HUD Releases Final Loan-Level Certification: Lenders Should Not Be Penalized for Minor Mistakes

On March 15, HUD announced the completion of FHA’s loan-level certification, Form 92900-A. Significantly, the final certification clarifies FHA’s “longstanding position” that “minor mistakes that do not affect the decision to approve a loan are not the focus of [FHA’s] compliance efforts” and that “lenders will be held accountable for only those mistakes that would have altered the decision to approve the loan.” The certification also clarifies that lenders are required to certify only “to what they know to be true to the best of their knowledge” and that they are not responsible for “mistakes or fraud committed by a third party that the lender did not or could not have had reason to know of.” Finally, the certification removes references to the pre-endorsement review requirement. HUD issued Mortgagee Letter 2016-16 to advise mortgagees of the revised certification, which is effective August 1, 2016.

On March 15, HUD’s proposed revisions to the FHA annual lender certification were published in the Federal Register. According to HUD’s announcement, the primary revision to the annual lender certification form is the “addition of language requiring lenders to certify that they have not been involved in fraud or other serious criminal or civil violations that would call into question their ability to carry out the responsibilities of the program.” Previously, this language was included in the loan-level certification. In addition, the proposal also amends the lender-level certification statement regarding compliance with all FHA regulations and requirements by (i) adding guidebooks to cover certain FHA policy; (ii) revising the language to clarify the intent and scope of the statement; (iii) removing timeframes and revising the qualifier so that it matches the similar qualifier in other statements; and (iv) detailing reporting requirements in HUD Handbook 4000.1. Comments on the proposal are due April 14, 2016.

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HUD Reaches $2.8 Million Settlement Over Redlining Allegations

On February 29, HUD announced an agreement with a Kansas City-based bank over its alleged redlining practices against African-American mortgage applicants. Two fair housing organizations (Complainants) filed separate complaints with HUD in October 2015 alleging that the bank engaged in discriminatory acts and violated the Fair Housing Act. According to Complainants, the bank’s “lack of market penetration in African-American communities made residential real estate products less available to persons based on race.” Complainants further alleged that the bank “designated their service area, or assessment area, in a way that excluded areas of high African-American concentration, which resulted in making residential real estate products less available to persons based on race” – a practice generally referred to as redlining. The agreement requires that the bank must, during the three-year agreement period: (i) allocate $75,000 in subsidy funds to provide discounts on home purchase loans to majority African-American census tracts in the Kansas City area; and (ii) originate $2.5 million in mortgage loans in African-American neighborhoods. Read more…

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FY 2017 Budget Proposal: Implications for FHA Down Payment Assistance Programs

As previously noted, the White House released the FY 2017 Budget Proposal this week. President Obama’s proposed HUD budget for FY 2017 would revise the FHA down payment assistance requirements found under Section 203(b)(9) of the National Housing Act (12 U.S.C. 1709) by (i) replacing subparagraph (C) (Prohibited sources), and adding a new subparagraph (D) (Government assistance). The proposed amendment to the National Housing Act “seeks to clarify that down payment assistance from state and local governments and their respective agencies and instrumentalities are not impermissible sources of down payment assistance.”                        

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FHA Publishes Consolidated Multifamily Handbook

Recently, the FHA published a new Multifamily Accelerated Processing Guide (MAP Guide) that consolidates underwriting and program requirements in one document. The revised MAP Guide is intended to “cut the time required to approve loan applications and to assure consistent application of program requirements and credit standards across all HUD processing offices.” The revised MAP Guide comes after the FHA’s February 2015 release of a draft version of the guide and incorporates revisions into four main areas: (i) technical corrections and edits based on operational guidance; (ii) incorporation of previously published policy issued since 2011, including Mortgagee Letters, Housing Notices, and Memos; (iii) inclusion of significant organizational and operational business model changes related to the Multifamily for Tomorrow transformation initiative; and (iv) revisions to policy. The new MAP Guide will become effective for all applications for FHA multifamily mortgage insurance received after May 28, 2016.

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HUD Announces $1.9 Million Settlement with Memphis-Based Bank over Alleged FHA Discrimination

On February 1, HUD announced a $1.9 million settlement with a Memphis-based bank to resolve alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act. Specifically, the complainant alleged that the bank “was responsible for discriminatory terms and conditions for making loans, discrimination in the making of loans, and discriminatory financing, with respect to real estate transactions.” In addition, the complainant alleged that the bank engaged in discriminatory practices by failing to place bank branches in minority-concentrated areas, ultimately denying African-American and Hispanic applicants mortgage loans. The bank denied the allegations, but agreed to “voluntarily settle [the] controversy and resolve [the] matter without the necessity of an evidentiary hearing or other judicial process . . . .” Under the agreement, the bank will (i) establish a subsidy fund of $1.5 million over three years to provide interest rate reductions on home mortgages, along with down payment or closing cost assistance to qualified borrowers in identified regional areas; (ii) contribute $270,000 over the course of three years to support governmental or community-based organizations’ efforts to help homeowners repair properties in predominantly minority communities, or to provide credit, financial, homeownership, or foreclosure-prevention services to homeowners in affected areas; (iii) pay directly to the complainant $105,000 to fund similar home repair, credit, financial, homeownership, and foreclosure services; and (iv) pay directly to the complainant $25,000 in damages.

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