Proposed RESPA Reform

When I read the news on HUD’s proposed reform of the Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act (RESPA) I was skeptical. Cathy from Sequim challenged me to read the 96-page federal register document so we could all figure out what’s going on. I am here to tell you that there is one very good change coming out of this proposal. In fact, it’s so good that I am borderline hopeful that this change might do what legislation is suppose to do and what HUD forgot to do when they signed the original version of RESPA in 1974. But first, the changes that will have many, but not all mortgage brokers screaming bloody murder:

HUD wants to make the Good Faith Estimate (GFE) look the same, no matter where homebuyers apply. Right now there are many off-the-shelf (OTS) software systems that make the GFE look different from company to company. Also, some OTS software can be modified. Some fees, for example, the Yield Spread Premium (YSP), are shown down at the bottom of the form, below the “total costs

Washington State Legislative Alert: SB 6381 and SB 6452

Two Senate bills have been introduced into the state legislature this session.

The first bill, SB 6381 (link opens a 2 page PDF) will change the state’s Mortgage Broker Practices Act to require that mortgage brokers owe fiduciary duties to consumers.  In order to make fiduciary duties meaningful, they must be extended to include the loan originators that work under a mortgage broker. The legislature should make that crystal clear.  Many LOs work out of branch offices and are unsupervised on a day to day basis by their broker, who may be located in a different office or in a different state. 

[photopress:capital.jpg,thumb,alignleft]I recommend that the state legislature also include not only mortgage brokers but businesses licensed under the state’s consumer loan act.  We must not forget that the two largest predatory lending lawsuits in the United States were settled with companies that were NOT mortgage brokers but consumer loan lenders: Household Finance and Ameriquest.  If we do not make this change, unscrupulous mortgage brokers may just change the way they’re licensed. This loophole should be closed now.

The second bill, SB 6452 (link opens an 11 page document) also changes the state’s MBPA in an interesting way. At the bottom of page 3, this bill would remove a mortgage broker’s ability to quote a Yield Spread Premium range.  Recall that brokers can see the wholesale cost of mortgage money, and elect to quote a higher interest rate to the consumer and earn the difference as profit.  Sometimes, when a borrower wants a “no cost loan

End of Month Fireworks: LOE's and YSP's

(LOE) Letter of Explanation:

Can a loan officer draft their own letter of explanation (typically to explain issues on a credit report or some other circumstance) on behalf of the borrower? Is this ok, ethical or worse, fraudulent. If they can draft the letter and the borrower signs it, is it acceptable at that point? If underwriting became aware of this, even though the borrower signed the form indicating that it is a true statement, would that fly? My wife and I are arguing over this, but we don’t know the answer.

YSP (Yield Spread Premium):

There may be some agents that do not understand this, so I’ll let the loan officers explain its meaning and various uses.

Recently, a borrower at a signing was given a brutally clear disclosure/explanation of the YSP as part of their loan package. It disclosed how the YSP could be used to assist the borrower in paying for closing costs, or buying down the interest rate or used as additional compensation to the loan officer for INCREASING (this “increasing” verbage was on the disclosure and not used here for effect) the interest rate over what the borrower could have received. This disclosure actually stated the interest rate on the note and the specific amount of the compensation going to the broker over and above the 1% loan origination. I’ve never seen such a clearly explained YSP disclosure. Many lenders do not have a YSP explanation disclosure as part of the loan documents.

Did the disclosure or the loan officer (LO) kill the transaction (with borrowers who had sterling credit, pushing the envelope with a 3 yr. pre-pay penalty AND the YSP)? I really would like comments because my guess is that the LO will blame the lender. In this case, the borrower was highly concerned (there is a better word for it , but concerned will do) and promptly called the LO to discuss the situation and I’m speculating that the conversation also touched on why this disclosure was not given when they made loan application or on the GFE. The borrowers promptly signed the rescission and left. Although I am somewhat aware of up-front disclosures on the lending side, perhaps someone in the business could shed light on this. Obviously, you cannot know loan fees until the lender, loan program and interest rate is chosen.

Lastly, should any escrow firm be entitled to a full escrow fee for fulfilling their job and recovering any third party fees incurred during the escrow period? Any escrow/title/attorney folks want to comment on that?