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On August 11, FHA and Ginnie Mae issued FHA INFO 2022-76, which seeks public feedback on their Title I Manufactured Housing Programs. According to the request for input, FHA and Ginnie Mae are seeking input on, among other things: (i) opportunities to improve the use and effectiveness of the Title I manufactured housing program; (ii) Title I lender eligibility requirements; and (iii) how to make the programs more competitive in the primary and secondary markets. Responses are due by September 26.
Recently, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington announced a settlement with a California-based mortgage lender to resolve allegations that it “improperly and fraudulently” originated government-backed mortgage loans insured by FHA, resulting in losses to the government when borrowers defaulted on their mortgages. The settlement concludes a joint investigation conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Offices of Inspector General for the Department of Veterans Affairs and HUD, which commenced as required by the False Claims Act after a whistleblower (a former loan processor) filed a qui tam complaint against the lender in 2019. The whistleblower claimed that between December 2011 and March 2019, the lender knowingly underwrote certain FHA mortgages and approved some mortgages for insurance that failed to meet FHA requirements or qualify for insurance. The whistleblower further alleged that the lender “knowingly failed to perform quality control reviews that it was required to perform.”
“By improperly originating ineligible mortgages, lenders take advantage of the limited resources of the FHA program and unfairly pass the risk of loss onto the public,” the U.S. Attorney said. According to the announcement, the lender agreed to pay more than $1.03 million under the terms of the settlement agreement. The whistleblower will receive $228,172 of the settlement proceeds, plus attorney’s fees, expenses, and costs.
On July 12, FHA released FHA INFO 2022-71, announcing the publication of Mortgagee Letter (ML) 2022-11, Revised Appraisal Validity Periods, which applies to Single Family Title II Forward and HECM programs. The ML increases the FHA initial appraisal validity period from 120 days to 180 days and extends the appraisal update validity period to one year. As a result of the ML, FHA will implement modifications to the appraisal-related functionality in FHA Connection (FHAC). For all case numbers assigned on or after September 6, the Appraisal Effective Date field on the FHAC Appraisal Logging screen will no longer be editable. Appraisal Logging for this field is automatically pre-filled with the information submitted from the electronic appraisal report. The updates outlined in ML 2022- 11 will be incorporated under the Single-Family Housing Policy Handbook 4000.1.
On July 7, FHA announced expanded mortgage eligibility for qualifying borrowers who previously experienced employment gaps or loss of income due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Under Mortgagee Letter (ML) 2022-09, salaried and hourly wage-earners, as well as self-employed individuals impacted by a Covid-19 related economic event (defined “as a temporary loss of employment, temporary reduction of income, or temporary reduction of hours worked during the Presidentially Declared COVID-19 National Emergency”), who now have stable income will have a greater opportunity to purchase a home using affordable FHA-insured mortgage financing. Specifically, ML 2022-09 updates calculation guidelines for a borrower’s effective income under certain sections in the Single-Family Housing Policy Handbook 4000.1. While ML 2022-09’s provisions are effective for all case numbers assigned on or after September 5, 2022, lenders may begin using the policies immediately. According to FHA Commissioner Julia Gordon, the changes further agency efforts “to facilitate recovery from COVID-19 and support access to homeownership, particularly for populations most deeply impacted by the pandemic.” Gordon noted that the pandemic impacted “the livelihoods of tens of millions of workers in this country, particularly workers of color and those at the lower end of the wage scale.”
On June 23, the FHA announced FHA INFO 2022-64 to issue the following temporary partial waivers to its Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) policies for senior homeowners impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic who continue to experience significant financial difficulties. Specifically, the first temporary partial waiver concerns Mortgagee Letter 2015-11. The FHA notes that its 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 are effective through December 31.
On May 9, the FDIC issued FIL-19-2022 to provide regulatory relief to financial institutions and help facilitate recovery in areas of New Mexico affected by wildfires and straight-line winds that began on April 5. In the guidance, the FDIC writes that, in supervising institutions affected by the wildfires, it will consider the unusual circumstances those institutions face. The guidance suggests that institutions work with impacted borrowers to, among other things, (i) extend repayment terms; (ii) restructure existing loans; or (iii) ease terms for new loans to those affected by the severe weather, provided the measures are done “in a manner consistent with sound banking practices.” Additionally, the FDIC notes that institutions may receive favorable Community Reinvestment Act consideration for community development loans, investments, and services in support of disaster recovery. The FDIC will also consider relief from certain reporting and publishing requirements.
Separately, on May 6, HUD announced disaster assistance available to certain counties impacted by the New Mexico wildfires and straight-line winds, providing foreclosure relief and other assistance to affected homeowners. Specifically, HUD is providing an automatic 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of FHA-insured home mortgages for covered properties and is making FHA insurance available to those victims whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged. Additionally, HUD’s Section 203(k) loan program will allow individuals who have lost homes to finance the purchase of a house, or refinance an existing house and the costs of repair, through a single mortgage. The program also allows homeowners with damaged property to finance the repair of their existing single-family homes. Furthermore, HUD is allowing administrative flexibilities to community planning and development grantees, as well as to public housing agencies and Tribes.
On April 20, HUD announced disaster assistance for certain areas in Massachusetts impacted by a severe winter storm from January 28 to January 29. The disaster assistance follows President Biden’s major disaster declarations on April 18. According to the announcement, HUD is providing an automatic 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of FHA-insured home mortgages for covered properties effective April 18 and is making FHA insurance available to victims whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged, such that “reconstruction or replacement is necessary.” HUD’s Section 203(k) loan program enables individuals who have lost homes to finance a home purchase or to refinance a home to include repair costs through a single mortgage. The program also allows homeowners with damaged property to finance the repair of their existing single-family homes. Furthermore, HUD is allowing administrative flexibilities to community planning and development grantees, as well as to public housing agencies and Tribes.
On April 18, HUD issued Mortgagee Letter 2022-07, which establishes a 40-year loan modification as part of the Covid-19 Recovery Loss Mitigation Options. According to HUD, the new option is “designed to help those borrowers who cannot achieve a minimum targeted 25 percent reduction in the Principal and Interest portion of their mortgage payment through FHA’s existing 30-year mortgage modification with a partial claim.” Mortgage servicers may start implementing the new 40-year modification with partial claim option immediately; however, servicers must offer this solution to eligible borrowers with FHA-insured Title II forward mortgages, except those funded through Mortgage Revenue Bonds under certain circumstances, within 90 calendar days. As previously covered by InfoBytes, HUD published a proposed rule to increase the maximum term limit allowable on loan modifications for FHA-insured mortgages from 360 to 480 months. Comments are due by May 31.
On April 14, HUD released its first ever Equity Action Plan (the Plan) to address procurement and resources for the agency’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity in coordination with President Biden’s 2021 Executive Order 13985 on “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.” Among other things, the Plan requests funding increases to process, investigate, and resolve fair housing complaints and “to improve capacity to pursue Secretary-initiated investigations and compliance reviews” that do not necessarily stem from public complaints. The Plan also outlines HUD’s approach to reducing the racial homeownership gap, including future rulemakings to implement the Fair Housing Act’s mandate to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (covered by InfoBytes here) as well as other actions to promote equity. HUD also plans to engage in a range of actions in partnership with federal and non-federal organization to maximize homeownership for creditworthy first-time homebuyers and preserve homeownership for existing homeowners. This includes (i) “improving the efficiency of the [Federal Housing Administration] program by leveraging technologies and removing perceived bias of the program so individuals, lenders, and others can use it more with first time, lower income home buyers”; (ii) increasing outreach to non-traditional lenders; and (iii) considering ways “to increase the availability of small-dollar mortgage loans by addressing the financial and operational barriers limiting origination of these loans.” HUD intends to continue to monitor data on borrowers to determine statistical changes in Black and Hispanic households that access FHA-insured loans and the rest of the mortgage market, and will track FHA lending activity in underserved markets.
On April 1, HUD published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to increase the maximum term limit allowable on loan modifications for FHA-insured mortgages from 360 to 480 months. According to the proposed rule, the update would allow mortgagees to provide a 40-year loan modification option to borrowers who may not qualify for loss mitigation options and is intended to help borrowers experiencing a financial hardship, including those impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, obtain affordable monthly payments. The proposed rule noted that “[i]ncreasing the maximum term limit to 480 months would allow mortgagees to further reduce the borrower’s monthly payment as the outstanding balance would be spread over a longer time frame, providing more borrowers with FHA-insured mortgages the ability to retain their homes after default.” Additionally, the proposal would align FHA with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, “which both currently provide a 40-year loan modification option.” Comments are due by May 31.
- Kathryn L. Ryan and Jedd R. Bellman to discuss “Risk and compliance management: Are you covered?” at a Mortgage Bankers Association webinar
- John R. Coleman to participate in a roundtable on current topics in administrative law at the C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State at George Mason University
- Melissa Klimkiewicz and Daniel A. Bellovin to discuss “Things to know about flood insurance” at a NAFCU webinar
- Hank Asbill to discuss “Ethical issues at sentencing” at the 31st Annual National Seminar on Federal Sentencing
- Max Bonici will moderate a panel on “Enforcement risk and other regulatory and compliance issues related to crypto and digital assets” at the American Bar Association’s 2022 Annual Meeting
- John R. Coleman to provide a “CFPB Update” at MBA’s 2022 Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Amanda R. Lawrence to discuss “The shifting data privacy and data protection landscape” at MBA’s 2022 Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Jeffrey P. Naimon to provide an “Update on key fair lending cases and the CRA and UDAAP rules” at MBA’s 2022 Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Benjamin W. Hutten to discuss “Fundamentals of financial crime compliance” at the Practicing Law Institute
- Benjamin W. Hutten to discuss “Ongoing CDD: Operational considerations” at NAFCU’s Regulatory Compliance & BSA Seminar
- James C. Chou to discuss ransomware at NAFCU’s Regulatory Compliance & BSA seminar
- Elizabeth E. McGinn, Benjamin W. Hutten, and James C. Chou to discuss “The Evolving Regulatory Landscape: Third-party and cyber risk management” at the 2022 mWISE Conference
- James T. Parkinson to present a “Global anti-corruption update” at IBA’s annual conference