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On February 14, Fannie Mae issued Servicing Guide Announcement SVC-2018-01 which, in addition to other items, updates the requirements for servicer charge-off recommendations, as directed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). According to Fannie Mae’s announcement, effective August 1, a servicer may submit a request to cease collection efforts and charge off a delinquent loan when either (i) a servicer deems the debt uncollectable and all appropriate measures to collect on the debt have been exhausted; or (ii) for certain mortgage loans, a foreclosure sale cannot be completed and at least one situation outlined in section D1-1-02 of the Servicing Guide applies. Freddie Mac also issued Bulletin 2018-2, which covers similar policy changes. According to both announcements, the change in charge-off policies reflects FHFA’s desire to avoid “neighborhood blight” for vacant properties.
On December 19, Fannie Mae announced updates to its Selling Guide, including guidance related to underwriting a loan for borrowers who have frozen their credit files at one or more of the three national credit repositories. The Selling Guide now states that a credit report is acceptable for manual underwriting or “Desktop Underwriter” when a borrower’s credit information is frozen at only one of the credit repositories as long as credit data is available from two repositories, a credit score is obtained from at least one of those two repositories, and the lender requested a three in-file merged report. If the borrower’s credit file is frozen at two or more of the credit repositories, the loan will not be eligible for either form of underwriting. Other notable updates to the Selling Guide include, (i) adding requirements on premium pricing to the mortgage eligibility policy; (ii) relief from the enforcement of selling representations and warranties for mortgages that are subject to a disaster-related forbearance plan, where the disaster impacting the loan occurred on or after August 25, 2017 and other requirements are met; (iii) additional details about minimum requirements for internal audit and management controls for all seller/servicers; and (iv) consolidation in the Selling Guide of individual mortgage loan file records retention provisions from the Servicing Guide (as previously covered by InfoBytes here).
On December 13, Freddie Mac issued Guide Bulletin 2017-27, providing updates and reminders to servicers regarding the imminent default evaluation requirements. The bulletin includes specifics on how servicers should process and report imminent default data using the “Workout Prospector” web-based application. According to the bulletin, servicers are must implement the new requirements by July 1, 2018. The bulletin also incorporates the additional non-discrimination guide language announced for sellers in Guide Bulletin 2017-26 (previously covered by InfoBytes here).
On December 13, Fannie Mae announced that it has updated its Servicing Guide. One such update includes the removal of requirements related to individual mortgage loan file records retention. Instead, the information will be available solely in Fannie Mae’s Selling Guide, which it expects to be updated on December 19. Another notable update is the Servicing Guide’s extension of the $30 maximum expense reimbursement “for each insured loss repair inspection required on a current or delinquent mortgage loan” to all mortgages, and not just those affected by disasters.
On October 11, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced updates to their respective Servicing Guides.
Fannie Mae. Servicing Guide Announcement SVC-2017-09 highlights recent updates to the Servicing Guide, including topics related to the management of electronic transactions such as: (i) confirmation that sellers and servicers may originate, service, and modify loans using electronic records (electronic promissory notes require special approval); (ii) streamlined language clarifying requirements for the accuracy of information in electronic records; (iii) specification that paper records are not required for recorded mortgages and deeds of trust; (iv) clarification that all electronic signatures must comply with ESIGN, UETA, and other applicable laws; and (v) the removal of requirements for document custodians from the Servicing Guide that were duplicative of requirements set forth in Fannie Mae’s Requirements for Document Custodians. Additional updates address changes made to the reimbursement of foreclosure sale publication costs for costs incurred on or after January 1, 2018, and specific guidance for servicers pertaining to mortgage liens (to be implemented by December 1, 2017).
Freddie Mac. Freddie Mac issued Bulletin 2017-22 announcing servicing updates concerning (i) modifications to imminent default evaluation and process requirements (jointly developed with Fannie Mae) that will take effect July 1, 2018; and (ii) provisions under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) related to compliance time frames for servicers when responding to, or submitting requests for, interest rate reductions, along with updates that take effect February 1, 2018, concerning Guide Exhibit 71 used by servicers to report eligible SCRA interest rate subsidized loans. The updates also eliminate the manual property condition certificate process and modify time frame requirements for cancelling property insurance policies on real estate owned properties.
On September 29, Fannie Mae released updates to its servicing guidelines for multifamily residences, effective October 2. Fannie Mae is updating provisions concerning Asset Management and Watchlist Management. Changes include:
- removing color descriptions that previously corresponded to defined Mortgage Loan rating classifications;
- updating the rating classification descriptions and/or characteristics to conform to regulatory definitions for Pass/Watch and Special Mention Assets; and
- requiring Servicers provide an explanation and status of the issues causing an Asset to be reported on the Servicer Watchlist.
On May 10, Fannie Mae announced it would begin accepting copies of electronically recorded mortgages rather than original wet-signed documents. This follows a prior September 2016 announcement from Freddie Mac, which changed its policy on the electronic recording of paper closing documents.
Fannie Mae. As set forth in Section A2-5.2-01 of its Servicing Guide, Fannie Mae says that electronic records may be delivered and retained as part of an electronic transaction by the seller/servicer to the servicer, document custodian or Fannie Mae, or by a third party, as long as the methods are compatible with all involved parties. Additionally, the electronic records must be in compliance with the requirements and standards set forth in ESIGN and, when applicable, the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, as “adopted by the state in which the subject property secures by the mortgage loan associated with the electronic record is located.”
Freddie Mac. A bulletin released last September updated Sections 1401.14 and 15 of Freddie Mac’s Servicing Guide by removing the requirement that a seller/servicer retain the original paper security instrument signed by the borrower if an electronic copy of the original security instrument is electronically recorded at the recorder’s office, provided the following conditions are met:
- The seller securely stores along with the other eMortgage documents either (i) “the electronically recorded copy of the original security instrument,” or (ii) “the recorder’s office other form of recording confirmation with the recording information thereon”; and
- Storage of the original security instrument signed by the borrower is not required by applicable law.
According to Freddie Mac, “Removing this requirement addresses one of the barriers for eMortgage adoption in the industry, permitting more [m]ortgage file documents to be [e]lectronic and reducing some storage costs for [s]eller/[s]ervicers.”
On November 25, Fannie Mae issued Servicing Guide Announcement SVC-2015-14 to reveal recent updates to the Servicing Guide. Specifically, Fannie Mae updated guidance relating to 10 areas, including but not limited to: (i) the Remittance of Property (Hazard) Insurance Loss Proceeds for Short Sales; (ii) Pledge of Servicing Rights and Transfers of Interest in Servicing Compensation; (iii) Timeline Requirements for HAMP Expanded “Pay for Performance” Incentive Notices; (iv) Early Delinquency Counseling Requirements; and (v) the removal of the Borrower Notification Sample Letter Exhibit.
In separate November 17 announcements, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (collectively the GSEs) revealed updates to the Uniform Closing Dataset, developed as part of the Uniform Mortgage Data Program to facilitate lender submission of the Closing Disclosure Form under the new TILA/RESPA regulations. The updates revise Appendix A: Closing Disclosure Mapping to the MISMO and Appendix H: UCD Delivery Specification and include: (i) newly added data points; (ii) changes to conditionality for several data points; (iii) changes/additions to the enumerated values; and (iv) updates to conditionality details.
Fannie Mae Authorizes Servicers To Waive Deficiency Judgment Rights, Announces Other Servicing Policy Updates
On September 8, Fannie Mae advised in Servicing Guide Announcement SVC-2014-16 that servicers now have discretion to waive Fannie Mae’s deficiency judgment rights if doing so will help resolve foreclosure delays based upon individual borrower circumstances. The new authorization is applicable to conventional mortgage loans only, and the announcement provides a table of actions a servicer must complete prior to approving a waiver of deficiency judgment rights. The announcement also introduced the Suspended Counterparty Program (SCP), stating that servicers must establish and maintain a procedure to ensure any individual or entity on the FHFA’s SCP list is not involved in activities related to the origination or servicing of mortgage loans owned by Fannie Mae, including the marketing, maintenance, or sale of Fannie Mae REO properties. The program is effective immediately. Fannie Mae also announced several other servicing policy clarifications and form updates.
Fannie Mae Offers Alternative To Repurchase For Mortgage Insurance Rescission, Announces Numerous Other Servicing Policy Updates
On July 1, Fannie Mae issued Servicing Guide Announcement SVC-2014-13, which describes a new alternative to repurchase, an “MI stand-in.” The MI stand-in is defined as the full mortgage insurance (MI) benefit that would have been payable under the original mortgage insurance policy if the mortgage loan liquidates. The alternative was first announced earlier this year as part of broader updates to Fannie Mae’ representation and warranties framework. Fannie Mae will not require immediate repurchase when the MI is rescinded on mortgage loans acquired on or after July 1, 2014, and instead will offer the MI stand-in if: (i) the responsible party meets Fannie Mae’s eligibility criteria; and (ii) the only defect Fannie Mae identifies in the mortgage loan is the rescission of MI; or (iii) the responsible party cures all defects identified, except the MI rescission defect, during the required cure period. A mortgage loan will not be eligible for the MI stand-in if: (i) Fannie Mae identifies other defects during the full file quality control review which the responsible party fails to cure during the required cure period, or (ii) the responsible party does not respond in a timely manner or submit all of the required documents within the timeframes required by Fannie Mae. If the responsible party cures the defects that made the mortgage loan ineligible for the MI stand-in, Fannie Mae will review the mortgage loan and responsible party for this alternative to repurchase. On July 9, in Servicing Guide Announcement SVC-2014-14, Fannie Mae announced that servicemembers can use alternatives to Fannie Mae’s form for documenting active duty orders. The announcement also updates policies regarding (i) ordering a property valuation for short sales, Mortgage Releases, and foreclosure sale bidding instructions; (ii) submitting financial statements and reports; and (iii) loan modification monthly principal and interest payment requirements.
On June 20, Fannie Mae issued Servicing Guide Announcement SVC-2014-11, which reminds servicers that under a recent FinCEN rule, Fannie Mae is considered a financial institution subject to BSA requirements. The announcement advises servicers subject to the AML provisions of the BSA that they are obligated to be in compliance with the BSA, and to report to Fannie Mae: (i) all instances of noncompliance, compliance failures, or sanctions related to BSA/AML requirements; (ii) suspicious activity related to Fannie Mae loans or business activities; and (iii) changes in ownership interest. Servicers may implement these requirements immediately, but are required to do so no later than August 25, 2014.
- APPROVED Webcast: CFL license transition to NMLS
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “Justice for all: Achieving racial equity through fair lending” at CBA Live
- Warren W. Traiger to discuss “On the horizon for CRA modernization” at CBA Live
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “Government investigations, and compliance 2021 trends” at the Corporate Counsel Women of Color Career Strategies Conference
- Max Bonici to discuss “BSA/AML trends: What to expect with the implementation of the AML Act of 2020” at the American Bar Association Banking Law Fall Meeting