Congress Passes Reverse Mortgage Legislation; Senate Banking Committee Approves Broader FHA Reform Legislation

Posted on August 5th, 2013 in Federal Issues By BuckleySandler

On July 30, the U.S. Senate passed by unanimous consent the Reverse Mortgage Stabilization Act, H.R. 2167. The bill, which was passed by the House in June and now goes to the President for his signature, will allow HUD to use notices or mortgagee letters to establish additional or alternative requirements necessary to improve the fiscal safety and soundness of the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program.

On July 31, the Senate Banking Committee voted 21-1 to approve the FHA Solvency Act of 2013, S. 1376, as amended during committee markup. As previously reported, that bill also includes reverse mortgage provisions, as well as measures to more broadly reform the FHA. The bill as approved by the committee includes amendments that would, among other things, (i) provide that in addition to the principal dollar amount limitation on all insured HECM loans, fixed rate HECMs may not involve  a principal limit with a principal limit factor in excess of .61, (ii) allow HUD to promulgate rules to require servicers of FHA loans to enter into a subservicing arrangement with any independent specialty servicer approved by HUD, and (iii) prohibit FHA from insuring a mortgage executed by a borrower who was the borrower under any two residential properties that have been previously foreclosed upon. In addition, during the markup committee members offered and then withdrew numerous amendments that later could be included in the bill that is considered by the full Senate. For example, those amendments would (i) create a statutory requirement that HUD/FHA repay Treasury for any funds needed to stabilize the MMI Fund, (ii) revise the indemnification provisions to provide certainty for lenders, and (iii) provide the FHA additional flexibility in times of financial crisis to ensure it can play a countercyclical role. Finally, committee members agreed to work with the FHA to expand loss mitigation options for individuals who receive income from sources other than employment.

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