Reg Relief a Reality – Now What?

Blue_Sky_CloudsOn 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.

  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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).

  4. 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.

  5. 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!


Peter



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.


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

CFPB Finalizes Rules on New RESPA & TILA Disclosures

As widely expected, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today issued the final rules to implement the “unified disclosures” required under the Dodd-Frank Act.  Rules will go into effect on August 1, 2015. Readers who have been following this blog will recall that getting to this point has been a relatively long and in-depth process, with the agency issuing several draft documents and soliciting comment from the public and industry in a process it named “know before you owe.”

The big surprise today, however, was the length of time the agency gave to industry to implement these new requirements.  A 20-month implementation period comes as a surprise, especially in light of the compressed time period the industry has been working under to implement the oft-amended ability-to-repay and qualified mortgage rules.

In a very brief overview of the final rule (I’ll be getting much more in-depth into it over the next few months to prepare next year’s CE course), it becomes apparent the reasoning behind the extended implementation widow becomes apparent:

  • There is no exemption from the rule given to small creditors, despite heavy involvement from the Independent Community Bankers of America and various State Community Bankers Associations.
  • The fairly controversial provision in the proposed rule requiring borrowers to receive the new Closing Disclosure (replacement for the current HUD-1 and final TIL disclosure) three days before closing was not removed from the final rule – over the objections and warnings of many industry trade groups.

Such a long window of preparation is likely to make beleaguered technology vendors struggling with the QM/ATR implementation – such as LOS providers like Ellie Mae and Calyx – as well as compliance consulting companies, loan pricing engines and mortgage law firms, breathe a long sigh of relief.

You can find a narrative description of the disclosure initiative, as well as links to the final disclosures and the rule itself, at:

http://www.consumerfinance.gov/blog/a-final-rule-that-makes-mortgage-disclosure-better-for-consumers/

Additionally, the CFPB will be publishing the rule in the Federal Register as required by law.

Happy originating,

Peter

GFE/TILA RULES PROPOSED BY CFPB - Big Changes to Disclosure and Settlement Statement

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau submitted the much-awaited proposed rule revamping the current GFE/TIL disclosure and HUD-1 settlement statements.  The rule will be published in the Federal Register in the next few days, and the rule will be open for public comment until November 6, 2012, (September 7, 2012 for the section dealing with APR calculation changes).

If you want to view the proposed disclosures (which I recommend you take some time to do), you can find them at the links below.

  1. New GFE/TIL combined disclosure: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201207_cfpb_loan-estimate.pdf  
  2. New settlement statement: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201207_cfpb_closing-disclosure.pdf  
  3. The full text of the rule  can be found at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201207_cfpb_proposed-rule_integrated-mortgage-disclosures.pdf

At this point, I’ve only done a cursory review of the disclosures and the rule itself (it’s 1,099 pages and was just published yesterday), so I’m not going to do an in-depth analysis yet.  However, here are some off-the-cuff highlights of the changes:

  • There is a signature line on the new combined GFE/TIL disclosure (YES!!!!)
  • There is a signature line on the new combined GFE/TIL disclosure (there are some things that bear repeating; this is one of them.)
  • A line has been added to the cost disclosure that estimates total cash-to-close!
  • The lender cost-of-funds has been added to the settlement statement, although it is now called “Approximate Cost of Funds” or ACF.  (In my opinion, this is completely useless information for borrowers because they cannot possibly affect the lender’s cost of funds, nor does the cost of funds generally have any real-world impact on their loan terms, but I don’t work for the Bureau and they don’t consult me.)
  • There is a new carve-out exemption to the need to re-disclose three business days before closing if the reason for the change in terms results from the final walk-through on a purchase transaction or if the changes are minor (result in less than $100 in increased cost.)  However, if redisclosure is required (if the change does not meet the carve-out provisions), it must be done three business days before closing; the exemption to allow for an at-closing redisclosure  for a last-minute change is eliminated.
  • HELOCs and reverse mortgages are exempt from these specific disclosure requirements.
  • Lenders who make fewer than five residential mortgage loans per year are also exempt.
  • Providing any sort of loan estimate prior to application (in other words, a non-binding cost estimate that is not done on the official form) will now require the use of a disclaimer.
  • The CFPB is soliciting comments on who should be responsible for providing the settlement disclosure – the settlement agent or the lender.  Either way, it appears the lender will be responsible for the accuracy of the form.
  • Lenders will be responsible for keeping electronic copies of all loan estimates and closing disclosures, although the CFPB is considering exempting “smaller lenders” from this provision.

After I’ve had the time to read and digest the APR calculation changes (it appears that virtually all costs will affect APR) and the balance of the rule, I’ll put together a post with more in-depth analysis.  I’m sure we’ll also have some good conversations during our CE courses this year!

****On a separate note, the Bureau also issued a proposed rule implementing the Dodd-Frank changes to HOEPA.  The new high-cost test will measure APR against the Average Prime Offer Rate instead of the Treasury yield, and the triggers will be 6.5% over the APOR (1st lien loans) and 8.5% over the APOR (subordinate lien loans); additionally, the points and fee triggers for high-cost loans will be reduced to 5% of the loan amount (you Illinois readers are already familiar with this limitation because it’s been a state law for years).  Also, remember that Dodd-Frank requires that PURCHASE MONEY LOANS AND HELOCS BE SUBJECT TO HIGH-COST REQUIREMENTS.

Happy originating!