On May 24, the President signed the Senate bill known as the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act (S.2155). You may have read a previous article I wrote that summarized the key points in this piece of legislation. However it’s worthwhile to reexamine them here before using a proven scientific method to predict what will happen next in the world of mortgage regulation.
Keep in mind that, while there are some significant provisions in this bill that benefit both consumers and the mortgage industry, the regulatory structure and disclosure regimes you’re used to at the federal level have not been affected. The CFPB is still the CFPB (albeit with a radically different approach to its mission under Acting Director Mulvaney), TRID is still TRID and the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is still 42.
So, without further ado, here are the five parts of this much larger bill that are likely to affect originators and mortgage compliance professionals.
- Transitional MLO licensing. Without a doubt, this is the most important change for anyone on the front lines of our business, and one that the Mortgage Bankers Association has been advocating since the SAFE Act went into effect. The provision gives MLOs who work for depositories a 120-day window to originate loans after transitioning to a nonbank while securing their state license, meaning they would not need to lose valuable work time and income fulfilling the licensing provisions before speaking to consumers. This same 120-day grace period will also apply to currently licensed originators who wish to obtain a license in another state.
- A small bank exemption from expanded HMDA reporting. Banks that originate fewer than 500 HELOCs and closed-end mortgages in a year have been exempted from reporting the expanded HMDA data points that went into effect with originations after January 1, 2018. Despite what you may have heard, this does NOT exempt these institutions from Regulation C altogether, merely from reporting the new data points such as disaggregated demographic information. This provision does not make any changes for other institutions, including nonbanks.
- Eliminating the need for an additional 3-day waiting period when the APR decreases. Before you jump for joy at this one, the legislative language applies directly only to High-Cost mortgage loans. Although given the current leadership at the Bureau, it is likely to clarify through regulation or official interpretation that the same provision applies to loans that are not High-Cost as well (the Bureau has taken that position informally since TRID was enacted).
- Allowing consumers to freeze their credit reports without cost. This provision is a direct result of the massive Equifax data breach that shook the country in 2017. While credit freezes (that stop anyone from accessing a consumer’s credit file) have been around since the passage of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, there has been a cost associated with them. Removing this cost will likely lead to more consumers placing freezes on their reports (and more MLOs needing to ask clients to unfreeze them to proceed with an application). Under the law, the bureaus are also required to inform consumers that these no-cost freezes are available.
- Providing Qualified Mortgage protection to bank portfolio loans. Depository institutions with assets under $10 billion receive QM protection on loans that they retain in portfolio without needing to follow all the documentation requirements in Appendix Q of the Qualified Mortgage rule. Before you start reliving 2007 however, keep in mind that such loans will still require verification of applicant income and assets, comply with prepayment penalty restrictions in the QM rule and not carry any interest-only or negative amortization features.
Where do we go from here?
While Congress is likely done with financial regulatory issues (at least for this session), the CFPB is, of course, under no pre-midterm election pressure. In fact, they’re scheduled to reexamine the QM Rule in 2018 due to the mandatory five-year review period specified in the Dodd-Frank Act. We know through various speaking engagements by Acting Director Mulvaney that this process is likely to lead to significant changes to the rule, although the scope and extent of those changes are not yet known. One of the areas of the rule that seems ripe for change is the 43% Debt-to-Income requirement exemption given to loans eligible for sale to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Remember, this exception is temporary and is currently scheduled to sunset in January 2021. Thus, if not extended or made permanent, Fannie and Freddie loans would begin to be subject to the 43% DTI cap for QMs at that time. This could have a big effect on the marketplace by moving otherwise qualified loans out of the conventional conforming space and into FHA (adding risk to taxpayers), so look for this to be one of the focal points in an amended QM rule.
While we’re on the topic of regulation, remember the United States has a dual regulatory system where both federal and state governments have a say in regulating many financial services entities. It’s very likely that, as the CFPB pulls back on certain regulations, some states will move to continue or tighten them. Thus, compliance managers and MLOs alike need to remain focused on statehouses across the country for potential changes affecting rules in states in which they are licensed. This is especially true if there are leadership changes at the state level as a result of the off-year election results in November.
See you next month!
Real Estate Institute offers top-rated Mortgage Loan Originator Continuing Education and Pre-License courses in all three formats: Classroom, Live Webinar and Online, Self-Study. These courses were designed BY loan originators FOR loan originators covering topics you need to know to navigate today’s ever-changing lending landscape.