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On November 9, FHA posted a proposed update to its Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) policy. According to FHA, the proposal “enables certain categories of… HECMs that were previously ineligible for assignment to be assigned to HUD… This change will support servicer liquidity and strengthen the HECM market for senior homeowners.” Under current HECM policy, mortgage servicers can assign a HECM to HUD “when the mortgage reaches 98 percent of the Maximum Claim Amount and… an eligible borrower or non-borrowing spouse is residing in the property.”
The draft mortgage letter “proposes to expand the assignment eligibility criteria to include HECMs that are due and payable resulting from the death of all borrowers and non-borrowing spouses.” A redline of the proposed language of the updated HECM Assignment Eligibility can be found here. FHA seeks comments on its proposal through December 11, 2023, using the Feedback Response Worksheet download here, and can be sent to email@example.com.
On November 13, FHFA released an advisory bulletin on the FHLBank Framework for Pilot and Voluntary Programs. The desire for FHFA to develop innovative pilot programs is to support “affordable housing, equity advancement, and community development for underserved and financially vulnerable populations.” The pilot programs would be implemented and then analyzed to determine if they should continue, be expanded, or stop altogether. Some pilot programs may be to “test and learn” while some end because they do not meet FHLBank objectives. What the FHFA disallows from its pilot programs are “[p]roducts, programs, and services implemented under established FHFA statutory and regulatory authorities.” However, voluntary programs have included “grants, down payment assistance programs, and special purpose credit programs.”
The FHFA guidance recommends that FHLBank’s board of directors establish specific parameters for pilot and voluntary programs by March 29, 2024. This bulletin was a result of public input phases of the “FHLBank System at 100: Focusing on the Future” initiative, as previously covered by InfoBytes here. Stakeholder feedback claimed that “FHLBanks should do more to support the affordable housing and community development components of their mission, especially in addressing the needs of underserved or financially vulnerable populations.”
On November 13, the CFPB and the Fed released updated dollar thresholds for whether certain credit and lease transactions are subject to Regulation Z (Truth in Lending) and Regulation M (Consumer Leasing) requirements for 2024. The thresholds for both regulations were increased from $66,400 to $69,500, an increase of 4.6 percent. Transactions at or below the 2024 threshold of $69,500 will be “subject to the protections of the regulations.” The CFPB derives its thresholds from the June 1, 2023, report on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earnings and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). The thresholds for 2023 were previously increased at a rate of 8.8 percent, a larger increase given the rate of inflation during the previous year.
On November 6, the Fed released its quarterly survey of Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey (SLOOS) on bank lending practices. The report is administered to mostly domestic banks but includes some international banks.
The findings are summarized based on each type of loan: commercial, real estate, and consumer. Regarding business loans, the Fed finds banks reported “tighter standards and weaker demand for commercial and industrial loans.” For commercial real estate loans, banks reported “tighter standards and weaker demand” as well. For household loans, banks reported that “lending standards tightened across all categories of residential real estate loans (other than government residential mortgages),” but demand weakened for all residential real estate loans. Similarly, but for HELOCs, banks reported “tighter standards and weaker demand.” For consumer loans, such as credit cards, and auto loans, among others, “standards reportedly tightened, and demand weakened on balance.”
The Fed also asked questions related to banks’ comfort level in approving applications based on FICO scores; the Fed found that banks were “less likely to approve such loans for borrowers with FICO scores of 620 and 680 in comparison with the beginning of the year, while they were… about as likely to approve auto loan applications for borrowers with FICO scores of 720 over this same period.” Finally, the Fed inquired about reasons why banks tightened their lending standards in the third quarter. Banks explained that economic conditions created a “reduced tolerance for risk; deterioration in the credit quality of loans and collateral values; and concerns about funding costs.”
On November 7, the CFPB proposed a rule to supervise large non-bank fintech firms that offer services like digital wallets and payment apps, applicable to larger firms handling greater than 5 million transactions per year, in the same way many large banks and credit unions are supervised. While fintech agencies offer consumer banking services, they are not regulated as stringently as banks are.
The CFPB found that many consumers from middle- and lower-income backgrounds now prefer using digital consumer payment applications over cash. This shift from traditional banking puts consumers at risk since fintech applications are not subject to “traditional banking safeguards… like deposit insurance.” The CFPB’s proposed rule ensures these non-bank companies:
- Adhere to federal consumer financial protection laws that encompass protections against unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices, consumers’ rights when transferring money, and privacy rights. The CFPB would supervise larger participants to ensure compliance.
- Follow the same rules as banks and credit unions, fostering fair competition and consistent enforcement of federal consumer financial protection laws.
The Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA) provides the CFPB with the authority to conduct supervisory examinations over all non-bank companies in the mortgage, payday loan, and private student loan industries, as well as those who serve as service providers to banks and credit unions. In addition, the CFPB can supervise individual entities that pose a risk to consumers, as well as larger participants in other markets. This proposed rule would give the CFPB greater regulatory authority and oversight over large technology firms in consumer financial markets.
On November 1, the CFPB published a broad summary of several findings regarding how financial institutions may not be doing all they can to help service members under federal legislation. For instance, in 2022, the CFPB found that service members were losing $10 million a year in savings in eligible auto and personal loans. Last month, the CFPB released a similar study on how credit card companies were also limited in giving all the benefits they could offer under the SCRA. Loans aside, military payroll allotments provide financial companies with a way to force automatic payments––something the CFPB acknowledges is “ripe for abuse.” The CFPB worked with the DOD to close loopholes that could exploit servicemembers. Additionally, military identity theft in 2023 is still an ongoing issue, as has been previously covered by InfoBytes here. But in October the CFPB found that Transunion had failed to provide crucial identity theft protection for thousands of individuals, including active-duty members of the military. There are also issues with supposed consulting services: “Earlier this year, the CFPB published a joint WARNO with the VA on unaccredited individuals and organizations and the CFPB is working closely with federal and state agencies to protect veterans’ benefits.”
The CFPB notes it will “continue to work with all our partners as the financial marketplace evolves so we can understand the unique needs and challenges of members of the military community. If you have a problem with a financial product or service, submit a complaint to us, and we’ll work to get you a response.”
On November 2, the CFPB issued a report on several states’ community reinvestment laws. The report focused on how much outstanding mortgage debt banks hold in the residential mortgage market: in 1977, “banks held 74 percent of outstanding mortgage debt. By 2007, this share had declined to just 28 percent.”
In 1977, Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to combat redlining practices that prevailed despite the passing of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act of 1975. While the federal CRA applies to banks only, many states created their community reinvestment laws to cover non-bank mortgage companies, including CT, IL, MA, NY, RI, WA, WV, and DC.
Key findings from the CFPB's report are below:
- Some states require mortgage companies to provide affirmative lending, service delivery, and investment services;
- Some states conduct independent examinations, while other states review federal performance evaluations in conjunction with state factors;
- Enforcement includes limitations on mergers, acquisitions, branching activities, and licensing;
- Some states collect information beyond federal requirements for evaluation; and
- Some state acts have been amended in response to market changes.
The CFPB finds that states play an active role in promoting reinvestment by institutions, but further review is necessary to understand these developments.
On November 2, the FHA released a mortgage letter (ML) updating the sales comparison approach for manufactured homes. The update to the FHA’s rule affects how real estate appraisers will now appraise manufactured homes using the sales comparison approach (SCA) grid. The SCA is the mix of attributes in a home that determine its value (e.g., floor area, features, location, number of bathrooms, lot size, etc.). A manufactured home is a home unit constructed entirely off-site and then shipped on-site. According to the FHA’s ML, this letter “updates the exception in the Sales Comparison Approach for Manufactured Housing (II.D.5.k) section of the Single-Family Housing Policy Handbook 4000.1” by aligning the “FHA[’s] insurance guidelines with the requirements from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac programs.”
HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge spoke on this change, stating “[t]he critical step we're taking today ensures HUD is in alignment with our industry partners, and it will make more quality affordable housing available to people across the country.”
FSOC approves analytic framework for financial stability risks and guidance on nonbank financial company determinations
On November 3, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) announced that it unanimously voted to issue the final versions of a new analytic framework regarding financial stability risks, in addition to updated interpretive guidance on the council’s nonbank designation guidance. The analytic framework indicates vulnerable points that commonly contribute to financial stability risks, and it explains how FSOC may address the risks, including interagency coordination, recommendations to regulators, or the designation of certain entities. The nonbank designation guidance establishes how the council determines whether a given nonbank should be under the Fed’s supervision and prudential standards under Section 113 of Dodd-Frank. In April, FSOC released the proposed analytic framework and the proposed nonbank designation guidance (as covered by InfoBytes here) and opened a comment period on the proposals.
FSOC adopted key changes in consideration of public comments on the proposed framework, including (i) clarifications to the interpretation of “threat to financial stability”; (ii) more examples of quantitative metrics considered in its analysis; (iii) expanded discussion of transmission channels; and (iv) additional emphasis on FSOC’s engagement with state and federal financial regulatory agencies regarding risk. Comments directed at the interpretive guidance were addressed, and some changes are reflected in the framework. Both CFPB Director Rohit Chopra and OCC Acting Comptroller Michael J. Hsu issued statements supporting the issuance of the interpretive guidance and the framework. Chopra commented that FSOC’s actions to evaluate whether any “shadow bank” meets the statutory threshold for enhanced oversight are essential in preventing potential threats to financial stability. Hsu also noted the significance of leveraging Dodd-Frank's tools for “monitoring and mitigating risks to U.S. financial stability.”
The analytic framework will be effective upon publication in the Federal Register, and the nonbank designations guidance will be effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
On November 2, the OCC published revisions to the interagency examination procedures for the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which are utilized by the FDIC, NCUA, and the OCC. The OCC also announced that it is rescinding the “‘Telephone Consumer Protection Act and Junk Fax Protection Act’ section of the ‘Other Consumer Protection Laws and Regulations’ booklet of the Comptroller’s Handbook” and explained that OCC examiners will rely on the new interagency procedures.
The revisions were made to reflect amendments to the TCPA that became effective on October 25, 2021. “The revised interagency examination procedures address:
- provisions governing how customers can revoke consent under the TCPA;
- special exemptions from the customer consent provisions of the TCPA for banks using automated communications to notify customers of potential account fraud; and
- safe harbors for callers that check a reassigned number database maintained by the Federal Communications Commission.”
The revised examination procedures booklet can be found here.