’s 2012 ruling in SoundBite Communications, Inc. Petition for Expedited Declaratory Ruling is clear that a sender may clarify in an opt-out confirmation message the scope of the consumer’s request without violating the TCPA as long as the message does not contain marketing or promotional content or seek to encourage or persuade the recipient to reconsider the opt-out.

    Comments on the FCC’s public notice are due by December 9, with reply comments by December 24.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FCC TCPA RFI

  • CFPB will continue to publish consumer complaint data

    Federal Issues

    On September 18, the CFPB announced changes to its Consumer Complaint Database (CCDB), stating that it would continue the publication of consumer complaints, data fields, and narrative descriptions. As previously covered by InfoBytes, in March 2018, the Bureau issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking feedback on potential changes that could be implemented to the Bureau’s public reporting of consumer complaint information, including the data fields provided in the CCDB. In June 2018, then-acting Director, Mick Mulvaney, noted the Bureau was in the process of reviewing whether or not the CCDB would continue to be publicly available (covered by InfoBytes here.) The Bureau noted that it received nearly 26,000 comments from a wide array of stakeholders in response to the RFI and after considering all input, the decision was made to continue the “publication of complaints with enhanced data and context that will benefit consumers and users of the database while addressing many of the concerns raised.” Specifically, the CCDB will now (i) more prominently acknowledge that the CCDB is not a statistical sample of consumers’ experiences in the marketplace; (ii) highlight the availability of answers to common financial questions to help inform consumers before they submit a complaint; and (iii) highlight consumers’ ability to contact the financial institution directly. Additionally, in the coming months the Bureau plans to, among other things, explore the expansion of a company’s ability to respond publicly to individual complaints in the database and look for additional ways to put complaint data in context, such as incorporating product or service market share and company size.

    Federal Issues CFPB Consumer Complaints RFI

  • CFPB requests comments on using Tech Sprints

    Federal Issues

    On September 18, the CFPB published a notice in the Federal Register seeking comments on the use of Tech Sprints—forums which gather “regulators, technologists, financial institutions, and subject matter experts from key stakeholders for several days to work together to develop innovative solutions to clearly-identified challenges”—as a means to encourage regulatory innovation and collaborate with stakeholders on forming solutions to regulatory compliance challenges. The Bureau notes that Tech Sprints have been successfully used by the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority, which has organized seven Tech Sprints since 2016, resulting in a pilot project on digital regulatory reporting. The Bureau is interested in using Tech Sprints to, among other things: (i) leverage cloud solutions and other developments that may reduce or modify the need for regulated entities to transfer data to the Bureau; (ii) continue to innovate the HMDA data submission process; (iii) identify new technologies and approaches that can be used by the Bureau to provide more cost-effective oversight of supervised entities; and (iv) reduce other unwarranted regulatory compliance burdens. Comments must be received by November 8.

    Federal Issues CFPB Fintech Federal Register RFI Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security HMDA Financial Conduct Authority Of Interest to Non-US Persons

  • Ginnie Mae seeks feedback on plan to stress test non-bank issuers

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On July 23, Ginnie Mae published a Request for Input (RFI) seeking feedback on its plan to monitor and support the sustainability of the Ginnie Mae mortgage-backed securities (MBS) market, by developing a stress test framework for its non-bank issuer base. The RFI notes that, after reviewing two approaches to the stress test framework, Ginnie Mae elected to adopt a framework that forecasts an issuer’s financial performance over the next eight quarters under a base and adverse scenario. The framework would provide the following outputs: (i) a balance sheet, income statement and cashflow statement; (ii) a “Projected Issuer Risk Grade” (Ginnie Mae’s proprietary risk rating method); (iii) projected issuer compliance with Ginnie Mae and Government Sponsored Enterprise net worth, liquidity and capitalization requirements; (iv) projected compliance with common warehouse covenants; and (v) projected risk of insolvency. The RFI provides significant details on the framework, including details regarding the various structural components that will form its basis. The RFI lists four specific topics that responders may provide input on and requests that responders expand on the topics as appropriate to address related questions or implications. Comments must be submitted by August 31.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Ginnie Mae MBS Stress Test RFI

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