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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


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  • Ginnie Mae to explore a new reverse MBS

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On January 16, Ginnie Mae announced its plans to consider the development of a new securitization product in connection with broader efforts to expand its existing Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) mortgage-backed securities program. Specifically, Ginnie Mae is considering the viability of a securitization product that would accept HECM loans with balances above 98% of the FHA’s Maximum Claim Amount. Ginnie Mae stated that the proposed product reflects efforts to address liquidity issues affecting the stability of secondary mortgage markets, which are crucial for older Americans who may need to rely on home equity for financial support. 

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Ginnie Mae Reverse Mortgages Mortgages Mortgage-Backed Securities HECM

  • HUD seeks comments on update to HECM policy

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    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

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance HUD FHA HECM

  • FHA proposes updates to HECM program

    Federal Issues

    On November 1, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) proposed updates to FHA’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage Program that are intended to address a number of servicing issues where existing program requirements have conflicted with HUD’s policy objectives.  FHA is requesting public feedback. Key changes include the following:

    • Allowing mortgage servicers to contact borrowers by phone to verify occupancy for the program’s required annual occupancy certification;
    • Allowing outstanding homeowner’s association dues to be included in the calculation of a repayment plan for borrowers who are behind on their HECM financial obligations;
    • Expanding the ability of mortgage servicers to work with borrowers who are behind on their property tax or hazard insurance by an amount up to $5,000 without calling the mortgage due and payable;
    • Allowing mortgage servicers to assign a HECM to HUD after the servicer has funded a cure for a borrower’s delinquent financial obligations so long as the borrower has made all property charge payments for one year and all other assignment eligibility criteria are met;
    • Streamlining requirements for executing alternatives to foreclosure and updating existing incentive payments for successful completion of loss mitigation options; and
    • Providing a new incentive payment to mortgage servicers for completing these alternatives.

    Federal Issues FHA Consumer Finance Home Equity Loans Mortgage Servicing HECM HUD

  • FHA announces update and consolidation of the HECM program

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On October 31, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced, after a multi-year effort, the inclusion of policies for its Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program in the Single-Family Housing Policy Handbook 4000.1. The FHA indicated this is the first time that all HECM program requirements will be available in a single place. According to the FHA, consolidating these programs eliminates more than one hundred individual policy documents and assist with strengthening the understanding and implementation of the HECM by lenders. New sections include Section II.B covering FHA policy for the origination through post-closing and endorsement of HECMs; and Section III.B, covering FHA policy for the servicing of HECMs and loss mitigation options to assist HECM borrowers who are behind on their HECM obligations. Assistant Secretary for Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner Julia Gordon stated that the “completion of the HECM sections of our Single Family Handbook reinforces FHA’s commitment to the HECM program and is part of a larger effort to retool the program for long-term success.” The FHA also updated model documents, frequently asked questions, and training and expects the online version to be available soon.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues FHA HECM Mortgages Consumer Finance

  • FHA updates HECM procedures for mortgagee default

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On July 11, FHA announced modifications to certain FHA home equity conversion mortgage requirements in Mortgagee Letter (ML) 2023-15, entitled “Modifications to FHA Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) Requirements Related to Secretary Payment of Borrower Disbursements Due to Mortgagee Default.”  The letter updates FHA’s investigation requirements regarding situations where a mortgage lender is unable or unwilling to fulfill a borrower’s payment obligations required under an HECM. Mortgagees that fail to make a necessary payment to a borrower must now furnish specific information to FHA. The modifications provide additional sources where FHA can receive notice of a mortgagee’s anticipated or actual default on borrower payments and are designed to improve FHA’s ability to make prompt payments in the event of mortgagee default to ensure HECM borrowers timely receive scheduled or requested funds. ML 2023-15 is effective immediately.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues FHA Mortgages HUD HECM

  • FHA expedites claims process for HECMs

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On May 17, HUD announced new policies to expedite claims processing for home equity conversion mortgages (HECM). Specifically, FHA’s policies will allow for faster payment of funds to mortgagees upon assignment of an HECM to HUD by allowing borrowers with FHA mortgages to submit a request for a preliminary title approval earlier in the process and with fewer documents. Mortgagees will now be able to assign an HECM to HUD once the HECM reaches 98 percent of the maximum claim amount (MCA) and may begin submitting required information to HUD when the HECM reaches 97 percent of the MCA (based on the value of the property at the time the HECM loan is originated). The previous percentage was set at 97.5 percent. Additionally, mortgagees will be able to submit original notes and mortgages after assignment claim payment rather than before. HUD explained that allowing for earlier claim submission and improving document submission measures will hopefully shorten the time between the HECM reaching 98 percent of MCA and FHA paying the mortgagee for the claim.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues FHA Mortgages HECM HUD Consumer Finance

  • FHA implements provisions for transitioning LIBOR-based ARMs

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On May 2, FHA published Mortgagee Letter (ML) 2023-09 to implement provisions of the Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM): Transitioning from LIBOR to Alternative Indices final rule that was published in the Federal Register at the beginning of March. (Covered by InfoBytes here.) The final rule replaces LIBOR with the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) as the approved index for newly-originated forward ARMs, codifies HUD’s approval of SOFR as an index for newly-originated home equity conversion mortgages (HECM) ARMs, and establishes “a spread-adjusted SOFR index as the Secretary-approved replacement index to transition existing forward and HECM ARMs off LIBOR.” The ML provides interest rate transition directions for mortgagees and announces the availability of updated HECM model loan documents, which have been revised to be consistent with the final rule and the ML. The provisions in the ML have various effective dates.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues FHA LIBOR Mortgages SOFR HECM

  • HUD extends Covid-19 forbearance through May

    Federal Issues

    On April 7, HUD issued Mortgagee Letter 2023-08, which extends through May 31 the final date for borrowers to request Covid-19 forbearance and home equity conversion mortgage (HECM) extensions. The extension is intended to allow ample time for affected borrowers to submit requests and for mortgagees to offer and process the requests in the event that the presidentially-declared national emergency ends earlier than originally expected. As stated in the letter, HUD determined that providing a short period beyond the expiration of the national emergency will be beneficial to both FHA borrowers and mortgagees. The extension will also align Covid-19 forbearance and HECM extension requests with the monthly billing cycle. The letter stated that no Covid-19 forbearance period may extend beyond November 30.

    Federal Issues HUD FHA Consumer Finance Covid-19 Mortgages Forbearance HECM

  • FHA proposes earlier HECM claim submissions

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On April 4, FHA issued FHA Info 2023-25, announcing proposed changes to the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program and documentation requirements for certain submission criteria. FHA explained that the documentation changes would apply to HECM Assignment Claim Type 22, which “is an option that allows a HECM servicer to assign a mortgage that is in good standing to FHA in exchange for payment of the loan balance, up to the maximum claim amount.” Specifically, the proposal would allow servicers to start submitting claim documentation for preliminary FHA review when a mortgage reaches 97 percent of the maximum claim amount (MCA), versus the 97.5 percent currently allowed. The change is intended “to expedite the payment of claim funds when the mortgage reaches 98 percent of the MCA, to mortgage servicers in light of current market liquidity considerations.” The proposal would also establish that the deadline for mortgagees to deliver original notes and mortgages to FHA is 90 days after the assignment claim payment date, and would align the deadline for delivering recorded assignments of mortgage for all HECMS by increasing the timeline to 12 months for HECMs with FHA case numbers assigned before September 19, 2017. Comments on the proposal are due April 11.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues FHA Mortgages HECM Mortgage Servicing

  • FHA codifies SOFR for LIBOR-based ARMs

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On March 1, FHA published a final rule in the Federal Register removing LIBOR as an approved index for adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) and replacing it with the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) as the approved index for newly-originated forward ARMs. The final rule also codifies HUD’s removal of LIBOR and approval of SOFR as an index for newly-originated home equity conversion mortgages (HECM) ARMs, and establishes “a spread-adjusted SOFR index as the Secretary-approved replacement index to transition existing forward and HECM ARMs off LIBOR.” Additionally, the final rule makes several clarifying changes and establishes a 10 percentage points maximum lifetime adjustment cap for monthly adjustable rate HECMs. The agency considered comments received to its proposed rule published last October (covered by InfoBytes here), and said the updated policy will now “generally align with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae's policies replacing LIBOR with the SOFR index.” The final rule is effective March 31. 

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues FHA HUD Mortgages LIBOR Adjustable Rate Mortgage HECM SOFR


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