Regulators Jointly Approve Final Risk Retention Rule

On October 22, coordinated by the Department of Treasury, six federal agencies – the Board of Governors, HUD, FDIC, FHFA, OCC, and SEC – approved a final rule requiring sponsors of securitized transactions, such as asset-backed securities (ABS), to retain at least 5 percent of the credit risk of the assets collateralizing the ABS issuance. The final rule, which largely mirrors the proposed rule issued in August 2013, defines a “qualified residential mortgage” (QRM) and exempts securitized QRMs from the new risk retention requirement. Government-controlled Fannie and Freddie are exempt from the rule. Most notably, the final rule’s definition of a QRM parallels with that of a qualified mortgage as defined by the CFPB. Further, initially part of the proposed rule, the final rule does not include down payment provisions for borrowers. The final rule will be effective one year after publication in the Federal Register for residential mortgage-backed securities, and two years after publication for all other types of securitized assets.

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Banking, Housing Regulators Release Revised Credit Risk Retention/QRM Rule

On August 28, the FDIC, OCC, Federal Reserve Board, FHFA, SEC, and HUD released a revised rule to implement the credit risk retention requirements of the Dodd-Frank Act, including provisions defining “qualified residential mortgages” (QRMs). A memorandum prepared by FDIC staff in connection with the re-proposal highlights certain substantial changes from the rule as originally proposed, including, among others: (i) generally defining a QRM as a mortgage meeting the requirements for a “qualified mortgage” as defined by the CFPB; (ii) calculating the 5% risk retention requirement for non-QRM mortgages and other non-exempt assets based on fair value (rather than par value) of the securitization transaction; (iii) eliminating the premium capture cash reserve account requirements; (iv) permitting the sale and hedging of required risk retention after specified time periods; (v) permitting a sponsor to hold any combination of vertical and horizontal first-loss interests that together represent 5% of the fair value of a securitization; (vi) providing that commercial, commercial real estate and automobile loans satisfying underwriting requirements for exemption from risk retention could be blended in asset pools with non-qualifying loans of the same asset class and remain eligible for reduced risk retention; and (vii) adding a new risk retention option for open market collateralized loan obligations (CLOs), available if the lead arrangers of the loans purchased by the CLO retain the required risk. The agencies also seek comment on an alternative QRM definition called QM-plus, which would encapsulate the core QM requirements but add additional conditions, including a 70% cap on LTV at closing, certain evaluation criteria with respect to credit history, and other product limitations. Comments on the re-proposed rule are due by October 30, 2013.

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FDIC to Consider QRM Proposal Next Week

This week, the FDIC released the agenda for an August 28, 2013 Board Meeting at which the Board will consider the re-proposal of a rule to implement the credit risk retention requirements of the Dodd-Frank Act, including provisions regarding “qualified residential mortgages” or QRMs. The FDIC and other federal banking and housing agencies originally proposed a rule in April 2011 that would have required sponsors of asset-backed securities (ABS) to retain at least five percent of the credit risk of the assets underlying the securities. Exemptions to the proposed rule included U.S. government-guaranteed ABS and mortgage-backed securities that are collateralized exclusively by residential mortgages that qualify as QRMs. The proposed rule would have established a definition of QRMs incorporating criteria designed to ensure that such QRMs were of very high credit quality, including a 20% down payment requirement or a requirement that the borrower’s debt-to-income ratio not exceed 36%. It recently has been reported that, in response to overwhelming objections from industry participants, the re-proposed rule will loosen those standards and align the QRM definition with the CFPB’s qualified mortgage or QM definition.

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Senator Urges Federal Regulators to Sync QRM Rule with CFPB’s QM Standard

On January 22, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) sent a letter to federal regulators responsible for finalizing the Dodd-Frank Act mandated “qualified residential mortgage” (QRM) standard, urging that the final QRM definition mirror the “qualified mortgage” (QM) definition recently promulgated by the CFPB. The QRM rule will define those loans exempt from the Act’s risk retention requirements for mortgage securitizers, a requirement that also will be set by the rule though it cannot be less than the statutory floor of five percent of the credit risk for any asset that is not a QRM. The Act also prohibits the QRM standard from being broader than the QM definition. Senator Corker maintains that, because the QRM rule will exempt loans sold to federal government sponsored enterprises and government agencies, “if the QRM rule is written differently than the QM rule, most financial institutions will only originate loans intended for sale to” those entities and as a result the return of private capital to the secondary market will be limited.

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