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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


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  • FHA revises appraisal validity period

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    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.

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

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  • FHA issues temporary partial waivers for specific HECM policies

    Federal Issues

    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.

    Federal Issues FHA Mortgages HECM Covid-19

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  • FHA announces SFHA mortgagee requirements

    Federal Issues

    On March 9, FHA announced FHA INFO 2022-25, which makes enhancements to FHA Connection (FHAC) and requires mortgagees to indicate if property improvements are in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and provide applicable flood insurance data electronically if so. The enhancements implement new fields for the electronic submission of flood related data currently contained in FHA case binders. The electronic data collection will permit FHA to perform more data analytics on FHA-insured properties in flood zones. Mortgagees may submit additional flood-related data electronically for single family forward mortgages and Home Equity Conversion Mortgages on the corresponding Insurance Application Screens in FHAC, which include, among other things: (i) information regarding whether the property improvement is in a SFHA; (ii) indication of the existence of a final Letter of Map Amendment, final Letter of Map Revision, or a FEMA National Flood Insurance Program Elevation Certificate to verify that the property is not in a SFHA; and (iii) other details which may include flood insurance building coverage, flood insurance company, and the flood insurance policy number.

    Federal Issues FHA Mortgages Flood Insurance HECM

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  • HUD issues 2022 mortgage and HECM limits

    Federal Issues

    On November 30, HUD issued Mortgagee Letter 2021-28, which provides the 2022 nationwide forward mortgage limits. According to HUD, FHA calculates forward mortgage limits based on the median house prices in accordance with the National Housing Act (NHA). Additionally, FHA sets these limits at or between the low-cost area and high-cost area limits based on the median house prices for the area and publishes the updated limits each calendar year. Among other things, HUD noted that the FHA national low-cost area mortgage limits are set at 65 percent of the national conforming limit of $647,200 for a one-unit property, and, for high-cost area mortgage limits, the FHA national high-cost area mortgage limits are set at 150 percent of the national conforming limit of $647,200 for a one-unit property. Forward mortgage limits for 2022 are effective for case numbers assigned on or after January 1, 2022.

    The same day, HUD issued Mortgagee Letter 2021-29, which provides the 2022 home equity conversion mortgage (HECM) limits. According to the letter, the HECM maximum claim amount limits for traditional HECM, HECM for purchase, and HECM-to-HECM refinances are governed by the maximum claim amount limitation in the NHA. For the period of January 1, 2022, to December 31, 2022, the maximum claim amount for FHA-insured HECMs is $970,800 (150 percent of Freddie Mac’s national conforming limit of $647,200).

    Federal Issues FHA HUD HECM Mortgages Consumer Finance

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  • FHA publishes draft HECM sections of handbook

    Federal Issues

    On September 29, FHA requested stakeholder review and feedback on the draft Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) Origination through Servicing sections of its Single Family Housing Policy Handbook 4000.1. The new draft sections are a continuation of the agency’s move toward a consolidated, authoritative Handbook 4000.1, and contain revisions to policy language to improve clarity and consistency along with proposed new policies. FHA stated that once the final version is published, the HECM Origination through Servicing sections will conform to the new organizational structure of Handbook 4000.1 and will replace existing HECM guidance on: (i) origination through post-closing and endorsement; (ii) appraiser and property requirements; (iii) servicing and loss mitigation; and (iv) glossary and acronyms. Feedback on the draft sections (posted on the agency’s drafting table) are due by November 15.

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

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  • HUD issues mortgagee letter on Covid-19 forbearance

    Federal Issues

    On September 27, HUD issued Mortgagee Letter 2021-24, which extends and adds Covid-19 relief options for borrowers who are struggling with mortgage payments due to the pandemic and for senior homeowners with Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM) who require assistance to stay in their homes. According to HUD, these actions are in response to the impact of the pandemic and “are part of FHA’s continuing evolution of its COVID-19 policies so that the right tools are in place to help borrowers.” FHA is now providing: (i) “up to six months of COVID-19 Forbearance for borrowers requesting an initial COVID-19 Forbearance or HECM Extension from their mortgage servicer between October 1, 2021, and the end of the COVID-19 National Emergency, and an additional six months if the COVID-19 Forbearance or HECM Extension is exhausted and expires before the end of the COVID-19 National Emergency”; and (ii) “up to six months of additional forbearance for borrowers who requested or will request an initial COVID-19 Forbearance or HECM Extension from their mortgage servicer between July 1, 2021, and September 30, 2021, allowing these borrowers up to a maximum of 12 months of COVID-19 Forbearance or HECM Extension.”

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

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  • FHA removes LIBOR benchmark for adjustable-rate HECMs

    Federal Issues

    On March 11, FHA issued Mortgagee Letter (ML) 2021-08 announcing changes for adjustable interest rate home equity conversion mortgages (HECMs) as the market transitions away from LIBOR. Among other things, ML 2021-08 (i) removes approval for using the LIBOR index for adjustable interest rate HECMs; and (ii) approves the use of the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) index, permitting “mortgagees to commingle index types for newly originated annual adjustable interest rate HECMs when establishing the expected average mortgage interest rate using the U.S. Constant Maturity Treasury” and SOFR index. ML 2021-08 also states that LIBOR-based HECMs must close on or before May 3 to be eligible for FHA insurance.

    Find continuing InfoBytes coverage on LIBOR here.

    Federal Issues HUD FHA Mortgages HECM LIBOR SOFR

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  • FHA issues Covid-19 measures to protect borrowers

    Federal Issues

    On February 3, FHA issued a series of temporary measures in its Single Family Housing Policy Handbook, which waive provisions that, among other things, normally require in-person contact between mortgage servicers and borrowers. These waivers, FHA states, are intended to allow mortgage servicing activities to continue in a safe manner during the Covid-19 pandemic, and augment FHA’s recent extension of its foreclosure and eviction moratorium for borrowers through March 31, as well as the agency’s decision to extend the deadline for impacted borrowers to request a new forbearance (covered by InfoBytes here). Specifically, the waivers build upon previous waivers and will allow the following provisions through December 31, 2021:

    • Rather than conducting face-to-face borrower interviews, the waiver will allow substitute methods (such as phone interviews, email, video calling services, and other conference technology) for servicers to conduct borrower interviews for FHA-insured forward and home equity conversion mortgages (HECM) when performing early default interventions for borrowers in danger of foreclosure.
    • FHA is waiving the $5,000 property charge payment arrearages cap for HECM borrowers who are behind on their property charge payments.
    • FHA is waiving the requirement for servicers to obtain a physical signature on an occupancy certification from a HECM borrower.

    Federal Issues FHA HUD Covid-19 Mortgages Consumer Finance Mortgage Servicing HECM

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  • FHA extends deadline for Covid-19 loss mitigation options

    Federal Issues

    On October 20, FHA announced that homeowners experiencing a Covid-19 financial hardship with FHA-insured mortgages can request an initial forbearance or a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) extension through December 31. Specifically, Mortgagee Letter 2020-34 extends the date by which mortgagees must approve the initial Covid-19 forbearance or Covid-19 HECM extension originally provided for in ML 2020-06 and expanded in ML 2020-22 (covered by InfoBytes here and here). FHA notes that due to the continued Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on borrowers around the country, the agency is extending the deadline through December 31 from the original deadline of October 30.


    Federal Issues Covid-19 FHA HUD Forbearance Mortgages HECM

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  • DOJ: Lender allegedly violated FIRREA, False Claims Act by forging certifications and using unqualified underwriters

    Federal Issues

    On September 25, the DOJ filed a complaint against a lender alleging that it forged certifications and used unqualified underwriters to approve FHA-insured Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs) to increase its loan production in violation of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act and the False Claims Act. In addition, the DOJ claims that, because the lender allegedly did not employ enough direct endorsement underwriters to review each HECM loan endorsed for FHA mortgage insurance, it bypassed FHA’s underwriter requirements and (i) allowed “unqualified temporary contractors to underwrite, approve, and sign certifications for HECM loans”; (ii) “[f]orged signatures of qualified underwriters on certifications for other HECM loans” to create the appearance that they had been reviewed and approved by a qualified underwriter; (iii) pre-signed blank certifications representing that appraisals had been reviewed and approved; and (iv) used these forms and certifications to insure HECM loans that did not meet the underwriting requirements. The DOJ alleges that, accordingly, the FHA insured overvalued and underwater properties, which increased borrower expenses and raised the chances of default. The DOJ also asserts that the lender’s purported false claims for FHA mortgage insurance payments were material, as it led to the government making payments it would otherwise not have been required to make.

    Federal Issues DOJ False Claims Act / FIRREA Underwriting FHA Mortgages HECM

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