Archive: June 2013

1
FHA Seeks Statutory Authority to Transfer Mortgage Servicing Rights
2
HUD Renewal and Recertification
3
Supreme Court Takes Mount Holly Disparate Impact Case
4
CFPB’s RESPA Radar Pointed at Affiliated Business Arrangements
5
New State Laws May Reduce Foreclosure Timelines
6
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to Restrict Purchases to Qualified Mortgages – The Future for Non-QM Loans Remains Unclear
7
CFPB Addresses Double-Counting of Loan Originator Compensation in Points and Fees

FHA Seeks Statutory Authority to Transfer Mortgage Servicing Rights

By: Laurence E. Platt,  Kathryn M. Baugher

For at least the third time in recent months, the Federal Housing Administration (“FHA”) has asked Congress for legislative authority to force underperforming loan servicers to transfer the servicing of FHA-insured loans to another servicer.

FHA Requests for Authority to Transfer Servicing

FHA’s latest request came on June 4, 2013, when FHA Commissioner Carol Galante testified before the Senate Committee on Appropriations. In her written testimony, she proposed that Congress provide legislative authority for FHA to require the transfer of servicing “when a servicer is at or below a servicer tier ranking score (TRS) of III, or when the Secretary deems the action necessary to protect the interests of the MMI [Mutual Mortgage Insurance] Fund.” Under these circumstances, FHA would like the power to “(1) transfer servicing from the current servicer to a specialty servicer designated by FHA; (2) require a servicer to enter into a sub-servicing arrangement with an entity identified by FHA; and/or (3) require a servicer to engage a third-party contractor to assist in some aspect of loss mitigation (e.g. borrower outreach).”

At the hearing, Commissioner Galante indicated that some servicers appear to be meeting individual loss mitigation requirements, but their portfolios still have a lower rate of successful loan modifications relative to other servicers. Commissioner Galante stated that there appears to be “something deeper going on” with these servicers that FHA reviews are unable to identify. In situations where FHA cannot get the servicer to improve loss mitigation outcomes “through other means,” FHA would like to require a transfer of servicing.

While Commissioner Galante’s testimony created some buzz in industry publications, her proposal is not a new one. In fact, FHA made identical requests in November and December of 2012. In December 2012, for example, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan called the requested authority “a critical step,” and said that it would “send a very strong message to those servicers that are underperforming.” Secretary Donovan also made clear that FHA needs legislative authority in order to force the transfer of servicing as proposed.

Risks Associated with FHA’s Proposal

In making this legislative request, FHA did not discuss the interplay between FHA and Ginnie Mae, or the impact that FHA authority to transfer servicing might have on Ginnie Mae. While FHA insures certain of the pooled mortgage loans underlying Ginnie Mae securities, FHA is not a counter-party to the servicing agreements for such loans. In the ordinary course, Ginnie Mae would be the counter-party under the Guaranty Agreements pursuant to which Ginnie Mae guarantees the servicer’s (or in Ginnie Mae parlance, the “issuer’s”) payment obligations to security holders. Thus, any remedy demanded by FHA will have a ripple effect on the Ginnie Mae servicing rights. In addition, any requirement to transfer servicing or appoint a sub-servicer presumably would have to be accomplished in accordance with Ginnie Mae guidelines.

The risk of FHA forcing a transfer of servicing may dilute the value of the contract right to service, because the servicer may be forced into a distressed sale, particularly if the required time period for the transfer is short. It may lead to a cross-default under other commercial agreements, such as a revolving credit agreement that financed the acquisition or holding of such rights. If it is deemed to be a regulatory action or sanction, FHA’s requirement may have an adverse impact on state mortgage servicing and origination licenses. And the circumstances that give rise to the forced transfer of servicing or appointment of a sub-servicer might be used by Ginnie Mae as an event of default under the Guaranty Agreement and provide an independent basis for Ginnie Mae to terminate the servicing (“issuer responsibility”) with cause.

The bottom line is that FHA’s request for new statutory authority should be carefully considered. While a requirement to transfer servicing is a less drastic alternative than the loss of FHA approval from the perspective of an approved mortgagee, the inability to realize fair market value for the mortgage servicing rights in question could have a significant adverse effect on a servicer. We would hope that any proposed legislation in this area would not authorize FHA to impair valuable mortgage servicing rights without, at a minimum, building in robust “due process” protections and standards of materiality or material adverse effect.

HUD Renewal and Recertification

By: Stacey L. Riggin
*Ms. Riggin is not admitted to the practice of law.
 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development published notice in the Federal Register on June 18, 2013 that it is seeking public comments on the information used by FHA to verify that lenders meet all approval, renewal, update and compliance requirements. The notice solicits comments on ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information and to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, such as electronic submission of responses. Read More

Supreme Court Takes Mount Holly Disparate Impact Case

By: Stephanie C. Robinson

Today, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in the appeal titled Township of Mount Holly, New Jersey v. Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens in Action, Inc., et al., No. 11-1507, agreeing to consider whether the Fair Housing Act allows claims under the disparate impact theory of discrimination. The disparate impact doctrine imposes liability on defendants for actions undertaken without discriminatory intent but which nonetheless have an allegedly disproportionately harmful effect on protected classes of persons.

Read More

CFPB’s RESPA Radar Pointed at Affiliated Business Arrangements

By: Holly Spencer Bunting

Have you been wondering whether the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) is focusing its enforcement efforts on the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (“RESPA” or “Act”)? After the public announcement of two RESPA-related consent orders, the answer is yes. And, given the alleged facts of the most-recent settlement, that focus is on a familiar topic – affiliated business arrangements.

To read the full alert, click here.

New State Laws May Reduce Foreclosure Timelines

By: Morey Barnes Yost

Is this the beginning of the end for foreclosure mediation programs?

Currently under review by Missouri Governor Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon is House Bill 446, which would prohibit cities and counties from enacting laws or ordinances impacting the enforcement of servicing of real estate loans. (The Governor’s deadline for action is July 14.) The measure’s real impact: abolishing local-level foreclosure mediation programs, such as those in place in the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County since 2012 (until recently enjoined by Missouri courts).

Read More

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to Restrict Purchases to Qualified Mortgages – The Future for Non-QM Loans Remains Unclear

By: Kristie D. Kully , Andrew L. Caplan

On May 6, 2013, the FHFA, the regulator (and conservator) of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the “GSEs”), directed the GSEs to limit their mortgage acquisitions to Qualified Mortgages (or loans that are otherwise exempt from the CFPB’s Ability to Repay Rule), effective January 10, 2014. This FHFA Directive (the “Directive”) will ensure that the GSEs only purchase loans that are fully amortizing, have a term of 30 years or less, and have points and fees limited to 3% of the total loan amount (and meet all the other QM criteria). Read More

CFPB Addresses Double-Counting of Loan Originator Compensation in Points and Fees

By: Kristie D. Kully Anaxet Y. Jones

Earlier this week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) issued a final rule (the “Final Rule”) that attempts to fix the double-counting problem when including loan originator compensation in the points and fees calculation for Qualified Mortgages (“QMs”) and high-cost loans under Section 1026.32 (“HOEPA Loans”). Read More

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