Mortgage Loan Origination

In a new era of double-digit unemployment resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be tough for a mortgage lender to predict the amount and stability of someone’s income in order to determine qualification for a home loan. Neither past nor even present levels of income may be reliable indicators of income levels going forward, at least in the short run or until the economic dislocations are substantially behind us. That is why Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the “government-sponsored enterprises,” or “GSEs”) recently issued enhanced documentation requirements and considerations for verifying and predicting the income of a self-employed applicant for a mortgage loan. While the GSEs’ documentation requirements apply via contract to approved lenders/sellers, whether those requirements will morph into legal requirements under the Dodd-Frank Act’s “ability to repay” requirements is something to watch in the coming months.

Revised GSE Underwriting Requirements for Eligible Loan Purchases

A determination of whether an applicant has the ability to repay a loan from his or her income or assets is a basic component of loan underwriting – as required both by federal (and sometimes state) law, and by a lender’s investors or insurers. In addition, federal regulations prohibit a lender of closed-end residential mortgage loans from relying on any income that is not verified by reliable documentation. Predicting whether that income will continue into the future takes skill when lending to self-employed borrowers under any circumstances, and is particularly tricky during this unique coronavirus economy. The now-waning government stay-at-home orders and other quarantining efforts may or may not have affected a particular borrower’s business operations, and the scale and duration of those effects going forward are difficult to predict.

In response to that uncertainty, on May 28, 2020 Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac issued guidance requiring that self-employed borrowers must submit a year-to-date (“YTD”) profit and loss statement (“P&L”) that reports business revenue, expenses and net income.
Continue Reading Self-Employed Borrowers’ Income – Is the Past Necessarily Prologue?

The use of representations and warranties insurance policies in M&A transactions has grown exponentially in the past decade. While the use of this type of insurance in acquisitions of residential mortgage originators and servicers is less common, there is tremendous opportunity for growth in the mortgage sector. This Legal Update discusses the benefits of these

In a development that industry observers may have overlooked amid more pressing concerns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Idaho legislature enacted a measure that will require mortgage servicers to be licensed by July 1, 2020, unless the date is extended. With last month’s enactment, Idaho joins the majority of states that license mortgage servicing and provides a useful reminder that, when things eventually return to some degree of normalcy, non-pandemic-related compliance obligations will remain. This blog post discusses Idaho’s new mortgage servicer licensing obligation and other pertinent provisions of the legislation.

The New Mortgage Servicer Licensing Obligation

Idaho House Bill 401 (“H401” or the “Bill”) amends the Idaho Residential Mortgage Practices Act (Idaho Code §§ 26-31-101 et seq.) (the “RMPA” or the “Act”) to include mortgage servicing among the activities that trigger licensing under the Act.
Continue Reading Regulatory Life Goes On—Idaho Legislature Remained in Session During COVID-19 Pandemic to License Mortgage Servicers

Since Mayer Brown issued a Legal Update describing guidance issued by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac (together with Fannie Mae, the “GSEs”), the Federal Housing Administration and the Veterans Administration (“VA”) relaxing requirements with respect to appraisals and income/employment verification during the COVID-19 emergency, the agencies have continued to revise their guidance as the market adjusts to the challenges encountered by mortgage lenders. The GSEs and the VA have all issued revised letters, and the US Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) issued new guidance to provide relief in connection with guaranteed single-family loans. Below we describe the USDA’s guidance regarding appraisals and employment verifications performed in connection with RHS loans and provide updates on the changes made by the GSEs and the VA to their appraisal guidance.
Continue Reading The GSEs and Other US Federal Agencies Issue New and Revised Guidance for Appraisals and Verifications of Employment

How do documents get signed and notarized when the parties signing the documents are faced with stay-at-home orders?  While both the federal Electronic Signatures In Global And National Commerce Act and state-enacted versions of the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act authorize notaries to perform electronic notarizations, electronic notarization is different than remote online notarization (RON).  Without

COVID-19 has strained all aspects of life in the United States, including the housing and mortgage industries.  Social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and business closures have disrupted the abilities of many workers to complete their duties on a “business as usual” basis.  In the mortgage market, there is a direct impact on a mortgage lender’s ability

Last week, in a blog entitled “Coronavirus Hits Home,” we informed you that we had contacted the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (“CSBS”) and regulators in a number of states to see what CSBS or the state regulators were telling mortgage lender or broker licensees as to whether their licensed MLO employees who had been quarantined in their homes because of the coronavirus (“COVID-19”) could continue to originate mortgage loans from their homes without the home being licensed as a branch office. Since that blog, CSBS has posted certain state-by-state COVID-19 guidance on the NMLS Resource Center, which among other things covers relevant business continuity plans for licensed mortgage loan officers. We urge you to check the NMLS Resource Center and the State Agency websites for the guidance provided.

Since we sent our request to state regulators as to relief from branch licensing for licensed MLOs who are quarantined in their homes, but want to continue to originate mortgage loans, a number of state regulators have responded directly and positively to our email request. As some of the guidance posted on the NMLS website may not cover the branch licensing issue we posed to CSBS and certain other state regulators, we thought it would be helpful to post some of the specific guidance we have received from state regulators that addressed the branch licensing concern raised by our clients.
Continue Reading Coronavirus Hits Hard – Branch Licensing May Be Waived

As concerns about the spread of the coronavirus escalate, some of our clients have raised branch office licensing questions about employees originating mortgage loans from their homes during a period of being quarantined in their home due to the coronavirus. All but a handful of states license branch offices, and most states require a licensed

The Taxpayer First Act (the “Act” or “TFA”) imposes new limits on the disclosure of US taxpayer tax information obtained on or after December 28, 2019. The Act is designed, among other things, to overhaul and modernize operations at the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”). One provision of the TFA has a direct impact on a recipient of taxpayer return information obtained directly from the IRS. Although questions remain about the reach of the new rule, it is already finding its way into structured finance and secondary market transactions.

Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”) governs the confidentiality and disclosure of tax returns and the information contained in tax returns. The TFA, effective as of December 28, 2019, amends Code Section 6103(c) to require taxpayers to consent to: (i) the particular purposes for which the recipient will use the taxpayer’s tax return information (the recipient may not use the information for any other purpose); and (ii) the sharing of any information from the tax return with other persons. Prior to the TFA amendment, Code Section 6103(c) simply authorized the IRS to release a taxpayer’s tax return information to parties designated by the taxpayer to receive it.
Continue Reading The Taxpayer First Act and the Impact on Secondary Market Participants  

We recently discussed the efforts of the Alternative Reference Rates Committee (ARRC) to prepare for the upcoming discontinuance of LIBOR as an index rate for residential mortgage and consumer loans. Our alert examined ARRC’s recommendations regarding an appropriate substitute rate (the Secured Overnight Financing Rate, or SOFR) and ARRC’s recommended changes to implement SOFR.  We