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  • Freddie Mac Announces Guide Bulletin 2017-26 Covering Changes to Eligibility for Certain Mortgage Products

    Lending

    On November 15, Freddie Mac announced the issuance of Guide Bulletin 2017-26 (Bulletin), which, among other things, expands borrower options for mortgage financing, eases certain underwriting requirements, and adds non-discrimination language. Specifically, the Bulletin announces the availability of 5-year ARMs as a newly eligible product under “Home Possible,” “Freddie Mac Relief Refinance,” and “Financed Permanent Buydown” mortgage programs. Freddie Mac is also removing the requirement that all income reported on Home Possible Mortgage applications must be verified. Additionally, effective March 15, 2018, consistent with the FHFA Minority and Women Inclusion Amendments Final Rule, all covered sellers “must not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, marital status, disability, veteran status, genetic information (including family medical history), pregnancy, parental status, familial status, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or other characteristics protected by law.”

    Lending Freddie Mac Mortgages Fair Lending Underwriting

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  • DOJ Sues Washington State Company for Alleged SCRA Violations

    Consumer Finance

    On November 9, the DOJ filed a complaint in the Western District of Washington against a Washington company for allegedly foreclosing on servicemembers’ homes in violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). According to the DOJ’s complaint, its investigation uncovered at least 28 unlawful non-judicial foreclosures. In addition to a declaration that the company violated the SCRA, the DOJ is seeking monetary damages, a civil penalty, and injunctive relief.

    The allegations stem from an investigation the DOJ initiated into the company’s foreclosure practices following the same court’s dismissal of a private SCRA action brought by a veteran on the ground that it was time-barred. Prior to the DOJ initiating the investigation, the veteran appealed the dismissal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The DOJ filed an amicus brief in that appeal, arguing that private SCRA suits are governed by the four-year federal catch-all statute of limitations.

    Consumer Finance DOJ SCRA Foreclosure Mortgages

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  • Fannie and Freddie Introduce Extended Modifications for Disaster Relief

    Federal Issues

    On November 2, at the direction of the Federal Housing and Finance Authority (FHFA), Fannie Mae introduced in Lender Letter LL-2017-09 (Letter) a temporary forbearance mortgage loan modification (Extend Mod) for servicers with mortgage loans affected by the recent disasters. The Letter covers the requirements for an Extend Mod, including outlining loan eligibility criteria. Among other requirements, the loan must (i) be located in a FEMA-Declared Disaster Area; (ii) be less than 31 days delinquent when the disaster occurred and complete the forbearance plan while between 31 days delinquent and 360 days delinquent; (iii) not be delinquent after being previously modified with an Extend Mod from the same disaster; (iv) not be insured or guaranteed by a federal government agency; and (v) not be subject to a recourse or indemnification arrangement, another workout option, or a current repayment plan that is performing. The Letter also provides information on disbursing hazard loss draft proceeds, reimbursement for property inspections, and payment records for borrower-initiated termination of mortgage insurance.

    Under the same FHFA direction and in coordination with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac issued Guide Bulletin 2017-25 announcing the servicing requirements for the Freddie Mac Extend Modification for Disaster Relief. Both Fannie and Freddie note the deadline for implementing the Extend Mod is February 1, 2018.

    Find more InfoBytes disaster relief coverage here.

    Federal Issues Disaster Relief Mortgages Mortgage Modification Mortgage Servicing FHFA Fannie Mae Freddie Mac

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  • Fannie Mae Updates Selling Guide

    Lending

    On October 31, Fannie Mae issued Announcement SEL-2017-09, highlighting recent updates to its Selling Guide, that generally affirm the ability to conduct activity using electronic records.  Among other things, the update (i) confirms that sellers and servicers are authorized to originate, service, and modify loans using electronic records; (ii) requires that validation and security measures be put in place for systems generating electronic records; (iii) specifies that recorded mortgages and deeds of trust are not required to be maintained in paper form; and (iv) clarifies that all electronic signatures must comply with ESIGN, the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA), and other applicable laws. The updates are effective immediately.

    Additional changes address the (i) introduction of Fannie Mae’s Servicing Execution Tool and Servicing Marketplace, which are designed to improve transfers of servicing; (ii) clarification that property owned by inter vivos revocable trusts qualify as eligible collateral; and (iii) updates to policies related to mortgage debts paid by parties other than the borrower.

    Lending Fannie Mae Electronic Signatures Mortgages UETA ESIGN

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  • CFPB Releases Web-Based Tool to Track Trends in Mortgage Delinquency Rates

    Consumer Finance

    On October 30, the CFPB announced the release of a “Mortgage Performance Trends” tool that tracks delinquency rates across the nation. The tool is comprised of data from the National Mortgage Database (jointly launched by the CFPB and the FHFA in 2012) and tracks monthly changes in delinquencies in two categories – borrowers who are 30-89 days delinquent and borrowers who are 90 or more days delinquent. The tool is interactive and contains national-level data as well as data for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. According to the Bureau’s press release, the tool shows that national mortgage rates of serious delinquency rates are at their lowest level since the financial crisis.

    Consumer Finance CFPB Mortgages Federal Issues FHFA

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  • Global Securities Firm Agrees to Pay Million Dollar Penalty Related to Alleged Securities Fraud Scheme

    Federal Issues

    On October 26, the United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut announced a non-prosecution agreement between the office and a global securities firm. The resolution was a result of a government investigation, which concluded that the firm perpetrated a scheme to defraud its customers in trades of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) and collateralized loan obligations (CLOs) between 2008 and 2013. Specifically, the investigation alleges that the firm, (i) misrepresented material facts in trades and monetarily benefited from the misrepresentations; (ii) instructed traders to use fraudulent trading practices; (iii) lied to affected customers who suspected the fraudulent activity; (iv) ignored complaints from its own employees regarding the fraudulent activity; (v) deceived rival broker-dealers in trades by using a purportedly independent propriety trading operation; and (vi) concealed the fraudulent conduct from customers and employees in order to prevent or delay discovery.

    The agreement, which was entered into on October 25, requires that the firm pay a $35 million monetary penalty and pay around $9 million in restitution to affected customers.

    Federal Issues RMBS Mortgages Investigations

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  • VA Extends Foreclosure Moratorium Following Hurricane Disasters; Federal Agencies Issue Appraisal Exceptions; Freddie Mac Extends Temporary Selling Requirements Related to Wildfire Areas

    Federal Issues

    Hurricane Relief. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is extending the foreclosure moratorium on properties affected by the recent hurricanes. For disaster areas impacted by Harvey, Irma, and Maria, the VA is updating the original circulars to change the 90-day moratorium to 180 days (a complete list of change notices can be found here).

    On October 24, the FDIC, Federal Reserve, National Credit Union Administration, and the OCC issued a temporary exception to the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) appraisal requirements for areas affected by the recent hurricanes. More specifically, the FDIC's Financial institution Letter states that the agency will not require financial institutions to obtain appraisals for affected transactions, if (i) the properties involved are located in areas declared major disasters; (ii) there are binding commitments to fund the transactions within 36 months of the date the areas were declared major disasters; and (iii) the value of the real properties support the institutions' decisions to enter into the transactions.

    California Wildfire Relief. On October 25, Freddie Mac released Guide Bulletin 2017-24 extending the temporary selling requirements applied to hurricane disaster areas to eligible disaster areas impacted by the California wildfires. As previously covered by InfoBytes, Freddie Mac is requiring servicers to suspend foreclosure sales and eviction activities and has agreed to reimburse sellers for certain property inspections for property located in eligible disaster areas.

    Here is a complete list of InfoBytes disaster relief coverage.

    Federal Issues Disaster Relief Department of Veterans Affairs Freddie Mac Mortgages Lending FDIC FIRREA

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  • FinCEN Encourages Communication from Financial Institutions Affected by the California Wildfires; FDIC Offers Regulatory Relief; FHA Extends Foreclosure Moratorium

    Federal Issues

    California Wildfire Relief. On October 19, FinCEN announced that financial institutions affected by the California wildfires should contact FinCEN and their functional regulator regarding any delays in their ability to file Bank Secrecy Act reports and to keep FinCEN and the regulators apprised of subsequent changes in their circumstances.

    On October 20, the FDIC announced steps to provide regulatory relief to financial institutions and facilitate recovery in areas of California affected by recent wildfires. The FDIC is encouraging banks to work constructively with borrowers affected by the wildfires, including extending repayment terms, restructuring existing loans, or easing terms for new loans. The FDIC noted that financial institutions may receive favorable Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) consideration in support of disaster recovery and will consider regulatory relief from certain filing and publishing requirements.

    Hurricane Relief. On October 20, HUD issued an additional 90-day extension of the initial disaster foreclosure moratorium for FHA mortgaged properties located in specified areas impacted by the recent hurricanes. The foreclosure moratorium applies to the initiation of foreclosures and foreclosures already in process. The new extended dates are as follows: February 21, 2018 for Hurricane Harvey, March 9, 2018 for Hurricane Irma, and March 19, 2018 for Hurricane Maria.

    As previously discussed in InfoBytes, several federal agencies have announced regulatory relief for victims of recent natural disasters.

    Federal Issues Disaster Relief FinCEN Bank Secrecy Act FDIC FHA Foreclosure Mortgages HUD

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  • FHFA Includes a Language Preference Question in the Universal Residential Loan Application

    Lending

    On October 20, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that it would include a language preference question on its updated Universal Residential Loan Application (URLA). The question will allow borrowers to indicate if they prefer to communicate in a language other than English and to identify that language. In response to industry concerns, in the preferred language question text, FHFA includes disclosure language that informs borrowers their response will not negatively affect their application, indicates a preferred language does not mean the lender agrees to communicate in that language, and provides language assistance resources.

    FHFA plans to issue the new URLA form later this year, which will go into effect beginning in July 2019. The form will be mandatory for loans made by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac beginning in February 2020.

    Lending Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FHFA URLA Fair Lending Mortgages Fannie Mae Freddie Mac

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  • NYDFS Announces Two New Regulations Targeting Title Insurance Practices

    State Issues

    On October 17, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) adopted two final regulations designed to stop “unscrupulous practices” in the title insurance industry. The final regulations—which are the culmination of a NYDFS’ investigation into the practices of title insurers—supersede “emergency” versions of both regulations that went into effect earlier this year. (See previously InfoBytes coverage here.) Specifically, the first rule clarifies that certain “reasonable and customary” advertising and marketing expenses will be permitted provided “they are without regard to insured status or conditioned directly or indirectly on the referral of title business.” Meals, entertainment, and other forms of inducements are prohibited. According to a NYDFS press release, the state’s “anti-inducement statute is not limited to situations in which there is a direct quid pro quo for business.” The second rule requires, among other things, that title insurance companies or agents function independently from any affiliates through which they generate a portion of their business and make “good faith” efforts to accept business from non-affiliate sources.

    State Issues Consumer Finance NYDFS Kickback Title Insurance Mortgages

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