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Volume 28 - Number 7

March 27, 2017

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Trump Administration Takes No Position on RESPA in PHH Brief

As different as the presidential administrations of Barack Obama and Donald Trump may appear, one thing they have in common is an apparent unwillingness to get into the statutory weeds when it comes to the interpretation and enforcement of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. Earlier this month, the Department of Justice under the Trump administration, just as it had under the Obama administration, side-stepped the RESPA issues associated with the long-running battle between PHH Mortgage and the CFPB. In its amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the government said simply: “The United States takes no position on the statutory issues in this case….” For the Trump administration, the case comes down ...

Power of Removal, Appropriations Key to a More ‘Constitutional’ CFPB

With the industry still waiting for resolution of PHH Corp. v. CFPB and the interpretation and enforcement of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act at stake, political partisans on Capitol Hill last week addressed the constitutionality of the CFPB, or the supposed lack thereof, with Republicans on the offense and Democrats on defense. During a hearing last week before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, R-IN, asked former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson, now a partner with the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher law firm, what steps would need to be taken to make the CFPB truly constitutional in its governmental function. Olson, who is representing PHH Corp. in its struggle with the bureau but ...

Trump’s Latest Executive Order Appears to Apply to CFPB

President Trump recently signed yet another executive order to roll back the reach of the federal government – this one promoting “a comprehensive plan for reorganizing the executive branch.” But unlike some of the earlier EOs from the White House, the odds seem to be higher that this one may apply to the CFPB. In an email exchange, former CFPB official Benjamin Olson, now a partner with the BuckleySandler law firm in Washington, DC, was asked if this EO applies to his former employer. He replied: “Yes and no. Unlike past orders that referred to ‘executive departments and agencies,’ this one refers to agencies ‘defined in’ 5 U.S.C. 551(1), which seems to include – or at least not exclude – independent agencies such ...

CFPB Fines Nationstar $1.75 M Over HMDA Reporting Errors

The CFPB has fined Nationstar Mortgage $1.75 million for allegedly violating the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act by “consistently failing to report accurate data about mortgage transactions for 2012 through 2014,” the agency said. The CFPB said it found that Nationstar’s HMDA compliance systems were flawed and generated mortgage lending data with significant, preventable errors. “Nationstar also failed to maintain detailed HMDA data collection and validation procedures, and failed to implement adequate compliance procedures,” the bureau alleged. “It also produced discrepancies by failing to consistently define data among its various lines of business.” Further, data samples reviewed by the CFPB showed substantial error rates in three consecutive reporting years, the bureau said. “In the samples reviewed, the CFPB found error rates ...

CFPB Proposes Changes to Give Lenders Flexibility Collecting Data

Late last week, the CFPB proposed amendments to Regulation B, the implementing regulation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, to give mortgage lenders greater flexibility in collecting information about consumer ethnicity and race. Reg B restricts lenders’ ability to ask consumers about their race, color, religion, national origin or gender, except in certain circumstances. These circumstances include required collection of the information for some mortgage applications under the regulation. Under the proposal, mortgage lenders would not have to maintain different practices depending on their loan volume or other characteristics, allowing more lenders to adopt application forms that include expanded requests for information about a consumer’s ethnicity and race, including the revised uniform residential loan application issued by government-sponsored enterprises Fannie ...

Industry Hopes to Undo Parts of Dodd-Frank on Three Fronts

The new political landscape in Washington, DC, has intersected with the judicial movement on the PHH Corp. v. CFPB case to give the mortgage industry some hope that the bureau can be scaled back. But the task is complicated by the fact that the new administration is headed by a political novice, and by the fact that the industry itself is not particularly unified about what kind of changes should be made. During a recent webinar sponsored by Inside Mortgage Finance, three top industry attorneys discussed some of the prospects for change on three separate fronts of the federal government: the executive branch, the legislative branch and the judicial branch. If there’s a single theme or take-away from the event,...

More Uniformity Needed Between QM Standards from CFPB, HUD

With the topic of regulatory reform experiencing a resurgence of attention since the Trump administration moved into the White House, the U.S. mortgage insurance industry is calling for greater uniformity when it comes to the nitty gritty details of the ability-to-repay rule and its qualified-mortgage standard. One area of particular concern for mortgage insurers is the differences between the CFPB’s QM rule for conventional mortgages and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s QM rule for FHA-insured mortgages. These differences include different debt-to-income caps, different formulae to calculate points and fees, and different standards for higher-cost mortgages. According to U.S. Mortgage Insurers, these differences incentivize greater reliance on programs of the U.S. government, increasing risk to taxpayers. “While consistency and ...

Rep. Cleaver Calls on Bureau to Combat Fintech Abuses

In a recent letter to CFPB Director Richard Cordray, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-MO, called upon the bureau to address potential abuses by financial technology companies that may be engaged in predatory small-business lending. In so doing, he asked that the CFPB “investigate whether fintech companies engaged in small business lending are complying with all anti-discrimination laws, including the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.” The congressman’s letter noted that fintech lending companies, also known as alternative small-business lenders, are a fast-growing industry offering a new wave of innovation, but they also pose many risks, he added. “Over the past decade, there’s been a very large increase of Silicon Valley start-ups and technology companies that are functioning like banks,” Cleaver said. “The CFPB ...

Other News in Brief

CFPB Poised to Commence Five-Year Review of Its Major Mortgage Rules. The CFPB is getting ready to start, as per the Dodd-Frank Act, its five-year evaluation of some of the significant mortgage rulemakings it has promulgated thus far, according to a recent account by Politico, as cited by Pavitra Bacon, an associate in the Washington, DC, office of the Ballard Spahr law firm, in an online blog posting.... Will We See CHOICE Act 2.0 This Week? With less than a week left before the end of March, one well-placed industry lobbyist is still holding to the prediction that Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-TX, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, will in fact introduce another incarnation of his Financial CHOICE act by the end of the month....

Poll

With the spring homebuying season in full swing, what percentage of your March 2017 application volume has been for “purchase” loans?

75% or higher
50% to 74%
30% to 49%
Under 30%

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