CFPB announces mortgage rules implementation plan

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The CFPB has announced various steps it plans to take over the next year to support the industry’s implementation of the mortgage rules issued in January 2013 and which take effect in January 2014. Those rules include the new qualified mortgage/ability-to-repay rule and the mortgage servicing rules.

Perhaps the most significant step planned by the CFPB is the publication of updates to the rules’ official staff commentaries to provide compliance guidance. The CFPB views this as a way to address important questions raised by industry, consumer groups, or other agencies. The CFPB intends to give priority to issues “that are important to a large number of providers or consumers, and that critically affect mortgage companies’ implementation decisions.” The first update is expected to be issued this spring, with additional updates to follow as needed. The CFPB’s decision to provide updates to the official commentaries appears to reflect a compromise among CFPB staffers, some of whom were believed to support the Fed approach of limiting guidance to notice and comment rulemaking and some of whom were believed to support the HUD approach of issuing informal written guidance.

Other steps planned by the CFPB are: (1) coordinating with other federal regulators that also examine mortgage companies to ensure consistency in applying the new rules; (2) publishing plain-language guides, in both written and video form, to be available this spring and intended primarily for use by smaller businesses; (3) publishing readiness guides, to be available this summer, to assist mortgage originators and servicers prepare for compliance (with the guides to include check lists and suggestions for what should be in implementation plans and the CFPB noting that the FFIEC will be issuing more in-depth examination procedures that industry can use to do self-assessments); and (4) conducting a consumer education campaign.