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Residential sales increased in July

HUD and the Census Bureau have jointly announced statistics on new residential sales for July 2020:

  • New Home Sales - Sales of new single-family houses in July 2020 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 901,000. This is 13.9 percent (±20.0 percent)* above the revised June rate of 791,000 and 36.3 percent (±27.4 percent)* above the July 2019 estimate of 661,000.
  • Sales Price - The median sales price of new houses sold in July 2020 was $330,600. The average sales price was $391,300.
  • For Sale Inventory - The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of July was 299,000, a supply of 4.0 months at the current sales rate.

* - Because these figures are from sampling surveys and are subject to sampling variability and nonsampling errors including bias and variance from response, nonreporting, and undercoverage, the numbers in parentheses are estimate relative standard errors. A statement such as "13.9 percent (± 20.0 percent)" indicates the range (-6.1 to +33.9 percent) in which the actual percentage change is likely to have occurred.


FHFA softens refinance fee impact

The Federal Housing Finance Agency has directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) to delay the implementation date of their Adverse Market Refinance Fee until December 1, 2020. The fee was previously scheduled to take effect September 1, 2020. In its press release, the FHFA also said the Enterprises will "exempt refinance loans with loan balances below $125,000, nearly half of which are comprised of [sic] lower income borrowers at or below 80% of area median income." Affordable refinance products, Home Ready and Home Possible, are also exempt.

The FHFA anticipates projected COVID-19-related losses of at least $6 billion at the Enterprises, and perhaps more, depending on the path of economic recovery. The Adverse Market Refinance Fee is necessary, said the FHFA, to cover those projected losses.


Bureau seeks public comment on CARD Act regs

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued a request for information (RFI) to examine the impact of the rules that implement the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act Rules). The Bureau is required under Section 610 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act to review certain rules within 10 years of their publication, and consider the rules’ effect on small businesses.

In the RFI, the Bureau is seeking public input on the CARD Act Rules’ economic impact on small entities. The Bureau is also requesting comments from the public on how the consumer credit card market is functioning as part of a Bureau review required by the CARD Act. the Bureau is seeking to determine whether the regulations should be continued without change or be amended or rescinded. In seeking comments on the consumer credit card market, the Bureau must conduct a review of the market every two years.

PUBLICATION UPDATE: To be published in the Federal Register on 8/28/2020, with a 60-day comment period ending 10/27/2020.


FTC proposes changes to FCRA rules

The Federal Trade Commission has announced it is seeking comments on proposed changes in five Commission rules implementing parts of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to bring them in line with the Dodd-Frank Act. The notices of proposed rulemaking to be published shortly propose changes to the following rules, which apply only to motor vehicle dealers (the FTC's rulemaking authority related to parts of the FCRA was transferred to the CFPB by the Dodd-Frank Act).

  • Address Discrepancy Rule, which outlines the obligations of users of consumer reports when they receive a notice of address discrepancy from a nationwide consumer reporting agency (CRA);
  • Affiliate Marketing Rule, which gives consumers the right to restrict a person from using certain information obtained from an affiliate to make solicitations to the consumer;
  • Furnisher Rule, which requires entities that furnish information to CRAs to establish and implement reasonable written policies and procedures regarding the accuracy and integrity of the information relating to consumers provided to a CRA;
  • Pre-screen Opt-Out Notice Rule, which outlines requirements for those who use consumer report information to make unsolicited credit or insurance offers to consumers; and
  • Risk-Based Pricing Rule, which requires those who use information from a consumer report to offer less favorable terms to consumers to provide them with a notice about the use of such data.

In addition, as part of its periodic review of its rules and guides, the FTC is seeking comment on the effectiveness of the five rules. Comments on each of the five proposals will be accepted for 75 days following their publication in the Federal Register.

PUBLICATION AND COMMENT PERIOD UPDATE: The proposed rule was published at 85 FR 57172 on September 15, 2020. The comment deadline will be November 30, 2020.


CFPB settles with company over false loan ads

The Bureau has issued a consent order against Go Direct Lenders, Inc., a California corporation licensed as a mortgage broker or lender in about 11 states. The Bureau found that Go Direct sent consumers numerous mailers for VA-guaranteed mortgages that contained false, misleading, and inaccurate statements or that lacked required disclosures, in violation of the Consumer Financial Protection Act’s prohibition against deceptive acts and practices, the Mortgage Acts and Practices – Advertising Rule (MAP Rule), and Regulation Z.

Specifically, the Bureau found that Go Direct advertisements:

  • misrepresented the credit terms of the advertised mortgage loan by stating credit terms that the company was not actually prepared to offer to the consumer, including advertising a lower annual percentage rate than it was prepared to offer
  • made misrepresentations about the applicable fees in connection with the advertised mortgage
  • misleadingly described variable-rate loans as “fixed” rate loans, when in fact the rate was adjustable and could increase over time
  • falsely stated or implied that an appraisal, assets, and income documentation were not required to qualify for certain loans and that consumers with FICO scores as low as 500 would qualify for the advertised rates
  • falsely represented that it had records showing that the value of the consumer’s property had increased over the past year by a specific percentage
  • created the false impression that Go Direct was affiliated with the government by using words, phrases, images, or design characteristics that are associated with the VA or the Internal Revenue Service
  • failed to properly disclose, when required by Regulation Z, credit terms for the advertised mortgage, such as the consumer’s repayment obligations over the full term of the loan.

The consent order requires Go Direct to pay a civil money penalty of $150,000 and imposes requirements to prevent future violations.


Mnuchin issues fact sheet on Treasury-USPS relationship

The Treasury Department has issued a fact sheet on Treasury's role as sole lender to the U.S. Postal Service.


CFPB posts 2021 HMDA FIG and Supplemental Guide

The CFPB has published its HMDA Filing Instructions Guide (FIG) for data collected in 2021 and its Supplemental Guide for Quarterly Filers for 2021. Both of these resources, along with other filer resources, are available on the FFIEC Home Mortgage Disclosure Act webpage.

The Bureau also reminded filers in an August 21 email that, as of March 26, 2020, and until further notice, the Bureau does not intend to cite in an examination or initiate an enforcement action against any institution for failure to report its HMDA data quarterly, as noted in its Statement on Supervisory and Enforcement Practices Regarding Quarterly Reporting Under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act.


Communities suspended from NFIP

FEMA has published [85 FR 52052, August 24, 2020] a rule identifying communities in Louisiana and Washington that were scheduled for suspension from the National Flood Insurance Program on August 19, 2020, for failure to comply with the floodplain management requirements of the program. If any of the listed communities was able to document that it had adopted the required floodplain management measures by the August 19 date, it was not suspended.

  • Louisiana: Calvin, Jonesboro, and Winnfield
  • Washington: Bellevue, Black Diamond, Burien, Carnation, Covington, Duvall, Enumclaw, Federal Way, Issaquah, Kent, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park, Normandy Park, North Bend, Pacific, Redmond, Renton, Seatac, Seattle, Shoreline. Sykomish, Snoqualmie, Tukwila, and unincorporated areas of King County.


Agencies to hold PPP webinar

The FDIC, FRB, OCC, NCUA and Conference of State Bank Supervisors have announced they will host a webinar for bankers on Thursday, August 27, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. EDT, to discuss the loan forgiveness process and recent changes in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).


CFPB extends comment period

The CFPB has announced that it will extend the comment period on its Request for Information on how best to create a regulatory environment that expands access to credit and ensures that all consumers and communities are protected from discrimination in all aspects of a credit transaction. Comments will be accepted for an additional 60 days, through December 1, 2020.


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