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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

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  • FSOC issues final guidance on nonbank designations; highlights key risks in annual report

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On December 4, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) issued final interpretive guidance to revise and update 2012 guidance concerning nonbank financial company designations. According to Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, the guidance “enhances [FSOC’s] ability to identify, assess, and respond to potential risks to U.S. financial stability. . . by promoting careful analysis and creating a more streamlined process.” Among other things, the guidance (i) implements an activities-based approach for identifying, assessing, and addressing potential risks and threats to financial stability in the U.S., allowing FSOC to work with federal and state financial regulators to implement appropriate actions when a potential risk is identified; (ii) enhances the analytic framework for potential nonbank financial company designations, which includes a cost-benefit analysis and a review of the likelihood of a company’s material financial distress determined by its vulnerability to a range of factors; and (iii) enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of the nonbank financial company designation process by condensing the process into two stages and increasing “engagement with and transparency to” companies under review, as well as their regulators, through the creation of pre- and post-designation off ramps.

    FSOC also released its 2019 annual report to Congress, which reviews financial market developments, identifies emerging risks, and offers recommendations to enhance financial stability. Key highlights include:

    • Cybersecurity. FSOC states that “[g]reater reliance on technology, particularly across a broader array of interconnected platforms, increases the risk that a cybersecurity event will have severe consequences for financial institutions.” Among other things, FSOC recommends continued robust, comprehensive cybersecurity monitoring, and supports the development of public and private partnerships to “increase coordination of cybersecurity examinations across regulatory authorities.”
    • Nonbank Mortgage Origination and Servicing. The report adds the increasing share of mortgages held by nonbank mortgage companies to its list of concerns. FSOC notes that of the 25 largest originators and servicers, nonbanks originate roughly 51 percent of mortgages and service approximately 47 percent—a notable increase from 2009 where nonbanks only originated 10 percent of mortgages and serviced just 6 percent. FSOC states that risks in nonbank origination and servicing arise because most nonbanks have limited liquidity as compared to banks and rely more on short-term funding, among other things. FSOC recommends that federal and state regulators continue to coordinate efforts to collect data, identify risks, and strengthen oversight of nonbanks in this space.
    • Financial Innovation. The report discusses the benefits of new financial products and practices, but cautions that these may also create new risks and vulnerabilities. FSOC recommends that these products and services—particularly digital assets and distributed ledger technology—should be continually monitored and analyzed to understand their effects on consumers, regulated entities, and financial markets. 

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FSOC Nonbank Mortgages Mortgage Origination Mortgage Servicing Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Fintech

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  • CFPB report compares large and small mortgage servicers

    Federal Issues

    On November 21, the CFPB released a new Data Point report from the Office of Research titled, “Servicer Size in the Mortgage Market,” which examines the differences between large and small mortgage servicers in the mortgage market. The report considers mortgage servicers in three size categories, (i) “small servicers” that service 5,000 or fewer loans; (ii) “mid-sized servicers” that service between 5,000 and 30,000 loans; and (iii) “large servicers” that service more than 30,000 loans.” Key findings of the report include:

    • Only five percent of loans at small servicers are insured by FHA or guaranteed by the VA, the Farm Service Agency, or the Rural Housing Service, whereas such loans account for about 25 percent of loans at mid-sized and large servicers.
    • Less than one-third of conventional loans are serviced on behalf of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac at small servicers, whereas at large servicers, over 75 percent of conventional loans are serviced for Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
    • Small servicers service the majority of loans in a number of rural counties in the U.S., particularly in the Midwest.
    • From 2012 to 2018, delinquency rates of loans at large and small servicers generally converged, as compared to mortgage crisis levels when delinquency rates for loans serviced by small services were much lower than at mid-sized and large servicers.
    • In response to a survey, 74 percent of borrowers with mortgages at small servicers said having a branch or office nearby was important, compared to 44 percent of borrowers with mortgages at large servicers.

    Federal Issues CFPB Mortgages Mortgage Servicing

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  • FDIC quarterly looks at growth in nonbank lending

    Federal Issues

    On November 14, the FDIC released its latest issue of the FDIC Quarterly, which analyzes the U.S. banking system and focuses on changes occurring since the 2008 financial crisis, particularly within nonbank lending growth. The three reports—published by the FDIC’s Division of Insurance and Research—“address the shift in some lending from banks to nonbanks; how corporate borrowing has moved between banks and capital markets; and the migration of some home mortgage origination and servicing from banks to nonbanks.”

    • Bank and Nonbank Lending Over the Past 70 Years notes that total lending in the U.S. has grown dramatically since the 1950s, with a shift in bank lending that reflects the growth of nonbank loan holders as nonbanks have gained market share in residential mortgage and corporate lending. The report states that in 2017, nonbanks represented 53 percent of mortgages originated by HMDA filers, and originated a significant volume of loans for sale to the GSEs. Mortgage servicing also saw a shift from banks to nonbanks, with nonbanks holding “42 percent of mortgage servicing rights held by the top 25 servicers in 2018.” The report also discusses shifts in lending for commercial real estate, agricultural loans, consumer credit, and auto loans, and notes that bank lending to nondepository financial institutions has grown from roughly $50 billion in 2010 to $442 billion in the second quarter of 2019.
    • Leveraged Lending and Corporate Borrowing: Increased Reliance on Capital Markets, With Important Bank Links examines the shift in corporate borrowing from banks to nonbanks, with nonfinancial corporations “relying more on capital markets and less on bank loans as a funding source.” The report also, among other things, discusses resulting risks and notes that “[d]espite the concentration of corporate debt in nonbank credit markets, banks still face both direct and indirect exposure to corporate debt risks.”
    • Trends in Mortgage Origination and Servicing: Nonbanks in the Post-Crisis Period examines changes to the mortgage market post 2007, including the migration outside of the banking system of a substantive share of mortgage origination and servicing. The report also discusses trends within the mortgage industry, key characteristics of nonbank originators and servicers, potential risks posed by nonbanks, as well as potential implications the migration to nonbanks may pose for banks and the financial system. Specifically, the report lists several factors contributing to the resurgence of nonbanks in mortgage origination and servicing, including (i) crisis-era legacy portfolio litigation at bank originators; (ii) more aggressive nonbank expansion (iii) nonbanks’ technological innovations and mortgage-focused business models; (iv) large banks’ sales of crisis-era legacy servicing portfolios due to servicing deficiencies and other difficulties; and (v) capital treatment changes to mortgage servicing assets applicable to banks. The report emphasizes, however, that “[c]hanging mortgage market dynamics and new risks and uncertainties warrant investigation of potential implications for systemic risk.”

    Federal Issues FDIC Nonbank Mortgage Origination Mortgage Servicing Mortgages Nonbank Lending

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  • CFPB issues latest fair lending report to Congress

    Federal Issues

    On June 28, the CFPB issued its seventh fair lending report to Congress, which outlines the Bureau’s efforts in 2018 to fulfill its fair lending mandate. According to the report, in 2018, the Bureau continued to focus on promoting fair, equitable, and nondiscriminatory access to credit, highlighting several fair lending priorities that continued from years past such as mortgage origination, mortgage servicing, and small business lending. The Bureau also noted two new focus areas for fair lending examinations or investigations: (i) student loan origination, specifically, whether there is discrimination in underwriting and pricing; and (ii) debt collection and model use, specifically, whether there is discrimination in governing auto servicing and credit card collections, including the use of models that predict recovery outcomes. Additionally, the report highlighted several other Bureau activities from 2018, including, among other things (i) issuing guidance to facilitate the implementation of the August 2018 HMDA final rule (covered by InfoBytes here); and (ii) recommending supervisory reviews of third-party credit scoring models, noting that the “use of alternative data and modeling techniques may expand access to credit or lower credit cost and, at the same time, present fair lending risks.”

    Federal Issues Fair Lending CFPB Mortgage Origination Mortgage Servicing Small Business Lending Student Lending Debt Collection Alternative Data

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  • Maryland amends statute of limitations for UDAP actions against mortgage servicers

    State Issues

    On May 25, the Maryland governor signed HB 0425, which amends the state’s statute of limitations applicable to certain civil actions relating to unfair, abusive, or deceptive trade practices (UDAP) filed against a mortgage servicer. Specifically, the bill requires that an action filed by a homeowner alleging damages arising out of a UDAP violation shall be filed within the earlier of: (i) 5 years after a foreclosure sale of the residential property; or (ii) 3 years after the mortgage servicer discloses its UDAP violation to the homeowner. The bill is effective October 1.

    State Issues State Legislation UDAP Mortgage Servicing Mortgages Foreclosure

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  • 11th Circuit continues flood insurance action against mortgage servicer

    Courts

    On May 8, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the dismissal of a consumer’s putative class action against her reverse mortgage servicer for the alleged improper placement of flood insurance on her home. The consumer claimed violations of the FDCPA and multiple Florida laws, including the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA), based on allegations that the mortgage servicer improperly executed lender-placed flood insurance on her property, even though the condo association had flood insurance covering the property. The lender-placed flood insurance resulted in $5,200 in premiums added to the balance of the loan, and an increase in financing costs on the mortgage. The district court dismissed the action, concluding the mortgage servicer was required by federal law to purchase the flood insurance and the monthly account statements were not collection letters under the FDCPA or state law.

    On appeal, the 11th Circuit agreed with the district court that the monthly account statements of the reverse mortgage, which prominently stated “this is not a bill” in bold, uppercase letters, and did not request or demand payment, were not an attempt to collect a debt under the FDCPA. Additionally, the appellate court concluded that the consumer failed to allege the mortgage servicer was a debt collector within the meaning of the FDCPA because the complaint does not allege that the debt was in default. The appellate court also affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the state debt collection claims for similar reasons. However, the appellate court reversed the district court’s dismissal of the consumer’s FDUTPA claims, noting that the mortgage servicer failed to cite to a state or federal law requiring it to purchase flood insurance “when it has reason to know that the borrower is maintaining adequate coverage” in the form a condo association insurance.  

    Courts Force-placed Insurance Flood Insurance Reverse Mortgages State Issues Mortgage Servicing Mortgages FDCPA Appellate Eleventh Circuit

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  • Texas Court of Appeals affirms summary judgment for loan servicer and bank

    Courts

    On April 15, the Texas Court of Appeals affirmed a grant of summary judgment in favor of appellees, a loan servicer and a national bank acting as a trustee, concluding, among other things, that the appellant homeowner failed to provide sufficient evidence to support her claims that the appellees violated the Texas Debt Collection Act (TDCA) and Texas Deceptive Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act (DTPA). According to the opinion, the homeowner—who defaulted on a loan that was referred to foreclosure—filed a lawsuit to stop the foreclosure sale, alleging that the defendants made “fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading representations” under the TDCA by allegedly failing to (i) provide an accurate accounting of received payments and credits; (ii) apply received payments; (iii) clearly disclose “the name of the person to whom the debt had been assigned or was owed when making a demand for money”; (iv) provide requested documentation regarding the assignment of the promissory note; and (v) provide proper prior notice to the appellant concerning the foreclosure proceedings. Additionally, the appellant further alleged that the appellees violated the DTPA by using fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading representations in the collection of appellant’s debt. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, and the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s decision. With respect to the appellant’s TDCA claims, the appellate court held, among other things, that first, the homeowner failed to show that the appellees made affirmative misrepresentations concerning the loan’s character or amount; second, failure to apply payments is not specifically a “‘prohibited misleading practice’” under the TDCA; and third, the appellees provided evidence showing the homeowner was “appropriately notified” of her default, and that under the TDCA, “service is completed upon deposit in the mail, not actual receipt.” With respect to the appellant’s DTPA claim, the appellate court held that the DTPA only applies to the acquisition of goods and services by lease or purchase and that loan servicing, foreclosure, and loan modification activities are not goods or services under the DTPA.

    Courts Debt Collection Mortgage Servicing Foreclosure Appellate

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  • 11th Circuit: SOL begins on date of mortgage loan acceleration

    Courts

    On March 11, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of a consumer’s FDCPA action. The consumer alleged that his mortgage servicer violated the FDCPA by attempting to collect overdue payments beyond Florida’s five-year statute of limitations for foreclosure actions. According to the opinion, the consumer “stopped paying his mortgage in 2008 and has not made payments since then.” In 2009, the servicer invoked an acceleration clause and attempted to foreclose on the property, but the foreclosure action was dismissed in 2011. In 2015, the servicer sent another notice of default, accelerated the debt once again, and filed a second foreclosure action seeking the entire debt, including all delinquent payments since 2008. The consumer filed suit, arguing that the servicer, by seeking pre-2010 debt in 2015, violated the FDCPA’s prohibition on the collection of time-barred debts. The lower court dismissed the action.

    On appeal, the 11th Circuit held that the pre-2010 debt sought in the 2015 foreclosure action “was not time-barred as a matter of law” and therefore did not violate the FDCPA. The 11th Circuit found that Florida’s five-year statute of limitations does not necessarily bar the recovery of payments that were originally due more than five years prior to the filing of the foreclosure action. Instead, any time a consumer defaults and the servicer invokes an acceleration clause, the entire debt “comes due” and the five-year clock starts to run.

    Courts FDCPA Mortgage Servicing Eleventh Circuit Appellate Debt Collection

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  • Montana adds capital and net worth requirements for mortgage servicers and originators

    State Issues

    On March 19, the Montana governor signed HB 107, which amends the Montana Mortgage Act to, among other things, add capital requirements for mortgage servicers and net worth requirements for mortgage originators licensed in the state. The bill provides that a failure to meet or maintain the outlined standards could result in a license application denial or the suspension or revocation of a current license. Additionally, the bill adds a definition for mortgage “servicer providers” and authorizes the banking division of the Montana Department of Administration to adopt rules to (i) define false, deceptive, or misleading advertising; and (ii) establish requirements for licensee advertising using the internet. The bill is effective October 1.

    State Issues Licensing Mortgage Origination Mortgage Servicing Mortgages State Legislation

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  • CFPB issues winter 2019 Supervisory Highlights

    Federal Issues

    On March 12, the CFPB released its winter 2019 Supervisory Highlights, which outlines its supervisory and enforcement actions in the areas of auto loan servicing, deposits, mortgage servicing, and remittances. The findings of the report cover examinations that generally were completed between June 2018 and November 2018. Highlights of the examination findings include:

    • Auto Loan Servicing. The Bureau determined that attempts to collect miscalculated deficiency balances from extended warranty products were unfair. The Bureau also found that deficiency notices were deceptive where eligible rebates were not sought or applied, although the notice purported to be calculated to include such rebates.
    • Deposits. The Bureau found that companies engaged in a deceptive act or practice by failing to adequately disclose that when a payee accepts only a paper check through the institutions online bill-pay service, a debit may occur earlier than the date selected by the consumer.
    • Mortgage Servicing. The Bureau noted several issues related to mortgage servicing, including servicers (i) charging consumers late fees greater than the amount permitted by mortgage notes; (ii) misrepresenting the reasons PMI could not be cancelled; and (iii) failing to complete loss mitigation applications with “reasonable diligence.”
    • Remittances. The Bureau determined that remittance transfer providers erred when they failed to refund fees and taxes when funds were not made available to recipients by the date listed in the disclosure and the mistake did not result from one of the exceptions listed in the Remittance Rule.

    The report notes that in response to most examination findings, the companies have already remediated or have plans to remediate affected consumers, and implement corrective actions, such as new policies and procedures.

    Lastly, the report also highlights recent public enforcement actions and guidance documents issued by the Bureau.

    Federal Issues CFPB Supervision Compliance Mortgage Servicing Auto Finance Remittance Brokered Deposits

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