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FHA issues waivers of mortgage contact requirements

The Federal Housing Administration has announced it has issued a series of waivers of provisions in its Single Family Housing Policy Handbook 4000.1 that would normally require in-person contact between mortgage servicers and borrowers, including seniors with FHA-insured Home Equity Conversion (HECM) reverse mortgages. The waivers allow important mortgage servicing activities to continue, but in a manner that allows for safe social distancing to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The waivers put in place these provisions through December&nbsp:31, 2021:

  • Allowing alternative methods for servicers to conduct borrower interviews for FHA-insured forward and HECM mortgages when performing early default interventions for borrowers in danger of foreclosure;
  • Waiving the $5,000 property charge payment arrearages cap on recalculated repayment plans, allowing servicers to help more HECM borrowers who are behind on their property charge payments; and
  • Eliminating the requirement for servicers to obtain a signature on an occupancy certification from a HECM borrower.


OCC CRA evaluation ratings released

The OCC has released a list of 21 Community Reinvestment Act performance evaluations that the OCC made public in January. Six of the listed banks received an Outstanding rating on their evaluations:

The remaining 15 institutions' evaluations were rated Satisfactory.


FinCEN affirms PPP FAQs

FinCEN has again issued FAQs confirming identical FAQs issued by SBA in connection with the Paycheck Protection Program. The SBA recently re-issued its PPP FAQs, adding two interpreting application of FinCEN regulations to Second Round PPP loans. As administrator of the Bank Secrecy Act, FinCEN has issued its own document with the applicable FAQs, indicating that borrowers and lenders may rely on the guidance in the FinCEN document as SBA's interpretation of the CARES Act and of the PPP Interim Final Rule. FinCEN also stated it will not challenge lender PPP actions that conform to that guidance, and to the PPP interim final rule and any subsequent rulemaking in affect at the time.

FAQs 1 and 2 in the FinCEN document are repeats of FAQs issued in April 2020. Questions 3 and 4 are the same as questions 54 and 55 of the updated SBA FAQs.


GDP posts decline in 2020

The Treasury Department has reported that, In the final quarter of 2020, the U.S. economy expanded further, with growth in real GDP of 4.0 percent, according to the advance estimate released last Thursday. Despite this second consecutive quarter of growth, real GDP still declined 2.5 percent over the four quarters of 2020, given the severity of the contraction in the first half of the year.

The economy’s recovery slackened by the end of the year. Payroll job creation slowed noticeably from September through November, before declining outright in December, largely due to losses in leisure and hospitality service industries—such as restaurants and bars, hotels, performing arts venues, and other establishments that are particularly vulnerable to stay-at-home orders and other measures implemented to combat the pandemic. While real personal consumption rose in the fourth quarter, the pace of growth was constrained in part by renewed lockdowns and reduced capacity in key service industries.

Though the second Federal economic aid package passed in December 2020 should boost growth in the first half of 2021, a full recovery nonetheless depends on effectively resolving the pandemic – the efficacy of public health measures and the rapid vaccination of the population – while ensuring that households and businesses can cope with the variety of headwinds presented by the pandemic.


January SLOOS released

The Federal Reserve Board has posted the January 2021 Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey (SLOOS) on Bank Lending Practices, which addressed changes in the standards and terms on, and demand for, bank loans to businesses and households during the fourth quarter of 2020. Regarding loans to businesses, respondents to the January survey indicated that, on balance, they tightened their standards on commercial and industrial loans to firms of all sizes, with notable differences in reported changes across bank sizes. Banks reported weaker demand, on balance, for commercial and industrial loans to firms of all sizes.

Meanwhile, banks tightened standards across all three major commercial real estate loan categories—construction and land development loans, nonfarm nonresidential loans, and multifamily loans—over the fourth quarter of 2020, while reporting weaker demand for most commercial real estate loan categories.

For loans to households, banks left standards unchanged across most categories of residential real estate, while, on net, they eased standards across all three consumer loan categories—credit card loans, auto loans, and other consumer loans—over the fourth quarter of 2020. Banks reported either somewhat strengthening or unchanged demand for most types of residential real estate loans. Demand for credit card and other consumer loans remained basically unchanged, and demand for auto loans moderately weakened.

In addition, the survey included a set of special questions inquiring about banks’ expectations for lending standards, loan demand, and loan performance over 2021. In general, banks are expecting to tighten standards for most business loans, although responses differed across bank sizes, with the largest banks mostly expecting to ease standards. For household loans, banks of all sizes generally expect to ease standards. Banks expect demand to strengthen and loan performance to deteriorate for most loan categories over 2021. One notable exception is commercial and industrial loans to large and middle-market firms, for which banks, on net, expect loan performance to improve.



The SBA has added FAQs 54–56 to its Paycheck Protection Program FAQs to clarify that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s April 2020 PPP FAQs still apply to second-draw PPP loans. They also clarify that lenders may rely on information obtained from a borrower during a first-draw loan application for a second-draw application, provided the borrower is an existing customer. Question 56 is specific to employee limits for loans to a public broadcasting station if a college or university operates or holds the license for the station and the station is not a separate legal entity.

The updated FAQs include a statement that questions 1–53 are in the process of being revised and do not yet reflect changes made by the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act enacted December 27, 2020.

The SBA also issued a new FAQ on the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program under section 324 of the Act. Click the DOWNLOAD button on the page to access the FAQ.


CFPB updates list of consumer reporting companies

The CFPB has posted an article on its blog announcing an updated 2021 list of consumer reporting companies.

This year's list includes:

  • Information on how to request a report
  • Tips for checking one's specialty reports
  • Identify verification information
  • Guide to free reports
  • Companies that provide free credit scores
  • How to request a security freeze

The list can also be downloaded in PDF format.


2020 CRA data filing information

The FFIEC has posted the latest version of the CRA Data Entry System for the calendar year 2020 CRA data due March 1, 2021, on its Software page . Each software version is year-specific (i.e. 2019 reporting requires 2019 CRA DES and not 2020 CRA DES). NOTE: the software must be installed locally on a hard disc. It is NOT network compatible.


OCC releases CRA information

On Friday, the OCC released OCC Bulletin 2021-5 to publish:

  • the list that identifies a bank's Community Reinvestment Act type based on asset size or business model for 2021
  • the list of the distressed and underserved areas where certain bank activities conducted in 2021 are eligible to receive CRA consideration
  • the banking industry median hourly compensation value used for determining the dollar value of community development service activities during 2021

The median hourly compensation value for the banking industry to be applied to qualifying community development activities that are effective October 1, 2020, through December 31, 2021, is $39.03. Banks may round the median hourly compensation value to the nearest dollar.

The OCC will publish these two lists and the median hourly compensation value annually under its June 2020 CRA rule, which applies to national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches of foreign banking organizations that are subject to the OCC's regulations under the CRA.


Webinar on Treasury Emergency Capital Investment Program

The NCUA has announced it will host a webinar on Treasury’s Emergency Capital Investment Program on February 3 starting at 2 p.m. Eastern Time. The webinar will discuss the program’s eligibility and application requirements; the financial instrument and terms used for the investment, and whether credit unions can use the investment as secondary capital.

Registration for this 60-minute webinar is now open. Participants will be able to log into the webinar and view it on their computers or mobile devices using the registration link. They should allow pop-ups from this website.


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