New FHFA Rule Requires Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to Submit “Underserved Markets Plan”

FHFA published a final rule in the December 18 Federal Register implementing certain “Duty to Serve” provisions of the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992, as amended by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. Among other things, these provisions require that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac adopt formal plans to improve the availability of mortgage financing in a “safe and sound manner” for residential properties that serve “very low-, low-, and moderate-income families” in three specified underserved markets: manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation, and rural markets. FHFA’s new rule addresses this obligation by requiring both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to submit to FHFA a three-year “Underserved Markets Plan” that describes the activities and objectives they will undertake to meet their Duty to Serve requirements. The Plans will become effective January 2018, after which time, the new rule requires further that FHFA annually evaluate, rate, and report to Congress each Enterprise’s compliance with its Duty to Serve obligations as required by the statute.

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FHFA: No Increase on Multifamily Loan Caps for GSEs

On November 22, FHFA announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s caps for multifamily lending will remain at $36.5 billion for 2017. The determination was based on the agency’s projection that the overall size of the multifamily finance market will remain roughly the same as it was in 2016. Multifamily loans in designated affordable and underserved segments will remain excluded from the caps.

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CFPB Creates HMDA and ECOA Safe Harbor for New Fannie/Freddie Application Form

On September 29, the CFPB published an Approval Action in the Federal Register that provides a safe harbor under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) and Regulation B for lenders who use the revised Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA) form issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in August 2016. The Bureau’s Approval Action states that it has “determined that the relevant language in the 2016 URLA is in compliance with” Regulation B’s requirements for whether, and how, a creditor may seek information about an applicant’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, and income sources, and information about an applicant’s spouse or former spouse. Read more…

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GSEs Release Redesigned Uniform Residential Loan Application

On August 23, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSEs) published a redesigned Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA), the first substantial update to the standardized form used by borrowers applying for a residential loan in more than 20 years. The GSEs also released a redesigned Uniform Loan Application Dataset (ULAD) Mapping Document, used to “ensure consistency of data delivery.” The GSEs revised the URLA and ULAD by (i) redesigning the format to support better efficiency and more accurate data collection; (ii) including new and updated fields intended to “[c]apture loan application details that reflect today’s mortgage lending business and support both the GSEs’ and government requirements”; (iii) simplifying instructions; and (iv) incorporating revised HMDA demographic questions. The GSEs released FAQs about the redesigned URLA and ULAD, which will be available for lender use beginning January 1, 2018. Among other things, the FAQs note that (i) the GSEs will continue to support the URLA in paper form; and (ii) updates to the published documents may be required as a result of the CFPB’s review of the redesigned URLA in connection with the Regulation B safe harbor.

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FHFA Announces New Refinance Offering for High LTV Borrowers; Extends HARP through September 2017

On August 25, FHFA announced that the GSEs will implement a new refinancing offering for borrowers having high LTVs who meet certain criteria. The new offering contains a number of similarities to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), including not subjecting eligible borrowers to a minimum credit score, not establishing a maximum debt-to-income ratio or maximum LTV, and often not requiring an appraisal. Dissimilarities from HARP include not imposing eligibility cut-off dates and allowing borrowers to use the offering more than once to refinance their mortgage. Borrowers will not have access to the new offering until October 2017. As such, the FHFA directed the GSEs to extend HARP through September 30, 2017, ensuring that “high LTV borrowers who are eligible for HARP will not be without a refinance option while the new refinance offering is being implemented.”

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