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Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Releases Qualified Mortgage ANPR

Washington, D.C. — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Bureau) today issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) seeking information relating to the expiration of the temporary qualified mortgage provision applicable to certain mortgage loans eligible for purchase or guarantee by the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, in the Bureau’s Ability to Repay/Qualified Mortgage (ATR/QM) Rule. This provision, also known as the GSE patch, is scheduled to expire no later than Jan. 10, 2021. 

The ANPR states that the Bureau currently plans to allow the GSE Patch to expire in January 2021 or after a short extension, if necessary, to facilitate a smooth and orderly transition away from the GSE Patch.  

In the ANPR, the Bureau solicits comments on possible amendments to the ATR/QM Rule, including whether to revise Regulation Z’s definition of a qualified mortgage in light of the GSE Patch’s scheduled expiration. The ANPR seeks information and comment on whether the definition of qualified mortgage should retain a direct measure of a consumer’s personal finances (for example, debt-to-income ratio), and whether the definition should include an alternative method for assessing financial capacity.  

“Loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac make up a large portion of the U.S. mortgage market,” said CFPB Director Kathleen L. Kraninger. “The national mortgage market readjusting away from the Patch can facilitate a more transparent, level playing field that ultimately benefits consumers through stronger consumer protection. We want to hear all perspectives on how to move beyond the GSE Patch, the impact on credit, the role of the private mortgage market, and possible modifications to the definition of qualified mortgages and the rules governing the documentation of debt and income. The Bureau is committed to ensuring a smooth and orderly mortgage market throughout its consideration of these issues and any resulting transition away from the GSE Patch.”

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act amended the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) to establish ability-to-repay requirements for most residential mortgage loans. TILA identifies factors a creditor must consider in making a reasonable and good faith assessment of a consumer’s ability to repay or ATR. TILA also defines a category of loans called qualified mortgages for which creditors may presume compliance with the ability-to-repay (ATR) requirements. The GSE Patch, adopted in the Ability to Repay/Qualified Mortgage Rule, expanded the definition of qualified mortgage to include certain mortgage loans eligible for purchase or guarantee by the GSEs, and in most cases these loans are granted a safe harbor from legal liability in connection with the ATR requirements. These Temporary GSE QM loans generally qualify for that safe harbor from legal liability even if their debt-to-income ratio exceeds the 43 percent threshold otherwise generally required for loans to obtain qualified mortgage status. 

Earlier this year, the Bureau released an assessment of its Ability to Repay/Qualified Mortgage Rule and found that GSE QM loans represent a “large and persistent” share of originations in the conforming mortgage market and that creditors generally offered a Temporary GSE QM loan even when a General QM loan could be originated. 

The ANPR is available at: https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/cfpb_anpr_qualified-mortgage-definition-truth-in-lending-act-reg-z.pdf

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by regularly identifying and addressing outdated, unnecessary, or unduly burdensome regulations, by making rules more effective, by consistently enforcing federal consumer financial law, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. For more information, visit consumerfinance.gov.