On April 11, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report titled, “Nonbank Mortgage Servicers: Existing Regulatory Oversight Could Be Strengthened.” The report analyzes data on the mortgage servicing market from June 2006 through June 2015 from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (collectively, the Enterprises), the Federal Reserve, and Ginnie Mae, as well as academic studies and research conducted by industry organizations, federal agencies, and others since the financial crisis. The report focuses in particular on the role of nonbank servicers in servicing privately securitized nonprime loans. According to the report, the percentage of mortgage loans serviced by nonbank servicers – which, according to market participants, tend to service more delinquent loans than banks – increased significantly from the first quarter of 2012 through the second quarter of 2015, but still account for less than a quarter of the overall mortgage servicing market. Concerns regarding the regulatory oversight of nonbank servicers are highlighted in the report, which comments on (i) the CFPB’s direct role in overseeing nonbank servicers’ compliance with federal consumer financial laws; (ii) state regulators’ various prudential and operational requirements for nonbank servicers; and (iii) Ginnie Mae and the Enterprises’ monitoring of nonbank servicer activities to manage risk exposure. According to the report, issues related to nonbank servicers’ “aggressive growth and insufficient infrastructure have resulted in harm to consumers, have exposed counterparties to operational and reputational risks and … complicated servicing transfers between institutions.” Based on the findings summarized in the report, the GAO recommends that (i) Congress consider giving FHFA the authority to examine third parties doing business with the Enterprises; and (ii) the CFPB collect additional data regarding the identity and number of nonbank servicers.
The Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) and the Multi-State Mortgage Committee (MMC) issued a report to state regulators regarding its 2015 review of the supervisory structure around examination and risk assessment of non-bank mortgage loan servicers. Notable servicing examination findings outlined in the report include: (i) violations and deficiencies related to loan transfer activity, noting that a “significant portion of servicing examination findings are tied to the mortgage servicing requirements implemented into the [RESPA] and [TILA] in January of 2014”; (ii) ineffective oversight of sub-servicer activity and insufficient third party vendor management; and (iii) ineffective examination management procedures on the part of mortgage servicers, leading to delayed examination processes, as well as impeded regulatory oversight. The report further outlines origination examination findings, emphasizing RESPA violations related to Mortgage Servicing Agreements (MSAs) which typically include payments for promotional advertising services performed on behalf of the mortgage company. Read more…
Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the District Court of Nevada’s ruling that, for the purposes of the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C § 3729(b)(2)(A)(i), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not instrumentalities or officers, employees, or agents of the federal government. U.S. ex rel. Adams v. Aurora Loan Servs., Inc., No. 14-15031 (9th Cir. Feb. 22, 2016). In this case, the plaintiffs alleged that several lenders and loan servicers (collectively, defendants) made certain false certifications to Fannie and Freddie in connection with the purchase and sale of loans. Plaintiffs argued that the False Claims Act applies to claims made to Fannie and Freddie because they are agencies or instrumentalities of the federal government under one of the two definitions of a “claim” in the Act. The Ninth Circuit held that Fannie and Freddie are not federal instrumentalities for FCA purposes of the first definition of a “claim,” notwithstanding the government’s conservatorship. Likewise, the court confirmed that because Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are private companies, albeit subject to the government’s conservatorship, claims made to the companies were not made to an officer, employee or agent of the federal government. The court observed that plaintiffs did not make an argument under the second definition of claim under the FCA, which defines a claim as a request or demand made upon non-government third parties under certain conditions, and therefore expressed no opinion on whether such a claim could have been brought.
On February 9, the OCC terminated mortgage servicing-related consent orders against Delaware and Ohio-incorporated banks. The OCC determined that the two banks now comply with the original April 2011 consent orders and lifted business restrictions placed on the banks last year, having amended the orders in February 2013 and June 2015. The OCC simultaneously announced $3.4 million and $10 million civil money penalties, to be paid to the U.S. Treasury, against the Delaware and Ohio-incorporated banks, respectively, for their failure to correct deficiencies in the 2011 consent orders in a “timely fashion.”
OCC Releases Quarterly Mortgage Metrics Report Showing Continued Improvement through Third Quarter of 2015
On December 14, the OCC released its quarterly Mortgage Metrics Report. The report shows continued improvement of the mortgage performance of first-lien mortgages during the third quarter of 2015. 93.9% of mortgages included in the report were current and performing at the end of the quarter, compared to last year’s 93%. In addition, 30 to 59 days past due mortgages made up 2.3% of the portfolio, representing a 4.4% decrease from a year earlier, and 60 or more days past due mortgages made up 2.6%, representing a 16.1% decrease. The report also highlights a decline in both foreclosure activity and the need for other loss mitigation actions. The OCC’s report reflects performance data on first-lien residential mortgages serviced by eight national banks maintaining large mortgage-servicing portfolios.