Consumers continue to face problems with mortgage servicing, particularly when they apply for a loan modification to avoid foreclosure, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s latest monthly complaint report.
Some of the findings in the snapshot include:
“Despite strong protections that have been put in place to protect homeowners, this month’s complaint report shows consumers are still having problems when dealing with their mortgages,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “The Bureau will continue to work to make sure that consumers are being treated fairly on their mortgage issues.”
As of Sept. 1, 2015 the Bureau has handled about 192,500 mortgage-related complaints. Overall, the bureau has received more than 702,900 complaints across all products.
The Bureau expects companies to respond to complaints and to describe the steps they have taken or plan to take to resolve the complaint within 15 days of receipt. The CFPB expects companies to close all but the most complicated complaints within 60 days.
During a hearing Sept. 14 before the House Financial Services Committee, U.S. Rep. French Hill encouraged Congress to pass legislation that would provide for limited liability for those who in good faith attempt to comply with the new TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) requirements that go into effect Oct. 3.
On July 9, the House Financial Services Committee passed legislation introduced by Hill that would extend the hold-harmless period until Feb. 1, 2016. The Homebuyers Assistance Act (H.R. 3192) also says that no lawsuit may be filed against a person for a violation of the TRID rule occurring before such date, so long as the person has made a good faith effort to comply with the rule.
During the hearing, Hill said that some 230,000 Americans refinance or buy a new home every month and “they’re going to be the ones who are victimized by this confusing rule that doesn’t get implemented properly due to a technology reason or a misunderstanding at a real estate brokerage, or a title company, or a bank.”
“I hope we can (pass H.R. 3192) before October 3, so that our title (companies), commercial banks, mortgage bankers, real estate agents all have some confidence that they can go into this new closing regime and not be penalized, either by the federal government or through civil liability,” Hill added. “We can't defend bureaucratic intransigence at the expense of our home-buying public.”
ALTA has joined 17 other industry groups urging federal regulators to provide formal guidance on how regulators plan to enforce TRID for the initial months following implementation on Oct. 3.
The letter asks the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) “to implement a clearly articulated transition period that addresses how regulators will oversee and examine regulated institutions for TRID compliance during this transition period.”
Without clear guidance, it’s expected access to mortgage credit will be constrained due to fear of enforcement actions for errors committed in good faith. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has said it will be sensitive to those making good-faith efforts to comply.
“Transitioning to the new TRID regulatory framework is a sea change for every participant in the mortgage lending,” the letter stated. “Industry stakeholders have undertaken extensive efforts to comply with these rules, but, even now, they are discovering significant compliance issues. These discoveries raise liability concerns that cannot be realistically resolved before the October 3 deadline, as many will require formal authoritative guidance.”
The letter also asked the FFIEC to recognize the severe penalties that can arise under these new rules. Because of this, the groups asked that the FFIEC announce guidelines that would provide institutions making a good-faith effort to comply relief from enforcement for a reasonable period following Oct. 3.
Joining ALTA on the letter were American Bankers Association, American Escrow Association, The Appraisal Firm Coalition, Appraisal Institute, Collateral Risk Network, Consumer Bankers Association, Community Home Lenders Association, Consumer Mortgage Coalition, Community Mortgage Lenders, Credit Union National Association, Housing Policy Council, Independent Community Bankers of America, Mortgage Bankers Association, National Association of Home Builders, National Association of Mortgage Brokers, National Association of Realtors and Real Estate Services Providers Council.
The Title Action Network has asked members to take action and urge their representatives to co-sponsor and vote yes on H.R. 3192.
The proper placement and naming convention for a survey related charge is one of the most complex in the new TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosures (TRID) rule. Lenders and settlement agents should work closely together to understand the reason a survey is being ordered to ensure its proper placement on the new disclosures. Here are some examples of different circumstances and how they could impact the placement of the survey charge.
Since the facts of the situation will influence the appropriate placement and naming protocol of the survey fee, it is important for lenders and settlement agents to get on the same page about the reason the survey is being purchased and the proper placement on the disclosure. It is better to have the conversation before closing then to resolve a mistake post closing during the quality review process.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosures (TRID) rule significantly impacts the closing process and how data will need to be exchanged to complete the forms. While new online platforms and software programs have been developed to aid data sharing, the rule does allow for the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure to be completed by hand if specific requirements are met.
Answering common TRID questions during a webinar earlier this year, CFPB staff indicated that under the rule there is no requirement that the settlement agent or creditor use a computer, typewriter or other word processor to complete the forms. The rule says that information and amounts required to be disclosed may be hand printed, “provided the person produces clear and legible text” and complies with the required formatting, including replicating bold font where required.
CFPB staff said there is no specific font size requirement, but noted that the rule requires the disclosures be completed “clearly and conspicuously.” The font sizes and labels on the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure may not be changed, however.
Here’s what the rule specifically says about manually filling out the forms:
Comment 37(o)(5)-2 (for Loan Estimate)
Section 1026.37(o) does not require the creditor to use a computer, typewriter, or other word processor to complete the disclosure form. The information and amounts required to be disclosed by § 1026.37 on form H–24 of appendix H to this part may be filled in by hand printing or using any other method, provided the information is clear and legible and complies with the formatting required by form H–24, including replicating bold font where required.
Comment 38(t)(5)-2 (for Closing Disclosure)
The creditor, or settlement agent preparing the form, under § 1026.19(f)(1)(v) is not required to use a computer, typewriter, or other word processor to complete the disclosure required by § 1026.38. The creditor or settlement agent may fill in information and amounts required to be disclosed by § 1026.38 on form H–25 of appendix H to this part by hand printing or using any other method, provided the person produces clear and legible text and uses the formatting required by § 1026.38, including replicating bold font where required.
Since announcing the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule in 2013, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has hosted a series of webinars to address frequently-asked questions regarding the new rule’s requirements. On May 26, the CFPB hosted its fifth TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosures webinar. Click here to listen to a recording of the webinar and to download a copy of the presentation.
In this webinar, the CFPB addressed implementation challenges and questions, including a question that many ALTA members have been struggling to understand: how to disclose the owner’s and lender’s title insurance premiums on the Closing Disclosure form in a simultaneous issue scenario. Below is the text of the rule addressing how to disclose simultaneous issue rates:
Simultaneous Title Insurance Premium Rate in Purchase Transactions. The premium for an owner's title insurance policy for which a special rate may be available based on the simultaneous issuance of a lender's and an owner's policy is calculated and disclosed pursuant to § 1026.37(g)(4) as follows:
During the webinar, the bureau emphasized its rationale behind its mandated calculation method for disclosing title insurance premiums when there is a discounted title insurance premium. The CFPB realizes that its calculation method will render inaccurate disclosures of the lender’s and owner’s title insurance premiums on the disclosure forms. However, the bureau feared that by disclosing the discounted rate of the lender’s policy and showing the owner’s policy at the full premium, consumers would not understand the incremental cost of purchasing an owner’s title insurance policy. Additionally, if the consumer opted not to purchase an owner’s title insurance policy, the cost of the lender’s policy would then increase substantially, resulting in a higher cost to close than anticipated by the lender and the consumer. However, despite the inaccurate disclosures of the individual costs of the premiums, the sum of the premiums under the rule’s mandated calculation will equal the sum actually charged to the consumer when the consumer pays for both the owner’s and lender’s title insurance policies.
The CFPB recognized that in situations in which the seller pays for the owner’s title insurance policy on behalf of the buyer, the Cash to Close figure on the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure form will be inaccurate. In this webinar, the bureau addressed how to allocate the seller’s contribution for title insurance the when the seller has agreed to pay for the owner’s title insurance cost as part of the purchase and sale contract with the consumer. In a seller-pay situation, the bureau indicated that there are at least three ways in which the additional credit between the seller and the consumer may be disclosed on the Closing Disclosure:
The bureau stated that any one of these three methods for disclosing the remaining amount of the seller’s credit for the owner’s title insurance premium is permissible under the final rule. However, it is important to note that this presentation does not represent legal interpretation, guidance or advice of the bureau, and should not be used as a substitute for the rule. Only the rule and its Official Interpretations can provide complete and definitive information regarding requirements.
The overwhelming majority of title professionals will be prepared for the Aug. 1, 2015, implementation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosures (TRID) rule, according to a survey conducted by ALTA.
The survey showed that 92 percent of respondents indicated that their companies will be prepared to handle the new forms and comply with the regulation. The survey polled more than 500 title professionals, including title agents, underwriters, attorneys and abstracters.
While most title professionals will be prepared for implementation, 87 percent believe TRID will delay closings or result in closings taking longer to complete. Only 5 percent believe the disclosures won’t affect closings, while 8 percent are unsure. The top reasons given as to why closing delays will occur include:
According to one person who took the survey, “lenders I've spoke with seem to have a timeline already in place for when the order comes in. The three-day rule cuts down a lot of the time lenders have to work on things. With the way business has always been conducted in this industry, a dramatic change like this will not happen overnight. There are too many hands in the cookie jar to make this go smoothly and to complete the assigned tasks on time.”
Some who took the survey believe the new regulations will cause transactions to take up to 60 days to close. Others believe the new forms will tack on an additional two or three weeks to the closing process. One person pointed out how this will impact REO sales and the strict closing deadlines. “The three-day rule will lengthen the lender's process, most likely delaying the closing from the seller's close-by date. This means the agents will need to get an addendum to extend the closing date, which takes additional time to get the seller's approval and signature. This could potentially become a vicious circle of delays,” the respondent said.
According to the survey, more than two thirds believe the TILA-RESPA forms will not help the CFPB meet its objective of helping consumers understand or be better prepared to understand the costs of buying a home. Meanwhile, only 15 percent believe TRID will help consumers better understand their transaction.
Some do believe the new Closing Disclosure will help consumers understand the costs associated with purchasing a home. According to one person, “The contents of the Closing Disclosure Form is great and I love the first page details. However, I believe the average consumer will choose to ignore the remainder. It is all about how much is my payment and how much do I bring to closing. Beyond that, most simply do not care.”
However, others said that while the forms may display fees in a more readable fashion, consumers will still want and need to read it and understand it.
“While the new forms are generally understandable, there will be confusion about the title premiums, just as one example. We will probably need to use a simple closing statement to help the borrower and seller understand,” according to one person who took the survey. (Read ALTA Board Approves Model Settlement Statements)
In order to prepare for the new forms and rules, 43 percent of those polled will devote at least 26 hours to training staff. Another 33 percent will spend at least 11 to 25 hours training staff to handle the disclosures.
More than half of those surveyed reported they have either viewed a test version of their software to produce the Closing Disclosure or that a demo has been scheduled. However, 39 percent indicated they have not viewed a demo of updated software and that nothing has been scheduled.
Collaborating with lenders to exchange data and meet production and delivery requirements of the three-day rule is the top concern of those who took the survey.
Because there are many unknowns with how the disclosures will work in actual transactions, ALTA has asked that the CFPB follow a “hold harmless” period of restrained enforcement and liability through the end of 2015 following the Aug. 1 implementation of TRID.
Similar to existing law, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s final TILA-RESPA rule restricts the circumstances in which consumers can be required to pay more for settlement services than the amount stated on their Loan Estimate.
Generally, good faith requires the closing cost estimate on the initial Loan Estimate to equal the final amount charged on the Closing Disclosure. Here's a look at which fees can and can't change:
In today’s current practices, many providers add a cushion for costs on the HUD-1 to account for items that can vary between the signing and when the transaction is settled after recording, such as recording fees, pro-rations and prepaid interest. The overage is then refunded after the final disbursements are made. Under the new rule, lenders and settlement agents must make more rigorous good-faith efforts to provide estimates that are more accurate. However, the delay between consummation and settlement in escrow states is likely to increase the need for post-closing corrected disclosures.
If the Closing Disclosure becomes inaccurate before consummation, the creditor shall send corrected disclosures so that the consumer received the corrected version at or before consummation. The changes are still subject to good faith requirements. Once the initial Closing Disclosure is issued, all changes should be made with an updated Closing Disclosure. The creditor may not provide a revised Loan Estimate on or after the date the creditor provides the consumer with the Closing Disclosure.
Under the new rule, if a lender allows a consumer to shop for a settlement service, the lender will be required to provide the consumer with a written list identifying available providers of that service and clearly stating that the consumer may choose a different provider for that service. The CFPB has provided a blank model form for the written list of settlement service providers, a sample of written list of providers consumers can shop for and a sample of written list of providers consumers cannot shop for.
What About Title Insurance?
According to the CFPB, owner’s title insurance that is not required by the creditor is not subject to the 10 percent variance. The CFPB said it is aware that the preamble to the final rule contains potentially conflicting language, but advises that the final rule text is what should be followed.
The 10 percent variance category includes recording fees and charges paid to unaffiliated third-party service providers when the consumer is permitted to shop for a settlement service provider, but chooses a provider from the creditor’s written list of providers (§ 1026.19(e)(3)(ii)).
Owner’s title insurance is not a charge that is assigned to a particular variance category. Therefore, the applicable variance category depends on other factors, including whether the creditor requires the insurance and, if so, whether the consumer may shop for the provider of the insurance.
To the extent owner’s title insurance is not required by the creditor and is disclosed as an optional service, under the rule the insurance is not subject to any percentage variation limitation, even if paid to an affiliate of the creditor.
A lot has been written (including by us) about the RESPA-TILA rules new three-day requirement and its potential to cause pauses and delays in the closing process. However, there is another new federally required three-day rule that settlement and real estate agents should be aware of that could make it even more difficult for you to meet your customers closing expectations.
On Jan. 18, 2014, industry implemented the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) new rules for appraisals, including new requirements for consumers to receive copies of their appraisal. This rule was required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) and amended the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA).
Under the Appraisal Rule, creditors (aka lenders) must provide borrowers with a copy of any and all appraisals and other written valuations developed in connection with a mortgage or deed of trust. These copies must be provided to the borrower promptly upon the earlier of their completion, or three business days prior to consummation. Here in lies the rub.
Generally, an appraisal report includes comments and other scoring based on the condition of the real property and any improvements. It is also common for real estate agents and buyers and sellers to conduct a walk through of the property the day of settlement. If that walk through shows any changes to the condition of either the interior or exterior of the property, it may trigger the need for the appraiser to review the change and comment on those changes in an update appraisal report. This could trigger a new three-day waiting period under the Appraisal Rule.
Now, there is some good news. Unlike the RESPA-TILA three-day rule, the Appraisal Rule does include a waiver provision. This means that the borrower can waive this timing requirement and agree to receive the updated copy at or before consummation. In the event that an applicant waives the timing requirement and the transaction is not consummated, the creditor must provide the copies no later than 30 days after the creditor determines that the transaction will not be consummated. However, the waiver must be received by the creditor at least three days prior to consummation. This means a creditor cannot obtain a waiver after-the-fact or even at the time of discovering the need for a new appraisal report at walk through.
With the impending changes in our industry, whether regulatory or technology driven, it is more important than ever to be connected as a company—important to be connected in a way that makes it easy to share and collaborate. Email and it’s “back and forth” nature is not effective enough. A simple, secure. cloud based tool is required. Evernote fits the bill perfectly.
Evernote has been around since 2008. I first explored Evernote in 2010. Like many others, I had a start, stop, start again, stop again relationship with the green elephant. I felt like I was “forcing” myself to use Evernote because it was cool. I didn’t see the value of conquering the learning curve for a simple note taking app.
A dance with cancer in 2012 opened my eyes to the power of Evernote. Every single scan, report, EOB, appointment reminder, etc. is still in my account in a notebook labeled “C.”
I share my story because it resonates with many people that have the same love/hate relationship with Evernote. You are not alone. My mission is to explain the features that are useful in our industry as well one’s personal productivity.
Evernote’s motto is “Remember Everything.” It is excels at that. In the last year or so, there has been a diligent effort at Evernote to build a business tool that redefines how employees collaborate. Evernote is striving to create “one work space” instead of the multiple programs we currently navigate. Evernote Business is the latest iteration, and I will cover that in part two.
Evernote makes it drop dead simple to gather data into “notes” which are further organized into “notebooks” within the program. There are numerous ways to get information into a note. These include typing, recording audio, dictating, clipping from the web, taking photos, dragging files, emailing and even tweeting. Notes are shared via email or social networks from any device. Notes are assigned to a notebook and can be further identified with “tags.” The final level of organization is the Note Stack, which are a collection of notebooks. The organization within Evernote may seem limited to long-time Outlook users that have folders nested within folders that are nested within folders that are ... well, you know what I mean. Evernote relies on a superb search feature to help users find content.
Search in Evernote is powerful. In the free version of Evernote, search scans all text and text within images added to notes. So, a photo of a broker sign can be found by searching for the name of the company found on the sign. In the example below, searching through my business card notebook for Jeremy, you can see how Evernote search works.
Let’s discuss the types of Evernote accounts. There is a free version, and it is powerful enough for a new user. The free account allows 60 MB of data uploaded/month and a maximum note size of 25 MB. The premium version costs $5/month or $45/year. At this level, the upload per month is 4GB/month, and maximum note size is 100MB. Each version allows 100,000 notes and 250 notebooks. One big advantage for premium is upgraded search. This allows for searches within pdf’s. Evernote Business is the last level. $10/user/month gets you even more upload capability, corporate data ownership, centralized user management and SalesForce integration.
Uses for Evernote in the title industry vary from clipping industry content from the web using the Evernote Web Clipper to recording a meeting with a potential customer.
INSERT Evernote Web Clipper
I also have all of our marketing flyers in a business account notebook, and they can be easily viewed and shared by the entire team. Travel confirmations, meeting agendas and conference schedules are easily accessed on the run. Evernote is not a tool for secure escrow/title file information storage, but it is outstanding for storing and sharing non-secure information with team members/customers.
Many smaller agents do not use an expensive CRM solution for the sales operation. Evernote is an inexpensive alternative for sharing information amongst the Sales/Marketing/Admin teams that is accessible via every platform. Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, even Blackberry’s have an Evernote solution. The Evernote Premium account is required to make this effective. Premium allows Note and Notebook sharing, and the content is editable.
If you found this blog informative, don’t miss Part two, which will focus on specific uses Evernote Business provides for our industry, especially smaller agencies looking for an online, collaborative solution.
Bill Risser is vice president of new media and education for Chicago Title Agency. He can be reached at 602-667-1000 or email@example.com. Risser will speak at ALTA’s 2015 Social Media Summit, March 18 in Philadelphia, on how to manage your online reputation.