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On June 30, the Department of Veterans Affairs issued Circular 26-20-25 (and subsequently issued Circular 26-20-25, Change 1), which provides guidance on the impact of the CARES Act foreclosure protections on VA-guaranteed purchase and refinance transactions. The circular states that for purchase and cash-out refinance loans, the “VA will not consider a Veteran as an unsatisfactory credit risk, based solely upon the fact that the Veteran received some type of credit forbearance or experienced some type of deferred payment during the COVID-19 national emergency.” With regard to Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loans (IRRRL), the Circular notes that the VA is waiving certain prior approval requirements for delinquent loans if (i) the lender is approved to close loans on an automatic basis; (ii) the loan being refinanced is under CARES Act forbearance protections; (iii) the borrower is no longer experiencing the financial hardship caused by the Covid-19 pandemic; and (iv) the borrower qualifies for other IRRRL credit standards. Moreover, the Circular details additional IRRRL considerations for lenders, including maximum loan amounts, loan seasoning, and valuation requirements. Lastly, the Circular encourages lenders to waive origination fees and consider discount points and premium pricing offsets for veterans impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
On June 20, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston updated FAQs for its Main Street Lending Program (see here, here and here for previous coverage). Among other things, new FAQs address the treatment of applicant debt to third party lenders for purposes of calculating outstanding and undrawn debt, certifications regarding conflicts of interest, and the application of regulatory lending limits imposed on national banks, federal savings associations, and state savings associations to loans issued under the Main Street Lending Program.
On June 17, the Department of Veterans Affairs extended its moratorium on foreclosures until August 31, 2020, due to the continued negative impact of Covid-19 on veterans (see here for previous coverage). The moratorium prohibits loan servicers from initiating or completing any foreclosure on properties secured by VA-guaranteed loans.
On June 4, the Department of Veterans Affairs issued Circular 26-20-21 to clarify inspection requirements for properties purchased with loans guaranteed by the VA, where the borrower has been negatively impacted by Covid-19. The VA temporarily suspended its requirement to conduct a property inspection before the 60th day of delinquency for borrowers whose loans are currently in forbearance and were current or had not reached the 60th day of delinquency when the borrower requested CARES Act forbearance. The circular sunsets on July 1, 2021.
On May 19, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued Circular 26-20-19 to remind lenders of certain VA policies and provide guidance regarding the processing of VA-guaranteed loans during Covid-19. The circular provides guidance regarding IRS Form 4506-T, renewal applications, applications for underwriter approvals, and fees to conduct business with the VA. The circular is rescinded on April 1, 2021.
On May 14, the Department of Veterans Affairs issued Circular 26-20-18, which extends the foreclosure moratorium for borrowers affected by Covid-19 through June 30. Properties secured by VA-guaranteed loans are subject to a moratorium on the initiation of foreclosures, and the completion of foreclosures in process.
The Federal Housing Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Rural Housing Service have jointly issued fact sheets for servicers and for consumers outlining certain requirements and obligations under CARES Act mortgage payment forbearance. The fact sheet for servicers provides guidance for assisting and educating borrowers and explains that loss mitigation options will vary based on the program under which the loan is insured or guaranteed. The fact sheet for consumers provides guidance on requesting forbearance and information on the forbearance program.
On April 20, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VA) issued Circular 26-20-16, which provides guidance for noncompliant interest rate reduction refinance loans (IRRRLs). The guidance notes that the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (the Act) provides statutory criteria that affect whether the VA can guarantee refinance loans. In VA Circular 26-19-22, the VA notified lenders that an IRRRL must meet the requirements of the Act to receive and retain the full amount of VA’s guarantee. As such, Circular 26-20-16 sets forth requirements for IRRRLs, including enterprise level reporting and loan level reporting. The circular also discusses loan seasoning issues and the VA’s oversight of lender actions. The circular is rescinded April 1, 2023.
On April 29, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced a new reason for default which will assist the VA in identifying borrowers impacted by Covid-19. The VA replaced the reason “Energy/Environmental Cost” with “National Emergency Declaration” in the Electronic Default Notice (EDN). Servicers should use this new reason for default when reporting the EDN. Effective June 1, 2020, this new reason for default will be accepted prior to the 61st day of delinquency.
On April 27, the Department of Veterans Affairs revised Circular 26-20-10, Lending Guidance for Borrowers Affected by Covid-19. The revisions provide that the VA may delegate responsibility to an approved lender to close loans automatically, and that any loan closed under this authority is guaranteed from the date of loan closing. The circular otherwise provides guidance for VA home loan borrowers impacted by Covid-19 and creates temporary measures for loan originating, closing and guarantee. Among other measures, the circular provides that furloughs and other income curtailments as a result of Covid-19 should not be considered a break in employment for underwriting purposes.
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “Getting your company ready: Managing fair lending for IMBs” at the Mortgage Bankers Association Independent Mortgage Bankers Conference
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “Be Your Compliance Best in 2022” at the California Mortgage Bankers Association webinar
- Lauren R. Randell to discuss “Significant legal developments in the Northeast” at the 37th Annual National Institute on White Collar Crime
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “Small business & regulation: How fair lending has evolved & where it is heading?” at the Consumer Bankers Association Live program
- Jonice Gray Tucker and Kari Hall to discuss “Equity, equality, regulation and enforcement – The evolving regulatory landscape of fair lending, redlining, and UDAAP” at the ABA Business Law Committee Hybrid Spring Meeting