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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


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  • 1st Circuit holds Fannie, Freddie not “government actors” despite FHFA control


    On June 8, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit stated that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSEs) can continue non-judicial foreclosures in states that permit them, holding that the GSEs are not “government actors” despite being controlled by FHFA. According to the opinion, the plaintiffs obtained mortgages that were later sold to Fannie Mae. After the borrowers defaulted on their loans, Fannie Mae, consistent with Rhode Island law, conducted non-judicial foreclosure sales of the properties. The plaintiffs filed suit, arguing that Fannie Mae and FHFA (which acts as Fannie Mae’s conservator) are government actors and that the nonjudicial foreclosure sales violated their Fifth Amendment procedural due process rights. The district court disagreed, however, and granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss on the grounds that “because FHFA stepped into Fannie Mae’s shoes as its conservator and its ability to foreclose was a ‘contractual right inherited from Fannie Mae by virtue of its conservatorship,’ FHFA was not acting as the government when it foreclosed on the plaintiffs’ mortgages and was not subject to the plaintiffs’ Fifth Amendment claims.” The court further determined that FHFA’s conservatorship over Fannie Mae did not make Fannie Mae a government actor subject to the plaintiffs’ constitutional claims because FHFA “does not exercise sufficient control” over the GSE. The plaintiffs appealed, arguing, among other things, that the FHFA’s nearly 13-year conservatorship of the GSEs makes its control permanent and renders them governmental actors.

    On appeal, the appellate court concluded that in its role as conservator, “FHFA is not a government actor because it has ‘stepped into the shoes’ of the private GSEs” and assumed all of their private contractual rights, including the right to perform non-judicial foreclosures. The appellate court also refuted the plaintiffs’ argument that FHFA’s 13-year conservatorship made its control permanent, pointing out that the “housing and mortgage financial markets are highly complex, as are the various indicators of their financial health, so the fact that FHFA has maintained the conservatorship for almost thirteen years does not mean that the government’s control is permanent.” As such, because the GSEs are not government actors they are also not subject to the plaintiffs’ due process claims, the appellate court concluded.

    Courts Mortgages Foreclosure Fannie Mae Freddie Mac GSEs FHFA State Issues

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  • FHFA finalizes GSE resolution plan requirements

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On May 3, FHFA published a final rule requiring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSEs) to develop “credible resolution plans” (also known as “living wills”) to facilitate their rapid and orderly resolution in the event FHFA is appointed receiver per the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. Similar to the living wills that other large financial institutions are required to develop under resolution planning rules issued by the Federal Reserve Board and the FDIC, the resolution plans will create a roadmap for preserving business continuity should the GSEs fail again. FHFA Director Mark Calabria stressed that the rule “helps create a stronger, more resilient housing finance system by protecting taxpayers and the mortgage market from harm.”

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, last December FHFA published a notice of proposed rulemaking seeking to, among other things, implement liquidity and funding requirements for the GSEs. According to FHFA’s fact sheet, public input was incorporated into the final rule’s key components, which include the following requirements:

    • The resolution planning process will start with the identification of core business lines.
    • Initial resolution plans must be submitted “two years after the effective date of the final rule” with “subsequent resolution plans to be submitted every two years thereafter.”
    • Resolution plans must include the following required and prohibited assumptions: (i) an assumption of severely adverse economic conditions; (ii) a prohibition on assuming that the U.S. government will provide or continue to provide “extraordinary support”; and (iii) the reflection of statutory provisions stating “that obligations and securities of the [GSE] issued pursuant to its charter are not guaranteed by the [U.S.] and do not constitute a debt or obligation of the [U.S.].”
    • Resolution plans must identify “potential material weaknesses or impediments to rapid and orderly resolution as conceived in its plan,” along with any actions or steps to address the identified weaknesses or impediments.
    • Resolution plans must ensure confidentiality of certain information but also make portions available to the public.
    • Resolution plans will be reviewed by FHFA to identity whether additional information is needed, as well as any deficiencies or “shortcomings” (defined as supervisory concerns that do not rise to the level of “deficiencies”). Feedback will be provided along with an opportunity for resubmission. 

    Additionally, FHFA added a 12-month notification requirement to the final rule should the agency decide to alter the resolution plan submission date. FHFA also reserved the authority to further refine submission requirements. The final rule is effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.



    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FHFA Mortgages Fannie Mae Freddie Mac GSEs HERA Living Wills

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  • Fannie and Freddie update General QM Rule loan eligibility

    Federal Issues

    On April 8, Fannie Mae issued Lender Letter LL-2021-09 announcing updates to eligibility for loans subject to the CFPB’s revised General Qualified Mortgage (QM) Rule (covered by InfoBytes here). Among other things, Fannie notes that because its preferred stock purchase agreement (PSPA) with the U.S. Department of Treasury requires that acquired loans meet the General QM Rule’s loan definition that became effective March 1, it will no longer, in accordance with the dates below, acquire GSE Patch loans that fail to meet to the revised General QM Rule. Specifically, in order to be eligible for purchase by Fannie (certain exceptions are provided for government loans), such loans “must have application dates on or before June 30, 2021” and must “be purchased as whole loans on or before August. 31, 2021, or in MBS pools with an issue date on or before August 1, 2021.” Fannie further notes that it continues to assess the impact of the revised General QM Rule and PSPA on its policies and operations and anticipates further eligibility and underwriting requirement changes. The same day Freddie Mac also issued Bulletin 2021-13, which provides similar updates for loans with application received dates on or after July 1, 2021, and all mortgages with settlement dates after August 31, 2021.

    Federal Issues Fannie Mae Freddie Mac GSEs Mortgages Qualified Mortgage

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