Fed Proposes Rule Under Reg. Z Pertaining to Ability to Repay Mortgage and Minimum Underwriting Standards

On April 19, 2011, the Federal Reserve Board requested public comment on a proposed rule under Regulation Z that would require creditors to determine a consumer’s ability to repay a mortgage before making the loan and would establish minimum mortgage underwriting standards.

The proposal would apply to all consumer mortgages except home equity lines of credit, timeshare plans, reverse mortgages, or temporary loans and provides four options for complying with the ability-to-repay requirement:

  • Meet the general ability-to-repay standard by considering and verifying specified underwriting factors, such as the consumer’s income or assets;
  • Make a “qualified mortgage,” which provides the creditor with special protection from liability provided the loan does not have certain features, such as negative amortization; the fees are within specified limits; and the creditor underwrites the mortgage payment using the maximum interest rate in the first five years. The Board is soliciting comment on two alternative approaches for defining a “qualified mortgage”;
  • A creditor operating predominantly in rural or underserved areas can make a balloon-payment qualified mortgage. This option is meant to preserve access to credit for consumers located in rural or underserved areas where banks originate balloon loans to hedge against interest rate risk for loans held in portfolio; and
  • Refinance a “non-standard mortgage” with risky features into a more stable “standard mortgage” with a lower monthly payment. This option is meant to preserve access to streamlined re-financings.

The proposal would also implement the Dodd-Frank Act’s limits on prepayment penalties.

The Board is soliciting comment on the proposed rule until July 22, 2011. General rulemaking authority for the Truth in Lending Act is scheduled to transfer to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on July 21, 2011. Accordingly, this rulemaking will be finalized by the CFPB, not the Board.

Questions?  Contact the Compliance Hotline: 1.800.546.4465 or email us at compliance@nwcua.org

Posted in Compliance, NWCUA.