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Volume 26 - Number 01

January 12, 2015

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2015 Unlikely to Match Last Year’s Mortgage Rulemaking Fireworks

The CFPB is likely to throw its weight around just as much this year as it did last year, only its focus and intensity will be more diverse in terms of the industries that will be affected. Back in 2014, much of the regulatory concern among lenders had to do with the bureau’s ability-to-repay rule with its qualified mortgage standard, and to lesser extents its rules on mortgage servicing and loan originator compensation. Make no mistake. The mortgage industry is still in the CFPB’s crosshairs. The biggest payload to be delivered in this regard in 2015 is the long-awaited and much discussed integrated disclosure rule under the Truth in Lending Act and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. That rule ...

CFPB Looking for More Legal Conflicts to Enter, Weigh in On

The CFPB has reached out to sympathetic constituencies in search of more legal cases in which it can submit amicus, or “friend of the court,” briefs, a letter from the bureau suggests. The text of the letter was reproduced on a legal blog hosted by the consumer advocacy group, Public Citizen. “The bureau welcomes and encourages suggestions of cases as candidates for amicus curiae participation,” said the Dec. 17, 2014, letter, signed by Meredith Fuchs, general counsel, and Nandan Joshi, director of the amicus program. “We seek your recommendations as important stakeholders in the area of consumer finance.” The occasion precipitating the letter apparently was the three-year anniversary of the program. “Through the amicus program, the bureau has sought to ...

Bank, Nonbank Mortgage Lender Reps Split on More Requirements

The Community Home Lenders Association, a national trade group representing small and mid-sized community-based nonbank mortgage lenders, is calling on the CFPB to set high uniform standards for all mortgage originators, such as testing, background checks, continuing education and licensing. “These basic requirements ... apply to virtually all professionals involved in real estate transactions and mortgages, as well as to all individuals at banks that sell securities or insurance,” the CHLA said in a recent letter…

‘No-Action Letter’ Proposal Won’t Reduce Regulatory Uncertainty

The CFPB’s proposal to reduce regulatory uncertainty for financial innovation through the selective use of “no-action” letters is based on a good idea but is likely to fail to meet its objective unless important changes are made, according to three industry trade groups. For instance, when it comes to submitting requests for a “no-action” letter, the set of products and services to which the bureau’s proposal may apply is difficult to identify, the American Bankers Association, the American Bankers Insurance Association and the Consumer Bankers Association said in a joint comment letter to the regulator. “On the one hand, the proposal requires that the product must not be well established; on the other, it may not cover ‘hypothetical products that ...

Mortgage Lending Sole Bright Spot For Consumer Complaints YOY

The residential mortgage space was the only sector in the large financial services universe to see a year-over-year decline in consumer complaints filed with the CFPB, according to a new analysis by Inside the CFPB. The positive performance, a drop of 14.5 percent, is most likely due to the continued recovery in the overall economy as well as the housing market, which is reducing the stresses that produce delinquencies, defaults and foreclosures, which are associated with high levels of borrower gripes. A lesser contributing factor to consumer criticisms in the “resi” space could be the steep drop-off in mortgage originations over the last year, which could be reducing the overall pool from which origination-related belly-aching originates. [With two exclusive charts] ...

Service Members May be Getting Gouged on Rates, Fees: CFPB

Loopholes in the current Military Lending Act rules are allowing lenders to offer high-cost consumer loans to military families by skirting the 36 percent rate cap – in some cases, charging more than 300 percent – as well as sticking them with excessive fees for the products they use, according to recent comments and a report by the CFPB. The MLA is implemented by the Department of Defense, and is enforced by the bureau and other federal regulators. The CFPB filed a comment letter in support of the DOD’s recent proposal to broaden the scope of the MLA rules to cover deposit advance products, and more types of payday, auto title and installment loans. Currently, the MLA rules provide service members and ...

Plenty of Investigations Underway At the Bureau, Report Suggests

The CFPB’s second report to the appropriations committees of both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives suggests the bureau has a full plate when it comes to enforcement-related probes of financial services providers. For instance, “Investigations currently underway span the full breadth of the bureau’s enforcement jurisdiction,” the report stated. “Further detail about ongoing investigations will not generally be made public by the bureau until a public enforcement action is filed.” Elsewhere, the report reminded lawmakers that the bureau was a party in 41 public enforcement actions from Oct. 1, 2013, through Sept. 30, 2014, the period covered by the report, and it proceeded to highlight all of them. However, not all of them have been settled, such ...

CFPB Workforce Report Skips Controversy Over Discrimination

The CFPB’s fourth annual human capital report touted the progress the bureau has made in bolstering its human resources capabilities. But it had nothing to say about the controversy over allegations of discrimination and retaliation towards some of its own staff that emerged last year and lead to congressional hearings and a last-minute scramble to adjust the paychecks of select personnel. The closest the bureau got to that issue was a brief mention of requiring a two-day employment civil rights training session for all managers and supervisors, as part of broader effort at leadership development and succession planning. The CFPB also briefly discussed the efforts it is making to attract and retain a diverse workforce. The bureau’s report indicated that ...

OIG Finds Varying Risk in CFPB Travel, Purchase Card Programs

The risk of illegal, improper or erroneous use in the CFPB’s purchase card program is low and the risk level for the agency’s travel card program is medium, according to a recent assessment by the bureau’s Office of Inspector General. “As a result, we will include an audit of the travel card program in the OIG’s 2015 annual audit plan, and we will not include an audit of the purchase card program in that plan,” said the OIG in a new report. “Nevertheless, the Office of Procurement and the Travel Office should continue to take appropriate actions to ensure proper oversight of their respective programs.” The OIG conducted the risk assessment of the programs to determine the frequency and scope ...

Worth Noting

TRID Projected to Cost $527 Million a Year. A new analysis of the costs of government regulation by Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy at the center-right American Action Forum, estimates that the integrated mortgage disclosure rule promulgated last year by the CFPB will cost the industry $527 million annually. The TILA/RESPA integrated disclosure rule – or “TRID” – is scheduled to take effect Aug. 1, 2015, unless the mortgage industry can convince the CFPB to provide a delay. Elsewhere, Batkins projects compliance with all of the bureau’s 2014 regulations to cost the financial services industry $2.1 billion. All of the CFPB’s regulations since its inception in 2011 are estimated to cost $3.6 billion and 38.9 million hours to comply with. Of ...

Bureau Minutiae/Vendor/Compliance News/Looking Ahead

CFPB Raises TILA Reg Z Exemption Threshold. The CFPB raised the asset size for banks exempt from the requirement to establish an escrow account for higher-priced mortgages under Regulation Z (Truth in Lending Act) from $2.028 billion to $2.060 billion, as of Jan. 1, 2015. The adjustment is based on the 1.1 percent increase in the average of the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) for the 12-month period ending in November 2014. The adjustment to the escrow exemption asset-size threshold will also increase a similar threshold for small-creditor portfolio and balloon-payment qualified mortgages. CFPB Increases HMDA Reg C Exemption Threshold. The bureau slightly ratcheted up the asset- size exemption threshold for financial institutions reporting ...

Poll

The FHA is cutting its annual premium by 50 basis points. How much of a difference will this cut make in your FHA business?

Not much at all—maybe 10 percent at best.
Modestly. We expect a 10 percent to 25 percent gain in applications.
This is a real game changer, 25 percent or better.
Hard to say. This cut may just steal business away from the new Fannie/Freddie 97 LTV effort.

vote to see results
Housing Pulse