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  • VA, FHA issue valuation and appraisal guidance

    Federal Issues

    On March 27, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued guidance on valuation and appraisal practices during the Covid-19 crisis. Effective on March 27 and until modified or rescinded, VA home loan appraisers may utilize exterior-only appraisals and, in certain limited situations, desktop appraisals, for purchase and refinance transactions. When the appraiser does not inspect the interior of the property, additional sources may be used to inform the appraisal, including public records, MLS listing information, and other reliable third-party sources. The VA also issued Exhibit A to the valuation and appraisal practices circular. This document provides a statement of assumptions and limiting conditions and certifications for Desktop-only appraisals, in addition to instructions and a scope of work to be used by the appraiser.

    On the same day, the FHA issued similar guidance in Mortgagee Letter 2020-05 regarding appraisals and employment reverifications. Modifications to FHA single-family employment reverifications requirements include allowing verbal employment reverifications. The modifications also remove employment reverification requirements in certain situations, such as when certain criteria are met in forward purchase transactions, including, among other things: (i) where the mortgagee is not aware of loss of employment by the borrower; (ii) the mortgagee has year-to-date paystubs or electronic income verification for the borrower; (iii) the mortgagee has the borrower’s bank statement from immediately prior to the note date showing a direct deposit from an employer; and (iv) the mortgagee has evidence that the borrower has the equivalent of at least two months of the new payment amount, inclusive of principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. Modifications to appraisal protocols allow for exterior or desktop-only appraisals, and appraisers may utilize additional reliable information. Also, the FHA will require appraisals to include a signed certification that no interior appraisal was performed. FHA model certification forms can be found here and here.

    Federal Issues Covid-19 FHA Department of Veterans Affairs Appraisal Refinance Mortgage Lenders Mortgages

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  • VA issues foreclosure moratorium for Covid-19-affected borrowers

    Federal Issues

    On March 18, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released Circular-26-20-8, “Foreclosure Moratorium for Borrowers Affected by Covid-19,” to strongly encourage mortgage servicers to observe the following actions regarding home loan borrowers affected or potentially affected by Covid-19: (i) establish a 60-day moratorium starting March 18 on completing pending foreclosures or initiating new foreclosures; and (ii) consider the impact of eviction when choosing to retain property instead of conveying to the VA. The VA requests that loan holders not expose veterans and their families to additional risks through evictions, and states that VA regulation 38 C.F.R. 36.4324(a)(3)(ii) “allows additional interest on a guaranty claim when eventual termination has been delayed due to circumstances beyond the control of the holder, such as VA-requested forbearance.”

    Federal Issues Covid-19 Department of Veterans Affairs Foreclosure Mortgages

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  • VA issues Covid-19 guidance

    Federal Issues

    On March 16, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released Circular 26-20-7, “Special Relief for those Potentially Impacted by COVID-19,” which provides guidance for veterans, lenders, servicers, and appraisers on the VA Home Loan Program in connection with the spread of Covid-19. Veterans are encouraged to call ahead for any in-person appointments with VA staff or with a lender, appraiser, or servicer regarding a home loan if the veteran may present a Covid-19 transmission risk. Additionally, the VA will permit lenders and servicers to offer relief to veterans impacted by the virus through (i) forbearance on guaranteed loan payments; (ii) waiver of late charges; and (iii) suspending credit bureau reporting. Appraisers are encouraged to continue business in accordance with Chapter 10 of the M26-7 Lender’s Handbook. As with the guidance for veterans, appraisers are also encouraged to determine if they present a Covid-19 transmission risk prior to face-to-face appointments, and then, as appropriate, to reschedule appointments or transfer the assignment to another appraiser. The announcement also urges appraisers to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations to prevent the spread of Covid-19 when performing appraisals. The circular notes that the VA “is continuing with normal program operations” and will update information on the VA Home Loan Program as it is available.

    Federal Issues Department of Veterans Affairs Covid-19 Mortgages

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  • Financial regulators provide supervisory relief, and VA encourages mortgage relief to veterans after Tennessee tornadoes

    Federal Issues

    On March 12, the OCC, Federal Reserve Board, FDIC, NCUA, and the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions issued an interagency statement on supervisory practices for financial institutions affected by the recent tornadoes in Tennessee. Among other things, the agencies called on financial institutions to “work constructively” with affected borrowers, noting that “prudent efforts” to adjust loan terms in affected areas “should not be subject to examiner criticism.” Institutions facing difficulties in complying with any publishing and reporting requirements should also contact their primary federal and/or state regulator. Additionally, the agencies noted that institutions may receive Community Reinvestment Act consideration for community development loans, investments, and services that revitalize or stabilize federally designated disaster areas. In FIL-16-2020, the FDIC further encouraged supervised institutions to consider, among other things, (i) extending repayment terms; (ii) restructuring existing loans; or (iii) easing terms for new loans to affected borrowers, if done in a manner consistent with sound banking practices. The FDIC stated it will also consider regulatory relief from certain filing and publishing requirements.

    Separately, on March 10, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued Circular 26-20-5 to encourage mortgagees to provide relief for VA borrowers affected by the recent tornadoes in Tennessee. The Circular encourages loan holders and servicers to (i) extend forbearance to distressed borrowers and to members of the National Guard assisting in the recovery efforts; (ii) establish a 90-day moratorium on initiating new foreclosures; (iii) waive late charges; and (iv) suspend credit reporting on affected loans. The Circular will be rescinded April 1, 2021. Mortgage servicers and veteran borrowers are also encouraged to review the VA’s Guidance on Natural Disasters.

    Find continuing InfoBytes coverage on disaster relief guidance here.

    Federal Issues Federal Reserve State Issues Disaster Relief Consumer Finance FDIC OCC NCUA Department of Veterans Affairs Mortgages

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  • VA encourages relief for Tropical Storm Imelda-affected borrowers

    Federal Issues

    On November 8, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued Circular 26-19-29, encouraging mortgagees to provide relief for VA borrowers affected by Tropical Storm Imelda. Among other forms of assistance, the Circular encourages loan holders and servicers to (i) extend forbearances to borrowers in distress because of the disaster; (ii) establish a 90-day moratorium from the disaster declaration date on initiating new foreclosures on affected loans; (iii) waive late charges on affected loans; and (iv) suspend credit reporting related to affected loans. The Circular is effective until January 1, 2021. Mortgage servicers and veteran borrowers are also encouraged to review the VA’s Guidance on Natural Disasters.

    Find continuing InfoBytes coverage on disaster relief guidance here.

    Federal Issues Disaster Relief Department of Veterans Affairs Consumer Finance Mortgages

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  • VA completes funding fee refund initiative

    Federal Issues

    On October 8, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it completed its home loan funding fee refund initiative, returning more than $400 million to VA borrowers. As previously covered by InfoBytes, in June the VA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued a report concluding that the VA improperly charged exempt veterans VA home loan funding fees. The OIG recommended that the VA develop a plan to, among other things, identify exempt veterans who were inappropriately charged funding fees and issue refunds. The VA reviewed nearly 20 years of loan originations, and identified 130,000 loans for potential refunds. VA notes that most fees were charged correctly, except for veterans whose exemption status changed after the closing of their loan. VA also announced changes to its program, in order to provide veterans with “the most up-to-date information possible on a Veteran’s funding fee exemption status,” including (i) enhancements to communications to veterans regarding the loan funding fee; (ii) new policy guidance directing lenders to inquire about a veteran’s disability claim status during the underwriting process; (iii) instructing lenders to obtain an updated Certificate of Eligibility for a veteran within three days of closing, if there was a disability claim pending; (iv) and procedural changes to ensure regulator internal oversight of funding fee activities.

    Federal Issues Department of Veterans Affairs OIG Mortgages Military Lending

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  • Ginnie Mae announces new VA refinance loan eligibility requirements

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On August 1, Ginnie Mae issued All Participants Memorandum APM 19-05 announcing changes to the mortgage-backed securities (MBS) pooling eligibility requirements for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) refinance loans. In order to establish requirements that positively impact the performance of Ginnie Mae securities and implement the “Protecting Affordable Mortgages for Veterans Act of 2019,” (covered by InfoBytes here) APM 19-05 announces changes applicable to all VA-guaranteed refinance loans and establishes new criteria for VA cash-out refinance loans with loan-to-value (LTV) ratios above 90 percent.

    Effective with MBS guaranteed on or after August 1, a refinance loan is only eligible for Ginnie Mae securities if the date on the refinance loan is on, or after, the later of (i) “the date on which the borrower has made at least six consecutive monthly payments on the loan being refinanced”; and (ii) “the date that is 210 days after the first payment due date of the loan being refinanced.” Additionally, effective with MBS guaranteed on or after November 1, “High LTV VA Cash-Out Refinance Loans”—defined as a VA refinance loan with a LTV ratio that exceeds 90 percent at the time of origination and where the borrower converts any amount of home equity into cash—are, with certain exceptions, ineligible for Ginnie Mae I Single Issuer Pools and Ginnie Mae II Multiple Issuer Pools.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Ginnie Mae MBS Department of Veterans Affairs Securities Refinance Mortgages

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  • VA encourages relief for Hurricane Barry-affected borrowers

    Federal Issues

    On July 30, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued Circular 26-19-21, encouraging mortgagees to provide relief for VA borrowers affected by Hurricane Barry on the Gulf Coast. Among other forms of assistance, the Circular encourages loan holders and servicers to (i) extend forbearances to borrowers in distress because of the severe storms and flooding; (ii) establish a 90-day moratorium from the disaster date on initiating new foreclosures on affected loans; (iii) waive late charges on affected loans; and (iv) suspend credit reporting. The Circular is effective until July 1, 2020. Mortgage servicers and veteran borrowers are also encouraged to review the VA’s Guidance on Natural Disasters.

    Find continuing InfoBytes coverage on disaster relief guidance here.

    Federal Issues Disaster Relief Department of Veterans Affairs Consumer Finance Mortgages

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  • Ginnie Mae VA loan eligibility requirements amended

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On July 25, President Trump signed the “Protecting Affordable Mortgages for Veterans Act of 2019,” Public Law No. 116-33, which amends the National Housing Act to revise Ginnie Mae loan seasoning requirements for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) housing loans. Section 306(g)(1) now requires that, in order to be eligible for Ginnie Mae securities, the date of the VA refinance loan must be the later of (i) “the date on which the borrower has made at least six consecutive monthly payments on the loan being refinanced; and” (ii) “the date that is 210 days after the first payment due date of the loan being refinanced.” The amendment is effective immediately.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Legislation Ginnie Mae Department of Veterans Affairs Mortgages Refinance

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  • VA updates fee guidance for IRRRLs

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On June 28, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued Circular 26-19-17, which provides new funding fee guidance to lenders and servicers concerning Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loans (IRRRLs). The new guidance, effective immediately, requires, among other things, that: (i) a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) be obtained for IRRRLs to ensure the funding fee exemption information is up to date at the time of closing; (ii) lenders ask active duty servicemembers if they have a pre-discharge claim pending, and, if so, contact the Regional Loan Center to request assistance in obtaining a proposed or memorandum rating in the event the servicemember is eligible for a funding fee exemption; and (iii) if a lender or servicer is notified by the VA or the veteran of an overpayment of a funding fee, such lender initiate a refund request in the Funding Fee Payment System (FFPS) within three business days.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Department of Veterans Affairs Refinance Fees Mortgages IRRRL

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