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Lending / The Ticker

New mortgage loan officer test creates order in times of chaos

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Mortgage originators are getting hit from all sides as federal and state governments unleash a series of rules. But even if 2013 becomes the year of mortgage lending guidelines and compliance requirements, there’s at least one saving grace in the new National Safe Mortgage Loan Officer Test, industry analysts say.

The test, which is supervised by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, essentially fulfills one of the requirements of the Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act of 2008.

The act, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, forces originators to pass a SAFE MLO test before they can become licensed with a state agency through the National Mortgage Licensing System.

This can be troublesome for originators who want to operate in multiple states since each state previously required originators to pass a state-specific exam to obtain licensing within a certain jurisdiction. However, the new National Safe MLO test with a uniform state component took effect recently, giving originators a chance to bypass excessive test-taking after they pass one standard, national test.

The benefit as of today is realized only in states that have accepted the standard test.

Haydn Richards with Dykema, a law firm that provides counsel to financial services platforms, noted with the release of the test in April, many regulatory agencies agreed to accept uniform test results from the MLO test as a substitute for state exams.

This allows originators to bypass the need to take a new state test when expanding the reach of their business from one state to another.

"Frankly, the regulators are to be applauded for taking the initiative to do this," said Richards. He noted the test is beneficial to a loan originator who is only working on loans in a couple of states, but not swamped enough to easily justify the expense of taking a different test for each new state.

"We see a trend toward standardization," Richards said, when discussing the test. "We will never see a completely standardized approach, but the fact that they can now take the test and meet the regulatory requirements (for states that accept it) is a significant change for individuals who are originating loans on a day-to-day basis."

More than twenty state agencies adopted the test in April with more expected.

The MBA notes on its website that the new standard test is 125 questions long, replacing the 100-question test for MLOs and is offered to all states whether or not they are currently adopters of the standardized test.

The early adopters of the test include agencies in the states of Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Five more states Alaska, Kansas, Nebraska, Tennessee and Vermont are expected to adopt the test on July 1, the MBA recently noted.  

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