The CFPB recently issued A Regulatory and Reporting Overview Reference Chart for HMDA Data Collected in 2019. As previously reported, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act created an exemption from the reporting of the new HMDA data categories for smaller mortgage loan volume depository institutions and credit unions. The 2019 Chart is updated from the 2018 version to include guidance on how to address data categories that do not have to be reported under the exemption. The 2019 Chart also provides how a lender that elects not to report a Universal Loan Identifier for an application or loan under the exemption would report a Non-Universal Loan Identifier for the application or loan.

Unrelated to the exemption, the 2019 Chart also includes additional guidance on the reporting of the Credit Scoring Model and the reporting of the Automated Underwriting System result.

As previously reported, in September 2017 the CFPB proposed policy guidance regarding what application-level Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data would be disclosed to the public based on the significant expansion to the HMDA data reporting items that the CFPB adopted in October 2015. Calendar year 2018 was the first year that reporting institutions collected data under the expanded requirements, and that data must be reported to the government by March 1, 2019. Not long after Kathy Kraninger became the new CFPB Director, the CFPB announced the final policy guidance regarding the application-level HMDA data that will be made available to the public. Unfortunately, by adopting final guidance that is very similar to the proposed guidance, the CFPB is emphasizing public disclosure over consumer privacy concerns.

HMDA requires the modification of data released to the public “for the purpose of protecting the privacy interests of mortgage applicants”. Under the prior HMDA requirements, the application or loan number, the date the application was received and the date the institution took final action on the application were removed from the application-level data that was released to the public. However, even under the prior HMDA requirements, there were concerns that by combining the publicly available HMDA data with other data sources, the identity of each applicant can be determined. With the significant expansion of the HMDA data items, as well as the overall increase in data on consumers that is available in the marketplace, the privacy concerns are even greater. For example, the revised HMDA data items include, among other items, the applicant’s age, income (which is currently reported), credit score, and debt-to-income ratio; the automated underwriting results; the property address; loan cost information; and, for denied applications, the principal denial reasons.

When the CFPB adopted the October 2015 revisions it deferred making a decision on which elements of the expanded HMDA data would be reported on an application-level basis. However, the CFPB indicated that it would use a balancing test to decide what information to disclose publicly, and would allow public input on the information that it proposed to disclose. At that time the CFPB advised that
“[c]‍‍‍onsidering the public disclosure of HMDA data as a whole, applicant and borrower privacy interests arise under the balancing test only where the disclosure of HMDA data may both substantially facilitate the identification of an applicant or borrower in the data and disclose information about the applicant or borrower that is not otherwise public and may be harmful or sensitive.” The CFPB echoed the balancing test approach in adopting the final guidance. However, the approach is off balance, as it sides too much on the side of public disclosure, ignoring valid consumer privacy concerns.

Under the final policy guidance, the CFPB will make all of the HMDA data available to the public on an application-level basis, except as follows:

  • The following information would not be disclosed to the public (the non-disclosure of the first three items is consistent with prior public disclosure practices):
    • The universal loan identifier.
    • The date the application was received or the date shown on the application form (whichever was reported).
    • The date of the action taken on the application.
    • The property address.
    • The credit score(s) relied on.
    • The NMLS identifier for the mortgage loan originator.
    • The automated underwriting system result.
    • The free form text fields for the following (the standard fields reported would be disclosed):
      • The applicant’s race and ethnicity.
      • The name and version of the credit scoring model.
      • The principal reason(s) for denial.
      • The automated underwriting system name.
  • The CFPB will disclose in a modified format the loan amount, age of the applicant, the applicant’s debt-to-income ratio, the property value, the total individual dwelling units in the property, and for a multi-family dwelling the individual dwelling units that are income-restricted.
    • For the loan amount, the CFPB will disclose:
      • The midpoint for the $10,000 interval into which the reported value falls, such as $115,000 for amounts of $110,000 to less than $120,000. (Under prior requirements the loan amount was reported to the nearest $1,000, and the reported amount was disclosed to the public.)
      • Whether the reported loan amount exceeds the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac conforming loan limit.
    • For the age of the applicant, the CFPB will disclose:
      • Ages of applicants in the following ranges: Under 25, 25 to 34, 35 to 44, 45 to 54, 55 to 64, 65 to 74, and over 74.
      • Whether the reported age is 62 or over. For purposes of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, a person is considered elderly if they are age 62 or over.
    • For the debt-to-income ratio, the CFPB will disclose:
      • The reported debt-to-income ratio for reported values of 36% to less than 50%, and other debt-to-income ratios in the following ranges: under 20%, 20% to less than 30%, 30% to less than 36%, 50% to less than 60% and 60% or higher. As proposed, the reported debt-to-income level would have been disclosed for reported values of 40% to less than 50%.
    • For the property value, the CFPB will disclose the midpoint for the $10,000 interval into which the reported value falls, such as $115,000 for amounts of $110,000 to less than $120,000.
    • For the total individual dwelling units in the property, the CFPB will disclose:
      • The reported number of units for reported values below 5, and other unit numbers in the following ranges: 5 to 24, 25 to 49, 50 to 99, 100 to 149 and over 149. The CFPB had proposed to disclose the actual number of units reported.
    • For the individual dwelling units in a multifamily property that are income-restricted, the CFPB will disclose the reported value as a percentage, rounded to the nearest whole number, of the value reported for the total individual dwelling units. The CFPB had proposed to disclose the actual number of units reported.

Although the loan amount will now be reported in the applicable $10,000 interval and not to the nearest $1,000, the concern is that the totality of the information that is publicly available will make it easier than it is today to determine the identity of the applicant. Thus, based on the final policy guidance, there is a risk that a significant amount of information that consumers view as being confidential will become publicly available. The CFPB essentially dismissed most privacy concerns raised by parties commenting on the proposed policy guidance.

While the final policy guidance favors public disclosure over consumer privacy concerns, the final policy guidance may have a limited life. As previously reported, the CFPB has indicated that it plans to reopen HMDA rulemaking to reconsider various aspects of the revised HMDA rule, including the discretionary data points that were added by the CFPB. We noted previously that the CFPB’s Fall Rulemaking Agenda has a target of May 2019 for the issuance of a notice of proposed rulemaking. Potentially, the CFPB may eliminate entirely, or modify, one or more data categories that are included in the information disclosed publicly. The CFPB states as follows in the supplementary information to the final policy guidance: “The Bureau intends to commence a rulemaking in the spring of 2019 that will enable it to identify more definitively modifications to the data that the Bureau determines to be appropriate under the balancing test and incorporate these modifications into a legislative rule. The rulemaking will reconsider the determinations reflected in this final policy guidance based upon the Bureau’s experience administering the final policy guidance in 2019 and on a new rulemaking record, including data concerning the privacy risks posed by the disclosure of the HMDA data and the benefits of such disclosure in light of HMDA’s purposes.” Thus, in addition to reconsidering the HMDA rule itself, the CFPB already plans to reconsider the approach to public disclosure taken in the final policy guidance.

The adoption of policy guidance that favors public disclosure over consumer privacy appears contrary to the approach of former Acting Director Mulvaney. Perhaps the action reflects that Director Kraninger will take a different approach. Or perhaps Director Kraninger simply decided to initially punt on the issue. The guidance needed to be adopted in view the impending March 1 filing deadline for HMDA data. But as noted above, the CFPB intends to revisit both the HMDA rule itself and the policy guidance. Perhaps Director Kraninger will reassess the approach during the upcoming rulemaking.

Note that while the approach to the public disclosure of HMDA data is adopted in the form of public guidance and not a formal rule, the CFPB advises in the supplementary information to the guidance that pursuant to the Congressional Review Act it will file the guidance with Congress. As we previously reported, the Government Accountability Office determined that the CFPB bulletin on “Indirect Auto Lending and Compliance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act” was a rule subject to the Congressional Review Act, and subsequently under the Act Congress passed, and President Trump signed, legislation disapproving the bulletin. Presumably, this result influenced the decision of the CFPB to file the policy guidance with Congress under the Act.

As previously reported, late in 2018 the CFPB announced the availability of a beta version of a Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data platform for companies to test the filing of 2018 data. The CFPB has now announced that the beta testing period is closed and the HMDA data platform is open for the filing of 2018 data. The HMDA data platform can be accessed here.

All test data that companies uploaded during the beta testing period has been removed from the data platform. However, all user accounts created during the 2018 beta testing period, and also for the filing of 2017 data, will be maintained for the 2018 filing period. The reporting deadline for 2018 HMDA data is March 1, 2019.

The CFPB has made available a beta version of its 2018 HMDA data platform. The platform is for the reporting of data collected in 2018 that must be reported in 2019.

During the beta period, reporting institutions can test and retest 2018 HMDA data files as often as desired to assess if their Loan Application Register (LAR) data complies with the reporting requirements outlined in the Filing Instructions Guide for HMDA data collected in 2018.

No 2018 data can actually be submitted through the platform until January 2019. Based on the substantial changes to HMDA data for 2018, testing whether LAR data complies with the reporting requirements will likely be beneficial for many reporting institutions.

The CFPB recently issued a revised version of the Home Mortgage Disclosure (Regulation C) Small Entity Compliance Guide to reflect a partial exemption to Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) requirements made by the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act and a related interpretive procedural rule issued by the CFPB. Pursuant to the partial exemption, depository institutions and credit unions are exempted from the new HMDA reporting categories added by Dodd-Frank and the HMDA rule adopted by the CFPB with regard to (1) closed-end loans, if the institution or credit union originated fewer than 500 such loans in each of the preceding two calendar years, and (2) home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), if the institution or credit union originated fewer than 500 HELOCs in each of the preceding two calendar years.

There also are revisions that are not related to the partial exemption. Section 4.1.2 is revised to clarify loans that are not counted when determining if an institution’s lending volume triggers HMDA reporting. The table in Section 5.8 of the Guide regarding the loan amount reported is revised for (1) counteroffer situations when the applicant did not accept or failed to respond to the counteroffer and (2) situations in which an application is denied, closed for incompleteness or withdrawn.

The CFPB recently released an interpretive and procedural rule to implement and clarify the partial exemption from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) adopted in the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (also known as S.2155).

As we reported previously, the Act amended HMDA to create an exemption applicable to the new data categories added by Dodd-Frank and the HMDA rule adopted by the CFPB for insured depository institutions and insured credit unions that originate mortgage loans below certain thresholds.  Additionally, depository institutions must meet certain Community Reinvestment Act rating criteria.

For closed-end mortgage loans, the partial exemption will apply if the institution or credit union originated fewer than 500 such loans in each of the preceding two calendar years.  For home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), the partial exemption will apply if the institution or credit union originated fewer than 500 HELOCs in each of the preceding two calendar years.  The HELOC change will not initially affect reporting because, for 2018 and 2019, the threshold to report HELOCs is 500 transactions in each of the preceding two calendar years under a temporary CFPB rule.

Even if a depository institution originates loans or HELOCS below the applicable threshold, the Act’s partial exemption from reporting the new HMDA data categories does not apply if the institution received a rating of “needs to improve record of meeting community credit needs” during each of its two most recent CRA examinations, or “substantial noncompliance in meeting community credit needs” on its most recent CRA examination.

In July 2018 the CFPB advised that the partial exemption will not affect the format of 2018 Loan Application Registers (LARs) and that:

  • LARs will be formatted according to the previously-released 2018 Filing Instructions Guide for HMDA Data Collected in 2018 (2018 FIG).
  • If an institution does not report information for a certain data field due to the partial exemption, the institution will enter an exemption code for the field specified in a revised 2018 FIG that the CFPB expects to release later this summer.
  • All LARs will be submitted to the same HMDA Platform.

The CFPB also advised that it expected later in the summer to provide further guidance on the applicability of the partial exemption to HMDA data collected in 2018.  The interpretive and procedural rule contains the further guidance.  As previously indicated, the CFPB also issued a revised FIG for 2018 data to account for the partial exemption.

The interpretive and procedural rule:

  • Clarifies the HMDA data points that are covered by the partial exemption.  A table in the rule reflects that 26 data points are covered by the partial exemption, and that 22 data points still must be reported by institutions or credit unions that qualify for the partial exemption.
  • Provides that institutions and credit unions that qualify for the partial exemption may elect to report the exempted data, provided that they report all data fields within any exempt data point for which they report data.  For example, if an institution or credit union elects to report a data field that is part of the property address, it must report all other data fields that are part of the property address data point.
  • Clarifies that only closed-end loans and open-end lines of credit that are otherwise reportable under HMDA count toward the 500 loan and 500 line of credit thresholds.
  • Provides that if an institution or credit union elects not to report a universal loan identifier for an application or loan, it must report a non-universal loan identifier that meets specified requirements and must be unique within the institution or credit union.
  • Clarifies the exception to the partial exemption for negative CRA history must be assessed as of December 31 of the preceding calendar year.

The interpretative and procedural rule will become effective upon publication in the Federal Register.  The CFPB advises that it expects to initiate a notice-and-comment rulemaking to incorporate the interpretations and procedures contained in the rule into Regulation C and to further implement the Act.

 

The CFPB recently released a File Format Verification Tool for 2018 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data. As we reported, in October 2015, the CFPB adopted significant changes to the HMDA rules that significantly expanded the amount of information that must be collected and reported. Calendar year 2018 is the first year in which the expanded data must be collected.

The Tool can be used by HMDA filers to test whether their HMDA data file meets the following formatting requirements: (1) whether the file is in the pipe-delimited format, (2) whether the file has the proper number of data fields, and (3) whether the file has data fields that are formatted as integers, when applicable. The Tool cannot be used to file HMDA data. The CFPB advises that there are no login requirements to use the Tool, the Tool will not log identifying information about users or the files that they test using the Tool, and no federal agency will receive or be able to view the files that users test using the Tool.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently issued a statement regarding the partial exemption from Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) reporting requirements for certain lower mortgage volume depository institution lenders that was adopted in the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (Act).

As we reported previously, the Act exempts depository institutions and credit unions from the new reporting categories added by Dodd-Frank and the HMDA rule adopted by the CFPB with regard to (1) closed-end loans, if the institution or credit union originated fewer than 500 such loans in each of the preceding two calendar years, and (2) home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), if the institution or credit union originated fewer than 500 HELOCs in each of the preceding two calendar years. The HELOC change will not initially affect reporting because, for 2018 and 2019, the threshold to report HELOCs is 500 transactions in each of the preceding two calendar years under a temporary CFPB rule.

The Act’s partial exemption from reporting the new HMDA data does not apply if the institution received a rating of “needs to improve record of meeting community credit needs” during each of its two most recent Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) examinations, or “substantial noncompliance in meeting community credit needs” on its most recent CRA examination.

The CFPB advises in its recent statement that it expects later this summer to provide further guidance on the applicability of the partial exemption to HMDA data collected in 2018. The CFPB also advises that the partial exemption will not affect the format of 2018 Loan Application Registers (LARs) and that:

  • LARs will be formatted according to the previously-released 2018 Filing Instructions Guide for HMDA Data Collected in 2018 (2018 FIG).
  • If an institution does not report information for a certain data field due to the partial exemption, the institution will enter an exemption code for the field specified in a revised 2018 FIG that the CFPB expects to release later this summer.
  • All LARs will be submitted to the same HMDA Platform.

The CFPB also notes that a beta version of the HMDA Platform for submission of data collected in 2018 will be available later this year for filers to test.

In Financial Institution Letter FIL-36-2018 and in OCC Bulletin 2018-19 the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, respectively, issued similar guidance to institutions.

In a blog post entitled “How S.2155 (the Bank Lobbyist Act) Facilitates Discriminatory Lending” Professor Adam Levitin claimed that “This bill functionally exempts 85% of US banks and credit unions from fair lending laws in the mortgage market.”  The claim was set forth in bold and italic text.  If the intent was to draw attention to the claim, it worked.  Members of this firm saw the claim.  In short, the claim greatly mischaracterizes the limited implications of the amendment.

The Professor is referring to an amendment that S.2155 would make to the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) for insured banks and insured credit unions that satisfy certain conditions.  First, I will address what the amendment would not do.  The amendment:

  • Would not exempt any institution from the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Fair Housing Act or any other substantive fair lending law.
  • Would not exempt any institution from the mortgage loan data reporting requirements of HMDA that were in effect before January 1, 2018.
  • Would not prevent bank and credit union regulators from obtaining any information on the mortgage lending activity of institutions that they supervise.

What the amendment would do is exempt small volume mortgage lenders from the expanded HMDA data reporting requirements that became effective on January 1, 2018 if they met certain conditions.  The conditions are that:

  • To be exempt from the expanded data reporting requirements for closed-end mortgage loans, the bank or credit union would have to originate fewer than 500 of such loans in each of the preceding two calendars years
  • To be exempt from the expanded data reporting requirements for home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), the bank or credit union would have to originate fewer than 500 of such credit lines in each of the preceding two calendars years.
  • The bank or credit union could not receive a rating of (1) “needs to improve record of meeting community credit needs” during each of its two most recent Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) examinations or (2) “substantial noncompliance in meeting community credit needs” on its most recent CRA examination.

The exemption for HELOC reporting would have no implications initially, and perhaps longer.  For 2018 and 2019 the threshold to report HELOCs is 500 transactions in each of the preceding two calendar years.  The 500 HELOC threshold was implemented by a temporary rule adopted by the CFPB under former Director Cordray in August 2017, which amended the HMDA rule adopted by the CFPB in October 2015 to revise the HMDA reporting requirements.  The October 2015 rule for the first time mandated the reporting of HELOCs, and set the reporting threshold at 100 HELOCs in each of the two preceding calendar years.  The CFPB indicated in the preamble to the temporary rule that it had evidence that the number of smaller institutions that would need to report HELOCs under the 100 threshold may be higher than originally estimated, and that the costs on those institutions to implement reporting may be higher than originally estimated.  The temporary rule allows the CFPB time to further assess the appropriate threshold.

While Professor Levitin inaccurately claims that the S.2155 amendment creates a functional exemption from the fair lending laws for small volume lenders, the statement that 85% of banks and credit unions would be covered by the exemption mischaracterizes the scope of lending activity subject to HMDA reporting requirements.  Based on the data used by the CFPB to assess the 2015 rule, the change from the 100 to 500 threshold would reduce the number of institutions reporting HELOCs from 749 to 231, but would reduce the percentage of HELOCs reported only from 88% to 76%.  Additionally, 2016 HMDA data reflect that while credit unions and small banks comprised over 73% of HMDA reporting entities, the institutions received under 15% of the reported applications for the year.  While the CFPB now acknowledges it may have underestimated the number of institutions that would be covered at the 100 HELOC threshold, these statistics reflect that focusing on the percentage of institutions subject to reporting, and not the percentage of transactions subject to reporting, paints an inaccurate picture of lending activity subject to HMDA reporting requirements.

Even for institutions that would qualify for the exemption from reporting the expanded HMDA data, the CFPB and financial institution regulators will still receive the traditional HMDA data from these institutions.  And regulators can use that information to assess whether they should take a closer look at the mortgage lending activity of any institutions.  Of great significance, as noted above, the S.2155 amendment would not limit the amount of information on mortgage lending that bank or credit union regulators can obtain from institutions that they supervise.

While the expansion of the HMDA data is intended to permit regulators to better assess the mortgage lending of an institution before having to request additional information from the institution, even the expanded data does not provide for a conclusive assessment of whether or not a given institution has engaged in discrimination when evaluating mortgage loan applications.  In fact, even with data that is more comprehensive than the expanded HMDA data, a statistical analysis still does not provide for a conclusive determination regarding underwriting determinations.  You have to get your hands on the actual loan files.

The main impact from the S.2155 amendment would be the reduction of some HMDA information from small volume lenders that will be made available to the public.  With new leadership at the CFPB, we don’t know what parts of the expanded HMDA data will be released to the public.  However, even under Director Cordray, the CFPB did not plan to issue credit score information, which is an important item of information to conduct a fair lending analysis.  A significant concern of the mortgage industry regarding the expanded HMDA data is that members of the public will improperly use the data that is released to claim that the data conclusively show that the institutions engaged in discrimination.  Given that Professor Levitin paints an inaccurate picture of the impact of the HMDA amendment under S.2155, those concerns appear to be warranted.