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  • Massachusetts Regulator Offers Interpretation of Mortgage Loan Originator Exclusivity Requirement

    State Issues

    On May 10, the Division of Banks of the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations (Division) issued a letter determining that a professional employer organization (PEO) may provide limited human resources services to Massachusetts licensed mortgage lenders and brokers without violating an exclusivity requirement governing the employment of mortgage loan originators in the Commonwealth. The exclusivity requirement prohibits Massachusetts licensed mortgage loan originators from being employed by more than one “entity,” which, as defined by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 255F, Section 4(b), effectively prohibits a mortgage loan originator from being employed by more than one mortgage lender or broker. The opinion letter stems from a request made last year from a Massachusetts-based human resources service provider (Service Provider) inquiring as to whether the exclusivity requirement prohibits Massachusetts licensed mortgage lenders and brokers employing mortgage loan originators from outsourcing human resource services. The Service Provider—operating as a PEO—stated that it provides human resources services to small business clients, and while it is deemed the “employer” of the client's employees solely for designated human resource functions, the client remains the employer for all other purposes. Because of this, and since the Service Provider offers functions that are unrelated to a loan originator's mortgage industry work, the Division asserted “that the exclusivity provision . . . operates to limit a mortgage loan originator to a single licensed mortgage broker or lender for purposes of the originator's mortgage industry work.” Accordingly, the Division concluded that the Service Provider may provide its services to Massachusetts licensed mortgage lenders and brokers without violating the exclusivity requirement.

    State Issues Mortgage Origination Mortgage Lenders

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  • Maryland and Tennessee Expand Use of Reporting Requirements for Money Services Businesses

    State Issues

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, the Nationwide Licensing System (NMLS) for Money Services Businesses (MSBs) recently unveiled the MSB Call Report that standardizes and streamlines routine reporting requirements for state-licensed MSBs. On April 18, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed into law HB 182, which requires specified licensees to obtain and maintain a valid unique identifier and transfer licensing information to the NMLS. The law will go into effect July 1, 2017. Among those who must now register with NMLS are check cashers, collection agencies, consumer lenders, debt management service providers, credit service businesses, and sales finance companies. Licenses for mortgage lenders, mortgage originators, and money transmitters are already processed through NMLS. The Commissioner of Financial Regulation is charged with establishing a time period that is “not less 2 months within which a licensee must transfer licensing information to the NMLS.” Furthermore, at least 30 days before the transfer period begins, the Commissioner shall notify all licensees of the transfer period and provide instructions for the transfer of licensing information to NMLS.

    On April 12, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam enacted SB 1202, authorizing Tennessee’s Department of Financial Institutions to license industrial loan and thrift companies, title lenders, and individuals regulated under the Check Cashing Act or the Premium Finance Company Act through a multi-state automated licensing system. The law allows for the sharing of information—subject to specified confidentiality requirements—with state and federal regulatory officials having consumer finance industry oversight authority or finance industry oversight. Licenses for these types of entities will expire on December 31 of each year. The law includes staged effective dates, the first being July 1, 2017.

    State Issues Consumer Finance Lending NMLS Mortgage Origination Licensing

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  • Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System Unveils New Money Services Businesses Call Report

    State Issues

    On April 1, the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS) Money Services Businesses (MSB) unveiled “the first comprehensive report to consolidate state MSB reporting requirements and provide a database of nationwide MSB transaction activity.” It also allows licensees to report directly in NMLS  for all states on a quarterly and annual basis. The release of the MSB Call Report culminates “a multi-year effort by state regulators to develop a tool to standardize and streamline routine reporting requirements for state-licensed Money Services Businesses”—including money transmitters, check cashers, and prepaid card issuers. The MSB Call Report contains three sections: (i) “company financial information”; (ii) “information about the licensee’s company and state level transactional activity”; (iii) “company permissible investments information”; (iv) “and transaction destination country information.” According to the MSB Call Report webpage, 18 state agencies will adopt the MSB Call Report for Q1 2017 reporting.

    NMLS is the system of record for non-depository, financial services licensing or registration in participating state, territory and local agencies. Although NMLS does not grant or deny license authority, it does—in participating jurisdictions—serve as the official system for companies and individuals seeking to apply for, amend, renew and surrender licenses. NMLS is also the sole system of licensure for mortgage companies and the system of record for the registration of depositories, subsidiaries of depositories, and Mortgage Loan Originators (MLOs) under the CFPB’s Regulation G (S.A.F.E. Mortgage Licensing Act—Federal Registration of Residential Mortgage Loan Originators).

    Additional information and a list of the state agencies that have adopted the report as of March 2017 can be accessed through the NMLS Resource Center.

    State Issues Lending NMLS Call Report Mortgage Origination Licensing

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  • FHFA: No Increase on Multifamily Loan Caps for GSEs

    Federal Issues

    On November 22, FHFA announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s caps for multifamily lending will remain at $36.5 billion for 2017. The determination was based on the agency’s projection that the overall size of the multifamily finance market will remain roughly the same as it was in 2016. Multifamily loans in designated affordable and underserved segments will remain excluded from the caps.

    Federal Issues Mortgages Freddie Mac Fannie Mae Mortgage Origination Mortgage Servicing HUD FHFA

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  • CFPB Releases Supervisory Highlights Report for Fall 2016

    Federal Issues

    On October 31, the CFPB released the 13th Edition of its Supervisory Highlights Report, covering the period May through August of this year. The report shares recent supervisory observations in the areas of automobile loan origination, automobile loan servicing, debt collection, mortgage origination, mortgage servicing, student loan servicing, and fair lending. The report found that the CFPB’s recent supervisory actions returned more than $11 million to approximately 225,000 consumers. The Bureau also set forth new examination procedures for reverse mortgage servicing, student loan servicing, and the Military Lending Act.

    Federal Issues Consumer Finance CFPB Mortgage Origination Student Lending Debt Collection Reverse Mortgages Military Lending Act

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  • FDIC Announces Mortgage Lending Resources for Community Bankers

    Lending

    On September 15, the FDIC announced two new resources intended to provide community bankers with information on federal housing programs: the Affordable Mortgage Lending Guide, Part I: Federal Agencies and Government Sponsored Enterprises and the Affordable Mortgage Lending Center. The FDIC released the guide in response to feedback from community bankers, who claimed “they did not understand the wide array of federal housing programs.” The purpose of the resource center, according to the FDIC, is to assist community bankers “[to] compare a variety of current affordable mortgage programs and to identify the next steps if they seek to expand or initiate affordable mortgage lending.” The FDIC plans to release Part II, State Housing Finance Agencies, and Part III, Federal Home Loan Banks, of the guide at a later date this year.

    FDIC Mortgage Origination Community Banks

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  • Top 20 Bank Settles with DOJ Over Alleged Violations of the False Claims Act

    Lending

    On September 13, the DOJ announced a $52.4 million settlement with a top 20 bank to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by knowingly originating and accepting FHA-insured mortgage loans that did not comply with HUD origination, underwriting, and quality control requirements. It is the smallest settlement of a False Claims Act FHA-insured mortgage loans case against a bank to date as part of the government’s recent enforcement initiative in this area. According to the Statement of Facts issued as part of the settlement agreement, from January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2011 (relevant time period), the bank, while acting as a direct endorsement lender (DEL) in the FHA program, (i) certified certain mortgage loans for FHA insurance that failed to meet HUD underwriting requirements regarding borrower creditworthiness; (ii) failed to adhere to various HUD quality control requirements; and (iii) failed to adhere to HUD’s self-reporting requirements. The DOJ noted that the “claims asserted against [the bank] are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.” BuckleySandler represented the bank in this matter.

    Mortgage Origination HUD DOJ FHA False Claims Act / FIRREA

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  • California DBO Publishes Report on Lender and Servicer Data

    Lending

    On July 11, the California Department of Business and Oversight (DBO) published its 2015 Annual Report: Operation of Lenders and Servicers under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act, which compiles consolidated data from unaudited annual reports filed by mortgage lenders and servicers licensed under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act. Notably, the report identifies a significant increase in the number and aggregate principal amount of mortgage loans that were originated by such licensees in 2015 as compared to 2014 (an increase of 47.3 percent and 56.7 percent, respectively). Additionally, among other things, the aggregate principal amount of mortgage loans serviced by such licensees increased each month in 2015 compared to 2014 (by 7.4 percent), while the number of foreclosures reported by such licensees somewhat decreased in 2015 compared to 2014 (by 3.6 percent).

    Foreclosure Mortgage Origination Mortgage Servicing

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  • CFPB’s Summer Edition of Supervisory Highlights Discloses Issues across Various Financial Markets

    Consumer Finance

    On June 30, the CFPB released its twelfth edition of Supervisory Highlights providing supervisory observations from its examiners in the areas of auto origination, debt collection, mortgage origination, small-dollar lending, and fair lending. In the area of auto origination, examiners determined that one or more institutions engaged in deceptive advertising practices related to the benefits of gap coverage products and the effects of payment deferrals, and failed to implement adequate compliance management systems. In the area of debt collection, examiners found that debt sellers sold thousands of debts that were unsuitable for sale because: (i) the accounts were in bankruptcy; (ii) the debts were the product of fraud; or (iii) the accounts had been paid in full. CFPB examiners further observed violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), determining that at least one collector falsely represented to consumers that a down payment was necessary in order to establish a repayment arrangement, when no such down payment was required by the collectors’ policies and procedures. For mortgage origination, CFPB examiners focused on compliance with provisions of CFPB’s Title XIV rules, the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), as implemented by Regulation Z, and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), as implemented by Regulation X, disclosure provisions, and other applicable consumer financial laws. According to the report, CFPB examiners found that one or more institutions violated TILA by miscalculating loan financing amounts, which resulted in a negative finance charge and an amount financed that was greater than the stated loan amount. The report also highlights (i) violations of RESPA’s prohibition against improper referral arrangements; (ii) failure to implement policies and procedures and to provide sufficient training related to the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s requirement to provide consumers with notice of any adverse action, such as denial of credit; (iii) failure to properly disclose interest on interest-only loans in violation of TILA; and (iv) weak oversight of compliance management systems. In the area of small dollar lending, CFPB examiners assessed compliance with the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (Regulation E), and found that the installment loan agreements of one or more entities failed to set out an acceptable range of amounts to be debited because they contained ambiguous or undefined terms in their descriptions of the upper and lower limits of the range. Finally, regarding fair lending, the report covers violations relating to the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (Regulation C) and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (Regulation B).

    According to the report, the CFPB’s supervisory resolutions from January 2016 through April 2016 resulted in more than 257,000 consumers receiving approximately $24.5 million in restitution.

    CFPB Examination TILA Mortgage Origination RESPA Debt Collection Fair Lending ECOA

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  • The CFPB’s Mortgage Originations Agenda in 2016

    Consumer Finance

    John Kromer captionMichelle Rogers captionBen-Olson-captionNow more than ever, financial services firms need to proactively focus on issues of concern identified by the CFPB and ensure that they are engaged in industry best practices that are clearly identified and carefully monitored. In the mortgage originations sphere, the new TRID/ KBYO rule, MSAs, LO compensation, UDAAP, and fair lending are all issues for companies to focus on in the coming year.

    TRID/KBYO

    Compliance with the new TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure/Know Before You Owe (TRID/KBYO) rule will likely be an area of Bureau concern in 2016. The rule took effect on October 3, 2015 and does not include a “hold harmless” period for errors as lenders implement the new disclosure requirements, although letters from the OCC, FDIC, and CFPB have clarified that regulators will focus in the beginning on institutions’ implementation plans, training, and handling of early technical problems. It is likely that the CFPB will require remediation back to the rule’s compliance date when it identifies tangible consumer harm, but it is unlikely that the Bureau will bring enforcement actions initially based on technical issues where there is no tangible consumer harm.

    GSEs have also issued letters stating they will not perform TRID/KBYO compliance file reviews at the beginning of the implementation period. The GSEs further stated that it will not exercise its repurchase and other remedies unless (1) a required form is not used or (2) a practice would impair its enforcement of its rights against borrowers.  In contrast, the FHA has stated that it expects lenders to comply with “all federal, state, and local laws, rules, and requirements applicable to the mortgage transaction as outlined in [the] FHA Handbook….”

    MSAs and RESPA Enforcement

    The CFPB set forth a strong position in October 2015 regarding Section 8 of RESPA, which generally prohibits kickbacks in connection with the referral of settlement services.  Through enforcement actions, the CFPB has taken a broad interpretation of the term “thing of value,” finding that the opportunity to participate in a business—even if market rates are paid for services—can itself constitute a thing of value sufficient to create Section 8 liability for kickbacks.

    This calls into question the legality of marketing services agreements (MSAs) generally.  While the CFPB has stated that it does not view MSAs as per se illegal and has acknowledged that it does not have the authority to declare them per se illegal without a formal rulemaking process, it is possible that the Bureau may pursue further public enforcement actions regarding MSAs if it does not see institutions pulling back from using them. State examiners are also aware of the issue and may refer nonbank entities that they supervise to the CFPB if they see issues with MSA usage. Courts are getting the opportunity to weigh in on these RESPA issues, through the appeal to the D.C. Circuit of the PHH enforcement action and the 9th Circuit’s reversal of the district court’s refusal to certify the class in Edwards v. FAC.

    LO Compensation Rule

    The CFPB has been aggressive in applying the Federal Reserve Board’s LO Compensation rule, as amended by the CPFB. While the rule was passed to avoid steering of borrowers into certain products, the CFPB does not need to establish steering to prove a violation and instead tends to build cases based on technical non-compliance with the rule.  In bringing cases under the rule, the CFPB often names individuals as well as companies. It should be noted that the CFPB views payments to LLCs controlled by producing branch managers based on mortgage profits as illegal compensation under the rule.  In examinations, the CFPB typically looks for a written compensation plan and cites institutions that do not reflect their compensation practices in their plan, even if those practices are legal.

    Examination Enforcement Trends and UDAAP

    The CFPB has heighted its focus on vendor management, scrutinizing vendor products and services during examinations (including the marketing of these products and services as well as the value they add), and will bring enforcement actions or court cases where it finds issues.  Biweekly payments are one area of heighted scrutiny, as the CFPB has been skeptical of the value added by this service. The Bureau has also focused on loss mitigation contracts that suggest that a borrower has waived rights in connection with receiving the modification.

    Fair Lending

    “What’s old is new again” in 2016 fair lending – issues such as pricing, discretion, and the charging or waiving of fees remain important.  Regulators will remain focused on redlining and access to credit. The September 24, 2015 Hudson City Savings Bank enforcement action, requiring the bank to pay $27 million, focused on the role of brokers in redlining.  The CFPB’s Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity is a hybrid examination and enforcement division, which provides insight into the CFPB’s approach to fair lending. The CFPB also will look at nonbanks’ fair lending and bring enforcement actions against these institutions to the extent it finds problems.

    CFPB Mortgage Origination Michelle Rogers Ben Olson TRID John Kromer

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