HVCC – Not Yet Gone and Certainly Not Forgotten

Since news of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act swept across America this summer, it seems that the only provision that met with almost universal support from the mortgage industry is the elimination of the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) – the appraiser independence provisions whose unintended consequences have been plaguing transactions for nearly a year now.  In the bill is contained a well known and much celebrated provision that automatically sunsets HVCC.  Less well-known, however, is the clause that says the HVCC sunset will not occur until regulations are released to enforce the appraisal independence provisions required under the Dodd-Frank bill – currently scheduled to be “on or about October 21, 2010”.  In other words, anyone who thought we were going back to the pre-HVCC business model is mistaken.

If you’ve been around the industry since HVCC went into effect, you know that there have been multiple petitions circulating concerning the law and countless columns written by mortgage and real estate professionals about the problems with HVCC and how to fix them.  Although the fixes seem second-nature to those of us who make our careers in home sales and/or finance, the concern has always been that the people issuing the regulations are not industry professionals.  While that in and of itself is not a problem, we must hope that they listen to input from the professionals who have witnessed first-hand the problems that have been caused directly by HVCC.  Some of those problems include higher costs to consumers and appraisers working outside areas with which they are familiar resulting in less accurate reports and increased processing time for loans.

On Friday, in a little-noticed release from Fannie Mae, we got a glimpse of how things are progressing.  In the notice, Fannie reminds all of its lender partners that HVCC remains in effect until new regulations are released and that “Fannie Mae is working with the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to develop and adopt appraiser independence requirements that will replace HVCC.”  Fannie Mae states that it has received input from key industry participants.  The statement in the release that warrants some concern (if you are an industry professional) is the one that says, “Updated requirements are expected to be substantially similar to the current provisions.”  We’re wondering what “substantially similar” means.  We’ll have to wait until “on or about October 21, 2010” to find out.  You can be certain that we’ll have a post as soon as the news hits the wire.

Stay tuned.

Latest SAFE Test Pass Rates & FHFA goals for 2010-2011

On Thursday morning, the NMLS released new statistics regarding the pass rate for mortgage loan originators taking the national and state components of the SAFE Exam.  The pass rates on the national component aren’t improving.  In fact, they’re getting worse.  For the national component, as of August 31, 2010, only 70% of first-time test takers are passing the exam.  This has slipped from the previous report which showed that 71% were passing.  Like in previous reports, the “fail once, fail again” trend is evident, as the re-take pass rate remains at 44%.  Folks taking the various state components are faring better, with a first-time pass rate of 82% (up from 80% in June) and a re-take pass rate of 46% (up from 44% in June). 

If you haven’t taken your national or state SAFE exams, TIME IS RUNNING OUT!  Remember, if you fail you must wait 30 days before re-taking the exam.  Don’t put yourself in the position where if you fail the exam you can’t work.  Taking the pre-license or continuing education courses before you take the exams will help you prepare.  Supplementing with self-study material that is current and follows the entire NMLS content outlines is probably your best weapon.  Years of experience will not sufficiently prepare you to pass.  Finally, it seems that availability times are filling up fast at the various test centers.  BE SMART – schedule your exam TODAY!

Also worthy of note, yesterday the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released its 2010-2011 goals for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Agencies) with respect to affordable housing.  The 71-page rule is effective on October 14th and can be found in the Federal Register.  It will appear in the Code of Federal Regulations at 12 CFR 1249.  Just a few highlights:

For 2010 and 2011:

  • Purchase money mortgages for low income homebuyers (defined as household income less than 80% of the area median income) should account for at least 27 percent of all of the purchase money mortgages purchased by the Agencies.
  • Purchase money mortgages for very low income homebuyers (defined as household income less than 30% of the area median income) should account for at least 8 percent of all of the purchase money mortgages purchased by the Agencies.
  • Purchase money mortgages for properties located in low income census tracts (LICTs) or for moderate income families in minority census tracts should account for at least 13 percent of all of the purchase money mortgages purchased by the Agencies.
  • Refinance mortgages for low income homeowners should account for at least 21 percent of all of the refinance mortgages purchased by the agencies.

These goals are for single family, owner-occupied units only.  There are other goals for multi-family housing and financing for rental units as well.