Three New Lender Announcements in Early May

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They keep rolling in as August 1 approaches!

town crierWe’re 60 business days away from implementation of TRID, and lenders continue to make announcements about how they will approach the closing process in the new environment. I am committed to keeping South Carolina closing attorneys informed about these continuing revelations, so here is a synopsis of the most recent developments.

Freedom Mortgage announced on May 7 that it will prepare and deliver the borrower’s Closing Disclosure and will employ Closing Insight™ as its method of exchanging information with settlement agents (closing attorneys in South Carolina). Other methods of exchanging information (e-mail, fax) will no longer be used, and closing attorneys were encouraged to sign up for this information portal by visiting www.closinginsight.com.

Chase Mortgage Banking recently repeated that it will deliver the borrower’s CD and will provide a copy of that document in the closing package. The closing attorney will prepare and deliver the seller’s CD and will provide Chase with a copy.

Chase stated it will rely on closing attorneys for transaction numbers such as seller credits, broker’s commissions, seller and purchaser attorneys’ fees, real estate agent bills, external mortgage payoffs, adjustments, prorations, taxes, recording fees and title fees. All of this information should be given to Chase ten days prior to closing.

Chase also stated that it will continue to use encrypted secure email (iSentry and/or Voltage) to provide documents to closing attorneys.

Bank of America announced on May 6 that closing attorneys should register with Closing Insight™, but that registration will not insure a place on BofA’s “Written List of Providers” (WLP). Those interested in being including on the WLP should apply at www.bankofamerica.com/suppliers, but applying does not insure that applicants will be added to the list. BofA representatives will engage prospective candidates for consideration as opportunities for expanding the supplier base become available. Those currently on the WLP do not need to reapply.

BofA also announced that it will absorb the cost of Closing Insight™. To our knowledge, no other lender has made a similar announcement.

It is encouraging that lenders continue to think through their processes and to provide us with additional information. The more knowledge we have up front, the fewer surprises we will experience after August 1. I promise to continue to distribute this news as it is announced to the letstalkdirtsc.com audience.

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Accountants Develop ALTA Best Practices Guidelines

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Dirt lawyers: Your CPA should be able to assist!

accountant guyThe American Land Title Association announced on April 28 that the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has issued guidelines for CPAs to verify whether closing attorneys comply with ALTA’s Best Practices.

The guidelines provide a uniform framework to ensure CPAs will perform ALTA Best Practices compliance testing and reporting in the same manner and in accordance with AICPA standards. By engaging a CPA who will use the new guidelines, closing attorneys should be confident about the quality of the assessment process.

We are not aware of any lenders doing business in South Carolina who have indicated at this point that they will require third party certifications. However, Mississippi based regional BancorpSouth announced in early March that its approved closing agents must comply with Best Practices through a certification from an independent third party vendor acceptable to the bank. The deadline for obtaining the certification was stated to be July 31.

Wells Fargo announced it supports ALTA’s Best Practices as sound business practices that should already be in place. Wells stated in a memorandum to its closing agents that completing a certification by August 1 will not be a requirement, but the bank hopes closing agents will, at minimum, have already completed a self-assessment and addressed any identified gaps by that date.

SunTrust Mortgage announced that it will require closing agents to complete an ALTA Self-Assessment no later than July 1, 2015.

Lenders will likely refine their requirements as we get deeper into implementation. It would not be surprising to hear that any lender who does business in South Carolina will require third party certifications, particularly since CPAs are now “in the loop” and able to make assessments.

The bottom line at this point is that all residential closing attorneys who plan to remain in the business should become Best Practices compliant as soon as possible so they will be able to meet any requirements along these lines that their lenders may impose.

If you need help with Best Practices compliance, call your title insurance company! They are able, willing and ready to assist!

SunTrust Requires ALTA Best Practices Compliance by July 1

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… AND indicates it will produce and deliver Closing Disclosures.

suntan lotionMaking a significant announcement with a tight deadline, SunTrust Mortgage revealed in an April 22 letter to its settlement service providers (closing attorneys in South Carolina) that it will require them to comply with ALTA’s Best Practices and to complete an ALTA Self-Assessment no later than July 1, 2015.*

The letter also announced that SunTrust, following the lead of Well Fargo, Bank of America, CitiBank and Chase, will produce and deliver Closing Disclosures to borrowers and will require closing attorneys to provide complete and accurate title and settlement charges up to two weeks prior to scheduled closing dates.

SunTrust also plans to handle Closing Disclosure revisions and expects closing attorneys to provide timely notice of any changes in the closing numbers, including changes that occur after closing.

Closing attorneys will be responsible for preparing and delivering the seller’s Closing Disclosure on purchase transactions. A signed copy of the seller’s Closing Disclosure will be required by SunTrust as a condition of funding approval.

SunTrust will require an attestation form from closing attorneys for each closing, confirming the ability to comply with the new rules and expectations.

* The letter directed closing attorneys to www.alta.org/bestpractices/index.cfm for more information on ALTA’s Best Practices and offered assistance from SunTrust via e-mail at TitleSettlementMgmt@SunTrust.com and mail at Title/Settlement Management, SunTrust Mortgage, Inc., Mail Code: VA-INSB-7882, 5600 Cox Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060.

Five things lenders need to know before August

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Dirt lawyers: Educate your lender contacts!

Our company has developed resources to equip dirt lawyers to educate lenders about how the CFPB will impact them beginning August 1.  I’m sharing a few tips with the letstalkdirtsc.com audience because everyone will benefit if lenders are prepared.

As we have traveled the Palmetto state talking to lawyers, real estate agents and lenders, we have learned that many of the local folks are not familiar with the new rules, even the significant players in the market. We understand the corporate offices of national lenders may not have pushed this information down to the local level at this point. Any lawyer who will provide valuable information to local contacts now will be perceived as an important partner!

This is a primer, a very basic beginning point. As the software companies complete their updates, everyone involved will be trained on the details of the new rule and forms.  For now, let’s give our lender partners the following information:

1 flapWho will be responsible for preparing the Closing Disclosure? The lender will be ultimately responsible for preparing the CD (the document that replaces the HUD-1 and final TIL Disclosure). Four national lenders, Bank of America, CitiBank, Wells Fargo and Chase, have announced that they will prepare the CD. We anticipate that smaller banks may continue to rely on closing attorneys to prepare this important document. Closing attorneys will be responsible for preparing the seller’s side of the CD in all cases.

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Who will be responsible for delivering the Closing Disclosure? The rule requires that the borrower must receive the CD three days prior to closing. This actually translates to delivery six days prior to closing to accommodate transit time. The rule allows the closing attorney, at the lender’s discretion, to deliver the CD. The four banks who have announced that they will prepare the CD will also deliver it.

Closing Disclosure Delivery Timeline Chart

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How will closing attorneys and lenders communicate information contained in their respective systems? The big banks will most likely use some form of electronic communication. Some have already announced that they will use Real EC’s Closing Insight™ Most closing attorneys will work with settlement software companies (such as SoftPro) to connect with these systems. Regardless, information will have to be exchanged earlier to accommodate the delivery requirements of the CD.  Some experts have predicted that the numbers will have to be exchanged between lawyers and lenders no later than ten days prior to closing.

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Who will make changes to the CD? Changes to the CD may occur prior to closing, necessitating adjustments, re-printing, and delivery of the corrected CD at closing. Lenders and lawyers will have to discuss who will make the pre-closing changes. Changes to the settlement numbers on the CD may also occur after closing, requiring preparation and delivery of a revised CD. For example, if recording fees change, the CD will have to be revised. Previously, lawyers had the responsibility for these post-closing changes. Under the new rule, the lenders have primary responsibility, but they may delegate this responsibility to closing attorneys.

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How will closing attorneys communicate title and settlement fees for use in the new forms? Lenders will continue to need accurate estimates of title and settlement fees for the preparation of the Loan Estimate and the Closing Disclosure. In addition, for transactions in which an owner’s policy will be issued, the rule prescribes special mathematical calculations for the disclosure of the owner’s and lender’s title insurance premiums, which may require receipt of rates for both a stand-alone and simultaneously issued lender’s policy, as well as the owner’s policy rate.

Good luck educating your referral sources!

More CFPB News: A Possible Deadline Extension and a Useful Toolkit

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 Don’t get excited about the rumor!

gossipWhen Steven Antonakes of the CFPB spoke to a group of consumer bankers on March 25, he initiated a series of news articles and fueled a rumor mill among bankers and others that the August 1, 2015 date for implementation of the new integrated mortgage disclosures might be extended.

Mr. Antonakes was responding to a concern that some industry vendors may not be ready for the deadline.

Here’s the quote that caused the ruckus: “To the extent there is new information or we’re hearing directly from vendors that folks aren’t going to be ready…we should continue to talk about that. I can’t promise you (changes) but to the extent we will have a better understanding of the concerns, that is something we will consider.”

Lenders and others unquestionably got their hopes up that the August 1 date would be extended. But CFPB spokesman Sam Gilford quickly stated that the bureau has no current plans to delay implementation.

And Michele Korsmo, CEO of America Land Title Association said in an ALTA Advocacy Update of March 30, “Before anyone gets excited, I am telling you today that implementation of the new Integrated Mortgage disclosures will be required on August 1st, 2015.”

 Don’t count on the deadline being extended. Get ready!

Lenders continue to hope for leniency in the enforcement for a period of time after August 1, but no strategy for lenience has been implemented to date.

In other CFPB news, the bureau recently released a “Know Before You Owe” home loan toolkit, a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help consumers understand the closing process. The toolkit contains interactive worksheets and tips for obtaining additional information. I encourage closing attorneys to use this guide to educate clients.

We have all been concerned about owner’s titletoolbox insurance being called “optional” in the new disclosures. I was encouraged to see that this toolkit contains positive information about title insurance, including the fact that title insurance can safeguard the owner’s financial investment. Common claims were stated to be outstanding taxes and mechanics’ liens.

This toolkit might be a good tool for all of us!