On October 11, the State Regulatory Registry (SRR) proposed changes to (i) the uniform NMLS company, branch, and individual licensing forms developed by state regulators and used by all states through NMLS and (ii) the NMLS Mortgage Call Report (MCR). The proposal incorporates public comments received following an initial April 2013 proposal. The proposed licensing form changes would, among other things, (i) allow a company to designate more than one branch manager within an industry, (ii) revise business activity on company and branch forms, and (iii) collect other trade names on company and branch forms by agency and not by state. Changes to the NMLS licensing forms and certain changes to the format of the MCR are expected to be implemented in March 2014. The proposal notes that given expected changes to HMDA reporting requirements, the SRR will propose substantive changes to the MCR in 2014 with an expected implementation timeframe in 2015. Comments on the proposed changes are due by November 11, 2013.
On October 23, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a $3 million penalty against a mortgage lender that the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) determined engaged in deceptive practices concerning interest rate charges and related conduct. The DFS identified the violations during a 2010 examination. The consent order states that the lender (i) collected loan discount fees from certain borrowers to reduce the initial rate but failed to provide the discounted rates, (ii) facilitated originations through unlicensed originators, (iii) conducted business with unlicensed entities and through unauthorized websites and unlicensed branches, (iv) conducted business through improper “affiliated business arrangements,” (v) failed to disclose loan origination information, (vi) failed to issue commitment agreements to certain borrowers, and (vii) failed to properly maintain books and records. The lender consented to the penalty, agreed to refund $427,155 of unearned loan discount fees to 270 borrowers, and agreed to submit a written compliance program within 120 days, submit quarterly compliance progress reports over a three-year period, and take other corrective actions. The consent order noted that in 2011 the company entered into a $3.1M settlement with HUD over similar alleged conduct.
On October 1, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors announced that five additional state agencies have implemented the new national SAFE MLO test, bringing the total number of participating state agencies to 35. The new test, which was announced in January and launched in April, includes a uniform state component to replace the state-specific component in adopting states.
The Utah Division of Real Estate recently published amendments to provisions of the Residential Mortgage Practices and Licensing Rules. The changes (i) remove the term “principal” from references to “principal lending manager” in conformity with the description used by the National Mortgage Licensing System, (ii) modify certain requirements for schools providing licensure-related courses, and (iii) impose a requirement that licensees annually complete a division-approved course on Utah law.
On August 26, the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions announced that it issued a statement of charges against a company that accepts and transmits mortgage payments on behalf of homeowners in the state, alleging that the company (i) violated state licensing requirements by failing to obtain the required license as a money transmitter, (ii) misled consumers about the company’s affiliation with their lender, servicer, or a government agency and how often payments would be transmitted, and (iii) falsely represented the amount of interest borrowers would save by having the company make payments.
On July 1, the CSBS announced that ten additional state agencies will use the new National SAFE MLO test. Twenty state agencies adopted the test when it initially was introduced in April 2013. The uniform test combines both the national and state testing requirements of the SAFE Act, replaces the separate, state-specific tests for the states that adopt it, and streamlines the license application process for mortgage loan originators (MLOs) seeking licenses in multiple states. The CSBS reports that an additional five state agencies are scheduled to adopt the test by the start of 2014.
On May 24, Texas enacted SB 1004, which reorganizes and simplifies the state’s mortgage licensing regime. Under current law, mortgage loan originators who are employed by mortgage bankers are licensed under separate sections of the code, which together contain six individual types of licenses. Each of these licenses require the same set of qualifications, however, an originator licensed under one chapter must get a separate license to be qualified under the other chapter, and vice versa. SB 1004 creates a single license type for mortgage origination, which will enable a qualified individual to originate for a mortgage company or a mortgage banker, so long as the individual meets the statutory licensure requirements. The bill makes numerous other revisions relating to the regulation of residential mortgage loan originators, residential mortgage loan companies, mortgage bankers, and residential mortgage loan servicers and raises the fee cap for license applications and renewals. The changes become effective on September 1, 2013.
On May 20, the CFPB issued Bulletin 2013-05, which clarifies that the Uniform State Test (UST) developed by the NMLS may constitute a qualified written test under the federal SAFE Act for state-licensed mortgage loan originators if the UST covers all required areas, including state laws and regulations. The Bulletin further explains that a separate test for each state covering the particular laws and regulations of that state plus a National Test Component developed by the NMLS may also meet the qualified written test requirement under the SAFE Act.
On May 9, Indiana enacted HB 1081, which makes numerous changes to the state’s consumer lending, licensing, and banking laws. Among those changes, the bill increases the threshold loan amounts under various definitions in the Uniform Consumer Credit Code, including “consumer credit sale,” “consumer loan,” and “consumer related loan.” With regard to mortgage originator licensing, the bill (i) revises the surety bond requirements for creditors and entities exempt from licensing that employ a licensed mortgage loan originator, (ii) prohibits an unlicensed individual or an unlicensed organization to act as a closing agent in a first lien mortgage transaction, and (iii) empowers the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) to investigate any licensee or person that the DFI suspects is operating without a license or in violation of the First Lien Mortgage Lending Act. The bill provides additional guidelines for filing an article of dissolution of a bank, trust company, or a building and loan association. It also makes changes to the certain powers of banks and trust companies. In addition, the bill make numerous amendments related to debt management companies, lead generators, and other consumer financial service providers, and revises requirements for money transmitter licensing by, for example, authorizing the DFI to designate the NMLS for licensing purposes.
Earlier this month, the CSBS sought comment on potential revisions to (i) the uniform NMLS company, branch, and individual licensing forms and (ii) the quarterly NMLS Mortgage Call Report. The forms create a national standard of information collection for entities licensed through NMLS, while the quarterly call reports provide comprehensive and uniform information concerning the financial condition of licensed mortgage companies, their mortgage loan activities, and the production information of their mortgage loan originators. The state regulators are seeking comment on, among other things, potential improvements to form changes made in 2012. With respect to the call reports, the state regulators are seeking input on (i) the definition of “application” in the call report, (ii) criteria to be used when determining which companies file the different versions of the report, (iii) whether any policies, requirements, data fields, or definitions should be amended, and (iv) which aggregate call report data should be publicly reported. Comments are due by June 11, 2013.
Tennessee Makes Minor Changes to Mortgage Licensing Rules. On April 11, Tennessee enacted HB 160, a bill that makes certain minor changes to the state’s mortgage licensing law. The bill removes current licensing exemptions for (i) a person who owns a vacant tract of real property which the person subsequently subdivides and sells the tracts, regardless of the number of individual tracts sold and the number of ultimate purchasers of such tracts of real property, and (ii) a person or agent engaged solely in commercial real estate lending or who provides financing on property which is not intended to be owner-occupied by the person receiving the financing. The bill continues to allow licensed real estate brokers to include in any contract, mortgage terms agreed upon by the parties without having to obtain mortgage licenses, but clarifies that such communications cannot include the offering or negotiating of any terms of a residential mortgage loan. The changes took effect immediately.
Kansas Increases Mortgage Interest Rate Cap. On April 4, Kansas enacted SB 52, which increases the maximum annual interest rate for certain mortgages from 1.5 percentage points to no more than 3.5 percentage points above a specified monthly floating rate set by Freddie Mac.
On March 13, Idaho enacted HB 10, a bill to amend the licensing provisions of the Idaho Residential Mortgage Practices Act. The bill (i) provides a license exemption for individuals who originate mortgages on behalf of federal, state, or local government housing agencies, (ii) removes language inconsistent with federal interpretation of the SAFE Act relating to an exclusion from the definition of “mortgage loan originator,” and (iii) makes it a prohibited practice for a person to violate license-related testing or education procedures. The bill also authorizes the director to subpoena records related to unlicensed activity by any person and also clarifies licensing exemptions for Idaho attorneys and accountants. By state rule, the law is set to take effect on July 1, 2013.
The Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry (NMLS) held its fifth annual NMLS User Conference and Training in San Antonio, Texas from February 26 through March 1, 2013. The Conference brought together state and federal mortgage regulators, industry professionals, compliance companies, top law firms, and education providers to learn about the latest developments in mortgage supervision and to discuss pressing issues confronting the industry.
The first day of the Conference included the bi-annual NMLS Ombudsman Meeting, which provided an opportunity for NMLS users to raise issues concerning the NMLS, state and/or federal regulation. NMLS Ombudsman Timothy Siwy, Deputy Secretary of Non-Depository Institutions with the Pennsylvania Department of Banking, presided over the meeting, in which specific questions submitted by industry representatives were addressed. Several of the submitted questions focused on the new Uniform State Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) Exam or Uniform State Test (the UST) of which 24 agencies have already adopted. Concerns were raised by the regulators as some state statutes require that a state’s specific laws be tested as a pre-requisite of MLO licensure. Others, such as regulators from California and Utah, had concerns that MLOs would not adequately learn state specific laws and regulations prior to licensure. In light of these concerns, industry representatives indicated that the UST is only the first step in licensure, and continuing education requirements, monitoring, and examinations would also serve as opportunities to ensure MLOs are well-versed in applicable state specific licensing laws and regulations.
Other areas of focus included NMLS’s expansion to include non-mortgage licenses, such as payday lender and pawn broker licenses. Some industry representatives voiced concern that approval of a license via the NMLS now carries with it an image of legitimacy with the public and expanding licensure to non-mortgage, less regulated industries could undermine that image. Regulators responded that the NMLS is a tracking mechanism—a way for regulators to track licensees state-to-state and industry-to-industry—not an independent licensing credential.
Full details regarding the specific issues submitted for comment, as well as accompanying exhibits, will be available on the NMLS Website, Ombudsman Page. A recording of the Ombudsman Meeting should be posted to the NMLS Resource Center in the near future.
The remaining days of the Conference covered Read more…
On March 7, Nebraska enacted two bills intended to amend and clarify requirements for installment loan brokers, payday lenders, mortgage bankers, and mortgage loan originators (MLOs). The first, LB 279, makes nonsubstantive clarifications to the definition of a “loan broker” and narrows the exemption for accountants to certified public accountants only. The bill also authorizes the Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance to share examination reports and other confidential information with the CFPB and other state regulators. The second, LB 290, removes many mortgage licensing requirements previously applicable to individuals and separately identifies MLO duties. Those duties include providing notification to the Department (i) within 10 days of events such as bankruptcy, criminal indictments, and suspension/revocation proceedings; and (ii) within 30 days of certain changes, including changes of employer and address. The bill also allows firms to electronically submit certain required reports and provides that the 120-day period for calculating abandonment of a license application runs from the date the Department sends the applicant electronic notice of deficient items. By state rule, both bills take effect three months after the end of the state’s legislative session, which scheduled to conclude May 30, 2013.
On February 20, Virginia enacted HB 1803, which conforms Virginia law to federal SAFE Act regulations, as recommended by the Virginia Housing Commission. The bill (i) expands the definition of a mortgage loan originator to include an individual who represents to the public that he can or will take an application for, or offer or negotiate the terms of, a residential mortgage loan, (ii) exempts from licensing requirements any individual acting as a loan originator in financing the sale of his or her own residence, (iii) specifies conditions under which an attorney engaged in mortgage loan origination activities is exempt from licensing requirements, (iv) removes the definition of “federal banking agencies”, and (v) defines the term “employee.”