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Lenders brace for QM

CFPB not the only enforcer to reckon with

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While all eyes are looking to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for guidance on a series of upcoming lending regulations, the bureau is not the only watchdog lenders are following.

"The CFPB is looking at effort when they evaluate, and I know lenders are aware of that and are appreciative of that. But the CFPB enforcement is not the only thing in this scenario," said Laurie Spira, chief compliance officer at DocMagic said.

Spira says lenders also have to be cognizant of what a court may do if a loan end ups in foreclosure after the QM implementation. Lenders can’t know whether a judge is going to consider the efforts they put into the origination process. And the same can be said for investors, especially when a lender is trying to sell their loans off.

QM takes effect on Jan. 10, 2014, and the government is still trying to help lenders decipher how to comply with the guidelines.

Four government financial agencies released a statement Friday that clarified the safety-and-soundness expectations and Community Reinvestment Act considerations related to QM and the Ability-to-Repay rule.

"An institution may originate both Qualified Mortgage and non-Qualified Mortgage loans, based on its business strategy and risk appetite," the regulators said. "The agencies will not subject a residential mortgage loan to safety-and-soundness criticism solely because of the loan's status as a Qualified Mortgage or non-Qualified Mortgage loan."

But lenders are still remaining cautious over the impending mortgage standards.

"We have customers who changed their lending approach to come into new standards and took them for a test drive as early as late summer or fall," Spira said. "The loans they are originating today are intended to be compliant with next year's rules."

However, Spira added that while many lenders are preparing for the upcoming rules, there are still lenders who are closing loans now because they know they will not be compliant by next month.

Overall, QM is not the only set of rules lenders are concerned with, Spira said. "While QM is very important, lenders are focused on a much bigger picture than just QM since there are many more rules."

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