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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

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  • HUD Finalizes QM Rule, Manual Underwriting Standards

    Lending

    On December 11, HUD issued a final rule defining what constitutes a “qualified mortgage” (QM) for purposes of loans insured by the FHA. The final rule largely adopts HUD’s proposal, which was the subject of our October 2013 Special Alert. The final rule clarifies certain aspects of the HUD proposal.  Among other things, it replaces provision in a CFPB’s QM rule that allows consumers to rebut the presumption of compliance based on residual income, with a provision that the consumer show that the creditor failed to underwrite consistent with HUD requirements. With the final rule, HUD also adopted new underwriting standards. The effective date for the underwriting standards will be set by a future Mortgagee Letter, but will be no earlier than March 11, 2014.

    CFPB Mortgage Origination HUD FHA Qualified Mortgage Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

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  • New York Proposes Shared Appreciation Mortgages For Underwater Borrowers

    Lending

    On December 10, the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) proposed regulations that would authorize and encourage “shared appreciation” mortgage modifications in that state. The DFS explained that under a shared appreciation modification, banks and mortgage servicers reduce the amount of principal outstanding on a borrower’s mortgage in exchange for a share of the future increase in the value of the home. The program would be limited to borrowers who are 90 or more days past due on their loan, or whose loan is the subject of an active foreclosure action, and who are not eligible for existing federal and private foreclosure prevention programs. The proposed regulations detail the method for calculating a holder’s share of the appreciation, and limit the share to the lesser of: (i) the amount of the reduction in principal, plus interest; or (ii) 50% of the amount of appreciation in market value. In addition, banks and servicers would be required to provide specific disclosures to borrowers about the terms and nature of the shared appreciation mortgage modification. The proposed regulations also: (i) specify allowable fees, charges, and interest rates; (ii) detail the calculation of unpaid principal balance and debt-to-income ratio; and (iii) list certain prohibitions, including, among others, that the holder cannot require the borrower to waive any legal claims or defenses as a condition to obtaining shared appreciation modification.

    Mortgage Servicing Mortgage Modification Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

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  • Latest CFPB Rulemaking Agenda Adds Some New Initiatives, Updates Timelines For Others

    Consumer Finance

    On December 3, the CFPB released its fall 2013 rulemaking agenda, part of the broader government Unified Agenda initially published last week. The CFPB’s latest agenda pushes back the timelines on several key initiatives, but offers relatively few new initiatives. One notable exception is that the CFPB  included planned activities related to a potential rule on overdraft products, which will build off of the CFPB’s overdraft white paper released earlier this year.

    The CFPB agenda also indicates that the Bureau plans additional activities related to the mortgage rules issued earlier this year and updated throughout the year. For example, the agenda states the CFPB will consider additional guidance that would facilitate the development of automated underwriting systems for purposes of calculating debt-to-income ratios in connection with qualified mortgage determinations. Also, as expected, the CFPB plans to conduct further analysis to consider possible amendments to the definitions of "rural" and "underserved" for purposes of certain exemptions from the mortgage rules.

    With regard to timelines, for example, “prerule activities” related to the eventual HMDA rule have again been delayed, with no public action expected before February 2014. Similarly, a proposed rule related to GPR prepaid cards now is expected no sooner than May 2014. The CFPB also promised to return to its prior efforts to streamline and modernize regulations that it inherited from other agencies, including the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act's annual privacy notice requirements.

    CFPB Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

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  • Special Alert: CFPB Finalizes Rule Combining TILA and RESPA Mortgage Disclosures

    Lending

    UPDATED OCTOBER 14, 2014: Updated to reflect amendments proposed by the CFPB on October 10, 2014.

    On November 20, 2013, the CFPB finalized its long-awaited rule combining the mortgage disclosures consumers receive under the Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”) and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (“RESPA”). For more than 30 years, the TILA and RESPA mortgage disclosures had been administered separately by, respectively, the Federal Reserve Board (“FRB”) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”).  In 2010, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”) transferred authority over TILA and RESPA to the Bureau and directed the Bureau to create “rules and model disclosures that combine the disclosures required under [TILA] and sections 4 and 5 of [RESPA], into a single, integrated disclosure for mortgage loan transactions covered by those laws.” Congress did not, however, amend TILA and RESPA provisions governing timing, responsibility, and liability for the disclosures, leaving it to the Bureau to resolve the inconsistencies. The final rule generally applies to covered transactions for which the creditor or mortgage broker receives an application on or after August 1, 2015.

    Click here to read our Special Alert. (Updated 10/15/14)

    Questions regarding the matters discussed in this Alert may be directed to any of our lawyers listed below, or to any other BuckleySandler attorney with whom you have consulted in the past.

     

    CFPB TILA Mortgage Origination RESPA Disclosures Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

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  • OCC, FDIC Finalize Deposit Advance Guidance

    Consumer Finance

    On November 21, the OCC and the FDIC separately issued guidance that establishes numerous expectations for institutions offering deposit advance products, including with regard to consumer eligibility, capital adequacy, fees, compliance, management oversight, and third-party relationships. For example, under the guidance the agencies expect banks to offer a deposit advance product only to customers who (i) have at least a six month relationship with the bank; (ii) do not have any delinquent or adversely classified credits; and (iii) meet specific financial capacity standards. The guidance also establishes, among other things, that (i) each deposit advance loan be repaid in full before the extension of a subsequent loan; (ii) banks refrain from offering more than one loan per monthly statement cycle and provide a “cooling-off period” of at least one monthly statement cycle after the repayment of a loan before another advance is extended; and (iii) banks reevaluate customer eligibility every six months. The final guidance is substantially the same as the versions proposed in April. However, the agencies added language to clarify that eligibility and underwriting expectations do not require the use of credit reports, and to emphasize that the guidance applies to all deposit advance products regardless of how the extension of credit is offered. Acknowledging the demand for short-term, small-dollar credit products, and dismissing the concerns that the guidance might restrict such credit, the FDIC encouraged banks to continue to offer “properly structured products” and to develop new or innovative programs to effectively meet the need for small-dollar credit. As a reminder, the Federal Reserve Board did not propose similar guidance, but instead issued a policy statement.

    FDIC Federal Reserve OCC Deposit Advance Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

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  • OCC Continues OTS Integration, Rescinds OTS Compliance Documents

    Consumer Finance

    On November 20, the OCC announced in Bulletin 2013-34 that as part of its ongoing implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act’s mandate that the OCC integrate Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) policies with existing OCC policies, the OCC is rescinding the OTS compliance documents listed in an appendix provided with the announcement. A second appendix lists OCC policy guidance that the OCC is applying to federal savings associations in cases where policy guidance did not already exist. The announcement does not cover OTS policies and guidance related to the FCRA, the CRA, UDAP, or mortgage regulations, which the OCC plans to address at a later date.

    OCC Bank Compliance OTS Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

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  • Banking Regulators Finalize Revised CRA Guidance

    Consumer Finance

    On November 15, the Federal Reserve Board, the FDIC, and the OCC finalized revisions to the “Interagency Questions and Answers Regarding Community Reinvestment” (Q&As). The agencies adopted the revisions largely as proposed, with some minor changes in response to comments. The new Q&As, which include revisions to five questions and answers and two new questions, generally are intended to: (i) clarify how the agencies consider community development activities that benefit a broader statewide or regional area that includes an institution’s assessment area; (ii) provide guidance related to CRA consideration of, and documentation associated with, investments in nationwide funds; (iii) clarify the consideration of certain community development services, such as service on a community development organization’s board of directors; (iv) address the treatment of loans or investments to organizations that, in turn, invest those funds and use only a portion of the income from their investment to support a community development purpose; and (v) clarify that community development lending performance is always a factor considered in a large institution’s lending test rating. The new Q&As take effect when they are published in the Federal Register.

    FDIC Federal Reserve OCC CRA Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

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  • OCC Establishes Standards For Independent Consultants Required Under Enforcement Actions

    Consumer Finance

    On November 12, the OCC issued Bulletin 2013-33, which establishes the standards the OCC uses when it requires banks to employ independent consultants as part of an enforcement action. The Bulletin explains that when conducting its initial assessment of the need for an independent consultant, the OCC considers, among other factors: (i) the severity of the violations; (ii) the criticality of the function requiring remediation; (iii) confidence in bank management’s ability to identify violations and take corrective action in a timely manner; (iv) the expertise, staffing, and resources of the bank to perform the necessary actions; (v) actions already taken by the bank to address the violations or issues; and (vi) the services to be provided by an independent consultant. The bulletin outlines the OCC’s process for reviewing a consultant selected by a bank, including its expectations for a bank’s due diligence process when retaining an independent consultant. The bulletin also describes the OCC’s oversight of the performance of the consultant, the nature of which can be impacted by, among other things: (i) the nature of deficiencies or violations the independent consultant is engaged to identify, including with respect to recommendations regarding remediation; (ii) the scope and duration of work; and (iii) the potential for and materiality of harm to consumers and the bank.

    OCC Enforcement Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

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  • CFPB Considers New Debt Collection Rules

    Consumer Finance

    On November 6, the CFPB announced an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) to solicit input on a wide array of issues related to consumer protection in the debt collection market. With the release of the ANPR, the CFPB also announced the publication of approximately 5,000 debt collection complaints in its consumer complaint database.

    The ANPR marks the Bureau’s first step toward exercising its rulemaking authority under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Notably, although the FDCPA generally applies only to third-party debt collectors, the CFPB’s regulations could extend to original creditors as well. In addition to the CFPB’s express authority to make substantive rules under the FDCPA, the Bureau made all creditors subject to debt collection guidance issued earlier this year pursuant to its general authority to regulate unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices.

    The 162 questions contained in the ANPR focus primarily on the accuracy of information used by debt collectors, how to ensure consumers know their rights, and the communication tactics collectors employ to recover debts.

    • Information Accuracy—Due to concern over how information is transferred, the CFPB seeks input on current processes for transferring records and ensuring the integrity of information transmitted. Specifically, the CFPB inquires about how account holders are identified and verified, how claims of improper identification are handled, how amounts of indebtedness are confirmed, and how claims of indebtedness are supported.
    • Informed Consumers—Based on its belief that consumers may not sufficiently understand debt collection processes, the CFPB seeks input on the quality of information and disclosures provided to debtors. Specifically, the CFPB inquires about the information and disclosures provided with respect to the specific debt being collected and the debtors’ legal rights, including the rights to dispute debt and limit certain communications.
    • Communication Tactics—Based on its concern that harmful communication tactics continue in the debt collection market, the CFPB seeks input on tactics not addressed by the FDCPA. Specifically, the CFPB inquires about frequency of contact with debtors, the means of communication employed, and the use and prevalence of threats by collectors.

    The deadline for comments is 90 days from publication of the ANPR in the Federal Register.

    CFPB FDCPA Debt Collection Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

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  • CFPB Mortgage Disclosure Rule Now Expected on November 20, 2013

    Lending

    On November 1, the CFPB announced a field hearing on “Know Before You Owe: Mortgages,” to be held on Wednesday, November 20 at 11 a.m. EST in Boston. In conjunction with the hearing, the Bureau is expected to release its long-awaited final rule combining the Good Faith Estimate and HUD-1 with the mortgage disclosures under the Truth in Lending Act.

    The CFPB has stated that the event will feature remarks from CFPB Director Richard Cordray, as well as testimony from consumer groups, industry representatives, and members of the public. The final rule, which was originally expected in October, will not only replace the forms that consumers receive during the mortgage origination process but will also fundamentally alter the regulations governing the preparation and provision of – and liability for – those disclosures. As a result, lenders, settlement agents, and service providers will be required to make extensive changes to their systems, compliance programs, and contractual relationships.

    In September, BuckleySandler hosted a webinar covering the key issues in this rulemaking and discussing what industry can do to start preparing now. The webinar featured a discussion with Jeff Naimon, who has spent years assisting the industry with the existing forms. Please contact Jeff for a copy of the webinar materials or with any questions about the expected rule.

    CFPB TILA Mortgage Origination RESPA Compliance Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

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