Nationstar Mortgage to Pay $1.75 for Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) Violations

$1.75 Million Civil Penalty is the CFPB’s Largest  for HMDA Violations

By Jeff Sorg, OnlineEd Blog

canstockphoto19773822 compliance 1(March 16, 2017) – WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has ordered Nationstar Mortgage LLC to pay a $1.75 million civil penalty for violating the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) by consistently failing to report accurate data about mortgage transactions for 2012 through 2014. This action is the largest HMDA civil penalty imposed by the Bureau to date, which stems from Nationstar’s market size, the substantial magnitude of its errors, and its history of previous violations. Nationstar had been on notice since 2011 of HMDA compliance problems.

In addition to paying the civil penalty, Nationstar must take the necessary steps this time to improve its compliance management and prevent future violations.

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For more information about OnlineEd and their education for real estate brokers, principal brokers, property managers, and mortgage brokers, visit www.OnlineEd.com.

All information contained in this posting is deemed correct as of the date of publication, but is not guaranteed by the author and may have been obtained from third-party sources. Due to the fluid nature of the subject matter, regulations, requirements and laws, prices and all other information may or may not be correct in the future and should be verified if cited, shared or otherwise republished.

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Trump Administration Considers $6 Billion Cut to HUD

“Dependency on HUD programs could become “a way of life” for recipients”

By Jeff Sorg, OnlineEd Blog

(March 10, 2017) – The Trump administration has considered more than $6 billion in cuts at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to preliminary budget documents obtained by The Washington Post. The WP reports that the plan would squeeze public housing support and end most federally funded community development grants, which provide services such as meal assistance and cleaning up abandoned properties in low-income neighborhoods.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson has taken a staunchly conservative stance on public assistance in the past, saying dependency on HUD programs could become “a way of life” for recipients, says the WP.

[Bounce to the full story: The Washington Post]

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For more information about OnlineEd and their education for real estate brokers, principal brokers, property managers, and mortgage brokers, visit www.OnlineEd.com.

All information contained in this posting is deemed correct as of the date of publication, but is not guaranteed by the author and may have been obtained from third-party sources. Due to the fluid nature of the subject matter, regulations, requirements and laws, prices and all other information may or may not be correct in the future and should be verified if cited, shared or otherwise republished.

OnlineEd® is a registered Trademark

Categories: Mortgage, Real Estate Tags:

Stats Say The Best Time to List is in Early May

On average homes listed in early May sell nine days faster and for one percent more 

OnlineEd Blog

canstockphoto1864187moneywoman(March 2, 2017) – Zillow– Listing a home toward the end of spring significantly increases a seller’s chances of selling their home faster and for more money, according to new analysis from Zillow. Nationally, homes listed from May 1 through May 15, sell around nine days faster and for nearly 1 percent more than the average listing. In 20 of the 25 largest metro areas, the best month to list is late spring, in either April or May.

Housing market dynamics, including low inventory, make the buying season more pronounced in some parts of the country. Sellers in the highly competitive Seattle, Portland, Ore., and Denver markets saw between a 1.5 and 2.5 percent boost to final sale prices when they listed in early May. The lack of new homes for sale in these markets elongates the home-buying season as many buyers are forced to consider several homes and make multiple offers. Less than half of buyers got the first home on which they made an offer, according to the Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends.

Weather patterns also affect the exact best window to sell in different areas. Sellers in Texas, California and Florida will find themselves with more flexibility in list timeframe, as many regions without distinct climate changes show little variation in sale price based on listing month.

“With 3 percent fewer homes on the market than last year, 2017 is shaping up to be another competitive buying season,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. “Many home buyers who started looking for homes in the early spring will still be searching for their dream home months later. By May, some buyers may be anxious to get settled into a new home— and will be more willing to pay a premium to close the deal.”

Additionally, listing on different days of the week can impact the number of buyers who will view the new listing. Listings that appear on Zillow on Saturday earn an average of 20 percent more views in the first week on market than early-in-the-week listings; similarly, Friday listings on Zillow earn 14 percent more views that those published on Monday.

To apply this analysis to individual homes, homeowners can use Best Time to List, a tool that estimates how much the timing of a listing will influence the final sale price for their home and their own market. Registered Zillow users access the tool by clicking the “Sell Your Home” tab on the home details page of their home, and obtain valuable information to pair with the expertise of a local real estate agent when determining the best time to put their home on the market.

Metro Area Ideal
Timeframe to
List Home
Days Sold
Faster than
Average
Average Sales
Premium (%)
Average Sales
Premium ($)
Ideal Day of the
Week to  List
United States  May 1 – 15 9 0.8% $1,500 Saturday
New York/Northern New Jersey May 1 – 15 7.5 0.7% $2,600 Saturday
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA  April 16 – 30 15 1.0% $5,600 Friday
Chicago, IL  May 1 – 15 12.5 1.3% $2,500 Friday
Dallas-Fort Worth, TX  May 1 – 15 9 1.3% $2,400 Saturday
Philadelphia, PA  May 1 – 15 9.75 1.0% $2,000 Friday
Washington, DC April 1 – April 15 15 1.2% $4,500 Thursday
Miami-Fort Lauderdale, FL  March 1 – 15 8 0.7% $1,500 Saturday
Atlanta, GA  April 1 – April 15 19 1.4% $2,200 Friday
Boston, MA  April 16 – 30 13.5 1.2% $4,500 Wednesday
San Francisco, CA  May 16 – 31 5.5 1.3% $10,200 Friday
Detroit, MI  March 16 – 31 17.5 1.5% $1,900 Sunday
Riverside, CA  April 1 – 15 15 1.1% $3,400 Friday
Phoenix, AZ  April 16 – 30 14.5 0.8% $1,700 Saturday
Seattle, WA  May 1 – 15 15 2.5% $9,300 Thursday
Minneapolis-St Paul, MN  May 16 – 31 6 1.4% $3,200 Friday
San Diego, CA  April 1 – 15 13 1.3% $6,200 Saturday
St. Louis, MO  May 1 – 15 10.5 1.3% $1,800 Saturday
Tampa, FL  March 1 – 15 10.5 0.9% $1,500 Saturday
Baltimore, MD  April 1 – 15 21.5 0.9% $2,300 Saturday
Denver, CO  May 1 – 15 8 1.7% $5,600 Friday
Pittsburgh, PA  March 16 – 31 17 0.9% $1,100 Saturday
Portland, OR  May 1 – 15 16.5 2.0% $6,300 Friday
Charlotte, NC May 1 – 15 12.25 1.1% $1,700 Saturday
Sacramento, CA April 1 – 15 17.5 2.0% $6,600 Saturday
San Jose, CA May 1 – 15 9 1.6% $14,900 Wednesday

[Source: Zillow media release]

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For more information about OnlineEd and their education for real estate brokers, principal brokers, property managers, and mortgage brokers, visit www.OnlineEd.com.

All information contained in this posting is deemed correct as of the date of publication, but is not guaranteed by the author and may have been obtained from third-party sources. Due to the fluid nature of the subject matter, regulations, requirements and laws, prices and all other information may or may not be correct in the future and should be verified if cited, shared or otherwise republished.

OnlineEd® is a registered Trademark

FinCEN Renews “Geographic Targeting Orders” to Identify High-End Cash Buyers in Six Metros

FinCEN is covering title insurance companies because title insurance is a common feature in the vast majority of real estate transactions.

OnlineEd Blog

(March 1, 2017) –  WASHINGTON—The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) today announced the renewal of existing Geographic Targeting Orders (GTO) that temporarily require U.S. title insurance companies to identify the natural persons behind shell companies used to pay “all cash” for high-end residential real estate in six major metropolitan areas. FinCEN has found that about 30 percent of the transactions covered by the GTOs involve a beneficial owner or purchaser representative that is also the subject of a previous suspicious activity report. This corroborates FinCEN’s concerns about the use of shell companies to buy luxury real estate in “all-cash” transactions.

“These GTOs are producing valuable data that is assisting law enforcement and is serving to inform our future efforts to address money laundering in the real estate sector,” said FinCEN Acting Director Jamal El-Hindi. “The subject of money laundering and illicit financial flows involving the real estate sector is something that we have been taking on in steps to ensure that we continue to build an efficient and effective regulatory approach.”

The GTOs renewed today include the following major U.S. geographic areas:  (1) all boroughs of New York City; (2) Miami-Dade County and the two counties immediately north (Broward and Palm Beach); (3) Los Angeles County; (4) three counties comprising part of the San Francisco area (San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties); (5) San Diego County; and (6) the county that includes San Antonio, Texas (Bexar County). The monetary thresholds for each geographic area can be found in this table. A sample GTO, which becomes effective for 180 days beginning on February 24, 2017, is available here.

FinCEN is covering title insurance companies because title insurance is a common feature in the vast majority of real estate transactions. Title insurance companies thus play a central role that can provide FinCEN with valuable information about real estate transactions of concern. The GTOs do not imply any derogatory finding by FinCEN with respect to the covered companies. To the contrary, FinCEN appreciates the continued assistance and cooperation of the title insurance companies and the American Land Title Association in protecting the real estate markets from abuse by illicit actors.

[Source: FinCEN media release]

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For more information about OnlineEd and their education for real estate brokers, principal brokers, property managers, and mortgage brokers, visit www.OnlineEd.com.

All information contained in this posting is deemed correct as of the date of publication, but is not guaranteed by the author and may have been obtained from third-party sources. Due to the fluid nature of the subject matter, regulations, requirements and laws, prices and all other information may or may not be correct in the future and should be verified if cited, shared or otherwise republished.

OnlineEd® is a registered Trademark

FinCEN Penalizes California Bank for Egregious Violations of Anti-Money Laundering Laws

Merchants failed to establish and implement an adequate anti-money laundering (AML) program

OnlineEd Blog

gavel money(February 28, 2017) – WASHINGTON—The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) today announced the assessment of a $7 million civil money penalty (CMP) against Merchants Bank of California of Carson, CA for willful violations of several provisions of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the primary federal regulator of Merchants, has identified deficiencies in the Bank’s practices that resulted in violations of previous consent orders entered into by Merchants, as well as other violations. The OCC simultaneously assessed a $1 million CMP against Merchants for these violations.

Merchants failed to (a) establish and implement an adequate anti-money laundering (AML) program, (b) conduct required due diligence on its foreign correspondent accounts, and (c) detect and report suspicious activity. Merchants’ failures allowed billions of dollars to flow through the U.S. financial system without effective monitoring to adequately detect and report suspicious activity. Many of these transactions were conducted on behalf of money services businesses (MSBs) that were owned or managed by Bank insiders who encouraged staff to process these transactions without question or face potential dismissal or retaliation. Bank insiders directly interfered with the BSA staff’s attempts to investigate suspicious activity related to these insiderowned accounts.

“The banking of money services businesses is important to the global financial system, and we believe that banks can mitigate the risks associated with such businesses, just as they do with other customers,” said FinCEN Acting Director Jamal El-Hindi. “But here we had an institution run by insiders essentially to provide banking services to MSBs that the insiders owned, combined with directions from Bank leadership to staff to ignore BSA requirements with respect to those MSB customers and others. It is certainly not an acceptable way to bank MSBs.”

Merchants specialized in providing banking services for check-cashers and money transmitters. However, it provided those services without adequately assessing the money laundering risks and without designing an effective AML program. Merchants also provided its high-risk customers with remote deposit capture services without adequate procedures for monitoring their use.

Merchants failed to provide the necessary level of authority, independence, and responsibility to its BSA officer to ensure compliance with the BSA as required, and compliance staff was not empowered with sufficient authority to implement the Bank’s AML program. Merchants’ leadership impeded BSA analysts and other employees from investigating activity on transactions associated with accounts that were affiliated with Bank executives, and the activity in these accounts went unreported for many years. Merchants’ interest in revenue compromised efforts to effectively manage and mitigate its deficiencies and risks.

In addition, Merchants banked customers located in several jurisdictions considered to be highrisk but did not identify these customers as foreign correspondent customers and therefore did not implement the required customer due diligence program. In a three-month period, Merchants processed a combined $192 million in high-risk wire transfers through some of these accounts.

The Bank’s payment of the $1 Million OCC penalty will be credited towards the satisfaction of the FinCEN penalty. FinCEN’s settlement with a financial institution does not preclude consideration of separate enforcement actions that may be warranted with respect to any financial institution or any partner, director, officer, or employee of a financial institution.

FinCEN seeks to protect the U.S. financial system from being exploited by illicit actors. Its efforts focus on compromised financial institutions and their employees, significant fraud, thirdparty money launderers, transnational organized crime and security threats, and cyber threats. FinCEN has a broad array of enforcement authorities to target both domestic and foreign actors affecting the U.S. financial system.

[Source: FinCEN media release]

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For more information about OnlineEd and their education for real estate brokers, principal brokers, property managers, and mortgage brokers, visit www.OnlineEd.com.

All information contained in this posting is deemed correct as of the date of publication, but is not guaranteed by the author and may have been obtained from third-party sources. Due to the fluid nature of the subject matter, regulations, requirements and laws, prices and all other information may or may not be correct in the future and should be verified if cited, shared or otherwise republished.

OnlineEd® is a registered Trademark

Pending Home Sales Weaken

Pending home sales fell 2.8% in January in the National Association of Realtors® Pending Home Sales Index

OnlineEd Blog

arrow, grey, downWASHINGTON D.C. (February 27, 2017) — Insufficient supply levels led to a lull in contract activity in the Midwest and West, which dragged down pending home sales in January to their lowest level in a year, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, decreased 2.8 percent to 106.4 in January from an upwardly revised 109.5 in December 2016. Although last month’s index reading is 0.4 percent above last January, it is the lowest since then.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says home shoppers in January faced numerous obstacles in their quest to buy a home. “The significant shortage of listings last month along with deteriorating affordability as the result of higher home prices and mortgage rates kept many would-be buyers at bay,” he said. “Buyer traffic is easily outpacing seller traffic in several metro areas and is why homes are selling at a much faster rate than a year ago 1. Most notably in the West, it’s not uncommon to see a home come off the market within a month.”

According to Yun, interest in buying a home is the highest it has been since the Great Recession. Households are feeling more confident about their financial situation, job growth is strong in most of the country, and the stock market has seen record gains in recent months. While these factors bode favorably for increased sales in coming months, buyers are dealing with challenging supply shortages that continue to run up prices in many areas.

“January’s accelerated price appreciation 2 is concerning because it’s over double the pace of income growth and mortgage rates are up considerably from six months ago,” said Yun. “Especially in the most expensive markets, prospective buyers will feel this squeeze to their budget and will likely have to come up with additional savings or compromise on home size or location.”

Existing-home sales are forecast to be around 5.57 million this year, an increase of 2.2 percent from 2016 (5.45 million). The national median existing-home price this year is expected to increase around 4 percent. In 2016, existing sales increased 3.8 percent and prices rose 5.1 percent.

“Sales got off to a fantastic start in January, but last month’s retreat in contract signings indicates that activity will likely be choppy in coming months as buyers compete for the meager number of listings in their price range,” added Yun.

The PHSI in the Northeast rose 2.3 percent to 98.7 in January and is now 3.6 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest, the index fell 5.0 percent to 99.5 in January and is now 3.8 percent lower than January 2016.

Pending home sales in the South inched higher (0.4 percent) to an index of 122.5 in January and are now 2.0 percent above last January. The index in the West dropped 9.8 percent in January to 94.6, and is now 0.4 percent lower than a year ago.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

[Source: NAR media release]

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For more information about OnlineEd and their education for real estate brokers, principal brokers, property managers, and mortgage brokers, visit www.OnlineEd.com.

All information contained in this posting is deemed correct as of the date of publication, but is not guaranteed by the author and may have been obtained from third-party sources. Due to the fluid nature of the subject matter, regulations, requirements and laws, prices and all other information may or may not be correct in the future and should be verified if cited, shared or otherwise republished.

OnlineEd® is a registered Trademark

Prospect Mortgage to Pay $3.5 Million Fine for Illegal Kickback Scheme

The CFPB’s investigation found that ReMax Gold Coast and Keller Williams Mid-Willamette accepted illegal payment for referrals

By Jeff Sorg, OnlineEd Blog

kickback bills(February 1, 2017) –  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on Tuesday took action against Prospect Mortgage, LLC, a major mortgage lender, for paying illegal kickbacks for mortgage business referrals. The CFPB also took action against two real estate brokers and a mortgage servicer that took illegal kickbacks from Prospect. Under the terms of the action announced today, Prospect will pay a $3.5 million civil penalty for its illegal conduct, and the real estate brokers and servicer will pay a combined $495,000 in consumer relief, repayment of ill-gotten gains, and penalties.

“Today’s action sends a clear message that it is illegal to make or accept payments for mortgage referrals,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “We will hold both sides of these improper arrangements accountable for breaking the law, which skews the real estate market to the disadvantage of consumers and honest businesses.”

Prospect Mortgage, LLC, headquartered in Sherman Oaks, Calif., is one of the largest independent retail mortgage lenders in the United States, with nearly 100 branches nationwide. RGC Services, Inc., (doing business as ReMax Gold Coast), based in Ventura, Calif., and Willamette Legacy, LLC, (doing business as Keller Williams Mid-Willamette), based in Corvallis, Ore., are two of more than 100 real estate brokers with which Prospect had improper arrangements. Planet Home Lending, LLC is a mortgage servicer headquartered in Meriden, Conn., that referred consumers to Prospect Mortgage and accepted fees in return.

The CFPB is responsible for enforcing the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, which was enacted in 1974 as a response to abuses in the real estate settlement process. A primary purpose of the law is to eliminate kickbacks or referral fees that tend to increase unnecessarily the costs of certain settlement services. The law covers any service provided in connection with a real estate settlement, such as title insurance, appraisals, inspections, and loan origination.

Prospect Mortgage

Prospect Mortgage offers a range of mortgages to consumers, including conventional, FHA, and VA loans. From at least 2011 through 2016, Prospect Mortgage used a variety of schemes to pay kickbacks for referrals of mortgage business in violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. For example, Prospect established marketing services agreements with companies, which were framed as payments for advertising or promotional services, but in this case actually served to disguise payments for referrals. Specifically, the CFPB found that Prospect Mortgage:

  • Paid for referrals through agreements: Prospect maintained various agreements with over 100 real estate brokers, including ReMax Gold Coast and Keller Williams Mid-Willamette, which served primarily as vehicles to deliver payments for referrals of mortgage business. Prospect tracked the number of referrals made by each broker and adjusted the amounts paid accordingly. Prospect also had other, more informal, co-marketing arrangements that operated as vehicles to make payments for referrals.
  • Paid brokers to require consumers – even those who had already prequalified with another lender – to prequalify with Prospect: One particular method Prospect used to obtain referrals under their lead agreements was to have brokers engage in a practice of “writing in” Prospect into their real estate listings. “Writing in” meant that brokers and their agents required anyone seeking to purchase a listed property to obtain prequalification with Prospect, even consumers who had prequalified for a mortgage with another lender.
  • Split fees with a mortgage servicer to obtain consumer referrals: Prospect and Planet Home Lending had an agreement under which Planet worked to identify and persuade eligible consumers to refinance with Prospect for their Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) mortgages. Prospect compensated Planet for the referrals by splitting the proceeds of the sale of such loans evenly with Planet. Prospect also sent the resulting mortgage servicing rights back to Planet.

Under the consent order issued today, Prospect will pay $3.5 million to the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund for its illegal kickback schemes. The company is prohibited from future violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, will not pay for referrals, and will not enter into any agreements with settlement service providers to endorse the use of their services.

The consent order filed against Prospect Mortgage is available at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/201701_cfpb_ProspectMortgage-consent-order.pdf

ReMax Gold Coast and Keller Williams Mid-Willamette

ReMax Gold Coast and Keller Williams Mid-Willamette are real estate brokers that work with consumers seeking to buy or sell real estate. Brokers or agents often make recommendations to their clients for various services, such as mortgage lending, title insurance, or home inspectors. Among other things, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act prohibits brokers and agents from exploiting consumers’ reliance on these recommendations by accepting payments or kickbacks in return for referrals to particular service providers.

The CFPB’s investigation found that ReMax Gold Coast and Keller Williams Mid-Willamette accepted illegal payment for referrals. Both companies were among more than 100 brokers who had marketing services agreements, lead agreements, and desk-license agreements with Prospect, which were, in whole or in part, vehicles to obtain illegal payments for referrals.

Under the consent orders filed today, both companies are prohibited from violating the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, will not pay or accept payment for referrals, and will not enter into any agreements with settlement service providers to endorse the use of their services. ReMax Gold Coast will pay $50,000 in civil money penalties, and Keller Williams Mid-Willamette will pay $145,000 in disgorgement and $35,000 in penalties.

The consent order filed against ReMax Gold Coast is available at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/201701_cfpb_RGCServices-consent-order.pdf

The consent order filed against Keller Williams Mid-Willamette is available at:http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/201701_cfpb_Willamette-Legacy-consent-order.pdf

Planet Home Lending

In 2012, Planet Home Lending signed a contract with Prospect Mortgage that facilitated the payment of illegal referral fees. The company’s practices violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Specifically, the CFPB found that Planet Home Lending:

  • Accepted fees from Prospect for referring consumers seeking to refinance: Under their arrangement, Planet Home Lending took half the proceeds earned by Prospect for the sale of each mortgage loan originated as a result of a referral from Planet. Planet also accepted the return of the mortgage servicing rights of that consumer’s new mortgage loan.
  • Unlawfully used “trigger leads” to market to Prospect to consumers: Planet ordered “trigger leads” from one of the major consumer reporting agencies to identify which of its consumers were seeking to refinance so it could market Prospect to them. This was a prohibited use of credit reports under the Fair Credit Reporting Act because Planet was not a lender and could not make a firm offer of credit to those consumers.

Under the consent order filed against Planet Home Lending, the company will directly pay harmed consumers a total of $265,000 in redress. The company is also prohibited from violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, will not pay or accept payment for referrals, and will not enter into any agreements with settlement service providers to endorse the use of their services.

The consent order filed against Planet Home Lending is available at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/201701_cfpb_PlanetHomeLending-consent-order.pdf

[Source: CFPB press release]

 

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For more information about OnlineEd and their education for real estate brokers, principal brokers, property managers, and mortgage brokers, visit www.OnlineEd.com.

All information contained in this posting is deemed correct as of the date of publication, but is not guaranteed by the author and may have been obtained from third-party sources. Due to the fluid nature of the subject matter, regulations, requirements and laws, prices and all other information may or may not be correct in the future and should be verified if cited, shared or otherwise republished.

OnlineEd® is a registered Trademark

OnlineEd® Receives OREF Award at Portland Metropolitan Association REALTORS® Luncheon

OnlineEd® receives Partnership and Outreach Award

By Jeff Sorg, OnlineEd Blog

(Januaharlow_1ary 24, 2017) –  (Portland, OR)  OnlineEd® president, Harlow Spaan, received the Partnership and Outreach Award from Oregon Real Estate Forms, LLC (OREF) for OnlineEd’s three years of on-line curriculum outreach at the 2017 Portland Metropolitan Association REALTORS® (PMAR) luncheon at Portland’s Multnomah Athletic Club.

“OREF, LLC appreciates the advancement of forms usage continuing education. The OnlineEd team provided quality on-line curriculum for Oregon brokers and OREF subscribers in short order after our OREF instructors Jeff Wiren of Premiere Property Group and Steve Russell of Windermere Stellar recorded the four courses,”  Said Lance Clark, CAE, CEO of Oregon Real Estate Forms, LLC who presented the award to Mr. Spaan.

Subscribers to OREF are primarily comprised of members of the Oregon Association of REALTORS®.

Click here to sign up for the OnlineEd free OREF 4-Course CE Package.

In 2016, approximately 3,700 Oregon brokers and  OREF subscribers earned 3-hours of free continuing education for license renewal from OnlineEd® by completing the 2016 Residential Sale Agreement and Matrix on-line curriculum.  The ongoing Continuing Education outreach for subscribers during the November 2016 – April 2017 education cycle includes another four hours of FREE CE from OnlineEd® with courses in the following OREF forms:

  1. Agreements to Occupy Before and After Closing,
  2. Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement,
  3. Private Well and On-Site Sewage System Addenda, and
  4. 2017 Residential Sale Agreement Updates.”

Click here to sign up for the OnlineEd free OREF 4-Course Package.

The PMAR event includes the annual installation of the incoming PMAR President and Realtor® of the Year presentation; this year Kerri Hartnett of Keller Williams Central was installed President and Jeff Wiren of Premiere Property Group was bestowed the Realtor® of the Year award.

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For more information about OnlineEd and their education for real estate brokers, principal brokers, property managers, and mortgage brokers, visit www.OnlineEd.com.

All information contained in this posting is deemed correct as of the date of publication, but is not guaranteed by the author and may have been obtained from third-party sources. Due to the fluid nature of the subject matter, regulations, requirements and laws, prices and all other information may or may not be correct in the future and should be verified if cited, shared or otherwise republished.

OnlineEd® is a registered Trademark

CITI Subsidiaries to Pay $28.8 Million for Giving the Runaround to Borrowers Trying to Save Their Homes

Mortgage Servicers Kept Borrowers in the Dark About Options, Demanded Excessive Paperwork

By Jeff Sorg, OnlineEd Blog

briefcase with money(January 23, 2017) – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today took separate actions against CitiFinancial Servicing and CitiMortgage, Inc. for giving the runaround to struggling homeowners seeking options to save their homes. The mortgage servicers kept borrowers in the dark about options to avoid foreclosure or burdened them with excessive paperwork demands in applying for foreclosure relief. The CFPB is requiring CitiMortgage to pay an estimated $17 million to compensate wronged consumers, and pay a civil penalty of $3 million; and requiring CitiFinancial Services to refund approximately $4.4 million to consumers, and pay a civil penalty of $4.4 million.

“Citi’s subsidiaries gave the runaround to borrowers who were already struggling with their mortgage payments and trying to save their homes,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Consumers were kept in the dark about their options or burdened with excessive paperwork. This action will put money back in consumers’ pockets and make sure borrowers can get help they need.” 

CitiFinancial Servicing
CitiFinancial Servicing is made up of four entities incorporated in Delaware, Minnesota, and West Virginia, and headquartered in O’Fallon, Mo. All are direct subsidiaries of CitiFinancial Credit Company, and an indirect subsidiary of New York-based Citigroup, Inc. As a mortgage servicer, CitiFinancial Servicing collects payments from borrowers for loans it originates. It also handles customer service, collections, loan modifications, and foreclosures.

CitiFinancial Servicing originates and services residential daily simple interest mortgage loans. With these loans, the interest amount due is calculated on a day-to-day basis, unlike a typical mortgage, where interest is calculated monthly. With a daily simple interest loan, the consumer owes less interest and pays more toward principal when they make monthly payments before the due date. But if payments are late or irregular, more of the consumer’s payment goes to pay interest. Some consumers who notified CitiFinancial Servicing that they faced a financial hardship were offered “deferments.” This postponed the consumer’s next payment due date, and the consumer could still be considered current on payments. But CitiFinancial Servicing did not treat a deferment as a request for foreclosure relief options, also called loss mitigation options, as required by CFPB mortgage servicing rules.

CitiFinancial Servicing violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act’s prohibition on deceptive acts or practices. Specifically, CitiFinancial Servicing:

  • Kept consumers in the dark about foreclosure relief options: When borrowers applied to have their payments deferred, CitiFinancial Servicing failed to consider it as a request for foreclosure relief options. As a result, borrowers may have missed out on options that may have been more appropriate for them. Such requests for foreclosure relief trigger protections required by CFPB mortgage servicing rules. The rules include helping borrowers complete their applications and considering them for all available foreclosure relief alternatives.
  • Misled consumers about the impact of deferring payment due dates:Consumers were kept in the dark about the true impact of postponing a payment due date. CitiFinancial Servicing misled borrowers into thinking that if they deferred the payment, the additional interest would be added to the end of the loan rather than become due when the deferment ended. In fact, the deferred interest became due immediately. As a result, more of the borrowers’ payment went to pay interest on the loan instead of principal when they resumed making payments. This made it harder for borrowers to pay down their loan principal.
  • Charged consumers for credit insurance that should have been canceled: Some borrowers bought CitiFinancial Servicing credit insurance, which is meant to cover the loan if the borrower can’t make the payments. Borrowers paid the credit insurance premium as part of their mortgage payment. Under its terms, CitiFinancial Servicing was supposed to cancel the insurance if the borrower missed four or more monthly payments. But between July 2011 and April 30, 2015, about 7,800 borrowers paid for credit insurance that CitiFinancial Servicing should have canceled under those terms. These payments were still directed to insurance premiums instead of unpaid interest, making it harder for borrowers to pay down their loan principal.
  • Prematurely canceled credit insurance for some borrowers: CitiFinancial Servicing prematurely canceled credit insurance for some consumers. Some of those borrowers later had claims denied because CitiFinancial Servicing had improperly canceled their insurance.
  • Sent inaccurate consumer information to credit reporting companies: CitiFinancial Servicing incorrectly reported some settled accounts as being charged off. A charged-off account is one the bank deems unlikely to be repaid, but may sell to a debt buyer. At times, the servicer continued to send inaccurate information about these accounts to credit reporting companies, and didn’t correct bad information it had already sent.
  • Failed to investigate consumer disputes: CitiFinancial did not investigate consumer disputes about incorrect information sent to credit reporting companies within the required time period. In some instances, they ignored a “notice of error” sent by consumers, which should have stopped the servicer from sending negative information to credit reporting companies for 60 days.

Under the consent order, CitiFinancial Servicing must:

  • Pay $4.4 million in restitution to consumers: CitiFinancial Services must pay $4.4 million to wronged consumers who were charged premiums on credit insurance after it should be been canceled, or who were denied claims for insurance that was canceled prematurely.
  • Clearly disclose conditions of deferments for loans: CitiFinancial Servicing must make clear to consumers that interest accruing on daily simple interest loans during the deferment period becomes immediately due when the borrower resumes making payments. This means more of the borrowers’ loan payment will go toward paying interest instead of principal. CitiFinancial Servicing must also treat a consumer’s request for a deferment as a request for a loss mitigation option under the Bureau’s mortgage servicing rules.
  • Stop supplying bad information to credit reporting companies: CitiFinancial Servicing must stop reporting settled accounts as charged off to credit report companies, and stop sending negative information to those companies within 60 days after receiving a notice of error from a consumer. CitiFinancial Servicing must also investigate direct disputes from borrowers within 30 days.
  • Pay a civil money penalty: CitiFinancial Servicing must pay $4.4 million to the CFPB Civil Penalty Fund for illegal acts. 

The consent order against Citi Financial Services is available at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/201701_cfpb_CitiFinancial-consent-order.pdf

CitiMortgage
CitiMortgage is incorporated in New York, headquartered in O’Fallon, Mo., and is a subsidiary of Citibank, N.A. CitiMortgage is a mortgage servicer for Citibank and government-sponsored entities such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It also fields consumer requests for foreclosure relief, such as repayment plans, loan modification, or short sales.

Borrowers at risk of foreclosure or otherwise struggling with their mortgage payments can apply to their servicer for foreclosure relief. In this process, the servicer requests documentation of the borrower’s finances for evaluation. Under CFPB rules, if a borrower does not submit all the required documentation with the initial application, servicers must let the borrowers know what additional documents are required and keep copies of all documents that are sent.

However, some borrowers who asked for assistance were sent a letter by CitiMortgage demanding dozens of documents and forms that had no bearing on the application or that the consumer had already provided. Many of these documents had nothing to do with a borrower’s financial circumstances and were actually not needed to complete the application. Letters sent to borrowers in 2014 requested documents with descriptions such as “teacher contract,” and “Social Security award letter.” CitiMortgage sent such letters to about 41,000 consumers.

In doing so, CitiMortgage violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, and the Dodd-Frank Act’s prohibition against deceptive acts or practices. Under the terms of the consent order, CitiMortgage must:

  • Pay $17 million to wronged consumers: CitiMortgage must pay $17 million to  approximately 41,000 consumers who received improper letters from CitiMortgage. CitiMortgage must identify affected consumers and mail each a bank check of the amount owed, along with a restitution notification letter.
  • Clearly identify documents consumers need when applying for foreclosure relief: If it does not get sufficient information from borrowers applying for foreclosure relief, CitiMortgage must comply with the Bureau’s mortgage servicing rules. The company must clearly identify specific documents or information needed from the borrower and whether any information needs to be resubmitted. Or it must provide the forms that a borrower must complete with the application, and describe any documents borrowers have to submit.
  • Freeze any foreclosures related to the flawed application process and reach out to harmed consumers: For consumers covered under the order who never received a decision on their application, CitiMortgage must stop all foreclosure-related activity, and reach out to these borrowers to determine if they want foreclosure relief options.
  • Pay a civil money penalty: CitiMortgage must pay $3 million to the CFPB Civil Penalty Fund for illegal acts.

The consent order reflects that CitiMortgage took affirmative steps to reach out to some borrowers before it may have been required to by CFPB rules. While those borrowers also would have benefited from more tailored and accurate notices, and the institution will provide compliant notices to them going forward, those individuals were not included the affected group of consumers in this settlement. This will avoid penalizing the institution for making additional effort, which the Bureau encourages other institutions to make as well.   

The consent order against CitiMortgage is available at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/201701_cfpb_CitiMortgage-consent-order.pdf

[Source: CFPB press release]

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Categories: Mortgage, Real Estate Tags: ,

New Administration Suspends FHA Mortage Insurance Rate Cut

canstockphoto18896192 suspended

UPDATE: HUD suspends FHA mortgage insurance rate cut 

Go Here: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-trump-fha-cut-20170120-story.html

 

FHA’s reduction in premium rates is an appropriate measure to support the path to the American dream

By Jeff Sorg, OnlineEd Blog

(January 13, 2017) – As the nation’s housing market continues to improve, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro announced the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will reduce the annual premiums most borrowers will pay by a quarter of a percent.  FHA’s new premium rates are projected to save new FHA-insured homeowners an average of $500 this year.

FHA is reducing its annual mortgage insurance premium (MIP) by 25 basis points for most new mortgages with a closing/disbursement date on or after January 27, 2017.  For a full schedule of the new premium rates announced today, read FHA’s mortgagee letter.

This action reflects the fourth straight year of improved economic health of FHA’s Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund (MMIF), which gained $44 billion in value since 2012.  Last year alone, an independent actuarial analysis found the MMI Fund’s capital ratio grew by $3.8 billion and now stands at 2.32 percent of all insurance in force—the second consecutive year since 2008 that FHA’s reserve ratio exceeded the statutorily required two percent threshold.

Secretary Castro said FHA’s action reflects today’s risk environment and comes at the right time for consumers who are facing higher credit costs as mortgage interest rates are increasing.

“After four straight years of growth and with sufficient reserves on hand to meet future claims, it’s time for FHA to pass along some modest savings to working families,” said Secretary Castro.  “This is a fiscally responsible measure to price our mortgage insurance in a way that protects our insurance fund while preserving the dream of homeownership for credit-qualified borrowers.”

Ed Golding, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for HUD’s Office of Housing added, “We’ve carefully weighed the risks associated with lower premiums with our historic mission to provide safe and sustainable mortgage financing to responsible homebuyers.  Homeownership is the way most middle-class Americans build wealth and achieve financial security for themselves and their families.  This conservative reduction in our premium rates is an appropriate measure to support them on their path to the American dream.”

In the wake of the nation’s housing crisis, FHA increased its premium prices numerous times to help stabilize the health of its MMI Fund.  Since 2010, FHA had raised annual premiums 150 percent which helped to restore capital reserves but significantly increased the cost of credit to qualified borrowers.  This step restores the annual premium to close to its pre-housing-crisis level.

This action is expected to lower the cost of housing for the approximately 1 million households who are expected to purchase a home or refinance their mortgages using FHA-insured financing in the coming year.

Categories: Mortgage, Real Estate