Legal Issues

Browse articles from all of our Newsletters related to Legal Issues.

October 19, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Industry Supports Carson’s Plan to Work with DOJ on Reducing FCA Risk for FHA Lenders

Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is getting good reviews from mortgage industry participants regarding his congressional testimony late last week on program reforms, particularly his strategy for dealing with FHA exposure under the False Claims Act. Industry observers noted an improvement in Carson’s knowledge and understanding of HUD programs since taking office in March. His nomination by President Trump was controversial because ...

October 13, 2017 - Inside FHA/VA Lending

HUD Dumps Lender Insight for New Loan Review Summary Report

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is discontinuing its quarterly newsletter, Lender Insight, with the implementation of FHA’s Loan Review System. The change is aimed at improving both FHA’s and lenders’ quality-control and risk-management operations. HUD will be publishing a quarterly Loan Review Summary Report to provide a snapshot of the results of FHA’s quality-control review of mortgage originations over the preceding 12 months. According to HUD, the report will include only underwritten loans that were subject to a post-endorsement technical review. It does not include the results of lenders’ self-reports or any other loans that were reviewed as part of a lender examination, the agency said. The report will show the initial rating of all loans, the updated rating six months from the end of the review period, and a final rating. The “final” rating is subject to change as long as ...

October 13, 2017 - Inside FHA/VA Lending

FHA Eases Occupancy Rule for Properties with H4P Financing

The FHA has updated its guidelines for Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase (H4P) loans to allow lenders to accept loan applications from borrowers without requiring a certificate of occupancy, as well as prior to completion of HECM counseling. The change follows the Sept. 19 effective date of the HECM final rule, which the Department of Housing and Urban Development released earlier this year. The final rule codifies the many policies that are now in place for originating and servicing reverse mortgages, including H4P requirements. According to the revised guideline, an FHA lender may take an initial HECM loan application either prior to or after the completion of HECM counseling. Also, previously, H4P properties were eligible for FHA insurance only when construction was completed and when the local jurisdiction issued a certificate of occupancy or its equivalent, confirming the ...

October 13, 2017 - Inside FHA/VA Lending

Ginnie Reveals Nearly 10 Percent Exposure in Disaster Areas

An estimated 9.8 percent of Ginnie Mae’s business may be potentially at risk due to hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, according to data released recently by the agency. The data represent the number of Ginnie loans and their unpaid principal balance amounts in presidentially declared disaster areas in Texas, Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. A total of 1.07 million mortgage loans with an unpaid principal balance of $184.5 billion have been affected. Ginnie Mae’s current mortgage-backed securities portfolio totals $1.9 trillion. The data only refer to the geographic locations of all affected properties underlying loans in Ginnie MBS pools and do not indicate the percentage of those that may have sustained damage during a storm. Hurricane Irma had the highest share of affected loans, 6 percent, while Harvey and Maria accounted for 3 percent and 1 percent, respectively. Irma caused the ...

October 13, 2017 - Inside FHA/VA Lending

Ginnie Mae, VA Announce Joint Task Force to Stop Improper Refis

Ginnie Mae and the VA this week officially announced a joint-agency task force to deal with the loan-churning problem that is triggering faster prepayments in Ginnie mortgage-backed securities pools. Specifically, the task force will scrutinize aggressive and misleading refinancing offers and address loan churning and repeated refinancings. It will also examine critical issues, data and lender behaviors related to refinancing loans, as well as determine the kind of policy and program changes agencies should make to ensure VA refi loans do not pose an undue risk or burden to vets and taxpayers. Both the VA and Ginnie Mae programs work best when market participants use them to provide a benefit to VA borrowers and, ultimately, lower vet’s costs, officials said. The task force has begun examining data and information to ensure refi loans provide net tangible benefits to veteran-borrowers. In addition, the ...

October 13, 2017 - Inside FHA/VA Lending

Carson Open to Excising HECM From Mortgage Insurance Fund

Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson indicated he is open to the idea of moving the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage program out of the FHA Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund to stem future losses. Testifying before the House Financial Services Committee this week, Carson said the changes the department has made recently, as well as those currently under consideration, will eliminate most of the program’s problems although residual issues may still linger. Carson acknowledged that the HECM program’s default rate has been a drain on the MMI Fund even though it is much smaller than the FHA’s forward loan portfolio. The recently revised HECM rules issued on Sept. 19 have “stopped the bleeding” in terms of new reverse mortgages, he added. However, separating the HECM portfolio from the FHA insurance fund and making it a stand-alone program is ...

October 13, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

GSE Shareholders More Confident As Judge Releases New Government Documents to Plaintiff Attorneys

As Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shareholders inch closer to having hundreds of government documents released in pending shareholder lawsuits surrounding the conservatorship and preferred stock purchase agreement, they are more confident the court will rule in their favor. In the latest development in Fairholme Funds v. the United States, Federal Claims Court Judge Margaret Sweeney last week granted a motion to compel the disclosure of documents filed over the summer by ...

October 9, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

Other News in Brief

Did DoJ Opine on Ocwen v. CFPB? No One’s Talking. Earlier this year, Ocwen Financial asked Judge Kenneth Marra of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, West Palm Beach Division, to invite the U.S. attorney general to appear and participate in the company’s challenge to the constitutionality of the CFPB.... Last Call for Public Comments on TRID ‘Black Hole’ Proposal. The industry has until 11:59 p.m. Oct. 10, 2017, to submit comments to the CFPB regarding its proposal to close the “black hole” associated with the bureau’s integrated disclosure rule under the Truth in Lending Act and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act....

October 9, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

Bureau Needs to Do a Better Job Explaining the Purpose of its CIDs

The CFPB needs to improve the way it informs recipients of its civil investigative demands (CIDs) of the purpose of its investigations, according to a recent report from the bureau’s Office of Inspector General. At issue are the CFPB’s internal guidelines for crafting notifications of purpose associated with CIDs. The guidance calls for broad statements of purpose, to allow for flexibility, the OIG noted. However, “The guidance does not expressly remind enforcement attorneys of the need for statements of purpose to be compliant with relevant case law on notifications of purpose, including any developments in such case law, or remind them to revisit the statement of purpose in a revised opening memorandum if the purposes of the investigation evolve.” The ...

October 9, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

Industry Groups Sue to Overturn Controversial Arbitration Rule

Organizations representing a variety of financial and business interests have jointly filed suit in a bid to deep-six the controversial arbitration rule issued earlier this year by the CFPB. The litigation was filed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with the American Bankers Association, the American Financial Services Association, the Consumer Bankers Association, the Financial Services Roundtable, the Texas Association of Business, the Texas Bankers Association, and a coalition of chambers of commerce throughout Texas. The groups are challenging the constitutionality and legality of the CFPB’s rule. Their basic position is that the rule effectively precludes the use of arbitration agreements in disputes between consumers and providers of consumer financial products and services, and instead renders class-action litigation the ...

October 9, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

Meridian Title Fined $1.25 Million Over Allegations of Steering

The CFPB recently ordered Meridian Title Corp., a real estate settlement agent and title insurance agency in South Bend, IN, to pay up to $1.25 million in redress to consumers who were allegedly steered to a title insurer owned partly by several of Meridian’s executives without disclosing the affiliation. According to the bureau’s consent order, Meridian issues title-insurance policies, provides mortgage loan settlement servicers, and conducts loan closings in connection with residential real estate transactions. In its role as title policy issuing agent, the company procures policy orders from borrowers and lenders and issues title commitments, final policies and related endorsements. As a settlement agency, Meridian facilitates the real property and mortgage loan settlement services required to close the mortgage ...

October 9, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

Ocwen Financial Settles Mortgage-Related Disputes With 15 States

Ocwen Financial, the once high-flying non-bank mortgage servicer, has brought to 15 the number of states it has reached settlements with to resolve allegations its compliance with laws and regulations related to its mortgage servicing and lending activities was deficient. Last week, Ocwen settled with New Mexico, Virginia and West Virginia. Late last month, it entered into agreements with 10 other states: Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Wisconsin. Nevada and Indiana previously either withdrew or allowed their respective cease-and-desist orders to expire. Per the settlements, Ocwen will not acquire any new residential mortgage servicing rights until April 30, 2018. Also, the nonbank will develop a plan of action and milestones regarding its transition ...

October 9, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

Bureau Proposes More Certainty For Providing Periodic Statements

The CFPB issued a proposed rule last week to provide more certainty for mortgage servicers about when to provide periodic statements to consumers in connection with their bankruptcy cases. The consumer bureau said it is proposing amendments to certain mortgage servicing rules issued in 2016 under Regulation Z (which implements the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act) relating to the timing for servicers to transition to providing modified or unmodified periodic statements and coupon books in connection with a borrower’s bankruptcy case. Among other things, the 2016 mortgage servicing final rule addresses Reg Z’s periodic statement and coupon book requirements when a person is a debtor in bankruptcy. It includes a single-billing-cycle exemption from the requirement to provide a periodic statement ...

October 9, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

CFPB Gives Servicers More Flexibility to Deal With Foreclosure

The CFPB last week issued an interim final rule to give mortgage servicers more flexibility to communicate with homeowners at risk of foreclosure. “Today’s action should make it easier for mortgage borrowers to receive timely information from their mortgage servicers about available options for saving their home, even if they have submitted a request to cease communication,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. In 2016, the bureau made changes to its rules to require servicers to send modified early intervention notices to certain borrowers at risk of foreclosure who asked for an end to communication under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Under the FDCPA, borrowers can tell their servicers to stop contacting them, with some limited exceptions. Once such borrowers ...

October 6, 2017 - Inside The GSEs

Judge Moves to Disclose More Documents in Shareholder Case

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shareholders are feeling more confident they will prevail in lawsuits over the Treasury sweep as internal government documents related to a popular case continue to trickle out. Late this week, Federal Claims Court Judge Margaret Sweeney granted a motion to compel the disclosure of documents that were filed over the summer by attorneys in Fairholme Funds v. the United States. Investors, having grown weary of the drawn-out discovery process, filed a motion in August in hopes of speeding things up by forcing the government to stop what they perceive as delay tactics. Attorneys asked the Federal Claims Court to use the “quick peek” procedure for some documents dating back to May 2012.

October 5, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Ocwen Makes Peace With a Number of States And the SEC Over Mortgage-Related Disputes

Ocwen Financial has now buried the hatchet with a total of 15 states over alleged deficiencies in its compliance with laws and regulations relating to the company’s servicing and lending activities. Back in April, mortgage and banking regulators from 30 states and the District of Columbia and the state attorneys general of Florida and Massachusetts brought regulatory action against the nonbank servicer. This week, Ocwen settled with New Mexico, Virginia and West Virginia ...

October 5, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

The Equifax Data Breach Affected 140 Million U.S. Consumers, Impact on Lenders May Be Ahead

Mortgage lenders haven’t yet experienced any operating headaches from the Equifax data breach this summer – but the ramifications might come slowly and not be immediately discernable. One nonbank CEO told Inside Mortgage Finance that he’s angry about the breach for two rea-sons: his personal information was stolen and it could cause business problems because warehouse banks, state licensing agencies, investors and housing authorities pull Equifax reports to check on him ...

September 29, 2017 - Inside FHA/VA Lending

GSE Reform Efforts Could Benefit From Ginnie’s Anti-Churning Action

A Ginnie Mae crackdown on abusive VA refinancing could be positive for housing finance reform, according to a Washington research organization. In a recent analysis, the Cowen Washington Research Group said Ginnie’s effort to rein in lenders that are engaging in churning might benefit those who are trying to revamp Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. “We expect Ginnie Mae will succeed in curbing prepayment speed on VA mortgages,” wrote Jaret Seiberg, a financial services and housing policy analyst with the Cowen Group. “The crackdown is positive for government-sponsored enterprise reform as it should restore the spread between Ginnie and Fannie/Freddie MBS.” According to Seiberg, GSE reform advocates could potentially use the spread to pay for a housing finance bill that includes a government guarantee on the resulting MBS. Acting Ginnie Mae President Michael Bright has pledged to ...

September 29, 2017 - Inside FHA/VA Lending

Uptick Seen in FHA 203(h) Usage As Storm Surges, Flooding Worsen

A previously obscure FHA program for properties in designated disaster areas is getting more interest from lenders in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. According to FHA data, there has been a noticeable increase in loans originated under the FHA 203(h) mortgage insurance program, which is designed specifically for hard-hit homeowners in presidentially declared major disaster areas (PDMDA). Origination under the 203(h) program rose from $17.8 million in 2015 to $64.1 million in 2017, data showed. Use of the 203(h) product spiked in the fourth quarter of 2016, when 180 loans totaling $34.0 million were originated, up from 47 in the previous quarter and 26 loans from the same period in 2015. The U.S. experienced more floods in 2016, 19 in all, than any year on record, according to an analysis by Munich Re, a global reinsurance firm. In post-hurricane guidance, FHA urged lenders to ...

September 29, 2017 - Inside FHA/VA Lending

HUD Seeks Some Flexibility in Implementing Servicing Policy

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has asked its inspector general for some leeway in making much needed changes to ensure servicers are employing loss mitigation. Responding to an audit, HUD asked the IG to modify some of the recommendations to enable the agency to make policy changes where needed and in a suitable format. HUD also requested that recommendations regarding indemnification and servicing be tweaked so that remedies will be required only when a deficiency is found. The IG audit was based on the result of an analysis, which showed that servicers may not be always evaluating delinquent FHA borrowers for loss mitigation as required and that HUD’s oversight in this area is weak. According to the findings, HUD did not have adequate controls to ensure that servicers of FHA-insured single-family loans properly engaged in ...

September 25, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

Arbitration Rule Now in Effect, GOP Effort to Overturn Dies in Senate

The CFPB’s much-criticized arbitration rule issued earlier this year took effect last week, as a successful vote in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to overturn it failed to generate enough interest and support for a comparable move in the Senate. It’s likely that the massive Equifax data breach and the company’s seeming attempt to manipulate affected individuals to waive their rights to arbitration in order to sign up for free credit-monitoring services effectively killed what little interest senators may have had in following up on the House’s success. The failure is another blow to a political party that ostensibly controls the Senate, the House and the White House but is struggling to accomplish much legislatively, thanks in part to the ...

September 25, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

CFPB Denied Restitution in Nationwide Biweekly Ruling

The CFPB got a split verdict in a recent ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in its legal tussle with Nationwide Biweekly Administration, of Greene County, OH, which stood accused of engaging in deceptive practices by misleading consumers through its Interest Minimizer mortgage payment program. The bureau won a $7.9 million civil penalty from the defendants, but lost on $74 million in sought-after restitution. “After carefully considering the sufficiency, weight and credibility of the testimony of the witnesses, their demeanor on the stand, the documentary evidence admitted at trial, and the post-trial submissions of the parties, the court finds that CFPB has adequately shown that some, but not all, of defendants’ challenged marketing statements ...

September 25, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

Cordray Slams Mortgage Industry in Second (Campaign?) Appearance

In remarks that “sure sounded like a campaign speech,” according to one long-time industry compliance attorney, CFPB Director Richard Cordray threw the mortgage industry under the bus, accusing it of causing the financial crisis and the Great Recession that followed. Two weeks ago, Cordray delivered the keynote address at the Ohio Land Bank Conference in Cleveland, the same day the Democrat Party primary debate for the Ohio gubernatorial race was held. Some political observers were watching to see if the director would give his speech, resign and then appear in the debate. They were disappointed. But that doesn’t mean Cordray won’t resign before his term ends in July to pursue a run for the governor’s mansion. He has until 4 p.m. ...

September 25, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

CFPB’s Cordray Misled Congress About Wells Probe, GOP Claims

A new report from the House Financial Services Committee staff accuses CFPB Director Richard Cordray of misleading Congress about the bureau’s probe of the unauthorized account creation scandal at Wells Fargo, rushing into a settlement without doing the requisite leg work, and agreeing to a paltry settlement when he could have slammed the company for at least $10 billion in fines. As a part of its investigation into the Wells Fargo fraudulent account scandal, the committee said it has obtained a crucial new document – the “Recommendation Memorandum” – that was presented to and approved by Cordray. “The Memorandum shows that the CFPB estimated that the bank was potentially liable for a statutory monetary penalty exceeding $10 billion,” said the committee. “This ...

September 22, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Government Sues Deutsche Bank Employee for Allegedly Misleading MBS Investors into Buying Faulty Loans

A former Deutsche Bank employee is at the center of a lawsuit brought by the government over the sale of more than $1 billion of non-agency MBS. It’s rare when the government focuses on an individual for mortgage fraud, but the Department of Justice said the bank’s former head of subprime trading allegedly defrauded investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars. The civil complaint was filed in Brooklyn’s federal court against Paul Mangione for knowingly selling bad subprime mortgages financed during the crisis and misleading investors about loan quality. The complaint alleges that he engaged in fraudulent schemes involving the origination practices of Deutsche Bank’s subsidiary, DB Home Lending LLC, which originated the bulk of the loans. The securities were sold...

September 15, 2017 - Inside FHA/VA Lending

FHA Announces Changes to HECM Counseling Certificates

The FHA will provide lenders that originate Home Equity Conversion Mortgage loans the option to view and print unsigned HECM counseling certificates in FHA Connection starting Sept. 18, 2017. While the lender may still take the initial loan application, the lender can only begin to process it once the counseling is complete, as evidenced by a completed HECM counseling certificate that contains signatures of both the counselor and borrower. Lenders that chose to use this option will be required to establish procedures to obtain and document authorization from the HECM borrower to access the counseling certificate in FHA Connection. In addition, lenders must certify that a borrower authorization to view the counseling certificate was obtained. Lenders must follow the guidance on processing HECM loans contained in the HUD Handbook, the FHA said. To access HECM counseling certificates, lenders will ...

September 15, 2017 - Inside FHA/VA Lending

Legal Experts Suggest Five ‘Fixes’ To Avoid Unfounded FCA Claims

Compliance attorneys are calling for legislative changes to prevent possible misuse of the False Claims Act that could result in settlements that could be financially devastating to mortgage lenders. Concerns about possible government misuse of FCA provisions are evident in the statutory qualifiers that are already embedded in the existing statute, according to a recent analysis by Krista Cooley and Laurence Platt, attorneys and partners in the Washington, DC, office of Mayer Brown. The qualifiers are in the main provision of the FCA that the Department of Justice has used against mortgage lenders and servicers, the attorneys said. The provision imposes liability on any person who “knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval” or “knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement material to a false or ...

September 15, 2017 - Inside FHA/VA Lending

Trump Nominates Industry Veteran To Be the Next FHA Commissioner

The White House this week officially nominated industry veteran Brian Montgomery to be the next FHA commissioner and assistant secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In a related development, the Senate on Thursday confirmed the nomination of Pamela Pantenaude as HUD deputy secretary, three months to the day the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs approved her nomination. Montgomery, currently vice chairman of the Washington-based business-consulting firm The Collingwood Group, is no stranger to the job. He previously served as FHA commissioner/HUD assistant secretary during the second Bush administration and as acting HUD secretary in January 2009. As FHA commissioner, Montgomery lead legislative efforts to preserve the nation’s affordable rental housing stock while reducing rental-assistance costs and the cost of ...

September 15, 2017 - Inside FHA/VA Lending

Ginnie Mae to Take Action Against Illicit Refinancing of VA Mortgages

Rapid, aggressive refinancing of VA loans has made a comeback with some issuers using strategies to mask the practice and avoid possible penalties, including expulsion from the Ginnie Mae program, according to a top agency official. Responding to concerns raised by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, Michael Bright, acting Ginnie Mae president and chief operations officer, said a joint Ginnie Mae/VA lender-abuse task force is analyzing monthly data and developing additional policy measures to deal with the problem. Bright confirmed the resurgence of inappropriate streamline refinancing in Ginnie securitization pools in recent weeks and has promised to crack down on the questionable practice. The problem surfaced last year when Ginnie Mae noticed unusually fast prepayment speeds in its mortgage-backed securities, particularly MBS backed by VA loans. Ginnie found that certain lenders and ...

September 15, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Vintage CDO Investors Try to Force a Bankruptcy that SFIG Warns Would Destabilize Securitization Industry

A dispute involving the liquidation of a vintage collateralized-debt obligation has the potential to upend standard practices and confidence in the securitization industry, according to the Structured Finance Industry Group. Senior investors in Taberna Preferred Funding IV – a $673.3 million CDO issued in 2005 – are seeking to force a liquidation of the deal via bankruptcy. The bankruptcy is being pursued by a group of investors identified as Opportunities II Ltd., HH HoldCo Co-Investment Fund, L.P., and Real Estate Opps Ltd. The investors appear to have purchased senior tranches of the CDO only in recent years. SFIG filed...

September 14, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Texas District Court Invalidates Obama-Era Overtime Rule, Attention Turns to Fifth Circuit as it Reviews Injunction Order

It’s back to square one for the Department of Labor after a federal court in Texas struck down an Obama administration proposal that would have made millions of people eligible for overtime pay, including some mortgage workers. Judge Amos Mazzant of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas on Aug. 31 invalidated the DOL’s pending overtime regulations, which would have raised the salary threshold exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Obama administration finalized the proposed regulation in May last year but was unable to implement it after Mazzant granted a request for injunction filed by the Plano Chamber of Commerce and 55 other business groups last November. The business entities opposed...

September 11, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

Other News in Brief/Industry News in Brief

State Regulators Start Work on a Next-Generation Technology Platform. The Conference of State Bank Supervisors has initiated what it characterizes as a major redesign of the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS), which is the core technology platform state bank regulators utilize. According to the CSBS, the redesign will enable the regulators to transform the licensing and supervision of non-bank financial institutions, including financial technology companies, or so-called fintechs. “Technology and data are powerful tools that can create sweeping benefits throughout the financial regulatory system,” said Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions Commissioner John Ducrest. “And that vision drives our efforts with the next-generation NMLS. We are committed to nothing less than modernized state regulation for a modernized financial services industry.” The ...

September 11, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

CFPB Takes Action Against Lead Aggregator Over Alleged Steering

Last week, the CFPB brought an enforcement action against Zero Parallel, an online lead aggregator based in Glendale, CA, for allegedly steering consumers toward lenders who offered illegal or unlicensed loans that were void in the consumer’s state. According to the bureau, consumers who applied for loans through Zero Parallel’s network had no control over which lenders received their applications. “Zero Parallel regularly sold leads for consumers located in states where the resulting loan was void,” said the consumer regulator. The CFPB ordered Zero Parallel to end its alleged illegal conduct and pay a $100,000 penalty. Also, under the terms of the consent order, Zero Parallel is required to undertake reasonable efforts to ensure that loan applications it sells do ...

September 11, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

Federal District Court Sanctions CFPB for Deposition Conduct

The CFPB suffered another legal blow recently when a federal district court judge in Atlanta granted defendants’ requests for sanctions against the bureau stemming from its behavior related to the defendants’ depositions of agency witnesses. The action stems from an enforcement action the CFPB brought in April 2015 against a number of individuals and entities in connection with what the bureau alleged was a massive debt-collection scheme. The issue prompting the judge’s crackdown was the CFPB's reluctance and apparent refusal to be deposed by some of the defendants. First, it objected to such depositions. Then when more defendants filed similar notices, the bureau responded with motions for protective orders. Then when depositions finally occurred, a CFPB witness used “memory aids” ...

September 11, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

Ocwen Agrees to Pay $1M to Settle Force-Placed Insurance Issue

Ocwen Financial Corp. and Ocwen Loan Servicing recently agreed to pay a $1 million fine to resolve an issue of force-placed insurance (FPI) under the national mortgage settlement that was reached in 2014. At issue was the company’s performance as loan servicer as measured against one particular metric, metric 29, the purpose of which is to test whether Ocwen complied with the servicing standards regarding the timeliness of terminating FPI and refunding premiums to affected borrowers. Under the settlement, Ocwen must terminate FPI within 15 days of obtaining proof that a borrower has an existing insurance policy. As it turned out, Ocwen exceeded the mandated error threshold of 5 percent for Metric 29 during the first quarter of 2017, according ...

September 11, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

PHH, Realogy, Others Settle RESPA Case for $17 Million

A complaint filed in late 2015 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in an attempt to initiate a class-action case against PHH Corp. and Realogy Holdings Corp. and some of their subsidiaries and affiliates has been brought to an end, after the defendants agreed to pay $17 million to resolve the dispute. PHH, Realogy and the other industry participants were accused of violating Section 8(a) of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act by allegedly “paying and receiving kickbacks, referral fees, or other things of value in connection with the referral of title insurance and other settlement services to Title Resource Group and its affiliates.” They also were accused of running PHH Home Loans as an improper ...

September 11, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

Smaller Players Support Proposal to Close TRID’s ‘Black Hole’

The biggest mortgage lenders and the national industry trade groups have yet to formally submit comments to the CFPB regarding the bureau’s proposal that would close the so-called black hole associated with the agency’s integrated disclosure rule. But smaller players aren’t waiting around for the big dogs to weigh in and are expressing their support for the agency’s proposed solution. Monica Montgomery, head of mortgage compliance for Dubuque Bank & Trust, said she fully supports removing the four-business-day limit for providing closing disclosures for purposes of resetting tolerances and determining if an estimated closing cost was disclosed in good faith. “There are many circumstances where a closing is delayed beyond the control of the creditor after a CD had been ...

September 11, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

Congress Starts to Consider TRID Legislation, Other Changes to CFPB

Members of Congress wasted no time getting to work on the CFPB when they returned to the nation’s capital last week after the Labor Day holiday. A subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing to consider a few legislative proposals to foster a more efficient federal financial regulatory regime, including a soon-to-be introduced TRID Improvement Act. Slated to be introduced by Rep. French Hill, R-AR, the TRID Improvement Act of 2017 would amend the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and the Truth in Lending Act to expand the period in which a creditor is allowed to cure a good-faith violation on a loan estimate or closing disclosure from 60 to 210 days after consummation. The bill also ...

September 11, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

CFPB Eyeballing Equifax, Forced Arbitration an Issue

An official from the CFPB confirmed late last week the agency is looking into the massive data breach at Equifax, widely seen as the most significant, and potentially most damaging, so far in the age of the Internet. A spokesman for the bureau told this newsletter, “The CFPB has authority over the consumer reporting industry, including supervisory and enforcement authority. The CFPB is authorized to take enforcement action against institutions engaged in unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices, or that otherwise violate federal consumer financial laws. We are looking into the data breach and Equifax’s response, but cannot comment further at this time.” However, it’s not just the occurrence of the breach that bothers the consumer regulator. As part ...

September 8, 2017 - Inside The GSEs

An HOA Foreclosure Win in NV for Fannie, Freddie Lenders

There is good news for GSE lenders and servicers, as a recent court ruling found that Nevada’s super-priority lien law cannot be used to foreclose on government-owned mortgages. In Berezovsky v. Moniz, the court ruled that the Federal Foreclosure Bar, part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, preempted state law and banned a homeowners association from being able to eliminate a GSE’s interest and foreclose on a property. The court rejected arguments that the Federal Foreclosure Bar did not apply in the Nevada HOA context. Attorneys with Bradley Arant Boult Cummings said, “The Berezovsky decision represents a resounding win for lenders and servicers of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae loans.”

September 8, 2017 - Inside The GSEs

Justice Department Indicts Former Dallas FHLBank CEO for Fraud

The U.S. Attorney for the District of Texas indicted the former CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas, along with two other former bank employees, for fraud. They were accused of creating fake travel reimbursement requests for lavish trips and embezzlement schemes that began back in 2008. Terrence Smith, at the helm of the bank from 2000 to 2013, and Nancy Parker, chief information officer around the same time, were charged with six counts of making false statements, according to the Department of Justice. And Michael Sims, chief financial officer from 2005 to 2014, was charged with three counts of making false statements.

September 8, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Former S&P Rating Manager Beats Fraud Charges In CMBS Case but Fails to Avoid Negligence Finding

A former employee of Standard & Poor’s Rating Services beat fraud charges alleging she loosened S&P’s rating methodology for commercial MBS to generate business for her employer. However, she was found liable of the lesser charge of negligence for failing to disclose the change. In his initial Aug. 29 decision, Administrative Law Judge James Grimes of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s administrative court said that while Barbara Duka did change the firm’s rating methodology for CMBS, he found no evidence that she intended to manipulate, deceive or defraud investors. Rather, Duka, manager of S&P’s CMBS rating group, did...

September 7, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Ninth Circuit Upholds GSE Security Interest, Rules Federal Foreclosure Bar Preempts State HOA Law

Lenders and servicers of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages notched a big win in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which found that a federal bar on foreclosure on government-sponsored enterprise loans preempted Nevada’s superiority lien law. As a published decision, the court’s ruling in Berezovsky v. Moniz resolves the dispute in favor of the federal foreclosure bar, according to Marc James Ayers and R. Aaron Chastain, attorneys with Bradley Arant Boult Cummings. It serves as a binding precedent in the Ninth Circuit and should guide other circuits in deciding cases involving homeowners associations’ super-priority liens, they said. In Berezovsky, the panel affirmed...

September 7, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

PHH Corp., Realogy, Others Agree to $17 Million Settlement to Resolve RESPA Class Action Litigation

PHH Corp. and Realogy Holdings Corp. and some of their subsidiaries and affiliates recently agreed to a $17 million settlement to bring to an end a putative class-action lawsuit over allegedly deceptive and collusive practices in violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. At issue were allegations of arranging kickbacks for unlawful referrals of title services. The plaintiffs in the case alleged...


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