Washington State Department of Financial Institutions has released an updated interpretive statement on loan modifications late this afternoon. People who perform loan modification services for Washington State homeowners must be licesed as a loan originator and under the supervision of a broker, or be working under a licensed consumer loan company. Attorney have a limited exemption and non-profit housing counseling agencies are also exempt. Real estate agents are not exempt.
Licensees that charge a fee for loan modification services in advance of the services being provided must obtain a signed fee agreement for loan modification services from the borrower. Any fees paid in advance of services provided must go into the company’s trust account prior to disbursement, or be submitted to an independent escrow or title company to be held until disbursed at the instruction of the parties consistent with the fee agreement. Licensees are prohibited from collecting fees via direct access to a borrower’s bank account or via use of the borrower’s credit card.
A loan modification normally begins with a hardship analysis which is an examination of the borrower’s current mortgage, income, expenses, and ability to repay. The hardship analysis includes meetings or conversations with the borrower(s) and a determination of the borrower’s eligibility for a modification based on the particular lender’s eligibility requirements or the eligibility requirements of a federal modification program. The hardship analysis, sometimes referred to as “Phase I services,