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Mortgages

Save the date: Join us for a forum on the mortgage closing process in Washington, DC!

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Join us for a forum on the mortgage closing process in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, April 23 at 2:30 p.m. EDT.

The event will feature remarks from Director Richard Cordray, as well as a discussion with consumer groups, industry representatives, and members of the public. You can watch a livestream of the event on our blog.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
1700 G Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20552

To RSVP

Email cfpb.events@cfpb.gov with:

  • Your full name
  • Your organizational affiliation (if any)

This event is open to the public, but RSVP is required to attend. If you need an accommodation to participate, you can make a request.

Updated on April 15, 2014: The time of the event has been updated.

 

New tools to explore mortgage data

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Last fall, we released a web-based tool showing basic mortgage statistics for counties and cities across the country. Today, we are adding new features so you can explore the data in more flexible ways.

What are the new features?
The updated tool is loaded with features and flexibility. You can use the new features to analyze trends in your area or across the nation. Software developers can use our Application Programming Interface (API) to build their own tools.

  • Choose custom filters. You can choose to see only the data you want. Filter the data by geography (state, metropolitan area, county, and census tract), loan characteristics, property type, and more. We provide some suggested filters to help you get started.
  • Create custom summary tables. For example, you can compare refinances and home purchases over the past few years, or see county-level trends in federally related mortgages.
  • Download the data. Once you have the data you want, you can download it in the format of your choice. We offer CSV, which is compatible with most spreadsheet programs. We also offer JSON, JSONP, and XML, which are standards commonly used by software developers. You can also preview the first 100 records before you download the data.
  • Save and share results. Each query has a unique web address, so you can save and share your results. Just click on the “share” button to copy the link. Then, paste it into a document, an email, a Facebook post, a tweet, or anywhere else you’d like to share it.
  • Tools for developers. Software developers can use and contribute to our API. Software engineers and developers interested in improving the underlying Public Data Platform (aka, Qu) can get involved on GitHub. API developers who want to build tools using the API can browse the documentation, and if there are technical questions, you can engage with CFPB developers using GitHub issue tracking.

What kinds of information are in the data?
Our tool comes loaded with data from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA). HMDA requires certain banks and other financial institutions to collect, report, and publicly disclose information about mortgage loans and applications. In 2012, HMDA data included approximately 18.7 million records from 7,400 financial institutions. The data are publicly released every year, usually in September.

You can use our tool to explore information about loans, lenders, properties, and borrower demographics. For example, the data has information about the type of loan being made, such as whether it’s backed by a government program through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or Federal Housing Administration (FHA). It’s important to note that the data do not include direct identifying information, like names or Social Security numbers. To learn more, read our Privacy Impact Assessment.

Get started
If you are new to HMDA data, start with our introductory video. You’ll learn about the data, how it’s collected, why it’s useful, and what variables it contains. Then, check out our maps and charts. If you want to do your own analyses, you can explore the data. Software developers should check out our API and documentation.

Servicemembers, you have new mortgage protections in 2014

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It’s no secret that the housing crisis in recent years was particularly hard on military families. Servicemembers and their spouses at installations around the country, and even abroad, cited problems with mortgages as some of their most serious financial challenges. But now, the CFPB has written new mortgage rules that can help.

More than a third of the consumer complaints we’ve received from the military are mortgage-related. And at listening sessions around the country, concerned military families have told me about the painful consequences of poor mortgage servicing, sloppy lender recordkeeping, and inconsistent foreclosure practices. Obviously, servicemembers aren’t the only homeowners who have run into trouble with mortgage servicers or faced financial hurdles. But the demands of military service sometimes increase the severity of the problems or limit the solutions available to address them.

So, I’m happy to report that we’ve written new rules that address some of the worst problems in the mortgage servicing industry and bring new rights and protections to borrowers, including servicemembers. For military families, this means that when they seek help for a troubled mortgage or have to move because of Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders, they will get fewer nasty surprises and face less risk of losing their home.

Here are some changes that should help servicemembers:

  • Restrictions on dual tracking. In the past, servicemembers dealing with mortgage troubles sometimes found that their mortgage servicer had moved forward to foreclose on their home at the very same time it was working with the servicemember on a potential loan modification. That’s called “dual tracking” and our new rules set up clear guidelines that restrict this practice.
  • More help for troubled borrowers. Too often servicemembers have had to apply over and over again for programs that might help them keep their homes, being asked to send in the same paperwork repeatedly. Our new rules require mortgage servicers to evaluate a borrower who files a complete application for help for all the options that are available to that borrower. That means no more multiple rounds of applications and wasting of precious time and resources for the homeowner seeking help!

    You can find out about options for helping servicemembers with a troubled mortgage by watching our Military Educator Forum on the subject, finding a HUD-approved housing counselor , or calling 888-995-HOPE (4673). You can also Ask CFPB for answers to your mortgage related questions.

  • No more runarounds and missing documents. Our rules require mortgage servicers to train their people to answer your questions and, if you do run into trouble, the servicer has to assign people to help you. The servicer also has to have policies in place to make sure they don’t lose your paperwork.

Those are some of the new rules. In addition, servicemembers should know that we issued guidance in June 2012, along with other regulators, saying that mortgage servicers should have processes in place to handle requests for assistance from servicemembers with PCS orders, and that they should clearly communicate their policies.

In 2011, two important players in the mortgage market —Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac —updated their policies to say that a PCS move is considered a “qualifying hardship” for mortgage assistance options for servicemembers. In other words, servicemembers do not have to be behind on their mortgage payments before they can ask for help. It was also announced that a homeowner with a Fannie or Freddie loan and PCS orders will automatically be eligible for a short sale.

Also, those servicemembers who do a short sale (selling their home for less than they owe on the mortgage) will not have to pay the difference between the original loan amount and the proceeds from the sale if the property is their primary residence and it was purchased on or before June 30, 2012.

Finally, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also has provisions for a short sale called a “compromise sale.” Servicemembers should contact their lender or the VA for more information on this program.

We work closely with the military community to get the word out about any policy changes that affect servicemembers. We encourage servicemembers and their spouses to talk to their JAGs or military Personal Financial Managers (PFM) about these issues, too.

We hope our new mortgage rules will allow servicemembers to spend more time on their important mission and less time worrying about their mortgages. Learn more about our work on mortgages.

Live from Phoenix!

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Today, we held “Protecting homeowners: New tools for empowering consumers and advocates” in Phoenix.

The live event has ended.

This event was a training for housing counselors, legal aid attorneys, and other advocates on the new mortgage servicing rules that take effect today. The training also featured remarks from Director Richard Cordray.

Find out more about our work on mortgages.

A recording of the event is available below.

If you’re having trouble paying your mortgage, here’s how you can take control

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The most important thing you can do when you’re having trouble paying your mortgage is take control. There is nothing worse than doing nothing. Taking control means taking two steps:

  • Talk to your mortgage servicer about possible solutions.
  • Contact a professional HUD-approved housing counseling agency for no-cost assistance to figure out your options. Find a housing counselor online or call 888-995-HOPE (4673).

Housing counselors are trained to help you fill out the documents you will need to submit to get help. They can also walk you through the choices you will face. It’s also very important that you read the notices and information your mortgage servicer sends you.

There are many programs out there that can help you either keep your home or leave it with relocation assistance and potentially less damage to your credit. Depending on when you took out your mortgage and how delinquent you are, programs like the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) and the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) can help you lower your mortgage payment or avoid an unnecessary foreclosure. If you’re unemployed, you may also be eligible for short-term help.

Also, new rules require your mortgage servicer to contact you soon after you become delinquent and let you know about options that may be available to you to avoid foreclosure. To get this help, you’ll need to fill out an application for mortgage assistance or “loss mitigation” as it is often called. It’s important that you provide all the information that your servicer asks for, otherwise the servicer can’t complete its evaluation.

Learn more about the new mortgage rules and the procedures mortgage servicers must follow in dealing with borrowers facing foreclosure.

You can submit a complaint about your mortgage online or by calling (855) 411-2372 and we’ll work to get you a response.

Qualified Mortgages – What are they and what do they mean for you?

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If you’re looking to buy a home in 2014, you’ve probably read or heard about something called a Qualified Mortgage. Here’s what you need to know about Qualified Mortgages, which are sometimes called just QMs.

Qualified Mortgages are based on some common-sense ideas:

  • The borrower should be able to repay the loan.
  • The terms of the loan should be safer for borrowers.
  • The loan should also be easier to understand. That means you won’t see QMs with complicated and risky features such as negative amortization or interest-only periods.

To get a standard Qualified Mortgage, your monthly debt-to-income ratio generally must be at or below 43 percent. This means that no more than 43 percent of your gross monthly income is needed to pay your fixed debts including your mortgage and other debts such as car loans. Generally, financial planners recommend that borrowers keep their debt payments much lower than 43 percent of their income.

Your lender has to evaluate your ability to repay the loan, but just because the lender is willing to loan you a certain amount, doesn’t mean it is right for you. You still have to decide if the proposed loan payment fits comfortably in your budget and allows you to achieve your other goals.

Another protection of a Qualified Mortgage is a limit on up-front fees. In the years before the housing crisis, some lenders charged borrowers very high loan origination fees. A QM limits the points and fees a lender can charge to no more than 3 percent of a loan over $100,000. The limits are somewhat higher for loan amounts under $100,000.

Not every loan has to be a standard QM. Borrowers should still have other loan options, such as jumbo and balloon loans or loans that allow a higher debt-to-income ratio. But even when a loan is not a Qualified Mortgage, lenders must still evaluate your income, debts, and other financial information to make sure you have the ability to repay.

Got more questions about mortgages? You can find answers on Ask CFPB.