Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

Dart_on_FireThey say that every person needs a passion and/or a hobby. I have two, one of which is regulatory compliance in mortgage lending. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make any of the various approved lists of hobbies for men, which is likely why I’m often found alone next to the bar or canape table at cocktail parties. (However, my other passion, darts, does make several of the lists, so there’s that.)

Thankfully, there is a support group where people like me can get their daily dose of various and sundry compliance scenario questions to mull over and comment upon. It’s an email listserv called RegList, and it has some of the most brilliant compliance minds in the country on it. In fact, if your job description includes anything related to mortgage compliance, I recommend you join us; membership is currently FREE, and we even get together for the occasional cocktail at various industry conferences (canapes optional). Just remember, what happens in compliance stays in compliance.

Recently, there was a question posted to the group that got me thinking about how much MLOs really understand about the requirements and timelines for TRID disclosures. It involved a situation where the borrower received a revised loan estimate four business days prior to closing (the last day that a revised LE can be provided under TRID) but did not SIGN the LE until the next day, which is the same day they received the Closing Disclosure.

The ultimate question was, can a borrower SIGN a revised LE on the same day they RECEIVE the initial CD, and the reason I’m discussing it here is there’s a very real possibility that you’ll encounter this exact scenario on one of your files.

To answer this question, we need to look to Section 1026.19(e)(4)(ii) of Regulation Z, which states, in part, “the creditor shall not provide a revised version of the… [Loan Estimate] … on or after the date on which the creditor provides the… [Closing Disclosure]. The consumer must receive any revised version of the…[Loan Estimate]…not later than four business days prior to consummation.” (All emphasis mine.)

Here’s where I think MLOs and others who are not interacting with the rule on a daily basis may get confused: The words PROVIDE and RECEIVE are NOT synonymous with the word SIGN. In fact, Section 1026.37(n) of Regulation Z and the official commentary to this section of the rule make it clear that a signature is not required on the Loan Estimate! The creditor is free to include a signature line for the consumer to “confirm receipt” of the disclosure or NOT to include it at its sole discretion.

Yes, as a matter of course, virtually all creditors elect to use the version of the form with the signature line because it enables them to more easily track timelines and sell loans to certain investors. However, from a pure compliance perspective, it makes no difference when – or indeed even IF – the borrower actually signs the document. Thus, as long as the creditor can prove that the borrower RECEIVED the revised LE at least four business days prior to closing, providing the CD on the same day the borrower signs the revised LE is compliant so long as the CD meets all other timing requirements. Keep in mind that, if you’re providing these disclosures electronically, you must comply with all requirements in the federal E-SIGN Act regarding consent and delivery.

This is just another example of why our compliance management systems (CMS) are so important. While some investors may initially be unwilling to purchase the loan described above simply because of the signature date on the revised LE, being able to provide proof that the LE and CD were DELIVERED in accordance with Regulation Z requirements may save you from a dreaded buyback or unsaleable loan scenario.

Happy originating,
Peter


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TILA-RESPA DISCLOSURE RULE – VERBAL CLARIFICATION FROM CFPB ON DOC REQUESTS AT PRE-APPROVAL

If you’ve taken Real Estate Institute’s 2014 CE class, you know there have been some questions raised regarding the borrower providing documentation to the creditor before receiving the new Loan Estimate under the rules that take effect on August 1, 2015.  Specifically, the question was how pre-approvals would be conducted given the language in Section 1026.19(e)(2)(iii) of Regulation Z going into effect next year, which states:

“The creditor or other person shall not require a consumer to submit documents verifying information related to the consumer’s application before providing the disclosures required by paragraph (e)(1)(i) of this section.” (Referring to the Loan Estimate.)

The official comments to the rule further state:

“A mortgage broker may ask for the names, account numbers, and balances of the consumer’s checking and savings accounts, but the mortgage broker may not require the consumer to provide bank statements, or similar documentation, to support the information the consumer provides orally before the mortgage broker provides the disclosures required by § 1026.19(e)(1)(i).” (Comment 19(e)(2)(iii) to the TILA-RESPA Rule)

As our instructors have mentioned in class, I wrote a letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau some months ago asking for clarification on this section of the rule.  Specifically, I was concerned about the CFPB’s interpretation of the word “required” and whether a lender or broker would be in violation of the rule if we went through the typical pre-approval process as it exists in 2014.

I’m pleased to report that I received a call from Jeff Riley at the CFPB and had a lengthy discussion with him about this issue.  Jeff provided verbal clarification* that it is permissible for creditors/brokers to REQUEST information and documentation from the borrower prior to providing a loan estimate, including at the pre-approval stage.  However, the borrower cannot be REQUIRED to provide documentation before a creditor (or broker on behalf of a creditor) provides a loan estimate, nor can the collecting any of the six pieces of information that constitute an application be intentionally delayed until the borrower provides the documentation.  Put simply, if borrowers verbally provide you the six pieces of information (name, income, Social Security number, subject property address, estimate of value of the subject property and the desired loan amount), you must provide a loan estimate within three business days even if they refuse to furnish any documentation to substantiate what they verbally disclose.

What’s the takeaway here?  Carry on with your pre-approvals as you normally would after August 1, 2015.  Obtaining documentation from the borrower in order to issue a pre-approval would not appear to put you in violation of the TILA-RESPA rule (although I would certainly avoid giving the impression through verbal or non-verbal clues that any documentation is “required” or “mandatory”).  Also, if borrowers want to give you all of the required information verbally, don’t stop them from doing so until you’ve seen documents, as that would be a violation of the rule.

*NOTE – Verbal clarification is NOT official staff guidance or an official interpretation of the rule by the CFPB.  I encourage all readers to consult with a qualified attorney on all matters of law or regulation.  I am not an attorney (nor do I play one on TV), and no blog post can or should substitute for competent legal counsel.

Happy originating!

Peter

Federal Reserve Webinar on Proposed Ability to Repay Rules Announced

The Federal Reserve has announced that they will be holding a free webinar to discuss the proposed rules amending Regulation Z of the Truth-in-Lending Act regarding evaluating a consumer’s ability to repay a mortgage loan and limiting prepayment penalties.

The webinar will be held on May 26, 2011 from 1:00 – 2:00 Central Time

You can register for the webinar here

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