So You Say Ninety Percent of TRID Loans Contain Violations?

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Worse than rocket science? Perhaps.

thumbs downAccording to a news report from American Land Title Association, Moody’s Investors Services has written that several third-party firms found TRID violations in more than 90% of the loans that were audited.

ALTA states that Moody’s report indicates that this “informal feedback” was based on reviews of around 300 mortgages from around a dozen unidentified lenders, and that many of the violations were “only technical in nature”, like spelling errors. But Moody’s is apparently concerned that the secondary market may be affected by the sheer number of violations.

There appears to be a disconnect between this reporting and the perception of Director Richard Cordray of the CFPB. In a speech at the Consumer Federation of America, Director Cordray recently said that the housing industry’s concerns about TRID appear to have been “overblown”. He said that reports from industry participants across the market seem to be indicating that implementation of the new rule is going “fairly smoothly”. He even stated that the anxieties in the market were much like the predictions of technological disasters stemming from Y2K, which never materialized.

What do we, as South Carolina attorneys, do with this information?

  1. Take some comfort in the fact that we are not the only ones struggling with TRID.
  2. Do the best we can to comply with TRID rules.
  3. Do the best we can to comply with South Carolina Supreme Court requirements that we fully disclose all funds involved in closings. I believe we must prepare and deliver closing statements, in addition to TRID required Closing Disclosures, to make the proper disclosures. ALTA’s closing statements, which should be available on all the closing software programs, are excellent forms to use.
  4. Talk to each other about the struggles. Collectively, we should be able to resolve some of the problems.
  5. If you need backup on a position, call your title insurance company lawyers. They are hearing it all these days and may be able to help with a particular lender or an odd position.
  6. Lenders are attempting to shift the burden of compliance to closing attorneys through indemnity
    language being inserted in closing instructions or by separate letter. Closing attorneys should resist
    agreeing to this additional liability if at all possible. Negotiate! Be strong!

And if all else fails, I understand that NASA is taking applications for the next class of astronaut candidates. Maybe alternative employment is possible.

astronaut

 

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Federal Housing Finance Agency Announces Conforming Loan Limits for 2016

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The maximum remains the same in most markets

FHFA LogoSpeculation earlier this year was that the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) would increase the limits for conforming loans in 2016 above the current amount of $417,000. But FHFA recently announced that the current limit would remain in place for most of the country.

The limit is increased above $417,000 in only 39 counties in the United States. The so called “high cost” counties are located in the metro areas surrounding Denver, Boston, Nashville and Seattle as well as four counties in California.

By way of background, a conforming loan is a mortgage loan that meets the guidelines established by government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Conforming loans require uniform mortgage documentation and national standards dealing with loan-to-value ratios, debt-to-income ratios, credit scores and credit history. Conforming loans are repackaged to be sold on the secondary market. Because Fannie and Freddie do not purchase non-conforming loans, there is a much smaller secondary market for those loans.

The FHFA publishes conforming loan limits each year. Loans above the conforming limit are considered jumbo loans, which cannot be purchased by Fannie and Freddie and which typically have higher interest rates.

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 established a baseline loan limit of $417,000 and required that after a period of housing price declines, the baseline loan limit cannot be increased until housing prices return to pre-decline levels.

A Short Time Ago in a Revenue Office Not Far Away …

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Check them out in DOR Information Letter #15-20

The South Carolina Department of Revenue (DOR) issued a Revenue Ruling and an Information Letter in 2015 addressing deed recording fees and the affidavits that must accompany deeds.

Revenue Ruling #15-3, issued earlier this year, contains a comprehensive treatment of the subject, and Information Letter #15-20, issued on December 11, creates new affidavit forms, the Affidavit for Taxable or Exempt Transfers and the Affidavit for Exempt Transfers. Former affidavits, created in 1996, and using the term “arm’s length transaction” were decertified.

darth vader

“Luke … I am your lawyer.”

Deed recording fees of $1.35 (state) and $.55 (county) per $500 or any fractional part of $500 of the value of the real estate are imposed by §12-24-10 of the South Carolina Code for the “privilege” of recording a deed. This has not changed. Also unchanged is the list of 15 exemptions, and the statement that deeds of distribution and deeds transferring property from a trust to a trust distributee upon the settlor’s death are not subject to the fees.

One statutory change from 2015 was addressed in the Information Letter. Code §2-59-140 was amended in June to provide in subjection (E) that deductions from “value” include “any lien or encumbrance on realty in the possession of a forfeited land commission which may subsequently be waived or reduced after the transfer under a signed contract or agreement between the lienholder and the buyer existing before the transfer.” This change was added to Item 5 of the Affidavit for Taxable and Exempt Transfers.

Real estate practitioners can find the Revenue Ruling and the Information Letter at www.dor.sc.gov. Be sure to use the new forms!

Trulia’s Blog Paints a Rosy Picture of Housing in SC for 2016

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Charleston is identified as the second hottest market in the country! Columbia is seventh!

_SC FlagIt’s budget time for me and for many real estate professionals. We are reading everything we can uncover on economic forecasts, and for me, the focus is real estate in South Carolina. Today, an interesting blog entitled “Housing in 2016—hesitant households, costly coasts, and the bargain belt” popped up in my newsfeed in Facebook. The blog, dated December 3, was written by Ralph McLaughlin of Trulia, the online residential real estate site for buyers, sellers, renters and real estate professionals.

As a part of its annual forecast for housing, Trulia commissioned Harris Poll to conduct a survey in November of about 2,000 Americans concerning their hopes and fears on housing. The survey indicated that the American Dream of home ownership is alive and well and continues its resurgence since the economic downturn.  The blog states that the percentage of Americans who dream of owning a home is up 1 point to 75% and up 2 points among millennials to 80%. But 22% of Americans believe it will be harder to get a mortgage in 2016.

Hesitant households in the title of the article is a reference to the obstacles consumers perceive to buying a home:  down payments, credit history, qualifying for a mortgage and increasing home prices are the top four.

Costly coasts are the expensive metro markets in the West and Northeast. Trulia is expecting those markets to cool because affordability has decreased, homes are staying on the market longer, and saving for a down payment is taking decades. In addition, consumers in those markets are pessimistic about housing.

The good news for us in The Palmetto State is that we are located in the so-called bargain belt, the highly affordable markets in the Midwest and South, where the survey shows consumers are upbeat about housing and where Trulia is expecting growth housing.

Trulia also identifies ten markets with the strongest potential for growth in 2016, and two of them are ours:

  1. Grand Rapids, Wyoming
  2. Charleston, South Carolina
  3. Austin, Texas
  4. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  5. San Antonio, Texas
  6. Colorado Springs, Colorado
  7. Columbia, South Carolina
  8. Riverside-San Bernardino, California
  9. Las Vegas, Nevada
  10. Tacoma, Washington

Everyone paying attention is aware that the Federal Reserve has expressed a commitment to raising interest rates either by the end of the year or early in 2016, and we have seen the stock market respond each time Janet Yellen speaks on this topic. But if this projection and others that indicate the market in South Carolina will be strong in 2016 are correct, we should expect a strong 2016. Perhaps by the end of the first quarter, we will begin to feel the worst of the TRID transition is behind us, and we will be ready to embrace the growth we are anticipating.  Let’s all look forward to the ride!

Paralegal Certification Program Established in SC

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The new program should not disrupt current employment of paralegals.

The South Carolina Supreme Court, acting on the request of the Chief Justice Toal’s Commission on the Profession, adopted a voluntary program for paralegal certification on November 12.

The stated purpose of the program is to assist in the delivery of legal services to the public by identifying individuals who are qualified by education, training and experience and who have demonstrated knowledge, skill and proficiency to perform substantive legal work under the supervision of licensed attorneys.

certified - stampThe program is voluntary in that the Court’s directive makes it clear that no person will be required to be certified as a paralegal to be employed by a lawyer as a paralegal. Thankfully, this program should not disrupt any South Carolina lawyer’s current employment of paralegals.  Dirt lawyers are already in a transition period because of the new CFPB rules. Adding a mandatory paralegal certification may have pushed some of us over the proverbial edge!

At the time of an application to be a “South Carolina Certified Paralegal”, the individual must be designated as a Certified Legal Assistant (CLA)/Certified Paralegal (CP) or PACE-Registered Paralegal (RP).  The designation is valid for a one-year period. To qualify for renewal, an applicant must obtain twelve hours of approved continuing paralegal education (CPE), at least one hour of which shall be devoted to the areas of professional responsibility or professionalism.  Any CLE program approved for lawyers in South Carolina will be acceptable for CPE, but other programs may be approved as well.

The Court’s order establishes a Board of Paralegal Certification which will, among its other duties, prepare and publish applications and other forms to facilitate this program. Regulations for the program may be established by the Court or the board.